Sometimes Discomfort is Interesting

Curtsy
25″ x 18″ x 10″
2019

Sometimes my work leans oddly. The sculptures are stable on the pedestal, but feature a relationship to gravity that we notice. The stance is unsettling. Such is the case with the piece above.

A piece might lean due to the way the first two connecting surfaces are glued and screwed together. To get a good fit the two pieces might have to connect in a strange way, and this joint dictates the rest of the joints.

It is then that gravity comes into play. The piece must stand; one cannot deny gravity so it is my partner in the rest of the composition. When we look at this work, we sense whether gravity is confirmed or denied.

Physically, if the piece stands, then it is true to gravity.

Another feature contributing also to the unsettling stance is value.

Above is the front of “Curtsy”, photographed dead on so the textural element seen in the first image is missing. Reading a book in about 1981 when I was a young instructor at Columbia College, I had no idea that the discussions from that book would play such a part in my work. I did not record the name of the book, or the author. All I remember is that he taught at Yale. His theories have ruled my work all these years, whether 2-D or 3-D.

As anyone who has ever taken an art appreciation class knows that colors and values have visual weight. Dark things seem heavier than light things. That is the expectation due to the rules of our physical world. Therefore, if you are looking for a stable and understandable composition, place the dark areas near the bottom.

If you want drama or tension, deny this notion as to how we view the world, and place them at the top.

Calligraphic or Lush?

I used to say that sometimes a work of Art will be born as a burp, and that meant that it had no place in the spectrum of my current work. These works of Art are too different from ones that came before or after them. A wild child. Projectile vomiting.

When making art with stitches years ago (as seen in the insert on my masthead), I lusted over simple, calligraphic work. It seemed my stitched work was way overdone, and the truth was that each piece took FOREVER to create.

Shield
2019

In “Shield” above we see where my work is currently. I am heading towards making a piece that might be described as calligraphic. But not quite yet. There is detail in the piece that might not need to be included. Currently on my workbench is a piece with just four parts of a chair, reworked. If that chair finishes as a winner, maybe the c term can be used.

And that’s how artists work; on a continuum. You make a piece, finish it, and then ask “What if?” For me, the process goes—ooh, I like that part, what if I can make it do this in the next piece? But do it better?

And also I like to think of a piece of work as a poem. Nothing unnecessary is used. The form is stated in its essence.

Above is the back of “Shield”. It is quite different from the first side. I like that to happen too, and as I sit and write this, it occurs to me that if my work were to get more calligraphic, there would be less of the contrast of two or more sides going on in the piece. Hmmmm.

Screen Door
35 x 15 x 21
2019

So here is my burp. What the hell am I doing? Is this lush or what? I like the repeat of the swirly shapes, I love the aluminum screen porch door elements. But there is a lot going on here.

This is not like a poem. It is like an orchestra. It satisfies my textile sensibility only in wood. But should I want a textile sensibility in wood and aluminum?

Gail?

I Wonder If I Still Have My Writing Voice

I may have sacrificed it in a monsoon of working my visual voice lately.

Put A Woman in Charge
31″ x 21″ x 9″
2019

This piece has been invited to Eastern Kentucky University for an exhibition called “The Chautauqua National Juried Exhibition: Balance and Resilience”. It takes place in January and February of next year.

This show was right down my alley as my rebuilt women are continually doing so, navigating a culture that can be tough for them.

My woman-chairs have become triangular of late.

I was listening to one of my favorite NPR music programs a while ago, “Mountain Stage”. A person unfamiliar to me belted out this song, “Put a Woman in Charge”. I live in that world! Looked it up and Roseann Cash wrote it. I am crediting Roseann Cash for this inspiration. Thankyew.

In place of one leg of a chair, there is a baseball bat. That’s a tool some women use. The “crown” at the top of the piece is actually part of the apron of a table, not a chair. But close.

I started working with wicker on this chair and am loving its ease and its texture.

