Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blue Man

Much of what I am creating is about the material used to make each piece. This elongated figure is built from juniper branches, metal, wire, found objects and cloth. After assembling this piece, I spray painted it blue- the color that I am currently obsessed with.

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

Museum Proposal

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

A New Start

Since I started making stuff four years ago, I've had a total of three openings where it was just my work. I forgot how much work it is to get ready for a show. (There were good days and bad days.)

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

Audrey Derell, a fantastic graphic designer and photographer, (and my wife) put together this announcement for my show. It says it all!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Interview With The Artist* Part III

ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT YOUR SHOW AT JANE SAUER'S GALLERY? I'm showing with one of the best galleries in the country! To be showing with Jane is such an honor. She works with some of the most innovative and interesting artists from around the United States. Yes-I'm pretty excited about this show and the variety of work that will be in it.

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.

One wall will be have a large family of squirrels. They look really cool in a gallery setting. They are so scruffy but the gallery is so pristine. And I've built a small series of bird heads, kind of like studies for larger pieces.

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...