Friday, December 18, 2009
33" x 25" x 8"
This small antelope, Xix, was just finished in preparation for my show in February at the Jane Sauer Gallery, in Santa Fe. This is the third solo show that I will be having with Jane. Earlier shows have been great successes, which puts pressure on me to make even better work for this upcoming show,
Right now I'm in my studio, looking out my window at a just completed running canine. It started off (like every other piece) with high expectations and happy memories of easily building another piece. The reality turned out to be quite different. Right from the beginning its been a difficult process. I've had to redo, re-carve, redesign and remake every part of it, from the head to the feet, and lastly, when I thought I was done, I had to totally remake the base! Its like I've made the piece over and over again.
This is a first...I've never had such trouble completing a piece. But its done and sitting in my back yard waiting for the final process, the applying of the patina. At this moment,with everything that's happened, I think best thing for both of us to spend a little time apart.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
My gallery dealer, Jane Sauer, got the state of New Mexico to purchase one of my sculptures for its Art in Public Places program. A large flying bird was purchased for a new animal shelter in Grants, New Mexico.
About a week ago I drove to Grants, which is two hours away from Santa Fe. The two employees that worked there were fascinated by the piece. After spending some time with them and explaining my idea's and background, they totally got it. They started telling me stories about the bird, where it had come from and how it was able to survive. What fun to have such a positive response to the work.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
With all the planning and thought that went into the presentation and all that room, the work attracted a lot of attention during the four day fair. Many people remembered my work from the year before. But I was most amazed that they were able to see the progression in it. (These new pieces are more complex, elaborate and some of the creatures have become more fanciful.)
Five pieces sold and I got one commission, which I am working on right now. My solo show at the Jane Sauer Gallery will start in mid February. I want to have at least fifteen creatures for that show. I'd better get busy!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Besides wandering the arroyos and hills around Santa Fe, accumulating old rusted and weathered material, I recently found another great place to both find inspiration and gather objects for my sculptures. It is called Habitat For Humanity and they sell used building products. Just about every day there is something different to be found in the bins. I'm spending more and more time there-it's turned into my portable studio or laboratory.
Last week I was looking in the row that sold old electrical lights and discarded wire. It got me thinking about creatures that have distinctive hair...and then I saw this bunch of old white electrical wire. I've never used wire before but it looked so expressive and evocative that I couldn't resist getting it. (I must have been a junk dealer in a past life.)
This creature is part of the group called Creatures of Curiosity. His magnificent tail incorporates my latest find...and next week, well, I've been eying this old steamer trunk.
18.5" x 26" x 9"
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Unicorn horns, mermaid skeletons, stuffed and preserved animals and plants, insects in amber, lenses, and obscure scientific instruments - these were just some of the contents of what were called Cabinets of Curiosity. First assembled in 16th century Europe, these "rooms of wonder" became the earliest museums, where diverse collections of oddities from around the world could be seen in one place. Sumptuous accumulations of unknown and unfamiliar objects were assembled in beautifully constructed cabinets, contained in entire rooms displaying artifacts from floor to ceiling.
I think of my constructed creations as present day artifacts that might have been collected and assembled in a Cabinet of Curiosity. Where they came from and what meanings they hold are still unknown. Indicators and clues as to their origins can be found on each creature - but often the markings, materials and methods of construction can be confusing, asking more questions than giving answers. Studied closely, each creature seems to have similar construction patterns, tattoos and indications of tribal identification.
A rabbit poised to spring, wired together with an assortment of old sticks, rags, rusted metal and found objects, is then mounted on a weathered wooden armature. Another almost mythological beast - part rubber robed rhinoceros and part metal cloaked ant eater - is captured mid-stride, his worn underside streaming a strange accumulation of hanging objects. During his journeys this creature has attracted the various talismans to his belly like metal to magnets. Creatures of my imagination...peering felines, quizzical canines, pondering armadillos, miniature running antelope, crawling lizards and crooked wooden birds, beckon you to follow them into the shadows of my own realm of the curiously outlandish and bizarre.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
14" x 16" x 6"
I've seen pictures of the pangolin in books for years. They are curious creatures, a fish-like animal. They are large and act a little like tree sloths. With all their scales I was attracted to them once I started working with old bike tires.
