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Bow Wow! Doggy Bags art by Will Kurtz sniffs out The Square

Bow Wow! Doggy Bags art by Will Kurtz sniffs out The Square

  • Whimsical sculptures with details blown up multiple times their actual size depict the absurdity of waste and the need to recycle.
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There are handsome dogs in town, standing guard in The Square. Made of painted paper mache, the alert pooch art, called Doggy Bags, is by NYC artist Will Kurtz.

Originally from Flint, Michigan, Kurtz worked as a landscape architect for 25 years, throughout the United States and Canada.

“After a while, there wasn’t enough art in it,” he said in a video interview.

So in his mid-thirties that he began teaching himself art, and in a big career change moved to New York at the age of 50 to attend graduate school at the New York Academy of Art. He graduated with an MFA.

New York City is one city where there is an ample supply of material all over the streets – namely newsprint. Multiple dailies – The NY Post, Daily News, NY Times, as well as weekly publications are on every corner and some are free.

“Newspaper is my medium of choice because it gives a raw, imperfect, ephemeral quality that reminds us that we are only here on this Earth for a short while,” Kurtz says of the here today, trashed, or recycled tomorrow medium.

Since then he has had several solo and group shows in New York, Miami, Paris, and Belgium. His works are in many prominent collections and he still works and lives in New York City.

Will Kurtz with dog art
Will Kurtz with dog art (Courtesy photo)

“A highlight of my art career was my first solo show in New York. I was right out of grad school and had a big art show in Chelsea. I made a life-sized paper sculpture of my mother. It was one of those epiphany moments when the subject and materials came perfectly together. The opening was so big that people lined the street, and some had to leave before more could come in. It was one of those profound moments when I knew I was doing exactly what I should be doing.”

His life-size figures of people and animals are inspired by images from the very material he creates them, newspapers.

“I create realistic life-size figures and animals out of newspaper with an internal structure made of wood and wire,” he explains. “The newspaper forms have a collage of words and colorful advertising that is applied in a spontaneous painterly fashion to reflect the mood and life of the individual.”

Police, sitting bums, and dogs figure prominently.

“My subjects are real, everyday people who are often marginalized. I select and create uncommon characters that have a distinct emotive quality. I use photography to capture a moment in their daily lives. They are often comic in character, dress, or body type. The posture, gestures, facial expressions, and clothing bring the figures to life. They have a familiarity with someone you might know or have passed on the street. In my photos, I encapsulate their resilience and vulnerability to convey empathy for the hardships we all face. The animals are selected to show their unique breed, size, shape, or type of hair. Through them, I am able to express their innocence and humor that has a universal appeal.”

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Kurtz says oddball things he sees on the streets of New York become his art.

“Some of the things that inspire me are: a dead rat that has been run over by a car, women fighting on the steps of the apartment building across the street, the Hispanic women selling those long sugar pastry things on the subway platform, the crack heads selling found furniture and crap on my street corner, the guy pushing a shopping cart of bottles, the Chinese guy playing that one-string instrument, a baby pig’s head on a platter with a birthday hat, the group of black kids with their matching YMCA shirts and backpacks, the young Hasidic sisters running to their father in their plaid dresses, and the row of ants on my studio floor.”

There’s a correlation between his former career and his artwork, Kurtz came up with landscape ideas by creating shapes and underlying order. He also drew on paper with a bold black marker. This relates perfectly to the underlying armatures of wood and wire inside his sculptures that set the tone and mood of the piece.

The Doggy Bags art installation by Will Kurtz on The Square is a collaboration of Avant Gallery and Palm Beach Modern Contemporary Art Fair which started during the recent art week in West Palm Beach. The beautiful sculptures with details blown up multiple times their actual size depict the absurdity of waste and the need to recycle.

For more information on the artists, visit www.willkurtz.com

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