Anchorage artist twists his way into KPC gallery

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

When one thinks of twisted metal hanging from their wall, they most likely would rarely think of art.

However, one glimpse of the metal sculptures done by Martin H. Ross, and art might become the only thing on one's mind.

It's twisted, welded, rusted and tortured, yet the metal pieces put together by Ross are both appealing and wondrous to those who view them.

"Martin H. Ross has pretty formalistic work," said Gary Freeburg, the Kenai Peninsula College Art Gallery director, where the exhibit is on display through March 2.


"Gary's Memory" Martin H. Ross

Photo by Jay Barrett

"It is really enjoyable to look at."

At first glance, a few of the works could be mistaken for a background set of some music video with all of the mangled metal pieces clawing into the air and from the walls, but it is the second glance that takes the viewer in, forcing them to see the underlying message each piece calls out.

Though Ross, who lives in Anchorage, is in Italy and unavailable for comment, his pieces speak true enough for themselves, as does a small statement posted on the gallery wall.

"There is no underlying theme behind these pieces," he said in the prepared written statement. "My thoughts are consumed by images of shapes, and I try to make things that match the images in my head."

Ross' pieces found their way to the gallery with the help of luck. The original artist scheduled for February could not get her pieces to the college on time. Still, he got high praise from his artist colleagues.

"A couple of artists that we have had in here before recommended him very highly," Freeburg said. "His work is enjoyable for everyone who sees it."


"Nevermore" Martin H. Ross

Photo by Jay Barrett

Ross' works are a collection of metallic design that have a variety of styles as a viewer goes from one piece to another. His inspiration no doubt comes from a wide variety of sources, some which are easy to spot, like his eyeless metallic mask with a raven's beak named, with the Edgar Allen Poe reference in plain sight, "Nevermore."

His other works vary in appearance, from rusted structures to a "Family Tree" and from floor sculptures to wall hangings.

"Sometimes the pieces come out looking just like I imagined," Ross said. "Other times, they change while I'm working on them. And sometimes, I'm just really bored and there's nothing good on TV and we're out of liquor, so I go out into the garage and start



"Seven" Martin H. Ross

Photo by Jay Barrett

Some of Ross' work, like the sculpture "Seven", is well thought out, balanced to a precision point. Others, like his tangled metal sculpture rising into the air entitled "Pocket Creek," look as though their creation was a passing thought.

"Some of his work is very architectural when you look at it," Freeburg said. "It is kind of like a metal painting when you look at it."

As with every artist, Ross has his own reasons for doing what he does.

"I do this because I want to," he said. "Because I'm compelled to and I don't know why."


"Stasis" Martin H. Ross

Photo by Jay Barrett

For each piece in Ross' collection there is no doubt an underlying meaning. Some look as though they represent the structured society that almost all humans participate in. Other pieces may represent the confusion of the world we live in.

Each viewer will read into it something different. For Ross himself, there is no reason to say what each piece or what the collection means -- he lets them speak for themselves.

"I don't really have a statement," Ross said. "The work is my statement."

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