Monday, June 29, 2009
How do you show working fountains in a temporary display?
I made this plywood stand to show two fountains in a very small space. Placed back to back they don't compete with each other. Two black plastic tubs served as the water reservoir. I used wire mesh to cover the tubs, leaving a central open space for the falling water. The wire grid was filled with pachysandra cuttings.( Any greenery would work, but I plan on rooting the pachysandra cuttings and using them in my garden.)
The greenery did three things: It hid the ugly tubs and visible pumps. It focused attention on the fountain, not the pool, and it contained the water splash and kept the display dry
My sculpture was in a new garden in Eastmoreland as part of the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers "Behind the Scenes Garden Tour"
Friday, June 26, 2009
Here's a preview of this year's ANLD's 'Behind the Scenes Garden Tour." My sculptured is installed in a formal green and white formal garden designed by Donna Giguere. Well, it will be formal when it grows up. It's only been in a year, but it shows promise of being a quiet, calm retreat.
It's funny, I painted the easels and fountain backdrop an intense chartreuse. Only when all was installed did I realize that it's exactly the same color as the new leaves on the laurel hedge and the pachysandra. Exactly. So good when color is spot on, and so rare.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"A sweet summer afternoon. Cool breezes and a clear sky.
This day will not come again.
The young bulls lie under a tree in the corner of their field.
Quiet afternoon. Blue hills. Day lilies nod in the wind.
This day will not come again."
I found these little daily meditations, specific observations and contemplations on the meaning of a day by Tomas Merton the most touching and meaningful aspects of his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.
To Merton the essence of Christianity is humanity: '"To live well is my first and essential contribution to the well being of all mankind and to the fulfilment of man's collective destiny.
If I do not live happily myself - how can I help anyone else to be happy, or free or wise?'
There's deep theology to wade through, if you're so inclined, but his connection with the living world is what makes it a good read.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Two Dance Performances and Two Sculpture Shows in a week and a half. The sculpture show is actually the same work just put up and taken down twice, once for the media pretour and the actual GARDEN TOUR. It's still a lot of work.
After scraping myself off the ceiling and floor, I realized several things. It's hard to move after hours at the computer. It's hard to open up to improvisation in movement or art when seeing the world and the work as an endless check list.
So when I was an hour early for a meeting, I spent it just walking in the nearby park.
I noticed barn swallows zooming closer and closer to me, flying a foot off the ground. It dawned on me that they were after any insects that my feet had disturbed. "I'm not alone" was the thought. Surrounded by the mundane beauty and life of a small suburban park, it became a game to see if I could "catch" the swift birds with my slow delay camera. Keep walking and try to click on where the bird will be, not where they are.
My awareness had to expand considerably to encompass the birds, the camera, the sloping terrain, my steady walking, to be aware of every thing around and within me. Then I played on the swing set- built so grown ups can swing. That got me looking at the clouds. I've been feeling better ever since.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Taylor Young and Gregg Bielemeir 's duet in Alembic #2 .
Carolyn Stuart and I are also performing this Friday and Saturday nights, June19 & 20th as part of the Alembic Series. Produced by Anne Furfey, Alembic #2 is part of Linda Austin's commitment to bringing improvisional dance to Portland Audiences. Go here for more info.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Today is the media preview tour for the Association of NW Landscape Designers Behind the Scenes Garden Tour. My sculptures will be in a garden designed by Donna Giguerre
The"Behind the Scenes Tour" is open to the public and takes place on Saturday June 27. This years tour features gardens in the Eastmoreland and NE Portland areas. All of the gardens were designed by ANLD members. It's $20 per ticket with proceeds from the tour supporting scholarships for landscape design students at Portland Community Colleges & Clackamas Community Colleges.
Monday, June 15, 2009
There is good news and the bad news of the fate of the little green dance angel.
The figure cost me $10 to buy, several hours of my time, and $7 to ship it to Seattle. It sold for $12.00. As SFoDI fundraiser? A big loss.
