The Poet to the Artist | Part 2

Imaginate (on view through June 5, 2016), my first solo exhibition at the Boston Sculptors Gallery, has been a tremendous opportunity for me to exhibit a body of work and connect with the community. I am so grateful for the relationships that I have made over the last several weeks. Through conversations with artists, curators and enthusiasts, I have learned a great deal about individual works and my practice. Artist, poet and friend, Stephan Anstey of Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, MA attended the opening reception of Imaginate. It wasn't long before his encounter with the works before him forced his pencil to paper. I am most grateful for the following exchange — a collaboration of sorts — I give you part two of three!

Match

Numberless dice
rolled and left unread —
what chance is this?
Should I be the man
to roll it all again
and pray the number comes up
the texture, the color, the best luck
of being my own own life?

Brilliant Basics

When I was 3
I loved to stack
each upon each
until my own personal babel made sense
torus on torus
progressing larger to smaller
until everything made sense

Skateboards in Bosch Blue

I see the surface
willing to hold on
— an imagining of balance upon a no-slip plane
I see the wheels
willing to roll
— onward without resistance to direction
eyes closed — I know nearby are slender wrists
fragile and ready to break in the falling of the dream

Wheelboards in Fein Orange

In the distance of years
half a memory is left
on his back under an Oldsmobile wagon
fixing something banal like a break
the almost remembering never stops —
he was young rolling on that board
in filthy jeans and a ragged tee shirt
until we could stop safely

royal_palm_01.jpg

Royal Palm

Heaven is there in the straight lines
of a mosaic of hard woods
laid at the feet of a triumphant dream
if there is any hell here
it is only here in me.
I look down at my feet
watch my step
and walk away without even one Hosanna in the Highest

 

 



 

Blended Foundation

There is the pause as symbol is reconciled
to the artifice of self built here in me
— neither bone nor sinew
neither flesh nor blood
is any more me than this hardwood
if these bricks are bricks they are of soul not clay
if the mortar is mortar it is of mind not cement

 

carmel_02.jpg

Carmel

Distracted by the grout, I almost miss
the glossy sweet candy color
the weaving of grain into grain
the smoothing of cut by honesty of hand
I see the carpenter in California
the dusty scent of sandpaper echoes
like an albatross over the dark'ning sea on a long ago summer night
the taste of the crafter — exquisite salt blowing in from the cold pacific

Chateau Emperador

I see you see me
like a mosaic on the wall
a thousand bits of hardness
formed into a beautiful pattern
I realize, I am a backsplash
I realize, we are all each other's backsplashes
I smile and try to make the kitchen in your heart
where you bake all this up look pretty

 






(All poems courtesy of Stephan Anstey)

The Poet to the Artist | Part 1

Imaginate (on view through June 5, 2016), my first solo exhibition at the Boston Sculptors Gallery, has been a tremendous opportunity for me to exhibit a body of work and connect with the community. I am so grateful for the relationships that I have made over the last several weeks. Through conversations with artists, curators and enthusiasts, I have learned a great deal about individual works and my practice. Artist, poet and friend, Stephan Anstey of Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, MA attended the opening reception of Imaginate. It wasn't long before his encounter with the works before him forced his pencil to paper. I am most grateful for the following exchange — a collaboration of sorts — in three parts — with more to come.

Reflect the twisted pink around the silver contrasts against the mahogany — i ask no questions i consider the angles the depth & the meaning my childhood is there — she doesn't know i was a boy of sunny days of South Africa and New Hampshire Birch

Reflect

The twisted pink around the silver
contrasts against the mahogany
— I ask no questions

I consider the angles
the depth and the meaning

My childhood is there — she doesn't know
I was a boy of sunny days
of South Africa and New Hampshire Birch

objects_11.jpg

Steady

The cords are taut
fixed to poplar and canary wood

seven inches square
I see the symmetry
4 inches deep
I consider where this might rest

The notion of vertical pulls me
first down — then up and away

Grasp

The yellow cord is tightly woven
like a thousand ideas I'll never have

I reach to understand
what is beyond me — but I can't grasp
the situation

The contrast of the poplar and birch
reminds me to let go and just appreciate


Shift

I was a boy
I know this
I sat there in the maple tree
my hands sticky from her wounds

The green, the hinge
inside the shed a model A ford from 1934

Goodbye, I almost wept when I left there
hello, I almost wept when I returned

Drift

The distance from base
to the ends of the hooks
is spanned by pink cord
my mind goes back
to a day in a canoe
untethered — the distance
between me and the shore
only growing with time


Support

The placement of the holes
through the white
seems almost (though
not quite) precise
this is secure — wanton and ready
to be whatever it choose
regardless who might support
the decision its decision to be there

 

objects_04.jpg

Bridge

The oceans are wide
I close my eyes
every atom of my being
travels back along a flame cord
to that tree in Africa
was I so young?
was I this man even then?

