Monday, January 30, 2012

Sculpture and a Desk-top Memorial

This little memento mori sits on the window sill in front of my desk.

Photograph by David Bales ©2012
This vignette began after visiting graveyards in Provincetown that date back to the early 1700's. I found a small piece of shale, split it and carved  Life & Death on the two interior faces. When closed the two words are like a powerful secret contained. Open, it  reminds me of friends who've died and not to waste precious time on the computer.

The tiny Balinese carved mammoth ivory skull is remarkably detailed. The lense is a rifle scope that magnifies the message: What are you doing with your life?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sculpture and Paper Cuts

"The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed.  William Gibson

I love this photo as it shows exactly how life and art actually work, a mixup of daily and future plans.
Like any show, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

In order to get the paper cut made into a metal screen, it first must be photographed and then transformed into a dxf file for the laser cutting machine to read. I asked for help from David Bales.

Here we are in the high tech photo studio of David Bales. his kitchen. The artwork is taped to a sheet of acrylic that is back lit by bounced light from the skylight. Large sheets of acrylic and paper are always useful studio tools. You use what works.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sculpture and Paper Cuts

I'm creating two panels for a display garden by Linda Meyer for this year's Yard Garden Patio Show. The garden theme is Parisian cafes, with, of course, a little Van Gogh. The panels will be laser cut steel, but I begin designing with an easier material. Paper.
Each square is made by 4 tiny precise cuts. Wildly tedious, but fun to watch grow.
Sunflowers papercut by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
St Francis papercut © Patrick Gracewood
  I wanted to explore the idea of circles within circles that began with the St Francis paper cut.

At the end of a day's work? Little bits of black paper everywhere.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sculpture and the Garden

Snow changes how you see the sculpture in the garden. Spring will come, the birds will nest again....
Nesting Birds relief sculpture by Patrick Gracewood ©2012 cast stone

Evergreen "plants" add structure to the winter garden.

The weather and life are constantly changing..........
our work is to stay calm and kind throughout.
Terra Cotta relief tiles by Patrick Gracewood ©2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sculpture and Dance

I'm off to the snow next week. I am teaching with Carolyn Stuart our 
5th Annual WOW of Contact Improvisation with Touchmonkey

The WOW will be January 22 to 27 at beautiful Breitenbush Hot Springs in the mountains of Oregon
Patrick Gracewood and Carolyn Stuart

Carolyn Stuart and Patrick Gracewood
The dance of Contact Improvisation offers the experience of belonging and freedom. When in contact we belong, when improvising we are free. Wow!

This week long immersion focuses on developing awareness in order to study and expand our capacity for mutual well-being. We’ll use intention, research and relationship to refine our ease and accuracy in the dance.

Relationship supports expression. The unfolding of expression is infinite. We explore options to enhance our interbeing. Being where we are, becoming happens.

Resting in the ride of mutual well-being is the ahhh of C.I. Wow!

Come celebrate your self-awareness and ability to improvise, on and off the dance floor.
Give yourself the gift of Contact!

Carolyn Stuart and Patrick Gracewood are the Touchmonkey limb of C.I., a dance duo exploring, teaching, performing the ‘wow’ of contact improvising for 25 years. They’ve found the play of inquiry, experimentation and discovery to be intimate, infinite and life saving. Currently they offer C.I. events at Gracewood Studio in Portland, OR.
REG: Breitenbush 503.854.3320
INFO: Carolyn 503.282.2938 or

ENDS: Wed or Fri lunch
COST: Sun - Wed $90, Sun - Fri $120, plus lodging
DEPOSIT: cost of lodging

Sculpture and the Allison

Some days, a field trip out of the studio is just what's needed. Especially in our unusually mild winter.

Pam Kill of GreenGold Studio asked me to accompany her to see the landscaping at the Allison, an inn and spa in Newberg, Oregon. The Allison is located in the Willamette Valley's wine country, with a vineyard of its own as part of the 35 acre property.

The entrance is an attractive combination of wood, stone, metal and water.

As you enter and move towards the door, you realize that the pool is more like a river!

The sound of falling water welcomes you to the building.

Outside the ground floor rooms are small patios, each has a pair of
 Life Chairs from the Brickell Collection
Even small details like this foliage motif on a drain tie in with the theme of natural materials.
We walked the grounds, and ate a light lunch. No spa for us, so back to work.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sculpture and Social Media.

She saw it on Facebook before she saw it in the garden.
That's NOT a good thing, as she lives here.....

It's another disturbing example of virtual living instead of a real life walk in the garden.

Granted, she wasn't feeling well, but being outside might help instead of being glued to the monitor.
It is odd, being a sculptor, knowing that the digital life of my work will be seen by more people than ever get to physically experience it in real life.

I've wanted this Chinese stone sculpture for several years. 

The site is a direct sight line from the garden entrance. Three Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirenswere planted several years ago. They'll form a solid green wall behind the pedestal, which has been empty and waiting. Once I finally got this lovely carving from Cargo, all I had to do was carry it into the garden and place it.

