by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Paint evolves into an excavated sculpture as Todd Jones’ “Salting the Dig” poured into 621 Gallery for a just-closed February exhibit.
The mid-1800s lured droves of would-be prospectors to California’s caverns in search of gold. Many found fortune, while others dug up deception. The practice of “salting the dig” was meant to mislead potential land purchasers by adding a layer of valuable minerals to a mining sample to change its value.
Like miners of the past, sculptor and painter Todd Jones manipulates his materials to trick the beholding eye in his latest show, “Salting the Dig.”
“I’m essentially planting the information in these sculptures. Like, I’m layering the paint, and then I’m carving them and revealing the layers,” says Jones. “Trying to keep it, like, still excavating and archeological and geological.”
Jones uses discarded mistint house paints and cans of forgotten colors salvaged from community garages, basements, and stores. Through the combination of sculpting and paint pouring, Jones can repurpose and present an almost archaeological excavation of concealed stories, past personas, and, who knows, maybe even lost loves.
Growing up in Tallahassee amongst the tiny treasure troves of thrift shops gave Jones an eye for the refinery of the old and the ability to reinterpret. “I would go thrifting with my grandmother. I’d always find these cool objects,” recollects Jones fondly.
“There is an invisible memory to it and a cultural history to these objects. So I became really interested in what stories they could tell if they could talk. Now I’m reinventing that by taking these objects, essentially saving them because sometimes things will be thrown out or destroyed in the landfill. So, I’m reinterpreting them in my way to kind of give them a new breath of life.”
Jones’ interest in the previous life of an object led him to explore how he could use abandoned house paints to create culturally connected and environmentally friendly sculptures. First, Jones constructs large trough-like wooden squares to collect the recycled paints.
Using hardware catalogs to guide color schemes, Jones pours layers upon layers of paints stopping for 2-3 days in between each sediment. Each slab takes about six months to complete and eventually builds up to be 4-5 inches thick. Finally, Jones turns to his sculpting tools to chisel out unique shapes that he heats and cools to resemble geological formations.
“(It’s) very intuitive. I’ll sit there and just carve. I want it to look organic, like a geological formation of a rock. They look really topographical mapped as well… It takes 2-3 weeks of carving it. Carve a little bit and then stepping away.”
Jones jokes that the process takes him six months, but he could destroy it within two minutes with his carving. But as Jones says, “You just gotta roll with the punches.” He prides himself on his intuition and connectivity to the environment through ethical practices of recycling objects and consciously and responsibly disposing of paint.
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.