BEV-LEE HAS BALLS

And lots of them.

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Many of her balls are colorful old bowling balls which carry along the patina of age.  To install some of the outside ones,  she simply places a little rebar stick into the ground, and into the thumb hole of the ball.  She judges the length of the rebar to make them hover, and in this case, above the grass on Isa’s island.  Isa the greyhound used to make a bald spot in the middle of this island as she was master of this domain.  Kind of like the Little Prince on his planet, I always thought.   Isa is gone now, but the balls keep her memory on the island.

Bev-lee is old enough to have established her style.  Some never do, but she has loved orbs as long as I can remember.  She used to have an admirable glass office with her big job, and you could see the balls all through the adjoining work space.  Having an even bigger job now, she works from home and all those balls are in the home office.

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They hail from all over the world, and they are not just decorative.  These icons of hers run much deeper than just objects to collect (although there is much merit in simple collections).

Balls are Bev-lee’s visual language.  They integrate all the rooms of her house visually, and the balls on the inside and the balls on the outside claim the same nationality.  They are visual team players.

You have already seen outside balls and inside balls, but these balls also do jobs.  This is why we know that balls are far beyond a collection.  They solve problems, they create compositions, they move.  I told you Bev-lee had balls.

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Does your Mother-in-Law Tongue droop over the edge of its pot?  Use balls to keep it in place.

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Need a dust ruffle for your bed?  Why not use balls?

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Blank space under a tall table?  Fill it with balls and play with interesting texture contrast as well.  All good.

EVERYTHING is a composition.  The entire interior of this house is connected visually by repeated orbs.  All the rooms make sense together.  And this repetition is really important outside the house; in the front and back.

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The idea of balls is introduced to the viewer at the entry of the house.  Here the red annuals were selected to repeat the beautiful red bowling ball.  So now you know what you are in for in the back of the house.  Welcome to ball world!

Bev-lee has been working on a couple of ponds for many years, and creating the landscape around them.  It was many years ago, hotter than hell, when we were racing around the city doing what we do when we get together.  The “Waste as a Way of Life” world joins the orb patrol for a couple of days.  We saw that some enormous bushes were being fairly ripped out of the gardens of a shopping center.  The bushes themselves plus the root balls probably stood five feet high.  We asked about the future of the bushes; they had none.  Bev-lee talked the workers into bringing the enormous things, maybe eight, to her house, and then muscle them into the back yard.  She tipped them well.   We dribbled water on those big boys for a couple of days until she could get them planted.  It is shocking how many survived; I swear it was 100 that day.

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Above is one of those bushes, probably four feet high and wide now, and below is its context.  It is part of the landscape of the upper pond.

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There is a footpath between the two ponds.

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And the lower pond.

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Form plus function is the best, anyone will tell you.  This is what is so marvelous about Bev-lee’s universe.  She wondered  how to keep the netting that holds leaves out of the ponds in place for the winter months.  Her solution is brilliant.  She puts a big exercise ball in each pond in the middle.  On the edges, smaller balls secured from bins at Target.  After the nets are installed, the balls don’t move, and the leaves are excluded.  And her orb fetish is intact!

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It gets better.  For two years she has not removed the balls at all when not needed in winter.  She chose their colors appropriately in the first place, they are lovely as the little waterfall moves them around the lower pond (movement is a great attribute for a composition) and she has not had a fish taken by predators since she decided to leave them.  Trifecta!

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Bev-lee has balls.

 

 

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INCESTUOUS WINDOWS

Where should we start?  The very big ideas?  OK.

Artists do not only make art, they live it and in it.  Serious art reflects the ideas, attitudes, experiences and style of the artist.  These things are interwoven and inseparable.  And changeable, but usually the change is slow.  At least that is how it works for me.

Premise 1 in the creating of a style:  Being an artist(s) we don’t have the money that more traditionally employed people do.  We habit the thrift shops and flea markets, looking for shapes and textures and things to repurpose to live in our home.  We sniff out free things in the wind.  We develop friendships with like people and fund each other’s eccentricities.  Old things look good to us.

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To me, the base of this enamel table in our kitchen is awesome.  The lines and shapes scream the 1930s.  This table base helped me solve a financial problem in buying the tile for the kitchen, if you will notice the floor.  I bought the majority of the tile at a sidewalk sale at Lowe’s, but there was not enough for the big space of kitchen and great room.  So I laid tile “rugs” in each room, one under this table.  The tile under the table is lighter than the surrounding, and at each corner of the rug is a corresponding black tile (you can only see two black tiles in this image).  The rug tile was free, and the problem was solved.  The four black squares used in the corners integrate the tile rug with the table base.  The rug under the table is much more interesting than had the floor simply been one broad ecru plane.  So my finances dictate another way to create, and push a style forward with lifestyle needs.