They are found in parts of Africa and Asia and recently have become endangered. They are hunted both for their meat and their scales, which are thought to have medicinal properties.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
21" x 20" x 9"
This creature, based on a horned lizard, is assembled from both black and white bicycle tires, along with a variety of nails, screws and rusted bolts. Around his neck hangs an old paint brush and underneath his body other objects dangle down. The pedestal is constructed from cabinet handles, a wheel, and found hardware.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
18" x 12" x 6 1/2"
Another creature to be a part of the group installed during SOFA in Chicago in November. This porcupine-like critter's spikes were made from wire that is used to make fences in New Mexico. There are dozens of them sticking out of her body. It was a study in patience to install each one, row after row.
My friend Michelle gave me the base, which originally was used to hold tools for a fire. She works at Habitat for Humanity and is becoming one of my best sources for odds and ends.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sagita & Savii
23" x 20" x 26"
This pair of foxes is part of the work going to Chicago for my installation called Creatures of Curiosity. I think of this series as artifacts and objects that have been assembled together in one place.
These pieces have been built using an assortment of branches, screws and odds/ends. In person the work has the feeling of contained energy.
The base is crafted from mountain bike tires and metal. I call this style of furniture NUVO Mennonite.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Colocolo & Caracal
20" x 16" x 21"
When I first started making objects, just about five years ago, I would create detailed sketches and drawings of each piece-then I would follow them closely until completion of the piece. That went on for a while.
However, over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten away from making preliminary sketches. I have come to really enjoy the unintentional and unlikely results that I end up with from creating creatures without a specific outcome in mind. I have an idea to start with, but it is broad, like wanting to capture the pose of a running antelope-but that’s it. No thought of how things will be constructed or what materials will be used.
Hoping to keep the work fresh, I make it up as I go along in the construction process. (It also depends on what recent finds I have located.) This most recent piece, called Colocolo and Caracol, started off as a vague idea- two cats hanging out. One would be larger than the other. I wanted them to have their own area to live in so I made the rusted metal pedestal. (This piece is part of the installation, Creatures of Curiosity, which I will be assembling at SOFA in Chicago in November with Jane Sauer, my Santa Fe gallery dealer. She has given me about a 10 foot long wall to create what ever I want for this show. What an amazing dealer!)
Once I build the two creatures, I had this idea that they would be facing each other, kind of like and Egyptian frieze, a more formal pose. When I tried them this way, they looked disjointed and like they were living in different worlds. Luckily when I asked my friend Audrey(who also happens to be my wife) what she thought, she changed them immediately. They suddenly became connected, almost like parent and child. Then my friend Bob saw the piece and changed their position on the pedestal a little more, and like magic in front of my eyes, they suddenly came alive. Their relationship is intimate, secure…even protective. But each of them has that inner strength that cats can often project.
I’m amazingly lucky to have friends that put up with my ‘artist’ personality and especially that they are such good critiques and have an ‘eye’ for looking at my work. You can tell that I’m a strong believer in getting helpful feedback.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Atrox and Cuprosa
Figs. 237 –Painted wood, metal, cloth and found object sculpture, representing two bird-like figures, possibly in a courtship posture. One figure is perched above the other in a dominant position. Plumage on both heads made from a dark rubber-like material.
Attached to both bodies are assorted metallic tags of unusual form. Meaning unknown. Each figure is attached to a rectangular block of wood which has been ornamented by applying a think sheet of metal, nails, and screws.
The stand appears to represent a closed or contained cabinet, underneath is found this writing: b-o-t-t-o-m.
Medium: Tropical woods, metal, cloth, found objects
Dimensions: 11” x 14” x 9”
Accession Number: 87.216.2
Catalogue description: Ceremonial ritual between two bird-like figures.
