THINKING ABOUT WINDOWS

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

1-wwindow stash

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.

1-side of barn featuring windows

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

1-back of bedroom

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.

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.

the breaking of the vessels  1991

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?

cell three white marble spheres

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?

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.

CRAYON METAL LAWN CHAIR

This chair is proving to have amazingly strong bones once the excess paint has been removed to reveal its more subtle painted history.

Most of the rust on the bent tubular legs was very superficial.  It could be brushed or shaved off with the rest of the excess paint.  If this area is going to be weak, it will be at the stress points for the tube, where it bends, or where it is attached to the body of the chair.

All four connections to the body of the chair have rust like this.  It is heavier than anywhere else, but not so bad as to effect the strength or the structure.  I want to separate the two pieces so a protective layer of poly can be applied.

How to do this?  My resident expert says that one would use two pairs of vice grips, and usually the rusty nut and bolt will break.  This is what you want.  Then you can clean up the rust and insert a new nut and bolt.

Above is an example of weakening steel to the point of breakage.  More than once one of us has slowly floated ground-ward as weakening chairs finally bit the dust.

Above is a different chair that has been repaired.  My husband used a high speed wire brush on an angle grinder to clean out all the weak rusty areas.  With an oxy-acetylene welder, he took replacement steel in a flat sheet, and welded the new into place.  He said that the act of using the welder will identify and destroy more of the rust not seen before.  The heat of the welding will help you curve the plane of steel into the necessary tube shape.  The final step is to apply something like Rustoleum to the new section to assure that what happened in the weather before will not happen again.

And remember those holes.  I am going to add some to all my chairs that don’t have them.  Water is the enemy!

MOVING FORWARD

Around here, when it rains, we feel like prisoners.  We have had rain all afternoon, and it slows us down.  Hate to say that with all of the Midwest shriveling up like a dry orange peel.  We have to keep busy inside.

Warmer colors are starting to creep into the decking around the pool.  I am thrilled to see space on shelving where tile used to be.

Below is a urinal/sink that Glenn found in a ditch years ago.  We have been using it for pansies and creeping things outside in a garden.  The flowers are elsewhere now as this urinal is going into the master bath as a sink.  The particular hardware for this thing cost six hundred dollars.  Still below our allowance for the cost quotation.

Glenn says these have always had split personalities.  He has run into them as sinks as often as urinals.

Here is the sink waiting for installation.  Glenn has made a shelf to stand behind the top of the sink out of old barn wood, highly polished with polyurethane .  It has to be installed first.    Shelving will be custom made for under the sink.

The aged barn wood is from an old barn on Glenn’s former acreage in Missouri,  knocked down about two years ago.   We brought the wood  here to infuse this place with Glenn’s  history.  Below is a detail of the door he made for the enclosed commode area which will be just to the right of the sink area.   It still retains on the inside patterning from old paint and use.

So the old barn wood will be used in three places, the sink area, the commode area, and a strip will line the perimeter of the shower/commode/sink cluster at the top, at eight feet.  The ceiling is contoured to the design of the outside roof.

Below is another instance of old wood that will be in the new bedroom/bath:  the old pine siding from 1939.  You can also see a part of the contour of the ceiling.  Don’t know yet about paint color (or maybe sanding and poly) for that sided area.   Any opinions?

RECENT WORK GLENN SABOROSCH

This steel welded branch-like mantlepiece holds four ancient pots. 7/12

“Cleavage”  6/12  Welded steel and wood.

POSSIBLE LANDSCAPE ELEMENTS

The adding of a new master bedroom to our 1939 farmhouse has created brand new areas for gardens.  That alone is exciting enough, but Glenn came home with something which could have been very lame—an old satellite dish.  And he wanted to make a water feature out of it.  I could imagine a huge thing with DISH painted along the edge, but what he came home with has possibilities.  Of course, the dish was free.  Who has dishes this size any more?

