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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INCESTUOUS WINDOWS

Where should we start?  The very big ideas?  OK.

Artists do not only make art, they live it and in it.  Serious art reflects the ideas, attitudes, experiences and style of the artist.  These things are interwoven and inseparable.  And changeable, but usually the change is slow.  At least that is how it works for me.

Premise 1 in the creating of a style:  Being an artist(s) we don’t have the money that more traditionally employed people do.  We habit the thrift shops and flea markets, looking for shapes and textures and things to repurpose to live in our home.  We sniff out free things in the wind.  We develop friendships with like people and fund each other’s eccentricities.  Old things look good to us.

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To me, the base of this enamel table in our kitchen is awesome.  The lines and shapes scream the 1930s.  This table base helped me solve a financial problem in buying the tile for the kitchen, if you will notice the floor.  I bought the majority of the tile at a sidewalk sale at Lowe’s, but there was not enough for the big space of kitchen and great room.  So I laid tile “rugs” in each room, one under this table.  The tile under the table is lighter than the surrounding, and at each corner of the rug is a corresponding black tile (you can only see two black tiles in this image).  The rug tile was free, and the problem was solved.  The four black squares used in the corners integrate the tile rug with the table base.  The rug under the table is much more interesting than had the floor simply been one broad ecru plane.  So my finances dictate another way to create, and push a style forward with lifestyle needs.

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We needed a shed to house our pool equipment, pool pump, and machinery related to our sprinkler system.  My love of cheap metal (notice the lamp on the stucco column) led us to buying a used grain bin to satisfy these needs, and it was very inexpensive.  We love the little silo that has an apex that looks like the top of a Coke bottle.

Premise 2:  We live in a world that is using up all its natural resources.  This disposable society cannot thrive.  Many, many artists choose to make their work out of waste materials because they are available, are beautiful and otherwise would be in the landfill.  These artists additionally are making visual statements that describe our recent decades.

We built a barn.  Before this time, some restlessness inside of me accepted a whole group of wooden windows from a contractor friend who was doing odd jobs here.  I put them under a roof.  His work often was replacing old wooden windows with vinyl ones, and he kept bringing me the rejects.  He would have been charged to put them in the dump, so the solution was good for everybody.


1-IMG_0011We used 33 old windows for this barn, and saved a lot of money.  Their glass is wavy and beautiful, and since this is studio and storage space and not living space, they do the job here just fine.  And of course, this is South Carolina and we live in a moderate part of the world.  Glenn later added the cool awning above the entry door.

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I hope the case is made for the using of old stuff.  Here is where the incest starts.

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My daughter Brady, (who blogs for Lexington County, South Carolina at Everywomanblog.com and has a cooking blog at brannyboilsover.com) influenced by my love of old things, found this door of windows at the dump and brought it home.  Neither one of us are beyond “diving”.  She often donates at the Goodwill at the same time she goes in to buy.  She installed this on the wall,  and of course there it was for me to see.  A window on a wall as art.  Hmmm.

Some years later, here is my sculptural work.  Before now, the windows had many other incarnations as I tried to use them.  I was getting too fancy.  For me, for now, it is mostly about the interplay of the windows, and bringing these sculptures way out from the wall.  It takes some time to feel one’s way.

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Isn’t experience and influence wonderful?

THINKING ABOUT WINDOWS

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

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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.

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

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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.

USING OLD DOORS

The new master bedroom was designed around many accessories we already had:  the urinal which became a sink, old tile, old windows, and finally sets of old doors.  The whole house has a sense of age to it.  It is not shabby chic (hate that term), but the house retains and shows its history.  Good thing this aesthetic is fine with me, one who wants to use only things that have  already been used before, whether for their original purpose or not.


The cracks and peeling paint will be saved with application of a thick coat of something.  In its current position, the old paint is fairly fixed.  The darker doors will also receive a coat to shine them up and protect them.  The minute my husband drug out these doors last year, it was my intention to put the glider below in the new room because of the simpatico texture.  I am not at this point sure there will be room for the glider.  It would be beautiful.

These doors have been in the big house all their lives.  They retain their original colors and open to a big closet in the dressing room.  The bedrooms they protected no longer exist.

Going around the corner from the sets of closet doors, there is a door made by us for the private commode.  Glenn made it from wood he used and acquired for his former homestead.

See those lights on the ceiling?  We bought seven for a dollar apiece at our local flea.  Used all of them in this addition.

Above is the inside of the door with its beautiful patterning.  The old door knob works, and locks!

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?

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The back of our new master bedroom and bath addition is looking Japanese, this addition to our 1939 southern farmhouse.  My guess is that the hipped roof, and the linear windows and posts are doing this.  It doesn’t bother me; I lived in Japan as a child and studied Japanese art history in graduate school, and try to integrate Japanese aesthetics into my work.  Even though, it is surprising that Japan turned up here.

