Few things sum up the quirky idiosyncrasy of New York as much as the work of Frank Traynor and his ongoing project, ‘The Perfect Nothing Catalog‘. Dating back to around 2012, when Traynor first came across a rundown shack in Hudson, New York and felt compelled to bring it to Brooklyn in order to sell handmade wares out of it, ‘The Perfect Nothing Catalog’ was born out of Traynor’s quest to explore the ephemeral function of public objects, while providing a memorable and light-hearted perspective on the exhibition medium. It also nods to his varied and numerous vocations as a Christmas tree salesman, pumpkin carver, sailor, and costume fabricator for the Rockettes, all in a bid to support his creative practice.
Frank Traynor's ‘The Perfect Nothing Catalog’ at The Future Perfect
It's this unique and singular creative spirit that has brought Traynor’s body of work from various hidden backyards in Brooklyn to The Future Perfect’s gallery space in New York, where ‘The Perfect Nothing Catalog’ is currently being displayed in an exhibition titled ‘A Can Opener of Myself’ (on view until 31 December 2023).
Traynor’s ongoing body of work fills the shelves – an assortment of ornamentally adorned everyday objects, such as padlocks, flashlights, tongs, dog bowls and dust pans, encrusted with shells, precious and semi-precious gemstones and plated in tin foil. It puts forward a world in which the most mundane activities can be turned extraordinary through the use of intentionally humorous, ritualistic objects.
Traynor, who is now based in Los Angeles, says, ‘“The Perfect Nothing Catalog” has been a way to frame, and maybe justify, indulging curiosity and experimenting, letting small projects turn into big projects. I’ve been so lucky so often to find support for developing these ideas and they always lead to something else to work on or play with or figure out.
‘The stones and shells come from all over the place,’ he adds about his process. ‘I’m always collecting. There are stones I pulled out of cliffs in Big Sur and from my brother’s gravel driveway in Chapel Hill. I’m always looking for good old rock and mineral heads at flea markets and on Craigslist, old man shell dealers. Not crystal energy people but transcendental geologists. I started out using mostly old metal from thrift stores, each piece unique. Now I am starting to work with a metal family I met in Mexico City and a welder in LA to replicate some of those things that I found.’
The Future Perfect’s gallery director Laura Young says, ‘Frank’s work is a maximalist, minimalist contradiction that appeals to the sparkle in one's eye. Like a day at the beach when you come home with a pocket full of shells and stones, all of sudden that pile has purpose and longevity in the simplest and most useful way.’
‘A Can Opener of Myself’ is on view at The Future Perfect until 31 December 2023
8 St Lukes Place
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Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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