See You In The Funnypages

from the Gotham Gazette, Sunday Lifestyles section

Wayne Buys Art Object With Strange Story, Appearance

When Gotham artist Jared Stannett mounted another local show, he had no idea its centerpiece would net him a cool $4 million, least of all from surprise art patron and Gotham industrialist Bruce Wayne.

His show, Metalloids: Found And Created, opened at the DeKroontz Gallery's downtown location on Friday. It consisted of metal sculptures, themselves comprised of industrial parts that Stannett found and mixed with pseudo-industrial objects of his own design and manufacture. Many of the installations perform meaningless, whimsical tasks, in keeping with the playful nature of Stannett's usual efforts.

The sculptures form a spiral from the outside of the room, where the most complex machines are, to the middle, where the untouched Metalloid I lies on a small, plain steel pedestal.

Stannet, 24, though a fixture on the local art scene despite his young age, had not been particularly lauded or successful until now, regarded as perhaps derivative-"Miro in motion", as one critic called him.

That changed Friday night with the appreciative musings of visiting New York art critic Stanislaus Myorevsky, an occasional guest at DeKroontz's functions.

"'Miro in motion' is hardly an insult," said Myorevsky. "The whole installation has a wonderful, childlike energy, mixed with a hard edge. It partakes of a peculiar kind of sadness as well. It's very fresh, and complicated in a good way."

Wayne himself was particularly taken with the central piece, Metalloid I, which Stannett called "pure found art-I didn't alter it or do anything with it except present it as is. It was the first thing I found and got me thinking. It really inspired the whole installation."

The object, the origins of which were at first unknown, looks like a large flashlight head with no visible bulb and a jointed arm attached to its back. According to Mr. Wayne, who graciously identified it, it is a broken bulkhead light for a defunct brand of Australian sloop ships made in the 1980's.

Despite its mundane if monied origins, the object's journey to Gotham was mysterious.

"I first found it in Los Angeles Harbor," said Stannett. "I was staying with a friend on his houseboat when his wife's bracelet came unlatched and fell into the water. We were all horsing around anyway, so I dove in and looked for it."

After a brief search, Stannett said, "I found it sitting on top of Metalloid I, although I didn't have a name for it at the time.

"I brought them both up and had a look at it."

The piece was in some disrepair and still bore traces of an unpleasantly smelly industrial lubricant. "That's what was odd, given what Mr. Wayne said it was. I never heard of a bulkhead light that needed lubricating. Maybe the stuff got on it after it was lost."

He continued, "The longer I looked at it, the stranger it seemed. It was like the rest of the sculptures, in that it appears to have an everyday purpose but the longer you look, the more you realize it isn't really made in for an apparently practical application. None of the fittings seem to match standard sizes for whatever you could imagine placing it in. It occurred to me that it might be another artist's work, but I don't know of anyone in the art world making anything like this. It's almost otherwordly, but also very prosaic."

Stannett brought the object back to Gotham and began salvaging machine parts in the city's abandoned industrial district for his work. The entire collection took him six weeks of work.

At Friday night's opening, Stannett merely hoped for a good reception. Instead, his entire collection was purchased within thirty minutes by local playboy Bruce Wayne, who appeared taken with the works. After purchasing Metalloids, Wayne said he planned to allow the collection to be exhibited at art museums along the East Coast, replacing Metalloid I with a replica. The original will join his newly-established private collection.

"Well, I lost a lot of stock in that boat company," he joked. "At least I've got a little bit of my investment back!"

On a more sober note, he added, "It's really a very moving piece to me. All I can say is, it gives me a sense of nostalgia for something that, by most standards, could never exist."