The Art of Zbigniew Zolkowski
The Art of Zbigniew Zolkowski
Navigating by the dim light of the street lamps, Zbigniew Zolkowski, AKA Joey the Street Boy, rummages through the trash to find the material needed for his trans-dimensional journey through the looking glass. His work is more than just random array of buttons, nuts & bolts, game pieces, PC chips, costume jewelry, pebbles, paper clips, pacifiers, rat traps, denture molds, pigeon wings and sporadic dead cat, affixed to salvaged mirrors with clear epoxy. They are the statement directly regarding the post consumer wasteland found on the curbside of modern, urban society.
"My work is dependent upon light to elucidate the object in the present moment and real time. The melting-melding sculptural surface of the convex and concave elements suggest something hidden or reveled just below it's surface. This three-dimensionality of the sculpture and the mirror canvas is derived from the blend of the hidden and the obvious through reflection, refraction, shadow, color and form"
(Written by Maze)
Joey has been a practicing artist for his entire adult life and he has just turned 70.
He went to college at Oregon State University where he studied art drawing, painting and sculpture. His favorite artist at the time was Robert Rauschenberg and you can clearly see his influence in Joey’s art. His work has encompassed a variety of mediums like Rauschenberg drawing, painting, sculpture, performance art, collage, sticker art and ecological protest art.
Joey’s drawings are technically skilled in the classical sense and yet they have a creative twist and the sense of humor that imbues all his work.
He has worked in photography and learned how to develop all his negatives himself in the darkroom. He used to go out with Christopher Rauschenberg on his photographic Explorations in Eugene Oregon. He made a video of the sculptor Chamberlain in the act of creating one of his works when he was the artist in Residence at the University. Chamberlain used a used car to crush the metal and produce the sculptural piece. Joey's film was bought and placed in The Archives of the University. When Joey saw Chamberlain in a wheelchair 30 years later at Gogasians art gallery, he was recognized and referred to by the nickname DeMille. That is the name Chamberlain used to call him when he was in the process of filming him and documenting the action.
Joey has worked in 3 foundries making the artworks of other artists including de Kooning. He was like many modern artists heavily influenced by the surrealist movement and the work Marcel Duchamp, and his ready-mades.The educational and ecological thinking of Rudolf Stiner and Joseph Beuys. He has taken to heart the dictums of de Kooning.
Joey was also influenced by the ideas and the Art of the Fluxus movement and Joseph Beuys the German artist who was so influential in establishing a wider field of practice and freedom for those who want to practice art in a non-traditional format and extend it to social sculptures and meaningful work to save our Paradise, our broken world.
When you meet Joey and get to know his work, you realize there is a childlike simplicity that you will find refreshing and genuine. What you see might at first surprise you with its compexcity but behind it is an authentic self that took decades to make.
The greatest art of the many artists lays in their lives and their selves.
His art has been a way of life and a passion. You can tell by the way he walks and the way he talks that he's an artist's artist. His body of work spans five decades but sadly at least half of his work is missing or ephemeral.
He creates on the spot using found objects and makes performance pieces that exist often for a short while and the small audience.
He possesses the ability to find inspirations for his sculptures in the garbage that is put out everyday on the streets of New York City. He transforms these materials to create fantastically amusing and provocative works of art. It's fun to watch him work and to see the joy that he brings into people's lives who are often a simple folks, not the intelligentsia and the elite in the world of New York Art. He creates these works of art sometimes in solitary and then he returns to the scene of crime to watch how people interact with his art. People stop and take pictures and smile and laugh. He brings art not to the museum but brings the museum to the people on the streets at no charge. His pro-bono work is done for the pure enjoyment of being in the zone and sharing his gift manifested into the reality. You can follow Joey around and be entertained by that fountain of creativity that seems inexhaustible.
The last couple of years he's been working with mirrors. He finds and then bonds materials that he finds in the streets in interesting combinations that are designed to be aesthetically pleasing and to make a social commentary about the important issues the world is facing today. His concern for the natural environment and its degradation due to mass consumerism and over consumption is evident in many of the works he has produced.
His ability to find spaces and materials to make art on a budget so small that it may as well be out of nothing. It's a kind of magic that he does and he does it so well.
He also uses himself in a very serious and funny way like Cindy Sherman as the object that he sculpts with paint and costumes that are truly far out and some of them frankly bizarre. He seems to have no shame or boundaries and is willing to go naked for the cause.
Joey loves the element of surprise and his work it's something he loves to share.
“Art is not created in a vacuum, it's created in the community”
Understanding Joey's work happens after the initial surprise. It's something that grows on you and makes you think about it later . That's the pleasure of dining on what Joey dishes out. You're never sure what's on the menu but it's a pleasure to digest and it has a great aftertaste.
(Written by Chris Muth)
Columbus College of Art and Design: BFA, 1972
University of Oregon: MFA, 1976
Scholarship: Phillip Johnson
1991-Present - Actively creating public outdoor sculptural installations in many metropolitan New York locations, Brooklyn and Queens. Sites of installations including sidewalks, parking lots, riverfronts, Willets Point, Queens. Over 1,000 installations documented.
June, 2021 - "WINGS of DESIRE" Zbigniew Zolkowski's solo show, TROCHA GALLERY, New York
December 2017 - Fine Art Work of Janusz Gilewicz/Zbigniew Zolkowski ZAHA HADID Highline Condos Galery, New York.
October 2016 - Zbigniew Zolkowski/Yanusz Gilewicz "DELUGE" IDEAL GLASS GALLERY New York.
2009 -Two short films in collaboration with film director/producer FLOANNE ANKAH
1)"Waterfront Access"- Shown in Museum of Moving Image, 2009
2)"Oneway" - Awarded "Best Experimental Film" in Big Apple Film Festival, 2008
2007-INSTALLATION "Umbrella" Fort Lee, New Jersey
2003 - "BRAVE DESTINY" Exhibited Art Work and assisted in making a documentary film of "Brave Destiny" show of surrealist, fantasy and visionary international artists in the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, New York.
2001-2002 - Established the "EAST 3rd" St. HEALING ARTS CENTER" lasting 4 months, in honor of World Trade Center tragedy. It included participation in community members, spiritual leaders, poets, musicians and artists.
1195-1998 - Established "CATCH 22" Art Gallery in East Village, NY. Curated art shows, poetry readings, music and film events.
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