- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - The blackened canvas represents a night sky on the cusp of a thunderstorm.

It is connected to a large, cone-like wooden frame resembling a stereo speaker. Behind this canvas is a series of electric wires and transducers programmed to create thunder-like sounds.

When visitors stand in front of “Thunder Night,” the combination of light, sound and vibration will cause them to feel the work on a visceral level. At least that’s the hope of Joshua Short, a San Francisco-based conceptual artist who is the current artist in residence at the Salina Art Center, 242 S. Santa Fe.

“I wanted to harness the idea of sound and atmosphere, and how there is electricity all around us,” said Short, 39.

When a visitor stands in front of “Thunder Night,” he said, “you’ll be able to hear it and feel it through its vibrations.”

Short, whose residency began Feb. 16 and continues through April 26, lives and creates new works at the Art Center Warehouse.

After a working trip to Portugal this spring, Short will return to Salina in June to be this year’s Salina Art Center artist at the Smoky Hill River Festival from June 12 through 15 at Oakdale Park.

Creating works that combine painting, sculpture and mixed-media elements that blur the lines between spectator and participant has been Short’s goal for the past 16 years. He wryly likens his art to professional wrestling, where the wrestlers, announcers and audience suspend their disbelief and share a role in the creation of an exaggerated and fictional event.

“Everyone becomes a participant in this collective performance,” he said.

Another piece he’s working on during his residency is recreation of the front end of a Cadillac, complete with wheels, but with a grill that looks like the front of a government or capitol building. When participants turn on the motor, the Cadillac proceeds to spin in circles.

With nearly all of his work, Short likes to break apart old machinery and found objects and reassemble them in new ways to create a political, social or rebellious statement.

It’s something he’s enjoyed doing since he was a child growing up in Fremont in northern California.

“As a kid, I was into taking things apart and putting them together,” he said. “It’s how I learned to understand things. I think I inherited that from my dad, who was a jack of all trades.”

Growing up, Short said he was influenced by punk music, underground art, biker culture and other things that were “outside the mainstream.”

“I’m definitely out of step with normality,” he said. “My brain works differently.”

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