Monday, November 7, 2011

Chlora goes to the Fairmont

On October 1, I began a sweet gig in Dallas as Artist-in-Residence at the Fairmont. The hotel is a grand old lady, the only hotel in the Arts District. It is a program that's been active for two years now, with one artist per quarter living in a suite on the top floor and a big studio on the bottom.

October began in a blur, as two unexpected things happened: my sister Wendy in Plano had to have cancer surgery, and my Fairmont digs weren't quite ready for me and all my junk. But Wendy's doing great, and I am happily nested and being productive.

Work in progress: the hotel offered to install a kiln, but that wasn't necessary or advisable. So I began a few pieces at home, glazed them up in Dallas, and brought them home to fire again.

Main piece so far is a silver champagne bucket, called "Miracle on Ice". On the bottle is a mosaic adaptation from the Chora Museum in Istanbul which I saw last summer. It is the "Wedding at Cana", you know, water into wine. Why not the finest champagne?

On the bucket are two adaptations from the Dallas Museum of former employer, which now I "look down upon" from the 25th floor!

It was SO stimulating to just walk over one block and see the the paintings in person. Frederick Edwin Church's "The Icebergs" is the DMA's signature piece I suppose...I was there when it was acquired and even got to install the fome-cor on the back of the stretcher (wonder if that has been changed out??!!) The other image on the bucket is Dubuffet's "The Reveler", which was also great fun to study up close, as the paint texture is much richer and varied than you'd ever

know from a reproduction. So, I am a frequent flier at the DMA and Nasher these days, collecting ideas and images for pieces in process, yet to come.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Painting Bridges

Presenting-- "Chlora's Tinkertoys", whose main star is really the 20 little reproductions of paintings going around the bucket (one leftover was stuck in with the sticks and spools).
Legend has it that the Golden Gate Bridge is continuously being repainted and it takes a year to fully cover it with its famous "international orange." Truth is, it doesn't get a new coat of paint every year, but daily its rusty parts are being spiffed up. Whatever, it takes a long while to paint a bridge. I did these 20 gladly, in my Mother's sunroom in Springdale, Arkansas. I'd forgotten how refreshing it is to paint in natural light.
Here below are the works of art I used, selected as much for their maker's nationality as their composition, with an eye to the collection from which they come. You'll have to look at the four second vimeo (links above) to see where they landed, and to try to follow the connection from one bridge to another.

Whistler/ Canaletto/ Joseph Stella/ Charles Sheeler

Redon/ Van Gogh / Feininger

Munch / Durand / Hiroshige
Jacob Lawrence

Monet/ Kandinsky / Caillebotte
Franz Kline/ David/ Church

Canaletto / Rosa/ Derain

Chlora's Tinkertoys

What I remember most about playing with Tinkertoys is their woody smell. That, and the frustration of trying to jam a stick into a hole on a humid summer day when the wood swelled up. Plus the sound of the tumbling parts out of the big bucket. Tinkertoys were fun, but you had to lower your engineering standards, since anything was guaranteed to come out wobbly.

A few in-process shots here of "Chlora's Tinkertoys". Nothing fancy about this technique, just a large coiled cylinder smoothed down with a fake floor to hold the spools and sticks. I had an assembly line going for awhile there. What this piece required was a lot of playfulness and painting. Here's my model, a cannister of Tinkertoys from the early 1970's, I think, when they began to add a few plastic parts.

Early on, I knew this piece would be about building bridges, and it'd go in the August Chlora story (which like all 12 Chlora Books of the Month, is continually in process). Essentially, Chlora is playing with Tinkertoys at her Grandmother's after having a close encounter with a pack of dogs near a small bridged creek. She's recovering in the air conditioning, flipping through her Grandmother's set of bridge cards. She begins sticking them on the Tinkertoy bucket with chewing gum, and one thing leads to another.

Deciding which paintings would be the "bridge cards" and go on the tub took as long as painting them...I googled "paintings of bridges" and got lots of hits. Then I printed out small reproductions and stuck them on a trashcan to get a continuous flow of lines from one composition into a top and bottom row. One of the first paintings to come to mind was Jacques Louis David's The Sabines,that gargantuan, complicated one that holds sway in the Louvre's grand gallery. Why? Because the woman in the middle has planted herself squarely between two warring tribes, and she loves both sides. It is not easy being a bridge.

Midway through I suddenly thought of the Crystal Bridges Art Museum opening this fall in my neck of the woods in Arkansas. So I borrowed their big beauty, Asher B. Durand's Kindred Spirits, which has NO bridge, but a huge gap in the woods. Below it, a Redon Crucifixion situated
itself, as if spanning the gap. Once all were painted and fired, they got stuck onto the bucket.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Make a Porcelain Vacuum Cleaner

Not that I'd recommend anybody try this in Arts & Crafts class(who'd WANT to do this ??) but here are in-process shots of "Horror Vacuui"....which you can see finished in the blog just below. Here I am in my cluttered studio working on it, with the "muse" Kirby Classic Model III sitting in the background.

It began with the motor, which was built with slabs and then carved when leatherhard... with designs from the Louvre's Baptistery of St. Louis, a remarkable piece of Islamic inlaid metalwork.

Greenware is so darned fragile...Bottom of the vacuum, wheels and all.

Then, I picked up the texture from a kilim rug to fold into the vacuum's carpet bag... stuffed with paper while drying.

The motor and bag were enough to fill the kiln, so they got bisqued first. Next, made the handle and extension cord (got to use an extruder for that, fun!) Also, made two blank scarves which are supposed to look like they are getting sucked up into the motor.

Onward to painting on the bisque, or in some cases already vitrified parts fired to Cone 6.

Here's a detail from Botticelli's Primavera (Uffizi Gallery) on the left, and right, design elements from a prayer rug in the Metropolitan Museum.

On the two scarves, I copied Ingres' Turkish Bath (Louvre), and Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon (MOMA).

Finally got a look at how the bag would fit onto the motor...precariously! Obviously didn't fire it this way, but with the bag separate and flat. (on the right is the bucket of piece)

From here on, it was a matter of painting and firing, over and over until the final metallics were applied, gold and white gold together, with a black metallic in the background.

Then, as I describe in the previous blog, the hose and small attachment were added at the end, as separate components, signifying the cleaning out of hell. A few touches of acrylic to disguise cracks, etc. were needed. Title is apt: "HORROR VACUUI".

Here it is, first view in the studio.. left. The bag fell off five times before I stuck a board up inside it, with epoxy. It is now quite sturdy. The whole thing got assembled for a photo shoot by Rusty Jackson. Somehow that makes it real.