Sam Losavio only stops when he feels he's struck that perfect balance.

Even then, he may still tweak a wire here or add a piece of cork there.

Then, when his contemporary sculptures are installed, as they were recently in the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, a new dimension emerges.

"How they're grouped is as much a part of the process as making them," says Losavio, standing among his pieces in the museum's Soupcon Gallery. "It's important to group these works in the way they talk to each other."

The show, "The Art of Chaos & Order: Sam Losavio," runs through Jan. 7 and features his abstract sculptures and drawings created from wire, wood, rubber, lead, paint, cork and shellac, among other materials left behind by the previous owner of his house. The show also coincides with Losavio's upcoming retirement after 22 years as the museum's assistant director.

Losavio glances around the gallery, a mix of accomplishment and possibility filling his face as he continuously describes the evolution of the sculptures.

Materials have been removed from some pieces, added to others. A large piece was still evolving only a few days before the show's opening.

"It wasn't balanced," Losavio says. "And it didn't become balanced until I cut out this corner. The value is not in the materials but in the transformation."

This piece hangs on the left side of the gallery's covered window. A concentration of wire, metal and rubber dominate one side of a long board, while the opposite end is bolstered by a small rubber cylinder above the missing corner.

"This work is process oriented," Losavio emphasizes. "I don't plan ahead — I create a process. I put the process in go, and the works emerge."

And if he gets stuck, he turns to three-dimensional drawing, many of which are included in this show. Some are counterparts to the sculptures.

"The drawings are part of the process, too," Losavio says. "Once I free myself up to work on the drawings, something reveals itself in the models."

The drawings evolve, which lead to the sculptures, which lead back to the drawings.

And Losavio relies on instinct to know when the cycle is complete.

Complete in the chaos and order he imposes, fueled by his fascination with astronomy and cosmology.

“The chaos starts forming into patterns," Losavio explains. "It starts trying to organize itself into some kind of recognizable structure.”

But first looks can be deceptive. One piece appears to be a movie camera. On second glance, not. Another sculpture may look like a plant, but it's clearly abstract. Shapes are created only to sustain the pieces, some seemingly supporting miniature solar systems.

"He works intuitively, freeing his mind and letting the work dictate to him," says Elizabeth Weinstein, museum curator. 

Before joining the museum staff, Losavio was both artist and a professor of art at LSU, the University of Florida at Gainesville and Loyola University in New Orleans. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded him Individual Artist fellowships in 1987 and 1989.

But his creative output waned as he immersed himself in museum work. 

"Now that I'm retiring, I want to start back up with my art," he says. "At some point, I'm going to do a whole new show. I'm already working on a new cycle."

Not that the work in "The Art of Chaos & Order" is old. Most of the pieces were created in the past year. 

"I did all of this work, and I was still working here," Losavio says "It was a very fruitful and productive but taxing time for me."


The Art of Chaos & Order: Sam Losavio

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Through Jan. 7. 

WHERE: Louisiana Art & Science Museum, 100 S. River Road, Baton Rouge

ADMISSION: $9; $7.50 for ages 3-12 and age 65 and older; $8 for college students with ID (buys a one-year membership). Free admission on the first Sunday of each month. 

INFO: (225) 344-5272 or lasm.org

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.