Ken Bortolazzo Biography

Embrace, 2009

60 x 29 x 29 inches | stainless steel

Born of the Santa Barbara sun, wind and waves, Ken Bortolazzo's sculpture are an invitation to examine the dichotomy between object and nature, and to ultimately, explore the possibilities that dwell within that vision. At once substantial and delicate, his metal works can be a metaphor for both human sturdiness and frailty. With a lifetime of hands-on experience, Bortolazzo tackles the larger issues of man-made versus nature and merges it with a rare sensitivity.

Bortolazzo discovered his creative passion for welded sculpture at an early age. Working primarily in mild and stainless steel as well as bronze, copper, silver and gold, he collaborated with many prominent artists, including Julio Agostini, Kenneth Noland and most importantly, George Rickey. During their twelve year working relationship, Ken evolved from studio assistant to Rickey’s acknowledged colleague. He remains a conservator of Rickey's work for the estate. Bortolazzo skillfully mastered the use of stainless steel and the custom designed pivots and bearings used in Rickey's renowned kinetic works. This valuable experience inspired Bortolazzo's own work, and his highly geometric shapes soon emerged with greater regularity; taking on a persona of their own. Today Bortolazzo's sculptures span many artistic modes, from small, intimate pieces and works of kinetic playfulness to large monumental sculpture. He brings aesthetics, science, mechanical skill and an illusionist's insight to all he creates.

His early fascination of complex puzzles is evident in Ken’s intricate interlocking geometric forms. These structured sculptures subtly suggest their beginnings in the natural order of things: the rhythm and sequence of breaking waves, rock formations and plant growth. His large works play with light and scale, and reference the post-industrial landscape. His later kinetic works feature dynamic optical effects. Constructed out of burnished perforated stainless steel, they move and create a physical phenomenon known as optical interference patterns, a moiré effect. Bortolazzo's sense of craftsmanship defies the challenge of the material used, and each work finds a delicate balance between solidity and lightness.

Currently being shown extensively on the West Coast, Bortolazzo's sculpture can be seen in regional galleries, museums and public collections, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Outdoor Art, Denver and Microsoft corporate headquarters, Seattle. His work is also collected and represented throughout the United States, England, Japan and New Zealand.

Videos

3:14 | Narrated by Nathan Vonk | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Proto Synthesis, 2017

2:16 | Narrated by Nathan Vonk | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Moving On, 2014

2:00 | Narrated by Susan Bush | Released for KEN BORTOLAZZO: Equipoise, 2012

More Information

EDUCATION 

1966-1972  Santa Barbara City College, AA, Santa Barbara, CA
1969-1971  Julio Agostini, Santa Barbara, CA, Apprentice
1988  Kenneth Noland, Santa Barbara, CA, Studio help
1989  Professor Irma Cavat, UCSB, Art Collaborations
1985-1997  George Rickey, West Coast Studio Assistant
1998-Present  Conservationist, George Rickey Estate, NY

AWARDS & AFFILIATIONS

1992  First place in sculpture, Westmont College, Montecito, CA
1989  Juror’s choice, Science World, Vancouver, Canada

COLLECTIONS

Los Angeles City College
Microsoft, Seattle,WA
Museum of Outdoor Art, Denver, CO
PTI Technologies, Oxnard,CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA

EXHIBITIONS

2014  KEN BORTOLAZZO: Moving On, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2012  KEN BORTOLAZZO: Equipoise, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2010-2011  Ken Bortolazzo at the Jardin de las Granadas, City of Santa Barbara, CA

2010  OPTIKINETICS: SCULPTING SPACE / BENDING LIGHT, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2008  KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetics III, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2007  35th Anniversary Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA

2006  Ken Bortolazzo, Retrospective, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

2006  KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetics II, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2005  Malibu Summer Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA

2004  Still Lifes, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2004  The Peninsula Show, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA

2003  The Peninsula Show, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA

2003  Small Image Show, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2003  KEN BORTOLAZZO: Optikinetic, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2002  From A Private Collection, Robert Light Fine Art, Santa Barbara, CA

2002  30th Anniversary Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, CA

2001  Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu and Sherman Oaks, CA

2000  Anne Reed Gallery, Ketchum, ID

1999  Winter Show, SOMA Gallery, La Jolla, CA

1999  El Paseo Sculpture Exhibition, Palm Desert, CA

1999  Malibu Summer Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA

1998  The Shape of Things, Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, CA

1998  Chair2, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA

1998  Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, 25th Anniversary Show, Los Angeles, CA

1996  Recent Works, Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, CA

1996  Malibu in July, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Malibu, CA

1995  2x2, Two Artists Two Mediums, Judy Kay Assoc., San Francisco, CA

1995  Home Works, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA

1994  Weston Resort Exhibition, Valerie Miller Fine Arts, Palm Desert, CA

1994  Ken Bortolazzo, Concourse Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1994  CHAIRity, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA

1993  Malibu International Sculpture Exhibition, Carl Schlosberg, Malibu, CA

1992  Un Ange Passe, Westmont College, Montecito, CA

1991  Malibu in June, Carl Schlosberg, Malibu, CA

1991  Ken Bortolazzo, Arpel Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

1990  Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Sherman Oaks, CA

1990  Arpel Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA

1990  University Center Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

1989  Science World, Vancouver, Canada

1998  Newport Harbor Museum, Newport, CA

1988  Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY

1987  El Paso Museum, El Paso, TX

1987  Kirkpatrick Museum, Oklahoma City, OK

1987  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

1987  Hudson River Museum, Hudson, NY

1986  Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA

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