Michael Kareken

Gallery Affiliations: Groveland Gallery

Region: Midwest

Website: http://www.michaelkareken.com

City / State: Minneapolis, MN

My recent paintings are urban landscapes depicting industrial recycling facilities. One series of paintings depict a paper recycling facility next door to my studio. Everyday I see a stream of semi trucks pull up next to the plant, disgorging mountains of used paper and cardboard boxes. The paper is dumped in a concrete yard at the side of the building and forms a constantly shifting landscape that rises and falls, spreads and recedes as the days pass. Every so often, the paper must be sprayed with a water cannon to keep it from catching on fire. Although the plant is in non-stop operation, the piles of paper never disappear. The workers call them "the urban forest."

A second series of paintings depicts a metal scrap yard in northeast Minneapolis, where a similar phenomenon occurs: huge stacks of rusting steel, heaps of old engines, and piles of shimmering metal widgets form a surreal, man-made landscape bordering the Mississippi River. The metal and paper at these two facilities is organized by the workers into enormous piles, each of a similar type but tending to resist categorization and orderliness. Wind blows the paper out of its neatly defined piles and stacks and scatters it across the yard. Crushed into cubes, the rusted metal bends and twirls, creating organic rhythms at odds with the rigid geometry imposed upon it. The imagery is rich with associations - it speaks of life and death, growth and decay, order and entropy, structure and chaos.