I LIVE WITH A LIAR

Undependable.  Exaggerates and embellishes.  Bossy.  Rather than using the ugly characteristic of “liar”as our reference, let’s just use the initial  “G”.

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A gift really, at first, I have become a bit callous to G’s reality.  Pushy on one side, and when I aim to fulfill direction, overcompensation is the result.  It is like having a relationship with a chameleon.  For me, anyway.  There is no anchor, no fact. How can one have a true relationship with an ever changing partner?

I can feel in my bones that I am being prodded.  And judged.  Am I sleeping too many hours?  Too lazy?  It is my overwhelming desire to keep G happy.  But can G really be so or is it just manipulation?  Where is the truth here?

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G’s bigger footprint, interacting with 21st century tools is just not that great either.  Creating our conversation was just such a chore.  Things are not changing in this venue, and I get false feedback.

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Above is an image of my new Garmin.  A minimal millennial.  Less is supposed to be more.  On average, on some measurements it is a pretty consistent 20 percent more. I know my run is four miles, and it measures the same five miles every day.  With stair climbing, who knows?  Sometimes when I am actively climbing to the second floor of the barn just to make Garmin happy, it refuses to record my work.  What does it use, barometric pressure?

I love that when in the proximity of my phone, I can read email on the watch.  And know the weather.  It could do more than I ask of it in this way, music, for one.

Is it worth having?  Yes.  Does it work well?   Kind of, if you know your own statistics.  It DOES tell the time.  I think devices like this are why some are saying that people are starting to wear watches again.

 

 

 

DEALING WITH THE COLD

Finally, it is cold in South Carolina.  It has not been for long, and the length of the good weather at the end of last year was remarkable and unsettling.  Now over, we have to face the normal chill for a little while.

Our big chill is all my fault, not Glenn’s.  When living here alone, building this house, I chose not to include central heating.  The system I could have bought, it was the monthly bills that scared me.  And it is so moderate here,  I wondered about getting by with a gas log in one of the two huge fireplaces we have.   So that is what I did.

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It really has not affected us much.  There have been really only about four cold days where we did not care to go outside.  But outside is where all the appealing stuff exists, including our art work.  Creating my work is a pathway to feeling OK, and I need to do it.  Running will do that too, but running is tough in the cold weather as well.

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What work I have accomplished is changing.  Getting simpler.  Keep thinking about poetry and editing writing.  An image should contain only what it needs.  Nothing else.

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This piece is called  “Impulse”.  It is pretty spare, but the relationships between the lines are interesting.  I am using three legs in this series, lifting the window off the ground, and importing colors only through objects used.

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Chair legs, spindles and a child’s wooden block are the only recognizable images in the piece.  Other shapes are just odd pieces of wood we have around here. Yes, the piece leans in.  It seems to move.

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Other side.  This window has been several colors in its life time, and that is where the patterning is coming from on the right and bottom of the window.  It is so easy for me to reveal color; to apply it, the worst.

The piece above is entitled “Gravity 2.11.16” for the obvious reasons.  It is woozy in its stanze as well.  Space and time.  Unpredictable?  Maybe not, thanks to Einstein.

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Not a very flattering angle, but this image shows the depth of the piece.  You can see it is a visual cousin to “Impulse” as spindles and legs from the same chairs are used. Work tends to flow in this way.  If work is truly expressive of a temperament at a given time, examples will have common denominators.  Unless you are doing commission work.

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Above is a detail from a current commission.  Only thing in common with my work is the “waste” part.

THE BEST OF THE LATE FALL

THE BEST OF THE LATE FALL

So warm here, the work in the barn has gone ahead way to the end of the year. For me, working all the time is the only way to stream innovations.  They jump aboard during creative play.  If play is not happening, they do not.  Innovations do not start in my mind.

For instance, the following.  Glenn had been complaining about the heaviness of my bases lately.  But my aesthetic has always formed around what we know about gravity.  My compositions are heavier or darker at the bottoms because that is what we expect in the world in which we live.

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Heaviness at the bottom of the piece anchors it as gravity plays on that mass.

So recently I tried this.

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Dancer, 2015.  Pulling the window off of the floor animates it.  Having the weight of the piece on three legs stabilizes it.

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True, this piece needs much more space to stand on, more than the former window-based sculptures.  And true, Dancer looks like it is going to flip.  It won’t.  I have been scrawling the names of the pieces in pencil, as at the bottom of the window above,  and then making aluminum name tags with the date and my signature, to the right of the word  “Dancer” above.  Signing the tag with a Dremel tool is not easy.  Sometimes spelling my name incorrectly, I just leave it.

