Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Tale of Dragon Tale

Dragon Tale is on my studio work table awaiting repair.  She used to look like this:

Initially the wheels were attached with Steel Stick, a wonderful putty-like kind of epoxy.  It worked great for the back wheels, but the front set were trickier and it didn't hold.  I had ordered the set of four faucet handles, which I then rusted. Three of them were the same size, with one slightly larger, the imbalance making it wobbly and harder to attach.  I then tried a kind of super epoxy I had on hand, used for marine repairs that cures underwater.  Hardly necessary, but it just seemed stronger than the usual.  It only worked for a few days.

Fortunately I had learned about J-B Kwik cold weld epoxy and ordered some.  I just have to sandpaper off the other stuff and then give it a try and hope it works.  The upside is this does give me a chance to try the larger wheel facing the back rather than the front and see if I like the angle better that way.

I had initially said:"Dragon Tale makes use of a container for slides. We artists who remember the days of having to take slide photographs of our work, look at it on light boxes and through magnifying loops, and submit slides to enter exhibits are truly dragons. .  This dragon has tales to tell and steadfastly guards that history."  The need for persistent repair and change is also part of this dragon's history. Many times work is unsatisfactory to an artist and needs to be redone again and again;  many times an artist is pleased with work that doesn't sell or isn't juried in. The dragon just keeps rolling along regardless, repairing or changing as necessary.  It's the nature of the beast...

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Skinny Piglet Aching for Love" and Other New Work

"Skinny Piglet Aching for Love"  was the first I had used clay for sculpture since I was high school.  That's a long enough time ago that it felt new, or at least new/old.  What is really new is incorporating clay into my mixed media work, allowing it to be part of found-object assemblage, and making use of color with it.

I got a kick out of mounting Skinny Piglet clinging to his block of hope on a record that rests on a turntable that can be gently rotated.  The record came from this album, and is titled "Get Happy."

Objects have power, even when unseen.  Although the label on the record is obscured,  I like to think that as the record slowly turns, Skinny Piglet is not merely in a rut, going around in circles, but rather tuning in to the "Get Happy" musical message...

In "Swimmingly"  my little clay fish is mounted on a small propeller, one of many wonderful objects I inherited from a fellow Dumpster Diver who was cleaning out her studio.  So sanguine!

"Dragon Tale" makes use of a container for slides.  We artists who remember the days of having to take slide photographs of our work, look at it on light boxes and through magnifying loops, and submit slides to enter exhibits are truly dragons.  This dragon has tales to tell and steadfastly guards that history.

"Packs Easily"  pays homage to my Jewish women ancestors, whose prayers were often informal, in between caring for children, scrubbing clothes, and other household tasks.  This grandmother is holding the Book of Psalms in her lap.  As with today's refugees of all faiths, prayers of the heart pack easily.

Although the dog is glazed, the grandmother figure is the first time I experimented with painting bisqued clay with acrylic only.  I love the possible effects and will explore this more.

I am grateful for Sharon Bartmann's class, 'Ceramics: Breaking the Rules' at Main Line Art Center, which was the genesis for this new direction, and for her invaluable guidance.  The synergy between the people in the group is incredible and I will be back in the Fall.  It works well to play with clay in the class and to finish and assemble the work at home.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Salvaged Discards Evoke Shanghai's Past World

It was a maze of salvaged windows and doors, mirrors, books, photographs and video projection.  Everywhere I turned there were new angles and crannies that made the installation by Hu Xiangcheng very much its own world, enclosed yet expansive.  One could wander through it more than once and see new things each time.

Born in 1950, based in Shanghai, Hu's work was a highlight for me of the Mega Cities Asia exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Both the Museum and that exhibit were highlights of our recent road trip, and our first visit to Boston.

Hu's installation was immersive, constructed from windows and doors salvaged from dismantled houses from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) eras.

 I love how he juxtaposes modern objects on to the ancient surfaces, certainly a reminder that children played in the homes these windows and doors were once part of.

 It says in the catalog that "Hu communicates a belief that underlies his work:  that material things need not only be meaningful by fulfilling material desires but can also have spiritual, emotional, and poetic power."  The objects he chooses have that power in part by evoking people whose presence is palpably felt.  

 This wall of pulp booklets was near the front entrance.  Viewers were invited to browse:

This lovely piece was on one of the few flat areas with its own wall, a more traditional treatment.  This says to me that the artist is as skilled in printmaking and collage as in installation.

 Enjoy rambling through it!

We don't need to know what the Chinese characters mean to appreciate how they are spelled out:

I later asked a friend who knows Mandarin about it.  She said "This is a very common Chinese character. 福 (pronounced: fú) means good fortune, a blessing, or happiness. It's used a lot when celebrating something like the Chinese New Year, and wedding, or when you just want to wish someone 'good fortune.' "

This was the exit (or alternative entrance), with its beautiful traditional panel.  The selfies were unavoidable, but I enjoy how the viewer can't help being placed within this ancient / modern installation!