Working In Series

Groupthink 6.2020 59″ x 11″ x 8″

Groupthink is the first of a series of works that employ similar shapes, manipulation of materials and values. You could say that these works are of the same style. Style is a result of choice, and is not permanent. If you look at works of the same time period, you will see similar choices made because I liked their effect. And then I won’t and will move on.

Groupthink

Above is another view of Groupthink. What is fascinating about sculpture, freestanding sculpture, is that the compositions must work from a variety of angles. My husband has a rotating pedestal where he simply sits and wheels it around to see various views.

With me, I have to do the work to get a new view.

Compartment 6.2020 40″ x 9″ x 7″

You can see that Compartment uses a pattern of wooden not quite semicircles, five, where Groupthink uses only three.

Compartment

This piece as well is composed to stand at an angle and has elements herded together. I am just now noticing that this piece has holes bored into it, which I usually do, but Groupthink has none. Being the first in a series, my mind was more focused on new ideas rather than old ones. And then the old ideas creep in when they are appropriate for the composition I am working on.

Feline 54″ x 14″ x 9″ 6.2020

You can see here that a plane has been applied at a 90 degree angle to the upright element which is crowned by the cat head. And there is smaller, darker plane with a hole in it applied to that plane. This phenomenon, or choice exists in all the pieces above. This was an idea that continued to interest me so I did it again and again, slightly different in each example.

There are more views of Feline two posts back.

Prosthesis 6.2020 40″ x 9″ x 7″

Prosthesis does not lean as do others. It has plenty of holes, making the composition feel lighter. There are two shapes that mimic the pattern of holes in this view.

Prosthesis

The long shape facing the viewer not only has three holes in it, but its perimeter has semi-circular cut-outs. This integrates it well with the element on which it is screwed and its holes. Further, the element at the top left of the piece has the same semi-circular edge.

Unity in choice. We should talk about that sometime too.

Prosthesis

What Can Art Do For Us Now?

Rock, Paper, Scissors

The image above was made in May, 2020. It measures 56″ x 11″ x 20″

I have started to identify my work specific to the month and year in which it was made. Previously, the year was sufficient. As we go through this pandemic and the not certain future, it is important to know which works were made during this time. There will be clues as to attitude, health, flexibility embedded in these works which I believe will stand clear to future eyeballs.

We owe this history to others. For those of us who work in visual art, these are our most important words. They stand as another way of telling the pandemic story, no matter their superficial subject.

Think of Aaron Copeland, whose works describe the notion of America specific to a certain time so vividly.

Think of the early work of the Beatles and their ilk, when most music was made in a major key. It was optimistic. Now, minor keys or ambiguous sounding keys abound which are more dramatic and unpredictable. Uneasy sounding, even. Not expected.

It remains to be seen what this pandemic will create. Our responses to it are gestating and being born now.

One thing I know, this transactional way of life we have declined into cannot stand. We have to get back to a place where everyone wins. Its the only way.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Feline

Feline 2020 54″ x 14″ x 9″

This piece was well on its way when it declared what it was about.

It wasn’t until viewed from this angle did I see the profile of a cat head connecting to the haunch below. Want a definition of “abstraction”? There you go.

The piece began with two sections of a bed headboard and a footboard from a smaller twin bed. The wood of the headboard had water damage, and I re-glued what could be. Some veneer wood was peeled off and the remaining edges glued resulting in the subtle geometric sections between the cat’s head and haunch.

I am amazed how well the headboards reconstruct with a little glue and some clamping. Finding good garbage is everything to me and now with the damned pandemic, all my favorite haunts are off limits.

Holes are made in strategic places on all the planes to reflect the system set up by the repeat pattern of vertical holes on the dark straight piece of wood to the right of the cat’s head.

Chair caning adds visual and physical texture. I always think of Cubism when using it.

FRANK

Frank 2020 49″ x 12″ x 8″


The headboard of a bed is the base of this sculpture, which you might identify if you look at the curvilinear lines that are mirror images at the top and bottom of the piece. I left intact most of the water damaged surfaces and re-glued the veneer of the wood which had split off because of the water event.

This piece has a dark side and a light side as most of my work does.

As we rotate around the piece, more light areas emerge at the top and the dark stays in the lower areas. Frank?, you say. It’s because of the organic lines and the all the wood colors. Lloyd Wright.

My reference to him is not because of “Falling Water” or any of his great houses you know.

Above is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House on the grounds of the Martha Washington Home in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a house for common folk, which was moved to its current site with its last private owner intact, and she lived there, on the Martha Washington grounds until she died.

Somehow my addled mind connected this house with the wood color and the general penetration (holes) of the wood on my piece.

Headboards, Y’all

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Last week I got pretty excited about how using a headboard could increase the size of my work. Pandemic or not, I had to go shopping.

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Not a soul has been in this space since last we came. It is a soaked and damaged warehouse owned by a friend. There is activity going on outside this warehouse but this is clean of covid, for sure.

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The sun shines right in! And so does the rain, and these elements help destroy glue on wood. The pieces cleave in interesting ways. No one in the world wants this stuff but me.

The headboards, the subject of this piece are to the left of the first picture, just out of range of the camera. There were three piles, lined up against a wall that is failing.

But not now.

