Best assembler: Christopher Bales
Best of Sacramento 2013 writer’s pick
It seems cheap to pigeonhole assemblage artist Christopher Bales’ work as merely steampunk: His aesthetic is older than that. Although he sometimes uses antique and vintage materials associated with the genre, such as metal cogs, the final product often looks more like an altar constructed from the rubble of a pre-Victorian cathedral. Bales, who has been assembling these intricate sculptures since 1989, said he sources “an enormous amount of objects”—like broken wooden boxes, dolls, clocks, picture frames, figurines—from his weekly visits to flea markets and thrift stores. When he starts a new piece, he says he doesn’t have a preconceived notion of what the end result will be, but following his intuition when layering cutouts of classic paintings over etchings with skulls and religious imagery creates enough detail for the viewer to stay engaged but not overwhelmed. www.christopherbales.com.