He is growing on me.
Today I poured and applied 30 lbs. of concrete to the figures left hip and shoulder. I also added recycled wire cloth to the owls wings and eyes.
In my humidifying box.
The Owl is sitting heavily on the back of the figure. See newly added recycled wire cloth around his eyes.
Owl eyes and horns
The head and shoulders of the front of the figure and the owl's chest. The body is stuffed temporarily with newspaper.
This application of concrete will hydrate for 5 days.
Detail of wing texture
After five days of hydrating-
Once the piece is hydrated I need time to study the piece.
Detail of the texture of his back.
The questions I ask myself-
Do I like the texture, and lines added with a broken pieces of bailing wire? Do I like the exposed lath that shows through the concrete? Do these marks in addition to his posture convey that the figures is beaten down, exhausted and discouraged?
Does the Size of the owl weigh down the figure or should he be heavier? Does the owl look corrupt? Can an owl look corrupt?
Do the owls eyes need more feathers, should they be closed? Should the owls body be more rounded? I need time to absorb and digest how things are shaping up. I keep asking myself are the shapes, lines and textures proposing the right questions, or making the right statements?
Covering the back of the figure in concrete.
First I am stuffing the cavity of his body with paper to create a surface to stop the concrete from going completely through the mesh.
the cavity to be filled with paper.
stuffing the crevices.
view from the back - you can see the newspaper stuffed in the cavity through the lath.
I am now ready to add the concrete to the back.
When working in concrete you start from the top down. In this piece I started with the owl. Concrete is constantly falling and you don't want to have any fall on a surface you have finished. On each section I work from the bottom up, placing the first handfuls on the lath where it meets a surface that can support the weight of the concrete. In the below case I started on the hips and built the concrete up his back to the shoulders.
30 lbs- covered his back.
now it hydrates for 5days.
A peak at the progress. The first layer of concrete on the owl has cured for five days. How does he look?
I think I will fluff up his face with wire cloth and concrete.
In my garage shop.
Detail of owls surface. I think the exposed lath makes a fabulous feather pattern.
View from his front right.
We were among those whose home did not take on water, however, our hearts are broken for those not so fortunate. I have decided to commit to walking the dogs of the families staying at the GRB with pets every morning at the crack of dawn so the families can sleep in. That way I get my exercise in and help out with the disaster relief and then I can work on my sculpture.
I pored 30 lbs. of concrete today.
Pouring concrete is a lot like baking. You mix all the dry ingredients together, make a hole and then add the wet ingredients.
30 lbs. ready to go
I put the armature in a 8'X 8' frame made from pvc covered in a plastic jacket that Christine Medina made for me. Concrete liquifies when moved so I work on it in this space so I can seal it up turn on a humidifier and zip it up. It has to stay moist for 5 days or if will crack.
The 30 lbs. is enough for a thin coat on the owl.
I love the way the metal lath mimics feathers. I want to be careful and not completely cover the mesh.
The little humidifier ran ran out of water to fast so I punched a hole in the bottom and set the whole thing in a giant bin.that way I only have to refill it twice a day.
Everything is zipoed up tight.
peaking in to see if the humidity is building up- yep-
The art Car museum is open today.
I delivered my piece "January 21, 2917- the woman's march" Friday the 25th.
such a cool building
See this piece tonight at the Art Car Museum opening tonight.
wire cloth, plaster and LED spot light
50" X 27" X 16"
photo by Will Michels
January 21, 2017 will go down in history as the date of the Women's March on Washington; when scores of protestors marched in major cities across the US demanding change: Protection of our rights, safety, health, and our families. I finished this female figure the day after the march. I turned my Led flood light on her and her crisp shadow marched off the wall. Her poise, strength and confidence represents today's woman and the changes demanded on January 21,2017.
