Jacksonville's Steampunk Artist | News

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Jacksonville's Steampunk Artist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's a form of science fiction fantasy that was created in the 1980's where steam is the predominant power source.  It's called Steampunk and a local Jacksonville artist has quite the imagination to make the genre come to life.

You'll find examples of Steampunk artwork on the third floor of the main library downtown through the end of the month.  There's an instrument for viewing ones future lovers and an incubator for making computer chips.  "They are real.  They're real art," says Steampunk artist Jim Smith who created each of the items from his small Jacksonville art studio.

Steampunk is a genre that incorporates science fiction, fantasy and history.  Smith uses gauges, hourglasses, clocks, electrical components and anything that looks like it could generate steam to create his masterpieces. "This particular one is going to have a lot of wood in it," says Smith as he works on a Steampunk shadowbox. 

Smith says he will create 700 shadowboxes, or assemblages as Smith calls them, that will go into a new Steampunk themed restaurant set to open next year in Riverside. One shadowbox shows an old picture of a man getting work done by a dentist with teeth glued in the box. "These are real teeth that are extracted from the owner himself," says Smith.  It's weird stuff but the art work intrigues. Another assemblage is set up as a machine with pulleys that are tipping a chair.  Yet another is what Smith calls a cloudmaking device.

Smith gets a lot of his knick-knacks to make his artwork from friends, garage sales and junk yards. The bigger pieces come from antique shops. One device he assembled is called "How to reanimate a broken heart."  It looks like a Wall Street ticker-tape machine on a pedestal. "There's some kind of key here you would turn, which would make the mechanism begin. And inside there's like a clockwork mechanism," says Smith

So if you're looking to go back in time, pay a visit to the main library. You'll experience the punk in Steampunk.  The Steampunk exhibit continues at the Jacksonville Main Library through Saturday.  Jim Smith is also an art teacher at the Bolles School. This year he won with the Memphis Wood Excellence in Teaching Award sponsored by the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art.  











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