Abigail Gumbiner worked as a metal and multi-media sculptor in the 60's and 70's while simultaneously getting involved in the early EarthWorks and Conceptual Movements in the California Bay Area. She developed her photography skills during this time to capture the temporary images of those fleeting works, leading her to experimental photography in her hand-built darkrooms.
A rare woman welder during her formative years, she studied at the California College of Art, The Boston Museum School (now Tufts) and received a BA in art from UC Berkelely, continuing her post graduate studies at the UC Extension in the Bay Area. Along with her constant sculpture and photography, she drew for many years while supporting her daughter.
Five years ago, she combined the magnetic forces of sculpture and photography into a new body of work. The current series, Chromes, starts with the photography of hundreds of 1950's automobiles, which she prints in her studio, then hand-sculpting them into ethereal and dynamic shapes.
Her inspirations include John Chamberlain, Frank Stella, Franz Kline, and other abstract artists who have pushed boundaries. The reflections and metallic boldness of these automobiles inspire the sculpture she creates. "The third dimension changes the relationships within the photograph as the sculpture takes on a life of its own."
CODA:CHROME, an art show in the LA Brewery Arts Complex in 2015, features Abigail's sculpture and her sculptures of the drawings of artist Peter Holmes, whose work is inspired by his background as a master fine art lithographer. Abigail and Peter's work are very different but are nurtured by each other in their shared home in Atascadero, California.
NEON, Motels and a book: In the early 1990's old metal signs, neon and vernacular architecture became the subjects of Abigail's photography book Vacant Eden; Roadside Treasures of the Sonoran Desert, published in 1997. The book was co-photographed in Tucson, Arizona with Carol Hayden and is still available through email@example.com
Temple of Shadows is a long term project done with photographers Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and David H. Wells. The small historic synagogue, Temple Emanu-El in downtown Tucson, Arizona was deserted by its community in 1949. It was the oldest synagogue in the Arizona Territory and was built in 1910. Abigail had known the building as a small child when her father, Rabbi Joseph Gumbiner was it's leader in the 1940's. While visiting Tucson she found the building in 1995 in disheveled condition with a for sale sign on it. She became involved with the committee that saved the building and began photographing it with friends Annu and David over a period of 10 years. They agreed to take an artistic view of the atmospheric site and returned to it numerous times to capture its eventual renovation and re-purposing as the current Jewish History Museum.