Matjames Metson's Silver Lake studio is in a 1930s Art Deco duplex perched atop a steep flight of aging, concrete stairs overlooking a cul-de-sac, which overlooks a hillside, which overlooks a bustling intersection that, from above, appears to be teeming with tiny toy cars and action-figure people.
Inside, Metson's dusty, sunlit living room-turned-art studio is also full of tiny treasures. The assemblage artist builds intricate, architectural sculptures, wall hangings and furniture made from his abundant stash of objects, most of which he finds at estate sales. Marbles, toothpicks, old typewriter keys, faded stamps, long matches, bits of shell, vintage photographs, quill pen tips are his paint; towering plaques of battered wood, his canvas.
One wall houses shelves of clear jars, each container filled with a certain material he's stockpiled: nails, false teeth, coils of hand-cut ribbon, buttons or bullets, all neatly arranged, side by side. The opposite wall is plastered with artworks, each featuring three-dimensional collage stories. A dollhouse, with multiple trap doors that open into layered collage works, sits in one corner; a crank-operated kaleidoscope more than 6 feet tall stands beside it.
Metson's solo show "A Better Home For a Quiet Wolf" had been extended through April 19 at Coagula Curatorial in L.A.'s Chinatown, and the artist is part of the Fowler Museum at UCLA's group show "Sinful Saints and Saintly Sinners at the Margins of the Americas," running through July 20. Here in his studio, the disparate bric-a-brac, all drenched in nostalgia, lends a steampunk vibe that this is beautifully cluttered. It is a textured, multicolored junk wonderland — but not one made from "found objects," Metson said.
"That would suggest the things I use in my work are easy to find," he said. "Everything I use is basically antique — mementos or old personal items. Everything has a residue to it, a vibration from where it came from. Everything has a sort of Velveteen Rabbit existence to it."