Man, Rock, Drill
Danby Marble, Vermont
Produced for Johnson Trading Gallery
Sometimes a show develops out of a small idea that eventually blossoms into a full scale exhibition. This is not one of those shows…
The spontaneity of the work in Man, Rock, Drill is what made it not only possible, but special. After going back and forth over different ideas, the one that stuck most was “a man in a van with a drill looking for stone”. Making the core drill a portable tool made the possibilities of where to produce the work endless.
Having discussed the idea of using Vermont marble years ago it seemed the natural material for Man, Rock, Drill. Immediately a plan was set in place; stone quarries, stone finishers, tool supplies, Airbnb, flights, 300lb of excess baggage, van rental, etc. Max loaded his tools into five packages and landed in New York.
As Max set up shop on the farm in Danby the pictures started to come through. I couldn’t imagine how he was manoeuvring these stones around on his own. I asked if he wanted help but Bob the 81-year-old local farm hand was all the help he needed. Max joked he was like Theseus trying to lift the stone (look it up).
After two weeks by himself it was time for me to visit. I arrived in Danby to find Max outside with his drill and his stones just as I’d seen in the pictures. What I hadn’t seen was Max waking up at 6am, having some porridge and coffee, putting on some kind of French fisherman’s gear and heading out to attack the same pile of stones he had been inching around for the past ten days.
1 o’clock lunch, right back to work…
7 o’clock dinner, and he headed straight back out…
That night I watched him working until midnight in the pouring rain with a headtorch on and another light attached to his van facing the stone, whilst I stood there trying to help but really just being annoying. Next morning same thing.
It is this commitment, drive, focus and passion that makes his work interesting. Of course the work is interesting in its own right, but it is his effort and ability to get the job done without complaining, just hard work, that makes me admire it more.
Man, Rock, Drill is testament to the determination and dedication Max gives his craft. He embraces his surroundings, blends in and finds the people who can help him and experience the process with him. He makes them enjoy it.
The result might be a chair or a table, and yes you can use them, but what went into that chair or table gives Max’s work something else… a story.
Paul Johnson, 2015.