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The Benefit
January 23, 2014

Benefit v.14 Stand-Out Taste Artist: Randall Cleaver

About the Author
Erica Minutella

See the exhibition here


Benefit v.14 celebrates the art in everything on February 8, highlighting the culinary excellence of J. Scott Catering, Tim Bellew Food, and Birchtree Catering. This week, we’re featuring the taste of texture by spotlighting artists who dabble in wood, clay, metal, and more for the best in tactile treats.
Randall Cleaver is an artist who could strike fear into the hearts of pirates – or at least of Captain Hook. His pieces call forth time and light from found objects, bending the materials of relativity into clockwork and lamps.
Can you start out by giving me a bit of background on your work?
I’m a found object artist. I make clocks and lamps out of found objects. Many of them are animated, motorized, or mechanical in some way to interact.
How did you start out using found objects?
I come from a family of pack-rats. My grandfather was a pack-rat, my father was a pack-rat, and it’s natural that I became one. I guess you’d call us hoarders now. In fact I’m still using stuff that my grandfather collected, it’s kind’ve fun. We’ve got three generations of junk.
You create clocks and lamps. You’re focusing on time and light – two fundamental aspects of physics. Is that on purpose?
Well at this point now it is. When I first started out, I was more of an assemblage artist. I was out shopping for a toaster oven, and it had a clock on it. I was looking around and I was noticing that everything had clocks on it. So I thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be funny to start putting a clock in all of my pieces?’ And from there I started getting fascinated with the whole history of time.
In 2007 I went back to school as a clock maker. So I also repair antique clocks, and that helps me in my work, as far as the mechanisms of time.
I was wondering what came first – the clock repair or the work.
The work came first. That was the mid 1980s. It was many years after that I went into clock repair.
Do you find that it works as a reciprocal process, where the clock repair inspires your art?
Yeah it does. A lot of the mechanical movement that I have in my work, like hands waving or eyes moving back and forth, you can find those all in antique clocks.
You mention in your artist statement that you incorporate humor into your pieces. Can you give me an example of how a clock could be humorous?
It’s a combination of humor and disturbing. I have fun making these – I get really excited making them. I laugh as a I’m working on them. I have one piece called “And This Is the Last Dance.” This couple is dancing in the foreground, back and forth, and there’s stars twinkling in the background, and there’s this dragon attacking the village behind them.
So macabre humor. That’s my favorite kind. Can you tell me about the piece you’ve donated to Benefit v.14?
It’s called “The Minutes Fly.” It’s an old mailbox, with a sand glass inside, and you can turn it and watch the minutes fly by as the clock goes on. It’s a fun little piece with wings. Everything’s flying away as time moves on.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
Along with access to really great art, at decent prices a lot of the time – I’ve increased my collection by quite a few – but also just meeting other artists. It’s a really good party for that.
Bid on Randall Cleaver’s work at Benefit v.14 on Saturday, February 8
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