Arts & Culture » Visual Art

Junk in the Trunk

Scott MacLeod gives up dumpster diving by putting on a show.



A born junk collector, Scott MacLeod specializes in finding random objects and casting them in inappropriate materials. "Like dipping sugar cubes into latex or making a corncob out of concrete," said Cricket Engine Gallery curator Lexa Walsh, who's excited to see elements of the mundane taken out of context. MacLeod's new sculpture exhibit Lost Coming Back This Way — on display through November 4 at the Cricket Engine Gallery in Oakland — includes assemblage works made by placing a badminton birdie inside the package for a phosphorescent lightbulb, scraps of rusted metal carved in weird shapes, and old paper dartboards that the artist unwound and rewound.

In truth, Lost Coming Back This Way also represents a purge. MacLeod, who started Dumpster diving when he moved to San Francisco in the '70s, is now trying to kick the habit. "I've tried to get my junk quotient down just for practical reasons," he confessed, adding that once he had to rent his own Dumpster to move out of an old apartment. But at this point, the junk still comes in handy.

"The thing about it is that I'm not really a craftsman," MacLeod assured. "I can't make stuff. I can't paint something to look like something realistically. I'm not really a carver. I've got a lot of friends who were trained in European art schools and they can draw a horse that looks like Leonardo da Vinci in half an hour — you know, twelve feet by twelve feet — and I hate them." For all his protestations, MacLeod actually garnered a few fans when he took up painting as a hobby in the early '90s, giving his works away on a first-come, first-served basis.

But his real talent was never for representing horses — or, for that matter, corncobs, sugar cubes, and dartboards — the way they look in reality. Rather, MacLeod revels in the surreal. "I think the phrase in my artist statement is 'I let stuff be what it wants to be without being constrained by any expectations,'" he said. The idea is to create a sense of the uncanny — "like, you know, this looks normal, but it's made outta something weird." Seen in isolation, the objects might not represent anything in particular, but the totality of MacLeod's exhibit could trigger a lot of interesting ideas. The opening reception for Lost Coming Back This Way happens Friday, October 26 from 6-9 p.m.

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