Cherry Blossom Dynaflow, 2010, Ceramic Collection of the Mann Art Gallery, Prince Albert.

Gasoline Alley and Other Sunday Dreams by Clint Neufeld

March 30 to June 10, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, March 30 at 8 p.m.

Talk/Tour: Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. with curator Jen Budney and artist Clint Neufeld

Clint Neufeld, an artist based near Saskatoon in Osler, Saskatchewan, is ex-military and a former firefighter. His works embody the apparent contradictions between typically masculine pursuits and notions of beauty, ornamentation, and artistry. Taking the grease-monkey’s pre-occupation with muscle cars, he replicates the components of engines, transmissions, and axles in ceramic, finished like fine china, and sets them on elegant stands and furniture such as teacarts and chaises longues. The resulting sculptures ask viewers to consider men’s garage “tinkering” in terms of aesthetics, transformation, and even love.

Neufeld, who has been working as a professional artist for just five years, is a rising star in the Canadian art scene. In 2011, he had solo exhibitions at public art galleries across the country and was also the first runner-up to the national Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics. In 2012, his work is featured in the groundbreaking exhibition, Oh, Canada, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, one of the premier institutions for contemporary art in the United States.

The title of his exhibition at the Mendel makes reference to a long-running American comic strip that began in 1918. It depicted male characters holding weekly conversations about automobiles, and the characters aged normally through the decades. Similarly, Neufeld’s work speaks to the passing of knowledge through generatiotns. A cherished childhood memory is his grandfather lovingly washing his hands in gasoline, to remove the oil and paint they’d gathered after their “work” together. Decorations on Neufeld’s sculptures are inspired as much by his grandmother’s décor as by the history of ceramics.

This is Neufeld’s first solo exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery, organized by Associate Curator Jen Budney. It features new work as well as pieces borrowed from private and public collections. Neufeld’s sculptures were first exhibited here in the 2008 group exhibition, Flatlanders. Since then, he has had solo exhibitions at Montreal’s Parisian Laundry Gallery; Two Rivers Art Gallery in Prince George, British Columbia; the Estevan Art Gallery; and the Mann Gallery in Prince Albert.

Born in Saskatoon in 1975, Neufeld grew up in Warman. He completed his BFA at the University of Saskatchewan and received his MFA from Concordia University in Montreal.