Couple join talents to produce art work
Larger-than-life mythological figures are gracing the town of Geyserville this summer, thanks to local artists Peter Crompton and Robyn Spencer-Crompton.
“We met doing theater. I was a set designer and Robyn’s a costume designer. The sculpture is based on how I’d make sets for theater... I like to work really big and really fast,” said sculptor Peter Crompton.
Crompton and Spencer-Crompton, husband and wife, complement one another. Crompton makes big, sweeping statements in three dimensions; Spencer-Crompton follows up with intricate detail work in the form of mosaic, adding an intimacy to the huge statue her husband began.
Sometimes, however, the three-dimensional approach and two-dimensional approach can clash.
“Ideally, he gives me a smooth surface for the mosaic,” Spencer-Crompton said, noting that wasn’t exactly the case for the figurehead of Zeus which sits in the center of Geyserville’s Plaza. For Zeus, she could only work two or three rows of the mosaic at a time, because she needed to use so much epoxy to get the tiles to cling to the uneven concrete.
The time commitment required by the two artists is different as well.
“Basically, I do a whole three dimensional map of the thing, that takes about a week. And I do a small mockette of clay... And then two or three weeks to do most of the statue,” Crompton said.
Crompton utilizes a structural foam – common in theater productions – and overlays it with fiberglass mesh followed by concrete. The Zeus statue weighs approximately 800 pounds, and the color comes from a combination of colored concrete, concrete stains, and concrete paint (some statues also contain gold leaf.)
The mosaic process may seem simpler, but it is far more time-consuming.
“It takes me months to do the mosaic,” Spencer-Crompton said.
Each tile is carefully placed to create ‘amadento.’
“Amadento is the flow. That just basically is the flow of how you lay it down,” Spencer-Crompton said, noting that the organic, yet mathematical way the tiles line up is very purposeful.
In the end, the contrast between the huge statue and the ornate mosaic is striking.
“The front is the public face, and it’s impersonal, it doesn’t have any eyes... and then you come around back,” Crompton said.
“I see the front as being more public, and the other side as being more intimate and personal... like a temple,” Spencer-Crompton said.
Spencer and Spencer-Crompton’s work can be viewed at Geyserville’s Plaza as well as on the approach to Geyserville. (The Nereids en route to Geyserville are sea nymphs, inspired by those in a Turkish temple as well as a set Crompton designed for La Traviata.) Their work can also be found – and purchased – at Hammerfriar Gallery in Healdsburg. Pieces are also on display in Cloverdale, Cotati, and DaVero, Moshin, and Starlite vineyards. The Cromptons’ personal studio and sculpture garden will be open to the public during ARTrails in October.