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Artist creates using broken, discarded things

By Holly O. Austin

For the Triplicate

The work of artist Steve Mattson pays tribute to the timeworn adage that one man's junk is another man's treasure.

As artist of the month at Crescent Harbor Gallery, Mattson currently has 10 pieces on display, with components ranging from Mexican coins and old keys, to antlers, alligators and even a doll.

What holds them together is not just lots and lots of epoxy glue, but the imagination of a master assemblage artist.

Mattson remembers his first experience with art, many years ago at a junior high school in Venice, Calif. "It was a crafts and sculpting class. My mom had a junk store," he said, which made it easy for him to put together plaster, wire and old kitchen utensils to create what was his first, but definitely not his last, assemblage piece. For awhile, however, his interests turned to sculpture. He left high school to go to San Francisco, where he apprenticed for a year with sculptor C.B. Johnson, who worked mainly in metal and marble. At that time, Mattson took a several-year foray into stone sculpture, turning chunks of sandstone, limestone, marble and granite of various sizes into faces and figures.

He also experimented with cement sculpture, a much quicker medium, in which he could create a piece in one to two days instead of six to eight months.

The end of that period in his arts career came with the break up of his marriage, at which time he turned "from the smooth, hard lines of rock and wood to assembling works with broken and discarded things."

In 1967, he had the honor of showing along with several other artists in a massive assemblage, construction and collage exhibit at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. He also had shows with the Artists' Coop and at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and, as he continued his moves up the coast of California, at the Mendocino Art Center and The Seagull Inn.

More recent honors, coming after his relocation to Del Norte County in 1987, include two solo shows in the Del Norte County Courthouse as a part of DNACA's Arts in Public Places exhibits, first place in the Humboldt Arts Council's 1998 Junk Art Show, third place in the same show in 2000, and first place at the Summer Arts and Music Festival, held at Benbow Lake in 1999,

Don't miss this opportunity to view his unique pieces, which will be on display through Feb. 28 at 200 Marine Way. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 464-9133.

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