MY CREATIVE PROCESS
Each piece has been different for me and each seems to come from a different place. I have combined many of the practical arts with electronics and "craziness" using both old and new objects. My pieces often start with a story or scene which sometimes are triggered by the materials at hand. What is wonderful about adding technology is the power that comes from engaging numerous senses to tell the story. Adding sound is powerful by its unexpected presence. Watch "The Prisoner" video (here under Multimedia), and feel the tyranny of time that arises from the constant ticking of the metronome or the ringing of the bell. In "The Last Ride," the sound of the steam locomotive leaving the station reminds us of our inevitable last ride. Having 25,000 volt electric arcs, such as in the wormhole series of pieces, not only is visual and auditory, but the faint smell of ozone adds olfaction to possibly remind us of a thunder and lightning storm.
I especially enjoy adding little details to my pieces. Look hard and you will find my logo for Vandergraaff Gearheardt Laboratories, VGL, on many of my pieces. On repurposed pieces, I use brass slot head screws for a vintage look, and you will find the slots are perfectly aligned. I try to avoid using adhesives unless there is no alternative. Brass and copper are my "go-to" metals on 19th century pieces but for the cleaner lines of my Industrial Machines, (think Constructionist), steel, aluminum and glasss are used.
Some people have asked me why they don't see more creations like mine and my answer is that they are very difficult to build because they require expertise in many disciplines, all on the same piece, ranging from the intangible of creativity to the practical arts of metal working, electronics and fine woodworking. I am fortunate to have learned those skills, usually by necessity. These devices also require many weeks of time to build. Then there is the need to figure out how to make parts work and fit together that were never made to do so. Just figuring out how to replace batteries with hard-wired voltage on a plasma display is harder than it may look and making a small, solid state Jacob's Ladder took three months of experiments.
Vandegraaff Gearheardt is the nom de guerre of Greg Barnhart who lives and works in Escondido, California, with his wife Karen. Greg has been an autodidact from the the age of 12 when he read every book and magazine about electronics at the local library so that by the time he was 14, he was tearing apart old TVs to build electronic gadgets. At this time he started to expand his self studies into history and psychology. An electrical engineering degree from WPI followed, and afterward he spent three months in Europe exploring the great art museums. Upon his return he worked as a design engineer and took night courses in history, art and dabbled in watercolor painting. After buying a 200-year-old, 55 acre farm in New Hampshire, he did everything himself from installing a new heating system to rebuilding farm equipment. Becoming interested in antiques, Greg became a part time dealer specializing in the Federalist period. Now a full-fledged polymath, his practical arts include woodworking, ceramics, culinary arts, metalworking and architecture. Extensive travel in Europe during his career in technology management allowed further growth in his understanding of 20th century art movements. He has always been interested in Cubism, Dadaism, the Bauhaus, Constructivism and Kinetic art.
A few years after retirement and after building everything he could think of for his house, Greg discovered the world of Steampunk, That aesthetic of mixing the Victorian with science fiction sparked Greg’s imagination and allowed him to apply all of his skills and build upon his study and appreciation of the aforementioned art movements. Repurposing and the Industrial Aesthetic came along later with his addition of kenetic elements and the use of the latest photonics.
Best of Show Steamathon, Las Vegas, 2016
Best 3D Theme Art San Diego County Fair, 2016. (Largest judged art show in California),
Best New Artist Spectrum Art Show, Indian Wells, Ca. 2017
"Prisoner of TIME" Included in California Center for Arts Museum, April-June 2017
Peoples Favorite Voted by all attendees at Art Expo, NYC, 2017 (25,000+)
Featured Artist Edwardian Ball, San Francisco, 2018