Friday, May 29, 2009

Sculpture and Costume 2

Here's the second video of Kim Graham putting on her invention, the digilegs, to look and move like a quadraped, and leave hoof prints on the neighbor's lawn.

After a drunken costume party, any neighbor's rose bushes you'd like to trample and blame the deer?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Signing the Sculpture Still Thoughts

Why is sculpture expensive?
Because it took me four hours to sign my name.

When I told my partner he wanted to know if I was moving in Butoh time.

I forget that sculpture is pretty foreign territory for most folks.
Signing the work means carving 21 letters in a tiny hardwood rectangle and then recessing and inserting it somewhere on the cedar sculpture without it calling too much attention to itself. I put it on the back, placed as if it were an obi sash.

I can't sign the cedar work directly as the wood won't permit that level of detail. I rubbed beeswax into all the checks in the wood, sealing it, so that the mold rubber will release easily and not penetrate into any deep voids.

I used the Gayatri mantra to dedicate the sculpture, placing it behind the signature block. The mantra is lovely. (It sounds like something the Unitarians would write- if the Unitarians were around 25000 years ago.)

we meditate on the glory of creation
and that which creates the cosmos
which deserves our praise
and which embodies wisdom and luminosity
and dissolves all separateness and ignorance
may this glory infuse our intelligence

May we have another 2500 years to practice getting it right.........,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Patrick Gracewood on Studio Five Interview

I was recently interviewed by artist and writer Alyice Edrich on her blog Coming Home for her series Studio Five- Interviews with Artists.
Click HERE to see the article.

I said an immediate yes to Alyice's interview request because I realized I need to practice thinking about and writing about my art. While you may enjoy reading the article about me, Wouldn't you like to read an article about you and your art?

Nobody knocking on your door wanting to know more about you and your art? You can contact Alyice if you'd like to submit to her Studio Five Artist's Interviews. Or take the initiative yourself and interview another artist and write it up. It's a good way to practice your answers and be pro-active for your art.

Alyice's questions begin with artistic origins: when did you begin and how long ago, but then they get more thoughtful asking "What is it about art that gives your life purpose?" and "If you could tell other artists one thing, what would it be?" What questions you would ask or like to be asked?

How do you get to be famous? "Practice, Baby. Practice."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pencils and sculpture

Knowing how I love to draw, Emily Wilson sent me this link from the Economist about Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. You know, he's the pencil baron.

So convinced is Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell that his pencils are the best in the world that one day in 2005 he threw 144 of them out of the window from the tower of his Schloss. They fell 30 metres onto hard tarmac—and not one of them broke. The graphite “lead” is so firmly squeezed and glued into its pinewood sleeve that it will not shatter, he boasts, something that is not true of lesser brands.

I want to see proof of that. Where is that Youtube video?

No video on that bit of PR Grandstanding, but I did find this industrial video on the construction of Farber-Castel pencils.
Pay no attention to that British voice that makes you feel like you're back in grade school. The film is actually pretty interesting.Watch it ?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sculpture and the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation

I made this wooden green dance angel for Dance Art Group Benefit Dance Concert. Someone will want a little moveable guardian angel to help oversee their jumps and balances. I caved the initials SFoDi (Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation) cut the eyes, nose and mouth and added the wings and paint on an artist's mannikin and mounted it on a walnut base. From plain to a specific present.

The 15th annual Dance Art Group Benefit Dance Concert will be held on May 23, 2009 at the Annex Theatre, Seattle, featuring some of the Northwest’s most exciting and innovative dance artists and special guests.

All proceeds from the DAG Benefit Dance Concert go toward producing the 16th annual Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (August 2-August 9, 2009), six days of dance classes taught by internationally renowned dance artists, public performances, and improvisation “jams.” This is a world-class, internationally recognized festival that needs your support! Any donation is greatly appreciated.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sculptor Sarah Rowe

After seeing my posts on the Vegas Corinthian Capital, T Hildebrandt sent me this link to artist Sarah Rowe's website. Ms. Rowe creates architectural elements, but hers are all carved by hand in wood and are in a class by themselves. Her level of craftsmanship is exquisite.

The effort necessary to execute the many, many steps of these projects is balanced by knowing they will stand the test of time and be appreciated as long as they exist. 

