Listed below are several writings produced in May of 2017 regarding the state of the artist. They may not be reproduced or quoted without permission from Maxwell. Thanks for reading.
Between 2015 and 2017, Orlando-based sculptor Maxwell Hartley has developed a body of work that has become a successful traveling exhibition between Miami and Atlanta. Maxwell is seeking support from the Florida Council to expand the operation of his studio. This funding would allow him to perform fabrication of several new works, continue to travel his unique fine art exhibition, and represent his home-state as a distinct platform for cultural expression.
Maxwell’s sculpture involves locally salvaged materials, processed by means of physical joinery, molding and casting, and various printmaking techniques. He consistently produces exhibitions at alternative gallery settings to increase visibility to new audiences. The objects fabricated serve as an attempt to preserve the inherent value in common natural phenomena.
Emerging artists in Florida outside of the academic and commercial gallery scene must find alternative venues for showcasing their work. Maxwell’s intuitive pension for curating and installing exhibitions often takes his work to unconventional sites that create a positive and unexpected encounter for viewers who visit the exhibition location. With this grant, Maxwell intends to secure studio space equipped for sculptural work, complete new artworks, and host up to eight shows in and around Florida by June 2019. His exhibition, “Random Orbits” is a collection of work which aims to increase the appreciation of materials commonly discarded by consumer culture. Funding from this grant will aid in his goal to provide educational tools for viewers to learn more about contemporary art practices and assist with costs related to transportation and event accommodations. Specific to each exhibit will be printed catalogues detailing the history of each artwork, free for each viewer.
Due to the visible dedication to his craft, Maxwell holds the esteem of local designers and fabricators he has apprenticed under. He continually utilizes these individuals as collaborative forces, strengthening the physical and conceptual bonds within the work. Jacob Harmeling of QUI studios and Blair Sligar of Hog Eat Hog studio are both established artists in the region which currently inform Maxwell in many aspects of metal and wood manipulation. Mr. Harmeling recently helped Maxwell fabricate a large steel rack that supported the acrylic disk for Maxwell’s piece, “Moment in the Sun” for the Deering Estate in April. Mr. Sligar has been renting a portion of his studio warehouse to Maxwell since August of 2016, where they both work and often collaborate. Tim and Bob Hughes from The Ole General Store in Geneva, FL are a constant source of ethically sourced local hardwoods and will without a doubt have a part in the material supply for this exhibition. Woodcraft of Orlando routinely supply Maxwell with specialty tools and spiritual guidance through his projects. A strong underlying concept behind Random Orbits is the unintended creative directions found materials may spark that become unique to the artist’s course of action. Projects that occur during the timeline of this grant will undoubtedly forge new partnerships with local engineers and craftspeople.
Paramount to this endeavor is planning and implementing additional exhibition opportunities for his exhibition entitled “Random Orbits.” After funds are procured, two months are to be expected before a studio adequate for storage and fabrication of new works is occupied. Within six months, new materials will be sourced and new pieces will be in their initial planning stages. Within one year, June 2018, construction on new artworks and acquisition of a trailer to carry the work will be in progress. By this time, positive contact with potential venues for exhibition will be established. Within 18 months, all works included in the Random Orbits exhibition will be nearing completion. Gallery locations and dates for scheduled events will be secured. Supplemental exhibition materials, including catalogues, promotional materials, and advertisements will be created and distributed appropriately. By June 2019, Random Orbits will travel to at least eight locations around Florida.
