Seeing is believing when it comes to Nashua artist Ken Gidge’s 3-D artwork.
Hailing from a family of inventors, Gidge has been working on this innovative art form for the past four years. On Saturday, May 12, Access Nashua will host Gidge and his 3-D artwork exhibition, “Spatial Illusions,” at the station for a special event. The gallery show will be taped and broadcast on Channel 96, including attendees’ reactions to the abstract artwork they’ll view through 3-D glasses.
Nancy Ferrier, who discovered Gidge’s work when she ran the now-closed Chimera Gallery in Nashua’s Picker Building, talks about his work with a mixed tone of awe, mystery and excitement.
“When we closed down the gallery last year, I wanted to do one big [final] show,” said Ferrier, who works at the Museum of Science in Boston. “I was looking for something really different. As soon as I saw [Gidge’s] art, I knew that was it — it was something I had never seen before.”
Ferrier realized Gidge was doing something special, but no one could figure out how he was doing it, she said. The gallery sold most of his work during that show, she added.
With Gidge’s artwork, Ferrier says, “On the surface you see fine, abstract art — bright colors, geometric forms that are fanciful and wonderful to look at it. But when you pop on a pair of 3-D glasses, the images lift off the canvas. Little pieces are floating on the air in front of you, and you see some colors receding into the canvas, three or four inches deep. … This is entirely different.”
Gidge won’t talk about his process or share many details.
He is an impassioned and firm believer that once other artists “crack [his] code” of creating this art form, the art world as we know it will change. Gidge, who has studied at the Art Institute of Boston, says he does not use special paint or lighting effects. Since there are no road maps for his process, he had to make a lot of mistakes before getting it right.
“They are very simple abstract paintings,” said Gidge, who is also a state representative for Hillsborough District 24. “Most stand by themselves, and then people put on the glasses and say, ‘Oh my god, how did you do that?’”
Gidge says that about a third of his art sales are from other artists, some of whom are trying to “reverse engineer” his method, he said. He thinks that some have gotten about a third of the way there. He and Ferrier say that several people have purchased his work on the spot after seeing it for the first time. He has sold pieces while they were still wet, Ferrier said.
“My great fear is that people will pick it up, and I will be lost in the shuffle,” said Gidge, who lives on the same Nashua property on which he was raised. “That’s my big, big, big fear.”
He said he never set out to create 3-D art; he stumbled upon it. He just wanted to do something different.
“I never thought for a moment it would turn out to this,” he said. “It works, but it’s not supposed to happen this way, logically.”
When he first discovered what he had created, Gidge said, he showed his wife, who was in disbelief. These days he often works with his 3-D glasses on. “Do this for a couple hours, and when you take off [the glasses], the world is different,” he says.
Ferrier, who will mount the upcoming show for Access Nashua, says she looks forward to seeing viewers’ reactions to Gidge’s work.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “Ken has a fine understanding of color and forms and how to manipulate materials. … It is highly innovative art, and we get to have [people’s] reactions to it filmed and [broadcast] on TV.”
Plus, “it helps promote people’s participation in Access Nashua,” she said. “It’s your community, and you should be able to show what you’re doing.”