Time Twists

Apr 15, 2015

10940564_431006617049584_2603197148051705169_n“Fetish-like, re-weaved stuff collected from our lives.”

This is the description of the pieces by Mike Mollett who is guest artist at Val Echavarria’s Casa Marengo in Highland Park. Mike calls his pieces twists, time-twists, gates, and balls.

One twist—a NOLA twist—he made from using New Orleans home security wires given to him by an installer. One piece we’ve seen online appears to be wires attached somehow to a wire mesh. It’s called “Simplified Conversations at a Large Party: A Weaved Archaeology,” which is from Mollett’s GATE series.

Val says, “I love Mike’s playful combination of organic and inorganic materials to create fetish-like sculptures about everyday life and our environment. I also find it admirable that he strives to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible in his art-making process.”



Twist of Warm Light; photo by Andrew Uchin



Kindly, Mike took the time to address our questions…

HP: We’re going to apologize up front about our ignorance regarding you and your work as well as art in particular. We love art but we are far, far from being knowledgeable or learned regarding art, styles, etc., so please excuse us if our questions or thoughts are naïve or unschooled.

We read Victoria Looseleaf’s piece Meet the Mudpeople” ( and it was fascinating: The Mud People, your question of the month VW van, your bookmaking, performing, and The Lost Tribe—what an incredible four decades. It was exciting just to read about it, we can’t imagine how it must have been living it.



Mike as L.A. Mudman, benefit for Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR); photo by Gareth Seigel


Momentary aside: Mollett’s Mud People (excerpted from Looseleaf’s article)…

“We’re essentially living sculptures,” explains Mike M. Mollett, who founded the troupe a quarter century ago, and still leads members on walkabouts and what he calls “non-performances.”



L.A. Mudpeople, Reno, NV; NADA NADA street walkabout; photo by Lauren Randolph


Adds the 60-something Mollett: “We’re an antidote to speed, stress, goals and time in this urbanizing society. As Mudpeople, we do not speak, so people must come up with their own answers as to who we are and why we’re there, which may also put them in a position to wonder about themselves, and why they’re moving so quickly.”



L.A. Mudpeople in the L.A. River; photo by Dee Balson Mollett


The ranks of the L.A. Mudpeople have swelled upwards to 40 over the years, with the group having participated in more than 75 events, including the Doo Dah Parade and the World Festival of Sacred Music. They’ve journeyed to Joshua Tree National Monument and Santa Barbara and have been featured in Time Online, National Geographic Magazine and on various TV shows around the world, including Huell Howser’s “Visiting.” The troupe has also had exhibitions at UCLA and Cal State L.A featuring their artifacts, fetishes and other relics/garb.



Mudpeople in the L.A. River, from a short video by D. A. Metrov


Back to our interview with Mike…

MM: I often consider my life an art form. However, when I realize at times, like all of us I suppose, how inept, hesitant, sloppy, poorly communicative, fearful, and stupid I can be…I have to question myself again as to how much of what I do can I actually consider art. Moving thru my day, I see or find (or discover) so many things that I consider wonderful. These things can be man-made or natural: weathered, crumbling or patinated, shiny, bright or new. Compelling relationships of colors (similar or contrasting) or shapes that grab me, take me out of myself.  It’s the artist then who is in the position to say, “This is art.” By taking a photograph, using the actual materials in his/her art-making process or as inspiration in the artists’ life.



One of the Gates; photo by Andrew Uchin


HP: As an ignorant art person, we wanted to ask about your time twists. Our initial thought was this is groovy, but we’re not sure we understand them. Is there a way, if it’s not too annoying, to explain this art in layman’s terms? What led you to work with bundles of wire?

MM: I think that even though I had no conscious idea that I was an artist, I had thoughts like an artist; certainly thoughts of a poet.

