Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sculpture and 2011

Alyson Stanfield at suggests taking stock of the year, focus on what got accomplished,
and congratulate yourself for everything.

 (Take her questions as suggestions.  There's a lot there you can use to plan for 2012)

In 2011,  I finished, molded and cast the St Francis relief and showed it at
The Association of Northwest Landscape Designers booth at Portland's Yard Garden and Patio Show.
 The Portland Spring Home and Garden Show in the Green Gold Landscape Design Studio booth
 Rare Plant Research and Hughes Water Gardens
 I also spoke to the monthly meetings of The Association of Northwest Landscape Designers and the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association about "Sculpture in the Garden".

Did I sell one? No, but not for lack of trying. I figure with this much "practice" I'll be ready in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sculpture and Shadows

With the sun so low in the winter sky, it is the time of long shadows. David Bales investigates the perception of shadows. He's trying to see more of what our brain just lazily writes off as "Dark".
Maxfield Parrish blue shadows
David says, "Our eyes are so sensitive, if one really looks, it is easy to see what is actually there.
We are usually just too busy to bother."
Electric violet shadows
Documentation through photography adds another layer of obfuscation, as it is such an imperfect simulation of what our remarkably sensitive eyes can discern. With editing, you can recover the information hidden in the image, and expose the color in the shadow.
Green shadows in a green shade
Some of these photographs have been tweaked for saturation, but the raw color information is accurate, and in many cases, is not as pronounced as what one can actually see.
Shadows the color of the sky....
 To see more of David Bales photography click HERE, then click on the 8th gallery on his site.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Portland Baroque Orchestra

photo: Hiroshi Iwaya courtesy of Portland Baroque Orchestra
Guest conductor Eric Milnes led the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the voices of Cappella Romana in a wonderfully intense Messiah.

The two male soloists were especially moving. Tenor Zachary Wilder began with a passage from Isaiah. His voice was so clear and focussed you could feel the audience holding still, hardly daring to breath until his section was done.

Bass Matt Boehler's sense of drama added to his powerful voice. You felt his connection to the music and the orchestra.

Full review here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sculpture and Christmas Lights

This is not a Dan Flavin installation
We took a walk downtown to see the big Christmas tree in Pioneer Square. Watching the children jumping around gave me an idea. Everyone seemed to be moving, why not this photographer?

This may be my favorite of all of them.

Christmas swag.

Electric Coat Hangers

Neon City

This is what other folks saw....
Once you start moving and dancing the holidays, it's hard to stop! Hold the egg nog!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sculpture and Coins

 If you love bas relief, there is no better way to improve your skills than by studying ancient coins.
Hemidrachm, 400-350 BC
Drawing studies from ancient Greek coins by Patrick Gracewood ©2011

Bonhams International Auctioneers and Appraisers is having an auction of coins and medals Dec 16
and and auction of the Meyer and Ebe Collection of Ancient Greek Coins on January 6, 2012.
Check out some of the beauties from the ancient coins. They are amazing.

I made these drawings to study the forms in these tiny masterpieces to better understand the sequence of cuts necessary to achieve the raised portions of the relief. Remember that all these are stamped from a die... so to create the positive sections the artist had to carve the image in the negative and backwards.

Our modern coins are so ugly compared to these. Do you have a favorite coin?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sculpture and Niclaus Gerhaert

One thing has NOT changed in over 500 years. The cold.
I love the combination of computers and the latest high tech tool used by conservators who are bundled up many layers thick against the cold, just like the original Gothic artists must have been when they worked..

In the footsteps of Niclaus Gerhaert of Leyden.
The preservation of the high altar Nordlinger

Niclaus Gerhaert is one of the most important and influential artists of the late Gothic period, the late 15th Century. Gerhaert became famous because of the liveliness of his sculpture, their originality and virtuosic execution
70 beautiful like-like works give an overview of his life's work.

The film gives an insight into the extensive preparations for the upcoming exhibition "Niclaus Gerhaert. Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages "in the Liebieghaus sculpture collection and shows the expert, Dr. Stefan Roller, curator, and Harald Theiss, sculpture conservator in the study and preservation of the high altar figures the Nördlinger St. George's Church. St. George and St. Mary Magdalene to be presented from 27 October 2011 in Frankfurt.

"Niclaus Gerhaert. Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages "
27th October 2011 to 4th March 2012

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sculpture and Furniture - Before and Afters

Tearing the old and ugly off the chair is the hard work.
The fun is choosing new material to match the era or aesthetic of the chair.
This walnut frame seemed to call out for a jazzy material.
Featured earlier, these left on the road for dead Thonet bent wood chairs found new life with material that playfully evokes a peacock feather, a motif of the art nouveau period.
Before on the left, After on the right. The difference is new material and some love.

