Curtis Ames kicks off MINT"s Leap Year final exhibitions

Artist's latest show, 'in general,' finds creativity in obstruction

A studio visit with Curtis Ames can feel like you're walking into a construction zone. Scattered throughout his working space at the Goats Farm Arts Center you'll run into everything from an old hockey stick to a PVC pipe. The found objects, arranged in no particular order, are exactly where they should be, and shouldn't.

"A lot of the sculpture work is material that I find," Ames says. "I was just kind of testing out what I can do with them. I got really sick of the process and it didn't feel genuine because you're trying to make something as perfect as it can be and you're really just covering up mistakes, and so I wanted to kind of highlight those attempts and the failures and flaws that really are a part of the process."

Ames' current exhibition, in general, is the first in a series of three shows from participants in MINT Gallery's Leap Year Artist program. Via sculpture, painting, and video, Ames has set out to create what he calls instances of obstruction, challenging viewers to re-imagine their current space and visual references to common objects. Ahead of his show, Ames spoke to CL about his process of collecting objects, finding peace in chaos, and being a champion for the locals arts community.

What's that process like of collecting? Do you dedicate a certain amount of time during the day?

We'll be driving and I'll slam on the brakes and my wife is like "What?" And I'm like, "There's a ball right there, I gotta go get it." And she's like, "Alright, I understand." And doorstops, when I see them, I take them, and they're just kind of these little moments where they kind of bite you there a little bit and you see these things.

Do you ever kind of go crazy when you're surrounded in a space of seemingly disconnected objects?

No, I kind of just rearrange stuff a lot, or put things in the other corner, and then put more stuff up and then the obstructions kind of manifest themselves, and really those things take place usually in a space that I'm exhibiting, but I kind of set them up in here to test out. That's a strategy that I use, some obstruction, either preventing someone from viewing something from the best vantage point or obstructing the ambulatory flow of a space.

It feels as though the works seems fragmented and incomplete ...

Yeah, I always have this idea that the pursuit of perfection has always kind of been at the forefront of what I'm doing and I will try to make things as perfect as I could and then realize that you can't do that. So that's always been there in some form or another. I just needed to figure out how I could best express that, and I thought getting more efficient in the process and in the content, and delivering that content was kind of critical.

As an emerging artist do you find in the last few years the Atlanta arts community has gotten even tighter and more willing to embrace less traditional forms of visual arts?

I think that's an accurate statement. I think that there are other little pockets, as well as museums, that support work that is not traditional. Artist Andrew Boatwright was at my house last night, and we were talking about how we can make things happen on our own without having to rely on the defunct gallery system. But for the most part, my work, and for the majority of collectors out there, it's hard to figure out where would you put this? Do I buy the whole installation or the one piece? And the things that I have sold have been like the simple paintings or works on canvas that can still be hung on the wall and not served as an obstruction. I think that there is a shift, and I'm appreciative of that. A lot of artists leave, and I'm not going anywhere. I'd rather just make the change happen myself or be a part of it.

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