A wooden serving tray, decorative carvings from an old piece of Victorian furniture, a cutting board, and glass lamp parts from an electrician’s basement. Somehow this all only came together when I added the shell. I do wonder sometimes, that all I am doing is making pretty frames to hold bits of organic things. Then I do this.
It still has a focal point of organic material, a lion’s paw shell, but this has really gone beyond merely displaying a shell. With its beautiful white center to its brown edging, the shell seems to glow. Like the moon.
I am especially pleased with this piece.
I am careful not to do something different for the sake of doing something different. I am however, curious about where this creative process takes me (not unlike driving around in a new neighborhood). Is it easier to make simpler pieces rather then complex ones? Are bigger pieces more gratifying than smaller works? Are silver tones possible or does silver destroy the timelessness that the warm gold tones convey? (No, sometimes, and yes). I am surprised that I never seem to run out of ideas, places to go,… or questions.
As I have stated before, I really have a problem with art having to be “new” or “novel”. On the other hand, art that is unique, really inspires me. I would assume that to some this is but a semantic argument but there is something to be said for having a voice that is clear. We are all unique but some are better able to express this then others. When an artist clearly expresses themselves I get a kind of “reference point”. This helps me see the world around me. To be able to say “I never thought of that before” or “that inspires me”, is a gift that another person can give me.
I am still unsure of this piece. How to say “more” with “less”? This is always such a challenge for me. With works with a lot of textures, items and patterns, the issue seems to be making all of the elements work together, to get them to “sing” as one. Not necessarily an easy task but a clear one. One “sharp” note, one “flat key” and you get noise rather then a melody.
Minimalist works, on the other hand, what is left out, what is not said, is almost as important as what is said. I think this is what makes minimalist works, sometimes, so difficult to appreciate. A painting of a sunset allows the viewer to bring all of their experiences to it but a solid blue canvas has no obvious “entry points”. There is little to ”relate” to. What one “gets” from a minimalist work is largely what one “brings” to it.
“Necessary Elements” has such balance for me. There is so much room to “enter” this work and yet, “Vanishing Point” seems to be missing something. I would like to say that I am sure how successful a piece is when I finish it but I am not. With these two minimalist works of mine, one seems so successful and the other less so. Some works I am pleased with right away and other works take time to appreciate. I guess it’s like music. Some tunes you hear for the first time, you like right away and other tunes, you need to take time to listen to. To let the melody wash over you.
So right now, I am still listening to “Vanishing Point”.
I am still thinking about my show at Artexpo. One of the reoccurring comments at the show, that was the particularly surprising, was how many people would take a quick look at my Foundlings and see a clock. When you have a circular form with something hanging down from it, you get an iconic clock form: a clock face and pendulum. I was aware of this.
In a way, the comment is inspiring to me. The comment means that it is easy for the viewer to “see” what they want to see in my work. That there is a lot of “room” to enter my work. This is a good thing. How else can you inspire people unless they have room to be inspired? Still, with art as it is with most things in life, what you “get” from something is largely what you “bring” to it.
The other comment was how often people felt my work was “Asian looking”. Again I assume that the comment was a compliment. Just as the Japanese art of flower arrangement, called ikebana, pushes the art to elegant heights using very formal design and balance, I can only hope that the comment meant that they felt the same way about my work. My pieces do range from the minimal to the complex but in each case, formal design uses the contrast between balance and composition.
It was a great show. Artexpo was an incredible experience. It was also overwhelming, inspiring, and tiring. I was one of 135 artists; I had over 80 friends show up; and nothing broke. I also sold two pieces.
I couldn’t have done this without my honey Marie (on the right), and my dear friends who helped run the booth; Meryl (on the left), Joan and Rob. Now comes the time to deliver the work, run down all of the leads and thank everyone who showed up.
