I can see how my work is evolving. The change is subtle but I can see it. Not that it’s easy to explain but there is a kind of harmony to the pieces. They look more contained, more complete. My Foundlings look like they are “meant” to be a certain way. When I have a less successful piece, there is an incomplete quality to them and I have an urge to change them.

That is not to say that everything I create is as successful as it could be, just that I am clearer with what I have been creating. This may have less to do with understanding the process and more to do with an understanding of the goal.

My older work just isn’t as consistently complete as I would like it and yet, this incompleteness has an endearing quality to it. Like an old friend who is irritating at times but is a good friend never-the-less. Their faults seem to me more like personality.PS187_front_72dpiRGB

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A Victorian flower frog from around 1890, an old lamp reflector, and a differential gear are framed by the base of an old musical box. All that survived from the musical mechanism was the “on/off” lever on the bottom edge but this added such a little touch of whimsy.

I have two major shows coming up so between the planning, the preparing the work for travel—always a concern, and, not to mention producing as many pieces as I can, I am busier then I had anticipated.

I don’t mind being busy. Actually I prefer it. I get so lost in creating that the pressure is almost unnoticed. It’s one thing to have to drill a hole, for example, in a very fragile part and worry about getting it right versus just not having the time to worry, and just doing it… Not unlike jumping into a pool.

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I frequently use animal bones in my work. It’s not that I have a ghoulish point of view nor is it, strictly speaking, a fascination with death. It’s more about the continuing internal conversation I have with not wanting to take the world for granted. In that way my art reminds me not to take life for granted.

Beyond this philosophical context, bones are simply beautiful. They marry form and function that literally lies just below the surface. Honed by the ages, these forms speak of a kind of trial and error to continually perfect a form—not unlike my efforts to perfect a Foundling.

And like the never-ending process of perfecting a form by nature, my work also seems never-ending as I am always trying to perfect a piece. I will never get there as there is really no such thing as perfection but along the way I learn more about the beauty of imperfections (another reoccurring theme of mine). I learn more about what is beautiful to me and how things that in the past I might have ignored or even been mildly repulsed by, I now see the beauty. I see how these bones now unlock a pathway to seeing more broadly. For that I am grateful.

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This piece was such a struggle. Some Foundlings come together so easily as if wanting to be created—others take months. In this work, the ruffled glass shade broke as I was tighteningthe last screw. I was heartbroken and I wrote about this mishap in a previous blog. I was able to get a second shade relatively quickly and yes, with the tightening of the last screw, I broke it… again. It took more then six months to get another shade and then it took several months more before I was brave enough to try to put this together again.

I am so relieved that I was able finish it. It was a frustrating process but worth it.

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A frame shop was going out of business and my friend Paul suggested that I stop by.
I do use a lot of frames in my work but, as always, the trick is trying to get them to “work” together… not to mention, fit together. With a broken brass frame that was unloved and ready to be thrown out, and two frames that almost fit, I had all of the ingredients for another Foundling.

Visiting another framer, Greg, from the Barnes Gallery in Garden City, helped me “adjust” the inner frame to fit. Greg’s skill and resources have been invaluable to me, and my Foundlings, more times then I can count. To both Greg and Paul, I say thank you.

 

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My sister died in 2008 and I was moved to make a memorial Foundling for her. I was pretty new to making Foundings at the time but this Foundling, although very special to me, never really seemed right. In reflecting on my sister’s sensibilities, I wanted this tribute to her to be more “involved”, more complex… more “pretty”. She would have wanted it that way.

Everything about this piece was more complicated then I had anticipated. For example, a picture of my sister in the last year of her life would show her slowing losing the battle with her Leukemia. A picture of her, taken only a year earlier would seem to ignore her struggle in her final year. I decided to use a picture of her in high school. This image would show her in a more idealized, youthful way. The way she would, no doubt, like to have been remembered. It was, afterall, her final wish… to be remembered. Here is the reworked Foundling that is a more fitting tribute to remember her by.

I’m still working at a fast pace as if, after being bottled up for six months, the creative energy is just pouring out. I am presently working on six pieces and the pace is yet another exercise in letting go. I am proceeding as if I was familiar with the road I am on and knowing which way to go. The process is not unlike sketching. I am less concerned planning the “aesthetic destination” and am more concerned with the journey. The trick is to stay loose and not get too concerned with having to be perfect.

I had a drawing teacher who once said to never be afraid of putting down the wrong line. It is only by putting down the wrong line that you know where the correct line goes. So working on six pieces allows me to not get too hung up on trying to be perfect and just enjoy the process,… and the pace.

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We moved back into the house after the renovation and I can now start setting up my new workshop/studio. I was never very handy,… especially with power tools so I never dreamed that I would have a studio like this (then again, I never thought that I would be making sculptures). I still won’t be able to create any pieces until I am unpacked, a process that could take weeks. Tools have to be cleaned up; boxes put away; and a gillion pieces of Foundling parts have to be sorted, cleaned and found a place for,… no small feat as I have no clue how I am going to orgainize all of this.

After six months I am looking forward to finally being able to get back to creating but before I do, I have another Art Expo New York / Solo show this week and I have to start to prepare for this in earnest. I am happy to have a better place to work with better light, heat and windows. I hope the Foundlings to come will be pleased as well.

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When I started making Foundlings, I was exploring many aesthetic directions (actually I still am). One direction was how illustrative to be. Did these works need to have a concept or theme behind them or were these to be purely aesthetic statements.

René and is one of my earliest Foundlings. Named after the artist René Magritte, making Foundings that were surrealistic had a certain appeal. In this work the bolts not only added texture to the background but are drilled through the branch to continue the pattern. My hope was to make the branch look almost transparent—to be there and yet not be completely there. To fool the eye and confuse the mind.

Over the years I have gone back and forth trying to decide if this piece is successful. Most times I think the answer is no. To be a “slave” to a concept takes away from my voice I seek in creating these. Perhaps, on the other hand, the concept was sound but the execution was not strong enough to compete with it.

Every once in a while, I will look at this piece and see the branch begin to look transparent. Every once in a while I look at this and see the long path that I have been on since its creation. And every once in a while I look at this and smile.

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This design, a circle enclosed in a square, has a long history behind it. From mandalas in the East to Leonardo di Vinci’s “Proportions of a Human Body” in the West.

I have been drawn to this form for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it’s the paradox of a circle and square living so comfortably together. Perhaps it’s the problem of squaring the circle, long proposed by Greek mathematicians, that has a special allure for me. Then again it may be nothing more then my love of contrasts.

I have returned to this form several times and I suspect, this won’t be the last time.

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