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Showing posts with label Wrtiting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wrtiting. Show all posts

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sculpture and Rodin

“Art is only a kind of love. I know quite well that bashful moralists will stop up their ears. But what! I express in a loud voice what all artists think. Desire! Desire! What a formidable stimulant.” Rodin

Long before Picasso's self aggrandizement of artist as Promethian figure, there was Rodin.

A new book by David J. Getsy, Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture reconsiders Rodin's influence, arguing that the sculptor emphasized his hands on process as a means of asserting his own desire's inseparability from his works.

During his lifetime, Auguste Rodin's name became synonymous with modern sculpture-- and sex.

(Shocking! Sound familiar as a marketing device? Rodin may not have invented it, but he owned it for the late 19th Century)

Rodin emphasized the importance of desire and the sexual as the creative fuel of his art, using them to fuel his increasingly daring treatments of the nude. In the minds of many viewers, the dramatic and activated surfaces of his sculptures came to be seen as evidence of not just a sculptor's touch but of a     lover's touch as well.

Looking forward to reading it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sculpture and the Stylish Blogger Award


I have a confession to make.
I upload my posts to publish up to two months ahead.

Which is good, because behind the scenes there's been a lot to deal with:
two friends in three different hospitals in one weekend.

My 87 year old mother in law fell and broke her hip, so much of our attention  has been to help and reassure her through her surgery and recovery. Oh, and close down her apartment. Daily trips across town. But being with her helps put other things in perspective. Life really is about loving.

(Update: She's up and walking just 6 weeks after the Humpty Dumpty incident.)

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 Mark Ruffnerian, of All Things Ruffnerian awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award while the above was happening.  A belated Thank you, Mark. That was a high point in a very long day.

The Stylish Blogger Award is to be accepted under condition of the following rules:

1) Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.

2) Share 7 things about yourself.

• Though I'm passionate about sculpture, in my next life I will paint portraits of the sky. Just color and nebulous forms. No canvas can possibly weigh as much as my sculpture does.

• I love the black and white of printmaking and paper cuts. There's something about seeing the world in black and white that changes my brain.  Trying to make art of a full color world in black and white, that implies all those wonderful shades of grey is a challenge.....

• My other high paying job is as a dancer and teacher of Contact Improvisation. 22 years and still being surprised daily by the form.

• I loath chain letters (esp. the kind that promise riches if you follow through and perdition if you don't)  Receiving and passing on the Stylish Blogger Award for me comes very close to chain letters.

•  Flowers are my drug of choice. I leveled a lawn so I could sit underneath my lily forest.

• I'm a life time gardener. The yard around my studio is becoming a sculpture garden to show my work and supply my habit. (see above.)

• I'm really creeped out by tatoos.  A waste of lovely skin in a such a conforming act of rebellion. More in future post.

• I draw constantly. It's hard to think without pen and paper.

3) Award 10 other bloggers.  I"m working on this, but now it's time to visit the nursing home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sculpture and Time

Far more difficult than making art is the art of making art about the art.

I've been thinking about it after reading Maria Killam's post "Is your blog ruining your business?" It's worth reading. Be sure to follow her links and read them and watch the video.

Damn, the last thing I need is more soul searching for my cosmic "WHY?" But I have been thinking about it.

My sculpture, while the subject matter is nature, is really about time. Time and mortality. I know that this will be a big hit with my marketing department. (That's me in a different hat.) "We're all gonna die? What is this crap? Bring me something I can USE to sell your sculpture!")

But it's true, in my sculpture, I'm trying to capture a moment, often a very quiet moment. Here's what I wrote last night, sitting in my car, listening to the rain.
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Sculpture is Time’s Anchor



If you can,
slow down.
Pause long enough to become a sculpture yourself.

For sculpture is time’s anchor.
The rushing years are caught and held.
Moment after moment.

You’ll feel how much wetter the rain is
as a tear on your marble cheek.

The sun will move across the sky
heating your bronze body
till it radiates light and warmth
back out into the world.

You’ll know the heart of the carved dryad
longing for the tree she once was.

You are made from the same clay as the armies of the past. Could you wait a thousand years?

