From parched earth to cosmic stardust, the sister duo of Dana Kleinman and Ruth Avra Kleinman make some highly polished, unusual sculptural works out of aluminum and paint gel mediums.
Their career got a crazy international jumpstart. After just one show in the USA, Dana saw a notice about the 2008 Beijing Biennale at the National Museum of China running in conjunction with the Summer Olympics. and sent an email asking how to get invited along with some images. The next thing she knew she got a call from a Chinese shipper asking when they could pick up the work. The all-expense paid trip “was pretty surreal, they treated us like we were important American artists and we had a great time” Dana says.
To get to that point, Dana had been living in various cities from Pittsburgh to Albuquerque making political, feminist type art but “I got tired of being part of the problem and not the solution. In New Mexico I was hiking and seeing the cracks in the ground and the muted desert colors. Meanwhile in New York, my sister was working for Kate Spade in a very commercial world. We decided to work together on the art in 2006 to create a balance on our mutual sense of nature, patterns, elements.
Perhaps it was blood, or simply a similar upbringing, that eventually led to the coming together of aesthetics. Whether arranged in group installations or solo pieces, each work involves a sense of rhythm and mathematics. Not only does this reflect nature in its patterns, but it also ties us together as sisters, undeniably influenced by a mathematician father and a scientist mother.”
The work they began making was on aluminum boards, cut through with geometric slashes of color, some made in a groups, some made to stand alone. Eventually they wanted the work to become more 3D so they started using cut, polished and brushed aluminum pipe. Ruth is in charge of the metal work, designing and cutting and with the help of a commercial water jet the pieces of aluminum that get welded together.
For the color inserts, Dana uses wooden board that she paints layers and layers of acrylic paints finishing with a shiny gel coat. Then she swirls the gel by hand with the back of a spoon and dries it under a large overhead fan. The result is a crackled, parched look, like the desert ground in New Mexico she used to hike on.
“I also found that different fan speeds produce different crackle looks,” she says laughing. “It was really a lot of trial and error to get this look, and I never would have come up with it all by myself. Then I insert the painted board into the pipe at an angle. These hang on the wall or some new ones stand up on the floor. To me it’s art that feels good as it’s cosmic and elemental and earthy all once. It’s got a mysterious feel. From a distance, our work looks sleek and high contrast with hyper-pigmented painting and shiny metal. Yet, up close the viewer is struck by textural multilayered paintings inspired by natural surfaces. By undermining the minimalist first impression. the work brings a sense of wonder and discovery. Multiple panels that shift in depth off the wall talk about boundaries and disparate parts, with geometry and color tying the pieces together and creating connection.”
“I think of them as windows but maybe there’s not even really a word for what they are. They’re inspired by nature and we are constantly excited by them and motivated to do more and see where this can go,” Ruth says.
The color of the pieces make a huge difference as the blue one look like a ship porthole into the seas while the black ones have metallic glints and could be a wormhole into the Milky Way.
“It’s kind of like a petri dish,” Dana says. “I want viewers to get some kind of awe when they look at them. I think they are healing. They are generally lightweight, but then the scale started to grow. Recent works are a good 6 feet in diameter and required me to drag it out into the living room to finish working on it.”
The studio is in a light filled room at her house on the golf course in Hollywood that Dana shares with her partner and shaggy black dog. Another room in the house is just for storage. They now have galleries in Washington DC, Boston, Delray and some pieces in the gallery hall of the gleaming new Circ Hotel in downtown Hollywood FL.
“I just went in there when they were building the place and said my artwork is circular and your hotel is called The Circ on Hollywood Circle so I think it would be a great fit. Sometimes when I approach new galleries I bring my dog and a small piece with me. They will always talk to you when you have a cute dog with you. We’ve also been making small pieces for a jewelry line to hang on chains around your neck. Me and my sister tackle various themes through our different series, however the common thread is always connection and balance. We are focused on the solution, not simply illustrating the problem.”
To learn about recent works by the artists, visit www.KX2art.com.
Dana Kleinman and Ruth Avra Kleinman Create Cosmic Pipelines