There is just so much great trash. It overwhelms me.

Odd Sides of Work

So this is fun. It is my responsibility to photograph my work and present it in the most readable way; the most correct couple of images in two dimensions that represent a three dimensional composition.

I photograph the pieces in 360 degrees. Therefore some images taken are valid images of the work, but really don’t represent the concept of the piece, or really what it looks like in space.

If you were in a gallery viewing this piece, you would adjust yourself to get a better view of it, knowing that this view does not depict how wide the piece really is.

But they are real representations of the work. Just deceptive.

And simple.

This is “Birthing Chair”. Abstracted and simplified when viewed from this angle.

This is an odd side of a piece called “Duck”. The name is meant to be a double entendre. The upper right white piece in the composition is an actual cut-out of a duck.

Duck 2019
22″ x 17″ x 9″

Although this is a better representation of the piece, it still is not truthful. The part between the two leg forms, on the far side, moves, addressing the other meaning of “duck”. As in defending oneself.

Basting Stitches

I had eight of these chairs. Above is their bone structure and from them have come a group of four sculptures and a group of three, with two sections made from each chair. These are really good chairs and well-used. Think patina. Look at the two white circles at the lower front of the chair apron. Nesting bugs are inside. Before working, I have to drill their little (asses) out.

Basting Stitches 1 2019
24″ x 33″ x 15″

Basting Stitches as a term is something a textile worker would use. They are meant to be temporary and hold several layers of fabric together until the permanent fix is applied. Basting Stitches is a good descriptor for the concept of a woman reorganizing herself in order to keep moving forward.

Above, I have taken my chair apart and selected the “bones” that I want to repeat in each section of the piece. Then, structure is invented to allow the bones to stand, and composition created to fill the negative space in a pleasing way.

Most but not all additional elements are from other chairs. The loopy wire element was recovered from a chair seat. In all three parts of this piece, I have taken a Dremel tool and carved repeated chunks to various parts which look like basting stitches to me.

Basting Stitches 1 2019

You can see that I have attached an aluminum name plate to the upper right. In a fit of frenzy and ego with my Dremel tool, I have also scrawled my name across the inner shoulder of the chair. Look below.

Basting Stitches 2 2019
24″ x 32″ x 13″

My name and the year 2019 are written in the center of the upper part of this section, along with other sandings which create a lighter value around the bored circle. On this side of the piece, the marks the table saw left on the wood when it was cut have been saved for visual texture.

Basting Stitches 2

And on this side of the chair, I manipulated my table sander to create repeated marks.

Basting Stitches 3 2019
23″ x 33″ x 12″

This section features a piece of an aluminum door that was recovered from dumpster diving years ago. I adore aluminum and use it whenever possible. I used my Dremel again on the aluminum to make it sparkle. On all three sections of the piece there is a “rope” element recovered from a side table. I have sanded it on each section to be light at the top moving to dark at the bottom.

Basting Stitches 3

The idea of gravity leads me in the evaluation of what should be light and what should be dark in a composition. Dark elements are heavier visually and we want to see them lower in the composition because we are aware of the concept of gravity. This is a general rule for me, but there is no rigidity in visual art, and often the opposite idea works and that’s just the way it is!

“Pose” is going to Maryland

“Pose” 2019
33″ x 15″ x 15″

This piece was juried into the 20th annual Will’s Creek Exhibition in Cumberland Maryland.

This exhibition is to be held at the Saville and Schwab Galleries in downtown Cumberland, Maryland. The juror is Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, and Chair of the Maryland State Arts Council.

The opening reception is to be September 21, with the juror speaking about the work from 5:15 to 6 PM. The show is up until October 5, 2019.

Spoiled

I got ahold of a chair that had curvy aprons. Usually straight aprons form the heart of my sculptures. We were out running errands and passed a long, triangular collection of old furniture used to living outdoors. We always stop for places like this. I was immediately impressed. Robin, the businesswoman, said she would take a donation for the stuff I wanted. Stuff she didn’t have a chance in hell to sell to anyone else.