FORLFD =Found on road, left for dead.

This chair was comfortable but ugly in dated avocado green vinyl. Mr. D picked this material for it and surprised me. The child-like circus theme of striped tents, monkeys, elephants and crocodiles really gives this chair the center of the spotlight.

If you can stretch a canvas, you can upholster a chair. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sculpture and Furniture (after)

Sexy, low slung but damaged mid-century walnut chair meets tired but exotic oriental rug.
Instant chemistry, a bit of craft, and Voila! Ready for a new century of living.
Photograph by David Bales Design
If you can't afford good furniture, you learn how to reupholster and make it yourself.
Finding suitable projects is as easy as walking down the street. I've found many of my favorite chairs on the sidewalk or in a dumpster.

A lot of new furniture is foam and particle board. That means it is heavy and not very strong. Look for older furniture that has good construction (no wobbles!) at estate or yard sales.

Customizing furniture (reupholstery) is an accelerated course in the decorative arts and textiles.
You learn what is a comfortable fit for your body and your lifestyle. This chair is a tad low for 6 foot tall man, but it sits well. The cushions were the perfect shape to use the oriental carpet to upholster. No sewing except to blind stitch the folds.
I love the 3 inch long curved needle.

Photograph by David Bales Design
Life is too short to live with ugly, uncomfortable furniture.

Have you found a treasure in the trash and brought it back to life? Send me photos and your story and I'll post it here....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sculpture and Furniture (before)

People make a fuss about washing an oriental carpet,  they forget that sheep get wet all the time.

A friend rescued this carpet from an estate sale dumpster. It was filthy but cleaned up nicely. The surface of the carpet was worn in places down to the warp, but the reverse was still brightly colorful, so that's the side I used. 
I"m guessing this is a tribal Baluch,  Afghan. Any one know more? 

I took a deep breath before cutting it up. Even damaged, it is very beautiful.

The warp is wool, it's around 6 feet by 9 feet. Working with the rug, I thought of all the people involved in creating it, the herd boys and their flocks, the many women spinning the yarn by hand, gathering all the plant material and dying the wool, and the countless hours involved in knotting these intricate patterns. I wondered if any of the people who created it were still alive and still making this kind of beauty today.

I feel a part of the life of this carpet is taking it into its next incarnation.  Made a promise to it that I wouldn't waste anything, that it would be beautiful and useful again. Next post the finished project......................

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sculpture and Furniture (before)

It's amazing how badly people treat good furniture.

Near Reed College, this mid-century, beautiful walnut frame chair had been attacked pets and party animals alike. Dumped on the sidewalk, I could see it had once been a thing of beauty. Great lines.

Unfortunately I couldn't tell how comfortable it was because it was so dirty. I took a chance because I've wanted to try upholstering a chair with a carpet for years. I'd seen examples in the house porn magazines, phenomenally expensive.
Broken joints had been crucified with inept nailing. It needed work. A lot of work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sculpture and Architecture

I hate it when art doesn't live up to the hype about it. It's hard not to take it personally, as an aesthetic failure of the viewer. It's worse because I wanted to believe, wanted to be swept up in its influence.
Rothko Chapel Photograph by Hickey-Robertson
Sigh, the emperor had no clothes for me in the Rothko Chapel. It's a beautiful space for music and performance, but the paintings were opaque rather than mysterious. Sometimes a painting is just a painting, not a religious experience. I gave it 90 of my best minutes.

(Anyone out there with a similar experience?) 
Instead, I found the Byzantine Fresco Chapel to be very moving on many levels.
The ancient church (below) that housed the art is recreated in ghostly glowing glass walls.

In the 1980s thieves broke into a chapel in the Turkish-occupied section of Cyprus, ripped the frescoes from the dome and apse, and smuggled the 13th Century fragments from the island, intending to sell them off piece by piece. Working with the Church of Cyprus, Dominique de Menil rescued the fresco fragments; through the Menil Foundation, she then funded a two-year restoration.

Dominique felt that a museum setting for the restored frescoes would not be appropriate, compromising their “intangible element, which is the frescoes’ spiritual importance and their original significance.” She outlined her concept for a “chapel museum”—a consecrated space, used for liturgical functions—in a letter to her son, the architect Francois de Menil, asking him “to restore the sacred fragments to their original spiritual function.” (from the chapel website)

The chapel was the high point of the Menil Collection. Art that has both content and history, beautifully displayed. See it if you can before the frescoes are returned to Cypress.

Addendum: HOUSTON, TX.- The Menil Collection announced that March 4, 2012 will be the final day to see the Byzantine frescoes currently housed on its campus in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, after which time they will be returned to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. In celebration of the frescoes, their time in Houston, and the purpose-built Chapel that has been their home for fifteen years, the Menil will present special public events commemorating the return of this sacred art.