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We needed a shed to house our pool equipment, pool pump, and machinery related to our sprinkler system.  My love of cheap metal (notice the lamp on the stucco column) led us to buying a used grain bin to satisfy these needs, and it was very inexpensive.  We love the little silo that has an apex that looks like the top of a Coke bottle.

Premise 2:  We live in a world that is using up all its natural resources.  This disposable society cannot thrive.  Many, many artists choose to make their work out of waste materials because they are available, are beautiful and otherwise would be in the landfill.  These artists additionally are making visual statements that describe our recent decades.

We built a barn.  Before this time, some restlessness inside of me accepted a whole group of wooden windows from a contractor friend who was doing odd jobs here.  I put them under a roof.  His work often was replacing old wooden windows with vinyl ones, and he kept bringing me the rejects.  He would have been charged to put them in the dump, so the solution was good for everybody.


1-IMG_0011We used 33 old windows for this barn, and saved a lot of money.  Their glass is wavy and beautiful, and since this is studio and storage space and not living space, they do the job here just fine.  And of course, this is South Carolina and we live in a moderate part of the world.  Glenn later added the cool awning above the entry door.

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I hope the case is made for the using of old stuff.  Here is where the incest starts.

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My daughter Brady, (who blogs for Lexington County, South Carolina at Everywomanblog.com and has a cooking blog at brannyboilsover.com) influenced by my love of old things, found this door of windows at the dump and brought it home.  Neither one of us are beyond “diving”.  She often donates at the Goodwill at the same time she goes in to buy.  She installed this on the wall,  and of course there it was for me to see.  A window on a wall as art.  Hmmm.

Some years later, here is my sculptural work.  Before now, the windows had many other incarnations as I tried to use them.  I was getting too fancy.  For me, for now, it is mostly about the interplay of the windows, and bringing these sculptures way out from the wall.  It takes some time to feel one’s way.

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Isn’t experience and influence wonderful?

CURIOUS SOUTH CAROLINA

Glenn saw this truck at the Bi-Lo last week. It reminded him of a place we wanted to take our outlaws, who would be visiting.  It seems that every time Mr. Pendarvis gets a new truck, it is painted up for advertising.  You never know when an alien might be hovering over the Bi-Lo, needing a place to stay in the area.

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As they say here, we “carried” our outlaws over to Bowman to see the Center and proved to all the old familiar statement made by James Pettigrew long ago. You know, the one about South Carolina being a large insane asylum. The insanity goes well beyond our local politics, which is the darkest part of the dark side. But this curiosity seems light years more positive than SC politics and even trumps the work of “SETI” ( http://www.seti.org ); we are welcoming visitors. Southerners, if nothing else, are gracious.

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The  creation resembles the 1950s profile of an alien ship, silver-like, decomposing, with signage.  As you can see in comparison with the more recently built ship in the photo featuring the orange truck, this alien motel is on the decline.

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The rocket-like shape that points to the front entrance of the ship is now painted over.  An older picture says “UFO-MAN”.

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And sometimes the outdoor furniture has to be replaced.

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Visitors are guided out to I-95 which is how everybody gets out of here.

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THINKING ABOUT WINDOWS

I have a stash of old wooden windows, smaller now than it has been.

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The contractor who built our bedroom has been giving me windows for years.  He knows me too well.  He also built our barn, and we saved a ton of money using his free windows.

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We used 32 windows on this barn.  All old single pane, with wavy glass.

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Two years ago we used nine more on the back side of our bathroom.  They make for a brilliant space.

Art reflects life.  All this thinking about windows made me covet them.  And make work using them.

A recent piece using windows  was done during the World Series.  We are in the St. Louis diaspora, and don’t think much about the Cardinals except when they are in the playoffs and the series.  Not all the birds in this piece are cardinals;  some are chickens and other birds that I painted to look like cardinals.

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The chicken is in the upper right, upside down.

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A more exotic red bird stays as is.  “Masquerade” is the name of this piece.   An oval mirror has been included in the structure, and a cardinal sees himself.  Of course, they are so territorial, he thinks it is another cardinal.

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Just finished this piece.  Made of two of my windows, and a big palladian window given to me.  I buy the gentle wooden spirals like the one seen here at the flea when they are around.  Also used here are two aluminum ones from old screened doors.

