From large slabs of Minnesota basswood, Aaron Spangler methodically creates sculptures that go beyond "folk art" into what he calls "the epic, the paranoid, and the absurd."
Stained black, Spangler's works contain cannons, trees, ruined buildings, and covered wagons. They catch the light, and then they catch the imagination. They're witty 3D collages, like raving editorial cartoons. A New York Times review called these sculptures "profusely detailed, darkly comic visions of rural, post-apocalyptic ruin." His McKnight Artist Fellowship for 2010-11 confirms a widespread critical appeal.
Spangler's as inspired by the brash German filmmaker Werner Herzog and "outlaw" country singers as he is by art-history traditions. Originally from Northern Minnesota, he spent fruitful years in New York City but returned to 150 acres near Park Rapids because "New York doesn't contain all of my interests."
But a woodsy life doesn't mean he's isolated—
"I enjoy meeting collectors. Sometimes I think they have more passion for art than many artists. I have a three-year-old; toys rule his world and are mysterious and alive. Art is like this for adults as well; we want to be around it, and sometimes we want to own it."