“Three Concrete Sculptures,” recently on exhibit in Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery’s courtyard in Los Angeles, marked fabricator Rob Lan’s maiden voyage into decorative concrete.
“I usually use composites, epoxy, fiberglass, polyester or weird deadly chemicals” to sculpt, says the sole proprietor of Rob Lan Fabrication in Los Angeles. But New York-based artist Sarah Crowner hired him to mold and cast the art pieces and she specified concrete for this fabrication. Consequently, Lan learned as he went.
His background is with special effects makeup, he says, which mainly involves plaster and various gypsum products. “I falsely assumed concrete (behaved) similar to gypsum, so I had to give myself a crash course on how to form concrete.”
Lan turned to YouTube videos and Buddy Rhodes’ website for advice and read anything he could get his hands on. The two disciplines, gypsum and concrete, cross over so it’s not like he went into the job “super cold,” he says. And thankfully the Buddy Rhodes product he turned to was “idiot-proof,” which he says made his role all the easier.
The hardest part of the fabrication was getting used to the ratio of liquid to solid. “I was surprised at how little liquid we used,” he says, adding that 10% of the total water used was pigment.
The mix he landed on was a blend of Buddy Rhodes admix, portland cement, sand, alkali-resistant (AR) glass fibers, acryl, water and Mixol pigments, the latter of which he purchased from JoAnne Setear with New York-based Sepp Leaf Products Inc. “JoAnne was a huge help with the Mixol colors,” he says.
Mixol, which he had used before with gypsum and gotten good results, are “intensely saturated pigments,” Lan continues. He tested powdered pigments for this job but the colors weren’t vivid enough. Mixol, which he describes as a “viscous liquid,” delivered the colors the artist envisioned.
Crowner, whose works feature geometric compositions and solid fields of color, often invites viewers to step inside the work or the world around it. For this series she created three-dimensional sculptures that viewers could sit on while spending time within the presented landscape.