Scott Froschauer is a wanted man these days. Wanted as in sought after. The Smithsonian Institution wants a piece of his Burning Man installation artwork for their No Spectators, The Art of Burning Man to be held at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., in 2018. And next Saturday, July 15th, as part of the group show Sizzle at Wallspace Gallery on La Brea, Froschauer will be exhibiting a number of signs from his “The Word in the Street” series.
Los Angeles-based, Froschauer considers himself an experimental artist. His background and education in engineering and theoretical linguistics plus practical work in fabrication and design, are all visible elements in his eclectic, highly memorable works. We see linguistic ideas in his sign art, engineering at play in his Burning Man structures.
Whether he’s burning images in canvas with gunpowder – sometimes more than one kind – or crafting strong messages both political and spiritual in the form of iconic street signs, Froschauer describes his work as “an exploration in emotional connectedness.”
Indeed it would be difficult for a viewer to not be engaged with the artist’s work, which is both bold and haunting.
“Some work is about revolution, particularly considering that our culture considers being connected to oneself as a revolutionary act,” he notes, but asserts that his main focus is exploratory. He says he is always “exploring new spaces and techniques for communication.”
Signs are certainly one way to communicate, and Froschauer makes strong use of the medium. His “The Word on the Street” series includes “Peace Signs,” which emulate DOT parking signs. The signs, posted in a vertical row, begin with the directive “If there is to be peace in the world/there must be peace in the nations” and concludes with “If there is to be peace in the home/there must be peace in the heart.”
The yellow diamond street sign “Relax” is a directive to do just that, one which Froschauer displayed as guerrilla art in DTLA. His “One Way Heart” is a one-way sign in the shape of a heart. Smart, savvy, and packed with meaning, the artist’s sign work may be his most accessible and fun; its sentiments hard to argue with.
Of his upcoming work – including an outdoor installation of “Peace Signs,” Froschauer notes “There’s something about putting up a sign in front of people walking down the street. Something about the feeling from taking the work out of the hidden darkness and into broad daylight. I’ve imagined this sign being on the street in LA, but I never imagined it in front of a gallery that I admire as much as Wallspace. I certainly didn’t think that I would have pieces in the gallery as well.”
The artist may be humble, but that’s okay – his work is anything but, with messages that are clear and design that vibrates with meaning.
The artist’s “Gunpowder Gutenberg” series is more overtly political than “The Word on the Street.”
Take “Old Glory,” a large-scale gunpowder print on canvas created, as the Froschauer describes by “detonating Hodgdon H322 Gunpowder into canvas. This gunpowder is found in .223 caliber ammunition for the AR-15 assault rifle, which stands at the center of the debate about gun ownership in the United States.” He notes that this currently legal weapon was designed for military use solely to murder, yet is also revered as a “primary instrument for the protection of the United States and it’s Freedoms in foreign conflicts.” The piece poignantly and pointedly indicates the gun violence that continues to devastate the U.S.
His “Visitors Welcome” is even more powerful and political. This gunpowder on canvas work shows the 1956 school welcome sign from Sandy Hook Elementary School recreated. Froschauer describes the piece as printed by “detonating Hodgdon H322 Gunpowder into a canvas. This particular gunpowder is used for .223 caliber rounds which would be found in the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used by Adam Lanza to fatally shoot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut The incident was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history. I ask that you take a moment to consider the notion that in 1956, when the school was founded, visitors were welcome in schools such as Sandy Hook.” If viewers get chills from this work, all the better – the medium of gunpowder is in many ways truly the message here.
The Fleur de Lis pattern in ” The Veve of Madame Corazon,” is eerie in a different way. The piece serves as a kind of elegy to Madame Corazon a Loa, or spirit, of the Voodoo family Guédé. Created with what the artist calls “a personal recipe of black powder, smokeless gunpowder and ground sage. This alchemical combination both charges the image and purifies the line.” It’s both beautiful and strange; an emotional and spiritual work that reminds viewers of the elaborate tombs and cemeteries in New Orleans.
In short, when it comes to Froschauer and his art, all you have to do is read the “signs.” There are many reasons why he is indeed a wanted man.
- Genie Davis; Photos courtesy of the artist