In a world moving faster and faster
sculpture matters.
There is still a thirst for eternity
and a great need for stillness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sculpture and Promotion



Everyone's a critic.

"I don't know art but I do know crap when I see it!"

A good friend sent me this:

"The writer responds to questions about "how to make a living writing", and he replys - "it's like cleaning calf pens, you shovel until you get a big enough pile that someone notices."

I think your pile might be big enough this year, Patrick."


Let's all hope that my art pile is large enough to attract the right kind of attention, not the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Photo from Food Freedom website)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sculpture and St. Francis



Somehow the 13th Century keeps demanding my attention.

I've got a St Francis carving that seems to be generating back up since he's been neglected on my work bench for months.

First Guedelon and now a new book on St. Francis. The Saint and the Sultan: the Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace by Paul Moses.

Before you roll your eyes and think of badly cast concrete statues of the poor saint serving as bird feeder or bird bath, ask yourself what you actually know about his life and why we have any memory at all of a man who died almost 1000 years ago.

You'll be surprised by the real story of Francis's journey to Egypt to meet with Sultan al-Kamil trying to stop the bloody carnage of the 5th Crusade. Maybe not too surprised, as it's all too current again. The spin doctoring of his myth began during his life by a Church hungry for power and control. (Also that story about the wolf of Gobbio, that was an allegory....)

Moses work became separating myth from history. Moses writes "the accounts in question need to be viewed in the context of their own times; the audiences they were written for, the political pressures at hand, the writers' theological goals in telling the story. By doing that, it's possible to decode the early documents and uncover the story of Francis, the sultan, and what their encounter can mean today.''

Moses points out correlation between Francis's vows of living very simply and his opposition to war- Francis had experienced viscous battles between his own village and the next and spent a year in a dungeon as a prisoner of war. In his experience greed and military engagement were invariably linked. Choosing poverty was a radical act that freed him and his followers from participating in clan warfare.


Read Melinda Henneberger's article: What Christians and Muslims Can Learn From the 'The Saint and the Sultan'

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sculpture and the Books of Summer



Tim's Used Books is one of my favorite places in Provincetown, MA.,- there's only so much beach and eating I can do. Tim's has an amazing selection of books. I bypass the fiction room entirely and head for the art/architecture/garden room. I've gotten obscure Japanese sculpture catalogs, out of print garden theory books and many other finds at very good prices.

Tim's is a cell phone free zone. Nothing is computerized, there is NO computer. He has the inventory all in his head. Only in the last couple of years has there been an electric cash register.

Good books mean heavy luggage.

This year's books are

The World As Sculpture by James Hall. It's a vivid, highly entertaining guide, illustrated throughout, and traces the changing understanding of sculpture from menial labor, a blue collar trade, to the growing importance of sculpture as art. Essential reading for anyone interested in the arts.

Architectural Ornament - Banishment and Return by Brent Brolin "Architectural Ornament reveals the fascinating interplay of art, society, politics, and commerce from antiquity through modernism. It explains ornament's near demise and recent revival."
-I wanted more examples of ornament from different eras, but enjoyed it's premises: Sculptures rise from menial labor to art, and the concurrent, ongoing battle between popular taste and the avant guard.

Canterbury Cathedral and Its Romanesque Sculpture by Deborah Kahn.
The 11th and 12th century sculpture at Canterbury provides a wider range of sculptural styles than can be found in any English cathedral. Deborah Kahn here traces the development of the Romanesque from its sources in Northern France and its influences from Germany and Italy, and discusses its interaction with indigenous styles. Good photographs.
-Because somehow I cannot have too many books on Romanesque art.

The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder
These essays, first published in 1990, stand as centerpiece of Snyder's work and thought. Future readers will come to see this book as one of the central texts on wilderness and the interaction of nature and culture.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sculpture and Fractle Relationships



From the book Fractals the patterns of chaos by John Briggs. He phrases the creative dilemma nicely.

"Instead of illustrating nature, the pictures want to work like nature. They should be like life forms, each in its own fractal way reflects the dynamic system of nature as a whole. The wholistic element is an essential feature of the new (old) aesthetic appreciation.

