THE STORY OF AN AESTHETIC

 

The following are some of the most loved things around here.  Stuff that shows its history is most meaningful.  Ghosts of things.  Things that have BEEN places and in others’ hands.  This little desk was in an old barn made of railroad car wood and was on the property Glenn bought in 1974.  It sat in that barn until my discovery in 2008.  I love it.  It has no drawer, but who cares?

1-finished furniture

The little black hoof-like feet are original.  Just had to take a picture of it on the piazza we are laying.

1-old furniture

Some child, at some time, made stars.  We preserved them.

1-stars

Found this old aluminum lawn chair in a dumpster.  It had been painted many colors in its life.  Used a tool and dug into the last paint job, the black, and revealed other colors as I chose.  Then it was protected with a thick “varnish” for metal.  Where to put it?  The decision wasn’t difficult.  I have had this amazing ceramic piece for decades.  They were made for each other.

1-crayon chair in situ

The following two pictures are not very good, but they illustrate how I added color to the walls of my home when renovating, and how color is discovered in my sculptural work.  Above with the lawn chair, the same thing was done.  Scrape or sand away layers of color to reveal the color history of the thing.  This house was built in 1939 and a lot of life has taken place here.  I let it show.

orange molding

sanded wall

Below is the back of the house just after we moved it to our acreage.

house

So, it makes sense that my aesthetic should one that celebrates the history of a thing.  The Japanese call it wabi.  Or sabi.

IMG_0169

IMG_0174

 

IMG_0432

10563207_845592072128930_1456491859206549931_n

IMG_0181

Advertisements

BETTER BARN

1-IMG_0793

Changes are taking place in the barn.  The second floor is getting fancy.  We are going to have walls.  Glenn has his portable infinity wall when he photographs his sculptures down to a science, but as always, I struggle.  My sculptures are essentially 2-D and they hang on a wall.  The only wall currently big enough is in the bedroom.

1-IMG_0866

And although the parallel shadows add context when photographing a piece, they are probably distracting.  Smooth walls would be such a help.  This bedroom wall used to be the outside of the house.

1-IMG_0795

Looking up from the ground level, the ceiling and walls are going up.  This side of the space will remain open, as will the corresponding back, and Glenn will make custom railings for here.

1-IMG_0798

This is a view to the front of the barn from the second floor.  I have never seen gray-green sheetrock before.  It contains a moisture barrier.  Love the linear structure of the studs in building.  Often finished houses seem far less interesting to me than when they are a complex armature.  Didn’t want a ceiling in the gallery space, but Glenn covered my rock with his paper.  He’s probably right.  It would be messy without a ceiling.

1-IMG_0781

The railing that Glenn has been saving for years will switch from left to right, and of course he will modify it to be more artful.  All of our bicycles hang from the first floor ceiling and define spaces in an interesting kind of way.

1-IMG_0796

Now the sheet rock guys are moving on to the unfinished bathroom.

MAKING DO WITH LESS

But in an orderly fashion.  I did not know if this would work when first addressing this problem.  The idea calls upon good design principles, but what idea does not?

In an effort to cram more stuff into the studio, moving the custom made (for someone else) shelving unit to behind the bed seemed a good idea.

1-new bed

Then Tex Beneke‘s old refrigerator and some old kitchen cabinets could be moved into the kitchen from the barn.  Want to make an old kitchen to complement the current one in the studio to further a design idea and get stuff out of the barn.

So what did we find behind the shelving unit when we moved it?  A whole lot of unpainted wall.  That original color paint is long gone.  Looking at the  big naked square shape left from the unit, and then to the unit in its new place, almost the same size,  can I work with this repetition, use another color to to fill in the square, and make the idea seem intentional?  Would the two shapes work together, even if one is a shelving unit and one is just painted?

(Something on my Facebook news feed from this morning was just brought to mind.  A delightful southern lady muses: “another day is gone where I had no need to use algebra”.  Amen.  NOT SO DESIGN PRINCIPLES!)

Below is what we found after moving the unit, and after I installed a faded-to-blue poster of one of Picasso’s “Weeping Women”.

1-kitchen

After taking down the old poster, the edges of the rough square had to be trued up.  Found paint from another project in a very light yellow shade.  White feels unfinished.  This yellow does not.

Think “Mark Rothko” when viewing this kitchen “vignette”.

fig14

We viewed a Rothko exhibition at the Columbia Museum last winter.  Maybe that was where the idea of unfinished edges looking finished in my kitchen was generated (of course, there is much more to Rothko’s work than simple rough edges).

wall

Moved one of our dinette sets to be centered on the yellow strip between the kitchen and the door.  It also separates the two living areas.  1-dinette set

1-full view new kitchen

1-back of studio

One more piece goes into the kitchen between the little cabinet and the dinette set,  and it is now on the back porch of the big house.

1-new oven

This mid century roaster will go into the new kitchen to give it the first oven it has ever had, and more storage.  Problem is, there is a nest and three eggs in the top.  Two Carolina Wrens are fighting the move.

