May 14, 2020
Best known for his large-scale public sculptures — like “Santa Cruz (Blunk’s Hunk)” (1968), a gnarled piece of redwood carved like a boat — J.B. Blunk was also a proficient painter and jeweler who turned his Inverness, Calif., home into a showcase for the artistic splendor of natural materials, including redwood burls and stones made smooth by the Eel River, which he foraged himself in the north of the state. Given his output and the fact that, in the 1950s, he was an apprentice to Japanese masters like Rosanjin and Kaneshige Toyo, it’s surprising that no monograph on his life and work has existed until now. “J.B. Blunk,” which publishes tomorrow, has been meticulously curated by Mariah Nielson, Blunk’s daughter and the director of his estate, and spans the artist’s long and varied career. What makes his oeuvre so exceptional, according to Nielson, is “the confluence and synergy between life and work, and the fact that he didn’t distinguish between art, design and craft the way we do in Western culture.” The book is laid out to reflect Blunk’s approach: Images of sculptures of wood and stone sit alongside those of early ceramic works and items of gold jewelry, many of which served as studies for the sculptures. Its release was initially meant to coincide with Blunk’s first (and also long-overdue) solo show in New York, at the Kasmin Gallery, which will now take place in the fall and feature works from both the artist’s home and private collections. Head to Vimeo to flip through the book and see some of Blunk’s home.