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Took me hours to haul this stuff into the studio, first sawing off areas that might have termites still in them. Very excited about playing with the white headboard featuring circles. The veneer on those circles is separating and falling off. Two for one! I have a three-dimensional wooden circle, and an intact veneer that could (and will) enhance or embellish other wooden elements. So much potential.

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Could not believe space existed in our barn for more “art supplies”. Here some headboards stand on end between our generator, the riding lawn mower, and our little “canned ham” trailer.

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This headboard has been spray-painted with gold and silver details, then water and age made the surfaces all the more interesting. Watch for this one!

Recycling the recycled

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Untitled (at this point), 2020, 45″ x 18″ x 10″

So this past week I have been working on voice, not content. The best work merges the subject of a piece with the artist’s unique way of addressing it.

On a mission to work bigger than usual, the size of my elements are exploding. Pushing myself in this experiment, the physical composing of elements is taking the front seat and the content seems nowhere.

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To begin this larger work, I looked for outliers in inventory. Shapes that had never been considered for use. The dark element at the left is a double bed headboard, truncated.  Good start. Then two balusters, around here forever, and too clean and proper for my taste except in some kind of contrast within the composition. Here, they fit.

And it is always wonderful to “move” an old part. Inspired by new finds, they always go first.

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The textile person comes out when pattern is involved in composing. I love a repeat pattern. These chunks of turned wood embellish the headboard.

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And they share color and value with the only element in this piece that is part of a chair. The broad wooden piece with three holes in it is the interior structure of the back of a chair, over which padding and surface upholstery was added.

I included a paint stick white on one end and dark on the other to continue to state the parameters of the color/value composition here.

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All other shapes in this piece are from old experiments deconstructed into only “parts” again.

Now if I could only figure out what this piece is about!

It was the first Sunday in March

The Thursday before, an exhibition of which I was a part opened in Camden, SC. We were at the beginning of our consciousness about the pandemic. We joked and knocked elbows. Only one person, the scales had dropped from his eyes, was ahead of the rest of us. Knocking elbows was not a joke, he warned, but even when he said that my behavior did not change.

The exhibition closed two days later. It is still installed in the gallery, shuttered, on May 17th.

It was not until March 8, at the Goodwill Clearance Center in Columbia that it finally hit me. Looking at a crowd of people digging on tables and leaning into appliance-sized boxes for personal treasures from who knows where, I said to my husband that it would be a long time until we could come there again. I read all the national news, every day. Why did this take so long to sink in?

Our Goodwill is one of my favorite places. In the last few years, it has replaced flea markets for me as far as materials for my work. One Sunday (when the price per pound for trash is half the price during the week) I found almost no wood. I worried that they had found a better place to recycle their wood, but the problem turned out to be simply chance.

You may know that I trained myself in this sculpture endeavor. Work exists from the beginning of my study. It’s all on the second floor of our barn, and I have been recycling some of it. The only reason for its existence was for me to further my skills. Some of the work is broken down completely, recovering wood parts and metal fasteners. Almost verything can be used again.

Some early works are modified using skills I did not have at the time they were made.

This

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Mid-century Modern,  2018, 33″ x 18″ x 16″

became this:

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This

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Flight, 2019, 37″ x 21″ x 18″

became this:

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Who knows when we will all be going out? I have materials to use for a long time, with the reworkables on the second floor and all the virgin chairs not yet touched. Do better with less. My lifestyle has always operated this way. And now we are going to see if this concept will be universal. Hard to believe the simple gatherings we used to have.

 

Happening Today

Lee and Michael headshots

The Lake George Arts Project is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
 
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Laura Von Rosk

Gallery Director

Courthouse Gallery
1 Amherst Street
Lake George, NY 12845
518.668.2616

Feeling a bit disoriented by our recent circumstances, my work lately has been a response to a professional curator and good friend, who said “Get big”.

This is not the first time anyone said this to me. Always having felt that the goldfish grows to the size of its bowl, I sensed that the environment around me would dictate the size of work I could produce in that space. Especially in a family with two children running around.

And up to this point, it has. What I am noticing now, with respect to the making of art, that old habits, old truths are just old.

We have three buildings and ten acres and why the heck am I producing 24″ sculptures? Think of this. We all know that having long legs is good. Your clothes wear better. Clothes plus your body are a compostion. So now I am incorporating long legs into my compositions. Or at least playing with long legs (lines).

Covid 4.30.20
56″ x 15.5″ x 10″
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The piece above and represented by three images, named simply by “Covid” and the date, is more than twice as large as recent work. When you scale up, the elements that are the “words” in your story must be larger as well. So I can use pieces and parts of chairs that were too big for other works. The long dark curvy lines are part of a coffee table.

Covid 4.9.20
54″ x 21″ xc 19″

A series is starting to emerge; the common denominators are “bigger” and wood that was once a coffee table. Choices continue that were used in earlier work like chair legs, chair backs, and the use of sanding.

Having the piece look different from each side continues, so here my only stretch is saying what I say, bigger.

 

 

 

 

It Remains to be seen

Stuff happens. We react. It’s our job. The reactions can be all over the place, especially now.  Do I feel like there is a target on my back? Yes.

So we all have to do something that comforts, that helps us think. 

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Right now, it is the medium. We have to record. The message, not yet clear, will come later. 

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For connections to be made, for information— or data, as they say now, we have to struggle to make sense of what is happening.

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These images will serve us for the future.