Rust and Renaissance, a collection of Kalish’s most recent work, was created entirely from old and sometimes rusted car parts including tailgates, hoods and auto bodies. To craft each piece, Kalish carefully salvages the rough discarded metal, giving each piece new life as he molds the scraps into elegant rose blossoms.
Visitors to RAM will be greeted by a crashed car parked on the sculpture pad in front of the museum. Gentle but powerful roses sprout from this wreckage. Inside the museum, dozens of sculpted roses abound including wallwork and freestanding sculptures.
Normally, we view the whole car as a tool or an extension of our body, but we ignore the individual parts and construction, the steel, fiberglass, plastic – the parts of the whole. For Michael Kalish, these parts are his palette. Art exists in many forms, from paint on canvas to installations of light. Kalish’s work starts – is born – in the salvage yards of Southern California. Sculpture happens in many different ways. For Kalish, there are very deliberate materials that excite him: old, stained, rusted, oxidized, classic American vehicles. The vehicles at these salvage yards have seen countless lives pass through them. Most have damage: scratches, bent fenders, broken parts or are downright mangled. The destruction wreaked on many of these vehicles is total. Yet it is in this destruction that Kalish finds beauty.
To run your hands over Kalish’s roses, an act encouraged by the artist, is a thrilling sensory experience. Kalish masterfully juxtaposes the coarse texture of recycled sheet metal with the refined form of delicate rose petals. His skill is to transform these sources into vibrant roses, both lifelike and larger than life.
Kalish’s work has been displayed in The United States Embassy in Moscow, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Barneys New York and in galleries worldwide. In addition to his numerous public exhibitions, Kalish’s work can also be found in the personal collections of celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Jay Leno and Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Jann Wenner. As the artist has continued to spark public interest, he has been featured in popular media such as The New York Times and Fox News.
For more information on Michael Kalish and his current work, please click here.