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Santa Barbara based sculptor Ken Bortolazzo is a master of creating complex, yet pleasing visuals for the human eye. His large, earthbound interlocking pieces of steel from a decade ago have metamorphosed into optikinetics - kinetic sculptures that use burnishing and stainless steel mesh to produce special optical effects. Careful balancing and artful engineering enable skeletal panels and steel arms to seemingly lift off and float above the ground. Delicate in appearance and excitable with just a breath of air, they can nevertheless hold up in the fiercest of winds. They continually redefine the space around them by spinning and undulating while also creating optical illusions from refracted and reflected light. They are minimal shapes with maximum kinetic appeal.

This year saw the artist’s first experiments with bronze mesh, a new medium that appears warmly translucent and conversely opaque as it moves silently through space. The artist’s clever manipulation of moiré effects allows him to sculpt in light as well as metal, a subtle nod to the pioneering efforts in California’s Light and Space movement.

Ken Bortolazzo was born in 1947 and educated in Santa Barbara before he apprenticed with Julio Agostini and Kenneth Noland. Art collaborations with Irma Cavat at UCSB led him to his apprenticeship with renowned American kinetic sculptor, George Rickey (1907-2002). Bortolazzo studied Rickey’s precise mechanics and added his own ideas about light and form. He has exhibited widely and has work in many private and public collections. Recent achievements include the placement of Estacas at the Museum of Outdoor Art. In 2008, an original commission was installed in a reflecting pool on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

-Susan Bush, Director of Contemporary Art

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