When passers-by spot Los Osos sculptor Ron Roundy picking up debris on the side of the roadway, they won’t see him wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s there by free choice, collecting potential art materials.
Roundy, 72, believes that one man’s garbage is another man’s hoard of three-dimensional oddities destined to become sculptures. His pieces are abstract wonders consisting largely of found objects.
A couple of years ago, Roundy recalled, he took a road trip with his wife, Irma, to Utah.
“When I’d see big chunks of tires, I’d pull over, throw them into the back of the truck, and off we’d go,” the artist recalled. “For me, that’s a little bit of magic. I think that’s what we’re all searching for — (the ability) to put pieces together to make something more than what they are.”
On another trip with his wife, Roundy tiptoed into an abandoned electrical plant and discovered a few treasures.
“We found an old PG&E yard, so we pulled in and there was a pile that was obviously trash,” he said. “I found a big piece of pipe. Then there was this fork, maybe six feet tall. They all came together in a sculpture.
“I weld, I glue, I screw and I bolt to put these pieces together,” he said.
Roundy regularly shows his sculptures on the Central Coast. He expects to have an exhibition in Los Osos before the end of the summer.
Although Roundy identifies as a sculptor, he does more than that.
A recent show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, “Overhead, Underfoot and In Your Face,” featured Roundy’s portraits, drawn in ink on napkins. (The exhibition, which was held in March, also featured works by fellow Los Osos artist George Jercich.)
“Everywhere I go, I will immortalize the people around me, drawing them on napkins,” Roundy said, noting that local eateries offer a rich source of subjects. “People have a tendency to think of them as caricatures, but I say, ‘No, no, no. They’re portraits.’ I capture the essence of people.”
Roundy said signs of aging such as deepening lines and sagging necks make faces particularly interesting and textured. What is beautiful to an artist, however, isn’t always beautiful to its subjects.
Sometimes they get really excited; sometimes they hate me,” Roundy said. “Sometimes people have a hard time (with my portraits). But lines in the face (are) a road-map of who a person is and where they’ve been.”