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February 15, 2005 > Timeless Mysteries Revealed in Sticks & Stones

Timeless Mysteries Revealed in Sticks & Stones

by Arathi Satish

Using the relics of our past, artist John Hylton attempts to bridge historical time with formal and spatial relationships in his latest exhibit, "Sticks and Stones," now at the showing the Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont.

Hylton's art is influenced by a background in both archaeology and architecture and is inspired by a sense of "timeless mystery." The seven pieces in the exhibit reveal a conceptual blending of contemporary concerns and ancient archetypal sources.

The artist noted that his work "has been constructed in the ways the indigenous peoples of North America and of the oceanic areas constructed utilitarian and ceremonial objects. I'm creating my own story telling objects to tell a new story about cosmology, the way the ancients told stories of the stars."

In his youth, Hylton worked for the Museum of Natural History in Dayton, Ohio excavating Fort Ancient Indian sites. During his work, be became intrigued by the inherent sense of design and proportion in the relics he encountered. The Land Artists of the 70s such as Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson and David Nash and later artists like Magdalena Abakanowicz, Eva Hesse, and Martin Puryear further influenced his artistic construction method. Utilitarian implements of hearth or husbandry, relics for burial or belief systems also serve as inspiration for Hylton's sculptures.

The origin of Hylton's work may come from articles or books he reads, exhibitions he attends or landscapes he views. He begins with a sketch that may or may not evolve into a finished drawing; he then determines the media that would correspond to his mental image. His sculpture might include found and fabricated objects. Hylton said that he has fun creating sculptures and feels satisfied at the end of the day when he sees what he has built. The final sculpture may or may not resemble his original sketch, but Hylton gives more importance to reconciliation of intent with image, focus with form.

"Sticks and Stones" can be viewed at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery, located at 123 Washington Blvd., Fremont. The Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information or to arrange a group tour call the gallery at (510) 791-4357.

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