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Marilyn Foley Art Gallery Hosts “Observations”
2014 Visiting Artist: Jim Kransberger
Ceramic works and mechanical wood sculptures created by artist Jim Kransberger will be on display beginning Aug. 18 in “Observations,” a free exhibit at the University of Mobile’s Marilyn Foley Art Gallery.

At nearly 80 years old, Kransberger is a self-taught contemporary artist in North Carolina whose early works feature unique mechanical movement, known as “automata.” Recently he has transitioned to working with clay, moving from folk art to contemporary sculpture. Humor is a common theme in all of his works, and pieces representing both styles of his art will be on display.

Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. “Observations” will be on display through Sept. 30.

The Marilyn Foley Art Gallery is located in the Ben May Building on the University of Mobile campus, 5735 College Pkwy. Gallery director is Phillip Counselman, associate professor of art. For information, call the UMobile Art Department at 251-442-2283, or visit the University of Mobilr website at umobile.edu.

Kransberger said he is naturally drawn to humor, and it opened the door for his entry into artistic work.

“I am an aficionado of great one-liners; I have a passion for editorial cartoons. Good, dry jokes break me up. People who laugh at themselves intrigue me. People who don’t or can’t or won’t laugh out loud make me
uncomfortable. I started making humorous pieces to hide my ignorance of how to sculpt. It was a slight-of-hand, a misdirection,” he said.

“In the beginning I made 6-inch sculptures. I’m looking at an 18-inch size in my newer work. Bigger work means that better edges become attainable, and better edges define the quality of good sculpture,” he added.

He said he is tightening his sights on how he presents his work’s subject matter.

“Arguably, my early pratfall, whimsical attempts at humor have gotten more focused, more specific,” said Kransberger, whose works have been shown in galleries in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Kransberger’s works were featured in the September/October 2011 issue of ARTsee magazine, which said, “from ranting politicians to early birds fighting over a worm, each piece supplies a rush of sugary whimsy, the only challenge being not to smile, not to give in, as they crank, move, surprise. And while his sculptures are a delight to observe, the actual construction – integrating the basswood, brass tubing and rods – reveals deep reservoirs of patience and tinkering.”

Making sculpture “is the fun part. Sharing it is your enjoyment. Making people smile when they see it move is your delight,” Kransberger told the magazine.

NOTE: The above is from a press release dated: July 27, 2014.
From Outside In
ARTsee magazine, September/October 2011 issue.
As still wet art newbie, one could hardly wish for a better promotional piece than this four page, full color article in ARTsee magazine. To be the warm-up act for this magazine’s honorarium to world renowned artist Romare Bearden’s 100th anniversary, was a sellout issue. I got a free, lucky ride. There’s an on-line link to my small part (if four pages is small) of this issue directly below . . . click
article image or here to read.
Describe your art?

“Simply put, I make mechanical sculpture. It is sculpture because it is carved, for the most part sort of folk art like. It is mechanical because one must construct a mechanism to give it motion. The proper name for this is Automata (au-tom-at-a).

Automata has a nodding acquaintanceship with old wooden toys, whirligigs and penny-banks. From that beginning, Automata has been forgotten for a time then rediscovered as mechanical sculpture.

The fun in making them is most often the expression of the viewer when it moves ... a smile.

Why do you do what you do?

Automata is from the world of toy makers and the current state-of-the-art is centered in telling a small story of one sort or another. The technical aspects of automating that story prove to be endlessly interesting, frustrating and time consuming.

Tell us about your latest projects.

My latest completed piece is Ernest Uni Invents His Cycle. I started thinking about doing a unicycle perhaps 10 years ago. A month ago, I finally came up with a suitable mechanical method to accomplish a cyclist.

My next project is to make a series of artists and hobbyists working at their personal projects. My potter piece is a replication of a man working at a Leach wheel.

What are you doing that no one else is?

There are probably two dozen active automata makers in the U.S. I am pleased to be one of them.

When is your most creative time?

Ideas happen when they happen; they are not captive to a particular place or time. So my best creative time is the summation of a lot of mulling on how to make something happen. It takes a huge amount of time to design a set of gears

that will drive the object I've taken a lot of time to design.
What influences your work?

I have purchased about every book written on automata, and downloaded a ream of paper or two from the Web. I've never copied anyone's work. I have a notebook full of ideas to keep me going.

How did you get started in your art?

Made models and have had an active sales part of the hobby and craft industry.

Forty years ago I saw my first piece of automata. It took all this time to get around to getting started. In October, I will have a piece in The Bascom's American Craft Today II 2010 Juried Exhibition.

What artist do you most admire?

Next to my wife Jan (she makes kiln cast glass sculptures), I really would like to own a Spencer Herr. His "outsider" perspective is exceptional.”
Humor in Crafts
 Brigitte Martin, author. Schiffler Publishing
 March 28, 2012. Hardcover: 256 pages
     ISBN-10: 076434059X
     ISBN-13: 978-0764340598

 One of the small cover images is duplicate of one of four of my pieces covered within the book.
How to Make Masks!
 Jonni Good, author. Wet Cat Books
 Summer, 2012. Softcover
     ISBN: 978-0-9741065-4-0

 In this book, Jonni again demonstrates not only her considerable
 writing skill, but the vastness of her creative talent. I made a mask    
 using her new method and a photo is included in the book.
500 Paper Objects
Gene McHugh, author. Lark Crafts
Fall 2013,. Softcover: 420 pages
     ISBN-978-1-4547-0330-3 (pbk)

Four of my pieces are in this book.
& Shows
• Artist Statement
• Resumeks