The dish is a bit over six feet in diameter, and the edge is three inches in depth.  It can hold water already as you can see the rain from last night contained.  There are two possible places to incorporate this into the blank yet-to-be gardens created by the new addition.  Below is the more sunny and public option, connecting with the central area of the yard, around which are the two other buildings.

The more private place to put the dish, which would be more shady,  is to the side of the front of the house to which the woods come up closer,  and is used less.  Come to think of it, our bed will look out to this garden and possibly we could get some bird activity going if we chose this side, with water and feeders.  The faint rectangular edges of two windows are visible through the house wrap.

The small tree left standing in this area was once at the edge of the woods.

The tile mess below is the floor of the old side porch which had to be knocked down to incorporate the new room.  There are two big chunks still here, and this one will be dug into the earth outside the new little deck and become the base for an outdoor shower.

Just got the plumbing for the new room and outdoor shower finished today!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE CHEAP METAL

A personal seminal event occurred in NYC years ago when traveling with my friend Clay.  We went to a commercial gallery associated with the Whitney, and on the back wall they had installed metal outdoor roofing.  OMG, it was one of those moments where you worry about not having had that experience because it looms so important in your life story.

Since then, and that was the eighties,  old fashioned metal roofing has been used in traditional or nontraditional ways on every building I have built or refurbished.  It is such a statement about southern culture.   Above is Glenn’s sculpture studio in the new barn.  He brought this old roofing from his acreage in Missouri, so installed here is part of his old homestead in his new space.  You can see a bit of the actual tin roof that covers the whole barn at the top of the image.

This is the entry to my old studio, now more of a guest house, and this building is also covered in and out, with metal roofing.  Below, we are under this porch roof, and looking out to the “big” house, which is glowing under its tin roof.

When my daughter was about seventeen, the two of us installed the ceiling tin in the guest house.  What a job, cutting and drilling above our heads.

At the table above are two examples of aluminum side chairs from WWII.  They are light as a feather and were made for use in submarines.  They introduce my other cheap metal love,  aluminum, especially “hammered”.  Below, Glenn’s latest piece stands in silhouette along with a couple of my camera-shy mosaics.  The ceiling illuminates the window to one of the gardens.

Don’t get me going about the aforementioned hammered aluminum, or old chrome tubed dinette sets.  We will be here forever.

Synchronicity:  As I write this post, the building supply company’s truck just drove up with the metal roofing for our new addition.  Isn’t it grand when actual life is like a strange movie? And the movie is about tin roofs?

TILE PIMP

You already know that Zoe finds great junk on the street.  Sometimes she can walk the stuff home, but often she has to drive back to the discovery site with the car.  One of the labors of love we did last weekend was load up my car with fine architectural tile, all in warm neutrals with different textures, about seven boxes in all.  I am already composing for our new bathroom,which is just being built.

Whether in construction or in the making of art, new materials are my influence to create.  The universe presents me with stuff, and it is my challenge to get them to work together to state a theme visually or intellectually.  This is why I get up in the morning.

At the end of this construction will be the new master bathroom, and beyond that a deck, projecting into the woods.  On that back wall will be a collection of different kinds of mismatched windows, from 14 inches off the ground to the ceiling.  All free, of course.

About ten years ago, Zoe told me that she needed a cement seat for two pedestals that she already had.  A year later, we had it.  I found an old septic tank cover in the yard of some rentals we bought at one time.  It was perfect, but two women couldn’t lift it.   We got a wretch out of bed to lift it for us and Zoe gave him twenty dollars.  He was thrilled!

Above is the septic tank cover disguising itself as a fine bench! Below is a brass deer head that Zoe and her husband found in France.  They had it shipped back here to use in the garden, and it is very heavy.  Right now, instead of hanging on the side of the little screened in building, it is leaning and waiting for installation.  It will take some work to deal with this weight.

I told you Zoe and I had similar tastes, but mine tends toward cheaper materials, and a less elegant selection.  Below is MY deer example, boasting a dress from Bonwit Teller.

So Zoe emailed this morning, and has found some more tile.  She will pick it up when she goes out again to the gym.