Friday, August 14, 2009
20" x 21" x 6"
Afer is a cross between an anteater and an aardvark (did you know there is an aardwolf?) From the series, Cabinet of Curiosity, this artifact is covered with a pattern of roofing screws, old metal and an assortment of accumulations. My artifacts are objects that might have been found on a archeological site, created as a learning tool, used as something to barter, or assembled for some private ritual or ceremony.
This piece was a bit of a departure for me. First off, I didn't have any fixed idea of what type of creature I was going to make. (For the most part, I don't create a sketch or drawing of a piece ahead of time.) The elongated snout was the first piece of wood I added to the generic body. I was curious to see what might happen if a series of roofing screws were attached to the canvas. The pattern drawn in pencil on the back is still visible. A heavy staining process rusted the metal pieces which started bleeding into the fabric and wood.
Hanging down from the creature are a mix of rusted metal pieces, an old Mexican Peso, some washers used with the roofing screws, and fishing weights. The pedestal was made from an old fence that once was in my back yard.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Flight of Taxus
60" x 60" x 48"
For weeks five unassembled bird bodies got pushed around my work bench as I finished up commissions and a dog. I was not sure what I was going to do with this small flock of birds.
After coming across a Calder mobile I thought about creating something with them, something that moved and 'flew' in the air. Once the birds were completed, I started doing sketches and got a rough idea of how a mobile might work.
It's all about the balance, as I soon learned. I made the mistake of assembling everything, before I added additions to the birds. Every time I added a small detail, I had to counter the added weight somewhere else in the piece. The addition of the two rocks threw everything out of balance but I love their shape and contrast.
It all came together, and when it is hanging, the flying birds have an amazing ability to feel like the 'real' thing.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Brachyurus is a species of wolf found in South America. What attracted me to this species is its strong features: a long thin nose, large expressive ears, piercing eyes, slim body, a beautifully curved tail and elegant feet. The creature that I build is loosely based on this wolf. She also has a little coyote, gray wolf, wild dog and red fox mixed in. She is holding up one foot, resting, while she survey's her surroundings.
Parts of old mountain bike tires were used to make her ears, nose, additions to the body and the cabinet that she sits on. I think of the base as a cabinet of curiosity, something that holds other "wonders of nature."
27 1/2" x 21" x 16 1/2"
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Man & Beast
Geoffrey Gorman, known for his animal sculptures, goes in new directions in solo show
Feb 13, 2009
Geoffrey Gorman is known for his imaginative and endearing animal sculptures and certainly there are plenty in his solo exhibition opening today at Jane Sauer Gallery on Canyon Road. But there are some additions to the show that demonstrate that the veteran artist has more than an arrow in his quiver.
“Jane Sauer is terrific. She pretty much lets you do what you want, even if she is not crazy about it herself,” Gorman told the Journal . “As for me, I’ve kind of gone wild.”
Gorman’s new show includes plenty of the eponymous “Animals,” his trademark sculptures of an excited cat, a curious baboon, a high-stepping deer or long-eared rabbits. “His creatures are frozen in a moment of intense awareness of their viewers,” said Sauer. “Wild things that gaze at us in a silent moment of mutual curiosity. As all devotees of the natural world know, it’s a look that can pierce directly into the human soul.”
But Gorman also is including drawings and prints from a trip last year to China. “I did a series of about 65 drawings,” the artist said excitedly. “Nobody in Santa Fe has ever seen my drawings and prints before.”
He’s also used his sculpture techniques to create pairs of human — or humanesque — figures. “Most of what I do is based on some kind of animal. I like to look at animals and see what I want to see. But these are direct looks at human figures,” he said. “I haven’t done that in a long time. I don’t think Jane likes them.”
