Toy Duck Series Portrays Vulnerability of Children

Jolene Thym, Oakland Tribune, Aug 26, 1994

Robert Simons spends hours making prints. He patiently creates his designs, many of them highly detailed, then reproduces his work in bold precise prints and rich colors.

Then he destroys them.

"I cut them up and put them on another piece of paper. What I do is build them into something new" Simons said.

The Oakland artist, art professor and Director of The Kennedy Art Center Gallery at Holy Names College in Oakland will show some of his best efforts at print reconstruction in an exhibit that opens Monday at The Art Store Gallery, Oakland.

Simons said the works in the show will reflect several different themes; including one of his most popular — ducks.

"I think people like my duck paintings because they are strange and bizarre, but they're also beautiful. I use bright colors and metallics. They are always on black backgrounds, so they are very striking.

At first people think 'This would be nice to hang in the kid's room' But after people study them for a few minutes, they realize they are not sweet paintings" His toy duck series pictures a beautifully colored toy duck that has been bound and gagged by its pull-cord. "For me, these works are a comment about how vulnerable our children are, both physically and mentally. I think the state of violence in which our children are living has seriously taken away from the quality of their lives."

Other works picture more realistic ducks coupled with other mysterious figures, such as newts and frogs. His works are large, measuring two by three feet. About seventeen in the series are included in the show.