Lawrence Voytek opens May 17 at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery. The gallery will host an opening reception from 6-8 p.m., with Lawrence Voytek giving a Gallery Talk that begins at 7.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Lawrence Voytek graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1982 with a degree in sculpture. He started working for Robert Rauschenberg in Captiva that same year. By then, Rauschenberg had been synthesizing found objects into his paintings for more than two decades, and he delegated to Voytek the task of finding new and novel ways of incorporating a continual stream of unconventional items into his artworks.
Not only did Voytek do all Rauschenberg’s welding and fabrication, he was in charge of research and development. “I would read samples of what industry was playing around,” Voytek told Harvard Advocate writer Madeleine Schwartz in the fall of 2009. “Bob would see something and would say, ‘I want to play with this,’ and we would order it and he would start playing with it.”
“Voytek mastered material so that Rauschenberg didn’t have to,” Schwartz explains. “Welding, bending or just experimenting with anything industrial—from aluminum (he used over two tons in his 27 years working for Rauschenberg) to Renobond, 3 mm thick skin coating for skyscrapers—Voytek shaped the substance of Rauschenberg’s hybrid inventions.”
Following Rauschenberg’s death in 2008, Voytek completed approved works, including some for the Obama sculpture garden, and today his work can be found in many important corporate and private collections. Lawrence, who also studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, also regularly consults on the subjects of art installation, fabrication and restoration with renowned national and international museums and galleries.
Lawrence’s last professional appearance at the Rauschenberg Gallery, however, was not as a sculptor. Instead, he performed with friends Kat Epple and Laurence Getford at the reception for the Things Not Seen Before John Cage retrospective that opened last August 24. Known as Sonic Combine, the trio perform original progressive, electronic, acoustic, Art Music and sound timbres on metal sculptures, electronic instruments, world flutes, and Theremin. They describe their abstract sound as “not always musical, sometimes discordant, sometimes beautiful, often powerful, and always evocative.”
“I am not your normal noisemaker,” Voytek admits, “I make my sonic children; they are entities that have been prepared for their voices.” The musical instruments that he crafts for his performances produce seldom heard notes which emulate “the weak, the strange, the lost, the cries that last fast; sound events that have never been remembered or heard – even the voiceless – play.”
You can see Voytek’s latest work (including sculpted musical instruments) at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on the Lee campus of Edison State College beginning May 17. For additional information about the Lawrence Voytek exhibit or the Rauschenberg Gallery, please call 239-489-9313 or visit www.rauschenberggallery.com.