In the late 1970s, New York critic Harold Rosenberg saw art at a tipping point. The avant-garde had already exacerbated the limits of conceptual and other forms of non-art, so Rosenberg predicted a shift where decorative, utilitarian and even furniture objects would be gobbled up by mainstream artist. Fast forward forty years, and Rosenberg's prediction couldn't have been more accurate. This summer Blueshift Gallery in Wynwood is exhibiting a show by Andrew Levitas, an actor/producer turned sculptor/metalworker, entitled Metal Playground. Apart from Levitas' brilliant nature photography, the sculptures on display are fully interactive metal pieces– ripped straight from your childhood– including a swingset, merry-go-round, and seesaw.
"Art has become systematically rarified, a trend used to push prices which serves dealers/galleries/and only a handful of artists but mostly it undermines the work," said Levitas in an email to New Times. "Our work is meant to reflect the times, a history, a snap shot of where we are."
Despite their immediate connection to a specific point in time, Levitas admits he doesn't see his pieces fully realized until someone interacts with them. For the artist this latest exhibition marks the latest in a series of creative ventures in various fields. The New York native received his BA from NYU, before moving to LA in 1998 to work on his burgeoning acting career as a soap opera darling on As the World Turns. While he still keeps a talent agent and is still actively producing movies, it's his artwork where he feels much more in control.
"I have a real problem with artists who farm their shit out,” he told Interview Magazine on his creative process, "everything is built by me." His large metalwork pieces often consists of printing his photographs on glossy sheets of metal to create an effect that's both warn and vibrant. Its a process he's trademarked as Metalwork Photography.
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The shift from soap actor to metalwork sculptor might seem jagged, but for Levitas it was as smooth as the surface of his pieces. He originally turned to photography after developing an interest in writing and directing. When that proved too limiting for the scope of his vision, he turned to metalwork to encompass the gargantuan scale he wanted. The shift proved fruitful, and in 2008 he became apart of an elite few who were accepted to the prestigious Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which concluded with an exhibition at the Louvre.
Since then he's been building up a name in the art world as an innovated sculptor with exhibits and shows around the world, most recently at Phillips Berkely Square, London. Among his other work, Levitas also recently wrote and directed the feature film Lullaby staring Garrett Hedlund, Academy Award Nominees Amy Adams, Richard Jenkins, Terrence Howard, Anne Archer, and Academy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson.
If you're interested in checking out Metal Playground, then saunter over to Blueshift Project (175 NW 25th St., Miami) through July 21 to do the unthinkable: play around with the art. Visit blueshiftprojects.com.