Lila Hurowitz of Dance Art Group wrote to say,"Thanks mucho mucho for your sculpture, it turned out to be a highlight of the night! the MC (not really a dancer, more a burlesque-type announcer) did a very sweet and funny dance with it on stage. Unfortunately it did not sell in the silent auction... so the MC did a special live auction with and a few other items and it then sold for $12 a guest who donated it to DAG, and we displayed it at Sunday's workshop and jam."
After crawling out of my cave, I realized I was confusing cost and value, money and art - to the detriment of the art.
The sculpture was a flop, a negative number as a fundraiser. But as art, the little green angel was both inspiration and dance partner for an onstage performance. It literally embodied the evening for the audience of dancers and dance supporters. It was bought and given back to DAG to function as icon and mascot. This is success, not a problem. It did exactly what it was made for, to move (in every sense of the word) and delight people.
Part of creating for fundraisers is letting go of any expectations. Though next year I might just write them a $12.00 check....
Saturday, June 13, 2009
They're so LARGE.
There are so MANY of them.
This is qualifies as an edifice complex.
Starting with the large concrete obelisk at the corner of the parking lot, the theme is reiterated in clipped Italian cypress and boxwood balls. This is not accidental topiary. The green sculptures span the entire building which covers the entire block. The business is Swaglok which sells tube fittings, hoses, quick connects, and tubing.
It's so Roman Empire in Southeast Portland. Or maybe it's why the Jolly Green Giant was so jolly.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I bought this little figure years ago. It was missing it's left forearm and hand. Expensive at $250, considering it was broken. They wouldn't lower the price. I bought him anyway.
What I hadn't expected was how much I'd learn from it.
When I examined it closely, I realized that I could carve the replacement arm and socket myself. When you repair something you are the second person to actually see it. Everyone is content to scan the world around them. But to copy, you really have to see. Not just measurements but the style and the angle of cuts.
This little guy is a mastery of economy. Nothing is fussy or overworked. Whoever made it was in production mode. Efficiency rules, yet there are odd quirky aspects to it. The individual hairs of the eyebrows, and the feet with bunions.
I showed him to a collector of artist's manniquins. He said that from the style of it, it was probably American made and from the 1800's. Repairing him became a mini-master class, well worth the original price. I've referenced him many times when I have a carving question. My sculpture collection is not a luxury, it's a working reference library.....
Monday, June 8, 2009
I cant be the only one who hates faceless faces. There is something profoundly disturbing about them. When I see a drawing, painting or sculpture with no face, it tells me the artist doesn't know how to make a face and is not willing to try. Same for hands and feet. Learn how or quit making figurative art.
Is that too strong an opinion?
No, it's not easy to learn, but practice will get you there.
When working on a small scale, you can't put in a lot of details. The big secret? Details are not necessary. Your art will be better with out them. What you must do is to suggest a face in a scale appropriate to the work. Think lights and darks, not eye lashes and pretty lips. Look at Rembrant's drawings. Given a good suggestion, people will fill in the details for themselves.
On this wooden figure, a straight cut with one bevel defines the nose and upper lip. Two opposing angels are all that's needed to indicate a mouth. A tiny bit of wood removed, but the newly defined face reads, even in profile.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
New technology brings new ways of seeing.
More stop animation. Socks become fish, bubbles, pillows become clouds and stairs. Small T-shirts become winged birds and evoke children. So nice to see play and tenderness instead of generic angst.
The erratic motion and jumps make you watch it more intently and evokes more poetic images than if it were filmed in the usual fashion.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I love Jeanette Winterson'sbook Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery
. I've loaned it out so many times, it never comes back. I just buy another copy. I keep a copy by my desk to enjoy or find new courage to create when I'm anxious. This excerpt from the first essay is a wonderful manifesto....