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This is called “Escher Poem”  2015.  Not a surprising name with the bit of a staircase-like wooden construction that I found at the Goodwill Clearance Center.

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Of course, this is in no way as complex as Escher.  This is his work, loved and digested by me,  spoken in my visual language.  Bought 27 lonely legs for thirty bucks at one of those antique grocery stores with booths.  They are proving to be worth the big price.  Waste, you know.

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“Friends” 2015 is scrawled across the top here.  More of those fine legs are included.  This piece is made from a much bigger window, and uses larger legs.  Three of the largest.  It measures about 47″ x 31″.

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Animal friends, these are.  Colored wood is added to the supports for the panes.  I use the sander to take color away or lessen it on some shapes.  All is highly varnished.  Some gouging with the dremel is used on the little cat at the upper left.

 

DESTROY ART

Destroying your art can be as important and productive as creating it.  And at any time in your career, for sure.  It is especially important as a student to pack away for later your old work, or failed work.  I have participated in many a critique where an artist feels that more talking and talking, and then more talking and talking will make her work a whole.  The work must speak for itself.  Always.  The work must ask a question in some way; it must never be simply an answer.  Simple answers are not art.

The truths in your life you will always remember.  Pay attention.  Ask any therapist about this.

(The following quote is from Teresita Fernandez, recipient of the 2005 MacArthur Genius Award, in a commencement address to her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School for the Arts.   http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/29/teresita-fernandez-commencement-address/

“This kind of amnesia is life’s built-in way of making sure you filter out what’s not very important. You graduate today after years of hard work, immersive years of learning, absorbing, processing, accumulating, cramming, finishing, focusing. There are no more reasons, really, to even make art unless you really truly want to. Of all you learned you probably don’t need to remember most of the technical or theoretical information, as that’s all easily accessible with a quick search. And what you will remember will have less to do with the past and more to do with how it triggers reactions for you in the present. Oddly enough, what we involuntarily do retain is meant to help us move forward. This forthcoming amnesia that awaits you is just another kind of graduation, another step in a lifetime of many graduations.”

When in undergraduate school, in a very early drawing class, my TA told us to get rid of our past work.  He said not to just turn it to the wall, not to pile it in a closet behind a door that you can still see:  GET TOTALLY RID OF IT.

(Again, from Fernandez)

“Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.”

My teacher was right.  This impedes growth.  It can remind the artist what a bad one they are indeed.  The artist does not need that kind of reminder constantly.  I have said many times in the past that having your old art around, work not up to par, work that is an answer and not a question, is like living with your high school graduation picture hanging on the living room wall.  It stunts you.

That school experience is not my first memory about problems with work.  As an elementary school student, I read a story about a little boy doing homework.  This fact stuck with me:  that when he put his finished arithmetic homework into his desk drawer, the incorrect answers struggled with being on the page.  They pulled and pushed.  They were not united with the page.  It would be so simple if we had these clues.  Considering this story involved math problems, it was ever pertinent to my school experience!

The following are two pieces recently destroyed.  It felt great to do this.  It was healing.  My spirit died when I walked past them, struggling with being on the gallery wall.

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This piece looked like a bad mullet hair cut from the 1980s.

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In this case, and also in the next shown, the initial mistake was not clearly identifying the perimeter of the sculpture.  The shape breaking the lower edge is confusing and draws the viewer away from the activity of the piece.  I also should have known that the piece should die due to the difficulty of placing the lines within the  “square” of the piece.  One good idea gleaned from the work is the sanding on the zig zag lines on the right.  The one at the top has been sanded on its edges the most making it visually lighter.  The middle line has some sanding, the lower one, almost no sanding.  You can always discover a good thing even within a piece that does not work.

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Again, wonky perimeter.  Weak lines.  The hangers perhaps do not lose their identity enough.  I have had portions of a window as seen here work, as in the piece below, but they do not work in this case.

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In terms of destroying work, because of my philosophy of re-using and re-purposing almost everything, the elements of destroyed works become raw material for new works.  Sometimes there is a shape that I cannot get off the glass or the wooden frame.  I leave it, respond to it, and have an interesting detail that needs to be considered, but something in a place I wouldn’t have thought of.  The element is “found”.

