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Peter Harkawick at Marta


Peter Harkawick’s “Pool Toys” takes legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete blocks as its subject matter. Wright famously denounced concrete blocks as a “gutter rat” construction material, and sought to make them more beautiful by inlaying them with intricate geometric patterns and using them to decoratively construct some of his most iconic buildings. 

Harkawick has created similar molds, modeled on Frank Lloyd Wright studio drawings that are housed within the Library of Congress, focusing on pattern blocks that Wright used on various LA constructions like the Ennis House and Freeman House. Here, Harkawick has made his blocks with expandable foam, a cheeky material that subverts the seriousness of Wright’s formidable concrete. Dyed in a rainbow of swirling tones and stacked in metal cages—much like the toy-ball displays that I would fawn over as a child—Harkawick leans into the seriality of his carefully crafted forms, prompting the viewer to visually sift through the pile and pick their favorite. 

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Photo: Peter Harkawick, “Pool Toys” (installation view). Images courtesy of the artist and Marta Los Angeles.