MAKING ART IS HARD

Having lost focus on my big walk-in shower as life rolled a bowling ball towards my perfectly established pins, I have to trick  myself to get working.  If the weather is fine outside, the job is more like bribery than tricking.  True, in this life with little artificial temperature modification it is most important to do any job at the time that the weather is most suitable.

1-IMG_0097

Above is the message one has to fight.  Usually, not too hard, if the project interested you in the first place.  I had a friend who used to talk about getting through the “hateful part” of creating—that first twenty minutes (for her) of work where she was disgusted with what she was doing, until the rhythm snapped around and she figured out where in the paragraph of imagery that she had left off.

So Lady #1 is almost finished on the left wall of the shower which is about eight feet by four feet.  Her hair is made of marbles, and hopefully the rows in which they were planted will show up better with grout.  Except for the head, she is outlined with a slightly darker value of tile.  Those two white lines to the left of the head in the blue are the ends of an antler, placed at the shower to hold robes.  Even though we have no shower door, they will not get wet.

1-IMG_0430

The second figure, holding hands with the first is starting to materialize.  Color is slowly shifting as well.  She is pinker but duller than the first.

1-IMG_0433

For me, and this is true in my embroidery work and tile work, color is most beautiful when it is gradated from one value to another.  Or one color to another, in a systematic way.

Of course, the tile in this shower is waste.  That is the biggest “given” that dominates the project. Yesterday I found some small dark tiles that my sister used to cover her brick fireplace.  Cut off from the grid that one uses to apply them in the normal way, they are making great outlines for figures two and three.

1-IMG_0436

This figure has one arm that looks like Popeye from the old cartoon.  One has to look at how the shape of the arm cuts into the ground space behind it to appreciate its strange dimensions.

  1-IMG_0438

1-bigger figure 2

1-lines on figure three

IN PROGRESS

This shower of ours is cavernous,  almost  impossible to photograph well, and is eating a lot of tile.   Each of the three walls are about eight feet by four feet.  It exists within the composition of the bathroom so that getting away from it to photograph it cannot be done, unless shooting through a window could be accomplished.  Haven’t tried that yet.

With the size of these ladies, and my need to use what I have not not buy more, the plan for the shower is changing.  For one thing, the terra cotta colored tile used in this first figure was stored outside for some time.  When some of the tile is hit with a hammer to break, it does not do so cleanly.  It fractures into layers.  This tile doesn’t have integrity and cannot be used.  Therefore, the three ladies will now be different colors, but that new reality will be fun for me.  I love it when structural or material problems foster new compositional solutions.   In two areas in the shower,  two figures’ bodies melt into one another.  So the colors will too.

At the upper right in the image above, the left arm of the lady currently in progress turns into the right arm of the lady on the next panel.

In creating the areas of hair for the figures, art history is the influence.  Kouros figures are standing male youths, made by the Greeks to represent the ideal.  They can be grave markers.  Kouros figures show influence from when the ancient Greek world mixed and interacted with the Egyptians.  Many of the Kouros figures have Egyptian looking wigs, and those wigs are the influence for my ladies here.  BTW, there was a female Kore figure.  They are not near as important as the male, and they are clothed.  It was the men, then and for a long long time that were the symbol of perfection.

The wig on the shower figure’s head is going to be made of cat eye marbles.  The orange elements seen here are spacers to hold the marbles away from the line of marbles beneath.  That way, not only will the wigs have lines of rounded elements, but fairly even dark grouted lines between them.

PROGRESS ON THE SHOWER

Here is a picture of the element used to partition our shower off from the shower entry area, the one which makes having a shower door unnecessary.  The base of the structure is a couple of two by fours, and they are covered with cement board. All seams are taped and imbedded in thin set.

Likewise all seams on the walls of the shower are taped with thin set applied.  Then the application sat for a day.

Yesterday plans for the design of the shower came more firmly into view.  Of course, it has to be made out of tile and etc that is on hand, so I started pulling out possibilities.

At this point everything in the new bathroom and bedroom is very neutral,  except for the paint by numbers paintings in the water closet, but that door can be closed.

Below is part of the alcove where the urinal posing as a sink is located.

From this area which is defined by a wall of glass windows, you can access shower, sink and water closet.

The neutral setting of the bedroom.  To the left around these closets is the bathroom.

Below are candidates for the shower bottom.  I am going to use the off white porcelain and save the brown for something else.  The orange and blue will help create figures on the shower wall, in a real departure from all the neutrals.

As soon as I saw the conformation of the shower at the beginning of construction, I could not get Matisse‘s “La Danse” out of my mind.  I want to take this idea, and create a circle of simplified nudes, maybe with cubist faces.

This is so interesting.  There are two versions of Matisse’s famous work.  The one we as Westerners know the best is the less intense version.  This one came first.  The second version, with more detail and more intensity came second.

The version above was done for a Russian businessman, and it stayed in his home in Moscow until 1917.  Later it found its way into the Hermitage.  I wonder if this version is less known to us because of where it lived and the Cold War.