Art becomes biography for Mike Rathbun

Art becomes biography for Mike Rathbun

By Dana Oland


The Boise Art Museum’s sculpture court looked more like a hard-hat area than an art space last week, as sculptor Mike Rathbun and crew sawed, hammered, rigged and hoisted his wooden epic 7 feet into the air.

The 190-foot cylindrical sculpture — titled “The Situation He Found Himself In” — sweeps through the space in a giant arc, bisecting the windows, reaching outside the building and appearing to reenter it through the smaller gallery space to the east.

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Josine Starrels- Restraint is the enemy of heroism.


Mike Rathbun’s  muscular installations attest  to his great   stamina, his boundless energy   and the breadth of his ideas.When I first  encountered his work  my imagination led me  almost  automatically  to visions I  did not fully understand :- I felt as if I was in the midst of a primeval landscape  where giant trees were growing  in such close  proximity  that  the forest floor was covered  in  dense shade  emanating  muffled silences and invisible threats.

Among  other  sensory  feelings the artist evokes and explores are  the taste of  fear, the dangers rising from the unseen and always present  powers of … Read the rest

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Inhabiting space two ways: boldly… and hardly at all

The Seattle Times, November 9, 2007

By Sheila Farr
Seattle Times art critic

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You’ll step into a dark gallery and at first be left wondering what’s going on. Then, like a drumroll, a rumble of thunder starts up (presumably triggered by a motion sensor), and the light and sound show begins. At first, the patter is like the clacking of bamboo as a few pinpoint lights begin gently strobing above you (with soft blotches of light echoing on the floor). That all accelerates into an immersion of pattering and flickering light, like a quick, out-of-the-blue rain shower, … Read the rest

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Mike Rathbun’s current installation evokes a hostile American frontier

Seattle Pi, September 27, 2007

By Nate Lippens

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Suyama Space lends itself to grandeur, and Portland-based sculptor Mike Rathbun’s sprawling, exuberant installation, “N47°36.878′ W122°20.788′, ” matches the challenge. His work is alive to the mysteries and difficulties of experience in a way that changes with each viewing.

The home of architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi, Suyama Space also includes a fantastic, light-filled central gallery. Artists are commissioned to fill the space with site-specific installations. Rathbun has created an environment consisting of an airborne skeletal plane with thorny wooden vines reaching up through the frame. The mission, by … Read the rest

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Gorgeous Collision

A thorny installation flies high.

Seattle Weekly, September 12, 2007

A thorny installation flies high.

By Adriana Grant

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The skeleton of an inverted airplane is caught in a stand of thorny vines, held high above an undulating wooden platform. Possessing the bulbous shape of an old aircraft (as opposed to, say, a sleek commuter plane), it’s perhaps a crashed pleasure flight. Or, as curator Beth Sellars suggests, maybe just a near miss, swooping up out of the water. Whatever narrative you adopt, the sculpture is in fact supported by the vines, a highly skilled trick of design, … Read the rest

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Coming Soon to Suyama Space

The Stranger, August 21, 2007

By Jen Graves

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I got a sneak preview last Friday of Portland-based sculptor Mike Rathbun’s giant, eye-popping installation Geographical Coordinates: N47°36.878’ W122°20.788’. It opens at Suyama Space September 10. [UPDATE: The artist has decided to drop “Geographical Coordinates” from the title. And while the show opens September 10, there is a public reception at the gallery September 7 at 5 pm and an artist talk at noon September 8.]

Since 1995, when Rathbun made a 70-mile solo voyage across Lake Superior in a handmade sailboat, he has been making objects titled by their … Read the rest

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N45°23.871′ W122°38.864′ Terri Hopkins

Mike Rathbun: N45°23.871′ W122°38.864′

Since 1995, Mike Rathbun has titled 11 constructions and installations by their geographic coordinates.

The Marylhurst installation makes it an even dozen.

Often his installations employ skeletal constructions of boats suspended above or lying alongside wave-like wood structures. These ambitious projects have been sponsored by sculpture parks, contemporary art institutes and university galleries, including Franconia Sculpture Park and the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minnesota; Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York; and Claremont Graduate University and California State University in San Bernardino.

In a recent conversation, Rathbun mentioned his interest in The Log … Read the rest

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Sweeping Beauty

Sweeping Beauty

On Art/ Deborah L. Knaff
Sunday, October 3, 1999, The Press Enterprise, Los Angles CA.


An engaging set of exhibits remind us how many people before us made art out of life’s brevity
The big name at the Robert V. Fullerton Art Gallery these days is Pablo Picasso. Although depending on your preferences, Nefertari is probably right up there in terms of name recognition.

The ceramics that Picasso collaborated on in various ways are both charming and artistic- or at least one or the other. And the reconstructed tomb of Queen Nefertari is especially sumptuous. The paintings … Read the rest

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Twin Cities Reader, February 14, 1996

Twin Cities Reader,
February 14, 1996

Boat With Wings
by J.Z. Grover

Minneapolis Sculptor/adventurer makes ocean from pine boards and builds boats that soar.
Released from the confines of a red, ear flapped winter hat, Michael Rathbun has just arrived from his day job as a carpenter at a display company to work on his installation at the MIA’s Minnesota Artist Exhibition gallery.

He is a shiny faced balding man of 32, With a peaceful face and slow deliberate speech. He gives the impression of someone who spends a lot of time alone, even in company, perhaps intuiting his way … Read the rest

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artist of the year


by David Lefkowitz

1995 may go down as the year in which cyberspace became the new frontier of the cutting-edge artist. As such, painting and sculpture were eulogized yet again in the wake of supposedly more egalitarian, more flexible, and just plain better and cooler new technology. So it was heartening to encounter work in more traditional media that can still command attention and engender experience that is at once visceral and intellectual.

Two particular exhibits in the Twin Cities in the past year were just such encounters. Shana Kaplow’s paintings of discrete body parts … Read the rest

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