It's why when you see a colored pebble gleaming on a beach among a jumble of othess and take it home, it may not look as lovely on the shelf as it did in the natural chaos where you found it.

Chaos affirms that individual details matter. Artists know that like the sensitivity of a chaotic dynamical system, a change on small part of a painting or poem may destroy or transform the work."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sculpture and Lineage of 2,500 Years




I began this clay panel as a demonstration at the Hughes Water Garden Water Lily Festival. It's a copy of a terra cotta building fragment (bottom photo) from the Architectural Heritage Center's Architecture in Bloom, Botanical Building Ornament.

Working on this panel, it dawned on me that this abundant floral patterning of acanthus leaf and blossoms is a sculpture genre that goes back at least 2500 years to the Romans, and the Greeks before them.

Copying has a bad reputation these days, but carefully copying the original was like taking a master class in sculpture. Everything in this releif is organized in terms of rhythms and counter rhythms. It is so musical. Doing my best to reproduce it exactly, I learned a lot. The sweetest thing was the realization that I'm a part of such a long tradition of nature art. We really are a part of the living green world.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sculpture and Clean Up



Something that rarely gets factored into the beginning of any project is the clean up at the end.

I made up a couple of bouquets of residual wedding flowers and gave them away. Ran the mower over the rest of the greenery and put it on the compost. Took the time, after 4 days, to get that tiny rose thorn out of my thumb. Spent the rest of the day cleaning the studio and reorganizing the wood shed. Things changed from total chaos to calm and clear and ready to begin again.

So often I want to be done with a project but rarely do I savor the pleasure of clean up or rest in the space of complete. It takes a lot of work to get and stay empty, but what a lovely place.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sculpture and the Voices of Living Creatively


Susan Gallacher-Turner interviewed me recently on what it means to live as a working artist. It was very casual, we talked for over an hour about my art and how I've used it to earn a living. We covered everything from my first art job, films I've worked on, to what i've learned from 30 years as a sculptor and how that influences my current work.

It was good to take stock of my life and art. I didn't quite know what to expect from the interview other than it was good practice to talk about my art. She and Michael Turner took the recording and turned it into a very professional podcast and web article.

Susan Gallacher-Turner is an artist, writer and teacher. Michael Turner is a writer, professional voice talent and audio producer. Putting their interests and talents together they've created "Voices of Living Creatively" to tell the stories, struggles and successes of people living creativley.

Their mission is to listen and learn, then share these stories with as many people as possible in publications, iTunes podcasts, their website,,"voices of Living," their client's websites, and the blog, Voices of Living Creatively. They will listen and produce a web article and podcast that anyone can use on their website and blog.
Contact Susan here.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Contact Improvisation at Performance Works NorthWest


Martha Ullman West reviews the Alembic Series, part of thePortland Project on Art Scatter.

She writes of our dance, Special Alembics, "The performance was at once sensual and intellectual, and downright suspenseful. My God, what are they going to do next? I thought at one point, as they entwined and re-entwined their bodies on the floor, becoming at times a single body that appeared to have eight misplaced limbs. Nobody “wired for skepticism” can dance with a partner blindfolded, it seems to me, particularly one on whom she depends to shape the next step in the dance."

The review also cover Tere Mathern's Phase Phrase and Gregg Bielemeier's Tracings

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Gardener's Prayer


Chard and red flax in the garden above.

This is best read out loud. It's funny because it is too true.

If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this: "O Lord, grant that in someway it may rain everyday, say from about midnight until three o'clock in the morning, but you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in, grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender and the others which in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants---I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like- and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spirea, or on gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron) and not too much: that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen."

From the Gardener's Year by Karel Capek.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Metaphor in Sculpture



I've been thinking about metaphor in sculpture, and all the while it is staring me in the face. This little Korean carved stone figure, a gift from D is not a person, it's a rock, but her sweet smile welcomes everyone to the garden. Figurative sculpture combines the human with qualities of the medium. Something as fleeting as a smile with the endurance of stone. Warmth and Stillness............

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"A Real Life Experience"

I haven't looked at Sculpture Magazine for a while. Now I know why.
This quote from the article on Michael Amy, Sculpture magazine, June 2008 is why I hate artspeak.The artist isn't just divorced from reality, it looks like a nasty divorce. His language and thinking are what is so dreadful about much contemporary art, seeing itself as above and apart from life.