So.  Two destroyed pieces plus additional windows and additional work equals:

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And:

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ALL THE RINGS

My husband made all four of our wedding rings.  One for him, three for me.  The first two he made the morning we flew off to Italy to get married in 2009.  I watched and waited.  We had been together long enough for me to know that we respond to pressure much differently.  It is amazing that he always gets stuff done on time.  Holding those work hours, I never would.

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It was a while before I realized the rings were made of welding rod.  Bronze (love turquoise).  They are simple lines that wrap around our fingers two and a half times.  The first of the four was pure experiment.  That was my Rome ring.  Where the spiral band ended between the ring finger and the two on either side was too short.  It should have gone a quarter of an inch more towards the palm side of the hand.  Then the three lines on the front would be complete.  He knew he had to change it when we got back from Rome.  He hammered it some more, the metal got too thin, and it broke.  Have no idea where it is now.  That was ring number one.

Ring number two solved the design problem.  Now the ring was, so to speak, in my hands.  That’s where trouble starts.  I am hard on things.  I try to do too much, too quickly.  Stuff gets beaten up or lost.  It really is a terrible characteristic.  Glenn is the total opposite.  When we met, he had an old cycling team uniform from age 14 in his trunk.  All beautifully embroidered.  I started using it for running in the winter and then painting interiors. Poof!  It was gone in a year.  Terrible.

Don’t know when ring number two was lost.  You see, when gardening, gloves just don’t work for me.  Nor when laying bricks, which is what I have been doing all this week.  I had been taking my ring off in the kitchen before going out to work.  Glenn noticed.  But in the early days of ring number two, I did not take care.  It was lost either in a garden or down the drain, we thought.  Oh well, we have lots of welding rod.  Glenn made ring number three.  That is the ring that was taken off and left in the kitchen last week.

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So the other day we were making the bed.  The bottom sheet was so tight that we had to pick up the mattress and bend it to get all four corners in.  Glenn picked up the mattress, and what I saw left me speechless.  Ring number two was sitting in the middle of the box spring, all alone, as if waiting for a princess to lay down and test the mattress.  My mouth opened, but nothing could come out!

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How in the hell did it get there?  Some other sheet changing time?  When we first erected the bed in the new bedroom?  Who knows.

I have chosen to wear ring number two.  Its design is slightly better.  Glenn thinks we should put number three back under the mattress, and he is right.  It feels good to have a wedding ring under where you sleep.

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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.

THE ST LOUIS ART MUSEUM

has installed two works of art from the 1990s in the main gallery, seen to the left upon entering, in separate niches.  Completed in 1991 and 1993, on the leading edge of the movement to make art from the discharge of society (where this initial idea packs the so-called raw material with meaning before its application to composition), we see very different hands at play.  For me, one stands the test of time in content and execution, and one does not.  Damn time.  We need this ephemeral distance to see if we have done good work or not.

It was in the 1960s that the idea of modern recycling began to take hold.  Of course, we all did that before this semantic shift.  We reused Coke bottles and took them back to the store.  We inherited clothes from siblings.  We saved bacon grease.

Develop a new technology, as in breaking down milk jugs,  and artists see a new medium with which to explore a contemporary art statement.  So a while after the idea of reuse, up or down, became installed in our brains, a new art medium was born.  Of course, recycled art employs many kinds of materials.

Playing with textiles most of my life, beginning in the 70s when they were knotted up with the women’s movement, the materials of the textile world were seductive.  It was a great challenge to make art out of materials so beautiful in their “raw” state.  Many were seduced however, and early on, much work relied on the character of the materials and not much else.  The same thing was happening then with handmade paper, and it took years for some to extract themselves from the love of the process and begin to SAY something.  Understand the process yes, even love it, but then take it to another place.

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The piece above is screaming for understanding.  Too much explanation is necessary to understand its meaning.  And there is not a dual meaning.  The best art is in punning.  The artist has been seduced by materials and cannot stop the attraction.  Is more more?   How about now?  Am I good enough now?

Care to guess about what this piece is about?

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The piece above is appealing in its geometry of composition and the simplicity of the statement.  As easy as “in” and “out”.  The three classes of shapes and masses are very different and have their own compositional jobs: containing, reflecting, and simply being spheres.  The artist being a woman, the work is about family and the good and bad aspects of same.  A nurturing space, and a suffocating space.  The family performs both jobs.

Look at the reflection of this piece on the floor.  How much better is this than the glass strewn all over it in the first piece?