Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Art Camp at SPA

 The wonderful Tina Logan is doing an art camp this week at SPA -- they're making parading animals and people, and Tina took them into the gallery to visit the Parade exhibit on Monday. I hear that they liked the writing on my figures, and took notes of their own!

Today they came up to the studio to see what I was doing up there. They had great questions, lots of enthusiasm, and went home with a souvenir button they chose from one of my jars of big buttons.

Here I'm talking about how to put arms on a piece I'm working on -- whether it should be thumbs in (palms down) or thumbs out (palms up).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 Here are the texts on the backsides of the sculptures, which are pretty clear in these images except the far one, which says: The World is round. Sail away!

I hope to see you at the Art Social at SPA tomorrow, Thursday, July 15, 5-6:30.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Parade

I have three of my "people" pieces in the current show, The Parade is Coming! at Studio Place Arts, but instead of hanging on the wall, they're hanging from the ceiling and walking along in the gallery! They also have signs on their backs, which I will photograph later. There's an Art Social at SPA to celebrate the new shows on Thursday, July 15, 5-6:30 PM. Come on by!


Clock Ticking in a New Location

The clock I was commissioned to create several years ago was auctioned recently at Studio Place Arts and has found a new home in a beautiful new guest house. I hope it will be ticking away there for many years to come!

A New Look for the Studio

 Over the last month I've organized my materials, put in two new tall shelves for tools, older work, and materials. The front of the studio is now clean, re-painted, has plants, and a new rug! Woo-woo! There's a couch and a comfy chair, lots of light, and a nice place to display my new work. There will be an Art Social at SPA to celebrate the new shows on Thursday, July 15, 5-6:30 PM. Come on by!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Underpass Project Gets Underway 12 Years Later!

Twelve years ago I went down to Sommerville, Massachusetts to paint a canvas for a project called Wrap 'Em that planned to wrap artist-painted canvases around a series of concrete columns under the McGrath Highway. Cindy Larson, one of the organizers, recently emailed me

Yes - that's right. That long ago project that we couldn't get permission to install. For 12 years, these have been stored in my former loft. We have found another venue in which to install these - Kensington Connector. This is a long pedestrian walkway that ties East Somerville to Assembly Square/Assembly Row. It passes under Route 93 and goes from Stop and Shop over to the Public Storage building with Style Cafe. We are so excited that the team doing this finally got permits for this to happen.

And here it is, as it's happening!

This work was part of my Circular Statements work, that included a project in Johnson, Vermont called Time of the Signs (below), several of which went to new homes.

Liz Nelson installed them in different seasons at her hosue

And similar imagery was used for a piece I did in connection with the Vermont Arts Council's Puzzle Pieces project. Mine was called Carbon Footprint.

And while I'm tripping down Memory Lane, here's a piece I did in 2005 for a business in Montpelier, representing their workflow:


Geez, it's been a long time since I played with circles and disks...

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Telephone in 7Days

Pamela Polston wrote about telephone here https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/vermont-artists-participate-in-international-telephone-project/Content?oid=32813653

Vermont Artists Participate in International 'Telephone" Project

Everyone knows the childhood game of Telephone, right? Well, imagine if, instead of being a linear progression from one ear to the next, the prompts went to multiple people at once, creating more of a family tree than a telephone wire. And, instead of a continuum of words that are misconstrued along the way, the medium of the prompt transforms as it filters from one artist to another; for example, a painting might be translated into music, or poetry, or dance.

That is the simplest description of Telephone. The international art project and game launched on March 23, 2020, and has concluded with a massive online exhibition. The collection of interconnected pieces went live for public viewing on April 10.

Telephone's press release is an exercise in superlatives. Nine Vermonters were among more than 950 artists in 489 cities and 70 countries who took part. The team of 10 volunteer administrators came from some of the biggest tech companies in the world. The online exhibition integrates more than 10,000 artist files. A viewer can choose among hundreds of "pathways" leading from original to final artwork.

Exactly nobody made any money from the project.

Telephone's originator is Seattle artist and UX designer Nathan Langston; a previous game was in 2015, and its prompt had something to do with the sea. On the website, Langston explains how he chose trees as a general topic for this Telephone, searching thousands of sources for a prompt. He found it in an obscure Newsweek article on "The Majesty and Mystery of India's Sacred Banyan Trees" by British biologist Mike Shanahan. (Coincidentally, Shanahan's American publisher for 2016's Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees is Vermont's Chelsea Green Publishing.)

Instead of following a straight progression, as in the 2015 game, Langston threw a curveball. "Halfway through the game, we reverse the process," he writes. "We start assigning multiple artworks to a single artist. We ask each artist to find what the works have in common and to create a translation of that into their own art form."

Somehow, it's all meant to conclude with a single artwork.

