Berkeley artist Mark Olivier moves around his sculpture garden with a wiry, contagious energy, eagerly explaining his craft as he leads passersby through the “gallery” of his front yard.
Olivier’s creations are hand wrought from beach-found materials he gathers along the Berkeley shoreline. Washed up onto the Bay Area beaches where Olivier routinely walks his dog, the detritus — buckets, shoes, bones, lighters, food wrappers — often offers direct inspiration for his pieces. “The objects tell me what they want to be, I just listen to what they say,” Olivier explained.
In one corner of his garden, hard hats dangle overhead from tree branches, suspended in an organic installation called "Strange Fruit." Olivier motions overhead, pointing at the laden boughs. “I found one, then another. Before I knew it, I had them hanging everywhere,” Olivier recounted.
Darting back to the immense turquoise poodle which stands sentry in the front of his house, a piece that took him six months to create entitled, "Best in Show," Olivier gesticulates enthusiastically at the sign he has provided which explains the process used to create his work. “It’s all done with rope I gathered, bunched , sealed, untwisted, unwound, and combed out,” Olivier said, “It took me a while because I needed a lot of this blue rope; it’s used mainly by crab fishermen, and I had to wait for it to wash ashore.”
Olivier doesn’t buy any of the materials for his art works, save for the nails, tacks, glue, or other incidentals he needs in the actual construction of the pieces. Instead, every Saturday he heads down to the shore with his standard poodle, Zsa-Zsa, and his buddy Ken Lindhal, for what he calls, “The five B’s — that’s beaches, bitches (dogs), boy friends, breakfast, and beer,” Olivier said, ticking them off on his fingers. Then flashing a quick grin he added, “Not necessarily in that order, though.”
You can view Olivier’s current exhibition by visiting his house on Colusa Avenue, right off of Monterey, or check out his website at: www.markoliviersculpture.com