By Lon McNeil
Once in a while there comes a creative spark that gets people talking to such a degree, that it fans the flame, giving it a powerful start. The last few weeks for Josh Rosen have been just that. It appears to not only be a personal exploration of his artistic passions and inner motivations, but also his roots, his life as it was, and his life as it could be.
Rosen’s current showing at Albany’s Carnegie Library has caught the eye of the local art community and others. His collection, simply titled, “Organica”, using natural woods and other “stuff”, takes the premise, one man’s trash being another’s treasure to a very interesting place. It then leaves it there to turn around and challenge from wench it came. There is a vitality to the work, and in talking with Rosen, you cannot miss the energy, the drive, and the pure excitement of seeing something so personal, going public. This is his first solo exhibition. It is most certainly, not his last.
The more than 50 individual pieces are surreal sculptures and dimensional wall hangings, constructed of strangely grained, carved, and polished wood, steel wool, rusted metal pieces of one sort or another, and most importantly, Rosen’s perception of these mediums. That final ingredient is a not so subtle style that is best described by the address of his new web site currently under construction –
Rosen enjoys constructing his monsters. One cannot help but hear whispers of Tim Burton’s dark holiday animation classic, “Nightmare Before Christmas”, or “The Scream” by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, but Rosen takes that texture to a new horizon that is unique to his own life.
There is much more to the work than simply a dramatic, over-the-top, dark style. His technique and process of constructing his artwork is fascinating to study up close. Actually, as he puts it, it is more a process of deconstruction, taking old machinery apart, and cutting old fence posts into workable blocks for material. He sees form and line in natural wood grains and disposable junk, and then utilizes all the components to bring life to his own vision.
“I break something to make something”, said Rosen.
Rosen credits a lot of people for his opportunity. Twenty years ago, while still working at the family owned business, Container Waste Services, Rosen was making wooden angels in his spare time. He connected with Ann Calhoun of Cordele, who had an import shop. She sold the pieces and the response was very encouraging.
“She would be calling me all the time saying she needed more angels,” said Rosen. In ironic hindsight, it’s clear that as he was making her angels to sell, she was one of his first in this new direction.
Two more angels in Rosen’s corner are renowned local artist Steve Hinton, and Deborah Loehr, executive director of The Albany Area Arts Council. Rosen is quick to give them both credit for this exciting turn in his art. Said Rosen, “They have been the force.”
After seeing how well he placed last year in the AAAC Southwest Georgia regional
show, Loehr felt that Rosen deserved an opportunity to be seen by more people, and contacted him about doing a full showing of his own.
“Josh’s creativity as a sculptor has no apparent boundaries”, said Loehr. “The use of recycled materials, the range of subject matter and the narrative expressed in each piece reflect an artist in touch
with his environment and willing to examine conventional wisdom.”
Loehr has been very impressed with the degree of interest that Rosen’s “Organica” has generated this month.
“It has been a fun show and the public response to Josh’s work has been exceptional,” she said.
At 38, married, with two young daughters, Rosen finds himself suddenly confronted with a bold new future as an artist. It is a far cry from his life to date. His roots run deep in Albany, as a member of the prominent Farkas family. That has carried with it opportunities, responsibilities, and burdens. In his own way, Rosen channels all that to his artistic advantage.
“The irony of my story”, said Rosen, “is that growing up a Farkas, you couldn’t sit on the couch, have dirty hands, or dirty fingers, so all my stuff is the rustiest metal, and the dirtiest old wood. I grind it all down and make a huge mess.”
After years of making a mess for himself and friends, he has now embarked on a mission to find his focus and get his work out. He is working on one-of-a-kind jewelry he calls Green Rose, and is in negotiations with several area outlets to sell it. It is Rosen’s combination of his artistic side, and his practical side as provider. He is also directing some of that monster energy toward a new series using typewriters from the 1920s. If his current work is any clue, whatever he focuses on will be a unique and interesting display of his mind’s eye.
Rosen’s exhibition at The Carnegie, 215 N. Jackson St. in downtown Albany, can be seen the rest of April, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. Until his website is live, Rosen’s progress can be followed on his “The Joshua C. Rosen” page on Facebook.
Just relax and watch as the monsters go by.
Josh Rosen, pictured in his shop with a pile of artwork in the making, is exhibiting “Organica” through the end of April at The Carnegie Library, 215 N. Jackson St.
Rosen’s “An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away”