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Published: 1/26/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Found objects inspire 'sculptor-assembler' Varujan Boghosian

His work is on display at the Toledo Museum of Art

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Artist Varujan Boghosian has an exhibition at Toledo Museum of Art. Artist Varujan Boghosian has an exhibition at Toledo Museum of Art.
ANDREW WEBER/TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART Enlarge

The exhibition of Varujan Boghosian's collages and constructions at the Toledo Museum of Art is designed to appeal to anyone who walks through the institution's doors.

The poetic collages and sculptural assemblages of Boghosian's work now on display in the museum tests viewer's intelligence of Orpheus and Eurydice in classic Greek mythology and the poetry of James Joyce.

But, the exhibit also includes an interactive workshop with objects personally collected by the artist where visitors can try their hand a creating their own sculptural assemblages.

"We wanted to do something unusual. We wanted the visitor to have the experience of creating the work as Varujan does," said Amy Gilman, the museum's curator of contemporary art and associate director, who worked with Boghosian in desiging the exhibit.

Described as a sculptor-assembler-constructionist and scavenger, Boghosian began making his mark on the art world in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Much of what he creates comes from the discarded and castaway stuff he culls from visits to antique shops and junk stores.

"I don't make anything," Boghosian said in a statement provided by the museum. "I find everything."

On Jan. 31, museum patrons can attend a special presentation in which Boghasian will have a one-on-one discussion about his art with museum Director Brian Kennedy.The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theater.

"He is a great story-teller," Ms. Gilman said.

The exhibit of nearly two dozen pieces, which opened last month, will be on display in the museum's Wolfe Gallery through May 25.

"The Realm of the Oracle", 1989, a construction by Varujan Boghosian.  "The Realm of the Oracle", 1989, a construction by Varujan Boghosian.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The museum has included several pieces from its own collection with similar themes to compliment Boghosian's creations.

"Varujan takes objects that are familiar to us and puts them in juxtaposition with objects not normally together," Ms. Gilman said. "He plays with making images in a way that's reminiscent of being a child but is in no way childish. Through humor, imagination, and symbolic imagery, his art invites multiple interpretations."

The studio, where visitors can try their hand at designing pieces with parts and scraps chosen by the artist himself, will be open through April 13.

"On some levels visitors are getting the experience of interacting with the artist without the artist being present," Ms. Gilman said.

The studio in the exhibit is modeled after Boghosian's workshops, including the one in basement of Dartmouth College's health center, giving visitors a sense of artist's work environment.

"Travertine", 1984, a construction by Varujan Boghosian. "Travertine", 1984, a construction by Varujan Boghosian.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Two tables in the studio are filled with items Boghosian's personal collection of antique shops items. There are alphabet blocks, corn cob smoking pipe, cigar boxes, sea shells, playing cards, clothes pins, dolls, door knockers with nearly all forms of materials represented - wood, bronze, tin, steel, paper, and plastic.

Visitors to the studio are encouraged to take the pieces and create their own assemblages in shadowboxes on the gallery walls and snap pictures with their cell phones and send the images to the museum.

"This is part of a continuing way to experience and bring great art work for people to view and for people to explore art making and artists working in different manners," Ms. Gilman said. "Varujan is very hands-on and that is a great part of this experience in Gallery 18. It is very tactile. You get to interact with the objects. We wanted to bring in the original work and encourage people and photograph their won work with their cell phones."

Boghosian, who was born in 1926 in Connecticut to Armenian immigrants, lives in Hanover, N.H., where he keeps his studios. He taught at Yale University's School of Art and Architecture.

His career as a teacher has included Yale and Brown universities, and most recently, Dartmouth College from 1968 to 2008.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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