Christopher Gulick’s fixation with lines has landed him exhibitions in places like New York City and Berlin. There’s something about the way lines travel parallel, intersect and separate that resonates with him. This Friday, a collection of his mind-twisting kinetic sculptures and intricate drawings will be on display at Bob Schwan Studios. The opening reception is aptly titled “Re-Visit” and features works from the past 10 years.
“Lines are a visual aesthetic that I’ve enjoyed in life in general,” Gulick said. “One of my favorite ways to see the trees is in the dead of winter because I’m seeing an object but seeing through, past, and around it to see the sky. In construction – when buildings and houses are being build – I think that the building or the framed up house is one of the coolest sculptures because you get to see what is the actual physicality of that thing that is being fabricated.”
Gulick has been a steadfast figure in the Wichita arts scene for over two decades. He was part of the original Famous Dead Artists collective who pioneered the Final Friday monthly art crawl in the late 1990s. His Go-Away Garage Gallery helped put Commerce Street on the map as a hub for artistic activity downtown.
While he has been producing a large volume of commission pieces lately, Gulick said his studio work has lagged as a result. Brian Hinkle, gallery manager of Bob Schwann Studios, approached him about putting together this show specifically because he wanted a collection of old work that hadn’t been seen in a while.
“We’re the old guys around here,” Gulick joked. “There’s a whole generation of people that have been born, gone to school, and now have their own day jobs from back before or just around the same time that the Famous Dead Artists were formed. This show is partially for them.”
“Re-visit” will feature selected works from past exhibits in Berlin, New York City and Wichita. It will include nine sculptures and over 20 drawings and sketches. The framed drawings work in tandem to inform the 3-dimensional sculptures that are suspended in air.
“I tell people all the time that I can’t draw; I just have fun with it,” Gulick said. “My study sketches, though, have consequently become drawings. I always start out with one just to record my ideas when I’m creating a sculpture. That’s what the sketches are really for … me working out an idea on paper. Then I build up mocketts, then I can work out all those problems in reality with them and then build a studio piece or commission. This show is about showing off different aspects of my process.”
The results of those sketches create a maze for the eyes. Some of the sculptures intersect shapes in a dangling manner, like in an untitled work of rectangles and circles. Others have more obvious meaning, like the pointed, motor-anchored “Calder in a Box,” which tips its hat to renowned kinetic sculptor Alexander Calder. “Crossroads” examines lines intersecting over wooden material to illustrate a divergence of paths.
“I’ve been predominantly focused on positive space,” Gulick said of his work over the past several years. “This show is about me looking back at some of those pieces and objectively viewing them because time can change your perspective.”
One way that Gulick’s viewpoint has changed is that he is now more focused on filling in lines.
“I’m engaging a huge, new body of work this year that doesn’t include the type of line work you’ll see in this show,” he said. “For the past 15 years, my goal has been to bring to view negative space. In my next works, I’ll focus on filling in the negative space lines that I’ve created in my drawings. I’m looking at the composition that I’ve made with the lines and will be filling them in like a coloring book. It’s an evolution that’s almost 180 degrees out from where I’ve been.”