Sculptor Josh Cote describes his professional life as a 40-year saga, learning and experimenting with a number of mediums. He’s done wood and stone carving, painting and concrete sculpture. It was only in the last decade that the artist tried his hand at his current medium. “The wire sculpture is a story of creativity out of destruction,” Cote says.
At the time, he and his wife were living in Carnation, Wash. The couple had purchased 11 acres. An old derelict building sat on the land. The roof was caving in. They decided to bring it down. During the demolition, they saved the electric wiring. Cote decided to use the material to make a wedding gift for a friend: “It was a copper fish and that was kind of the inception of my wire career.”
Resourcefulness has always played a role in both Cote’s life and art. As a child, he tagged along with his father (also an artist), who dumpster-dove for materials as well as family meals. “These experiences left indelible impressions,” says Cote. “It taught me to see value in something and give new meaning to what others couldn’t see.”
A childhood toy also made a lasting impression on the artist. Many of his wire sculptures are wild hares, and Cote attributes this to a mole-skin stuffed animal rabbit he was given as a kid. On a family move from Waitsfield, Vt., to East Jordan, Mich., Cote realized he had left the toy behind.
“I’m kind of resurrecting that lost bunny,” he says. “That’s the only way I can see it.”
Several of these animal sculptures will be on display at Cote’s latest exhibit, Wild Hares and Other Phantasmagoria, at the Grovewood Gallery. Some of these creations tower. The tallest among them is a 13-foot group of jack rabbits riding a unicycle.
This new collection also highlights Cote’s growth as an wire sculptor. Over time he has incorporated epoxy clay, found objects and steel into his pieces. The unicycle, for example, is fashions from agricultural equipment that the artist welded together. These particular items, Cote notes, were found in a Missouri junkyard.
In another piece, he uses epoxy clay to form the face of a hare. Cote explains that the material allows him about four hours to shape it against the wire, before it hardens. Once settled, he hand-paints the details.
Through this evolution, Cote’s recent works incorporate many of his past mediums, all of which he learned without any formal training. “I’ve been making art for 40 years, all through experimenting,” he says. “I’ve never been formerly trained. Never been institutionalized.”
WHAT: Wild Hares and Other Phantasmagoria
WHERE: Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road, grovewood.com
WHEN: The opening reception is Saturday, Oct. 1, 3-6 p.m. The exhibit will remain on view through Monday, Oct. 31. Free.