Lexington Resident Creates Art With Everyday Objects

Here's a look at one of the 47 Ronin that Lexington's Josh Poole created out of everyday objects. Dogwood photo by Erica Turman.

By Erica Turman

July 18, 2021

From sculptures to artwork, Josh Poole is determined to leave a mark on Lexington and the world beyond.

LEXINGTON-If you’re drinking out of a soda or beer can around Josh Poole, chances are he is going to ask to use it after you’ve finished. The Lexington resident is becoming known for the detailed mosaics he creates out of tin, but his artistry goes far beyond that.  

Poole, a full-time artist and a local celebrity in his own right, is known around Lexington for his creations. Even if people haven’t met Poole, they have likely seen his artwork around the small college town. From the minute he wakes up until his head hits the pillow, Poole’s spare time is focused on his art. From cartoon drawing, sculpting and writing, Poole has his hand in all things inventive. 

More than four years ago, Poole made his first soda can mosaic. It was an iteration of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

The piece consisted of a few thousand pieces, glued into place over about 100 hours. That started a frenzy that has taken over in the best kind of way. His most extensive piece to date is a work depicting the 47 Ronin in a Hinamatsuri-inspired seven-tiered display. There are over 36,000 pieces and over 800 hours invested in its current state.

“I assembled it over nine months and have been tinkering with it intermittently since,” Poole said. “The base is made from poplar, but it is encased in a cherry and acrylic glass case that alone took over 50 hours to create.”

‘There’s A World I Go To

To most, that large of a project might sound stressful. Poole admits that at times it can be, but mostly, he enjoys his craft. 

“There’s a world I go to when I’m sculpting or writing. It’s this wonderful limbo of real and imaginary that just kind of supersedes whatever is going on in the background,” he said. “At the same time, it’s not something I can shut off.” 

Now, 25, Poole began his artistry career at an early age.

“I started with gag cartoons sometime in elementary school,” Poole said. “I found myself falling for its incongruity, the way that it distorts reality just a little bit and, suddenly, it’s humorous and captivating.”

Today, that captivating drive has launched Poole into a world of design. In addition to his sculpted work, he also draws cartoons similar to those one might see in the New Yorker Magazine. He publishes some of the drawings monthly in a local digest. Poole is also known for his simultaneous drawing, where he draws with both hands concurrently. He began recording himself in early 2020 and accumulated more than a million views on TikTok. 

“When I drew cartoons for magazines and newspapers, I was always overwhelmed facing the conundrum of getting ideas faster than I could draw them,” he said. “My solution was to learn how to draw with both hands simultaneously. I could draw separate cartoons with either hand moving independently or create a single illustration very quickly.”

A Lexington Canvas

If he is not drawing or sculpting, you might find Poole scratching out his latest novel at his go-to spot Brew Ridge Taps in downtown. Poole has three completed novels. Now he’s working on the fourth, fifth and sixth novels in a series with a co-author. He is also co-writing a play. 

“The last few years, I’ve been focused on writing an expanded universe of urban fantasy and horror. [It’s] a loose interpretation of mythologies and cryptozoology that’s just amalgamated together in more contemporary settings,” Poole said.

To Poole, the entire world around him is a canvas waiting to be explored. His inspiration comes from the everyday. To him, a gas pump isn’t a gas pump.

It’s “a giraffe head, and the octane level buttons are all spots,” Poole said. “They can be cut into slivers and be arranged as a post-impressionist sunny sky.”

Poole finds passion in his work and enjoys gifting it, but he also sells it at Lexington’s local Nelson Gallery

“I’ve been told that I need to move there to make real money on my work,” Poole said. “That might be true, but I grew up in this area and would rather put in the extra effort to succeed here and lure money into the community than sell myself elsewhere and return like a king coming back from their crusade with the spoils of war.”  

Building An Audience Beyond Lexington

Long term, Poole dreams of first finding publishing success as an author. Then he hopes to use those connections to increase the value of his artwork dramatically with a more metropolitan audience. 

“I’m hoping the value of my work becomes substantial enough that I can use major sales to invest in the community here in Lexington,” Poole said. “[I want to help] with income-assistance programs, development and utilize my own connections to uplift struggling artists that are just as talented as me but less fortunate. There’s a lot of egotism to unpack there, but I think in the next 5-10 years, I can make a few steps towards that goal.”

His latest sculpting project is a mosaic of downtown Lexington. He combined the faces of dozens of buildings into five structures on a 4×2′ board.

Poole does create work off of commissions in addition to the gallery work he sells via commissions. For serious inquires, he can be contacted at  [email protected]

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