My first solo show. I was contacted in the spring by a curator, art appraiser and art consultant Elise Arnoult Miller, to have a solo show at the Nos Caves Vin in Wroxton. Elise picked the work this summer. I took twenty-one works on paper to Paul's place for framing. The installation was set up before Hurricane Harvey hit on Friday September 1st. I reached out to Paul on Wednesday. His retail shop is in mid town but his work shop is in Houston's new Chinatown which is near several of the areas that were badly flooded. Paul finally called me late Thursday. He and his wife were fine, their house did not flood and all my framed pieces were ready to be picked up.
Elise had the whole show up and running in a couple of hours with the help of several art installers.
ΟΧΙ ΚΑΡΤΕΣ is Greek for we do not take credit cards.
week 3 day 2
I started adding the bailing wire. Some of it will be buried in the white concrete, some will protrude out of the concrete ending in mid air, and some will tuck back securely.
The question at the end of today is, should I add bailing wire to the owl? Right now I am thinking I should not. I think I would like him to be in concrete mixed with olive tree branches and leaves or branches and leaves that look like olive.
Last week the dirty side of Hurricane Harvey was headed to Houston to houston so I brought the piece to my home to work on. We will be hunkered down to wait out the storm.
The armature is steel so he weighs plenty. It was not easy to get him home but I knew I would have lots of time to work on him as Harvey is a slow mover.
I planned on welding some support pieces of pencil rebar to the hands, feet and owl wings. Sadly Welded too close and welded the wire to the tip on my mig welder. I accomplished nothing while receiving 52" of rain in 4 days.
right away I welded too close and welded my wire to the gun tip.
About this time it became evident this was not going to be our average Hurrication. I wish it had been.
It has been nothing short of a horrible end to the summer. So many families I have catastrophic damages watching their suffering on Tv and in the shelters the whole city feels nearly as desperate and depressed. I can hardly imagine the feeling of seeing your home underwater, evacuating in a boat or being stranded on a roadside. Families with babies, people in wheel chairs, pets..........having everything underwater grateful to just be alive.
Harvey poured rain into Houston but Texans flooded the streets with Humanity.
I made these monoprints which were inspired by photographs my mother Minnie Travis took. A few years ago a hummingbird built it's nest outside her kitchen sink window. She took photographs everyday, they were amazing. I was so happy that she would let me work from them.
Finally, I picked these up from the framer and hung them asap. What do you think?
These are mounted on dibond and hang without framing.
I could not have said it better myself. I draw and sculpt and in either it is about the line. In my sculptures it is the line from every direction and in drawing it is only from one direction. I see in lines, and lines are what move me.
The armature of a sculpture I am in week three of.
I am creating a piece for an exhibit at the MFAH Glassell School, the theme of which is Learning From Athens. Twenty of us went to Athens this summer for the Documenta 14 exhibition
We were led through the exhibition by Anna Tahinci, Ph.D.
Anna is the professor and Area Coordinator of Art History at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In addition, she is from Greece. Those of us who went on the trip are invited to submit a piece for the exhibit. First, I made a list of images and thoughts that stood out .
My list of thoughts about Greece
1. Who can forget the beautiful, white marble, ancient architecture and sculptures, the kind and helpful people, and the fabulous fresh food?
2. I have a very vivid memory of a refugee/homeless man whose posture had physically changed from a lifetime of panhandling I walked by him several times, he always sat in a recessed doorway of a vacant retail space. The day I can not forget he was sitting on the ground with his legs crossed, he had fallen asleep. His head had fallen forward and sunk beneath his shoulders. His right arm was out stretched holding a spare change cup. His arm looked impossibly long from many years of stretching it forward, hoping for handouts.
3. The owl is the symbol of ancient wisdom and is also the symbol of Athens.
4. Poor financial decisions have left the government/country in poor fiscal health. This is Ironic for a country whose ancient symbol is a wise owl.
5. The country is overrun with refugees. 1.03 million people have entered Greece since 2015.
6. We noticed that many of the smaller retailers have signs in their shop windows that say ΟΧΙ ΚΑΡΤΕΣ, which means that they do not take credit cards. They do not take credit cards, so they will not have to pay taxes to the government, then they complain that their government is bankrupt.
7. Lemon trees are abundant in Greece.
8. Olives are the country's most renowned export crop. When I think of olives, I can't help but think of the saying, "extend an olive branch," which is a peace offering.
