Friday, July 30, 2010

Sculpture and Business (Ethics)

                          The sculpture Still Thoughts in my garden.

This morning's lesson in business. After an initial correspondance, the woman interested in buying the sculpture, Still Thoughts, currently in the WaterLily Festival show at Hughes Water Gardens sent me the following email:

As an artist myself, I am aware of the commission mark up when one sells their wares to a Gallery, etc.  Therefore, I am bit troubled that I am not being offered a discount buying this piece directly from you.  Please let me know if we can work out a better sales price.
Thanks so much,
her name here.

My response:

Hello her name here,

The price remains the same.
The reason you are interested in Still Thoughts
is because you saw my sculpture in the gallery at Hughes Water Garden.

Any sales of my work that occur through showing at Hughes,
I honor by paying Hughes their commission for showing and promoting the work.

I've found that an artist who undercuts his/her gallery prices soon finds himself with no gallery representation and a damaged professional reputation.

If you are still interested in the sculpture,
let me know.


Patrick Gracewood
With the internet, it's so easy to shop around for cheaper prices.
We all do comparison shopping, but trying to buy directly from the artist by cutting out the gallery middle man, hurts both artist and gallery. If the artist has no gallery representation, go ahead and ask directly. But getting the artist's name from the gallery, or from an online search to try to leverage a "deal price" lower than the gallery's is tacky.

As artists, what do you folks think? How would you have responded?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sculpture and the Gallery Without Walls #2

Dorothy Parker once said: "I hate writing.   I love having written."

My sentiments exactly regarding installing sculpture. The sculpture is done but everything depends on installation. So much can go wrong.

Here are behind the scenes photos of the recent installation of my relief sculpture, "the Four Seasons of Love", in Lake Oswego's Gallery Without Walls. Photography by Deb Hollister.

Installing sculpture can be very...........HEAVY,

Installing sculpture can be very........... DUSTY and LOUD
 Installing sculpture can be very.....tedious and frustrating.

You measure and mark carefully, the drill bit hits a rock or metal in the concrete and changes its angle. That means your freshly drilled holes don't align with the holes on the sculpture base.
 But ahh, it feels so good to have INSTALLED sculpture. There's a reason the installation is up for two years. Here we are, installed, doing a reenactment of Adam and God from the Sistene Chapel.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sculpture and a manifesto of sorts

For the past 20 years, I've created architectural sculpture for every possible kind of building, from new casinos and shopping malls in Las Vegas to historic restorations in Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere.

What I loved about working for that company was how each person contributed their best skills. I didn't have to figure out the engineering, or make the molds, or fabricate the work, sell it, or keep the books. I created art that fit each building's specifications, as beautifully as I could in the time and budget allowed.

The doors closed on that company this year. No more work.


Several realizations have come out of this mess.

I LOVE creating architectural sculpture. These sculptures, most of them were plants, are symbols of living nature. They are patterns of wholeness that have been with us for thousands years. Think Roman, no think Greek. Hell,  think Egyptian art. It is art about natureArt that says we are directly connected to nature. I believe there is still a need for that kind of art.   

In a sterile world of steel and glass buildings and increasingly virtual experiences, I want this tradition, this art and craft of making buildings that reflect nature back to us, to survive. I want to see and make art that bears the direct handmarks of it's making.  I want to see and make art that might not be flawlessly symmetric (because machines are now doing that) but is much more human, because it's made by the living - and so stands a chance of being a living work of art.

"in his garden..." hand carved concrete

If that means making it myself and calling it fine art, or art for the garden,  nature art or even architectural sculpture with no buildings, so be it.  

I've begun.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sculpture and the Gallery Without Walls

Gallery Without Walls turns the streets of Lake Oswego, Oregon into an urban sculpture garden. Presented by the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, in partnership with local business, the program presents sixty sculptures throughout the downtown area.

Photo by Deb Hollister 

Thirty are on two year loan from artists, the rest are part of the city's permanent collection. A brochure allows any visitor to take a self guided walking tour, with a site map, photos and a brief description of all the sculptures.

Gallery Without Walls provides a well organized venue for showing local sculptor's work in a beautiful setting. My four panel relief sculpture called "the Four Seasons of Love" is located on the corner of First and A streets. It's a perfect location. The sun, throughout the day, will rake across the relief's surface, slowly changing the shadows.

Dan Bransfield and Bob Liddell adapt the steel frame to fit the site.

My sincere thanks to Susan Bitzer, program manager of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, Bob Liddell, Board Member, for his help with installation, Deb Hollister, photographer, and Dan Bransfield for technical expertise, muscle, and for his calm presence.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sculpture and Empty Easels

How do I work with clients to create commissioned art? 

Click on Empty Easels for the interview Alyice Edrich did with me about artists and commissioned work. Thank you, Alyice.

 Above are the original drawing and the finished Arabesque fountain, a commissioned bronze fountain.

(I'm installing my sculpture, the Four Seasons of Love, in Lake Oswego's Gallery Without Walls. More on that soon.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sculpture and Lions 2

Here's the inspiration for the Lion I'm carving in AAC. These lions are supports for a large fountain in the gardens at Hearst Castle

There are several of these lions at Hearst Castle. Four act as support for an enormous bowl fountain, while another pair are sited not too far away. I love how worried they look. Obviously the artist had never seen a lion. Their manes look like flower petals. Notice at their paws, each holds something different, a calf, a bull.....

When we visited Hearst Castle, it was already late afternoon. We took the last tour (unguided) of the day and wandered through uncrowded gardens. We sat and watch the sunset, high above the clouds. 
Tours imply walking, but the best way to appreciate a garden is to sit in it...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sculpture and Lions

I needed a sculpture that was well underway for my carving demo at Rare Plant Research. I decided to riff on (that's very different from "rip off" ) the medieval stone lions at Hearst Castle. They were so funny and charming, worrying about supporting the enormous fountain above them. Obviously carved by someone who'd never seen a lion, or even looked closely at a cat.

