Tinfoil has never looked so alive.
Robert Wilson, also known as "The Tinfoil Man," a unique personality in the Portland art scene, has his first solo show opening tonight at the Coleman Burke gallery in Portland. The installation showcases his intricate insects crafted out of tinfoil.
Wilson has been a tinfoil artist in Portland for 20 years. He can usually be found in bars or on the streets of Old Port, where he uses the malleable metal medium to make insects, animals and anything a passerby requests.
Wilson has been experimenting with tinfoil art since childhood. He grew up in Alabama, where his father often barbequed in their backyard. After grilling, his father would give the extra tinfoil to Wilson, who began creating unique forms.
Though he was able to turn his hobby into a profession, Wilson has had a difficult time being accepted as a serious artist. However, there are people that have seen his work and recognize his true talent.
"I saw his work for years in Portland, and no one took him seriously," said Professor of Art John Bisbee, who helps run the Coleman Burke branch in Brunwick. "I knew he was a profoundly gifted artist and it just seemed like someone should take a chance on him."
Bisbee took a leap of faith and made Wilson's current installation possible. Wilson has been working on the show for two months.
It remains to be seen if Wilson's exhibit will open even more doors for him in the art world.
"It's a tremendous work he's done. He's going to be someone who is about to have an important voice in this artistic community," said Bisbee.
Wilson has already become a favorite of Portland residents and one of the most well-known features of the city's downtown. He has been voted the Best Graffiti/Street/Performance Artist in a poll done by The Portland Phoenix for the past two years.
"Everyone has a relationship with Robert," said Bisbee. "You can't walk down the street with him and not have everybody say hi to him."
Wilson's tinfoil scorpions, praying mantises and other insects will be revealed at Coleman Burke's opening reception tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will run through January 2, 2010.