Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer

The Tyler Museum of Art’s exhibit
“Form and Substance:
The Art of George Tobolowsky
Tobolowsky at the Tyler Museum, 2010
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A crowded commitment to one-person museum exhibitions happily continues to face
Tobolowsky. “Face and Form: Modern and Contemporary Sculpture,” a group exhibition
at SMU’s Meadows Museum highlighted 2009. In 2010, the Grace Museum in Abilene
gave him a show, inside the museum and outside on the grounds, accompanied by
a catalog and essay by Jed Morse. This exhibit traveled to the Tyler Museum of Art
on through November 28. In 2011, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, a non-profit
space in San Antonio will give him a solo show; for the same city Tobolowsky is
commissioned to create a major public piece for the Botanical Gardens.

Between family, former pursuits as an attorney and in business, Tobolowsky fits in time to
compose large-scale metal sculptures drawing attention by the top drawer staff of the
Nasher Sculpture Center. Pictured above in 2009, this native Dallasite (born 1949)
touches one of his new pieces in his studio in Mountain Springs on his ranch along
with Jed Morse, the Curator, and Jeremy Strick, the Director standing to the left.
It was following his first, well-received show at Gerald Peters’ Gallery in 2006
Tobolowsky re-focused his life to making smaller scale as well as public art.

Tobolowsky in his studio with Jed Morse and Jeremy Strick
“Wall Street”
This committed artist produces complex forms for sculptures from indoor tabletop and
utilitarian furniture to monumental outdoor pieces. For these three-dimensional
assemblages he uses vast heaps of heavy industrial steel and stainless steel castoffs,
his medium, found in scrap yards (his “back yard”) and fabrication plants. An average
of 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of discarded bent, molded, extruded, colored and punched
objects are scavenged weekly; completed works weigh in from 600 to over 3,000
pounds. After cleaning the metal the appropriate pieces are welded together in
order to relate to each other in some way. In the process, the artist creates ground
breaking abstract, super tactile, miraculously elegant, beautifully balanced
compositions blatantly announcing “the sum is more than the parts.” Lacquer
is added for luster and protection – no wonder George welcomes museum-
lookers to rub the surfaces (usually a real no-no). Tongue and cheek titles,
“The Auditors,” “Wall Street” and “Dealbreaker” refer to his past personal life
Tobolowsky’s career-long buddy, inimitable, internationally known James Surls, served as his
instructor at SMU and continues as an inspirational force in his work. The connection between
the two sculptors’ work’s configurations is pronounced enough to ponder. Surls commission
(by the city’s Public Art Fund) in the summer of 2009, Surls (born 1943) was for six large scale
cast bronze and stainless steel sculptures as high and wide as 18 feet for the center islands
of Park Avenue from 51st to 57th Street, annually adorned with seasonal bulbs,
appropriately titled “Blossoms.”

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