Cleveland-based neon artist Jeff Chiplis is
debunking the old adage
“lightning never strikes the same place twice.” A
decade ago, some art-world buzz around his
work constructed from
repurposed found neon netted him a show at New York City’s White Box
He did not instantly become the next big art star.
He continued to work in Cleveland,
show his work and sell his creative
light pieces to both art collectors and businesses looking for
Chiplis recently completed his largest and most
ambitious work yet,
“The Great White Mountains and the Cold Cathode
Plains.” Stretching 28 feet,
it’s currently on display at the William
Busta Gallery, which will host an exhibition
reception from 5-9 pm
tonight. But after March 2, Chiplis will be packing it up and
to New York for the Scope Art Fair March 6-10, where he’ll expand it to a
panoramic 60 feet.
There he’ll add two segments to the five-segment
piece, which features photos
of snow-capped mountains, their contours
selectively heightened by the cold, glowing
blues and whites of the
layer of neon tubing fronting them. Piles of earth on the floor
underneath the wall-installed segments support more white neon tubing.
It’s a formidable,
poetic work, contrasting darkness and light, flatness
and dimensionality, the monumental
size of the real mountains with the
scaled-down size of the armatures, the actual
earth on the floor of the
gallery with the reproduction of earth in the photos.
On the other hand, Chiplis says he overheard Busta tell somebody it’s about skiing.
Take that, art jargon!