Monday, December 7, 2009

Tooting my own horn?

A week ago, I took "Chlora's Writing Room" to Dallas to introduce it to "Typo". I thought they would play well together, but they seem to have communication problems. Hopefully they will outgrow them because these two need each other. It is probably all the fault of that awful Frida Kahlo posing like St. Sebastian, impaled on the typewriter paper and still nursing her wounds. That wounded deer should deal with her pain and quit inflicting it upon others. It is enough to make poor Van Gogh cut off his other ear and turn it into a pencil sharpener, as above.

But on a much happier note, Adam is 25 today, and here he is, looking at the just-finished "Mourning Has Broken". If this piece had not been such a technical challenge, yes, I'd toot my own horn. But this golden horn buried in purple cloth has been one of those pieces that has tried my patience. Perhaps it should be named "Mourning Has Broken and I Glued it Back Together". Or "Mourning Has Broken, Pick Up the Pieces." Anyhow, I started this one way back in the spring. Conceptually it is complex, and technically, well let's just say I learned a lot.
It took the trip to Paris to get me excited about finishing it up.. Sitting there in the Orangerie, immersed in the waterlilies (the "Morning" one I'd painted on the lid and it self-destructed in the high firing)... I had an idea about how to redeem the broken lid (shown in an earlier post). Turn it into a mosaic, and toss the pieces into the case, like coins in the musician's case in the Paris Metro. I must say it is mightly fun to bash up porcelain with a hammer!

Also I saw "Impression Sunrise" in Musee Marmottan for the first time. It had seemed quite trite to use that obvious painting on a piece that deals with Easter sunrise services. But, the real thing was much more beautiful and nuanced than I imagined, and it just had to go on there. It tucks into the front of the case and peeks out of the case like the sun peeking over a mountain.

On the mute is painted Signorelli's fresco from Orvieto Cathedral, "Resurrection of the Flesh". I saw this fresco cycle a few years ago, and must say it is one of the wierdest images in art history...all those skeletons and bodies crawling out of the graves...Somebody really should mute that story!

Also from Italy, we have Ghiberti's scene of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, from the Golden Gates of Paradise (on the Florence Baptistery). I carved a portion of this, emphasizing the horns, on the bell of the trumpet. Compare the wet carving with the finished one, finally overglazed in gold.

The sheet music is Jeremiah Clark's "Trumpet Voluntary." It was a toss-up between that and Scott Joplin's "Pineapple Rag" which I could not find. Big thanks to Jenny Whitten and Tim Trickey for the loan of his middle-school horn and case from the 60's. It was a great model. Tim tells me it is actually a cornet, and yes, there is a difference, but when you make one out of clay, and it warps, I guess it doesn't matter. I have a new appreciation for brass players after following all the complicated loops and buttons on that thing. And, it took a lot of gold! The separate mouthpiece, overglazed in platinum, reminds me of the tuba I played in seventh grade. The tuba was bigger than I was, but I could get some noise out of that thing! Maybe if I'd played a trumpet I'd still be tooting my own horn.