Launi Lucas : assemblage
Ed Musante : birds on vintage cigar boxes

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Launi Lucas, Owl with Nest,scrap metal, buoy, scrap wood, rope, 24 x 22 x 6 in, 2021


i.e. is pleased to welcome Launi Lucas and Ed Musante for our March exhibit.


Launi Lucas grew up in the North Seattle area and is now a dual citizen, residing in Vancouver B.C. Her sculpture is made of found metals, often lobster buoys or drift wood from local beaches. Lucas was an abstract painter before she decided to work more from her hands and her heart. She began to carve, and attach found objects to pieces of wood to create fish, whales cows  and birds. Sometimes a piece may be handled by the aritist for more than a year before it has become what it is meant to be.

"To embrace spontaneity and experimentation is the essence of creating, and assemblage art gives me just that freedom. My concepts are simple: Home (natural habitat), Love (of nature), Protection (for future generations). Recurring themes in my work are birds protecting a nest, or a whale with a protector, both reflecting the need for habitat conservation and sustainability. As my interest in whales increase, and particularly baleen whales, I understand more of their challenges: especially in regards to ocean pollution.
I am a beachcomber and collector at heart. Much of this work incorporates treasures collected while an artist in residence at Acadia National Park in Maine. I collect objects that bring me joy: shapes, textures, or a colour with the ability to stimulate curiosity and mystery.
My workshop is a wonderland of inspirational “junk”…chaotic, yet peaceful. I strive to make art that expresses love of the natural world (birds, whales, and fish), the need to protect habitat and vulnerable species (nests and eggs). Many of my birds are shown in an upright posture protecting a nest, which is the embodiment of strength and protection for generations to come."

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Ed Musante, Verdin/Alec Bradley, dry pigment and gel medium on vintage cigar box, 9.75 x 6.5 x 2.25 in, 2018

Ed Musante is best known for his exquisitely rendered paintings of birds on vintage wooden cigar boxes that blur the distinction between art and popular culture. Hispaintings are both beautiful objects and puns on hi art's commitment to depth of experience. Musante paints on the surface of found vintage cigar boxes using dry pigment suspended in acrylic gels, a technique that provides both the translucency and the viscous beauty of oil paint. Embossments, stamps, scratches and other marks of age show through the paint, and create “delicate collage effects.” The empty, 3-D boxes are a reminder of Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblages of found detritus. While created for a different purpose, Musante like Cornell creates poetry from the commonplace, while making us question the artificially imposed categories of “high” and “low.”
Influenced by Bay Area figurative painters Richard Diebenkorn who painted several works from his Ocean Park series on cigar boxes, and Nathan Oliveira’s series of abstracted Hawk paintings, Musante’s cigar box paintings have a powerful graphic quality that capture your attention from across a room. His soulful birds perch on twigs against a neutral background, edged by cigar brand labels that read “White Owl” or“Hand-Made,” echoing and framing their painted subjects. Sometimes a beak or tailfeather extends beyond the frame and as though Musante’s birds could take wing at any moment.
Musante spent many years in San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest before his recent move to Tucson, Arizona. He obtained a BA in Art History from University of California, Berkley in 1965 and then joined the Peace Corps, doing public health work in the West African country, Niger, through the end of the decade. In 1981, he received a B.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Musante continued to paint and in 1999 received an M.F.A. from the University of Idaho. Ed Musante’s paintings have been exhibited at galleries and museums all over the United States and are in several corporate and private collections.