Lenoir artist creates 'men' of material worth

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 07:17 AM

The basement in the Kardol household is split into two studios for two very different artists. One side has a simple work table with brushes, paints and an easel. The other side has an array of tools, two large tables, a saw, and tubs of bottle caps organized by color. A world map hangs on the wall overlooking the two studios. Red, green and clear thumbtacks mark trips to more than 50 countries and nearly all 50 U.S. states that Cor Kardol has taken with his wife, Marti.

His studio is the one with saw and organized bottle caps, as well as matchboxes, address stickers and gift cards. It may seem like Kardol does not like to throw out junk. But that's not the full story, Marti Kardol said.

“Before he retired, I was always collecting everything, and he was always throwing everything out,” she said. “Now, it’s reversed. Now, he collects everything. I always said, ‘One day you’re going to find me at the dump.’”

The caps and other paraphernalia are kept for Cor Kardol’s recent artistic creations, which he calls “Material Men.” Kardol creates life-sized men out of recycled materials. His first, Cap Man, came from the overwhelming number of seltzer water bottle caps the Kardols had since before a few years ago, you could not recycle the bottle cap with the bottle.

“I’m pretty serious as far as recycling is concerned,” Kardol said. “I should be able to do something with them (the caps), so I kept saving them.”

Once Cap Man was made, Kardol was on a roll. Since his retirement from the furniture industry in 2009, Kardol has created multiple pieces that are now displayed in Valdese at the Rock School Art Galleries. There’s Cable Man, made of used pieces of cable; Money Man, made of cash notes and coins from all the different countries Kardol has visited; Cork Man, made of approximately 400 wine corks; an entire bottle cap family, and more.

“I like it. It keeps me busy, keeps me off the street,” Kardol joked with a grin.

Kardol said that Cable Man and Money Man were particularly difficult to pull together.

“I like the challenge, if you want to call it that, of putting it together,” Kardol said. “With the Money (Man), it was months on the table. I could not find a solution, and then it hit me. All paper and the coins on top of the paper.”

Kardol said he owes his appreciation for art to his wife, who has been painting on and off. When they moved to Lenoir, she attended Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and received a degree in visual arts. Cor Kardol’s latest piece, an angel made out of bottle caps with twisted rope for hair, was inspired by his wife’s love of angels.

“She’s an angel collector, . . . so I had no choice but to make an angel. We have a room upstairs, I’m not kidding, with more than 4,000 angels,” Kardol said.

Right now, the Kardols are both focusing on their show at the Rock School Art Galleries. Marti Kardol’s paintings share a room with the “Material Men” until July 25. Cor Kardol said he is working on a new man but has only drawn his outline.

“(It’s) probably going to be a Junk Man,” he said.

The opening reception for Cor Kardol’s “Material Men” series is 5:30–7:30 p.m. today at the Rock School Art Galleries on Main Street West, Valdese. Cor Kardol’s wife, Marti Kardol, is also showing mixed pieces, and a second gallery holds watermedia pieces by Judy Rider. The “Material and Romantic Subjects” will be shown until July 25.