“I just completed a male and female couple that hang on the wall. Some of the first figures that I built were what I thought of as tree spirits, or the energy of the tree, which is called lignin. Another influence on my figures is the people that they have found in bogs in Europe,” Gorman said. “This particular couple is wearing masks. After carving the masks, I put little pieces of an old paint brush in them to suggest hair. The masks have the feeling of owls who are peering around and curious. Hanging off their bodies is my usual assortment of old typewriter parts, rusted metal, and found objects. The male figure has a small skull hanging off his waist.”
Sauer, for her part, ignored the human figures in discussing the show. “Geoffrey’s work is really for the times — happy, made from readily available low-cost materials and some of it is quite affordable,” she said. “In addition, those animals are so engaging.”
Gorman certainly isn’t repudiating the mixed media animal sculptures. They are his primary métier, after all. He talks about his work at length on his blog, geoffrey gorman.blogspot.com. The baboon heads, for instance:
“I became obsessed with monkeys and our close relationship to them. I’ve also been fascinated with the various forms of money that I’ve seen used around the world, especially from Africa, and how it often would be made into a practical, recognizable form or shape, like a bracelet,” Gorman wrote in a recent blog. “These baboon heads have an interesting feel to them, as if they were ancient trading objects or some old sculpture. I mounted them on blocks of wood covered in rusted tin, as if they had come from a museum display.”
He uses every part of his experience, even “horrible” situations like a Chinese meal in Beijing. He made “a portrait of a duck, in honor of all the Peking ducks that are eaten in China. (I made the mistake of going to a famous Peking duck restaurant while in Beijing and it was truly horrible. Hundreds of people and dozens of duck bodies lined up for the slaughter.) His ‘hair’ is made from an old paint brush.”
A man of parts
Gorman describes himself as a man using many talents. “I’m many things. I started out in art school many years ago majoring in photography. Now I’m a practicing artist, and have been for the last several years. I’ve also been helping my Santa Fe gallery dealer (Sauer) with art fairs around the world. That involves setting up the booth and selling the art. Last fall we were in Beijing, China, and later in Chicago, participating in art fairs. I created 65 drawings and one print based on impressions of the people that I met while in Beijing. I was a gallery dealer for 15 years, but I thought I was over that part of my life. In fact, I’ve really been enjoying working with Jane, setting up and hanging the shows, and selling both my work and other artists’ work.
“I also continue to coach and consult with artists and arts organizations,” Gorman continued. “But I’m putting most of my focus on making a living at creating and selling my sculptures and drawings. So I guess I’m this combination of struggling artist, preparator, gallery dealer, coach and businessman.
“I feel pretty lucky that I’m able to use many of my skills and past experiences,” Gorman added. “In constructing my sculptures, I’m using my knowledge of woodworking from my many years as a custom furniture maker. In promoting and marketing my own art, I’m following my own advice. And it’s been pretty interesting to see how it works from the other side, the side of the working artist, the ones who have to survive in the commercial art world. It’s tougher than I thought. I have to be tougher, harder, more persistent, even pushy, when it comes to promoting myself. Being a professional artist is not for the meek and mild.”
Friday, July 3, 2009
Here I am (the one wearing the shorts) installing the antlers on my deer, which was placed in a large entry hall in the new convention center in Santa Fe. He looks a little lonely in the large hallway, like he is looking for the rest of his tribe to join him...
I fantasize about building a large bird to hang down from the room, a companion piece. It would have a twenty foot wing span and still look small in the hall.
Friday, June 26, 2009
After seeing so many antelope roaming by the highways on the way to Colorado, I made this piece called "Guentheri."
I also see him in a natural history museum display with a gorgeously painted backdrop. A text on the wall states: "This small (36" x 26" x 16") curious creature had ears, a tail and its hooves made from mountain bike tires. Pipe clamps hold on the hooves. On his leg an old odometer still calculates all the miles it travels on the open plains. Rusted tin, an oly eye piece, screws and found objects have attached themselves to his wooden antlers.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I've been trying an experiment: to see if my work can get picked up on web sites around the world. So far two sites have run articles and images on the work. Here is the first one;
This garbage scrap buck was created by Geoffrey Gorman who clearly has a knack for making treasure from trash. His collection of recycled object fake taxidermy includes everything from deer to dogs and a whole bunch of peculiar, unidentifiable creatures If you were going to make art from found objects, would you make fake taxidermy? I know I would, after being inspired by the creations in the cluster below.
