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.