Father Fixation

John Hartley takes fostering new artists at Gallery 414 into the third dimension

Four of Frost's sculptures in the 414 show feature a steel chair crafted like a minimalist skeleton with rods the size of drinking straws. Hanging among the sculptures are monoprints the artist made of different perspectives of the chair's simple framework. They could be studies for his 3D work, but he says they are not. "The chairs got me started on this body of work, though," Frost says. There was a broken chair in his studio, and initially, he simply liked its form. "Then it came to mean more to me," he says, mentioning his father's illness again. "This chair became an icon of physical comfort and the subjectivity of that. A lot of times, it takes not having comfort, experiencing pain, before you can realize what comfort is." Frost stops in front of "Maintain a Balance," a three-legged version of his basic chair form with a stubby block of Hydro-cal forming a gimpy fourth leg. "Because of my father, I have thoughts and ideas along these lines. I think of normal, everyday things in a different context," he says. "I think about it a lot."

John Hartley sees a lot of art and meets a lot of artists in his quest to keep Gallery 414 true to its mission--fostering a credible space for showing art without commercial or political pressures. He believes Frost's deep, personal reflections on home and family relationships set his work apart. It's the heart of the work that Hartley senses as he chooses among the dozens of artists interested in having a 414 show. "Every town needs at least one cooperative, artist-run, nonprofit space," he says. And maybe every co-op needs a dad.

Faint rust stains seep into the plaster-like medium of John Frost’s sculptures, as in “Comfort’s Illusion,” part of the artist’s first solo show at Gallery 414 in Fort Worth.
Faint rust stains seep into the plaster-like medium of John Frost’s sculptures, as in “Comfort’s Illusion,” part of the artist’s first solo show at Gallery 414 in Fort Worth.

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