Here is the link to the site: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/eco-taxidermy-geoffrey-gorman
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Geoffrey's Cat, named after the 19th century naturalist, Geoffrey St Hilaire, is found throughout southern South America, east of the Andes. With individuals found inhabiting areas around the Straits of Magellan, along with the Puma it is the most southerly of the worlds wild cat species.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Starting with the idea of what a Toucan's bill might look like, I carved a piece of wood into the shape seen here. After covering it with tin and screws, I painted it with red paint and then an overcoat of white. Most of the paint has been sanded off, then the tin has been rusted.
The piece, TOCO, actually looks more like a whale's fin, encrusted with barnacles and a weathered patina.
4" x 7" x 3.5"
Friday, March 27, 2009
Outside my studio, the world of small birds continues to fascinate me. The house finches, tiny and delicate, dominate the trees and bird feeder. They look at my window, their heads cocked. Building nests is now the main activity (besides a quick glimpse of two mating finches). They use just about any contained space to assemble found material to make their nests.
This piece that I just completed shows a house finch bringing nesting material to its nest. The nest is a bit more fanciful. I am hoping that it looks like something that Andy Goldsworthy might have put together if he were ever asked to make a bird's nest.
24" x 16" x 16"
Friday, March 20, 2009
This elongated figure, Dugon, has the features of an Eland or an African grazing animal. Most of the other features seem human, including the body, hands and feet. Hanging off of its belt there is a piece of weathered glass (usage unknown), a paddle or tool, and assorted other artifacts.
In its outstretched hands, the figure is holding what on first glance appears to be a toy. Upon further study, the miniature animal contains details suggesting an effigy or fetish of some kind. Could this 'toy' be some sort of fertility symbol?
28" x 7" 6"
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I just received my copy of the new book, Found Object Art 2, with several of my pieces included. The book is professionally printed and well organized. Most of the artists included in the book are making interesting and dynamic work with recycled material.
Its exciting to have images in a real book. It gives me a sense of permanence, knowing that this book might be sitting on a library shelf somewhere, waiting to be picked up and enjoyed by someone.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Several winters ago, my bird feeder hosted a small house finch. Nothing unusual there, however, this particular bird had only one eye. The other one was closed. As the weeks went by, he kept coming to the feeder. I was impressed by his stamina, considering his affliction. (I later found out that there is a virus affecting small song birds around the country and that was probably what he had on his eye.)
I never saw him again. My bird feeder continues to attract dozens of house finches but I wonder what happened to him. These two birds are based on the little house finch (and hopefully capture some of his energy and beauty.)
each 7" x 15" x 6"
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This is the first piece of sculpture that I made. It was shown at the St. John's College exhibition, Books As Inspiration, in November of 2005. I was co-curating the show and decided to make a piece. The theme had to do with using something from one of the great books that St. John's uses in its curriculum. There were about 65 pieces of art from artists around Santa Fe.
I read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and made this piece, which shows Huck and Jim floating down the river. An old ledger was used for the raft. My first pieces were assembled with sticks from my back yard, sculpting wax that a friend had given me, and old bed sheets that I ripped apart.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Upon closer inspection, just about every crack, weathered branch and distressed surface has been highlighted by the paint. You can see where joints have been wired together, how tiny twigs and wire and cloth have been wrapped to form a foot, or how the knee joints aren't actually even touching, just butted and held together by wire.
After the paint dried, other unpainted metal elements were attached to the figure, offering a stark contrast to the blue paint. Then the 'weathering' process started. After numerous watering, paint started to peal off of metal surfaces and rust appeared, then bled onto the painted surfaces.
