Saturday, November 28, 2009

Signs and wonders...How much of modern art is just a glorified 'STOP' sign?

Yesterday I had a headache.
Which must explain how I got my words all mixed up.
It felt good to push my knuckle into a particularly sore and tender spot. I tried to tell Meridee.

‘Ah, it feels like I have a fovea just like babies do’.
What did you say? You have a faux beard, just like babies do? I’ve never seen a baby with a beard. What on earth are you talking about?
‘No. A fovea. You know, in my head.’
What kind of phobia?

Clearly this was going nowhere! For starters, I should have said 'fontanel'.
So a soft spot on my head that felt good to massage had become a phobic baby disguised as Fidel Castro.

Clearly my message wasn’t getting through, although it did make us laugh.

I feel the same way about being told unrecognizable paintings are important works of genius that communicate complicated intellectual ideas.

Words communicate complicated intellectual ideas.

Using words to explain ideas can lead to mis-communication, even though words are the right language to use.

Which is why I’ve always been doubly suspicious of incomprehensible visual art that requires an essay from a noted scholar or critic to explain what it’s really supposed to be saying.
If it was that complicated to explain, why would you try and use paint instead of a pen?

It's always seemed fishy to me.

Is the art just a ‘STOP’ sign being used to get you to pay attention to the critic’s essay?
In which case it’s the essay that should be up for consideration as meaningful, not the art.

I guess they need each other. Perhaps the learned critic pretends the deeply meaningful and very important 'STOP' sign has something to do with his discourse, and the artist pretends the critic correctly interpreted his idea.

Would no one pay attention to the idea man without the art to get you to stop and listen?
That’s my guess.

The less about anything the art appears to be, the easier the critic can attach any idea he likes to it.
But for you to listen you have to believe the art is very important.

The critic’s got plenty of things to talk about on hand, he’s a writer after all. So the writers gravitate to ever more meaningless work, and declare it has ever more profound importance that they need to explain.
The less you can get from the art the better: it will be less likely to contradict their point of view on whatever notion it is they want to discuss.

If you don't believe the art is very important, you might not realize you are supposed to pay attention to what they have to say about it. So they declare 'this is a work of genius: now you'd really better listen to me!'

So I say the art they pick is often just to be used as a handy STOP sign.
The art has its job to do, which it does, but let’s not get all carried away.
If you can't tell what it's supposed to be saying by looking at it, how important can it really be?

Unless of course you really can communicate complex intellectual ideas with a shambles on canvas, and I, along with a lot of other reasonably intelligent people just can’t see it.

But I always get the sneaky feeling I’m being had by some dishonesty and someone somewhere is having a jolly good laugh!
Not always, but often enough to make me blow off steam about it!

Meridee just read this and said ‘remember that they say a picture’s worth a thousand words’.
I said ‘Yes, but only if it’s a picture OF something’.
She came back with ‘I guess with modern art then you could say a picture spawns a thousand words’.

Now I’m off to solve the healthcare debate using only an accordion and some cymbals.

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My parrot, and some super cool ringtones...

Meridee calls it my parrot, because it’s bright green and talks to me.
I take it everywhere and it will startle people with its perfect impersonations of croaking toads, tree frogs, gobbling turkeys and howling coyotes.

Or cow-outies as some friends of ours three year old likes to say.

It’s not really a parrot of course. It’s my iPhone with a shiny green cover.

I loaded a bunch of free ringtones which are recordings of various animal sounds.

I was over at Lee’s recently, discussing this or that outside near his workshop. He was working on some of my turtles, toads and tree frogs at the time. He suddenly became very distracted, looking all about the ground for the plains spadefoot toads that had unexpectedly started calling nearby.

While I of course simply fished them out of my pocket, in green shiny iPhone form, and shut them up from croaking before seeing what they really had to say.

Realizing the true source of the sounds, he rolled his eyes and muttered, almost under his breath, ‘Ahh, obsessed’.

Here’s the ringtones. If you’ve ever wanted a howler monkey in your pocket, now’s your chance! (They sound like a very drunk man belching uncontrollably in a small echo chamber. Breaks the ice at parties!).

When I was a kid I developed a kind of signature. It was a super quick cartoon frog which I could dash off in a couple of seconds. I scribbled it on everything.

One of the things I'm doing on my phone is drawing a frog everytime I find myself waiting in line, or waiting anywhere for anything , come to think of it.
I'm using the same basic template in so far as it's the same dozen lines or so, drawn with my finger on the phone but varying the speed or general proportions to see slight variations in each frog.

I even started doing left handed frogs facing the other way to see if would add some more variety.

Each one seems to have its own personality.
My favorites I think are ones done so fast I'm not thinking about them at all. It's fun to see how they turn out.
I'm planning on assembling masses of them together in a giant 'quilt like' print, with a bit more jiggery pokery to boot, to represent endangered amphibian species.

Less destructive than grafitti-ing it everywhere around town! (see, I'm all grown up now).

Oh, I forgot it was Thanksgiving coming up so I'll email the details of my new WIN two mice contest to everyone who's signed up to 'Get Email Updates' (see side bar if you want to sign up) on Dec 1st, and announce the winners on Dec 7th. - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art rant, new contest this week, and treefrog penthouse.

Why is there more bad art today than there used to be?

Because the definition of art has been thrown so wide open, nothing gets left outside.

