Monday, June 30, 2008

Two Weddings and an Installation

It feels like I tried to get two weeks worth of living out of this last week. Monday started early with Meg preparing for and giving a talk to two separate groups of middle school children about Greek art and its influence on her sculpture. The day went very late with my preparations for the delivery of my stone sculpture "Currents" to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, I drove 600 miles from Stephensport, KY to Green Bay, WI in this flat-bed truck that I rented from Penske. I drilled the concrete pad and made it ready for the installation before I quit for the day.

Early on Wednesday morning, the installation began when Molly Tomasallo, senior landscape planner for the City of Green Bay showed up with Keith Wilhelm, Parks Superintendant and his two helpers. Smet Construction Company was very generous when they donated the services of the white Lull all-terrain forklift and operator. Tom Van Gemert of Van Gemert Memorials (up on the truck) lent his experienced assistance. The Parks Department provided plywood strips so that the forklift would not leave tracks or ruts in the lawn. Molly Tomasallo took all of the photos of the installation.

Tom Van Gemert and myself (the men-in-black) steadied the sculpture as it was lifted off the truck by the forklift. The operator was extremely precise and smooth with his handling throughout the entire process.

Tom's idea was to spin the sculpture around so that it was oriented to the direction that it would be set.

Next, the forklift was oriented in the same direction and the sculpture was rigged back onto the forks.

The people from the Parks Department had their work cut out for them as they constantly transferred the back plywood strips to the front. The forklift slowly made its way across the lawn on this 'plank road'.

I mixed the two-part monument-grade epoxy that would permanently attach the sculpture with its pin to the concrete footer. Tom Van Gemert prepared the monument putty by rolling it out into coils and laying them on a clean piece of plywood.

The sculpture was laid partially into position, but with thin wood strips between it and the concrete, so that we could re-position the rigging for the final lift and setting.

Before the final lift and setting, Tom and I applied the coils of monument putty just inside the edge of the sculpture base. This makes a tight seal to keep out moisture that could become a problem with freezing and thawing.

Tom trimmed the excess putty that had squished out when we made the final lift and setting. I've begun the process of 'picking up my toys'. That's just about enough fun for one day.

In the background, you can see the repeat of the process of putting one board in front of the other to get the forklift back across the lawn.

This is the finished sculpture as it takes its place in the public art collection of the City of Green Bay. All that remained for me to do that day was drive 600 miles back to Kentucky. I got home about 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Needless to say, I didn't do much on Thursday except sit quietly and stare out the window, like a neutered cat or something.
Friday, Meg and I left early for Bloomington, Indiana where I attended the rock and mineral show at the Bloomington Fairgrounds.
After dropping me off at the show, Meg went to Reed stone quarry to get pictures for her up-coming children's book on stone sculpture.
Meg looks for geodes at a rock cut after spending all day in a stone quarry and a rock and mineral show (you gotta love it).

Saturday was the wedding of my Neighbor's daughter, Jessica in Tell City, Indiana. It was a big, beautiful wedding with incredible amounts of food and drink.
Sunday was the wedding of a son of a former girlfriend who got married at the Watertower Art Center in Louisville, Kentucky and it was also very well done (with incredible food and drink, too!).

Monday, June 23, 2008

old friends

Last week, I worked Saturday so that I could take off Monday after my long birthday adventure on Sunday. So, that left me with a short week this time.
Tuesday, I focused my efforts on grinding the south lower shell into its final contours.

Wednesday, I repeated the process on the north shell form. You can see the grinder with the diamond blade that I used in the lower portion of the photo.

Thursday and Friday involved final grinding and sanding on both sides. This is how the east view looked after work on Friday.

This is the other side of the sculpture at the end of the weeks effort. In last week's post, I showed the process of finishing the shell surfaces. First, there was a grinder with a masonry wheel to prepare the surface for sanding. Then there were 4 separate sanding passes.

Meg went to the 1st annual Riverspan sculpture show that was held on the purple bridge that spans between Covington, KY and Cincinnati, OH.

The Positive: There were 71 sculptors who had a large amount of very high quality work. In fact, it is the largest and best collection of sculptures that I have ever seen in our region. Furthermore, it was well planned and executed by the promoters. They had a very effective covering that provided shade, but allowed a cool breeze from the river. They had also provided pedestals that created a unified look. There were also quite a few sales.

The Negative: They charge a high jury fee ( I belong to the grass roots movement to abolish jury fees). They charge a high booth fee and a 33% commission (it should be one or the other, not both). A bridge is a poor setting for sculpture - a park would have been much better. Also, they insist on handling and setting up all sculptures (I'm very uncomfortable about the idea of other people handling my work and sales). And they charge an outrageous $15 entry fee.

Make your own decision about attending or participating in the future shows. It was a very high quality collection that was presented in a very professional manner.

