I met the artist Alex Garcia nearly a year ago (we were introduced by the architect Alejandro Sticotti, who like Garcia is a native Porteño), and since then I've stumbled onto his work in a variety of surprising spots. He makes wall assemblages out of wood—recycled, scrap, veneer, new—and thin strips of metal, creating striking graphic compositions. His work was on view at the San Francisco shop Propeller several months ago; now it's on view at Sticks & Stones Gallery in downtown Oakland through August 31. The other night I ate for the first time at Baby Blues BBQ, a local restaurant, and the lacquered scrap wood tables looked vaguely like Garcia's artwork... turns out he actually made those tables two years ago, as a special project for the restaurant owner. This guy is everywhere! Or maybe it just coincidentally feels that way...
Like all Garcia's pieces, the ones on view in the Oakland gallery incorporate scrap wood from demolition sites, dumpsters, street corners, and his own studio. The show includes around 25 pieces.
Garcia used to exclusively make tables, but then people started asking if he also did wall pieces. The transition from tables to wall art was easy: "It's just a shifting of planes," he says.
When he sits down to create a piece, he sets up an outer frame and then starts to place interesting pieces of wood (selected for their color, or unusual wood grain) in "strategic locations," and then he fills the rest of the piece out. His goal while creating the piece is to "fine-tune intersections and create colorful pieces in dialogue." Asked about the pieces above, he says: "I've been experimenting with contrast in many levels. Here not only with textures within the piece, between rough and smooth and old and new, but with color and light and depth. Some of these wood blocks vary in thickness, creating a 3-D piece."
When he made more tables (he's been focusing exclusively on art-making for the past two years), he used to cover his work with resin. Then he had a big allergic reaction to resin (while working on the tables for Baby Blues, actually) and so he started working with bare wood. He now prefers the effect: "The work is less compressed and contained—it has a more natural feel and can breathe."