The other day I did a studio visit with Derek Reese in his studio at Radiant Hall. He was prepping work for an upcoming show and I was delighted to look around at tons of sculptures, drawings, paintings and the delicious donuts he brought for breakfast. Reese grew up in West Virginia and left a family tradition of coal mining to study art at WVU and later Ohio State. He's now settled in Pittsburgh and I've seen bits and pieces of his work over the last few years.
Reese is working with found and salvaged materials, while grappling with issues of masculinity and class. His statement includes this gem of a sentence, "My grandma was left alone to make repairs on the house after my grandpa was crushed to death in the coal mines." There's always been a thread of humor that floats through the pieces I've seen, but these works were more formal than things I've seen in the past. My favorite pieces were the row of stumps encased in a base of faux-wood print contact paper. I was also really interested in his drawings mashing up wood print, building ephemera and basketball imagery. His show opens this Wednesday evening at Edinboro University's Bruce Gallery, click here for more info.