The first thing I picked up was the scroll work diagonally across the upper middle of this piece. It was bigger than this chunk, it was gorgeous and came from what was a very good chair at birth.

Contrapposto 2019
28″ x 18″ x 11″

Later we found the chair off of which the scroll work fell. That chair had curvy aprons on three sides.

That’s the thing about wooden things living out in the weather. Most of the tough separation work has been done for you. The chairs are falling apart and it’s just perfect. The three major shapes in this piece were found that day.

Contrapposto is a Greek word referring to the way a human figure stands as we handle the weight of our body most efficiently. We stick out a hip and bend the opposite leg. The Greeks knew about this, and then the information was lost in the Early Christian world. The Renaissance rediscovered the phenomenon, and is one of the many reasons we call the Renaissance masters “Humanist”. Thinkers were observing nature now, as well as thinking about Christianity. You can see it readily in the art from the period.

Caryatid 2019
24″ x 20″ x 17″

Guess I am going through a Greek stage in my art making. A “caryatid” is a female figure which is carved into or applied to Greek architecture. I see the diagonal shape at the lower right as a caryatid. The chair leg at the left looks like a simple Ionic (there I go again) column to me.

At the top, there is more of that fancy scroll work used in the first example.

Back to my spoilage. Having started this discussion about aprons, curvy ones, let me post some “casual” photos. My friend the Art Curator gave me this term. It means photos taken by me in an ordinary atmosphere. Ones that give people who are knowledgeable about what they are looking at can still see the thing given all the background interference.

I want you to see the curvy aprons that have so excited my work and me.

Wound 2019
21″ x 17″ x 14″

Chair aprons usually have a series of parallel lines across them, as in above.

See the gentle “S” curve?

Upcoming Exhibitions

“Vertabrae” has been chosen for an exhibition in Fayetteville, NC. It’s name is “Reclaimed!” and work must be made from waste and have had another job in its life. Waste Management, of course, is a sponsor of this event.

The exhibition will be held at The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County from June 28 through August 17, 2019.

“Domestic” will be shown at the Virginia Beach Art Center from July 5 through August 11, 2019. “Fusion Mid-Atlantic” is the name of the exhibition and work must combine two or more mediums. Aluminum is the second medium here.

An aluminum armrest from a 1960’s folding outdoor chair is included as well as a spiral from a screen door, which is on the other side of the piece.

“Solo” is going to Virginia Beach as well.

Studio walk-through

Chairs rise up on the path to the back of the barn. Stacked upon themselves at about the height of eight feet, I keep hoarding old chairs, more than I should, for fear the free ones will vanish.

Glenn’s collection of bicycles is a nice addition. Stalactites and stalagmites.

I have so much raw material there is no room to store the art product. But the chairs are so perfect for me; they have been rained on and elements of the chairs that are made of multiple pieces of wood kind of crack apart into beautiful detail.

See how the upright leg on the left has lost about a quarter of itself? Failed glue. A part of the leg stripped away leaving a clean cut. I couldn’t have created this myself. I needed years of rain. Same is true for the foot of the chair. Part of it has been sheared off because of failed glue. I save these parts to use in other pieces.

It would be very close in the studio if I couldn’t open a door to the outside. Hummingbirds fly in. A possum ran in one late evening. The studio is the best place to be.

On my workbench sits “Whole”.

“Whole” 2019

Lean In, Y’all

Lean In 2019
30″ x 19″ x 15″

We all remember this title from the book by Sheryl Sandburg. The term means to grab opportunities without hesitation.

Not bad advice really, but one has to wonder as Facebook defends mountains of questionable decisions. Every action has a reaction as this chair displays in seeking equilibrium.

Advances in one part of your life will require changes in another. That’s not to say that it doesn’t create a more interesting composition.

But you still have to be able to stand.