Psychocandy and the Art of Andre Woodward

On October 9, 2012 by Evan Senn

woodword1My first time walking into the artist in residence studio at the Orange County Great Park I was quite intrigued with the artwork of Andre Woodward, strewn all around the small repurposed space. His strange sound-based plant sculptures have a fine art finish that is attractive as a viewer. When you walk into a space with his work, the atmosphere is the first thing you become aware of. Ambient music and natural noises fill the air, while bright colors and assorted plant life welcome you into his world in a very serene yet exciting way.

Woodward’s pieces are beautiful. Crafted and contemporary, Woodward’s different series of works stray from each other visually, but retain a common thread in concept and working core. Psychocandy is a bright yellow universe made of Bonsai trees, metal towers, lights, and nine sound speakers all playing a versions of the song, “Psychocandy” by Jesus and Mary Chain. Like a bright and shiny new planet, each tower seemingly hovering in space, creating it’s own momentum and magnetic force, they pull the viewer in closer. The scent of dirt, the perfectly placed lights, and ambient atmospheric sounds resonating from each Bonsai tree capture all of your senses as you temporarily pass through this self-sustaining world. A lot of passion and innovation go into his creations, not only in the construction of the fabricated metal framing for the trees and speakers, but with each speaker system-which holds its own Bonsai tree-which have a customized composition of “Psychocandy”, with replaced layers and tinkered sounds helping to compose ambient and noise-related versions of this famous indie song.

Woodward admits to me during a brief candy binge that nearly every one of his pieces relates to his love of music, specifically his longest musical obsession, Jesus and Mary Chain. We sit and devour after-Halloween-candy as he plays song after song of this seemingly forgotten indie band of the late eighties/early nineties. Many of his other series also have Jesus and Mary Chain sound references locked away in their foundations.

A series of olive trees cemented into unique shapes of chiseled asphault also carry sound speakers inside them. Sitting on wheels, as a reference to our Southern California dependence on automotive travel, the sound is much more subtle in these pieces. There are other pieces too, like the hand grown crystal series, grown inside gnarled pieces of wood, also grow to the sound of Woodward’s composed ambient covers. Each crystal grows differently according to the sound embedded in its home. Heavier music or noises make the crystals grow sharp, with edges and height, whereas with the softer, more mellow music/sound the crystals stay low as they grow, keeping an even rounded shortness all over.

Some of his other series’ that do not contain sound pieces may include trees grown out of cement cinder block towers. There is a small series of musical trees in teak bases, made with music box motors and songs, rotating the trees as a creepy and classic melody is plucked away on the inside of the brightly colored plant sculptures.

Woodward’s pieces are evocative: contemporary but also very organic and natural. A big part of the visual aesthetic for the sculptures with sound is that it needs to be plugged into a power outlet. He wants you to notice the electrical connection of the sculpture. A lot of his work deals with our modern day societal reliance on electricity and technology, and the feat of keeping a plant alive in our harsh environments. Trees aren’t supposed to grow in cement, and they aren’t meant to be grown with different sounds affecting their growth patterns. But in our world we subject plants to these man-made atmospheric interruptions every day on a much larger scale. Woodward finds the beauty and the relevance of these things in our life and incorporates them into his work readily. Woodward prides himself on being a truly contemporary artist, dealing with contemporary life and new modes of expression.

Woodward is an Orange County artists, based in Costa Mesa, and also works as the Preparator for the Huntington Beach Arts Center. His work can be seen at the Orange County Great Park until the end of November in the Artist-In-Residence Studios, and the closing reception for his residency will be on Friday, November 30, 2012 at 7pm, with a live performance by fellow artist, Christine Nguyen’s band, Sea Moon and Friends taking place at the Orange County Great Park Palm Court Arts Complex.

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