An artist is putting a chainsaw to his portraits of New Yorkers.
An exhibition of wooden statuettes reveals astute familiarity with New York’s colorful characters — from the bag lady to the health nut — but the truly interesting observations on city life come from the way each finished body is sawed into pieces, the parts turned upside down, flipped sideways, and rearranged.
“The characters — whom I produced from my imagination — are those who would really be on New York City’s streets,” said artist Sequoyah Aono, whose “Process of Perceiving” is on view at P339 Crosspoint Gallery.
“The course of destruction unearths hidden possibilities.”
Although the “deformities,” which expose the natural texture of tree bark, appear macabre at first sight, the attention to detail is jaw dropping. One of the figures clinches a tiny cigarette butt between his fingers and another has headphone buds plugged into her diminutive ears.
Aono receives inspiration for his subjects on the streets, but forages for materials in more naturalistic surroundings.
“I use different kinds of woods in good condition, which I usually find in parks nearby,” said the artist.
Once he has enough supplies, he gets to sculpting. His tool of choice is an electric chainsaw that would intimidate even Leatherface of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Art-goers can watch a video of the artist at work installed on one wall of the gallery, in which Aono wears huge protective goggles as sawdust clouds the air and woodchips fly in every direction.
His vocation is tough and sometimes painful.
“If the bark is especially hard, wooden splinters will stick in your skin,” said Aono. “I always wear long sleeved shirts even on the hottest summer day.”
“Process of Perceiving” at P339 Crosspoint Gallery [339 Bedford Ave. between S. Third and S. Fourth streets in Williamsburg, (301) 529–1400, www.galler