As a boy growing up I loved to climb trees. I was really good at it. Trunks of trees and branches stretching out and thinning to fine lines—here’s some early curving, reaching, thick-to-thinner lines that certainly struck me. Paths through vacant lots I followed during my growing up years, and hiking later in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Gabriel’s, Joshua Tree. And then, the freeways and driving in Los Angeles. The going to’s and coming from’s. And more importantly, the getting there’s—the process. The process of becoming… These I really do believe had something to do with my love of lines, and the wires and branches, and such I choose to use them in my art.

Also, in college I studied biological science and botany. So many lines and tubes in a plant stem, in the human body. Blood vessels, nerves, the xylem and phloem of a plant to move water. My first painting was tubes when I was 23 years old and I’d just returned from a year odyssey and had discovered that I was an artist.

Lines seem to me to be essential to life. Lines form us. Lines transmit and carry essential information and nutrients. Blood lines. Communication lines. Lines of energy. Lines of words. Streets. Rivers. Sidewalks. Flight paths. Ideas and conversations.



Red NOLA Twist (1 of 2); photo by Chris Dierdorff


HP: Looseleaf’s article quotes you as saying, “The idea of collecting materials — I call my bundles time/twists — they’re like time capsules or materials from our lives that have something to say about us, our culture, our society — where we live, how we live.”

MM: I’m a collector and a gatherer. My current gathered materials, sculptures, are bound and tied and wrapped bundles and balls, simply speaking. The bundles I’m calling time-twists. It’s the time-twists, small ones, which are featured in my current show. Each twist can be considered to tell a story, or stories. Each twist is full of information. Stories can relate to color but often indicate the effects of wind and rain, the transmission of electricity, the exchange of audio and visual information from person to person or device to device…

I arrange what already is into a held-together group of similar or contrasting natures. I create a circle of friends, let’s say.  The twists are collections, collections of material of linear nature that is taken from homes and gardens. Collections of stuff that most people throw out and away. I am obsessive. Each twist is a slice of life, a bit of time in objective form.  Each twist contains things that have had and still can have a useful life. The things or elements I choose to have in my palette (as a painter would have paints) have been used by people, or grown around us from a seed.



Gentrification & the Muse; photo by Andrew Uchin


Saying that my work, these time-twists in particular, has something to say about us, our culture and society, what I mean is this: Given that each sculptural twist has particular elements or materials that are used by us in our lives, used to make our lives easier, more fun, or safer, or more direct…some are used until they fail to work and then disposed of…some will never again be made or made use of. The organic materials are from our world geographically speaking about our physical climate.

We are a throw away and use up society. We are a communicating society. We are a society of products and this may be considered progress. We also like and have need of color. As plants are with us, they are part of our world. What I might find in my yard will be different from what I would find in another’s yard, or closet or garage or waste bin. Uniqueness is everywhere even as similarity seems to be the visual case at hand.

I, of course, as the artist, choose from the massive array of stuff. I may bend and twist a wire or twine, a stick can be turned inward or out, but the nature of the thing is there—the simple pervasive line.



Conversational Synopsis of Rocking Boats; photo by Andrew Uchin


Mike will be in studio this Saturday, April 18th, noon to 2 p.m.

Additionally, he states…

There are actually 4 shows at the Avenue 50 Studio complex, plus work in an artist’s studio . Ave 50 Studio is a real dose of mostly contemporary  Latino work. One exhibition, just outside of the gallery where I’m showing, is a Latino art collector’s sell-off of apparently 10% of his collection. What he’s showing is in itself exceptional. 


Time Twists by Mike Mollett
Runs through May 8th
Casa Marengo @ Ave. 50 Studio complex
131 N. Avenue 50, Highland Park 90042
Gallery hours: Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Or by appointment
Contact: Val Echavarria at 1.626.577.9440



Portrait of Mike; photo by Ed Glendenning


Mike’s question-of-the-month van…



The ’64 bus with a question(s) of the week; photo by Mike Mollett




Photo, top right: Detail of a Gate by Mike Mollett; photo by Andrew Uchin

1 Response for “Time Twists”

  1. Metrov says:

    Fabulous write-up, Mike! Congratulations on all your recent successes!



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