9. Many of the archeological sites have been framed by steel beam scaffolds, since 1975. The government does not have money to complete the restoration or to remove the scaffolding.
10. The National Technical University of Athens was used by students for refuge during a political protest in 1973. A tank broke down the gates. The mangled gates remain onsite in the state the tanks left them. The mangled, rusted steel made a beautiful memorial to the students who died in the protest.
After considering the above list of thoughts, my piece will be a life sized, homeless Athenian, or it could also be a refugee. I will build a steel armature and cover it with white concrete. I will not cover the steel with a rust preventer. I would like to find some olive tree cuttings to add to my concrete for texture. The piece will have an owl representing the establishment/government sitting on the figure's shoulder, weighing him down, and the owl will be looking away (turning its back on the people) from the figure. Once the piece is covered in white cement, I will then take a sledge hammer and diligently break away the concrete, exposing and (hopefully) mangling the steel.
Below are the day by day photographs of building the armature.
End of day one - from the bottom up- human rear end, backbone and rib, mid shoulders span.
added head, hanging below the shoulders.
Added crossed legs
added feet/shoes, and exaggerated out stretched hand.
day 3- I added a lot of rebar for support.
added the owl, (parliament or government) armature
Reinforcing the armature- no wiggles
End of the second day of adding the lath
Another day's work -
a leg, two hands and a cup covered in lath.
Starting week three-- adding lath to the owl
View from the front
View from on the back
my first look-
I have been worried that a new lenticular from my "the road" series would not work out. This is my first proof. I have put five drawings together to create the lenticular of a cyclist pedaling. Each drawing is of a different position of the cyclist's feet, legs and shoulders. This is the first of three, each made from five drawings.
Still in the box- my very first look.
I am almost ready for this fall's "known and underknown" exhibition at art Brookfield.
In downtown Houston, we have several buildings owned by Brookfield Asset Management. They are unique in that the lobbies of their properties are used to bring art to downtown Houston.
The curator, Sally Reynolds, visited my studio this past spring and selected a lenticular and a wire sculpture for a fall show in the lobby of Heritage Plaza, "known and underknown." I was particularly excited to have her visit my studio and doubly excited that she selected two pieces. I have wanted to try out a new pedestal idea, but simply have not had the room in my studio. I wanted to try putting the wire piece on a much larger pedestal, a pedestal that almost functions as part of the sculpture. Sally agreed to see what I would come up with for a new pedestal.
I started to scope out the junk/antique stores in Montrose. I wanted a club chair, with clean simple lines. Basically, a pedestal that looks like a chair. It had to be the right height, with a simple texture, and needed to be wide enough that a dog would need to pull up on it to see over and around, looking for his ball. This is what I found.
First, I took a very strong needle and sewed down the back cushion, as if the dog's weight was holding it down, right where his paws would rest. The next step was creating the finish. It took over a gallon of paint to make it look like a pedestal/sculpture. Sally was concerned that people might try to sit on it. As a result, I attached the dog's wire ball to the seat and I also added a pillow in the corner.
Below is the original wooden pedestal. I still like the original pedestal for its simplicity, and hope to have the opportunity to exhibit the piece on it in the future, if I am lucky.
I recently sent Sally a photo of the piece. She seemed pleased, and promised to find a place for my sculpture on this larger chair/pedestal in the show. I am very grateful that she gave me the opportunity to give this idea a shot. She really did not have to. Thank you, Sally.
"the road" - new title of work.
When we celebrated Father's Day, and my kids asked me what I had been working on, I replied, "My cyclist series." We discussed the series and potential names for the series at other family gatherings. That started a new flow of names: bikers, bikes, friends, asphalt, or ass-fault (a little offensive)... then Curtis said, "Why don't you call them 'the road'?"
N i c e, "the road!"
I like "the road" as a name more than cyclist, cyclist is too obvious. "The road" is poetic. Thank you Curtis😍 You are the best husband 😀 and father. Any thoughts?
So, from here on out, I will call them "the road."