The Vermont contributors to Telephone were painters Larry Bowling, Adelaide Murphy Tyrol, Kathy Stark and Elizabeth Nelson; sculptors Sam Talbot-Kelly and Janet Van Fleet; filmmaker Michael Chinworth; and poet Rage Hezekiah.

Cabot-based Van Fleet said the artwork she received for inspiration was a mixed-media collage by a Canadian artist named Sahar Hakimi. She submitted the following explanation of her own creation, an hourglass-shaped construction made from wire she found in her barn.

"The grid/window in the piece that was whispered to me suggested the liminal zone between inside and outside, past and future, you and me, the human and non-human worlds," wrote Van Fleet. "Suddenly, I began to see it as an hourglass — the sand falls down, you turn it over, and then it starts flowing all over again."

The Telephone administrators dispatched an image of Van Fleet's work to another artist. Neither she nor the other nearly 1,000 participants had any idea what the cumulative results would be until the reveal on April 10. "The vision for this thing was really, really cool," Van Fleet said.

See the 2020 Telephone art project at phonebook.gallery.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021


The whole game of TLEPHONE, created over the past year by a group of volunteer web developers, artists, and organizers, and involving over 900 artists from 72 countries, is up online at https://phonebook.gallery/

Vermont artists are :

Rage Hezekiah, Poetry, Pownal, Vermont
Janet Van Fleet, Cabot, Vermont
Larry Bowling, Collage, Barre, Vermont
Elizabeth Nelson, Painting, West Glover, Vermont
Kathy Stark, Painting, Craftsbury Common, Vermont
Michael Chinworth, Film, North Bennington, Vermont
Sam Talbot-Kelly, Sculpture, Montpelier, Vermont
Adelaide Murphy Tyrol, Painting, Plainfield, Vermont
Michelle Lesnak, Painting, Montpelier, Vermont

You can search for each of them in the Search area of the site. This is a very cool game, and I recommend giving yourself a good stretch of time to wander through it. Each artist (including filmmakers, dancers, poets, musicians, painters, and sculptors) got one or more artworks created by previous artists, and then made a "translation" of that work (or works) in their own artform. 

For example, here's the "whisper" I got from an artist named Sahar Hakimi:

And here's what I made and said about my "translation"

The grid/window in the piece that was whispered to me suggested space-time and also the liminal zone between inside and outside, past and future, you and me, the human and non-human worlds... Suddenly, I began to see it as an hourglass -- the sand falls down, you turn it over, and then it starts flowing all over again. And the present, where we are in this moment (like the woman in the piece I received), is in the middle, the narrow, transitional space of Now. I have shown that with a narrow neck and three balls of fine golden wire. The piece is 36 x 12 x 9”.

I work with found materials, typically found wood and metal. But they didn’t seem right for this piece, which wanted to be more conceptual and abstract. I am quarantining at home during the pandemic and have some tools with me, but am limited to what I find in my environment. As I wandered about hoping for something to call to me, I came upon a length of black fencing in my barn. It seemed perfect. The final challenge was photographing my piece. My house is made of wood and there are no white walls or a pedestal to position the piece. I was able to go to an empty gallery in the village and photograph it there. The outcome wasn’t optimal, but these are not ideal (or even normal) times.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Three New Pieces

 I've been working through the month of March on the Arts Marathon, created to support refugees and asylum-seekers through the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN). I've been making small and large pieces, as usual from found materials. Here are the latest iterations of three of the larger pieces:


Hugging a Fish, wood, steel, cardboard, paper mache, rubber, 56x18x5"

Code, antique "code practice oscillator" case, wood, bottle caps, stone, annealed wire, 56x16x6"

Ship, wood, bones, goatskin, metal, antique shoe last, 45x27x16"

Thursday, March 11, 2021

March 11

So many different things in a day in the studio! 


When I arrived, SPA's executive director, Sue Higby, was ready for me to install the insects in the main gallery for the new exhibit, Up & Away: A group exhibit about flight. I brought down the six wooden insects I'd made, and we installed them hanging on monofilament. They turn and move in a pretty cool way.

We also installed my hanging bird (Athena in the background).

Sue did seem a little disappointed that I hadn't made more, smaller insects, which I had said I might do, so I went up to the studio and made ten more small ones with wood I salvaged from an older piece with wings made from mica that a friend had given me. Down to the gallery again to hang the little ones.


I've worked on a piece called Mum over the last several days, and it's now in a place where I'm pretty happy with it. One of its arms is extended, and there are also hands in the chest area, made with stuffed gloves, stiffened with polyurethane (though clearly someone else's hands, as the thumbs and hands are in a position such that they would be your hands, possibly, in the sculpture...). Are they protecting, or are they enforcing the mandate to be mum?


