I am a metal artist & sculptor with work in more than 2000 collections across the country. My experience includes working with aluminum, copper, bronze, steel and stainless steel. My body of work includes sculptures, metal weavings, metal art tiles, wall sculptures, photography, paintings and websites. I like to write, share and teach – I hope you will enjoy my contributions and share your own experience and knowledge.
John Searles Sculptor – Statement
The metal sculptures of John Searles reflect his enduring interests in mathematical patterns, design, movement, energy and freedom and are an expression of his on-going dialogue with the metals he works with – aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper and bronze. John Searles‘ background in poetry, painting and photography has heavily influenced his focus on shape and design. At times his artwork appears to depict the fluid movements of a Kung Fu master, or the flight patterns of a bird catching insects in the summer evening air. Other times, the metal represents dancers intertwined.
John Searles lives and works in a converted 5600 square foot factory on three acres of land near Lake Michigan. The front third of the building is a light-filled gallery. The back part is a tool- and work table-filled space with two garage doors and a view out over the property to the woods behind. Sculptures populate the lawn in front of the gallery. The grandeur of the water and sky and the serenity of the land infuse his work.
John Searles’ expertise as a sculptor build on his skills with tools, his studies in science, music and languages, and more than 40 years background in the arts. John Searles develops his designs by cutting shapes out of metal, then forming and welding them as he proceeds. His purpose is to delight the brain and visual centers as Music for the Eyes, as well as to celebrate the human spirit.
In addition to his sculptures, John Searles has built a national reputation with his wall sculptures, metal weavings, metal tiles, abstract paintings and photographs. His works are included in the collections of many hotels, corporations and private homes across the United States.
John Searles – Bio
I remember being fascinated by painting as young as 4, in Nursery School. It seemed very difficult to get the design and shapes and colors right. At age 7, I did an abstract design project for which I received a lot of praise. At home, I spent countless hours sketching large empty landscapes with mountains, rivers and highways, recollections of my travels with my family through the Mid- and Southwest. In school, I doodled mazes, one after the other, large, complicated and elaborate, foreshadowing my style of today.
My father taught Chemistry at the local college, and we luxuriated in the steady experience of Art and artists, music and plays. My early home was filled with books, music and artwork . My friends were all bright children of professors. My brother and I were tutored in French and German, for some reason, and forbidden to watch television. I would sneak next door to watch Mighty Mouse with the Army Colonel’s son that lived next door.
My beloved mother started me on the piano at age 4. I added the violin at age 9, then the guitar at 14. I was one of the unusual kids who loved to practice. Now I mostly listen to NPR, Bruce Becvar, swing dance music and salsa dance music. Someday I would like to live in Spain or Rio or Buenos Aires and go dancing every night. I would like to have more time to play music everyday.
I lived in England (Cambridge – Queen Elizabeth School – I wore the shorts, knee socks, blazer & sweater – even in the winter) with my family when I was 10 and we toured many of the great art museums in London and later in Paris. I had been reading the stories of King Arthur and his knights and the Art, the castles and cathedrals, the tumbledown ruins, the lifestyle and culture – it made a big impression on me.
I fell in love with poetry when I was 11 and began memorizing, reciting and then writing poetry. I was published more than a dozen times in my High School paper. I found Dylan Thomas to be particularly compelling but Carl Sandburg and many others moved me as well. Poetry and languages were my ‘career’ in High School. After reading ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, by Paramahnsa Yogananda, I thought that language held the secret key to Truth. Now I believe that language molds our perceptions of Reality, whatever that actually is. Physicists say the universe – people included – is 90% dark matter and dark energy – stuff we can’t see or touch but can only infer. How weird is that?! And then, when you study quantum mechanics, you realize that matter itself is 99% whizzing electrons and sub-atomic particles. It makes one wonder – Are we a wisp inside of a dream? Energy in motion?
I avidly studied Chinese art and history in college and was a Chinese linguist for the Air Force in the ’70s. I love the way the body moves when doing Tai Chi and try to incorporate that cyclical powerful energy into my work. I think I may have been a Taoist monk in a previous life. I identify with the Taoist religion most strongly – Taoism is the conceptual and philosophical basis of my artwork. I spent about 30 years exploring meditation and spirituality, then a psychic told me that I should focus on living in the here and now, rather than transcending this planet. I have had several out-of-body experiences that touched me deeply.
I have extensively studied chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics and love the natural patterns in rocks, skies and water. I spent many years being an avid, actually obsessed photographer. I have a large portfolio of abstract color photography that looks like magically colored fluid dynamics. I developed an incredible technique for photographing large flat soap films which have amazing colors dancing on the surface, visible when viewed in front of a black velvet background. I taught myself how to manipulate the colors on these soap films, making them last for 20-30 minutes and more.
I started painting when I was 14, spending the money I made mowing lawns on paints and canvas. I put it aside for a time, while I pursued my photography interests, then came back to it in the 90’s when I did several hundred paintings in a 4 years period. I developed a technique where I did an abstract painting on paper, then scored and cut the paper into popped-out geometric shapes. Some amazing work. I hope to do some on metal soon. I’ve also done a lot of pour paintings, inspired by Paul Jenkins and Richard Zucco, which still delight and amaze me.
