Working in Series

I just finished a satisfying series of works. These pieces are related in content: they are feminized chairs that cannot accommodate “a seat at the table” and feature a sort of structural reworking necessary because of some people’s cultural predisposition about women. The chairs are redesigned so they can continue to stand after losing a bit of themselves.

Spine 2019
35″ x 17″ x 12.5″
Somebody’s Girlfriend 2019
36″ x 17″ x 16″

The chairs also explore the same materials. The chair backs actually called “splats” are repeated and so are the spindles. Aprons are repeated and featured inside out, with the series of lines showing. They are simple in design and elements and tilt dramatically. The pieces seem to belong together as the fingers on your hand. Similar but different.

The repetition of these elements in several works allows for a deeper exploration of the relationships.

Domestic Violet 2019
36″ x 15″ x 13

Make no mistake. Even though these works are related, they are strong enough to stand on their own. And for the viewer, seeing a series of works should strengthen the artist’s voice rendering it more understandable.

Wobble 2019
34″ x 13.5″ x 14″

This is the last in the series. Sadly, I have gone on to examine more visual relationships and more comments on the status of women. This series did present me with problems because they lean so forcefully. We have a tendency to straighten things in our mind, and I was doing that. The chairs were not looking like who they are.

Wobble 2019

Here is my photo set-up with an infinity wall. See the white edge of the table at the bottom? It is not parallel with the ground here. All I had to do was straighten this edge so it was parallel with the bottom of the image. Then I knew that whatever tilting I was seeing was the correct tilt.

This Spare Little Chair

Folding Chair 2018
35″ x 14.5″ x 13″

Why did I name this “Folding Chair”? Count me absent in so many ways with this piece. When you are next to it, its seat looks kind of triangular, slants slightly downward, and it seems as if one were to try to sit, the whole thing would fold. Perhaps that was the genesis of the name.

But the hanger across the back. Is there any household object (symbol and/or reality?) that better identifies problems that women face mostly alone? I made three chairs in 2018 using wooden hangers and was blinded to the meaning these hangers may have been adding to the composition. Not that I don’t agree with the fact that as our political discussions continue, it would not be a surprise that a hanger could become a medical tool for some women yet again.

But they are WOODEN hangers. I saw them as wooden things that would take a screw (no pun) and therefore as options for my compositions.

Backless 2018
37″ x 17″ x 16″

Above is another chair using a wooden hanger in the composition. I thought the use of the hanger, the title “Backless” as in a dress, a nice coupling of title and composition before this time. Imagine the wooden hanger replaced with a much more lethal wire one. “Shameless”?

Or “Heartless”, or “Friendless”? One point to be considered is that a wire hanger is a whole different animal than a wooden one. Wooden hangers share their name with wire ones as well as some of their uses. But not all of them.

Or is the word “hanger” such a powerful one that any association, wire or wooden implies the same idea?

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.

LOUISE-MUSE

Dear Louise, some of the pieces have more complicated bases and therefore are not as simple as those in the last post.

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Flood,  2015.  From the side, this piece looks fairly simple, and very different than most. It was created during the time of our recent thousand year rain in Columbia.

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Pushing the bases beyond any kind of norm is really fun.  So is using hardware in an unusual way.

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Male/Female,  2015

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In this piece shapes were composed on a plane to have enough diversity to anchor the window. Then the bookends were placed for added strength. Wooden figures found at the flea market populate it, a bent wood section of a chair encloses an alligator reaching for a shape at the top, while two croquet mallets without their heads frame.  The longest diagonal line is actually a hardened wooden vine from our woods.

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Above and below are two sides of a piece currently on exhibition (but to come back in ten days) for which I have forgotten the name.  It has a complicated base that contains the front two legs of a chair, plus the front seat base with holes for wicker.  A portion of that base with holes is also the crown of the piece.

name? 3

Confused, dear Louise?

JEEZ LOUISE

Some of the new work is more simple.  As always, more views of this work can be requested.

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Curveball, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

Worked a long time on this one.  Hoping less is more.  Spent time adding and subtracting, trying and rejecting.  I see this as if not one more or one less element should be included.  Haiku.  Maybe another view is in order here.

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The two curved parts which make up the base are from the same Captain’s chair.  Primary colors dominate.  The longer I have this piece the more understandable it is to me.  It sits outside of my usual composition.

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Animal Shadows, 2015   (still in an exhibition:  approx. same size as others; the crown makes it slightly taller)

Another thinly orchestrated piece.  The curvy loop is a metal tine from an old hayrake.  Perhaps influence from my husband’s work.  A bent wood chair leg makes up the crown.  Part of a find of an old wooden croquet set provides color here.  All gone now, it was a thrill to use those pieces that reminded me so much of my childhood.  Hardware from the window used in a different way fixes some shapes in place.

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Pattern, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

This piece is simple on one side, not so on the other.

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Had fun with the dremel tool making fake wood grain.  Another bent wood element is present here, along with a “chip” off my husbands old wooden scrub brush, repeating lines in a different way.

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Thinly Orchestrated, 2015    (on exhibition, similar size as others)

Fine contrasting colors of aqua and orange make up the base; most other elements are a washed gray.  The focus is a kind of crescent shape, repeated in different ways.

Lastly, dear Louise, an image of “Play” in situ.  Beautiful morning.

