A Los Angeles-based publishing house publishes a lavishly illustrated art book about a Pittsburgh sculptor who entered the medium in September of his years.
Dan Droz began sculpting full-time in 2019, when he was in his late 60s, after retiring from a 38-year career that included teaching at Carnegie Mellon University and working in his furniture and graphic design company.
Droz, who is Jewish, is surprised by his recent successes, including the coffee table book, titled “Behind The Fold” and on sale at Griffith Moon Publishing.
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“Having a book after only three years? It’s something I didn’t expect,” Droz said.
“It’s just about getting out there and showing your work,” he added. “People react to it.”
As it happens, the publisher approached Droz when the latter presented at the Kipaipai conference at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History in Ojai, California. “Kipaipai” translates to “encourage and inspire” in native Hawaiian.
“I know editorial design well, but I’ve never designed a book before, especially not an art book,” Droz said. “It was a learning experience.”
Droz will participate in a book signing event on December 9 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland. More information is set to be released on the event, which is co-sponsored by Pittsburgh Magazine.
The book features essays on Droz, as well as images of his best-known and most accomplished works.
Los Angeles-based painter Virginia Broersma met Droz when she presented on artist contracts via Zoom for Pittsburgh Associated Artists. Droz was one of the performers on call.
“Artist Dan Droz has the ability to make you look like you are,” Broersma wrote in his essay in “Behind The Fold.” “His sculptures are revealed in layers over time; the first impression is not always what remains in the end. Droz has always had an interest in magic – actual magic tricks – and this particular activity is a great metaphor for the art and a window into his sculptures. In magic, there is trickery, but also a great thrill of being shown something impossible.
Broersma told the Chronicle that “you can’t separate the art and the artist.”
“In this case, he’s a great example of someone who’s been involved in visual things his entire career,” Broersma said, speaking by phone from California. “But the way he chased it, so aggressively…it’s like he was in hyper-speed.”
The artist said she was seduced by Droz’s experimental zeal; to illustrate, she pointed out how Droz works with mesh materials, which “requires a lot of refinement for the material to stretch”.
“It’s just very experimental, and I think it’s inspiring, as another creative person,” Broersma said. “He’s making a career out of it later in life – and he’s doing well.”
Droz is also not shy about talking about his technique, the process of creating art almost as essential to the viewer as the end product. For example, Droz talked about a method he invented to turn a glass plate in an oven without touching it.
“I’ve applied the methods and techniques, but the makers implement them…and that increases my productivity, compared to other carvers,” he said. “It’s been a very busy time and a very productive time.”
And then there is magic, which continues to fascinate Droz. The sculptor said he was captivated by the concept of “What you see if it’s not always there”.
My work “really speaks to it,” Droz said. “When you look at a piece, you don’t know how it’s done.”
Those eager to see Droz’s work in the flesh won’t have to wait long.
Following recent exhibitions at the Merrick Museum & Gallery Biennale and the “Art for Change” show at Stage AE on September 9, Droz will be working with the Society of Sculptors on a show at Full Spectrum, 711 S. 21st St., Pittsburgh, which will runs from September 15 to October 11.
Droz will participate in an annual exhibit at the Bridgeville Library from October 7-31. His work can also be seen at “Art of the State” at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. This show, which started on September 11, will continue until January 15, 2023. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.