Some artists surrender their social obligations to arrive at a universal understanding of the human condition, one that transcends time and age. Others delve into the consciousness of their immediate surroundings, cherish the triumph of blood and sweat, and in doing so, come across a humanitarian spirit so instinctive it becomes a mirror of the entire social order. Anthony Valencia is certainly the latter.
Anthony Valencia next to his paintings En Route. Courtesy by the artist
Growing up in Los Angeles, Anthony became conscious of the housing crisis at a very young age. ShelterShare, his non-profit organization, vies to help bring the shelters close to the homeless and domestic violence victims. They currently operate in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York City. Maybe it’s this understanding of and contentedness with life’s basic needs that inspires his minimalist style. Wire, his preferred medium, is emblematic of his personality and principles: sleek, slender, and sparse.
Milking inspiration from observations, interactions, and memories, his work charts a reverie of profound simplicity. His sculptures are a meticulously composed moderation of essential elements that make the viewer question the premise of egotistic endeavours. Nevertheless, the conceptual arguments are purely subjective conjecture.
Facing one of the works up close, his deft prowess of the medium becomes undeniably obvious. The wire or wires swirl around the three-dimensional canvass, birthing a lucid, solitary order in the most restrained terms possible; never imposing, always inviting, they form an immersive entity of their own. Whether it be in a rustic cabin surrounded by exposed wood and quirky folk art or contemporary style home with large glass windows and a few pieces of furniture, his work feels right at home. He attributes the versatility of his pieces to their subdued and sober nature.
Valencia giving a speech in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and discussing his artwork and nonprofit organization ShelterShare.
Courtesy by the artist
Fond of painting and sketching from an early age, he would often doodle and draw on his home assignments. The habit turned into a preoccupation after taking pottery classes in high school. Fusing other elements in his clay models, he gradually became interested in wire. As the years went by, he found himself using more wire and less clay in his work, until he finally settled on his choice of expression: wire sculptures. Now, experienced and skilful, he uses different techniques to will his ideas into existence. For instance, when using harder wire, he normally uses a blowtorch and pliers to help mould them into shape. At times, he uses soft wires that don’t require much scrutiny from the tools. Most of the time, he uses a single wire for an entire sculpture. A few detractions from that trademark usually occur when he wants to portray distinct multiple entities. At times, the work seems to bring out a flavor of Picasso-esque analytical cubism, although such a comparison is surely too reductive and in bad taste.
Venus, steel wire on marble base, courtesy of the artist
His sculptures are a reflection of his aspirations to bring people together, whether by way of entrepreneurship or art. Talking to me recently, he told me, “Much like the way I envision a sculpture before I physically create it, I often envision businesses ideas and the steps needed to bring them to reality”. He recently merged his non-profit work with his artistic ambitions by showcasing his work at the Folley Gallery on the Lower East Side in a charity art show. All proceeds went to his non-profit ShelterShare which will now continue to help the unfortunate victims of the social hierarchy. He recently had another art show on the Lower East Side at the Thomas Nickles Project on 15th December. His work can be found at boutiques, galleries, and businesses. His sculptures are on display at the Ontario International Airport in Southern California.
You can check out his work on his website thewiresculptures.com.