2017 brought about a cultural climate focused on political divisiveness and ethnic turmoil, provoking questions in regard to our country as the leader of the free world. Programs that support diversity, creativity, and progressive ideology are now, more than ever, under scrutiny. Now is the time to focus all effort on supporting artists and cultural institutions that work to instill positive change in their communities. Art is an expression of thought and passion that aids our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Maxwell is deeply inspired by visiting museums and galleries that feature artists devoted to creating art as a means of cultural exploration. Maxwell merges traditional woodworking techniques with modern art applications and a “do-it-yourself” mentality that promotes a new realm of possibilities, affording him a unique voice in his community. By viewing his sculptural work, individuals learn the importance of investing time in salvaged materials, and ultimately feel their own inherent power to shape their future in a constructive manner. Maxwell strives to leave a lasting impression in the memory of the viewers, shifting their focus from a culture lost in a media-frenzy to one rooted in reality. Material resources on our planet are finite. His sculptural works make monuments to sustainable practices and the ethical recycling of precious natural products. The last two outings of the exhibition Random Orbits serves as proof of his commitment to future opportunities. Each iteration of this exhibition continues to grow exponentially in terms of quality of artwork and visibility within the respective community. Planning an exhibition includes the fabrication of objects, building of shipping crates, printing of promotional materials, and transportation. Each of these facets require a tremendous investment which is increasingly difficult considering rising costs of living. An Individual Artist Grant would allow the focus to shift from client-based work in cabinets and shelves back to personal studio practice in a fine art context. The praise Maxwell has received for Random Orbits from viewers, patrons, and local critics is valid and is cause for further investment of time and energy.
Since receiving a BFA in Sculpture from the University of the Arts in 2009, Maxwell has creatively sourced new spaces for exhibiting his sculptural work. His pension for curating and installing exhibitions takes his work to unconventional sites including an indoor skatepark, numerous converted restaurants and bars, the DIY artist-run collaborative named The Space, an event hall at the Maitland Center for Art and History, and even an elevator corridor for a high rise building in Downtown Orlando. Each location is carefully considered by the artist as a way to engage persons of various age groups and cultural backgrounds. Since December of 2016, his exhibition Random Orbits has engaged thousands of visitors in an interactive display of hand-made instruments, wall panels, tree-form sculptures that resemble precious minerals, and collectable editions of prints made from drawings. These exhibitions have the feel of a natural history museum, yet combined with an oddity or “believe it-or-not” style gallery. Maxwell will be present at each event to speak to the public and give personal guided tours to groups. He believes it is vital to bring an actual human component to the works made by people with simple tools.
Marketing and Promotion
20% of all grant funds issued by the commission will be used for promotional materials such as advertisements in local weekly and monthly magazines and/or newspapers, posters that will be hung on local bulletin boards, and catalogues that will accompany the exhibition. A large outdoor banner will be placed outside the site of exhibition for two weeks before each exhibition. The artist will make statements on social media regarding upcoming exhibitions, and will confer with local organizations to effectively promote the event in their district.
Accessibility is paramount in selection of exhibition spaces for Random Orbits. The proposed series of exhibitions are intended for a mixed audience and will not refuse access to anyone based on their background. Maxwell has been known to provide guided tours through his exhibitions for blind persons, allowing them to carefully touch and physically inspect the work while verbally being described. Exhibition locations will be selected for handicap accessibility, and capacity for high visitor count to enable maximum public engagement.
The end of 2016 brought with it the culmination of nearly a decade of sculptural work created by emerging artist Maxwell Hartley. This body of artwork culminates the presence of a distinct artist in Central Florida, one committed to the fabrication of unique objects that preserve the essence of natural resources around us. With the help of a private sponsor, he was given the opportunity to exhibit with the Spectrum expo during Art Basel in Miami. His corner-booth in the tent quickly became a crowd-favorite. Adorned with over a dozen works of sculptured created from wood locally-sourced in Central Florida, the exhibition possessed a warmth and vitality unique to Florida, a concept considered atypical of current trends in this medium. The success of the show was described by the artist as, “An invigorating chance to speak with people from the world over who found themselves curious in what I presented, which essentially serves as an attempt to preserve our respect for the nature which allowed us to be.”
