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?

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LAYERS

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It would be so easy to start with a blank canvas and create a work of art.  Many do.  I have to sneak in the back door and react to some product or pattern made by another and then make it my own.

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What interests me is the spaces between things, how they relate or how they merge.

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This sculpture is very new for me.  I have always respected artists who make statements in a thinly orchestrated way.  These are the beginning of my effort to do that.

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The work above is more what one would expect from me, but looser and including no female figures.  There are those damn eggs though.  Here I am trying to use a very anal method to create an atmosphere.  I use color and value to position shapes in their correct space.  Some wool is used to contrast in texture.  Two elements,  printed fabric and stitches are layered together to arrive at a visual statement.

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The same is true in the above.  These works contain only machine stitches on the surface, and they are simply decorative.  The piece was made by merging very different fabrics physically together with a special machine, strangely called an “embellisher”.

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I am going to talk about all this stuff on Tuesday, March 18, and bring some works in progress.  Hope to see you there.

MARTA’S OTHER MOTHER

Due to popular demand, here is our recently identified odalisque.  Marta sent it to me after reading the first post about her mother.  She assumed this image, done in 1946, was probably of the cheesecake variety.

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Oh no!  The position of Marta’s mom is purely art historical, absent some shape in the upper right to draw the viewer’s eye away, but briefly, from the figure.  The line of red fringe on the pillow in the center of the image helps some.

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The oriental rug and brass pitcher above suggest the “East”, and that the woman may be part of a harem (when artists began to use this motif as an excuse to paint a nude woman, it was understood that the woman was of low morals).  This work has a nice opposition element in the upper left of a musician, which fills the compositional need but also suggests low morals as we all know what music does to people!

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Simply with the head wrap, the artist suggests that this woman is a member of a harem.  Notice that the counterpoint to the strong line of the figure here is a window lightening up the composition and subtly drawing the eye away from the left side.  Any kind of shape can do this balancing act for a composition.  The single red rose may symbolize love, as it did in Roman times.

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Moving into the Twentieth century, consider the envelope being pushed!  If this is a “reclining nude” enough for your definition, we see my outlaw, clothing symbolizing pure sex, with a counterpoint of the ironing board at the upper left.  This makes me think of an episode of “Mad Men” we viewed last night.  Jackie during the day, Marilyn at night!

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Walking further into the bizarro world, we see Gracie, the late love of another outlaw, displaying what she knows about the motif of the odalisque.  Her seductive stare is so memorable.

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Corot’s odalisque above is more simply rendered, like that of Marta’s mom.  And her position is close to Gracie’s.  I find it interesting that he felt the need to fill that empty space that usually has a correspondent with words—Marietta____Roma.  It works!

THE SOLDIER AND THE PIN-UP

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Nothing goes to waste around here.  Years ago, my boss went to the High Museum in Atlanta to see an exhibition featuring part of the army of life-sized terra cotta Chinese soldiers unburied decades ago.   He was kind enough to bring a small replica back to me.  It sat by my computer at home for years.  Mouse broke it finally, while picking through the space on the table,  her mind focused on my keyboard.  It was after the time she stayed at Ms. Ann’s Pet Retreat for three weeks and gained more than two pounds.  She had nothing to do!  She was unused to her voluptuous figure and it swayed beyond the predictable once and again.

Not to worry.  The soldier’s head found a space within a composition almost immediately.

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That’s the soldier, on the left of the female softball player.  Her bat is missing; used that for something else.  The soldier’s body lay with other decapitated souls and waited for the perfect assignment.

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Having left the world of two dimensions in my pursuit of making sculpture (by training, I do textiles),  the following piece came a little later.  Named “Caryatids”, we see bird bodies defining the distance in space between the two window frames.  They are also functional and needed for support.

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Below is a better view of that space.

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The soldier body got an assignment lately.  He is purposeful and occupying space between two windows.

