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photo-eye in 3 Dimensions: Introducing David L. Deming

photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Gallery in 3 Dimensions Introducing Sculpture by David L. DemingBy Alexandra Jo"After speaking with Deming for only a short time, I realized that he is very like his sculptures… open, humorous, cheerful, buoyant, but also made of sturdier, relatable stuff. Both artist and artwork are substantial, harmonizing a carefree disposition and a tangible, solid presence." – Alexandra Jo

David L. Deming
Whimsical, fun, lighthearted… the first impression made by David L. Deming’s large-scale metal sculptures of caricatured dogs is candid and unmistakable. The free, acrobatic, animated quality of each sculpture’s gesture is even more impressive when one realizes the density and weight of the amassed hunks of steel Deming collects and assembles to create each piece. Departing from the typical photography-only standard at photo-eye Gallery, our current exhibition, Kindred Spirits, features three of Deming's large dog sculptures. These works are physically heavy, psychologically blithe. This contrast between real-world mass and emotional weightlessness creates an engaging tension in the work when experienced in person.

David L. Deming, Dog with Bird, 
1997, Painted Steel, 84 x 29 x 16, Unique, $10,000
The artist himself is also quite the in-person experience. A natural storyteller and big personality, Deming is warm and convivial, candid and unmistakable. His jovial disposition makes perfect sense after seeing his work, as he seems to bring his sculptures to life when he is in front of them.  On the opening night of Kindred Spirits, I heard charming and interminable stories from Deming. There was one about the beginning of his teaching career when he spontaneously pretended to be a nuclear physicist instead of an artist at a faculty function, and then the time as a student at Cranbrook that he unwittingly sold a sculpture out of his studio to a well-known wealthy family in the auto industry. He told me about meeting two United States presidents, and tearing his hamstring during a touch-football game in his forties. We talked about his Italian grandmother’s immigration to an arranged marriage in the US, and he had me feel a protruding ligament in his hand that apparently, surprisingly, speaks more to his distant northern European heritage than the countless studio hours he’s spent laboring over his sculptures.

After speaking with Deming for only a short time, I realized that he is very like his sculptures… open, humorous, cheerful, buoyant, but also made of sturdier, relatable stuff. Both artist and artwork are substantial, harmonizing a carefree disposition and a tangible, solid presence. It was my pleasure to ask Deming a few questions specifically about his work in photo-eye’s current exhibition, Kindred Spirits:

David L. Deming, Josephine is a Hard Act to Follow, 1994, Painted Steel, 70 x 42 x 18 inches, Unique, $15,000

Alexandra Jo (AJ): From what I understand, you got your start in sculpture working more with the human figure. How did you first begin making sculptures of dogs? 
David Deming (DD): I started my sculpture career path mostly interested in creating life like figures specializing on busts of people.  As I matriculated through 7 years of Art School I really broadened my sculptural horizons by becoming much more devoted to abstraction as my primary direction.  Having said that, my love for the figure never faded and I just pursued both directions through the years to follow.  My first dog sculpture was somewhat of a goofy circumstance.  I responded to the Texas Fine Art Association’s call for artists and architects to donate work for their annual auction.  The theme of that year’s auction was “Time.”  Normally, I would hate to have to make something that would fit a theme that wasn’t mine to begin with, but I said OK, so I needed to make a sculpture that had something to do with “Time.” 
Like most of us artists I procrastinated until two days before I needed to submit my sculpture to the auction.  I arrived at my studio on a Saturday morning and decided that maybe if I just started welding some pipe together that I found on my floor, just maybe an idea would emerge and I would know what to make.  Well the two pipe sections that I welded together looked like the beginning of a bulldog. So that intrigued me as I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday finishing off my metal bulldog.  As I was leaving the studio with that dog, taking it home to show my wife and kids, I thought ... now what am I going to give to the auction in the theme of “Time”?  Suddenly like a bolt of lightning, I looked down at my new creation and thought...A “watch dog” with ticks! I submitted it for auction and it sold for $5,000. After that I thought it could be a good idea to make more of those, so I did.
AJ: What is the primary difference for you between working on human portraits and works representing animals?  
DD:  The main difference in the human portraits is that if someone’s nose looks a bit like a plumbing part it is best to develop that feature so that only I know that I think your nose looks like a plumbing part.
AJ: Each sculpture seems to have it’s own personality. Is that something you have envisioned ahead of time or do the quirks of each sculpture emerge as you create them?  
David L. Deming, Hooper II, 1998, Painted Steel,
80 x 26 x 24 inches, Unique, $10,000
DD: Most of the time I start directly with the steel that I have in the studio without doing a drawing first.  I love the spontaneity of going directly to the sculptural form.  Sometimes I think about the type of dog I might pursue right from the start but often I allow the materials I have at hand dictate the direction I eventually take.  This is as exciting a process as I can have leaving a lot of creative room to develop my dog characters and personalities. 
It is interesting how making up the dogs this way and forming their faces to reflect their individual personalities is not really so far from doing my sculptural portrait work in clay. The other aspect I love about creating my dog sculptures is that they employ almost as much abstraction in how I put the pieces together as I do with my more non figurative work. 
I am always moved by people who think that they had a dog just like one of my sculpture dogs. 
Mine though are always obedient and don’t require daily attention.

 >>Kindred Spirits runs through August 24, 2019.

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or

• • • • •

On view through August 24, 2019

Featuring work by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as editions sell.