 

Nook

For a moment, in the middle of Boston
I hide in a room with only 3 walls
three quarters of a 6-inch cube

I am afraid this is real:
I am truly this small.

I am afraid this is not real:
I am truly this big.

There is no comfort in the hiding.

Detach

This platform is small
but the black cord holds tight
to the silver fastened to the wall

It is no tiny thing to leap
from this precarious imagining

A reflection of black cord
through a small hole and knotted tightly


Hang

The dangling over
a word at a time
a tying of logic to oak
of dream to zebra wood
to poplar
to birch
a letting go — who am I to dare to be
this wilding man in such a tame place?

objects_08.jpg


Stretch

Yes, I know, we are the gold
twisted and turned
tied and fleeting as we rise
and fall — up and back again

It is the reaching, I tell myself
but of course, I can't hear my voice
over the flowering ash
swaying gentle in the wind


Pivot

This is a study in left
to right — the right
to have left. No this
is not that at all. This
is turning point
not about me at all

I consider the source
and the hardness of the wood


(All poems courtesy of Stephan Anstey)

Process-- the Power of Suggestion vs. the Urge to "Finish"

As I embark on the assembly of my most recent work, Bounce (top left), I continue to question whether particular components of this sculpture or "apparatus" are finished-- what it means to be finished-- and how this work (along with a majority of the work to be unveiled in Imaginate (coming May 4, 2016 to Boston Sculptors Gallery) has oddly strayed from my previous constructions.

In the early stages of this precarious fusion between a home-made Adirondack chair, pogo sticks, resources for everyday life, and additional athletic materials, these objects (the chair and pogo sticks specifically) physically join together with a quickness and directness that reflects the makings of the unconventional engineer-- and might even parallel a child's language of and engagement in assemblage and / or make-believe. I continue to view this work in progress with an excitement for the unfinished and an approval for the confident and spontaneous nature of its assembly. Authenticity becomes the foundation for my actions. I am conflicted by my obsession with something as simple as a set of clamps holding the form together and the adverse production quality of prior works made (top right). As one responding to the connection between renovation materials or methods and the language and innovation of toy making, I am overcome by an urgency to produce a finished product-- something that strangely lives between art, craft, and product-- something that potentially awaits the user.

Now, in the state of this "finished" product that awaits some kind of use, I consider whether my definition requires modification-- that the object will remain in flux through the life of its use and through its use, only then will it feel finished.

Art of My Craft : Craft of My Art

Because sometimes other people say it best ...
Excerpt from David Gauntlett's Making is Connecting :

The term 'craft' is further complicated by its relationship with 'art'. Somehow the two concepts have become separated, so that 'art' tends to mean the truly creative transformation of ideas and emotions into visual objects (or texts, performances, music or whatever), whilst 'craft'-- having been shoved out of that space-- ends up indicating the less prestigious production of carvings or pots. This view is, of course, most unfair. As Peter Dormer has observed :

"The separation of craft from art and design is one of the phenomena of late-twentieth-century Western culture. The consequences of this split have been quite startling. It has led to the separation of 'having ideas' from 'making objects'. It has also led to the idea that there exists some sort of mental attribute known as 'creativity' that precedes or can be divorced from a knowledge of how to make things." (Peter Dormer, 'The Status of Craft', in Peter Dormer, ed., The Culture of Craft (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), p. 18.)

...

In recent years the status of craft has been helped by Richard Sennett's excellent book The Craftsman-- amongst readers and thinkers, I mean, rather than amongst doers and makers, who may not need such writings to persuade them. Sennett argues vigorously against the second-class status of craft, and is especially good on his core theme that thinking and making are aspects of one unified process. The craftsperson does not do the thinking and then move on to the mechanical act of making: on the contrary, making is part of thinking, and, he adds, feelings; and thinking and feeling are part of making. Sennett emphasizes craft as a unity of body and mind-- in particular, working with the hands as a central part of the process of thinking and making-- and craft as exploration, a process of 'problem solving and problem finding. More broadly, in Sennett's hands, craft becomes a process of making personal self-identity, and citizenship. (Richard Sennett, The Craftsman (London, Allen Lane, 2008), p. 7.)

