Picton’s Maps are Colorful Sculptures of Metro Areas
by Theresa Bembnister
London -born Matthew Picton models his artworks on maps of major cities: Berlin, Sydney, New Delhi. But as seen in his exhibit of new work at Byron C. Cohen Gallery, it wouldn’t do much good to keep one of his pieces handy in your glove compartment for reference.
Picton, who now lives in Oregon, whittles each one down to the most basic information – colored lines representing roads and waterways.
The artist refers to these works as sculptures. He cuts out thin pieces of polyester film colored with enamel paint and uses straight pins to secure them to a framed white background.
This effective yet not-so¬sturdy attachment method serves as a reminder of the delicate balance of the forces of man and nature that shape the development of metropolitan areas. It also calls to mind the display method of scientific specimens, pinned on a blank background for further study.
In the case of “Alleyway, Medford, Oregon,” from 2006, the artist forgoes the frame, using a handful of pins to delicately hang the intricate body of the work against the wall. The thin, intertwining lines call to mind a lace curtain or a net.
These works are immediately recognizable as maps, but it’s striking how organic they feel. Pared down to nothing but wavy lines varying in thickness, the traffic arteries of these cities seem to mimic maps of systems of the human body.
The show runs through Saturday at the Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art, 2020 Baltimore Suite 1 N. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and by appointment. Call (816) 421-5665 for information.