I have been influenced by every artist I’ve seen. When I lived in Buffalo, we went to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery almost every weekend, witnessing all the cutting edge art coming out of NYC at the time. When I was 14, my uncle gave me a book of Picasso images. I cut out every page and taped them up on my wall to study daily. He thought I was desecrating an art book, but I just wanted to live with Art. When I lived in Kansas City, working on my MFA, I would go to the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery almost every weekend, moving slowly from room to room memorizing everything I saw. I can’t live without Art. When I was young I was too poor to afford it, so I decided to make my own. It’s important for the culture that people are doing Art and living with Art. Doing is important. The doing is what changes people. But beauty and visual excitement lift the spirit and inspire the heart, whether you or someone else has actually done the creating.
Art is really about creating magic. I need magic in my life. I decided to pursue a career as an artist because I admired what artists did most of all. At a certain point in my life, I realized I was doing artwork that was unique and admirable as well. That’s when I threw myself into it full-time, do or die.
I had never thought of myself as being particularly talented creatively – but I wanted and strived to be and have become amazingly creative by exercising that muscle everyday. School squeezed the creativity out of me and it’s been a struggle to get it back. But I have the most important qualities for success as an artist – passion, desire, commitment, persistence and a capacity for incredibly hard work. I have also slowly developed excellent problem-solving abilities. Slowly I came to realize that I have a very original mind. Very unique ideas come to me when I am in a trance state and properly rested and open to the Universe. I go out of my way to not copy other people. I am constantly seeking to do what hasn’t been done before. Part of my ‘job’ is to be unique.
Mainly, in life, you have to find out what you were born to do, and then do it with passion and determination. You must be like an arrow flying towards your target. That is the way of Dharma. If you want it enough, and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to prove your sincerity, the Universe will support your efforts.
John Searles Resume
- I’ve made and placed more than 2000 works of art over the past twenty years
- I’ve been averaging 50 commissions per year for the past five years
- World class quality and originality in 5 areas: Sculpture, Wall Sculptures, Art Tiles, Metal Weavings, Painting and Photography
- Artwork on display in thousands of Public and Private collections across the United States including dozens of hotels, banks and businesses
- CD cover for Nicholas Underhill’s ‘Original Compositions for Piano and Orchestra’
- Licensed artwork for use by Fuji and other Mon-tresor clients
- 2003 & 2005, August, Oconomowoc WI, Best of Sculpture
- 2002, August, Evanston Lakeshore, Best of Sculpture
- 2002 April, Great St. Louis Art Association, Merit award
- 2000 August, Hudson Art-On-The-Green, Hudson, OH, 3rd place
- 1998 July, Art Festival in Hardesty Park, Akron, OH, merit award
- 1998 July, St. John Westshore Art Festival, Westlake, OH, 2nd place
- 1993 August, Annual Art Festival, Appleton, WI, purchase award
- 1993 June, Prairie Village Art Show, Prairie Village, KS, purchase award
- 1993 April, Art Festival, Mandarin, FL, merit award
- 1993 January, Treasure Island Art Festival, Fort Pierce, FL, best of show
- 1992 October, Art in the Village, Cocoa, FL, Award of Merit
- 1992 September, Art Festival, Oklahoma City, OK 2nd place
- 1992 June Art Festival, Downer’s Grove, IL, 1st place
- June 1991, Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Award of Excellence
- National Wall Art Gallery, Tampa FL
- Inspirational Living Gallery, Orlando FL
- Carson Art Gallery, Dalllas TX
- Katie Gingrass Gallery, Milwaukee WI
- Jill Underhill Gallery, Harbert MI
- Don Drumm Studios & Gallery, Akron, OH, 2000
- Corporate Art Gallery, Mentor, OH, 1999-2000
- Tomorrow’s Treasures, Akron, OH, 2000
- ARA Gallery, Cedar Rapids, IA, 1993-1996
- ArtResource, Columbus, OH, 2000
- Gallery Nine, Cleveland, OH, 1994 and 1999-2000
- Dennis Tapp Gallery,
Louisville, KY, 1996-1998
- Vedanta Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1992-1995
- Reiger Fine Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1995
- Weston Gallery, Weston, MO, 1991
Exhibitions – One-Man Shows
- 1994 December, Express Gallery, Rocky River, OH
- 1994 March, Gallery Nine, Cleveland, OH
- 1992 May, Unity on the Plaza Gallery, Kansas City, MO
- 1992 February, Kansas Public Library, Kansas City, MO
- 1992 January, Unity Village Gallery, Lee’s Summit, MO
- 1991 December, Mettier Gallery, Weston, MO
- 1991 October, Costello’s Greenhouse Restaurant, Kansas City, MO
- 1991 September-October, Channel 41-TV, AM-Live Show
- 1991 September, Pembroke Hill Library, Kansas City, MO
- 1991 July, Community Christian Church, Kansas City, MO
- 1991 June, Roger T. Sermon Gallery, Independence, MO
- 1991 May, Unity Temple Gallery, Kansas City, MO
- 1990 December, The Corner Restaurant Gallery, Kansas City, MO
- 1990 October, Ande-leis Gallery, Kansas City, MO
- 1990 September, Executive Gallery, Leawood, KS
- 1990 August, Center for Business Innovation Gallery, Kansas City, MO
- 1989 May & August, Executive Gallery, Overland Park, KS
- University of Missouri, Kansas City, MFA 1991
- Kansas City Art Institute, 1980-1981
- University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, BFA 1979