Peter Gronquist, “Make Stuff” at Shooting Gallery

by Admin on 04/22/2014

In his particularly unique taxidermy and assemblage sculptures, one-time Oakland now Portland-based artist Peter Gronquist’s hybridized animals are a thoughtful response to the contemporary dynamics of American culture, as well as a fun-house mirror reflection of controversial gun policies in the United States. Ostentatious gold-plated antlers from which massive weaponry emerge paired with the glassy-eyed stare of a decapitated wild animal calls attention to the similarities between these trophy-like statuses name brand luxury goods and a mounted animal bust. In many respects, they both symbolize a vapidity and superficiality of luxury goods, and materialism rampant in a consumer-driven society.

Gronquist’s animal assemblages are meticulously crafted in an extensive, multi-step process. After purchasing the taxidermy animals online, the artist substitutes real antlers with handcrafted artificial appendages. Gronquist will at times then send them out to be further worked on by specialists, such as when he uses gold plating, in order to achieve desired results. These results, like Golden Age Dutch genre scenes, create a vividly colorful and ravishing display that on its surface is a provoking assemblage, but upon closer inspection these same elements that once pleased will simultaneously instruct strong, sometimes uncomfortable lessons in the worst of human behaviors and values. “I’m interested in what would seem to be America’s collective view of itself,” says Gronquist in an interview from 2011. “sort of an imaginary collection of macho icons that are by themselves supposedly patriotic, but when combined create something completely ridiculous.” Although Gronquist has been making artwork like this for several years, this particular kind of commentary on view while America emerges from one of the greatest depressions in several decades is also a pertinent, thoughtful reminder about one of its most significant causes, and cautions to be heeded in the future to avoid such fate.

Also included in the “Make Stuff” solo show at Shooting Gallery is a series of mixed media works, illustrating the wide breadth of the artist’s practice. “I love painting, it’s something that i just do to do. I think that when I start painting I don’t usually have as refined of a concept, because to me it’s more about the act of painting, whereas the sculpting is more of a means to an end” says Gronquist. “Sometimes I feel like sculpting is my job, but painting is what I really love.”  The dreamlike quality of Gronquist’s paintings, effectively achieved by their light color palette as well as the opaqueness of the Plexiglas surface from which faces and images emerge, provide an intriguing counterbalance to the gold and natural hues of the hyper-realist sculptures concurrently exhibited while retaining that unique, surrealist quality at which Gronquist excels.


“Make Stuff” will be at Shooting Gallery, 886 Geary St. through May 3, 2014