Sarah told me, "When I found out, after the fact of creation, that the capitals I had built were from original designs, I felt time sing through me. It thrilled me to the core. The thousands of years between ancient Greece and me disappeared for a moment and I became one  with those long gone artisans. Most people would not understand the heart and soul of it."  

"I had a similar sense of being firmly anchored in time, place, and purpose when I was working on the Trinity table carvings. Fine art changes through the centuries, but fine craft does not."

Her formidable skills took years of training. In addition to a degree in fine art from the University of New Orleans, Sarah learned her craft the traditional way with extended apprenticeships under several master carvers. Since the early 1990's Sarah has been producing hand carved architectural ornament from her own studio.

Sarah works with individuals, designers, contractors and architects who are restoring or preserving historic homes and commercial buildings, or constructing new ones. She repairs broken or deteriorated carvings on antique furniture and millwork, and is equally comfortable with traditional or contemporary designs. Her website is

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Coach and the dog fight

"The wisteria and the kiwi are planted right next to each other." 

Only if you garden is this sentence hilarious and terrifying. 

Both are fast growing vines that you cannot turn your back on or they'll engulf the arbor and head for bigger structures like your house and the power lines. Planting them together is like staging a pit-bull dog fight, only in slow motion.

"Mesdames et monsieurs, fait vos jours."

I'm off as garden coach to help the couple who inherited this dog fight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fruit Trees as living sculpture

I've seen these four fruit trees several times but each time I stop, get out of the car, walk all around them and just admire. 

It's obvious the care and constant love to required to keep them to this rigid espaliered form. Pinch, nip, pinch, pinch. Nothing out of control. Lawn edged, all the plants groomed.  Everything is immaculate. 

These trees speak of decades of patient attention. The pride of caring. Growing their fruit along the sidewalk, in the best sunlight.  No one has trashed them. The trees tell of the safety of this neighborhood over time. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sculpture and Costume

Seattle sculptor and inventor  Kim Graham keeps pushing the boundaries of sculpture. After three years of development and "almost ready"  she's now offering her didigrade legs to fellow artists and anyone else who wants to build really cool animal costumes.

The leg extensions are built of steel and make the wearer 14 inches taller. Not stilts, the extensions  give the uncanny and gracefull gait of an animal. Watch her strut her stilts.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Editing Writing and in Sculpture - Murder Your Darlings.

"Murder your darlings" has been in my head all morning as I carve away that perfect sunflower held by the little queen. It was a good idea in the wrong place. It might resurface elsewhere in the sculpture, but not on the little girl.

Went searching for the origin of the phrase and found a great explanation and attributions on MindTweeks.  Author Tori Deaux says the most likely candidate was Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who, in 1914 or so, quipped:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly —  and delete it before sending your manuscript to press.  Murder your darlings.”

Read the entire essay HERE .

Surrounded now by wood chips, I feel like a Blackforest Medea. One bad idea dispatched. Now to see if I can save the carving......... 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sculpture and Dance. The Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

Avelokiteshvara, the Boddhisattva of Compassion, is probably the only transgendered "saint" known all over the world. He began as an enlightened Indian deity. Somewhere walking along the wild side on the long path to China, he became Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. "..she was everybody's darling"....

This video has many aspects of dualism: Sculpture and Dance, stillness and movement, one and many. No comment on the mash-up of religious ritual and flashy Vegas style choreography and lighting. It is performed by the amazing China Deaf Group

In place of the tepid musical pastiche that accompanies the dancers, try this experiment. Pull up another screen and click for Lou Reed's  Walk on the Wild Side.  Turn the sound off on the original video. Start both videos at the same time and watch the dance again. Somehow it makes more sense and becomes far more more psychedelic. Try it? 

Monday, May 4, 2009

How NOT to pack Sculpture

                          Three examples of how NOT to pack your sculpture.

(I've revised this rant to be more educational and less vitriolic. The photos say it all.)

As part of the take down crew for the Coos Bay Museum of Art sculpture show I realized that showing your sculpture is not just about creating a piece. It's about crating a piece. Packaging is a big part of the presentation and preservation of your art. It shows your professionalism and work at it's best

Good packing begins with a sound container, one that protects the art on all sides. I hate to break the news, bubble wrap is padding not a container. It goes inside the box. Don't use foam peanuts unless they are sealed inside a plastic bag. No one likes the explosion of hard to sweep up peanuts. The padding needs to cushion and support the sculpture to keep it from shifting. And it goes inside a box.

