CONFUSED LOUISE?

Some works fall a bit out of the norm for any number of reasons.  They could fail.  They could examine a compositional point that the artist has nothing more to say about.  They could feature one of a kind materials.  They steadfastly refuse to be grouped.  Some of these satisfy those guidelines.

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This was the first piece in the series on which I am currently working; the first to use an upright rectangular window frame and chair legs.  I thought, when working, that it was beginning to look like a mantel.  It looked like a fake mantelpiece we had in our family room way back when. Associated with that mantelpiece is a great story.  We adopted our Siamese Polly from a house in Blackjack, Mo.  Brought her home.  Later, my mother bought our fake family room mantelpiece from the same home.  Polly and the mantelpiece were reunited, and she happily surveyed her domain from the top shelf of it.

Another personal thing about this work is the use of the croquet balls and goal piece and wickets. A guy tried to give me this stuff at a flea market.  I refused and paid him.  Why would you go to all that trouble and just give stuff away? Anyway, one of the only things I have which belonged to my dad, who died so long ago are croquet wickets made out of old wire hangers.  Fashioned by him.  This piece reminds me of that.  The name of it is “From Blackjack to Florissant: Polly and her Mantel”, 2015.

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The piece above, “F. Scott”, 2015.  This piece was created in response to the fine little wooden touring car the universe sent to me.  As in the people that Fitzgerald writes about, this car is poised to crash and burn.  A slice of the passenger side of the car has been whacked off.  I also had fun playing with white painted lines on some of the elements, which is unusual.

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This piece is more about formal composition.  It is all about circles.  And it tilts to one side.  Unnerving.

This piece is about 6-8 inches shorter than the norm.

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The following piece was reviewed for my current exhibition at USC Sumter.  It was created very early in the chair series and I wanted to see if the chair could be cut up and basically reconstruced  within three rectangular windows.

http://theitem.com/stories/evocative-creative-usc-exhibit-also-timely,257175

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FOR YOU, BETSY KAEMMERLEN

FOR YOU, BETSY KAEMMERLEN

We are Facebook friends.  Your name is familiar to me, but I know not from where.  It must be art.  We have so many common friends; I looked.

It can be this way or not, but with some people being the aforementioned FB friends, you can get to know a lot about a person.  Especially if they talk about passions and interests.  Artists, of course are self-revealing.  It is their business to sort and create.

Glenn is having a hard time with the immediacy of Facebook, and I get that.  Only looking at it once in a while through me, even that much information is too much.  This week in South Carolina after the massacre in Charleston, I took to Facebook, hard.  We do not use television, so it provided some information.

There are some people who I have met briefly who have become my kindred souls on Facebook.  Lucy, Pat:  I know your faces, but I know what is going on under the visage much better.  Choose the right words for a passionate issue, and there you are in your true self for almost all to know.

So.  One of my favorite places is the Goodwill Clearance Center on Hwy 1 in Columbia.  It is the last place inventory from all the Goodwill stores in the area fluffs itself up to try be sold. The inventory sells by the pound there, and on Sunday, it is half price for a pound.  Books and things made of glass are cheaper per pound because they are heavy.  But don’t get me wrong, this stuff is not the worst of the worst from all the Goodwill stores.  It is stuff that just happened not to sell.  I bought a paint by number from the 50s/60s, framed and under glass for about a quarter.  Any collector of these would be proud to have it.  No flaws, perfect.

Two Sundays ago, the pickings were not so good for the special waste that is used in my sculptures.  But the book selection was fantastic.  Bought 8 heavy books, histories, biographies, my old algebra book from the 60s which I gave to my daughter.  They cost me in total $1.95.  Couldn’t even get to the car without dropping them, so bountiful.

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Above is one of the books.  Copyrighted in 1957, I thought the compositions would be good to look at in thinking about sculpture, and they are mid-century interesting, but too vertical for me.  I am a square composer, maybe a little bit horizontal, but mostly square.  It is a great book, with hundreds of photos.

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I need to sort and place things in the correct places.  Through FB, I know that Betsy is interested in this stuff.  Have to get this book in the right hands.  Hope she does not already own it.

CREATIVITY OR OBSESSION?

