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Arts & Culture

Gary Sweeney Interviews Chris Sauter

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Gary Sweeney teaches Chris Sauter a thing or two at the Maverick-Carter House observatory

My introduction to Chris Sauter’s work took place in 1999, when I experienced his tour de force installation at Artpace, in which he cut sections of drywall from the gallery walls, and used the pieces to construct a dining table and chairs. It remains probably my favorite all-time artwork in the space. Chris is a brilliant conceptual artist and craftsman, and a darling of the art crowd. His work will be taking over the city in a multi-venue set of exhibits for the next three months, starting this week at the Southwest School of Art. Additional shows will open at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum (Dec 5), Fl!ght (Dec 14) and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Jan 4).

Describe your childhood in Boerne.

Growing up in Boerne was both wonderful and horrible. It was a true joy to grow up on my grandparents’ ranch, hanging out in the barns and wandering around the fields. The friends I made were life-long, supportive, intelligent and interesting. Inspired by the Robin Williams’ movie The Dead Poet’s Society, we would meet out in a field on the ranch to read and write poetry and play games. We would laugh and share around a fire inside a large ring of stones I had made because I was obsessed with Stonehenge at the time. I had great art teachers who exposed to me to many art forms. Band was a lot of fun, especially on trips to play at out-of-town football games. 

Life in a small town can be trying as well. Although I wasn’t “out” at the time, I was taunted everyday in high schoolby a few people who would not let me pass in the hall without letting me know that I was a fag. But mostly, people were good.

Was there a moment when you decided you wanted to be an artist?

I always intended to be an artist, as far back as I can remember. My dad wanted to be an artist, so maybe that had something to do with it.

I would describe your work as conceptual, but your pieces that deal with your childhood are incredibly nostalgic and romantic. Is that a fair description?

I have only made one piece that references my childhood, The Known Universe (childhood bedroom). My intention with that piece was not to reveal anything about myself, much less elicit nostalgia or romance. I wanted to make a telescope from a bedroom. I chose to make my childhood bedroom because I still had all of the furniture and most of the artifacts. I did want to create a sense of wonder and talk about the function of the home; nostalgia and romance may have beena side effect.

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