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Above our hero lifts a window on what is left of his neck and supports the composition, along with the pin-up, who is also experiencing some integrity problems.  Their two bodies define the distance between the front and back window, and make it stable.

But making art means one must keep many balls in the air.  In the piece “Caryatids”, we can see that all occupants in the space between the windows are birds.  That makes sense,  In that piece, birds are the visual vocabulary.

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What common denominator do we see in the visual elements above?  Windows, red, curves in metal, glass, rust.  And two figures.  One Chinese and dating from 210 BCE, and a chalk redhead from 1946.  They don’t have much in common other than they are perfect for spanning the needed space to make a window hover.  What is the artist to do?  Pick the right title.  Let the viewer think they know the relationship between the two and then surprise them.

SHELZ

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I want to make art from what settles itself here.  With a shed full of old windows given by the friend who built our new bedroom (he KNEW they would find a home here by the rot and rust contained therein; the windows, not our house), they are evocative framing devices.  Yes, they have been used in crafty circles, but I mean to push them to sculpture.

Cannot say that sanding and painting is as calming and nurturing as my stitching used to be, but this is a different time, a different place, almost a different planet.  Eons ago when in grad school, my professor had trouble herself adding to “the crap in the world”,  she said.  Always remembered that.  My embroidered work was supported in part from the flea market—fabric and floss were often procured there, but the stretchers and frames were new.  Not good.

Windows and shadows, especially shadows are of interest.  The real and the fabricated.

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See the way this window frame casts a shadow on the cement floor of the barn when a light source is introduced?  This will be part of my imagery on the bottom frame in this composition.  I painted the brass element to the left with clear acrylic so it will stay bright.

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Dark tile creates the shadows on the lower panel, and areas of shadow on the frame itself have been drawn in with graphite.  All wood is then covered with gloss acrylic, making the shabby surfaces seem intentional.  Finished.

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Aqua tiles reflect secondary shadows. Original rope ties the two frames together front to back at the top and bottom.

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I may add another linear element across the whole image.

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Each window had a locking device on it, and I added more.

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PARDON MY CRASS COMMERCIALISM

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Glenn’s fine custom railings, long and short.  The short one is just amazing in its three dimensional aspect.

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Seen from the image above, the porch had a vacant space filled now by “moi”;  broken tile and found objects including metal dogs and hands, in a recycled wooden window frame.  All stuff from the flea market, or otherwise headed for the landfill.  The aqua lines are broken tempered glass.

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Art for the patio and porch.  You can have one too.   See the dog, just above the bottom of the window frame?

AMAZING FIND

All of us who collect stuff dream of the big find.  A fantastic return on investment,  historical significance, 15 minutes of fame.   It is tantalizing.  Most of what I collect is done because it fits into a house built in 1939.  But one collection is of passionate works by untrained artists.  A lot of this work falls into the category of religion.  Religion arouses passion and the need to create.

Much of my collection also must be guided by the one dollar rule.  This serves to restrict what would be a tsunami of stuff competing for my space and attention.

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Bought this little piece made of an old shirt box separated at the seams as a frame, with construction paper binding the glass covering the image.  There are two toned crosses both under and over the glass.  The image is probably from a Sunday school handout depicting Jesus and the Woman at the Well.    It is wonderful and cost one dollar.

In terms of collecting paintings, I prefer the passionate amateur.  My one dollar rule pretty much dictates this.  Sometimes however, the two sets intersect.

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This very nice little watercolor was just one dollar.  It was not done by an untrained person.  The image is swift, deliberate and light.  The shapes are abstracted and done with ease.  It is painted on good paper.

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It has no signature, sorry to say.  Or almost no signature.

This little painting is five by seven, and is in one of those cheap plastic frames that has cardboard for the back .  On the edge of the frame are little staples that you can bend into place, or bend out to remove the cardboard and the watercolor.

A year or two ago, messing around late at night and listening to the radio, the painting struck me as the sweet little thing that it is, and I turned it over and undressed it, hoping a signature would be on the back of the paper.  Boy, was I surprised!

