By Joel Dippold | CNA Media Team
A thought slowly comes over you as you stand in a room full of Dan Pillers’ exquisite works of art: “The inside of this guy’s studio must be pretty amazing.”
Dan practices bricolage, assembling found objects into elaborate representations of his worldview, and his identity. His perspective is one of a gay man born in the Eisenhower administration who survived the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco and has lived a quiet life in Concordia for the past dozen years.
The basement studio of his Ainsworth bungalow is crammed with cabinets full of artifacts and curiosities, the building blocks of his art. The artifacts and woodwork come from thrift shops, yard sale free boxes and sometimes gifts left on his porch by mysterious benefactors.
His art is a mix of memoir, history, politics and popular culture. His pieces often take the shape of a glass case with elaborate woodwork – sometimes Victorian, sometimes mid-century modern. Etched onto the glass are ornamental designs or provocative bits of text.
And in the center of this space, often suspended in midair, is a central object of contemplation – some small thing of singular beauty, of wonderment, evocative of lost time or an emotion you can’t quite pin down.
Dan’s training as an artist includes a bachelor of fine arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, residencies in France, and gallery shows up and down the West Coast.
But, as he excitedly shows a visitor some of the truly singular artifacts he’s collected, he repeatedly mentions his residency with a Metro program called “Glean.” Each year it gives a handful of local artists unlimited access to the local dump.
Next up for Dan is a joint show in June at the Guardino Gallery, 2939 N.E. Alberta St. There, you can see nearly a dozen of his pieces. In addition to the show through June 25, he is booked for an opening reception Thursday, May 30, 6-9 p.m., and an artist talk Saturday, June 15, 2 p.m.
Joel Dippold is a freelance writer and editor who has lived in Concordia since 2000.