Gary Mackender, a visual artist and musician residing in Tucson, Arizona, creates mixed media artwork using primarily found objects, ceramic tile parts, broken plates, bric a brac, and an odd assortment of items from over thirty years of collecting. He began experimenting in this realm in the late 1980's. He holds an art degree from the University of Kansas and it was in Lawrence, Kansas that he did his formative work.
Since moving to Arizona in 1989, Mackender has designed several public art projects including six large murals and the pedestrian fence at I-10 and Miracle Mile in Tucson. He has also collaborated with Tucson’s Ben’s Bells organization as the designer for a few large scale mosaic murals, one of which is about forty feet long and displayed in a prominent location in downtown Tucson. Many of his more recent works can be found in the homes of art collectors from northern California to Kansas City, Missouri, and Lawrence, Kansas.
Currently his artwork is about discovering what evolves when you take something initially meant for one thing and then doing something else with it… turn it upside-down and sideways and inside out and watch the transformation. He uses what he calls Americana Objects (discarded aesthetically questionable ‘collectibles’ mass produced for the American consumer for the past 70 years), and reassembles them so that the viewer may experience these objects in a way much removed from their original intent and purpose. It is also about observing and participating in the immediate material world around him, and then going to work every day and making something else about that world that ultimately repurposes and reimagines the function and the impact these found objects may have.
Tucson COVID Tales Artwork 2020 from Gary Mackender on Vimeo.