Best if read out loud!

"It took me a while to understand my direction.
Artists try to separate themselves from society in order to offer a reflection upon the world in which they live.
I got in touch with the Dutch Army Museum in Delft Holland has a lot of war museums, and they still send artist out to war zones.This tradition goes back to the age before photography: you send an artist out with the troops to show people how it is out there. I read letters written by soldiers during the First World War l- they had a huge impact on me. I became interested in this war because it was the moment when traditional warfare made way for chemical weapons - the results were so much more dramatic. (That's one way of describing gas warfare...)
Anyhow, the Delft museum offered to send me to Eritrea in Africa to offer my perspective on war, and I thought, "This is an opportunity to have a real-life experience."However, I quickly realized that getting into the midst of a war would not allow me to keep the distance required to place it in a larger context. That is when I understood that I needed to keep a safe distance from war and death- that remove would allow me to make connections between those subjects and religion and culture.
I thanked the war museum's committee for its offer and returned to my studio. I believed that it was better for me to live these things in my head- in addition to reading about them and studying them -rather than be confronted with them in reality."


"Art for art's sake makes no more sense than gin for gin's sake." said Somerset Maugham.
"Amen," say I

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2 years 22 issues and what I learned.

I’ve been with Pacific NorthWest Sculptors since the first meeting at the Queen of Sheba restarant. It has grown beyond any of our original expectations. Initally a way to meet other sculptors, PNWS is now an organization that offers much more: opportunities for professional development, different venues for showing our work, chances to learn new techniques and materials.

It’s still a great way to meet other sculptors.

I took on the newsletter thinking I could help without having to attend meetings. Little did I know that it would force me to meet so many people and learn skills other than sculpture. When I began, I asked a writer for help. Her words of advice were, “It’s good to have a strong opinion. It’s called a voice.” “Edit ruthlessly. Cut out anything extraneous, you just cannot change the meaning of what a person is saying.” “ Don’t clutter things up with too many different ideas. For the reader, simple is easier to understand and remember.” I’ve found that advice works as well for sculpting as it does for writing.

Under the end of the month deadline and last minute additions, something I wrote and liked would be deleted to make more space. Lessons: Don’t get too attached to your work. Leave space for last minute revisions. My working motto for getting the newsletter out each month became: Done is better than perfect. I’d send out one month’s issue and begin immediately on the next month so that working was more flow than dead lifting an entire month in one day...

Being editor gave me permission to ask questions,
to be curious about other folks art, how they make it and more importantly why they make it.
Seeing is important to learning about art.
So is listening.
Sculptors are storytellers, even when our work is abstract. Hearing Rick Gregg talk about coaxing steel into a sweet bend, listening to what the material is telling him or Sarah Swink speak about her dreamlike quirky ceramic figures gives a visceral appreciation for their work.

The newsletter is a good place to practice telling the story of your art, sharing the excitement of beginning or finishing a piece. The writing and photos doesn’t have to be perfect. Fear of it not being perfect not only stops us from creating art, it also stops us from promoting and selling our work. Lesson: Put it out there! (I had a captive audience, of 650 Garden Writers of America looking at my botanical sculpture for 90 minutes at their 2008 Awards Banquet because I wasn’t afraid to ask if there was any venue for garden inspired sculpture at the conference.)

Finding Voltaire’s quote: “ I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” allowed me to have my own aesthetic opinions and wholeheartedly celebrate our collective creativity. PNWS is not about any one kind of aesthetic or medium. We all are here trying our best in an art form that takes a lifetime to learn.

Thank you to each artist who shared their work and process in Artist Profiles. Thank you to everyone who helped make the editor’s job easier by including all the pertinent information with their art images. It’s well worth the time to think your goal through and supply all the information you want other’s to know about your sculpture or show. That makes it much more likely you’ll be published than if you leave it to someone else to dig up the information.

I’ve enjoyed these last two years and everything I’ve learned. It’s time to put that time and energy back into my own sculpture, which now includes writing about it here on Shadows on Stone.