“Transformations” is an apt title for Dan Droz’s collection of innovative sculptures, colorful metal sheets that have been folded into new, imaginative shapes while simultaneously retaining their original character.
Transformation is also an apt word to describe Droz himself, who at the age of 68 retired from a 38-year career in graphic and furniture design to reinvent himself as a prolific artist.
A lifelong Pittsburgher, Droz, former president of Droz Marketing, said he has been a “closet sculptor” for many years, occasionally making a piece for a friend or to fill the walls of his own office. In April 2018, he decided to devote his full-time attention to his art.
“A lot of people retire and do art as a hobby,” said Droz, seated in his East End Studio, surrounded by his larger-than-life size creations. “I view this differently, as a new career. I figured I have maybe 10 to 15 good years, and I really wanted to be using art as a way to take all the things I’ve been thinking about and putting it into sculptural form.”
“Transformations” is the name of the show, he noted, “but I am also in the process of transforming. Everyone is trying to change, but it’s really hard to transform yourself from one occupation to another, or one lifestyle to another. These pieces deal with how to change without altering your core values.”
A single sheet of aluminum, Droz said, pointing to his pieces, can retain its integrity while still bending into something new.
In the past nine months, Droz has created hundreds of sculptures, each one unique. While most are abstract, several are also figurative. In addition to the large, free-standing works, Droz also has made many smaller wall constructions, often with interactive parts allowing the viewer to become part of the creation. Because pieces are connected to each other, moving one piece moves others with it without disrupting the integrity of the piece.
His work impressed local gallery owner Michael Hertrich, who immediately recognized the quality of the work and quickly offered Droz an exhibition.
“I thought it was very good and imaginative, and it was executed very well,” said Hertrich, proprietor of Michael Hertrich Gallery on the South Side.
“It is so rare to see the work of a mature artist for the first time — and one whose works have not been seen — simply extraordinary,” said Hertrich. “I usually wait six months to a year before doing an exhibition, but I was fairly certain that we’d have a success on our hands.”
The exhibition, which ran from Nov. 30 to mid-January, was indeed successful, according to Hertrich. “I had several clients who said that this was the closest they had been to a New York exhibition in Pittsburgh.”
Most of the 35 pieces in the show sold, according to Droz, including some large-scale outdoor sculptures priced at more than $10,000 each, as well as many of the smaller wall pieces priced in the $800 range.
“It was really surprising and really gratifying,” he said. “It gave me some confidence.”
Droz was born in Brookline, and was the first person to celebrate becoming a bar mitzvah at the “new” Beth El Congregation of the South Hills building in Scott Township. He moved to the East End after graduating from Harvard College, where he earned degrees in visual and environmental studies and math. For 18 years, he taught design at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2001, Droz left teaching to devote more time to design and product development, specializing in design strategy.
Hertrich is now working on arranging exhibitions for Droz in other cities, he said. Art dealers in Paris, where geometric sculptures currently are very popular, have expressed an interest in Droz’s work. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at