published Monday, March 14th, 2011

Old objects, new life

Michael Wimmer works on a piece titled “Birds of a Letter” in his Rossville studio in preparation for this year’s 4 Bridges Art Festival.
Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Michael Wimmer works on a piece titled “Birds of a Letter” in his Rossville studio in preparation for this year’s 4 Bridges Art Festival. Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Wooden floors creak, the sound filling the air in a warehouse packed with discarded antiques. The hundreds of items stacked atop one another seem to be organized in a way that only one man could understand.

Working at a table in the middle of this arranged chaos is R. Michael Wimmer, a contemporary artist who has been creating with “cultural fragments” for the past 18 years.

Wimmer, a 52-year-old resident of Rossville, coined the term “cultural fragments” to describe the weathered antiques that he marries together to form his collage sculptures.

“I like it old. If it’s metal, I like it rusty … that gives character to my work, [using] things that have a past to it,” Wimmer said.

Originally an antiques dealer in Florida, Wimmer began his art career in the 1990s when he felt like the antiques market was drying up.

“I always wanted to be an artist and was ready for a change,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer has shown his work up and down the East Coast, and eight years ago he made his first appearance at the local 4 Bridges Art Festival. After that initial visit, he was hooked on Chattanooga and quickly relocated.

Since his debut at 4 Bridges, he has not missed a year and, in 2007, he was given the honor of being the poster artist for the festival.

Wimmer’s sculptures are unique, and they range from wall pieces to public art, including a 14-foot-tall commissioned sculpture at Jefferson Heights Park.

Although he creates diverse artwork, he is best known for his clocks. With some art, he explained, the owner may tire of looking at it after its newness wears off. But people always want to know what time it is, thus guaranteeing that his clock sculptures will be looked at often.

“They’re sculptural and functional, but sculptural first,” he said.

about Dan Henry...

Dan Henry, a native of Atlanta, Ga., graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s of fine arts and a minor in journalism in 2001. Dan worked as a photojournalist in Atlanta and North Alabama before joining the Chattanooga Times Free in 2005. While in Chattanooga. Dan has received numerous state and national awards on a multitude of platforms including still imagery, video, and multimedia projects. Contact Dan at 423-757-6693 or dhenry@timesfreepress.com.

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