Funko Roasto: Zachery Lechtenberg & Will Rimel

Toys, cartoons and skateboard culture come together with finely-wrought craft in Show Funko Roasto, featuring ceramicist Will Rimel and jewelry-maker Zachery Lectenberg. For their first ever exhibition in Santa Fe, the two artists use imagery expressing youthful dissonance, energy, and color in ceramics and champlevé enamelwork. Both artists work at the intersection of craft and automation - interested in the question of accessibility but have a deep appreciation for handmade forms that can be out of reach financially for many.

Will Rimel, well-known for his ceramic heads, explores the idea of the “freak show” to question what “normal” means and how we view ourselves. He is also fascinated in the life that toys have and how the relationship between toy and owner changes with age. “I’ve been fascinated by toys and have obsessively collected them for as long as I can remember. I never let my parents throw any toys away…no matter how broken it was. That’s why I still have [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’] April O’Neil’s right leg floating around in one of my toy bins; somehow I’ve lost the rest of her.”

Influenced by the emergence of designer toys, Rimel creates figures more commonly seen in vinyl than ceramic. “I think it’s a lovely juxtaposition to take this type of image that is associated with mass-manufacturing and make it by hand,” says Hecho a Mano owner, Frank Rose. “We will have a few pieces that were designed by the artist but not handmade.” Since the gallery’s name literally translates to made by hand, “it’s not an exception I anticipate making often!”

Zachery Lechtenberg is known for inventing Matt Groening-inspired creatures and enameling them in champlevé jewelry. His characters ooze desire and anxiety, an expression of present-day sentiments in Western culture. An exceptionally imaginative metalsmith and designer, Lechtenberg uses the saw and solder champlevé technique to create traditional jewelry forms, such as brooches and necklaces with distinctly non-traditional imagery. Inspired by street art, cartoons, comic books, and all aspects of popular culture, his brightly colored subjects are funny, raw, gutsy, and wonderfully strange.

“Pop imagery in a medium associated with the 11th-century Romanesque period expresses precisely the cognitive dissonance I see in the way we categorize objects. The established art world has a bad habit of eschewing new forms of expression,” says Frank Rose. “For a paradigm that supposedly prides itself on an embrace of creativity, it is maddeningly risk-averse.”

“Beyond the influence of popular culture, there is a personal narrative and rich, layered content in my work. It’s not just about the cast of characters, but how they’re made and exhibited,” Lechtenberg says.

Funko Roasto opens Friday, September 27, 6-8pm, and is on view through October 20.

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