MEMBER COLLABORATION – DAVID STOLTZ and ALEX BRUMLIK
David Stoltz and Alex Brumlik, two Generator studio members, have teamed up to create wooden figures for David’s latests cultural piece: “A Ride On The Carousel a Circus of Life”
David Stoltz grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and was always interested in art: “I’ve been a sculptor since I was practically three years old.” While his peers multitasked, David was singularly focused, spending his days sketching and crafting. By thirteen, he was already working under Maccabi Greenfield, an artist who ran in circles with legendary abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock. After several other apprenticeships, David’s style emerged: a motion-filled, playful abstractionism, where “everything is about negative and positive space, weight and balance, the essence of what I do being form.” He eventually graduated to larger pieces and steel installations, similar in style to his previous work but drastically different in their medium. He relocated to Vermont to pursue an opportunity as an artist-in-residence at Bennington College, where he continued making, finding room for vibrant characters and dynamic figures.
Since joining Generator, David’s medium exploration has exploded. He went from working from his own steel knowledge to collaborating with expert Generator members and staff to bring his pieces to life in forms he could have never imagined. Seamus Hannan and Alex Hahl have made it possible for David to CNC and engineer his complex structures, while Chris Jeffrey has made it possible to create stained-glass versions of David’s structures. Alex Hahl has been working with David since he joined Generator, helping him craft, weld and create, mostly in steel. Alex began working with David as a freelancer, but has transitioned into a more permanent role at Generator and has enjoyed the collaboration. Seamus’ woodworking skills and business sense have allowed for productive collaboration, and made 3D printed figures possible. Both Alex and Seamus have played big roles in David’s latest piece, and most recently, David is collaborating with Alex Brumlik to breathe life into his newest project.
Alex has always been a maker. What started as a way to spend time with his grandmother, whittling away at blocks on his front porch, has transformed into a craft of passion, where Alex found freedom, agency and creativity in woodworking. Engineering and metal work were his first passions, but a desire to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and a nudge from his father’s partner, world-renowned jeweler Suzan Rezac, led him to pursue a degree at the Vermont Woodworking School. Although reluctant at first, Alex grew to love the medium: “There’s something about wood, it’s organic, friendly, tactile, which means you really have to work with it.” His attention to detail and precision earned him a reputation as a perfectionist in the shop. He spent hours and hours refining his pieces, a practice which aligns with his creative philosophy: “I believe there is a right way to do things, and short of budget, I don’t think there is any reason to cut corners…I like to put care into things, from the big picture of the piece to the smallest thing you interact with, everything in a piece should work perfectly.”
He earned his BFA in furniture studies and found himself experimenting in combining functional pieces with artistic sculpture. Merging two worlds that tended to disagree has been a fun challenge, and Generator has offered Alex the tools, storage and access to continue this fusion. “At home it’s a bigger deal if everything is covered in sawdust.” With a new display space at Frog Hollow, Alex has the opportunity to showcase his work, including his most recent project, his refurbished senior thesis work, a mahogany head with moving drawers and a hidden key, evidence of his creative syntheses.
David feels lucky to have found Alex: “He is a craftsman par excellence and he was right next door to me.” For David, great assistants are able to understand an artist, yet create independently, all while elevating the art. The balance is not an easy one. David makes a rough form of plaster, and passes it off to Alex, who outlines the piece into a block, bandsaws it roughly and then carves out the details. The process has been educational for the pair. As Alex puts it: “It is not easy to bring someone else’s designs to life. He has a clear idea, and I have material constraints. He is learning what is possible with wood and I am learning what he likes and responds to.”
The duo just completed their first wooden figure, and plan to continue to collaborate. As David remarks, Generator has allowed for an artistic renaissance and for meaningful collaboration with talented artists: “Most people don’t get a second chance, all of a sudden I am creating a whole new body of work. I’ve got a lot out of this place, it’s been an amazing couple of years”