Why Monumental Scale Dominates This Artist's Practice
Monumental scale has dominated Gino Miles’ art practice for over four decades. His early figurative sculpture, The Grape Crusher , commissioned as a landmark for Napa Valley stands 16 feet tall on top of a 10-foot tall pedestal. At the time of its creation, it was the largest work to be cast in bronze in the United States. The concrete figures in his commission, The Seven Dwarves , for Disney’s Burbank headquarters each measure a whopping 19.5 feet tall. Recent works such as Zia and Shelter take abstraction to gigantic proportions at 17 feet high and 16 feet long respectively. For Miles, going big is a way a life.
That he creates his large-scale works by hand, in the studio, makes the impact of his work so much more impressive. Miles and his team of assistants cut, weld, grind, sand, and polish each piece of metal by hand. Miles can often feel the vibration of the grinder coursing through his arms and hands long after he’s put the tool away. This directness between the artist and the work itself remains unusual considering its scale. Outsourcing fabrication for large-scale work remains a common practice among artists. Yet Miles continues to create by hand, in his studio, to bring his stand-alone works to fruition despite the inordinate amount of time, patience, and skill required to create each piece.
Miles continues to push the limits of engineering, illusion, and contradiction through his work. His curvilinear forms appear weightless, on the verge of movement - floating, rolling, spinning - despite their heavy materials. The kinetic element adds another dimension of contradiction to the work with the sheer ease it takes to put a piece — even a large-scale one — into motion. The sculptures perpetually respond to each viewer and each environment: the changing landscape, the time of day, the season.
While rooted in industrial engineering and elegant minimalism, Miles’ signature work found its inspiration in nature: the twisted morning glory vines growing outside his Santa Fe gallery that knotted themselves “as if tying a shoelace.” He says, “I am fascinated by nature’s ability to weave itself so exquisitely into a knot - a historic symbol of unity and connection.” He goes on to say, “All life is a form that, in essence, moves in concentric circles.”
The works on view at Ann Norton Sculpture Garden represent a selection of Miles’ iconic forms made in the last decade along with several new works that highlight Miles’ “unquenchable thirst for creating sculpture” and his desire to challenge boundaries and preconceptions of both material and form.