By far, the most inspiring part of attending the show were th artists I met. Not only were they talented but they all made me feel welcome and were only to happy to share their insights with me. To name a few:
- Anita Varadaraj
– Cameron Neilson
– Jeremy Bortz
– Jodi Simmons
– Julianne Snyder
– Mia Gjerdrum Helgesen
– Seth Apter
I have written, in the past, about the problem of what to create. It is no small task to find your voice. It has occurred to me that, completely unrelated to this, but just as important, is persistence. To stick with something until it is right. The problem is, when is sticking to a particular artistic direction a sign of tenacity and when is it a sign of mere dysfunctional doggedness? Rita Mae Brown once wrote “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
So what am I expecting? Am I doing the same thing and expecting different results?
Clearly I am looking for recognition. Most artists do—from the admiration of the work itself to sales and placement in prominent galleries. There is also another understanding and that is, as important as it is to explore, I have come to understand that it is just as important to stick to something. To push it. To refine it. To get it to a place that is beyond impulsive. There are many art forms that appear to happen quickly, like Japanese ink paintings. But although the act itself is quick, the process and the training aren’t.
It has been over eight years that I have been pursuing the creation of these Foundlings. They have evolved—as I have. It is clear now, that I am also trying to explore persistence as well. To refine something until it is right… This is gonna take time.
It’s such a simple thing. Cut on a 45 degree angle, the angled corners will match making a frame. Framers do this all of the time. Unfortunately, I am not a framer nor do I have the tools to be exact… and you have to be exact.
This piece is called Ketch and I was simply looking to frame the oyster. Like any frame, this would separate the focal point from its environment, drawing more attention to the oyster. The frame I made not only did not have enough presence but wasn’t square. To make matters worse, the box itself wasn’t square. So I found a framer. Chris, from Gallery 25, has been most helpful in making frames for me. I still had a fair amount of fitting to do — like I said, the box itself isn’t square — but this frame added so much to this piece.
The piece was almost done when it occurred to me that it still needed something… a little piece of fan coral to complete it.
This piece is tentatively called Autumn. Here it is on the floor of my workshop and it is only loosely fitted together at this point. I have learned, before I actually put these together: that I have engineered how these pieces will stay together; that all of the parts fit; and to make sure the direction I have set out on, aesthetically, is still true.
Only weeks ago this piece was twice the size with twice as many components as you see here. At first I was rather pleased with the new direction and complexity. I was intrigued with the unusual configuration but as the days turned into weeks, it just wasn’t right. I kept pulling elements off a little at a time. It is so difficult to see a work freshly—not unlike looking into your own heart. Can you see clearly where you are going or are you merely proceeding in a direction because that is the way you have been going?
I”m about to take another leap. I have gotten into Artexpo in New York. Although the show is juried, I suspect it’s more about buying a booth. Still, if my work wasn’t up to a certain standard, I would not have been accepted.
The show will be in the beginning of April and it will be in Manhattan (Pier 94). I have no idea what to expect and I have a million questions. Will this be “proof” of how my work is received or is it merely another small step on the path of being a fine artist? Will this be a “one time” show at Artexpo or is this an event that I will have to exhibit at annually? Am I trying to sell or is this an opportunity to connect with gallery owners and art buyers?
Whatever happens, I am very excited. I have a lot of details to figure out and a lot of preparation to do.
The holidays have past and a new year is before us. It was a busy year: five shows, a few sales, and more pieces created. This is a good time to look back, as well as looking forward.
This was one of the first few pieces that I created with my friend Dave. In fact, pieces for this Foundling came from Dave’s father, Morris. In his honor this piece was named after him, “Memories of Morris” or “MOM”. I am grateful for how helpful and encouraging he has been in my artist pursuits as I am grateful for all who have encouraged me. This is not an easy path.
I suppose all paths have their difficulties and I loath to single out artistic pursuits as being more difficult than any other path. But the path of the artist is particularly poorly lit and the path is not merely about doing your best but also about finding your way. Like walking through a forest at night, you only know that you have succeeded when you have come out on the other end.