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LIVE TRUE

Glenn has done a lot of work for Brad and Tracy.  Actually we both have been involved in their recent home renovation.  At a counterpoint in their professions, time and effort outside of that work is finely paired, and their home is a unique expression of their movement in the world.  This is the way you are supposed to live.  Feather your nest with stuff that helps define you as a person.  Act on the stage of that theater; you will feel harmony.

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As their boy worked through scouting, they earned “advanced degrees” as well.  Their personal universe is built around the natural world, pulling symbolism from old Indian ways, to which of course the Boy Scouts is more than a little indebted.  Arrows, spirals, rays of sun play in their personal iconography.  The three images above show details of a mosaic “frieze” I did for their sun room utilizing symbols from the Boy Scouts and Indians of the Northwest.  The third detail features an abstracted portrait of the family.  The mosaic is just under the 10 foot ceiling on three walls, and little china bird collectibles found at the flea market are used in several places (I think there is one in the middle of the triangle of arrows in the third image, and top and center in the first image).

The materials used in the house as you might imagine are floor stone, lots of it, fine woods, light and dark, both as structure and as object.  Look at nature and wonder how we think we can improve upon it!  Maybe we can simply organize these wonderful raw materials to do specific jobs.   Glenn has fabricated a limb with branches to help deter rainwater from puddling in the wrong place.

Tracy's tree branch

This steel limb has maple leaves that can be twisted to usher the rainwater into a better spot.

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Above is another steel sculpture Glenn did for Brad and Tracy’s home.  It is a life sized fox and bird, with the fox heated to a reddish color and the bird towards blue.

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Recently they acquired a huge ancient pot.  More than a thousand years old, they needed a display device to secure it in a home environment.  Tracy bought a deer skin to use for cushioning material. The structure incorporates symbols of the sun and arrows used by Indians.  The arrows will contain the pot.

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Arrows keep the pot from moving sideways, and embrace its middle.  The triangular base lends stability.

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The hide covers parts of the armature that nobody wanted to see in addition to its cushioning of the pot.

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All these natural materials present a lovely almost monochrome composition which contains amazing textural variety.  They are happy, Glenn is happy.  But know what?  I am not going anywhere near that pot!

 

FOR YOU, SIDNEY

There are many ways to start a work of art.  Staring at a blank page is not so easy.  Some do it.  Some artists trick themselves into starting.  Some know that the beginning of a work means working through a lot of stink and they simply hold their nose.  Some rip up the page and then reconstruct it to start something, anything.  It is very interesting where all these unique experiences of creativity begin.

My work has always been inspired by new materials, but I have not always known this.  Usually busy beating myself up about something else, things are falling into place now.  Saturdays I go to the flea market, and if lucky, come home with the materials for my next piece.  It all makes so much sense now.  IMG_20150518_085533_031

Katz jumped out at me last Saturday.  Twelve for five bucks, all white save one black and one grey.  Someone had put eyes on some, some have strange paws defined.  I sanded them all to mute their values, and revealed wood at their edges.  Then the varnish.  Coats and coats, layers and layers.

These Katz will be the webbing that hold a number of large windows together.  The Katz and assorted other fun things that make sense with Katz in terms of composition and content.

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This window is being glued in place so it can contain all the Katz.  They are strong, those Katz.  Stay tuned.

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.

doll chair in progress

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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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?

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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POINT NUMBER THREE ON THE “INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY” LIST

So I introduced you to my Etsy shop (1), and the previous blog published here will be a guest blog (2) on maybe two sites, one later this week.

The marketing genius that I am following to fame and fortune says that viewers want to see my studio, and how it works.  Gawd.  It is a mess.

We built this big barn, and at first it was simply going to be storage for my tile, which is mostly laid in the summer, Glenn’s studio, and storage for Glenn’s toys.  Trucks, cars.

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Above is a portion of Glenn’s studio, which was planned in the barn design.  The metal walls are in, baseboard heat installed which we never use.

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My area in the barn was never to be a studio, it was for the storage of tile, won by dumpster diving.

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You can see a bit of the tile on the left, on shelves.  These shelves are sixty feet long and go all the way up to the front of the barn.  This is the back left, and there is a garage door to let light in as well as high windows.  Glenn’s studio is in the front right of the barn.  I am second class for sure, and looking at this image, act like it!

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But not this chair.  It is totally first class, and is my studio chair.  I love it and found it in a dumpster. You can see where I sit above, behind the tilting window which still has its glass.

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I sit in the fine chair and stare at a plywood wall which has a piece in progress on it.  Above, we are looking at the side of a big piece, bigger than normal these days.  I do not take good care of my tools, unfortunately.  They are used so much, they are almost never put away.

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Here is the piece now in the studio, the object of my staring from the chair.  These window frames are BIG.  Bigger than normal.  The dark one measures 43″ x 33″ and the aluminum screen is 29′ x 25″.  The table legs are 21 inches long.  I have had trouble using these biggest windows, but last week figured the problem out.  With a bigger window, all the other elements have to be to scale.  Duuuh.

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This piece actually fell on the floor last night after a stupid move by its creator.  Good thing I have these pictures.

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The last evaluation happens upstairs in the gallery where the walls are neutral.  Now to go pick up the big piece off the floor.