Here's a sketch of how I remember them.
Here's the progression from block to sculpture in about 4 hours.
Carving AAC is so fun because you can see results quickly. 

Working on this lion got me thinking about me thinking about the difference between working too fast, hurrying, and working efficiently. There's no hurry with efficiency, but there's also no wasted effort.

I used a large wood gouge. Shocking, I know. (Sir Richard avert your gaze!) I've never used it on wood as it takes too much effort.  But it works perfectly with the AAC. I used the big sweep gouge as the unit of measurement. You can see how all the forms relate to each other even though it's still being roughed out. Efficiency is using your largest tool to do the most work. 

Will post more photos of the lion after studio and office clean up. Can't see the wood on my workbench or my desk!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sculpture and Rare Plant Research #3

So how'd it go at Rare Plant Reseach ????

When I first visited Rare Plant Research, I fell in love with Burl and Cindy Mosul's quirky, beautiful Romanesque style home. When I learned that they were having a dinner in the garden, I proposed a demonstration and showing of my Romanesque inspired sculpture. Burl said yes, so that's what happened Saturday night.

Being at Rare Plant Reasearch's Dinner in the Garden Saturday night felt like being in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. I'm still buzzing contentedly.

It was a perfect sunny afternoon.  Walking up their long driveway after parking behind the greenhouses,  was a moment of eternity. In the sky high above, hawks screamed. Golden light. I found a shady spot to set up my carving bench and began to work. It was the perfect context for this art.

Delicious food was provided by Dave Clark and his son Ian. Their catering business is called Big River Events.

Later, women in light summer dresses and hats arrived. Easy conversations, laughter as friends greet each other. Tanned men in colorful shirts carrying wine glasses lingered by my work bench. I handed chisel and mallet to anyone interested and let them carve on a scrap piece of AAC. The lion I began yesterday is well underway. It wouldn't exist if I hadn't created this opportunity by asking...

So how'd it go? Dear readers, it was perfection from start to finish.

Here's Venus glowing over their pond, I've just finished packing up the van, ready for the drive home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sculpture and Rare Plant Research #2

I'm busy organizing for my carving demonstration at Rare Plant Research's Garden Party tomorrow.

Thought I'd share some of my drawings of future carvings. I've really been enjoying the book, The Brummer Collectionof Medieval Art, by Caroline Bruzelius and Jill Meredith. 

The musician is copied from the book. It's a capital in the Jewett Art Center at Wellesley College.It's amazing how contemporary the long haired muscian looks. I added the soul patch, and am thinking about making a shelf that extends below the carving that could have a carved hat that could hold coin "tips" or flowers. I love it when people can interact with sculpture and leave offerings. Do you?

The other drawings are my own ideas and adaptions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sculpture and Rare Plant Research

Burl and Cindy Mostul own and operate Rare Plant Research in Oregon City, Oregon. They built themselves a Romanesque dream house on a little hill above their many greenhouses. When so many new houses are poorly designed with no relation to the site, it's a pleasure to see a such a unique vision

The house has a pond and and it's own folly to display some of their prized plants. The walls act as heat sinks to help warm micro climates for their exotic bromeliads and other plants.

I'll be showing some of my Romanesque inspired sculpture and demonstrating carving in the gardens this Saturday.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sculpture and Crocodiles
Crocodiles from designer Vincente Wolf's home.

`How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

`How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcome little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!' .....Lewis Caroll

I bought this crocodile because it was the most powerful, viseral sculpture I saw that year. It got even more powerful after I leaned more about the culture and tradition it comes from.

Crocodiles kill more humans than great white sharks. That's what makes the canoes of the Sepik river so powerful. Carved from a single log, with the prow being a crocodile head.

Think about it, you're in a small boat, riding AT  WATER LEVEL, among giant reptiles who would like nothing better than to have you for lunch. Best to blend in. When the boats were no longer serviceable, they were left. Others came and cut the carved heads off and sold them.

A friend who visited the region brought me back this crocodile. It's an amazing carving, but I wonder if it embodies the shift from art being part of life- as a boat, to art for businesss, souveniers for tourists. Have you seen any good crocodiles?

(Update: Dutchbaby was inspired by this post to write about her experiences and memories with crocodiles on her blog. Click here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sculpture and DesignForm Inc.

(Photo shows Al Jolley with his studio partner Misu, a Portuguese Water Dog. Misu is also wearing hearing protection, designed especially for dogs by a pilot.)

Inheritances come in many forms. When Al Jolley began to think about retirement, his father’s example came to mind. His dad retired to become an artist.

“After years of desk jobs, I wanted to work with my hands again. I enjoy working with people and projects. I’m a person that really likes variety.”

Al started his business DesignForm, Inc. and bought a Frog Mill CNC 4 axis router from Streamline Automation in Calgary, Canada. Al now offers full 3D prototyping to sculptors and designers.

DesignForm services begin with design and drafting. and include scanning, image editing and the creation of 3D pdf files like Rhino, AutoCAD and Acrobat 3d. Those files can be used to create molds, models, and patterns in many different materials.The CNC Routing can create enlargement and reduction armatures for sculptures,

The learning curve of all the new technology was steeper than Al expected.  While the concept of a computerized router is simple, there is a lot to learn. Working with the machine has given Al routines for creaing tool pathways, what bits and speeds to use, safety protocol, and not least, how to program the software.“It takes a while to find that exact balance of speed and quality.” says Al. 

Here's a photo of complex designs directly milled out of dense foam.

DesignForm Inc can be reached at 503 730 1954  or by email