Back in October I received a phone call from Jeff Schultz of Houston Responds. Jeff was holding a conference the following week for local churches. He was trying to recruit volunteers to help those who still need help getting their lives back after Hurricane Harvey. He needed images for his Bible study booklet. I was thrilled to help out. I never received a copy of the booklet, but here are a few screen shot from the email he sent me.
photo by Nash Baker
At the end of every semester at Glassell, we clean out all the disheveled cabinets and drawers. We throw away broken tools and parts and reorganize the rest. A few years ago, while cleaning out the hammer and chisel drawer, I came across a worn out sledge hammer. Through the worn garish red paint the satiny steel skin of the mallet was unblemished, it had gotten better with age. Its handle on the other hand had not weathered as well. It resembled more of the rugged surface of old drift wood than a powerful hand tool. Its life had been extended several times with layers of duct tape that were now thread bare. I could only imagine over the years how many passionate sculptors had partnered with this handle and mallet to create their dreams; how many artist used it to mold their creations. I loved it for the history it held in the splintered grains of wood of its handle and the silent strength of its barely-red steel mallet. It’s days of hard labor are over. I bought the school a shiny new blue and yellow sledge hammer with a rubber handle and took the old red maul home to rest. Uncertain of its exact future, it rested on my den coffee table for the better of a year. Guests always comment on what a cool tool it was. It sparked unsolicited stories of hard work, of past labors and stubborn relatives. This summer, I decided to make a mold of the old maul. Each casting will tell a different story. This first casting is “You Make Me Stronger,” an ode to great partnerships as in the one with the artist, the handle, and the mallet.
I stared a new section in my Hurricane Harvey series of Harvey Heroes. These will all be LIVEstock rescues.
I made the first one today,
This is my first large monotype.
I have always wanted to go larger, but the temporary location of the Glassell School of Art did not have a big press. The pieces in this part of the series will all be 44” X 30” The Glassell printmaking studio has fabulous light, is super clean, and I love working in it. Alexander Squier, the head of the department and instructor makes sure everyone keeps it spick and span. This is the fourth time I have taken the class, print making is addicting and you need a press to feed your addiction. Plus Alexander is great.
Here is the ghost print. Something happened to the ghost. I am not sure what caused the mark that runs through the middle. When it dries I will try to fix it.
The ghost - “bringing home the bacon”
My work space in the Glassell printmaking studio
Me fake working for a photo op.
Have I done enough? Which should I edit? Include the cot, don’t include the cot???? How should I compose them as a group?
The Glade Arts Foundation had a Halloween event, for which they booked a local graffiti artist to create a piece during the event. At the last moment, he had a conflict. I was asked if I knew anyone that could fill in, I couldn’t find any takers They needed an artist to create art during the event that would be fitting of Halloween. I am a sucker for anyone in need and offered to come up with something. I wrestled with a few ideas that I thought would be fun to watch - ink bubbles or lemon juice and fire. I went with fire. When my son was 8 years old, we threw him a magician birthday party. I wrote the invitations with invisible ink, (lemon juice) with instructions to apply fire to the invitation to make the words appear like magic. With that experience over twenty years ago in mind, I showed up at the Glade Arts Foundation with my torch, lighter, graphite stick, charcoal, and stick of white pastel and jumped.
Below are the results that landed:
The portrait was the finale and about 48”wide. The others were my experimental play. I always try new materials on images I am familiar with.
These were the prizes for the best costumes. The winners requested that I sign the front.
It was really fun to interact with the guest and to be a link in the human chain of life.
Art based on a natural disaster can weigh on one’s emotions. With that in mind, and the fact that I would like the viewer to have a positive inner feeling after looking at my work, I am playing with adding a shaking dog to the body of work. I want the dog to be generic so that everyone can see their dog in it and I would like the dog’s energy to leave the viewer with a smile.
Below are my first attempts. I hope one works.
Using the Schlieren Flow Visualization method of photography, scientists photograph sound vibrations (even with them moving at 761.2 miles per hour.) NPR does a beautiful job of explaining this complicated process that scientists use to see sound. See link below-
It is amazing and inspiring to see photographs/videos of sound. With this additional visual inspiration and conversations with art critic Laura Wellen and curator Kimberley Davenport, I have decided to create an installation in my new studio.
With some luck by the end of the summer my new studio will be filled with a 4D installation of the voice of the violin.
photos by Nash Baker
Earlier this week I received the images taken of my sculpture. There is great satisfaction seeing this piece finally photographed. Many many thanks to Nash Baker for taking the time to get the perfect lighting and angles.
I am struggling with the title and the artist statement. This is where I am presently on the Artist statement for the piece. Some possible titles follow. I would appreciate any suggestions
”___________” A three deminsional depiction of the the passage of time through energy, produced by playing contemporary classical music. I was inspired by a long exposure photograph of my cousin, Arkansas Symphony Concert Master Andrew Irvin, that captured multiple images as he played his violin. I was struck by the simple back and forth movements of a bow, composed of horse hair, drawn across strings that create emotionally charged sounds. In this piece, the music radiates off the musician as he plays, as well as off the strings of the violin, sometimes like a painfully slow waltz, and sometimes with the sharpness of a quickstep. Working on the piece during the last weeks of my father’s life I examined each movement of the bow and the wire/sound that comes off the violin. Some warble and then end sharply like a tear running down a cheek. Others gently twist into a whisper that fades into a broken heart, and some linger and then pivot like a murmuration of birds and is set free, each movement triggering a unique emotion. I applied the concept of seeing multiple images, and seeing music as emotional energy in three dimensions. The piece is built on a steel armature covered in plaster, recycled wire cloth, and baling wire.
