Another man's treasure [Visual Art]

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Joel Pinkerton

If you happen upon a gentleman with snow-white hair and an impressive goatee rifling through the junk you’ve placed out on the curb, let him be. He’s an artist, and he’s busy gathering material for his next works. Joel Pinkerton has been exhibiting his “found objects” since 2001 and considers it his mission to “bring life back into discarded objects. I’m a Dr. Frankenstein of sorts,” Pinkerton said.


Artist Joel Pinkerton with his Tone Pumps

Pinkerton was the recent guest artist at LVAA’s Food for Thought: Lunch & Learn series and he brought his “sound sculptures” with him, which were exhibited at Zephyr Gallery in 2011. He created these musical instruments when he found organ pipes laying out on the curb destined for the trash. Music is something that comes naturally for Pinkerton and since he plays the harmonica he has an understanding of how wind instruments function. The organ pipes are set in crate-like constructions and with the raising and lowering of a metal rod protruding from the back a musical “hmpf” sound is heard in various tones. The eight instruments titled “Tone Pump 1-8” were made to produce sound, but more importantly to see how people interact with these pieces. Pinkerton said, “the base of these resemble a pedestal that hasn’t been uncrated, and the idea of a pedestal is that you put something of importance on it. The human contact is the driving factor behind these. This is the importance.”

Pinkerton’s alternative instruments buck two well-known traditions. The first being that you can touch the art, in fact, it’s expected and the second is you don’t have to practice to be good at making music.  “It’s the discovery of having people play with them,” he said, “to see what kinds of sounds that they will make.”

Feature photo: courtesy of Zephyr Gallery website