One of the many tasks in the studio is fixing things that have broken (I'm a terrible breaker-of-things myself, but in this case it was a piece owned by someone else). The mounted photograph (with application of black wine foil for clothing and a hat) had come unmoored, and a small perfume bottle broke off.  I had to do the gluing in two separate operations. Here it is waiting for the glue to dry on part 2, the perfume bottle. I had to have some way of stabilizing it, and a clothespin seemed to do the trick. I'll find out next time I go into the studio.

Monday, March 8, 2021

March 8

 Today I recycled the spiral bits from yesterday's failure. I have a piece that is, again, offering something -- in this case, a sailboat.

I have always been a bit obsessed by boats, though I don't know why. I grew up in New Mexico, and boats were certainly not a thing there!! I have a whole series of boats I've made recently, that I exhibited at the Visitors Center in Montpelier just as the Pandemic started. Here they are, back in the studio again:

 And today's boat, a blonde confection of sorts

The boat body is made from a segment of a seed pod, and the sail is skin from a banjo head. The head is a piece of driftwood that darkened more than I expected after I painted it with beeswax (with which I finish most of my wood pieces).

I also made a lot of progress on the Mum piece... more on this on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

March 7

 I went into the studio today fully intending to work on the MUM piece at the end of the previous post. I was intending a figure, a child, held by the mum, and did a piece whose arms and legs were made of segments of a dried vine, with a subtle natural spiral.

 Aargh! No! This isn't a baby! It's long and skinny; a baby is short and chubby. And that's a mess how those legs are attached to the body. Take it apart! So, several hours later, with new arms and legs and taking its place with several other recent small pieces proffering things, I got:

The object it's offering to us appears to be a church. I found it at an old house where I also got the chair leg that I cut up to make the body. Hmmmm.....

But this was all a digression. Making these Proffering or Offering figures seems to come easily these days, but the large pieces are not happening. I force myself to go back to Mum. And suddenly I realize, maybe "mum" isn't a Mother; maybe it's about being silent, or even about being silenced. Wow.

Let's see where this goes tomorrow...

Thursday, March 4, 2021

March 4

 Working on two small figures today, each about 15 inches tall. The first I had made several weeks ago -- it had a body with lots of small nails and tacks driven into it (like an African nkisi figure), long arms hanging down on each side. What were those arms doing? Were they feeling for something, should they be holding something?

Today I rummaged around the studio and found a carved wooden cone that was given to me. It isn't a chillum, because it only has a hole at one end; maybe it's for burning incense? It seems to be made of sandalwood. In any case, I began to see it as a musical instrument, and decided this figure should be playing it. I also stabilized the legs with glue and new pegs, so now it's in pretty good shape. 

Over the years, I've gotten better at "fit and finish", making things that are more well-crafted and don't fall apart. I've needed to cultivate patience. I have to drill proper pilot holes so I don't split the wood, glue properly, finish the surface, saw carefully, sand the edges, and not break things.


The second piece uses the fish on a dish from two days ago! I think of the head as a wolf, but I'm not sure it's right for this piece, so that may change. It appears to be offering the fish, which is an image I've used frequently in past work (often it's someone holding out a child).

Am I avoiding working on the larger wall-hung pieces? In some ways they are much harder, because of the scale. It's also hard finding a place to store or hang them in the studio when they're done! But I fiddled a bit with the Mother piece, thinking that the round body I was using may not be working. This is just playing. I will have to keep at it tomorrow.  It might be holding a child.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March 2

 I think painters love the physical experience of moving a loaded brush across a surface. Maybe for all artists there are  sensory parts of their practice that excite and engage them. For me: I love screwing screws into wood with a power drill and I also love banging on things. It just feels great, and, in both cases, makes a cool noise. Right now, I'm into using a ball-peen hammer to texture and round the surface of metal disks (in this case, the tops of tin cans that I have removed with a special can opener gifted to me by a friend that keeps the outside edge intact so that you don't cut yourself on the top you've removed).


When I made some yesterday, I thought "A silver dish!", and that transported me to a song that one of the first people I met in Vermont, Sarah Webster, used to sing, Dance to Your Daddy: "You shall have a fishie on a silver dishie, you shall have a fishie when the boat comes in". Words, lyrics, cultural references always circle around when I'm working. And then I just had to make it!

 I spent quite some time today working on a piece that I have changed substantially since I started it. It was called Play Ball, and looked like this:

I decided to remove the catcher's mask and the circular body, then it went through a few other iterations, and here's the result of today's work, with its stone nose and drawer-pull lips.


And finally, a word about materials: I use wood that I find, often outside when I'm walking or jogging. I love wood that has been modified by other animals -- beavers, wood miners, or other people, like this wonderful piece with its gorgeous vermiculations:

 Today I cut it up into 7 sections and am beginning to make some small people. It's handy to have small people around in the studio. You can always find a use for them! They will get arms and legs at some point, probably, but they're also nice just standing still.