The high point of the week was visiting my college roommate and best friend Tom Mitts (center) who lives close to the sculpture show that Meg and I checked out. John Kaiser drove up from Danville, KY to join us. That's Tom's dog in my lap. Tom is a painter who went on to LSU for his Masters in Fine Art, after receiving his BFA and a physics degree from Centre College in Danville, KY. John works with his father who is an industrial designer. We used to be inseparable as friends back in school. But time and distance had got between us and we hadn't seen each other in many years. Tom and I used to take lots of road trips and adventures together. We'd been from Maine to Texas and east coast to west coast many times. We'd managed to see all 48 lower states.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Happy Birthday, for sure!

Sunday, June 15 (Father's Day) was my 47th birthday. I always like to take an adventure of some sort on my birthday. I knew that it would take off of the next day, so I worked a full Saturday to make up for it. (one of the perks for the self-employed).
The first half of the week was devoted to finishing the Green Bay commission and pin it to a granite base.
This is another view of the finished sculpture which will be installed later this month.
On Thursday, I returned to work on the Washington commission. My task is to refine the forms of the seed shells. I am using a diamond wheel on a 4" grinder to get the final shape. It leaves a rough surface that you can see in this picture.
Then, I switched to a masonry wheel that smoothed the surface further before sanding.
I begin the sanding schedule with a course 36 grit on a single-action sander. You can already see a remarkable difference in the surface of the stone.
The next step in the sanding schedule was a finer 80 grit on an orbital sander. The dual-action of the orbital sander helps take out all the small bumps. The last 2 steps of the sanding schedule involves 240 and 400 grits which bring out the true color of the stone.
This is how the top surfaces of the seed shell looked by the end of work on Saturday. Next week, I will repeat the process with the two lower shell forms.
We left early on the morning of my birthday. As we were driving west, the sun made this "Fogbow" in the last of the morning fog coming off the Ohio River. I took this as a good omen.
Our first destination was the Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois. It has incredible views with eccentric stone shapes to explore. You'd think that I would want to see anything else but stone, for my days off - but I'm obsessed.
I wanted to check things out - but I also wanted more birthdays.
There were lots of strange shapes to discover.
There were wild patterns in the sandstone from iron deposits.
We took a different route home and, on a whim, decided to check out Rim Rock recreational area.
The further back that we walked, the higher the cliffs got. Then we came to these stairs that led down from the clifftop.

We had to zig-zag through these large moss-covered fissures.

The path then led down these stairs to a magical place called "Ox lot cave" (not shown here). It defied my attempts to capture the essence of the place with photography. It's difficult to describe what I mean by 'magic', but the site had a great 'feel' to it. I hope that you get a chance to see it for yourself one day. This destination was unplanned and unknown to us. Sometimes, the best things in life just happen.

We took the ferry across the Ohio River at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. The final destination was the hickory-smoked Barbeque, for which this region (Henderson / Owensboro) is famous. Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

successful sculpture show @ Yew Dell Gardens

The highlight of this week was the opening of "Sculpture in the Dell" on Friday night between 5 - 8 p.m. The sculptures were a diverse collection that represented about 1/3 of the region's top sculptors, as well as works by emerging sculptors. The staff at Yew Dell did an outstanding job of creating the show - very well planned and executed. There was a huge attendance at the opening. Even though the temperatures exceeded 90 degrees, there was a cool breeze, shaded paths through the lush gardens and ample refreshments.

Sales were higher than expected for an opening night. I hope to have a picture soon for the 1st piece that sold, which was a colorful ceramic "Garden Totem" created by a group of art students from Oldham County High School.

Karen Terhune sold this Indiana Limestone Sculpture entitled "Mousetrap".

The gardeners at Yew Dell made a beautiful plant arrangement in this sculptural planter by Craig Kaviar. It was titled "Garden Envy", made from forged iron and concrete. It sold during the opening as well.

Meg sold this Indiana Limestone sculpture of "Ophelia", and received a commission on a second version.

I sold this "Solar Flare" bird feeder.
I also sold this limestone and TN pink marble sculpture "Inspiration".

The equation changed radically, when Meg sold this monumental scale "Cougar" drinking from a cave spring.

I hope to have better quality photos and more sales to post here soon.

On a tip from Larry Severs, who is a conservation officer with Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area, we took a hike from our studio on the hill top and went down to an old farm that used to go by the name of "Bluegrass". This is the view of the Ohio River from Jimmy Speaks cabin near the old farm. This little building (corn crib?) is about all that remains of the old farm.

A Black Vulture has been using the secluded site for raising a single chick every year. This is as cute as they get.

Wednesday evening, a mother Racoon led her 2 babies into the house. (I guess that I had not properly latched the front door) (how about that eye shine!).

There's nothing unusual about Racoon's sneaking into our house and helping themselves to the cat food. It was real strange when the babies settled in behind the couch and the mom left.

After about an hour, she came back, gathered them up and they went on their way. No one likes a neighbor who comes into your house without knocking, helps themselves to a snack and then dumps the kids on you for free babysitting.