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An old fart with a young chick on his lap!  The photo is also five by seven and was hidden perfectly within the plastic frame between the watercolor and the cardboard back.  What could be the back story here?  Do you think he is the artist and he gave this to her?  Other way around?  Anybody know who these people are?

We see a resort umbrella, sea oats, a brick building with a Pepsi sign that starts a word with “ca”.  My husband thinks this is father and daughter.  I think she is far too pretty to be his.  I prefer an out of town “rendezvous”!  Somebody please tell me he is a famous artist.

COMBAT WITH THIEVES OF TIME

For a possible commission, two whole days have been wasted in driving for hours to meaningless meetings, one day about 18 months ago, and now today.  I was to meet with an administrator who likes a drawing someone else did for an important space in his workplace, and he never showed.  To be fair, he lost his interior designer and they are trying to move forward without her.  Someone who works for his foundation was there.

I designed four or five possible options for this piece for the designer, now gone, and she approved my work. They are good, contemplative, innovative, and made from material that otherwise would be in the landfill.  For her own use and before my involvement, the designer had her art teacher mother whip up a space saver drawing so she could insert it in the mock up for the job.  The best way to describe that drawing would be that it is a tree, in the style of  “My Little Pony“.  Have no idea whether that television juggernaut still haunts the cartoon channels, but our family spent a lot of time with ponies in the late eighties and nineties.

We had had this appointment for more than a month.  All day yesterday was spent putting 36 images on a CD with which they could see similar works for similar clients, ideas for them, details.  This administrator was not there the first time I was asked to come and speak, and he was not there again today.

The foundation person did not have the rudimentary knowledge of the differences between art media.

Our discussion:

If you want the piece to look like this, fantasy-like, pastel, and not textural, you need to use glass, not mosaic.  Oh, okay.  Thanks for giving me the “heads up”.  Did your boss see the drawings that were submitted last time I spoke to your foundation?  Yes, but he did not like those as much as this.  Why did you ask me to come here?   I do not work in glass.  Where is he?  No answer.

Who is going to advise you as to whether the work is good or not?,  I said handing her my ten page resume of the last thirty years of my artistic life.   She took me into the space.  There is going to be a painting here and one over there to work with the major artwork.  What will they look like?  I cannot describe them, but I saw one on the web that has a bird in it.  Although that is unusual for her work.  She is all over the place really.  A friend of a friend of a friend.  You know.

My thought:

Oh Gawd now there is no job where there was one, how does a clueless non-business person turn this into a job again?  I hate money.

Then she said that maybe another visit to a foundation meeting should be made to speak to the group.  This was after my stealth decision that we should talk to each other and get to know each other as people.  She talked for thirty minutes.  And she kind of came around.  At the end of the soliloquy, we agreed that they would brainstorm and try to think about what  it was they wanted depicted.  And why.  And how.

This was a sad meeting for me.  I have been waiting for this job for a while, nice inside job, nice pay.  I learned a long time ago, during my cancer years, that nothing combats pain and feeling helpless like physical action.  So  on the way home from that surreal meeting today I went to my local office  and applied for Social Security.  What they are giving me is huge, and this freedom is POWER.

LASTING A VERY SHORT TIME

Once I was juried into a show called “Ephemeral”.  It was at Cal Tech as I remember and the show was very well done.  Fabulous catalog and invitation.  It included all media, and many definitions of the word: ephemeral.

Some works looked like ghosts.  Some self destructed.  My work at that time was about my colon cancer and its re-occurrence, so it was me, the artist that was ephemeral, not the work.  Still fit in.

Big opening, of course done without me, living so far away.  Carried off  in the absolute heights of coolness.

After a couple of weeks, the sprinkler system malfunctioned and would not shut off.  The art was recovered but the gallery walls were like soaked cardboard.   The truncated show was all over.  Ephemeral.

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