Jeff Metz made his first stone sculpture when he was 15. Although his art program in high school focused on hand-built ceramic sculpture, it was that first experience with the exciting challenge of carving stone that guided him when he later searched for a medium that would satisfy both his needs as a performance athlete and his intellectual interests.
“Confronting stone, at whatever scale, is a much more physical exercise than working in clay or 2D work. There is more risk, especially since I do direct carving,” said Metz in a recent interview Brigitte Micmacker and John Denning conducted in his New Mexico studio for the latest video in Sculpturesite Gallery’s series: Inside the Sculptor’s Studio.
Metz creates abstract sculptures from a single block of limestone with a mix of pre-meditated and spontaneous actions, which he likens to mountain climbing. He uses pneumatic and hand tools (we see both in the video) to achieve his unique works that ponder the relationships within: between one side and the other, between light and shadow, between geometry and flowing lines, between solid stone and open space, between the viewer and the artist, and between the sculpture and the area it occupies.
Metz graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a BA in English Literature, and in 1996 moved to New Mexico to work in restoration of Anasazi pottery while continuing to build ceramic sculpture. He was attracted to the fluidity of Henry Moore and Jean Arp’s sculptures and De Kooning’s paintings, but he needed to bring into his work “a rational underpinning, a syntax and a grammar.”
One can also detect Post Cubist and Constructivist influences in Metz’s work, yet what emerges is his constant striving for a balance. “Part of the essence of my work is this merging of geometry and fluidity,” says Metz, “intermingling the male and female forms or energies; the Yin and the Yang.”
Through the language of abstraction, my current work focuses on generating a unique interaction between rigorous geometry and fluid movement. The inherent and essential tension which exists between these poles drives my sculptural explorations.
I begin each sculpture with a foundational form which is a component of an eventual whole that I cannot apprehend. From this point, an in-the-moment interplay between subconscious and logical decisions directs the evolution of each work.
The elemental core of my process and sculpture is the sustained confrontation of ambiguity as I work toward formal resolution. By approaching each sculpture in this way, I can integrate the nuance of the unexpected into each composition.
Intimately connected with this idea is the fact that my sculptures shun symmetry. But beyond the difficulty of inferring their full reality from one vantage point is my intention of setting up a series of interrelationships throughout a sculpture. My goal is to maintain the cohesion of the whole, even as multiple relationships unfold in a continuous, in-the-round flux.
Each sculpture is hand-carved from a single block of stone.
Solo and Group Exhibitions
2015 "Vernissage 2015," Sculpturesite Gallery, Glen Ellen, CA
2010 a new leaf gallery | sculpturesite, Sonoma, CA
2010 Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM
2008 a new leaf gallery | sculpturesite, Sonoma, CA
2005 "Abstractions in Stone and Oil," The Factory on Fifth, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2005 "Seven New Mexico Sculptors," Albuquerque, NM
2004 Robert Roman Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
2004 Christin Wolf Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
2003 The Scottsdale Airpark, Scottsdale, AZ
2001 Juried Show, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM
2000 Weyrich Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
1996 "The Figure Pre-Figured," ASA Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
1994 Juried Show, Kennedy Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
1992 Juried Show, Rowe Arts Gallery, The University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC
Press and Awards
2011 Filmed interview with The Peabody Opera House, St. Louis, MO, June 11, 2011.
2011 CBS St. Louis coverage of commission installation, St. Louis, MO, September 8, 2011.
2010-2011 Finalist, New Mexico Public Art Purchase Initiative.
2009-2010 Finalist, New Mexico Art in Public Places Acclaimed Artists Series.
2009 The Davidson Journal, Volume 38, Fall; “Form and Content,” pp. 56-57.
2007 Sculptural Pursuit Magazine Industry Award for sculpture Euclidean Variation No. 2.
2005 Finalist, New Mexico Public Art Purchase Initiative.
2005 The Weekly Alibi, article/review, July 7-13, 2005.
2005 The Albuquerque Journal, July 3, 2005.
Private and Public Collections
Jeff Metz sculptures can be found in private collections throughout the United States.
2011 Monumental sculpture commission for The Peabody Opera House, St. Louis, MO
2011 New Mexico Only Purchase Initiative, Bloomfield, NM
2010 Bank of America Collection, Boston, MA
2008 Installation of monumental sculpture "After the Iban," Tokyo, Japan
1997-1999 Studied Japanese-style porcelain from Arita, Japan
1996-1997 Led the physical restoration phase of pre-Colombian pottery collection, Albuquerque, NM
1993-1995 Studied sculpture and ceramics, The Massachusetts College of Art
1992-1993 Studied ceramics, The University of North Carolina
1991 B.A. English Literature, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina