Tuesday, February 9, 2021

If Only I Were a Root of the Tree of the Sky

This project started with the inspiration that came from a piece of birch wood I picked up at the Restore. This wood was way (WAY) more expensive than I usually indulge in for substrates for an art project but the piece spoke to me so it came home.

While I knew that I wanted to use the board as the substrate for a collage, I also decided that I wanted to add some objects. I used my mini-table saw on my Dremel to cut a channel into the board for a box structure.

For the box, I selected what I believe is a single cigar box (Independence) and then covered it with paper. Inside the box I constructed an assemblage out of wood, stick, lens, and bottle cap with a chain and a decorative jewel that could either be a tooth--or a heart. From the chain I dangled a little bell.

The wood came with a knot hole that I had to deal with. I decided to go with a astronomy feature and just left the space as it was.

The collage work on the entire project was the interesting to accomplish. After the collage was finished I spent a lot of time painting on the work to get it to its completion. 

Thus we have If Only I Were a Root of the Tree of the Sky, a line from the poem "Egret" by Andre Breton.

Sunday, January 24, 2021


I decided to make a piece with birds and that led me to doing a piece inspired and in honor of the famed jazz club, Birdland. 

Here is a brief history of Birdland from their webpage:

"Ever since most of Chicago’s top musicians moved to New York in the mid-to-late 1920s, New York City has been the Jazz Mecca. Nearly every major jazz style of the past seventy years has been initiated in the Big Apple. It was Charlie Parker, familiarly known to his fans and fellow musicians as “Bird,” a contraction of Yardbird, his formal nickname, who was the dynamic creative personality and genius of the alto saxophone who served as the inspiration for Birdland. When the original Birdland opened sixty years ago in December of 1949, Charlie Parker was the headliner and the club was located on Broadway, a block west of the 52nd Street scene, which was a hotbed of jazz in the 1930s and 40s."

The base of this art was a piece of wood carved into a tombstone-like shape.

I auditioned my collage onto the board before any glue was used to affix it.

I like to have extensions on this time of art and regularly use nails. This time around, because of the theme, I decided to use some vintage piano mallets I had in my basement.

With all we have been through in 2020 I consciously decided to select an African American image for the history of jazz, Charlie Parker and BLM.

Thus we have...Birdland. The piece is 43"H x 16"W x 3"D. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Running From the Nothing That Pursues

Running From the Nothing That Pursues

At the end of 2020 I took three online courses that helped me complete this project. They were ConcerTINa with Seth Apter, A Mark in Time with Jen Crossley and The Bookmaker with Roxanne Evans Stout. This project was an amalgamation of the ideas in these workshops but ultimate felt free to go its own way.

The project started with a tin (suggested in both ConcerTINa and The Bookmaker). My tin was a Tarreyton Cigarettes tin with a date incised in the back of 6/8/25. 

For the front cover I selected a holy water font and removed the Virgin's head and replaced it with a horse. I attached three corn on the cob skewers into the font and some jewelry behind the head. With the addition of some paint and papers, the front cover was done. 

On the back cover, I attached a glass lantern slide and some papers. The text in the photographs in the lantern slides says:

West New Brighton
Staten Island

November 16th, 1889

Dear Sir:

This morning came the photographs for which I am heartily obliged to you. They are beautiful works but as for the likeness I cannot judge. My likeness as always seems strange to me, and I am not aware of feeling as they look. But this I suppose is a universal experience. My wife likes the one marked 1909b more than any ever made of me, and that is the highest possible praise. There is, I am sure, something very elusive in my expression and yet you must have caught it, if my wife can say so much.

I beg to thank you sincerely for your kind courtesy, and with every good wish I am

very truly yours,

George William Curtis 

As it turns out, there is a Wikipedia for a George Williams Curtis of Staten Island, NY, which, in part, says: "George William Curtis (February 24, 1824 – August 31, 1892) was an American writer and public speaker, born in Providence, Rhode Island, of New Englander ancestry. A Republican, he spoke in favor of African-American equality and civil rights." The rest of his biography can be found at this link. 

When you open the tin, it reveals the inside cover of the tin and the cover of the book.

The inside cover of the tin has a lantern slide of an individual who is not Curtis. I decided that this guy would be a veterinarian. 

With the book removed, the inside back cover of the tin is revealed.

The book contained in the tin was made from card stock, handmade paper made from fern and eco-printed paper. The cover of the book is from an old edition of The Arabian Nights. 

Thus we have...Running From the Nothing That Pursues.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Not In This World To Be Liked: a Project Based on a Geoffrey Gorman Online Workshop Finding the Soul of Forgotten Materials

In October, 2020, I signed up for an online workshop with artist Geoffrey Gorman called Finding the Soul of Forgotten Materials.  The class was held on Zoom and was sponsored by Peters Valley School of Crafts.

Geoffrey Gorman

Here is the workshop description: "Experiment with innovative and intuitive ways of creating a variety of structures and forms using organic, found, and recycled materials. You are invited to think about shapes and forms that hold particular interest and bring these ideas to the workshop. Using unusual techniques to overcome construction challenges, everyone will explore a variety of forms created from your own favorite cast off materials. This class is perfect for beginners seeking an introduction to creating curious objects as well as intermediate and advanced participants wishing to reach the next level and break out of their comfort zone. You need to be familiar with using hand and power tools such as drills, band saws, and sanders."

The basic building blocks of the project is taxidermy foam. I got mine from Dick Blick. 

The foam is carved into the shape of the animal that is being built. Here is where I discovered carving foam to actually look like something is going to take some practice. After the carving, the foam is covered with fabric.

Next I collected the supplies for the construction including the box the would be the base.

Everything comes up smelling roses.

And, thus we have...Not In This World To Be Liked. My thanks to Geoffrey Gorman for teaching this form and the inspiration to create this piece.