Three things artist and Los Altos resident Edo Rosenberg said he would bring to a desert island: water, fishing gear and companionship.
Through his sculptures, ranging from the size of a microwave to the size of a car, Rosenberg has embarked on a quest to understand companionship among physical objects, people and ideas.
A series of his work is on display through May 31 in the Jessica Lynn Saal Town Square at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.
"I think of (my sculptures) like music or words because they form a relationship between the elements that talk in a sculptural language: speaking in weight, mass and line balance," Rosenberg wrote in his artist statement on the JCC website. "That relationship creates harmony and tension; it is a melody that speaks about me and about the world as I feel and see it."
All of his pieces, small and large, contain up to four elements. They are frequently made of Corten steel. The metal rusts and then stabilizes, giving much of Rosenberg’s work a bronze color.
Each of his elements is delicately and deliberately balanced, some seemingly defying gravity and the laws of physics, others creating thought-provoking silhouettes.
"I have some equipment that rolls metal, bends metal," Rosenberg said. "You can tell the way things sit, the weight. I did this series that was all about how things touch, how things feel when they touch the ground. Everything is a little bit off-balance, but it’s stable."
Two of his pieces contain blade elements. In one piece, a blade that resembles a cleaver is turned toward the sky, with the edges of two other rectangular elements intersecting at the handle. Another sword-like blade is bent so that the form has dramatically gentle contours.
"(I took) something that was sharp, that makes you feel somewhat threatened, and (I combined it) with something that is very soft and malleable," Rosenberg said.
He sees his relatively smaller pieces as scale models for bigger pieces. Ideally, he would make them big enough for people to walk through or sit inside.
His work is situated alongside a day care program, so kids constantly climb on his larger creations. Before and after people exercise at the fitness complex, they look. The quiet, solitary time he spends creating in his studio is complemented by the feedback he has received from his audience at the JCC.
"To me, the most important thing is (that) someone looks at the work and it gives (them) some kind of bang, a feeling," Rosenberg said. "It’s very easy to get into the habit of making something look good. I’m not interested in looking good. I’m more interested in having it speak to (people)."
For Rosenberg, self-expression through sculpture speaks to him. He was born in South Africa and attended an art-focused school in Israel. He moved to the Bay Area in 1978 to earn his Master of Fine Arts.
"(After my MFA), I started teaching," he said. "Teaching jobs in fine arts are relatively hard to find because the only thing that you can really do with a diploma is teach. It’s a funny world; making a living and being an artist isn’t a simple thing."
Rosenberg has worn many hats in his lifetime to raise a family in the Bay Area. He’s been involved in a plethora of pursuits outside of art. Currently, he is CEO of Meyer Appliance, a company assisting clients in home remodeling.
He normally works in his day job from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. He spends evenings and weekends working in his studio. Regardless of which activity he devotes more time to, he considers art his main focus in life.
"It’s hard for people to get that concept here, because here it’s a very materialistic world," he said.
Rosenberg inferred that he always finds ways to make art play a role in his life orchestra, even though it may oscillate between being the melody and the harmony.
"It comes from an inner obsession to create," he said. "It doesn’t come from the outside world. … When you put a piece together, it works, and you feel that it works. You get a little bit of that high and sometimes frustration because it’s a long process."
So whether Rosenberg is in his studio or on a desert island, it’s a good bet he will find ways to sculpt his perspective of the world.
"I wouldn’t really need to (bring art supplies to a desert island) because I would find the materials there," he said. "I collect materials and tools."
Rosenberg sees the process of making, doing and shaping as far more important than the end product or what it’s made of. He seems to be on a journey to find the perfect verbs - caressing, piercing, resting, cupping, being held up - in his sculptural language to describe coexistence of the world’s physical objects, people and ideas. ◆