You can call the best stuff in the drawing room art, but you can’t deny the contents of the toolshed, compost heap and the outhouse being called art too, not if they demand to be.

So fine, it’s all art. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And now of course, even the smelly, too.

Lots more stuff calling itself art equals lots more bad art.

By the same token, there should be lots more good art, too, presumably.

Like me, I imagine your idea of what counts as good art you'd enjoy reflects your tastes and values that you either grew up with or have chosen to adopt.

In my case (for better or worse), it would be something excellent that stands above the crowd of mediocrity.

Probably came from a craft which demonstrates a high level of skill, shares my impeccably good taste (of course!) and has an emotional impact on enough viewers that it wasn’t an accident, whether the viewers are fellow craftspeople or not.

Good design, pleasing composition, interesting visual ideas.
The combined results of study, practice and talent.

These things would count for me.
They are present in all the artists I admire, and are at least what I try to put into my own work.

Which is not to say everything else isn’t art, of course.
It just wouldn’t likely be popping my cork.

Fortunately there’s plenty of what I’d call good art around that I can enjoy.

But also of course an awful lot of art I wouldn’t call art at all.

There would have been plenty more bad art back in the day too,
if only they’d been 'smart' enough to call it art!

End of rant!

I’ve made a couple more mid sized (4” long-ish) turtles, but since there’s no chance of them getting cast before the holidays, I’ll just leave them to one side for a while, and work on some more tree frogs which are coming along nicely so far (fingers crossed).

The real one I have as my muse got an apartment upgrade recently.

I rubber cemented a long oval plastic flower pot to the floor of the tank, so when I put water in the tank it doesn’t get inside the pot.

Inside the glued-in empty pot is a same sized pot with a bromeliad and some compost in it, which I can lift out if I need to.

I put a heater in the water, so now the water is nice and toasty warm, which heats the air above and creates a dripping wet humid environment that my frog loves.

To slightly mis-quote Edmund Blackadder, ‘It’s as damp in there as a pair of armored trousers after the hundred years war’.

My frog now emerges from the cosy spot in the bromeliad every evening without fail, to crawl about on the vines and leaves in search of crickets.

I dream of making our shower into a walk-in tree frog home, with branches, waterfalls, plants, sculpted backgrounds, a pebble filled pool, ahhh..., I wonder when Meridee has any extended painting trips planned…

Oh, I'm going to run another contest to give away another mouse, but I'm only announcing it to people who have signed up for email updates. So if you fancy your chances, sign up in the side-bar where it says 'get email updates' (it's secure) and I'll announce the new contest in the next few days (besides that email updates are monthly).

Max Love from Kerrville, TX won last time, and had this to say...

'I received the mouse yesterday afternoon. :)
It is a truly remarkable little sculpture. He will have a good home.
Much thanks on your craftsmanship,
Max.' - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My show last night at Manitou here in Santa Fe was a blast!

I had a blast last night at the reception for my sculpture show. It had been written up in Western Art Collector magazine , publicized by the gallery and me, and happily we were rewarded with a great turnout of strangers, neighbors and friends who all seemed to be having as good a time as me.

I got a real kick out of being present to answer questions from buyers who were thrilled with their purchases, which made me happier than ever.

Gigi bought a mid size bumper to bumper, and wanted to know how it was made. I cheerfully explained as much as I could, but of course suggested she find out more by searching for 'bumper to bumper' on this blog, since I’ve given detailed photo enhanced ‘how to’s’ on that piece in various sizes!
She’s off home again today after enjoying a re-union with friends.

They all seemed to like my suggestion of naming each one of the turtles after the re-united buddies!

Gerry from across the street added a Nosey mouse to her collection.

Bob and Aggie, who star in this video on YouTube (perfect for very tiny tots, it will DRIVE YOU NUTS if you aren't 3!) brought along some friends.

Thanks again for letting me invade your house with my video camera!

Familiar faces from my blog came along:

Mike Masse, Santa Fe’s patina king.

Lee Wilson, as good a mold maker as you’ll ever find.

Frank Fritzges, without who’s casting skills I wouldn’t have made much of a start at all into the miniature end of the world of bronzes.

I was delighted to run into many others, a few of which I’ll mention here…

Peter Wright, glass artist and bronze publisher . He’s been responsible for publishing many of my larger in physical size, smaller in edition size pieces. In fact I just got news (while writing this) that someone just snapped up one of those pieces, a turtle !

Michael Tatom, a jeweler and sculptor who I first met during Sculpture In The Park, at Loveland, CO.

Vince Maggiore, who did the patinas on my first bronzes, the life sized rabbits, while he was working at Shidoni foundry.

Michelle Chrisman
, who paints regularly with Meridee came all the way from Taos with Phil (and then had to drive all the way back again to let the dogs out!).

Juanita who works at Nedra Matteucci’s gallery, and turned a blind eye over the release of my turtle who modeled for me, into the splendid pond they have in their sculpture garden. He’s doing very well, by the way, and is getting quite large now (but not nearly as big as the other turtles there).

Elizabeth who knew Meridee in a former existence, and Kent . They are a pair of authors who've had some very notable successes.

Lots more folks besides, I really appreciate your coming.
Thanks to everyone at Manitou , and of course an extra big thanks to Meridee.
I’ve bent her ears more than most people could ever stand to hear about all things clay and bronze!

I should do this more often!

(did I forget to thank the academy?)

It’s nice to feel like a star for a night! - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.