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:Ret.2. 11P444:1Y1 t i t F -i-11 4-11110 THE PERFECT MACHINE By Lance Letscher UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS PRESS 56 PAGES, $19.95 LISTEN to Letscher talk about The Perfect Machine and see images from the book at txio.corn/letscher GROWNUP GIFTS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES AUSTIN NEW STORE NORTH SOUTH RESEARCH E. RIVERSIDE STASSNEY 832-8544 443-2292 502-9323 441-5555 707-9069 NEW STORE!! SAN MARCOS 512 392-4596 SAN ANTONIO NEW STORE EAST CENTRAL EVERS MILITARY WEST AVE 654-8536 822-7767 521-5213 333-3043 525-0708 NEW STORE! IN AUSTIN CESAR CHAVEZ 3111 E. CESAR CHAVEZ \(East of Pleasant Valley 247-2222 Naga International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar it them on top of each other to give the drawings a sense of space. “I wasn’t really approaching it at as collage at first,” he says. “I wanted to find a way to work without thinking about what I was creating. I needed to find a new way of thinking. It evolved very gradually.” I ask Letscher if it was liberating to stop struggling with marble and embrace collage. He grimaces at my word choice. “I’ve never had a sense of liberation or bliss about mywork,” he says. “I’mvery anxiety-driven. I’ve been varying degrees of miserable my entire life.” But collage did allow Letscher to make a living. His work is popular among collectors, and he can produce enough of it to stock galleries. He has had six shows this yearnot that success makes the work any easier. “When I think about it, I’m finally doing everything I wanted to do,” he says. “But when I’m sitting here cutting, it’s still the technical issues I’m dealing with. Trying to solve a particular problem. And trying to continue to be creative and create things that are powerfuland not inhibit it. The obstacles I have to overcome are my own obstacles.” Letscher’s work often tells a story. One collage shows a human-like figure whose head seems to explode with ideas. It’s the kind of art that has obvious appeal to children as well as adults. So it was a natural fit when, a few SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 years ago, he was commissioned to do a large collage outside a surgery room at the Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin. In that work, he played up what he calls the “Where’s Waldo effect” of his work by including words and pictures from children’s books. Letscher has a certain childlike attraction to cool planes, trains and bikes, which all find their way into The Perfect Machine. For instance, he long wanted to buy a rare, vintage racing motorcycle that’s too light and small to legally ride on the streets. “I’d show it to my wife and she’d say, ‘What are you going to do with it?'” he says. “So eventually I came up with a strategy to make an art project out of it. So I got to buy it.” That motorcycle, covered with a collage of brightly colored boxes, fills a spread of The Perfect Machine along with other cool, boyish stuff such as a yellowand-blue, plaid-plastered berretta. \(This being a children’s book, the boy decides guns are not a perfect machine because “people often hurt animals and book appeals to kids much like him, the ones struggling to channel powerful imaginations. “I don’t have an evangelical sense about art,” he says. “I don’t think it will change the world. But for certain kids, it could be important in their life. It could make them interested in making things. I believe in that.” CO