On the outside of a good packing case there is a photograph of  your art  along with a printed list of well thought out instructions on unpacking and repacking. Step by step. This is respectful of the gallery or museum staff's time because clear instructions make for efficient use and reuse of your materials and their time. The person who uncrates your art is often not the one who transported it or who repacks it. Even when it is the same person, “You think you'll remember how it was packed, but a month later you don't.” one volunteer said. The best travel insurance you can give your art is a well-designed shipping case.

How did our PNWS cartons look? They looked like foundlings dumped on the museum doorstep in the hope of a better life. Repacking the show was like cleaning up after a thoughtless, sloppy houseguest. Dirty stained sheets, blankets covered in cat hair. Boxes that were road kill. This shows our art at its best?

If you had work in the Coos Bay Museum of Art show, do you realize that it traveled more than 934 bumpy, twisting miles at 65 miles an hour? That's a lot of vibrations, potholes and settling. Do you really believe paper or bubble wrap or soft foam alone will protect your art on a such long trip?  Do you also believe in shop elves that clean the studio at night?

Loading the trailer requires art to be packed as tightly as possible to maximize the number of boxes carried and to reduce shifting in the load. A strong box can be stacked and easily strapped in place.  Our art poked out of so many boxes it looked as if had grown two sizes in transit. That makes the art much so harder to pack and impossible to protect.  The lid floated on top of one sculpture like a conceptual piece. The concept: How NOT to ship your art!

You know that nice patina on your bronze? Well, it acquired another one. A rubbed patina where it bumped against something on the long trip. One bronze torso on a granite base had an impressive wooden crate. That's as far as the thinking went. Inside the box? Chaos. Broken chunks of recycled Styrofoam and no packing instructions. The heavy piece was repacked in the crate at an angle on the Styrofoam edges with the hope that the brittle foam would neither break nor rub. The other broken bits of foam were wedged around the art.  Good luck.

Depending upon the kindness of strangers to decipher a jumbled mess of packing materials and care for your art is not good business. Do you think the museum staff has time to do what you don't? I can guarantee that the museum director was not impressed as he sorted through our dirty laundry trying to ensure safe return of our art.

Cardboard is one of the few things that are free for the asking. You can at least find a box that fits. Cardboard comes in many thicknesses. Double walled is stronger and safer. You can purchase it or find any appliance or gym equipment store's dumpster. Make a custom box for your art that shows you care about it and that you respect the people who show it for you and hopefully sell it. Imagine that someone buys your art. Do you want their first impression of your art arriving in their home to look like an emergency evacuation?  I don't think so.  If you have the skills create sculpture, you can create a container in which it will travel safely. It shows you respect your work and encourages others to as well.



Friday, May 1, 2009

A Catholic Taste in Sculpture

It's a beautiful sunny day, petals snowing in the light breeze. so I went for a walk on the first day of May. Passed by Our Lady of the Twin Firs blessing her tulips. (That sounds better than Our Lady of the Chain Link and Trash Cans.)

Growing up Catholic and going to Catholic schools I learned early respect for authority, how to lie well, and to avoid all cults, large or small, for the rest of my life. I also leaned to love sculpture.

There were statues and relief art everywhere. At home, in the church and in our class rooms. A three foot statue on a pedestal seems life sized to a child. I'd day dream in class staring at St. Teresa in black and brown with her arms full of pink roses, the Virgin, all blues and shiny gold, St Joseph, lambs, rosaries, candles and crosses. Lots of crosses.

Each image accompanied by stories and rituals and significance. Though I know better, Magical Thinking is still my default mode. It's a great mindset for making things. I became an artist, an image maker, a sculptor.

This front yard Mary on the first day of May, her Month, brought back memories of solemn small children, each with a basket of fresh flowers, walking in two straight lines from warm sunlight into a dark, cool church. Peace.

How the Mighty Hath Fallen- the Death of the Sculpture Model

Once it was everything. Attention was lavished upon it. It was deemed right and beautiful. People came from far away to see it. 

How the mighty has fallen. Broken now, soon to be reduced to rubble. Forgotten by all but those who loved it.

The passage of the sculpture master model from being valuable to scrap heap is rather biblical. Once the original art has been successfully molded and the parts cast, the original is done and takes up precious floor space. Dumpster time.