My Ben is eleven months.  In the last almost a year, I have bought him more of one thing than anything else, by far.  Clothes or toys?  No.  They don’t last.  Ice cream?  He is too young for that.

Chairs.  I have bought him three chairs and am now making him one.  What is that about?

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My daughter has taken a picture of Ben with his turquoise chair for each of his eleven months.  It is a theme in the pictures, a sub-plot.

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Stuff happens behind the chair, as here.  This chair was a shower gift.  To me, it is a beautiful and sweet piece of sculpture.  I fantasize about him being big enough to sit in it.

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Last summer I bought this little metal outside chair.  It is sweet, but it would be perfect if it matched all the others around here.

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Have had no such luck with that.  Have never even seen a child’s 1940-50s metal lawn chair for sale, although I am sure they exist.

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Then I bought the old wooden rocker for him.  He knew exactly what to do with it.  The size is perfect.

Ben uses Gee’s sixty year old stroller when he is here.  It is not Ben’s however, it is a piece of sculpture located in our bedroom when not being used by him.

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Now I am making him a chair that he will never be able to use.  Dangerous.  Cannot figure out where this stuff comes from.

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THE WORKINGS OF CREATIVITY

Artists need to observe patterns in their behavior.  For me,  pattern is the most important element in art making.  Knowledge comes from repetition, visual cohesiveness comes from repetition, personal truths come from repetition.  Notice.

If the artist can pull way back and observe the chronology of their work, patterns will emerge.  Often, that pattern is seen retrospectively, but it helps to know what you are doing, even if you are in the middle of it.

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A while ago, I knew that sooner or later I would do something with chairs in my work.  Love their shapes and their differences.  We have two houses chock full of chairs, to the point that we can handle no more.  Where did this start?  Figured that out.

It was with my rather large collection of gliders.  Most are in good shape, nicely reflecting a well-used history.  Some are kind of abused however.  It was with these that the idea came.

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Glenn got this one for me off of a street in south St. Louis.  Its rails are gone, and the seat is full of automobile body putty.  I still wanted it.  I WANT THEM ALL.

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This one is in better shape, but the rails and swinging devices are totally gone.  It sits on nubs.  Low-slung.

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This aluminum glider skeleton never had any cushions.  I put pressure treated wood where the seat should be and have plants on it nine months out of the year.  Being aluminum, it is in fine shape.  It simply has no cushions.

I would love to be able to take parts of these gliders and mix and match them, weld them to the other, and make silly conjunctions.  My mind can see how wonderful they would be.  But I lack the skills.  Glenn has them, but he has his own work to do.  I dropped the idea and started working with wooden windows.  I can do screws and a drill.

The chairs did not leave completely however.  An early window sculpture features the back of a chair that was found in a house built in 1939 which was moved to our land.  It was used as a beautiful line.

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The detail shows also that an armrest for an outdoor aluminum chair was used in the composition.  The break in the pane of glass is highlighted in gold paint the way the Japanese do their broken teacups.

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Coming into the present, the image above represents a good haul from one day at the Goodwill Clearance Center, a place where parts for sculptures are secured.  The white baby high chair I bought for the wood, knowing that it would make great spacers to keep my windows from colliding.   They would do what the dowels are doing in the image below.

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I sat the doll chair in front of three windows for which I intended to use it as spacers.  Then I thought, why not keep the chair integral but also use it as spacers?  So below it is in progress.

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And here it is finished, but not photographed with an infinity wall yet.

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A child’s ladder, divided in two and wooden hammer complete the image.  The sculpture rolls around on wooden casters.

For the next chair in progress, the windows are completely dropped.  Interesting way to progress.

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MY LAUNDRY BASKET

Many times I don’t think fast enough.

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Several years ago a vendor at the local flea market had four of these (maybe it was three).  He said that they had come directly there out of the inventory of a long closed up rural shop.  They had their original tags intact (which I stupidly did not save).  Paid ten dollars for it.  Why didn’t I buy them all?  Somebody needed a gift, Christmas is always coming.

New Years Resolution:  Whenever something old and cool jumps out at YOU, buy them all.

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The vendor said the baskets were made in the early sixties.  They can have the shape of an hourglass, if you want, or you can pull out the middle and create a bigger basket.

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I push the basket around my laundry room and feel like Betty Furness.