The works, the largest intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere, have been on long-term loan to the Menil from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus following their rescue by the Menil Foundation twenty-eight years ago. They are being returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement between the two parties.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sculpture and Marco Cochrane

Hmmmmm, perhaps that video headline should read "uses iphone to control sculpture technology."
A 40 foot woman can take care of herself......

Marco Cochrane talks about the different technologies involved in creating and lighting his sculpture "Bliss Dance."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sculplture and Murmuration

How do you understand enormous changing forms made of living creatures?

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.
You don't. You just watch in awe.

A mumuration is a gathering of starlings.
PS. It's amazing how quickly interesting information can spread. After writing this post, I've been sent emails, facebooks, etc containing this video. If you've already seen it, watch it in the context of sculpture rather than nature.  What other than living organisms could create sculpture that constantly changes shape?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sculpture and Folk Art

This goofy front yard sculpture tableaux always makes me smile. Especially if the fountain is on.
Not sure if this is an homage to the Northwest or the Southwest????
Or is it process art? It took a lot of time to affix all those white rocks.
Is it outsider art?
It has classic vignettes of forbidden love.

Take a brief tour?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sculpture in the Garden

How do you feel when a designer takes something from bad to worse?
photo by Todd Coleman
Garden Design Magazine helped the James Beard Foundation refurbish the garden of the famous chef.

Look at the bench on the left in the photo above, at the end of it is a portrait sculpture of Mr. Beard.
It's not great placement of the art but you might sit down next to it to commune with his spirit.

In the newly redesigned garden the bust has been moved... to hiding in the bushes!

That's no way to respect a sculpture. 

It's not a great piece of sculpture, but the garden designers should have either featured the work or  placed it in the dumpster and denied any knowledge of its whereabouts. Hiding it in the garden behind potted ferns doesn't work. Do you get down on your knees to view it? What were they thinking?

See all that blank lattice work fencing? The sculpture should be on a pedestal at least 5.5 feet high and placed in front of one of the lattice panels.  The near panel would allow closer viewing, while a central placement would be more formal. The surrounding planting would anchor it, lighting it would give interest to the garden in the evenings. The art would then have presence and meaning.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sculpture and a Shadows On Stone Postcard

Shadows On Stone received a digital postcard from wood artist, John Casteline. John's blog on all things wooden is The Old Saw.

Photo by John Casteline ©2011
John and his wife were walking in the woods of Cook State Park, Pennsylvania. John saw this image, thought of my blog title and sent the photo to me. Thank you, John.

When I began blogging I wanted a title that combined art and poetry. Shadows On Stone, evokes that moment when the ephemeral meets the eternal.

Like John's photo, it's like seeing a slowly moving shadow on a rock that been there for centuries. That moment is about the awareness of being alive, feeling both time passing and time standing still. 

Kairos rather than Chronos.

Kairos (καιρός) is an Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While Chronos refers to chronological time, Kairos signifies a time in between, a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens.
In our busy world, it's important that know and practice the difference. Cultivating our sense of Kairos allows us to make space for and appreciate the special moments in our lives....
and boys and girls, that's where art comes from.....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sculpture and Relief

Let's look at a another bas relief at Portland's Central Library. It's older but far more successful than the relief in previous posts. Why?

It works because it is well thought out and well executed.

Our eyes enter the composition at the upper left corner and go to her face, then we read her entire body and then look at the book she holds.  That directs us to read the inscription. Everything belongs in its place.

Look at the subtle relationships of chair and her body. There are almost parallels of upper arm and chair back. Then look at the converging lines of chair arm and forearm and hand. Her shawl gives supporting forms that fan and span the space between her body and the chair, while her skirt folds end at her knee which brings us back to the book and we're back at the inscription.

Which brings us to the lettering. It was hand carved, backwards into the plaster mold. You don't need to know that to appreciate it, but it helps. The lettering exactly fits this artwork and no other. Look at the kerning of the letters. (Easiest to see in her name: Mary Francis Isom.) There's a subtle irregularity that makes it far more lively than the standard mechanical press and stick letters used on the other relief. These artists knew their craft. They cared.

They cared enough to sign their work.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sculpture and Halloween

What is scarier than the hair and make-up photos displayed in a hair design school in a mall?
Answer: When some prankster carefully places 3D googly eyes on the models.
I noticed something disturbing when we parked the car. Close inspection revealed the reason.

Simple and remarkably effective in turning fashion victims into zombies.

Who is next?

And two great pumpkins carved in a Northwest Coast Indian style in the window of Arthur Erickson Inc, Fine Arts and Unusual Anitques.