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Perpetual Motion: Contemporary Interpretations of Fine Art Automata

  • Heron Arts 7 Heron Street San Francisco, CA, 94103 United States (map)
Opening Reception: Saturday April 16th 6-9pm
Show is open until May 14th
Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday 3-7pm

A group show of eleven national and international contemporary artists who create figurative kinetic sculptures in the pursuit of compelling narratives. This will be the first gallery exhibition of contemporary fine art automata in the United States. Curated by Heron Arts director Noah Antieau and Atlanta-based automata artist Tom Haney, exhibiting artists were chosen based on their craftsmanship and lifetime dedication to this artistic medium. Exhibiting artists include: David Archer (AUS), Chris Fitch (USA), Nemo Gould (USA), Tom Haney (USA), Thomas Kuntz (USA), Pat Keck (USA), Richard Landon (USA), Paul Spooner (UK), and husband and wife collaborators Dean Lucker and Ann Wood (USA).

Made from a multitude of materials and encompassing a wide set of skills from sculpture and painting to mechanics and engineering, the selected artists in Perpetual Motion: Contemporary Interpretations of Fine Art Automata create work that depicts human and animal figures in animated motion to achieve moving vignettes. This group of artists maintains an aesthetic of nostalgia while presenting contemporary subject matter. 

Dating back to Hellenistic Greece, Automata — or simple machines designed to follow a set of predetermined instructions — have long captivated the human imagination. Experiencing a resurgence during the Renaissance and through the Industrial Revolution, automata were still largely playthings of the rich; elaborate adult toys displayed and enjoyed by merchants and royalty in private settings. With the European democratization of assets, the emergence of a working middle class and an expansion of leisure time, these precious objects eventually became available for public consumption through arcades and museums, in what scholars refer to as the Golden Age of Automata from 1848-1914. 

While accounts of wealthy Americans traveling abroad and enjoying the automata attractions do exist, the artistry and craft remained with its European lineage and, eventually, its popularity as a European cultural pastime faded. Fortunately, this unique medium is experiencing a newfound audience in America and, for the first time, a collection of American automata creators are being shown together alongside British, European and Australian artists in the first group show of professional artists who make contemporary automata sculptures