Documents of Time’s passage
“Lost in time”
dimensions of time
Intervals in time
Sonatas of time
Scores in Time
I had a studio visit recently with an art critic. We talked for two hours about all of my work, my long term goals, short term plans and my artist statement for score. Regarding score she suggested I rent a storage unit for all my work except score. Move score to my new studio and fill the studio to the rafters with with the sweet sound of delicious violin music
artist statement - revised.
”Score” is a sculpture of energy, sound and the physical act of playing contemporary classical music, and its primal impact on emotions. I was inspired by a long exposure photograph of my cousin, Arkansas Symphony Concert Master Andrew Irvin, that captured multiple images as he played his violin. I was struck by the simple back and forth movements of a bow, composed of horse hair, drawn across strings that create emotionally charged sounds. In this piece, the music radiates off the musician as he plays, as well as off the strings of the violin, sometimes like a painfully slow waltz, and sometimes with the sharpness of a quickstep. Working on the piece during the last weeks of my father’s life I examined each movement of the bow and the wire/sound that comes off the violin. Some warble and then end sharply like a tear running down a cheek. Others gently twist into a whisper that fades into a broken heart, and some linger and then pivot like a murmuration of birds and is set free, each movement triggering a unique emotion. I applied the concept of seeing multiple images, and seeing music as emotional energy in three dimensions. The piece is built on a steel armature covered in plaster, recycled wire cloth, and baling wire.
Monday, I had a meeting with the artist, Brian Portman. Brian speaks wire and teaches drawings no and painting at Glassell. I asked him to stop in my work space to look at the piece with fresh and wise eyes. I find his suggestions are dead on. He had no trouble seeing the movement of the hands, and understood my vision of seeing the music. He felt the music that wrapped around the back of the figure and worked its way into the movement of the right arm was burdensome. He felt it looked like he was carrying something on his back. So today it pruned away.
After the pruning.
Side view after the pruning.
Before the pruning.
I might need to do to do some more pruning.
I had a studio visit Thursday with one of Houston’s top curators. This was her third visit to my studio. She gets my work and I highly value her input. It is always nice when they love your work but when you are trying something new that does not always happen. I don’t Invite them to visit your studio just to give you compliments. I showed her the piece I am currently working on without sharing with her my artist statement.
My artist statement-”Score” is a sculpture of energy, sound and the physical act of playing contemporary classical music and its primal impact on emotions. I was inspired by a long exposure photograph of my cousin, Arkansas Symphony Concert Master Andrew Irvin, that captured multiple images as he played his violin. I was struck by the simple back and forth movements of a bow drawn by hairs of a horse across strings that create emotionally charged sounds. I cannot carry a tune, I don’t understand musical terms, I have never played or tried to play an instrument, and I don’t sing. I danced, I took many years of ballet. When I listen to music I feel and see movement. On this piece, the music radiates off of the musician as he plays as well as off the strings of the violin, sometimes like a painfully slow waltz and sometimes with the sharpness of a quick step. I examine each movement of the bow and the wire that comes off the violin, some warble and then end sharply, others gently twist into a whisper that fades, and some linger and then like a murmuration of birds’ pivots. I applied the concept of seeing multiple images, and seeing music as energy in three dimensions. The piece is built on a steel armature covered in plaster, recycled wire cloth, and bailing wire.)
She saw my artistic interpretation of the violin music, and movement captured over a period of time as dead vines or plant growth overcoming a figure and she did not recognize my blurred hands as movement. I really appreciate her honesty, her comments will help me make it a better piece. I want the viewer to have to spend time with the piece. I want them to have to figure out what I am saying. Keeping that in mind I have to decide how to make the hands look like hands that are blurred. I think the solution is to physically put some blurred fingers closer to the plaster hands.
She also thought the face needed to be either very refined or less defined.
I was pleased to hear that because I have had the urge to further abstract the face. Today I placed some if the 1/4 rusted and broken wire cloth over his face and I kind of like it. To me it seems to blur the figure as movement blurs in a photograph. I will live with it awhile and if I am not pleased in a week or two I will probably add more plaster and do a Manuel Neri thing to his face.
She loved the back side side of him and suggested I look at http://chiharu-shiota.com/en/works/
I am was not familiar with Chiharu - shiota’s work, and wow! I would love to have place to just go crazy and fill a room with the music made by my figure. This is a thought to keep in the back of my mind.
There is a hole in the armature near his crotch that bothered her. I have been waiting for someone to mention this. It is an easy fix, I will get to it eventually.
She is not a fan of the plaster as a material for this subject. Many sculptors first make small plaster maquettes of their sculptors before they make the piece full size. On this point I respectfully disagree there are many acclaimed artist who work in plaster. I love the white plaster and how it contrast with the wire.
The above images reflect the changes I made as a result of the critique.
dip 3 - wet
Ready for dip 4
the top of the cup is cut off and the blind vents are cut open in order to allow the wax to expand and milt out of the shell.
In the furnace to burn out the wax and the felt
with the wax melted out I now blow out what is left of the felt.
burn out number 2
With an pneumatic air hose I blew out the charred debris from each hat.
A cure from above looking into the cup that the bronze will be poured into.
After blowing out the pieces for a second time I seal all the holes with sparset.
Last Thursday we did our best to pour these but............. plan B we will pour them this this Thursday.
April 2 - a days progress
I focused a lot on the back side
I also spent a fair amount of time on the hands holding the bow. I might add more.