In Response : Most recently, I have been working on a body of work for my rookie exhibition, Imaginate, at Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA on view May 4 - June 5, 2016. Imaginate emerges as a fusion between my infatuation for the everyday 'house project' and my instinct to 'create'. Drawing from direct personal experience, my interest in 'hi-fi' (vs. 'lo-fi') DIY culture and investigations of childhood play, I have assigned myself the role of the 'maker'-- the 'inventor'. I have become immensely invested in making objects that hybridize contemporary sculpture / installation, fine-furniture, theater props / sets, craft, and the 'play-things' (toys and games) of my past / 90's culture. I am tremendously focused on making each 'item' with the importance and detail achieved by a manufacturer and their assembly line. I think about functionality, but oddly enough, I am motivated to present a majority of the works formally-- displaying each as a product awaiting its sale and use. Throughout the process and the conceptualization of this body of work (my exhibition, Imaginate), art has become craft and craft has become art. I continue to visualize functional objects with purpose that quickly and intuitively abstract themselves-- only then in time for me to make sense of this transformation and bring the work back to reality. I am perplexed by this process-- this search for purpose in everything I do-- an avoidance of some form of the unknown-- designing a plan ... getting lost in what my hands are doing ... perfecting the product ...

A side of #bikejam with your Hopscotch?

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, October 17th), I was thrilled to engage with the South Boston community at the closing event ("Bicycle Jam") for my public art project / residency ("inMotion: Memories of Invented Play") at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) Tremont Street Plaza. In creating a fun event for the community that would sum-up all the things that "inMotion" embodied for me from day one... it had to revolve around play. Yes, the BCA and myself were initially inspired to re-live some quirky version of an 80's themed exercise montage... but it was the morning of the event, when I finally realized why my work had been so important to me... and to the folks who engaged with it for the past three months... at the end of the day... it was simply about play! 

My morning prior to "Bicycle Jam" was spent gathering props for whatever supplemental activities I had decided to accompany my work; maybe an intention of doing some exercise circuit to a Cyndi Lauper classic... who knew. Pacing the aisles of Target, Dick's Sporting Goods and Party City, I suddenly felt an urgency for gathering up everything school-yard-recess-classic; sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, jump ropes... it's amazing how materials can guide the mission. Little did I know that my "mission" would be completely irrelevant all because of a little past-time classic, a game we all remember some version of... HopscotchHopscotch: an age-old children's game based on an idea of not treading on lines. Variations of the game are played in many countries. The game's English name expresses its object: to hop over the "scotch", a line, or scratch, drawn on the ground. Lines are drawn in a variety of patterns. Spaces in the diagrams are numbered, and they must be traversed in order. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Conversation starter and footwork starter all in one! Jackpot! With all the things that we (the BCA and myself) could have planned for regarding this event, none of it mattered. Hopscotch mattered! It was amusing and nostalgic... in perfect harmony. Ladies exiting a wine tasting in pure laughter placed their bets over who could hop in the lines... something akin to "walking the line" perhaps. An avid cyclist, a group of school boys and some twenty-something-year-old girls with a true sense of fashion (and stilettos might I add) all tried for a hopping victory. So many glanced over, smiled and made some comment to their peer about their own memories of hopscotch... or recess. Heck, I think I could have saved one very generous stipend (- $20.97 for three boxes of Crayola sidewalk chalk) if I just drew a giant hopscotch board around the BCA plaza for my public art installation. The things we learn... the simple things in life... Hopscotch. At the end of the day, #bikejam was just a topic; "Bicycle Jam" was just a title; and well, ... Hopscotch was the event!

CHAIR PLAY.

Maybe I was a furniture-maker in a past life or perhaps I've become captivated by my recent house projects / creating Pottery Barn DIY knock-offs to save some money / unleash my inner maker... For some reason, I am itching to make objects that draw from furniture design and incorporate apparatus for play. More than anything, I am responding to a curious material connection as well as an overlap of functionality. Mobile - skateboard - folding chair... Adirondack chair - pogo stick... The mash up of these items excite me not only visually, but also in thinking about how they might be used.

Courtesy of Jory Brigham Design


Courtesy of Jory Brigham Design

Remembering my days on the block hosting jump competitions for duration, I'm imagining this "life in the bounce" device taking on a life of its own. What essentials could one carry in their bounce chair... Their mobile-chair? Storage solutions might play a role on design elements as well. I've been looking at the work of furniture maker Jory Brigham in addition to mid-century modern design texts and am in love with the mixed media quality of these creations. Texture, color, hard / soft, line... I wonder if the objects are more important to me as objects (functionality) or if I am primarily drawn to the materials and constructions (design). And still, when I think about these mock-ups coming to life, I have no interest in them actually being used... Maybe they are prototypes, memories...