Art Live: Bob’s world

When you need an escape from the ordinary, spend some time with the artwork of Bob Hakun. This maker is creating some of the most stimulating, thought provoking works of assemblage around. Hakun’s years as an artist are as varied as his pieces. After receiving his BFA from Kutztown University, he spent almost 20 years sculpting Halloween masks and screen printing Halloween Costumes for Collegeville Costumes. “We had many licensed characters from Warner Brothers, Universal and other movie and TV studios. I sculpted an E.T. mask that sold over a million copies.”

Bob Hakun working on his piece 'Gretaman'

When the business moved overseas in the 1990s he took a job as a graphic design artist. “I became fascinated by Photoshop and tried my hand at fine art digital designs among other things. But all this time I was creating stuff according to the specifications of others and my artistic ideas were put on hold.”  It’s a hard pill to swallow when your art journey begins as a child. “When I was a kid, I loved to paint and draw and I was also fascinated by the gears, pipes and wires in my father's car engine, the heating system in the house and the natural world too; bird nests, dead insects, bones and rocks all made their way into my collections.”

Hakun’s circuitous route was not without challenges. After 38 years working for other people, Hakun suffered a major health setback in the 2010s that eventually forced him into early retirement. “After I lost my job I was determined to finally make art just for myself; not to please some boss. I lost fine motor coordination because of my illness, so I had to accept a cruder, looser and freer means of expression. I started collecting all those bits of nature that fascinated me as a child and with string and wire, I latched them to some of the old mechanical parts that seemed so mysterious to me when I was a boy.”

'Greta Thunberg' by Bob Hakun

He began to see things differently. “My illness awakened something that I hadn’t given much attention to previously. I took long walks through the woods. The decaying and worthless debris I saw, became my inspiration and my art materials.” Hakun will consider using anything except an object that is too heavy or is made of plastic. Sometimes he’ll make drawings or he’ll take photos of individual objects and assemble them in Photoshop. Other times he’ll assemble things loosely on the floor and arrange them a few times to see what works. “I discard pieces that don't work in a pile on the side. Then I look at the pile on the side and see that it’s beautiful so I make that pile the new piece of art! Ha!”  When it comes to themes, he enjoys throwing in some irony with a little whimsy. “I like juxtaposing something familiar with something that isn’t normally associated with it, triggering the mind to ’hiccup’ for a second and then re-evaluate what it is seeing. Many of my bits already have a narrative associated with them. The old worn tool has a story behind the way it looks. The broken stick and the stained, torn cloth have been through ‘something’. I provide a lot of little details which the viewer can piece together to form their own story line.”

In less than 10 years, Hakun’s made a name for himself as an award winning artist. But what he really enjoys most are the social interactions of his world. “Exhibiting what really are your innermost feelings is beautiful when showing with other artists. We support each other through successes and failures. This heartwarming benefit continues to be the best part of being an artist!” Not surprisingly, Hakun is inspired by Thornton Dial. “He was an untrained outsider artist who made art out of whatever he could find on his farm and threw it together without following any proper rules or techniques. He changed my ideas about what beauty really is.” Hakun typically shows work in more than a dozen group shows a year at venues in several counties including Berks, Montgomery and Chester. For more on Hakun’s activities, visit his Facebook page.

'Cat Call' by Karen Weber at Visual Expansion Gallery

Floral Painting by Merrill Weber

Events worth checking out this month: In West Chester, Visual Expansions Gallery kicked off October with the two woman show, “Weber and Weber” featuring Merrill Weber and Karen Weber. While they won’t be hosting any events, visitors are encouraged to drop by during business hours to see their paintings. Stay tuned for more on this show in next week’s column.

In Greenville, DE, Station Gallery is hosting board members of the National League of American Pen Women, Diamond State Branch. This group show is on view through October 28th.

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!!


About Constance McBride

A native of Philadelphia, Constance McBride lived in Arizona for 16 years, where desert observations made a transformative impact on her work as a research based visual artist. Passionate about contemporary art, she was actively engaged in the local arts community. She served as a board member for several art organizations, managed an artist collective/gallery space, curated and juried several exhibitions and wrote for two arts publications in Phoenix. She taught ceramics at Shemer Art Center and Museum and exhibited her work both locally and nationally. McBride returned to Pennsylvania in 2018 and resides in Chester Springs with her husband and two dogs. In West Chester, she serves as a board member at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank and teaches ceramics at Chester County Art Association. She also teaches at Clay on Main in Oley, PA. She is a member of American Craft Council, Philadelphia Sculptors, and Women’s Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter.



1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.