Dave Masten gets ‘Wired’ for Art Prize

September 10, 2012

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — Blues music plays out of the stereo as Dave Masten meticulously works on his new creation. “I feel like Dr. Frankenstein,” he says, using needle-nose pliers to twist copper metal on the sculpture’s face.

Dave works in his driveway, tucked in the woods on picturesque Buttersville Peninsula south of Ludington. The evening sun begins to shine striking the all copper creation making it look alive, its strands of copper hair sticking straight up.

This is “Wired” and it is soon to become well known to the world’s art community. Dave will be entering Wired in this fall’s Art Prize in Grand Rapids where it will be prestigiously displayed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Dave has spent his career working in photography, videography and public relations.

He worked for West Shore Community College from 1973 to 1985 working as a public relations and audio/visual coordinator. He also taught photography there.

He then spent five years freelancing before accepting a job with Dow Chemical in Ludington as public affairs coordinator, retiring in 2004.

In retirement he decided to seek other artistic avenues.

“All through your life you see things and hear things that are stuck in the back of your brain. After a career of capturing photo and video images, it occurred to me one day that all the time I was producing realistic images I was also absorbing ‘mental snap-shots’ of bits and pieces of shapes, patterns, contrasts, colors, locations, movements, sounds, and most of all, feelings.

“I didn’t realize what was going on in any logical sort of way, but somehow I always felt it.”

Dave decided to expand his artistic horizons and take painting classes from instructor Cheri Petri at West Shore Community College.

“Cheri is a great artist and a wonderful instructor,” he says. “I had been taking classes for two years and one day last spring I asked her if I could try something other than painting. Of course she said yes and actually encouraged me to explore other areas of art.

“I was thinking about the concept of using wire for quite some time. My daughter, Erin, who is now in her ’30s, worked on a wire art project when she was in high school.”

Wired is a collection of Dave’s observation and statement of today’s society. He wanted to make it realistic. He also knew wire would limit it from looking too human.

“You can’t unplug very easily these days,” he says. “We have the Internet, smart phones, iPads, iPods. They’re all coming at you.”

Structurally, Wired started out with a metal plumbing frame.

“As I started adding more wire, I realized that it would be too heavy,” Dave says. “So I had to rethink the frame.”

Dave went back to his Dow days and asked master welder Dale Larr of Victory Twp. for help. Like Dave, Larr is retired from Dow.

“Dale is a genius at welding,” Dave says. “He used a 1-inch tube frame. In order to use the new frame I had to dismantle the sculpture, though. I took off its arms, legs and head.”

The result was a much lighter object that will be easier to transport.

Wired is a personal project and Dave had no intention of displaying it in public.

“Cheri started to talk to me about Art Prize,” he says. “I haven’t had a chance to be there before but my brother, who lives in Grand Rapids, has been hounding me to get down there each year.”

Dave decided to follow the application process and sent in photos of his sculpture. Artists must seek out select venues. The venues then decide if they will display the artist’s work. Wired caught the eye of the assistant director of the Ford museum, one of the most popular Art Prize sites.

This is the fourth year of Art Prize, which was started by Rick Devos, the grandson of Amway co-founder Richard Devos. It will be held Sept. 19 to Oct. 7 in downtown Grand Rapids.

To follow Dave’s progress with Wired, check out http://www.artprize.org/david-masten/2012/wired.

For more on Art Prize, see http://www.artprize.org.

Story, video and photos by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

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