Dancing, Prancing, Wrapped Up and Boxed

#30 – Tuesday October 11th

The new paintings certainly have their share of lovely lines dancing and prancing across their surfaces, and looking at the trajectory of my work, line has almost always been front and center. I don’t think the act of viewing a painting as static, and regardless of how closely a painting exclusively mimics a purely visual or intellectual experience, there is always a story being told, and yes the beginning, middle, and end can be turned about, or so obscure as to be unrecognizable as narrative . . . but still it’s there (and as far as I’m concerned, no story is a story in and of its self). For me, line is the tie that binds. Line is the thread facilitating the tour of discovery. I draw my lines with a brush, charcoal, oil and pastel sticks and graphite, carving them into their final path with a sharp-edged tool. While I chose all my materials with care, I have a certain affinity for mechanical pencils, and these are a few from my collection. A vintage yellow marbled Bakelite, a white contemporary Autopoint, several multi-lead and promotional mechanical pencils I’ve inherited from my draftsman par excellent father, a silver Retro 51, the odd group of old utilitarian lead holders, and a red KOH-I-NOR large lead holder (I’ve three of these, one each with black, brown and white leads).  I prefer a relatively large lead size (.9 mm and up) and a softer lead (3b to 6b). These lead properties give a more nuanced line both in hue and value, and a line more open to manipulation. Yes, the line binds and a proper tool to tie the knot.

In the continuing countdown to the opening of the tenth exhibition of my work at Perimeter Gallery, Chicago . . . this week, selections from the 1994 show. Gone are the segmented canvasses, now an integrated pictorial space, the volumes transitioned into smaller etherial presences and my affair with line began in earnest.

Speaking of counting down, the new paintings are almost ready to be sent off to the gallery . . . here they are, being wrapped and boxed up.

Thanks for reading.


When done is not – pART Project update

#25 – Tuesday September 6th

When done is not, the revised revision makes its debut. Before sending the new canvasses  to the gallery, I’m finalizing titles, playing with the words accompanying the paintings, and signing off. Seal of approval and the figurative boot out the door. However, every now and again, even after the flourish of signing and dating a painting, something catches my eye . . . a slightly out-of-place line, a discord where I once saw perfect harmony . . . and I can’t resist. Now I wish I could say, every adjusted outcome has been a total success, blue ribbon and all that, but . . . no. And as I walk out of the studio toward the sink to wash my hands of the remnants, I mumble . . . “it could have been  a nice painting”. After, I’ll strip the pigment laden fabric from this frame, toss it aside, and as I stretch new virgin canvas across the structure, a small smile crosses my lips . . . ” That was interesting, lets have another go”. I don’t mind when a painting heads south, for even after 30 plus years of throwing paint around, it lets me know I’m not as smart or clever as I think I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but here the rule rather than the exception, when done is not and the revised revision shines.

The SRAM pART project for World Bicycle Relief is full on. The participating artists are an impressive group, and I’m excited to be counted in their number. The SRAM pART Project website has profiles of all the artists, including links to their websites, and photos of all the  pART project sculptures will be up on the site by the middle of September. All the pART sculptures will be auctioned off to support World Bicycle Relief. I’ll post the how & when as soon as I know the particulars.

What’s in play this week? I’m having a thing for resonance . . . Maya Beiser and her cello. Doesn’t hurt she does a lovely cover of Kashmir, and her playing makes my toes tingle . . .

Thanks for reading


The Whirlwind Affair

the 28 SRAM pART pieces used in my sculpture#21 – Tuesday August 9th

The SRAM pART Project has just been wild. Four short weeks ago I received my box of 100 SRAM bicycle parts and, slam bam . . . off to the races. The primary project parameters required I use at least 25 of the 100 parts supplied by SRAM. In addition, the SRAM parts could be manipulated in any way (a stipulation I took to heart), the SRAM parts could be combined with any other objects, as long as the piece was no larger than 24″ x 24″ x 24″, and the finished piece must weigh less than 80 pounds. Oh yes, the finished sculpture needed to be delivered by August 15th. (so in my case, considering shipping, today was that day) and it’s gone. I ended up using 28 of the SRAM parts, (see photo at top), my own bike parts, and a few other objects. I’ve included a list of those additional pieces at the end of this missive.

And here it is, my artistic whirlwind affair . . . Garden of My Secret Life (Bicycle dreams of a better world). Because of the pART Project framework, I’ve approached it more like a 100 piece puzzle . . . what ever it is, or will be, has already been determined, it’s just a matter of figuring out how the pieces fit back together. And that is a much different process from how I approach my painting. “Garden of My Secret Life” ? Much of the inspiration for my work is derived from adventures out-of-doors. I’m an amateur gardener with a fixation on succulents, and besides my mountain biking habits, I hike and backpack, spending as much of my time away as practical. As this piece developed, it reminded me of my southwestern desert . . . all pointy and prickly, pale greens bleeding into silver, punctuated by poignant bursts of color. “Bicycle Dreams”?  A homage to the ultimate purpose behind the project, supporting World Bicycle Relief.

In creating “The Garden”, I’ve strived to use as many bike parts as fit, but I’ve included non-bike elements which make the piece sing. First, the Eucalyptus tree branches. The tree branches complement and enhance the organic structure of the work.These branches are from one of the trees in our yard. (We have five different types of Eucalyptus). The hallmark of this particular type, is the lacy finger like structure of its branches, and I love how these branch segments reach out to seemingly embrace the environment surrounding the sculpture .

Second, the Flash card. The flash card is truly an exercise in serendipity. At one point I was including collage into my 3-dimensional works, and while on a walk not far from my house in Chicago, I found this home-made flash card in the street, and while I could go on and on about what interested me about this random piece of paper, basically I thought I might include it in one of my objects some day,  that was 17 years and three studio spaces ago.  Fast forward to now. From the beginning of the pART Project I thought of adding text in some form, I think mainly because the inclusion of stickers in the SRAM part selection, but as the piece developed, it seemed there really wasn’t space or a space for those. (or 72 other pieces for that matter). One of the last additions to my sculpture was a tall blue suspension part that I attached a clip to, and literally turned around, plucked this flash card  off my studio wall and clipped it in. The funny thing, I finally counted how many of the SRAM parts I’d used in the sculpture . . . total 28 . . . the flash card  . . . 4 x 7 = 28. I know that sounds a bit oddly coincidental . . .  However when I first attached the card, I wasn’t thinking about multiplication tables or numbers of parts, but rather thinking about  . . . bicycles . . . kids getting to school, products getting to market, people getting to jobs . . . the purpose behind the SRAM pART Project, and someone on the north side of Chicago hand writing math flash cards.

In October there will be an on-line auction of all 50 artists SRAM pART Project Sculptures in support of World Bicycle Relief. I’ll post all the details in my blog. If you have the inclination, please visit the World Bicycle Relief website.

My piece was constructed with the following objects:

28- SRAM bicycle parts, 15- White Nylon Washers, 2- Straight Pull spokes, 2- Red Anodized Spoke Nipples, 1- Derailluer Cable (although I burned through 6 before getting what I wanted!), 2- Eucalyptus Tree Branch Segments, 1- 2″ Wide Brass Ring, 1- Welded Steel Box, and more fun than the law should allow!

Thanks for reading.