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One gets a better sense of the piece’s three dimensionality when a photo is taken slightly from the side.  The largest aluminum curve is jammed in between the rectangular windows, and striped with paint.

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The finishing touch was using graphite to recreate the aluminum curve on the element in front of it.  This makes it seem transparent,  presenting the small aluminum curve in full.  Used to do this all the time in my embroidered work.

MAKING A PIAZZA

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Around here, these are called  “Charleston bricks”.  Have no idea as to why.  Must be a small town South Carolina reference to the largest and oldest town around here created from bricks and cobblestones.

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Last year, we began the piazza and then went on to other things.  Bricks came into our life again and we attacked the old project with gusto.

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Glenn has created two brick pathways that strike out against the otherwise linear pattern of the piazza.

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Working with bricks is so simple here in the Low Country of South Carolina.  Our ground does not freeze, and our soil is mostly sand.

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We modify the lay of the work area with a box blade.   The sand in our driveway is virgin like beach sand and we mix it 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement.  Set the bricks, and let it rain, or water them.

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Looking for a picture in my library that shows our sandy soil, I settled on this one, which features details other than the sand.  This is our house, hovering on rails, having been moved three miles.  Trenches are dug in the sand for the foundation block to go in, the next step in renovation.  The charcoal smudge in the foreground is what was left from an old burn pile.

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At the left of the foreground of this image is a poured 1/2 basketball court.  The piazza will attach to that.

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One edge of the “internal” brick path on this side has been measured out.

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And now almost filled in.  More discussions of brick:

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/practical-addi…outdoor-shower/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/more-bricks/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/gliders-and-bricks/

A LOOK AT RETIREMENT

Do you remember the old PBS series “A Year in Provence“?  Lush and beautiful, bursting with eccentric French characters, and featuring a never-ending search for truffles, it was a guide to living life. To renovate an ancient farmhouse and gardens, eat simple food and wine, a couple left their high stress jobs in London and took a year off in Provence.  One review says that it examines “life lived by seasons, not by days”.

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That last statement suits me perfectly.  And did in the late eighties when we were watching the series.  Easy to do, I thought, if one was independently wealthy.  How could you pursue all this elegant living and creating without money?  The series on PBS was based on Peter’s Mayle’s experience,  an erstwhile advertising executive of London who took a year “off”.  Something else nagged at me.  How would they ever go back to London?

From another review:

If Mayle had had his way, the description of A Year in Provence as fiction would have been spot on. “When we first moved to France [in 1987] I had the intention of writing a novel and had shared this great ambition with my agent, Abner Stein,” says Mayle. “But there was a problem: I found myself completely distracted – much more taken up with the curiosities of life in Provence than with getting down to work on the novel. The daily dose of education I was receiving at the hands of the plumber, the farmer next door, the mushroom hunter and the lady with the frustrated donkey was infinitely more fascinating than anything I could invent.”  And so a travel book was born.

It makes me wonder if we (the educated, the observers, the type A personalities) have it at all correct.  Mayle’s book challenges us.

Strangely, minus the exotic location, we are pursuing the same goals (except for the cooking food part) to create, be outdoors, love the simple, enjoy the work.  And, as always, get stuff for free or little money to achieve our goals.  And as Peter Mayle enjoyed his neighbors and substituted simple goals for the more abstract, so have we.

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Yesterday was cinder block day.  We took what we needed from a friend whose job it is to tear down buildings.  The cinder blocks would cost him money to place in the dump.  We needed a floor for our silo, which is ready to be moved to house our pool pump.  Done and done.

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A huge tree had to be removed to facilitate this move for the silo.  Glenn and I took care of most of it, and then a pro, who we have been trading firewood for labor for years, came in to finish the job.  He asked for 75.00 and settled for nothing.  He wanted the fresh oak wood.  Win/win.

Last week it was bricks.  Broken bricks are free, whole bricks at a very good price.

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These bricks we will add to those in front of the barn.  Starting today.

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The longer that we live inside our monthly earnings, the more we have to use for travel.  Like to Provence.

MOSAIC FIGURES

These figures are BIG.  Each panel is about eight by four.

To create a three dimensional feeling, the contours of the figure are defined with a darker value tile, and the elements are smaller.  The elements get larger as they work to the center of the figure, as we would expect to see in the visual field.

At this point, my idea for grout color is dark.  Having left large boundary lines, as large as possible within the context of what the grout will cover, the figure will be bound by dark maybe chocolate brown lines.