Born of the Santa Barbara sun, wind and waves, Ken Bortolazzo's sculpture are an invitation to examine the dichotomy between object and nature, and to ultimately, explore the possibilities that dwell within that vision. At once substantial and delicate, his metal works can be a metaphor for both human sturdiness and frailty. With a lifetime of hands-on experience, Bortolazzo tackles the larger issues of man-made versus nature and merges it with a rare sensitivity.
Bortolazzo discovered his creative passion for welded sculpture at an early age. Working primarily in mild and stainless steel as well as bronze, copper, silver and gold, he collaborated with many prominent artists, including Julio Agostini, Kenneth Noland and most importantly, George Rickey. During their twelve year working relationship, Ken evolved from studio assistant to Rickey’s acknowledged colleague. He remains a conservator of Rickey's work for the estate. Bortolazzo skillfully mastered the use of stainless steel and the custom designed pivots and bearings used in Rickey's renowned kinetic works. This valuable experience inspired Bortolazzo's own work, and his highly geometric shapes soon emerged with greater regularity; taking on a persona of their own. Today Bortolazzo's sculptures span many artistic modes, from small, intimate pieces and works of kinetic playfulness to large monumental sculpture. He brings aesthetics, science, mechanical skill and an illusionist's insight to all he creates.
His early fascination of complex puzzles is evident in Ken’s intricate interlocking geometric forms. These structured sculptures subtly suggest their beginnings in the natural order of things: the rhythm and sequence of breaking waves, rock formations and plant growth. His large works play with light and scale, and reference the post-industrial landscape. His later kinetic works feature dynamic optical effects. Constructed out of burnished perforated stainless steel, they move and create a physical phenomenon known as optical interference patterns, a moiré effect. Bortolazzo's sense of craftsmanship defies the challenge of the material used, and each work finds a delicate balance between solidity and lightness.
Currently being shown extensively on the West Coast, Bortolazzo's sculpture can be seen in regional galleries, museums and public collections, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Outdoor Art, Denver and Microsoft corporate headquarters, Seattle. His work is also collected and represented throughout the United States, England, Japan and New Zealand.
3:14 | Narrated by Nathan Vonk | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Proto Synthesis, 2017
2:16 | Narrated by Nathan Vonk | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Moving On, 2014
2:00 | Narrated by Susan Bush | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Equipoise, 2012
To the gradually expanding list of cultural traditions defining Christmastime in Santa Barbara, we must fully acknowledge “100 Grand,” if it hasn’t already had its place secured on the official list.
Now in its seventh year and looking healthy and splendid, “100 Grand” is the pithily, cryptically and a accurately named exhibition at Sullivan Goss that offers art-hungry (and neophyte art-buying) Santa Barbarans a crack at 100 artworks priced under $1,000.
There are many items of interest, subtle charmers, poetic pranksters and ironically summery breezes to be found in the current Sullivan Gosss group show "CA Cool," celebrating Minimalist-Modernist trends from the Golden State.
As the West Coast summer heats up, Santa Barbarans can cool down with a visit to see CA Cool, the current exhibit at Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery. The show’s curator, Jeremy Tessmer, has culled pieces all made by California artists since the 1950s that to him represent the Golden State’s ability to “monopolize coolness.”
Santa Barbara-based sculptor Ken Bortolazzo has long been respected for his uncanny ability to coax grace and delicacy from the tough stuff of metal sculptures. With his fascinating new body of works, seen in the Sullivan Goss exhibition dubbed "Equipoise," he lightens up and sets his sculpture in gentle motion.
A BREATH OF AIR AND THE ROOM IS MOVING as Equipoise, Ken Bortolazzo's fifth solo show at Sullivan Goss: An American Gallery, is energized and begins to dance.
1966-1972 Santa Barbara City College, AA, Santa Barbara, CA
1969-1971 Julio Agostini, Santa Barbara, CA, Apprentice
1988 Kenneth Noland, Santa Barbara, CA, Studio help
1989 Professor Irma Cavat, UCSB, Art Collaborations
1985-1997 George Rickey, West Coast Studio Assistant
1998-Present Conservationist, George Rickey Estate, NY
AWARDS & AFFILIATIONS
1992 First place in sculpture, Westmont College, Montecito, CA
1989 Juror’s choice, Science World, Vancouver, Canada
Los Angeles City College
Museum of Outdoor Art, Denver, CO
PTI Technologies, Oxnard,CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
2014 KEN BORTOLAZZO: Moving On, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2012 KEN BORTOLAZZO: Equipoise, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2010-2011 Ken Bortolazzo at the Jardin de las Granadas, City of Santa Barbara, CA
2010 OPTIKINETICS: SCULPTING SPACE / BENDING LIGHT, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2008 KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetics III, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2007 35th Anniversary Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA
2006 Ken Bortolazzo, Retrospective, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA
2006 KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetics II, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2005 Malibu Summer Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA
2004 Still Lifes, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2004 The Peninsula Show, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA
2003 The Peninsula Show, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA
2003 Small Image Show, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2003 KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetic, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2002 From A Private Collection, Robert Light Fine Art, Santa Barbara, CA
2002 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA
2001 Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu and Sherman Oaks, CA
2000 Anne Reed Gallery, Ketchum, ID
1999 Winter Show, SOMA Gallery, La Jolla, CA
1999 El Paseo Sculpture Exhibition, Palm Desert, CA
1999 Malibu Summer Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA
1998 The Shape of Things, Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, CA
1998 Chair2, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
1998 Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, 25th Anniversary Show, Los Angeles, CA
1996 Recent Works, Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, CA
1996 Malibu in July, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA
1995 2x2, Two Artists Two Mediums, Judy Kay Assoc., San Francisco, CA
1995 Home Works, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
1994 Weston Resort Exhibition, Valerie Miller Fine Arts, Palm Desert, CA
1994 Ken Bortolazzo, Concourse Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1994 CHAIRity, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
1993 Malibu International Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg, Malibu, CA
1992 Un Ange Passe, Westmont College, Montecito, CA
1991 Malibu in June, Carl Schlosberg, Malibu, CA
1991 Ken Bortolazzo, Arpel Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1990 Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Sherman Oaks, CA
1990 Arpel Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA
1990 University Center Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1989 Science World, Vancouver, Canada
1998 Newport Harbor Museum, Newport, CA
1988 Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY
1987 El Paso Museum, El Paso, TX
1987 Kirkpatrick Museum, Oklahoma City, OK
1987 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA
1987 Hudson River Museum, Hudson, NY
1986 Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA