all photos & words: Andy DelGiudice
James Kerns is a DC based urban craftsman, sculptor, wood worker & industrial designer that creates a nostalgic reapplication of seemingly forgotten artifacts by combining found items with repurposed industrial materials. His pieces evoke admiration for the hands on craftsmanship of the past and can hopefully make us question how objects can be utilized and recycled in an ever more disposable society for a second, third life and beyond.
The collection of Kerns’ work curated for “Whiskey/Delta/Charley” (WDC), showing now at Hierarchy Gallery on Columbia and Mintwood Place, NW, ideally complements the multi-room design of the small gallery as well as showcases a number of styles and applications of Kerns’ themes and ideas. The show is broken up into three distinct sections with each section containing a unique collection of pieces executed with different purposes in mind.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer descends a dark set of stairs and is presented with a bar furnished with essentials provided by the gallery’s parent establishment Napoleon Bistro, located upstairs. With drink in hand, you happen upon the first section “Whiskey/Delta/Charlie”, a mishmash of repurposed items welded and matched together to form industrial installations matched with political collages; harbingers for work, news and politics; everyday life, so to speak.
Section two is located to the rear of Hierarchy’s bar area and provides patrons with an eloquent presentation of analogue ear utilitarian pieces, originally crafted for a working application but now showcased as an example of the beauty in practical design. In their original environments, the seemingly unassuming dashboards, turnstiles and road signs might disappear within their complementary surroundings but once removed from original applications and presented in isolation, they demonstrate the aesthetic appeal of engineering and design.
Turning a corner, one finds themselves in the comparatively isolated third section of the exhibit. Unlike the first two sections of the Whiskey Delta Charlie that utilized the reapplication of artifacts for the sake of creating a visual piece, the components of the third section are devoted to creating pieces with a physical application beyond that of just visual observation; box spring light fixtures, desks, driftwood and repurposed water tanks round out a retro furniture motif with a modern twist on nostalgic designs from the past.