Steampunk | Nantucket | MA
Nantucket Arts Nantucket Events

Gathering Steam

• by Suzanne Daub •

Tom Deininger | Gallery at 4 India | Nantucket | MA
Tom Deininger

Gallery owner and collector Kathleen Knight has brought to Nantucket a exhibition of art that is surprising, engaging, provocative, and very unlike most seen on our island. Opening this week at The Gallery at Four India with a reception Friday evening, July 18, is “Pop Art, Upcycling, & Steampunk Art.”

Steampunk concepts of creating meaningful connections between past, present, and future and of “blending old and new, art and science, form and function” are fitting for Nantucket, which has been re-purposed and re-imagined many times over along its 300-year journey from whaling capital to tourist destination. The fantasy elements of Steampunk art give it a definite wow factor, and the interactive functionality makes it fun.

Kathleen Knight explained her inspiration behind the show: “I’m an art collector at heart. When I walked into the Nantucket Hotel and saw the Steampunk whale, my mouth dropped…I loved it! The more I explored {Steampunk], the more I loved it. I wanted to share it with folks here on Nantucket—it’s the ultimate expression of creativity.”

punk-shuttleThe Steampunk artist who created the whale Knight saw in the lobby of The Nantucket Hotel on Easton Street is Bruce Rosenbaum, and he is one of the three artists featured in her exhibition. He’s been creating steampunk art since 2007, when “steampunk discovered me.”

Rosenbaum and his wife, Melanie, bought a 1901 Victorian Craftsmen house in Sharon. In the process of restoring it, “we brought in antiques, and we decided to modernize them—to give them new life and new purpose. I wanted them to do something: to have function and not just be museum pieces…We redid our kitchen, our family room, our office…People came through the house and said you’re so Steampunk, and we said ‘what?’… It sounded weird and wonderful.”

Bruce and Melanie continued their home restoration, and they began to get a better understanding of the steampunk movement in design and in art. Rosenbaum describs Steampunk Art as an integration of history, art, and technology, with a sense of fantasy to tie it together. “It’s a sort of ‘what if’ — what if there had been modern technology during the Victorian Age…it’s about fusing the two periods.”

punk-tall“Our house was profiled, and we became The Steampunk House… it went viral and set us on this path. I started working with museums and in gallery spaces… I found my passion.” In addition to sculpture, Rosenbaum has been exploring a variety of avenues. His company ModVic specializes in Steampunk design. He’s created several healing devices and has recently finished a workshop program with Professor Ashleigh Hillier at UMass Lowell called “Steampunkinetics: Building Art into Science” that is designed for youth on the autism spectrum.

Steampunk aficionadas and reviewers have taken to calling Bruce Rosenbaum an artist, renovator, exhibitor, designer, and curator in the Steampunk community. “I’ve also been called a Steampunk Guru, Evangelist of Steampunk, and even a High Priest of Steampunk,’” Rosenbaum added with a smile. “My mother was my biggest supporter and cheerleader—when I told her this, she asked ‘why doesn’t anyone call you the Steampunk Rabbi?’”

Exhibiting alongside Bruce Rosenbaum at Gallery at Four India is Steampunk illustrator and artist Brett Kelley. Kelley has shown his Steampunk art at a variety of venues throughout the Northeast and has worked alongside Rosenbaum and with ModVic to produce the city-wide exhibit “Steampunk Springfield: Re-imagining an Industrial City.”

Steampunk | Gallery at 4 India | Nantucket | MA Steampunk | Gallery at 4 India | Nantucket | MA

 

 

Kelley works primarily in acrylic and molotow paint markers. He has six new works in “Pop Art, Upcycling, and Steampunk Art,” including several he created specifically for Nantucket, including a Steampunked Maria Mitchell and a Steampunk homage to the Nantucket Whaling Museum (see cover image). Kelley describes Steampunk as “a romance of the past when technology was new and inspired wonder…I like looing at our past and exploring what could have been.”

Re-purposing and re-imagining is key to the work of renowned artist Thomas Deininger, but in not in a way that is Steampunk. His work is three-dimensional and complex: Deininger transforms of layers of upcycled material of all kinds into stunning pop art and landscapes.

Knight explains the juxtaposition of Rosenbaum and Kelley with Deininger: they are each “a breath of fresh air, creative, moving forward…They all create something new, something exciting — that’s what art collecting is about.”

The opening reception from 6-9 pm on Friday evening at The Gallery at Four India is just the beginning of the fun. The first 60 guests at that reception will be invited to the after-party from 9:30pm to midnight with steampunk and pop dress appreciated.

“Pop Art, Upcycling, and Steampunk Art”
Opening reception July 18 from 6-9pm;
exhibit continues to August 15 with Thomas Deininger, Bruce Rosenbaum, and Brett Kelley
Gallery at Four India Street

Steampunk | Gallery at 4 India | Nantucket | MA