Ted Simons: A colorful collection of scrap metal sculpture bite artist Ludvik is on display at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix from now until the end of May. Ludvik joins us now to tell us more about this project that he calls his "Steel Jam Session." Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Ludvik: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: This business of sculpture with scrap metal, how did you get started with this?
Ludvik: I usually say that I use the debris of civilization, and the leftover of industry, and I use steel instead of the traditional material that the noble sculptor used to use in the past -- granite, marble, techniques like carving and casting. I use something totally different. I recycle whatever I find in junk yards and construction sites.
Ted Simons: That's where you find your material?
Ludvik: I find my material anywhere I can find it. And I try to make art out of it.
Ted Simons: Let's take us -- we're seeing some beautiful sculptures. Takes us through the creative process. When you find a piece of metal that curves left and curves to the right, is that what you base your design on? Or do you base it on something that's a blank slate?
Ludvik: If you heard about a program called before in the past called "Sanford and Son," I'm the second son that they never mentioned. My back yard looks like a junkyard. I collect whatever I find. And I collect it, I know one day it's going to be useful to me. And I keep piling them up, and one day I look at the material and I say, oh, that's good for a sculpture. I pile up whatever suitable for the moment, and I start without any preconceived idea or any notion of making a sculpture. I drink coffee, I put music, and I go.
Ted Simons: Is it different -- I know you do painting as well and you do other forms of art as well. It is different than painting?
Ludvik: It's totally different process, but they both symbiotic. I drive from both energy.
Ted Simons: This is titled "Steel Jam Session." Why that title?
Ludvik: It's like jazz musicians when they have a jam session. Everyone throws a note, but it's a one-man jam session. I do all the notes myself, and I compile the art myself.
Ted Simons: So basically you find a bunch of stuff, you see how it works together and sometimes it works, sometimes you find a different piece --
Ludvik: I start all over again. And it's -- part of my work is intellectual, part is -- a great part is physical, but the most part is the intuitive part. And I rely on my intuition of creating art. I cannot -- sometimes I cannot define what I'm doing, I cannot explain what I'm doing, once I read that Stravinsky, when he played the rite of spring for the first time, somebody in the audience asked him, what that it means? He turned his back to the orchestra and started playing the piece again. Sometimes the work itself is only explanation.
Ted Simons: Sometimes it surprises you.
Ludvik: Yeah. So the process of making art is not a clocklike precision. It's all the turns, and curves, and unpredictabilities and the conjecture-- at the end creates a magical formula.
Ted Simons: I gotta ask you, how did you wind up working with the Desert Botanical Garden?
Ludvik: Desert Botanical Garden is the best perfect place to really showcase great art. And I was very impressed with anything in the desert. I'm from Egypt originally, so the minute I was -- landed here in Arizona, I felt I'm halfway between heaven and earth. The shape of the cactus, the mountains, the desert, the stones, the sunsets. It's all -- I feel like dancing all night long, and -- in the moonlight, and all of this. Arizona is very conducive to making great art. And especially the desert garden. Where are you going to see such a succulent collection of plants, and butterflies and strange flowers, and --
Ted Simons: It's a succulent collection of succulents, too.
Ted Simons: You met Picasso. Correct?
Ludvik: Yes. That's one in my early teens. And I showed him some of my sketches, and he was very impressed. Amazingly he was very into Egyptian art somehow, and he told me, if you look at your description heritage, you will learn a lot. You don't need to look at anything else besides -- he said, he had one of the feet of a statue, Egyptian statue and he looks at it all the time and he could see all history of art in that piece of sculpture. I love Picasso, he's my idol, one of my idols.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the fact that he said stay true to that Egyptian heritage. You're in Arizona and you felt a kinship here with the desert.
Ted Simons: Do you, again, consciously look for maybe things in your background, things in your history, things in your culture and heritage?
Ludvik: Multiculturalism to me is a very tight woven rope. If it's not all come together, I mitigate history from a distance. I don't look at history as this my jumping point or any of that. Art is art, if you create a good art, there is potential, if there is no good creativity forget about art.
Ted Simons: Last question here, obviously the exhibit is out there for everyone to see, Desert Botanical Garden, when they go to see it, what do you want them to take from that exhibit?
Ludvik: I want them to be conscious about our environment. Our -- all the leftovers, all of this material that we really discard and don't look at it. Look at everything as a potential for art. It -- art shouldn't be an advocate of anything except art itself. But if we look at the environment -- the term of sustainability, we conjure up environmental and ethical and economic potentials. And if art just looks at green art, I don't wake up in the morning and I say I'm going to be a green artist today, or I'm going to create sustainable art today. It just -- I use what the environment is available to me. Affords me. And looking at all the steel junk around automobile parts, car parts, anything, it helps me, it stimulates my mind. So either you create a good art or you don't create a good art. It's a prerequisite for doing something. And if you look at the potential of sustainability, art is I think will create a new genre and a new potential for making great art.
Ted Simons: You do make good art, and it's great art.
Ludvik: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us.
Ludvik: Thank you, sir.