Why paint the piece? To cover up all the natural elements allows the piece to be viewed for its structure. Why would natural materials, so elegant in their original state, be covered over in every day house paint? Good questions...
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I have made several proposals to regional museums for installations of my work. (There has been interest but no takers yet.) The drawing above is to give someone an idea of what it might look like to have a group of my deer in a museum setting.
Here is the concept for this installation:
I believe that most people (in their minds) quickly develop stories about what they are seeing, especially when it is something recognizable, like an animal. As a visual artist, I am a storyteller, but I want my audience to participate in creating these stories. I just give them the starting point. That is why the animals I build are not detailed, recognizable representations of a specific species, but more of a short hand or rough outline of that creature.
My idea of installing a group of deer came about from observing them in nature and how profound that simple experience can be. Even seeing deer in suburban settings, I felt as if I were observing remnants of some secret society. But I believe that animals are symbolic of the human and animal condition.
The materials that I use to build my animals (such as tree branches, rusted metal, old canvas and found objects) creates a push and pull between past and present, deterioration and rejuvenation, survival and extinction, nature versus man. But in my mind nature has won. My creatures are proof that they are both surviving and prospering.
In bringing a herd of deer into a static, formal setting such as a museum raises many questions: Who is free? Are we wild or are these animals? Are we able to live and be happy in many environments? Do we find comfort in remnants of our past? Do animals cherish the same emotions and memories that humans have? Are we constantly in an internal and external battle to remove the cages that bind us?
This picture is of a deer that I made in 2008. It was exhibited in the Biennial Show at the Albuquerque Museum last Fall.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The opening was last Friday, February 13th, and it went well, all things considered. But getting back into the studio and being excited about making new work has been a bit of a challenge. Finally, yesterday, I finished two figures.
Today I also finished a larger figure, and painted it blue. It's a bit of a departure but I am excited about how it will look once it's been 'weathered.'
Monday, February 9, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
ARE YOU A PRINT MAKER? No, BUT I love to draw...In making prints, my challenge is to combine various materials to create an interesting image. This print is made up of a vellum sheet grommeted to a 1985 topography map of China that I found . The grommets hold the two pieces of paper together. I had a stamp made on the Internet. In red it has the title of the print with my name. I used a red cord on the top. (I am trying to make one print a year).Beijing Xiexie is the second print that I've made.
When I was in Beijing I thought I would see thousands of bicycles, but in fact, there weren't that many. I took a picture of a bike leaning against a wall and used it for this image. But the other thing that struck me while in China was how difficult it was to really understand and get know the people. My feeling was that they would say something to me but be thinking something completely different. I realized that it was about many layers of meanings and such a long history of cultural influences that I could never just 'stop' by to learn about China.
SO YOUR SHOW AT JANE SAUER'S GALLERY IS QUITE DIVERSE, RIGHT? Yes, I'm lucky that Jane is open to having a wide variety of work for the show. With my other galleries, some wanted only animals, others just wanted figures, and only my San Francisco gallery would show the drawings on plywood.Here is a drawing called Lignin, black ink pen on plywood, with a splash of whiteout. I love the rawness of the drawings on birch plywood.
So, for my show, I will be designing an installation of the small Beijing drawings. The digital print is a part of that group.
I've also made the figures in the boat and the two on the wall. When you see them in person they have an intensity. I guess its the rusted stuff hanging off of them and the stained wood. I hope they feel like some curious artifact that has been unearthed, maybe from a past culture. Are they toys-or something more ritualistic?
There will be a grouping of what I am calling 'prosperity' birds, they are all living out in this marsh, building nests and looking for food. Some of them are flying and one is walking in the marsh.
A grouping of dogs will also be in the show. I think of these dogs as being pretty feral, like the dogs you run into in the villages in Mexico. They are a breed, but one that its impossible to figure out-a little of this, a little of that... And these dogs are not the type to fetch a stick for you, unless there's a rabbit on the end of it.
WOW, A LOT WORK. Its not work, its more like play...