"Naked I came into the world, but brush strokes cover me, language raises me, music rhythms me. Art is my rod and staff, my resting place and shield, and not mine only, for art leaves nobody out. Even those from whom art has been stolen away by tyranny, by poverty, begin to make it again. If the arts did not exist, at every moment, someone would begin to creat them, in song, out of dust and mud, and although the artifacts might be destroyed, the energy that creates them is not destroyed. If, in the comfortable West, we have chosen to treat such energies with skepticism and contempt, then so much the worse for us. Art is not a little bit of evolution that the late twentieth-century city dwellers can safely do without. Strictly, art does not belong to our evolutionary pattern at all. It has no biological necessity. Time taken up with it was time lost to hunting, gathering, mating, exploring, building, surviving, thriving. Odd then that when routine physical threats to ourselves and our kind. are no longer a reality, we say we have no time for art.
If we say that art, all art is no longer relevant to our lives, then we might at least risk the question 'What has happened to our lives?"
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
"Why so blue, Dude?"
"Sometimes my thoughts get me down.
You know, when what i expected doesn't match with what's out there."
"Bummer. You want to go for a walk?"
"I'm waiting for a phone call from my agent."
This is an unexpected stage in casting the sculpture Still Thoughts. The mold rubber did not cure in several places. We have to make the mold again. Damn. We cast a plug, the grey version, and I am carefully replicating the original textures to match the original carving. The mold will be made from it instead of from the original carving.
Turns out that in finishing the carving I used a steel wool that had oil on it, the oil inhibited the silicon from setting. Who knew that steel wool has an oil on it to keep it from rusting?
A test patch on a section worked fine, but on the casting there are several big flaws in just the places I'd reworked and polished with the steel wool. No, I'm not going to show them because after I get done tooling the new master they won't be there any more. Just a setback of several days and an additional $200 in silicon rubber. Sometimes test samples don't give you accurate results.
Also, the folks who make Krylon clear sealer, the spray fixative for drawings, changed the formulation. That means instead of being perfect as an undectectable sealer for artwork, it now inhibits the silicon from setting. I don't mind learning new things, I just hate for it to be on my artwork and dollars.
Monday, June 1, 2009
"Will you donate your art? "
It's always for a good cause, but I've found that donating my fine art work doesn't work. There are few things more demoralizing than watching your heart and soul auctioned for a fraction of the time and care you put into it. How do you handle donating your artwork?
I want to be able to support good causes.The solution I've found is be very clear about what I can and cannot give. I contribute to two different causes each year. This allows me to decline other requests in good conscience and ask them to invite me earlier next year.
I design my art specifically for each fundraiser or organization. It's not something I would otherwise make and the result is more meaningful to each organization’s audience. The more appealing it is means it's more likely to sell at a better price.
I use the art making as a design exercise with strict parameters: Make cool sculpture as efficiently as possible without going crazy or overboard. The goal is to donate art, not blood. My motto for this is “Done is better than perfect.”
For the Green Dance Angel for Dance Art Group I began with a $10.00 wooden mannikin. I cut out wings and used tiny brass hinges to attach them to the body. Then i carved the face and the initials of the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation on the chest, added paint and a walnut base. The result?
A kinetic figure for a specific audience of dancers and supporters.
For the Billings Middle School, also in Seattle, I designed and modeled two coin-like medallions of a boy and a girl, for their Greek themed auction. I made plaster molds of the original artwork, then pressed and fired several dozen terra cotta medallions. The advantage of this method is that many people could support the school and leave with unique art for a small price.
For the Village on the Green's Save the Chimney fundraiser I made a bas relief of the patterns that the Vaux Swift's make in the sky. I asked two other artists if they had anything to contribute. One came to my studio, where we had a good working session, enjoying each other’s company as we pressed out the tiles. How often do studio artist share working time? This never would have happened if we each were only doing our own work.
Having clear boundaries for the art I make for fundraisers allows me to participate in worthy causes, create new work, learn new techniques, build my portfolio and enjoy creative time with friends. Contributing my art also gets my name out there, I meet new people and cultivate new audiences for sculpture.