Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The New, Cleaner Studio

So many things are changing in and around my studio. The City of Barre has torn down the building next door. I used to look out my windows at the roof of that building, but now there's a big open lot. Just two years ago the roof was resurfaced, and today they were filling in the huge hole that was once the foundation and basement. What a strange use of resources. SPA may make a sculpture garden there while the city figures out what to do with the site (and gets the money to do it).

So here's the main area of the studio. You can see Preaching the Gospel (subject of a post below) at the right. Plus I have re-worked the big wall piece called Dots that uses disks in a steel frame, adding more layers.

Here's a detail shot of it. I've made the additional disks and buttons applied to the surface stand out with metal spacers, trying to get more depth. Georgia Landau thinks the disks (such as the one in the second row down on the right) with painted concentric circles are distracting and not mellow or restful like the feeling of the rest of the piece. I kind of agree with her, so I may remove them, but I'll have to drill and paint up more monochromatic disks, and I'm not wanting to do that right now. You can compare this to a similar piece I made several years ago (sold).

Another task I've been meaning to do is to mount one of my big polychrome fish sculptures. You can see it below, on top of the room divider. It swivels; maybe I'll make a quickie video of that. The fish is one of the pieces I have on sale in the studio during the month of December, 2010. I'm going to make a post in the next few days about the sale with the new, shockingly low prices.

On the other side of the room: I took lots of 3-D pieces off the display shelves to add them to the All Aboard piece at Flynndog, and decided to use the space temporarily to put up my Priests paintings so I can think about them and where I should go next with this work.

The workbench was sort of clean and tidy at some point in the past few weeks, but as soon as I start working on something it becomes a disaster area again.

Likewise at the front of the studio. There's always tea mess on the counter.

The Disarmed

I forgot that I was working on this post back in June, when I was showing my Disarmed installation at Flynndog. All the pieces in the installation lacked arms, and were suspended from the ceiling. The shadows were pretty cool. You may notice that some of those pieces got repurposed for the All Aboard exhibit (particularly the largest one, which got arms, used for leading a fish...).

I did some nosing around on the internet looking for other artwork that used the "disarmed" idea, and found this fabulous one called Disarmy Men, by Blake Fall-Conroy. He bought bags of plastic soldiers, removed the weapons, resealed the packaging, and replaced them on the shelves. Soldiers without guns!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Preaching the Gospel, a repaired and repurposed sculpture

The sculpture in the video below used to be called Sing, Sing, Sing, and was one of my ORACLES series of standing sculptures. (At left is an image of the oracles stored in my studio. You can see this one in the right rear corner.) But several years ago it fell over and the neck (which was about ten inches long) broke, so I took the portrait off the front and used it for another purpose, and put the piece in the repair pile.

This month I drilled the neck hole out and added the left arm (a piece of an old loom that Pria Cambio gave me). There's a device on the back that keeps the arm oriented, but I think it would be better if the pounding and gesturing of the arm was a bit less regular and staccato. Also, I may make a stand to stabilize it, and put some little people in the area where the arm strikes...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back in the Studio

Now that all that big three-dimensional work is safely stashed off-site, I have spiffed up the studio and there is actually room to move around and make new work. I have assembled things that have needed repair for some time (perhaps a topic for a future post) and turned to making new work.

One of the object lessons of the recent All Aboard installation is that, at least for now, I need to stop making large 3-D work. It's hard to store, hard to transport, and doesn't easily find buyers. So I want to make something that's smaller, lighter, and possibly more commercially attractive.

Another thing I'm seeing is that after the strongly political nature of the work in All Aboard (looking at gender, war, the oceans, coupling, animals...), I want to do something a bit more lighthearted. I have been feeling so disturbed by the angry, wrong-headedness of the currently political situation that I have turned away for the moment, and am making work that's a little humorous. Zany. Witty.

For the last several years I've been using wine tops in a kind of collage technique, identifying them as homages to the late Roy Levin, who did quite a few pieces with this material. But now I've decided I've been working with wine tops for long enough that I can feel comfortable using them under my own label, so to speak.

So far I've made two series (the individual pieces are each 5.5 x 10"). The first series of six pieces is called Erogenous Zones, and includes (left to right: Brain, Face, Neck, Breasts, Back, and Genitals). The relevant zone is indicated with copper-colored foil. Click on an image to get an enlargement.

The second series is called Aches and Pains, and includes (left to right below) Migraine, Lower Back, Knees, Heel Spurs, Carpal Tunnel, and Rotator Cuff. The pains are blue.

The next series will be on the topic of Beverages: wine, beer, tea, coffee, etc. I'm thinking of making them into cards, or some other kind of multiple. Stay tuned.

All Aboard

I'm finally posting some pics I took at the end of the Afterward exhibit at Flynndog, which was up during the month of October, 2010. My part was called All Aboard and Emiko's was entitled Cornucopia.

When I got there to take the exhibit down, Emiko had already removed her work, so the only image you get that includes her pieces is in the previous post.

I've posted shots that give a sense of the scope and length of the "train" of sculptures, as well as some detail shots.

Right now the pieces that weren't sold during the exhibition are stored in the basement at Flynndog (Thank you, Bren!). So my studio is now MUCH emptier, and I actually have room to start some new projects.

And here's the statement for the installation:
What happens when a tree is killed, when a piece of metal falls off the bottom of your car, or when you throw out your grandma’s photos and a bunch of broken glass? Sometimes those random bits of matter (from what I call the planetary dumpster) are scooped up by artists and given an afterlife in art. All the materials in Afterward were acquired in this way.

In my installation, All Aboard, there’s also another kind of rescue and re-purposing going on: for this project I have used my own work from the last twelve years as raw materials -- combining them, adding new elements, and making narrative groupings. A very happy outcome of this process is that my studio now has much more room! And now that I have sent my children of wood out into the world to make their way, they will not be coming home to the studio. So make me an offer (each of the “cars” has a chalked number) if you would like to take any or all of them home with you afterward.

I think of this installation as a march, a procession, a circus parade. In the sweep of time, human history has been changed as people moved across the face of the planet in migrations and expulsions, the triumphal processions of conquerors, the yearly trek over the Tokaido Road, and political demonstrations. And along the route, the advancing (or receding) multitudes cast off their broken, spent, or useless stuff – even, sometimes, their wounded – like a grim or comical trail of breadcrumbs back to nowhere.

That’s the big picture. The small picture is that each one of us is marching in the parade of life: we stroll, run and roll through our lives until we get where we are going – which is death. And here is the “art” we leave by the wayside.

The titles I’ve affixed to the “cars” suggest different human states and experiences on this road of life. I have found that many people are grateful to be offered ideas about how to think about this work and find it helps slow them down and enriches their exploration of each piece. If that works for you, great. If not, then just move on down the line.