Artist Robbie Schoen’s Mixed Media Guitar Series
Robbie Schoen from Portland, Oregon was told he was an artist when he was 5 years old and became well known when he created a 5 week chronology of photographs of his dying grandfather - from deathbed to casket. This focus on things that were sick, dying or dead led him to create art from discarded objects from polio braces to melted computers, signs, satellite dishes and anything broken. Over the years these pieces have been combined into different sculptural forms.
Schoen’s “Mixed Media Instrument Series” consists of sculptural forms that are working guitars... all properly tuned and can be played.
Robbie Schoen doesn’t play guitar. But when a few years ago a rusty catalytic converter on the side of the road caught his eye. “It was saying take me home and string me up,” said Schoen, a Santa Cruz sculptor whose exhibit “Spare Guitars” is currently being shown at the Felix Kulpa Gallery & Sculpture Garden.
So, ith the help of a friend who’s been repairing guitars for 30 years, Schoen fashioned that rusty piece of metal, once belonging to a GM car or truck, into a fully functioning electric guitar. This first how to guitar
, “Wreck & Roll,” was sold and a series was born. Of the 13 guitars he’s currently working on or finished, he has used shovels, skateboards, shredded tires, a parking sign, a satellite dish, an Ouija board and other objects.
“Probably the most popular is the Millennium Fender,” he said. It is furnished with a Star Wars Millennium Falcon toy he found in an antique shop. “It really captures peoples’ imaginations. People come in and say, ‘I had that toy when I was little.’”
These days, friends bring odd knickknacks that they’ve found in their home or in antique stores to him. His toilet seat guitar was made out of a toilet seat a friend who owns a secondhand material builder’s yard gave him. But he still keeps his eye out for just the right object for his next project.
“I’m constantly keeping my eye out for something that I can use,” Schoen said. “You just wait and eventually you’ll find something that fits right in.”
He has previously showcased his “Spare Guitars” series in San Francisco at The Dark Room and has sold two for $2,400 a piece. One of these new owners, Isaac Frankle, who purchased a shovel guitar, has become something of a local sensation playing the shovel guitar on the Internet and at local venues.
“As sculptures they’re great, but when you find out they’re fully functioning guitars it’s really exciting,” he said. “You can go on YouTube and actually see the ‘shovel guitar guy.’”
And it sounds great!! See here for the Shovel Slide Guitar being played by Isaac Frankle. >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK0xQ-oMA_o
Schoen hopes by recycling discarded objects into functioning guitars that he’ll enlighten peoples’ lives. “When you come to a gallery, you’re pulled out of your routine then it hits you like a thunderbolt,” he said. “That’s what art is for.”
Robbie Schoen’s Mixed Media Guitars are currently being displayed at the famous Bolt Barbers 460 S Spring Street, Downtown LA 90013
Wow, will you look at those guitars. Surely, ideas from recycling really does wonders eh. I do like the guitar that is made from a skateboard. But how can it be played? It seems a bit hard but it's really good to have one or two of these uniquely made guitar.