Michael Cooper

As the Bay Area sculptor Michael Cooper explains in a companion video, he's a near-exact contemporary of George Lucas. Growing up during the '50s in Lodi, in California's Central Valley, he, too, built go-karts and cruised for girls in homemade hot rods. Then he went to art school instead of film school, but all the same Lucas influences are there: sci-fi, race cars, and a garage-shop, cobbled-together view of the future. By the '70s, Cooper began incorporating car parts and bent wood—as in an Eames lounge chair—into his mobile art. BAM's survey, A Sculptural Odyssey, 1968–2011, includes many such examples of that period. Some of Cooper's pieces are studded with Hot Wheels, spark plugs, guns, drills, and wooden female figureheads (as if from a clipper ship, the hot rods of their era). The best piece on view is Soapbox Racer, a spindly, delicately-wrought sled that was actually raced in a 1975 artists' derby (he won). The spidery oak creation almost looks like it's from another planet—Tatoonie, perhaps. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Starts: July 12. Continues through Oct. 9, 2011

 
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