... and post the result on Facebook to prove that it happened.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sculpture and Criticism

People are afraid to evaluate a sculpture because they don't trust their own judgment.
A good example of a bad sculpture.  (It even more difficult to say "That's awful!" when it's Jesus.)
Here's a simple process to evaluate a figurative piece of sculpture. 

Allow yourself plenty of time to study the sculpture. Walk around it, see it from every angle. 
You might try and take the pose. Ask yourself if any distortion or stylization is part of the story the artist is telling you. (You do this whether you do or don't like the art, this isn't about you. It's about understanding the art.) After doing all this, are you uncomfortable or ill at ease with the work?
   If so, most likely there's something wrong with the sculpture.
This figure is bad because it's a Frankenstein. It was modeled in separate parts that were then assembled. They do not make a unified whole. Where exactly are his shoulder, elbow and knee? 
"Oh, they're in there somewhere" not an acceptable answer.

Which brings us to major problem #2: Drapery should always help to define the figure beneath it.

Bad sculpture gets carried away with the parts and forgets the whole. 
The hair becomes a shampoo commercial, the drapery is being blown by a hurricane......

Refer to the photo above and try to pin point where his right knee should be. Can't find it? That's because the sculptor doesn't know either!

More DUBIOUS ANATOMY. Christ or Quasimodo? He has NO neck.

Here too much attention has been lavished on the expense of his trapezious and clavicles. The result is there is NO articulation of shoulder, head and neck.  Do you see it? His right clavicle should curve back, the bone has many compound curves. Here it's like a 2 x 4.
No neck. No neck. No Neck.
This sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiglieri, can do good work, he just didn't bother to take the time. Shame on him.

What about the donors who funded this mess? Do they just write the check and not demand excellence?

I'm upset that D grade work passes as sculpture and no one say's it's crap! Where are the meth-heads that cut up bronze sculpture when you need them?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sculpture as Community. Sculpture as Ritual

It isn't as old as my flaming sculpture, but Burning Man is a lot more famous.

Here's a sweet video, reciting the last work of Dr Seuss, "Oh the places you'll go" on site at Burning Man. Its acknowledgment of the good and the bad times we all go through seems a good encouragement for 2012.

Burning Man is a perfect example of Sculpture as Community, Sculpture as Ritual.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sculpture as Community. Sculpture as Ritual

So with the sculpture/artifact done and carried outside and place on its gravel bed,  
it's time for the art to begin!
Sparklers starting.
Artist Susan Gallacher-Turner shares her experience of the burn, with good photos on Sculpting a Life
Photo by Michael Turner, You can see how the gold paper catches and reflects the light
Here the Dragon come alive with flame and fireworks.

All too soon the fireworks are over. You feel the change in the group's energy, the danger and excitement subside, replaced by introspection and contentment as we draw closer to the flames.
Talk is quiet. If we're lucky, a flock of geese fly overhead, calling to each other in the dark night.
Do you use art to create community?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sculpture as Community. Sculpture as Ritual

It's hard to make your art AND document its creation at the same time.  That's why we jump ahead to the angel at this stage. Creation is about flow and documentation is all about editing.
A visit to the Goodwill provided the angel's clothes: cotton curtains and sparkly gold florist's ribbon.  The cardboard wings are covered in Chinese joss paper also known as spirit money. It's traditionally burned in ceremonies honoring ancestors, appropriate here, honoring Dorothy.

2012 is also the year of the Dragon, that diagonal board behind the angel is the dragon's body.
Guests are arriving and I'm still working! Here's the gold spray painted base for the Dragon's head. Heavy gold card stock paper will form the dragon's beard and scales. You can see how I cut and shaped the paper in this short unedited video.

Remember that this sculpture is created to be seen in the dark, so what looks gaudy under the lights, sparkles and reflects with the light from the fireworks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sculpture as Community. Sculpture as Ritual

Eye of a guardian angel, Cardboard and wooden bead.
This New Year's Burn was a life sized angel carrying Dorothy's photo. 2011 was 9 months of daily visits to care for my mother in law, Dorothy.              Here's how I made a final tribute for her.
Take one old oak chair and secure it to a 5' x 4' wooden pallet. Make angel body from heavy duty cardboard tubing. (Note to pyros, cardboard tubing burns very well and lasts a surprisingly long time. It's free too.) You can see that I place the fireworks as I build, there's a big fountain in the head.

The face was started with a corner of a cardboard box for the profile, a hot glued wooden bead became an eye. Small strips of cardboard form the lids of the eye.
The trick to figurative work in cardboard is to keep it loose. 
Especially if you have a burn deadline! Symmetry is overrated.
I loved how stern and helmet like the face immediately was, like a Roman Centurion. In fact, Mr. D and I had a heated discussion about it. When he entered the studio, bringing lunch, he was shocked to see his sweet mom in the custody of this angel. Our conception of angels is very different. I said "If you want sweet, you get a cherub! " A cherub is not a guardian angel.

I think a real angel would be fierce and more than a little terrifying. It's not an easy job.
What is your idea of an angel?