Andrew Hayes Returns to Mill Valley for his One Person Exhibition of Steel and Paper Sculpture! Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley presents Andrew Hayes: Density, an exhibition of steel and paper sculpture.

In Andrew Hayes’ series “Lines,” six sculptures are created, each emanating from a small rectangular prism, a steel terminus 3 x 2 x 1”. By simply attaching layered bands of paper, tethering them in one or two places only, he has created a new vocabulary of possibilities. Seen in a row the colored bands of paper create a visual alphabet. The formula is like a perfect mathematical equation that works for an endless variety of visual forms. It is ingenious in its utter elegance and simplicity - drawings in space.

In Density, Hayes’ third one person exhibition with the gallery, the artist has expanded on his earlier work, while adhering to his practice of combining finely wrought perfectly fabricated steel with paper. In earlier shows, the paper was nearly always from books. In this new show, we see him working with French printmaking papers as well, offering him the opportunity to work with longer sheets than can be found in books and an expanded color palette.

Crossing, for instance has very much the studied balance and perfection contained in the book sculpture, but by using the paper instead of book pages, he was able to insert color into the mix, in this case a desert orange and gold. In Sea Wall, he uses the blue French paper coaxing it into a subtle wave on the surface and capturing that sliver of sea with its wave in a channel of steel.

“In my process,” says the artist, “I start with book pages or paper that has interesting colors or textures or is of a size that interests me. I then cut the pages from the binding in the case of books or just start cutting away at the stack of paper to find an interesting shape. After I find that shape I start to think of ways to hold it in stasis by adding metal and then building up the metal form in hopes of creating a balance between the two materials.”

“In a way,” he explains, “I have to refine the fabrication to do justice to the beauty of the paper. The process is organic. I want to find a balance between the paper and the steel, and not allow one to overpower the other, although sometimes you do want the paper to steal the show because you want to honor it.” Hayes’ concerns are primarily formal. His practice might be compared to that of Fletcher Benton, a sculptor who, like Hayes, took great pains to refine his fabrication, honing every corner and weld until the shape takes on a studied perfection. Hayes has that innate sense of “rightness” of form that is indispensible to a fine art sculptor, but searches for that unusual variation in shape or twist of the paper that makes each work unique and interesting. In speaking of his sculpture Structure, one of the earliest works in the show, Hayes speaks of a “sensitive” corner that pleases him in such a mammoth work. The mass of steel is a statement in itself, counterweighted by the thick section of pages from what seems to be a larger tome, perhaps a massive dictionary or encyclopedia. The feeling is monumental, like passing a huge mesa in the dark, its heavy presence felt in the bones.

If in Structure, steel takes center stage, in Arroyo, it is all about the paper. In Hayes’ native Arizona, an arroyo, is a dry river bed that occasionally gets filled during the rains. No doubt the golden brown edges of a particular kind of book enticed him to create a wide expanse of pages, curved as though adhering to the surface of the earth, an abstract remembrance of the Southwest landscape.

Andrew Hayes has come a long way since we first showed his work in 2013. His work appears in collections at the Yale Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Art and Black Mountain College. He has been the subject of many reviews and articles and is a favorite among online zines such as Design Milk and Beautiful Decay. He had a one person exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum this year in Clinton, New Jersey and is a sought after teacher. It is, however, in the studio that his greatest strides are made. In these sophisticated works, he continues to push boundaries while adhering to rigorous standards of flawless fabrication. His instinct for composition and form becomes ever more refined by curious investigation, faith in process and an ever-deepening understanding of his materials and the various ways they can behave.