Troy Simmons wants you to experience his art. Really experience it.
A gentle grin creeping over his face, Simmons sits in his studio and recounts a common response he received at one of his shows. Viewers saw imposing blocks of concrete — picture the carbonite block minus Han Solo — found them largely lackluster, and asked Simmons why he didn’t use color.
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Had they gotten closer and looked at the other side of those pieces, however, their observation would have been entirely different: radiant colors, engrossing textures and abstract arrangements.
“You didn’t go [to] my show!” Simmons said of his reaction to this response. “You didn’t learn anything. You didn’t go in and explore. You missed out.”
It’s easy to feel sorry for these viewers. Seeing Simmons’ work that way must be like only watching the final scene of The Third Man or hearing the first few notes of Paint It, Black before the record skips. You need to take in the entirety of the piece, and then consider its parts.
Born in Houston, Simmons didn’t plan to become an artist as a child. In fact, he didn’t even realize it was an option.
“I wasn’t exposed to the arts,” he said. “I didn’t really know art as an avenue. I was trying to figure out something that was fulfilling to me in the environment I was in.”
He found fragments of fulfillment in the fields of environmental science and architectural design, but they ultimately failed to provide what he was after. During his off hours, Simmons began to create, taking inspiration from both nature and the structures he was constructing.
In 2008, he decided to pursue a career as a full-time artist. That decision coincided with another major one: leaving the Texas Hill Country for Miami after his wife took a job here.
Troy Simmons: ‘Dig Deeper’
Now settled in his studio at Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, Simmons draws inspiration both from the commingling of cultures characteristic of his newly adopted home in South Florida, and from his personal story.
Simmons’ background in architectural design drew him to work with concrete, which he frequently uses as his medium of choice. The explosions of hues and shapes straining to coexist come from periods of personal growth and observations of how nature intersects with the city.
“It also has to do a lot with what’s not expected,” he said. “It may take some work, but just look and discover. You may be missing something if you don’t dig deeper.”
See His Work at Art Miami
During Miami Art Week, you can find Simmons’ work at Art Miami, where he’ll be showing with JanKossen Contemporary. Although it’s his busiest time of year, he said he hopes to find time to see the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse.
As for what comes next, expect Simmons to continue to try to outdo himself.
“I’m always looking for the next piece or the next thing that will keep me going,” he said. “As soon as [a piece is] done, ‘OK, what’s next? Let me start.’”