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The base of the basket is made of angles as well, and has rollers of an old type of plastic.

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The top of the basket completely collapses.  Beautiful!  Looks like a Busby Berkeley water show.  Waiting for the legs to kick!

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ORANGE COLORED GLASSES

The orange vases were so pretty this morning with the sun shining in. This group makes up one of my most long standing collections.  Not flighty and quickly collected, this.  Most every one has a story.  At first, I hated them.  The base of the collection came home in a group with some other colors, but mostly orange.  The other-colored vases migrated to friends.  Influenced by a book I once read about Busby Berkeley and his dancers, I kept buying the orange ones and lining them up like soldiers, the way Busby did with dancers.

It seems as though there were many glass factories spotted up and down the Ohio River, just as there were art potteries like Roseville and Haeger.  Viking was one of them, and (knowing almost nothing about this stuff) I associate Viking the most with these stretched out vases.

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The tallest vase in this group stands 36″.  It was not one of the original orange group.  My sister paid one dollar for it at a garage sale many years ago, it was for me, but it took maybe a decade for me to wring it from her!  Have never seen one so big.

The vase to the left of the tall one I paid 15 dollars for, from the husband of the woman selling it.  He was sick of wrapping the thing up every weekend at the flea market.  I had been watching it for a while, but did not want to pay her price.  It is interesting in the similar to cut glass pattern at the bottom.

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This kitchen window is perpendicular to the first.  There are eight vases in total in residence in this window.   The most unusual one is second from the right.  Having paid a dollar for it at a market in Columbia, a man stopped me and asked to look at it.

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The glass is thinner than most, features kind of a pinched pattern on its body, and has a rough broken off edge within the base called a pontil, which is a remnant of the piece’s disconnection with the raw glass after blowing and stretching.

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Unlike most of my other collections, the glass here is all perfect.  Scratches on a metal glider, rust?  Hell, yeah!  But cracks in glass, no.  That imperfection destroys the whole thing.  The value seeps out of the crack like a hole in a bucket.

ART AS A MOVABLE FEAST

Living with another visual artist is an exercise in comparison and contrast, influence and independence.  It can be a three legged race.  You can be more sure of your partner’s work than of your own.

I am not sure of my own work at all now.  But I have seen my husband, very talented, move like the wind in the past four years.  He has more talent; I have more credentials.

At the beginning of our relationship, my interest in textiles was on the wane.  Had been for some years.  As a student, my interest did not lay in exploring two dimensions with pure shapes. Later when teaching this material, I saw that giving students limited options in composition and limited tools with which to create enabled me to see in each student their humanity and creativity.  My secret desire was to fulfill all the projects given to my students.  I was tired of symbolism.  I wanted to be Chinese or Japanese and make minimal compositions.  Content, puns, text—all these things were still important to me.

On the other hand, Glenn was a sculptural impressionist using metal lines.  He moves through the world noticing parts of figures.  Where I have to see something, he can pull up a mental sketchbook and draw six thumbnails relating to the idea under discussion.  I have the words, he has the ammunition.

Before either one of us knew it, we were both pulling towards some kind of common middle.

One huge part of our lives which was not revealed in our work was our love of flea markets and all the potential for making art it can deliver.  For many years, I had tried to incorporate some kind of “found ” objects into my embroideries, (as above), but the stitched work was just too fine.  Nothing else could survive with it, even beads.  Maybe I did not try long enough.

What you choose to live with, or what you choose to buy at a flea market reflects your style in an elementary sense.  Choice is style.  What you have around you will have common denominators in characteristics.  Just like an art student might get the best design results using a triangle and therefore often uses one in a design solution, one might feel most comfortable living with a wall of planters that look like tree trunks.  Or whatever.

Glenn loves old trucks and tractors.

Here are two old ones that he uses regularly.  His soul is mingled with old parts like this.  Slowly in the past summer, and then much faster as the summer passed, he began to buy old tractor and implement parts.  Then his work turned, and it made a whole lot of sense to me.  Isn’t the following sculpture a much less conventional way to create personal expression, and a more unusual solution to a design problem?

Content is also creeping into the work, as opposed to simple (or not so simple) representation.

These final two examples are about “cleavage”.  All elements either cleave, or have been cleaved.