'Kneeling Man'

Christopher Tomlinson

“Kneeling Man” by John Northcutt. The angled, kinetic sculpture is on the southeast corner of the 500 block of Main Street, just east of Main Street Bagels.

Sculpture: “Kneeling Man”

Artist: John Northcutt

Location: The angled, kinetic sculpture is on the southeast corner of the 500 block of Main Street, just east of Main Street Bagels.

Interested in purchasing? Call 245-9697 for information.

In a world quick to warn “you break it, you buy it,” it can be difficult to persuade folks that it is OK to move the parts of a sculpture.

But artist John Northcutt encourages you to interact with and rearrange the parts of his kinetic and movable sculpture “Kneeling Man.”

In fact, Northcutt has gone so far as to make signs for his other moveable sculptures that says, “Please Play.”

“Kneeling Man” is interactive and ever-changing when viewers move the various parts and, depending on the time of day, even the shadows are at play,” Northcutt said in a recent phone interview. “The kids know how (to play), but sometimes you have to tell adults that it’s OK to go and play.”

The artist, who lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was a part of the 1970s movement in Seattle for sculptors in public places, he said.

The guerrilla street art movement involved artists going somewhere in Seattle on a Friday night, unloading and leaving their sculptures there and then returning the following day to retrieve them, he said.

While in Seattle, Northcutt worked with the city’s acclaimed fountain designer, George Tsutakawa, and was inspired by geometric abstract sculptor David Smith.

“My mother was an artist educator and my father was a pharmacist,” he said, adding that his paternal grandfather was a mathematician and his maternal grandfather was a master machinist.

“Both (grandfathers) were strong influences,” he said.

Northcutt likes the simplicity of working with geometric forms and is a minimalist. “I like to work with a limited vocabulary of forms and a limited vocabulary of colors,” he said.

He works mostly with primary colors but his sculpture naming convention is less conventional.

“I like word puns and word play. Sometimes I’ll come up with the title first then make the piece. Other times it’s the piece first then the name. Or, something will strike me funny, then a sculpture image comes in my mind,” he said.

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