After returning from Art Basel in December, Maxwell set his sights on new exhibition opportunities. A visitor to his booth in Miami, Curator Tiffany Sanders, invited Maxwell to exhibit his work from March through May at The Vue at Lake Eola. Residents and guests to the high-rise condominium passed through a hallway gallery featuring eight pieces. At Paris on Ponce, an eclectic warehouse for antique and vintage furniture in Atlanta, Maxwell sourced a new potential audience to engage with his work. He spent a considerable time crafting shipping crates and marketing materials for the three day event. A large outdoor banner appeared along Atlanta’s Belt-Line pedestrian highway advertising “Random Orbits: An Exhibit of Modern Sculpture and Artifacts.” The Belt-Line at Paris on Ponce was selected for its ability to transform into an unorthodox gallery setting, providing countless pedestrian urbanites with an unexpected educational art experience. February saw the release of ArtBorne Magazine’s issue featuring a full length article and cover image of Maxwell with a guitar he built out of a reclaimed bulletproof window.
Since 2014, upon retuning from over a year of working for Atta, Inc., a resin-casting sculpture studio in New York, Maxwell successfully works as a freelance designer and fabricator for many high-end clients such as The East End Market, Alchemy Salon, Makr, and Dora Mae Jewelry. He finances his personal studio practice through a commitment to produce quality functional surfaces and informed use of neo-primitive aesthetic. While the demand for his utilitarian products remains, his interest is deeply rooted in fine art. “Sculpture’s purpose is to question our role in the universe,” states the artist, “while embedding the ideas and capabilities of our people during their time. It should be as consistent as our growth as a species.” The confluence of ancient materials used by native peoples with modern art application yields an exciting new realm of possibilities when a “do-it-yourself” mentality promotes authorship.
Immediately following the exhibition of Random Orbits at the Belt-Line, Maxwell’s proposal was selected for the fabrication of a site-specific outdoor sculpture at The Deering Estate in South Florida. This sculpture considered the rising sun and moon over the Atlantic coast as players in a celestial performance, celebrating the hybrid of art and science central to the theme of the Estate’s Spring Contemporary Art Show. A second large panel of reclaimed security glass milled by a locally hired CNC router became a mold for casting epoxy resin. A thin layer of translucent pine wood taken from a demolished barn was permanently embedded into the disk. The subsequent “lens” was affixed to a large steel rack with bearings, so it could be rotated towards the sun by the viewer. “Moment in the Sun” became a sensation when winds from the sea caused the lens, weighing nearly two hundred pounds, to spin gracefully and perpetually on the coast. Standing for three months, the scale and function of this project denotes an early capacity for fabrication of more durable, site specific public works.
Emerging artists in Florida outside of the academic and commercial gallery scene must find alternative venues for showcasing their work. Since graduating from the University of the Arts in 2009, Maxwell creatively sources new spaces for exhibiting his sculptural work. His pension for curating and installing exhibitions takes his work to unconventional sites including an indoor skatepark, numerous converted restaurants and bars, the DIY artist-run collaborative named The Space, and an event hall at the Maitland Center for Art and History. Each location is carefully considered by the artist as a way to engage persons of various age groups and cultural backgrounds. Specific to each exhibit are printed catalogues detailing the history of each artwork, free to the viewer to collect. To create an unexpected encounter for the viewer is described by the artist as, “a pivotal moment which creates strong memories, and influences viewers to consider the inherent value in common natural phenomena.”
Constant in the life of the artist is the struggle to balance time for creating expressive artworks rather than client orders and jobs to pay the bills. Since receiving a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Sculpture (2009), Maxwell successfully navigates the need to make the artwork that is most important to him while simultaneously supporting his endeavors. Planning an exhibition, including the fabrication of objects, building of shipping crates, printing of promotional materials, and transportation requires a tremendous investment which is increasingly difficult considering rising costs of living. Despite the efficiency of his studio and living quarters, these necessary spaces account for the bulk of his spending. An Individual Artist Grant would allow the focus to shift from client-based work in cabinets and shelves back to personal studio practice in a fine art context. Additionally, the praise Maxwell receives from the Random Orbits exhibition is valid and worth expanding upon. New works in more ambitious proportions are clearly on the horizon, and the Individual Artist Grant is instrumental to allow the expansion of this exhibition to become a reality.