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Peter Mangan: Figures in an Exhibition

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Peter Mangan Figures in an Exhibition

“Passing Through”

By Tracy Poe

In 1989, artist Peter Mangan groped through the wreckage of the San Francisco earthquake, his home at the time, salvaging rebar to make “Freeway Rider,” an enigmatic human figure crafted of glass and steel that meditates on the balance between strength and fragility.

“The human body has been used since the beginning of time to express an artists’ individual take on life. We are all human. We are all looking out at the world through the same frame,” Mangan explains. “I thought, how can I portray the figure in an original way? Start with something different; not a square or a rectangle, like most frames. Something that would make people stop and say, ‘Wow, I have never seen anything like that before?’ What if I started with the silhouette of a person as the frame?”

The result of that inspiration is the series “Figures,” on exhibit now at the Sculpture Ranch and Galleries in Johnson City, Texas. The exhibit features “Freeway Rider” alongside a body of work now 27 years in the making. Some of the pieces in the exhibit have been shown at the Jung Center in Houston and the Bee Cave Sculpture Park in Bee Cave, Texas, among other places. Mangan has had a long and successful career in galleries and public art projects. But this show also offers several new works never before seen by the public.

Peter Mangan Figures in an Exhibition

“Gemini Song”

In the 1990s, Mangan was a prosperous, self-supporting artist, using glass and metals to make chandeliers and other forms of functional art that were popular in restaurants, public spaces and private homes across the country. But then in 1998 he and his wife Karen decided to return to Texas, where he had received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. They bought a small ranch in Blanco, which provided yet another inspiration. “The beauty of the natural landscape here made me want to re-address the ideas that interested me as a sculptor and painter. I wanted to create Fine Art that interacted with its natural surroundings, objects that were interesting in different light conditions and different seasons.”

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