Here is the inside view of the same windows.  These stretch across the bathroom area which takes up the last about one fourth of the room addition.  There is a glass door to the left of these windows.  The windows are old, were free, and are mis-matched.  They are beautifully glazed and it took Glenn about three days to do it.  He is such a perfectionist.

In terms of the international code in effect everywhere now, our builder first thought that the Japanese windows would not pass.    They are too close to the floor, and are too close to the door.  There is not enough wall space in these two areas.  So what the officials tell one to do, is to nail up particle board to the correct dimensions, and then call them.  In this case, because the rest of the windows in the house subscribe to the code, the vast majority, these windows would be ok.  Moot point.
The same kind of “now you see it, now you don’t”  is true for the awful particle board on the deck.  It passed, of course, but who would have a deck like that?  Glenn is making a welded steel banister to replace what you see here.  Neither one of us expected the deck to be anchored by 6″ x 6″ posts.  Glenn is going to take a chainsaw to those posts and trim a lot of that mass away.  But the deck has passed code.  ?????  I don’t get it either.

News flash:  the concrete siding ordered, with a similar texture to the old pine on the house is too wide, and not forgiving enough for us to simply say to overlap it to a greater dimension in order for the new room to have the same parallel lines as the old house.  Now what to do.  We have the weekend to think about it.

These french doors and stained glass window which used to look outside, now look out to the new bedroom.  At the right you can see that there will be old pine siding in the bedroom, which we kept because of its textural interest.  We could strip this away, and use it outside, but there is not enough to do the job.

At least we do have lights!

RECENT WORK GLENN SABOROSCH

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

“Cleavage”  6/12  Welded steel and wood.

THE REST ABOUT WINDOWS

We have become good friends, myself and the amazing contractor guy who likes to work around here.  For a South Carolinian, he is waaay open (this is the state where our untrained Governor just closed down our SC Arts Commission, one that 20 years ago was a model for the country—-sorry, this is another post) to creative new ideas.   He is the guy who keeps bringing me windows which would have gone into the landfill,  and I am so happy to get every one of them.  One day a greenhouse will be built with them.

In the interim, other uses are ever present.  Dozens were used in the barn, as windows, and as dividers.

I have started collecting old examples which have had the window panes painted by others.   These windows  are part of my collection of works by passionate but untrained artists.   Many of these naive works are religious in nature; the passion is important to me but not the message.

This image about the road to Calvary is so interesting to me because the artist painted two separate skies.  Don’t know if he was confused, or if he means to illustrate by the second sky a kind of heaven.  Also love the little detail in the tiny brown sandy village that mixes with the land.  It looks like little illustrations in a Sunday school book I had as a kid.  I also am partial to text in an image which puts me clearly in the Middle Ages.

Collecting these works and having all these vacant windows got me thinking about filling some of them myself.  Taking out the glass and replacing it with cement board, I have been adhering broken tile and dishes and found objects within the panes.

This piece is not grouted yet.  Some of these works contain messages in text as this one does, one letter per pane.  As I work on these, they are turning more into landscapes unto themselves.  In the future, maybe they will sit on a table or pedestal and be built like small cities on the order of Oz, all made out of tile and found objects.

Here is something fun to see, my last example before and after grouting.

SYNCHRONICITY, ART AND WASTE

I am making some work now that we cannot photograph well, yet.   It ALMOST makes no sense to make anything that will not copy to advantage;  how would one spread the message that the thing is in the world, and could be purchased?  Or things like it could be purchased?  Of course, the wave of idea to construction to final creation is one amazing ride, and that experience is most fulfilling in itself.

This photo with the palm fronds making shadows is something we were playing with while waiting for the shadows to go away, in trying to photograph a recent commission.

This is how the six by six foot square looked when daily progress was recorded.  This trapezoid is not good.

When in undergraduate school, and the profs were schooling us in the big world of selling art, they took slides for us of our recently finished work.  At that time, I was machine stitching on clear plastic:  think drawings on plastic, hatch and cross hatch.  Remember the plastic that your grandmother had covering her furniture if she was anal?  That was the plastic.  All threw up their hands.  No photographs of THAT work, and that was the end of it.

A friend has been giving me old windows for years, windows that would have gone into the landfill.  We have been using them in any new construction that we do.  I also have been making mosaic compositions within them (my site specific mosaic work has been down for about a year).  Excited about these works,  I want to put them here, but none of the photography is good enough.  And I think they may not be ready.

My husband gave me a little crit this morning, and this is where the synchronicity part comes in.  While I thought that the framing that the window provided was presentation enough, he proposed simply framing it again, simply, and with natural wood.   For some, I agree, but for the ones that have been painted white as windows, maybe no.

We cleaned up the “burn pile” that our construction workers left last week, and there were three choices for natural framing.  One by ones, stuff that looks like lattice work, and the best, a measure in between.

Don’t you just love it when that happens?