Art and mind of a child

It was my first time teaching a parent-child art class and something extraordinary happened. A parent came to me recently and told me he had never forgotten this class that I taught years ago because it changed the way he raised his child. We were making baby ducklings out of model magic clay and an egg shell for them to sit in, made from a Styrofoam bowl with the rim cut off.

I passed around chunks of clay and demonstrated a very simple, optional way to make a duck. As the children were working on shaping their clay, parents started taking the clay out of their child’s hands and making the ducks for them the “correct” way. So…I passed around more clay and invited the parents to join in, but to make their own ducks along side of the kids.

When we were finished we lined up the ducks, children’s on one side, parents on the other. I honestly didn’t expect what happened.

The ducklings the children made were wildly painted with stretched necks and adorable, silly bodies and wads of clay. Some didn’t have recognizable parts, but they sure were colorful and special and a child made them. A few were down right glamorous. Some had paper clips. One had lots of eyeballs. Wacky colored feathers, sequins, beads and other bits were attached to many. These were quirky, lovable ducklings. A few even had names and entire life stories.

With the exception of one, the ducklings the parents made were all yellow with yellow feathers and orange bills, very orderly and acceptable ducks. It was as though they had just come down the conveyor belt in a duck factory. The one parent who had made a red duckling had taken notice of what was happening before he finished. He’s the one who told me he would never forget this class. I’ll never forget it either.

Man from the mountain

 Reawakening by Wesley Wofford

I saw images of figurative sculpture by Wesley Wofford a while ago and they were so incredible. I wished I could meet the artist and see his work in person. I had read somewhere that he left Hollywood and moved to the mountains of North Carolina. I imagined this sculptor to be a brilliant, old, wise man with a long gray beard and a bit of a philosopher.

When Jim Fatata told me he’d invited Wesley to exhibit in the Nudes in Art show and he’d be here in Raleigh, I was thrilled.   When I met him (we were both locked out of the studio together for a while) I was surprised to find that he’s young, and very easy to talk to and joke with. If ever you’re locked out of your studio, I highly recommend you be so with Wesley. He is the philosopher I imagined.

I asked Wesley about the piece I love called Reawakening and he said, “Reawakening holds special meaning for me.  My first “fine art” piece after leaving Hollywood and redirecting myself was called “The Awakening.”  It symbolized everything I was trying to awaken within myself and finally going after my true calling.  It was my first attempt at the entire endeavor and it showed.  It was also the first bronze casting I had done.  After casting, I placed it in a galleWesley Wofford, Sculptorry, etc, and had one at home.  I became really unhappy with it and ended up shattering the forton copy and removing the bronze, cutting it up with a torch, and re-melting it into ingots.   I clay pressed out of the mold, and then destroyed it as well, and started re-sculpting. Anyway, after finding the “true” solution I was looking for, I named it “Reawakening” and have had a lot of positive response from it.  Thanks for asking.  Very few people have heard that story. “

SAS Art and Scenic Operations

The most coveted job among artists in the local Cary, Raleigh NC area is resident artist at SAS institute. It’s the best company to work for in the United States located in a top 10 city ranked for quality of life.

I had a wonderful tour there today and I promised no direct quotes or pictures so here is all I can write on my humble blog which no one reads. I don’t even read it.

There are two talented painters on their full time staff who, according to their supervisor, are like chameleon artists in that they can paint in any style. They can produce very quickly whatever is needed, whatever is wanted. These artists are sent to classes each year to acquire new knowledge and have nice studio space and an office at the facility. They are encouraged to compete locally in juried shows and to show in galleries. OMG, pick me! I can learn to paint!

When SAS has a new space to plan or wants to re-vamp an existing space, they first look to their extensive inventory of fine art. If they don’t already have appropriate works for the project, they then decide if it’s feasible to produce work in-house and many of the artworks placed throughout the SAS campus have been produced in-house. In the event there is nothing in inventory and it is determined that the best course of action is to make a purchase, the two resident artists are in charge of purchasing art from other sources.

At this facility they use CAD designers to plan new projects. They have a computerized router that cuts designs on the computer out in wood, foam, or metal. It even vacuums up the dust and shavings.  I need one of these for my house! $80,000 …uh…ok. Maybe not.

When planning a major event, they present the local fire inspector with blue-print plans that include chair placement for inspection and approval before moving ahead. On staff they have welders, and carpenters. Highly creative people working together.

The Christmas theme this year is France and for that this incredible team is fabricating the Eiffel tower and other amazing, french-themed eye fulls. They created a 4 foot tall sculpture called Balancing Act in wood for the entry space of one of the buildings on their own campus. The designing of this piece was a team effort. The original concept was drawn out, then reworked for 3D.  Later, the team was asked to make a larger version for the world class soccer facility here in Cary. The new version is about 26 feet tall and had to be made of steel. It was produced by the Arts and Scenic Operations team except for the 4 foot diameter steel ball. This was ordered from a company that specializes in balls of steel.

These people design things and make them happen. …but they also repair furnishings and other assets when needed. When the company has a new product coming out, these are the people who create the splashy background scenes and art for shows and presentations. They produce models used in commercials.

They never know what they will be doing from one day to the next so they are always flexible enough to make anything and everything the company needs. (disclaimer: this is not a direct quote. At least a couple of words have been changed, possibly more. Any resemblance to reality is merely a coincidence.)

Art show

Dudes in Art 2007 (hahahaha!!) In front of 4 paintings by Miguel Quiroz I had to take a picture. I happened to find these four guys standing in front of four paintings by Miguel Quiroz in the reception area of the Nudes in Art show this past weekend at Litmus Gallery in Raleigh.

I usually feel nervous about these shows when my work is in them because I have a hard time talking about my own work, especially if it is a piece that expresses sensitive issues.  I don’t want to break down crying. One of the artists at the Litmus show was right when she said, “Every piece we make is a self portrait.” I agree. It is in some way a portrait of a piece of our lives, of our personality, of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, ideas.  To put our work out there is to put ourselves out there.  Nudes in Art 2007

This second picture is of Jim Fatata. He’s gently placing a gnarled and twisted branch back onto a sculpture by Margarita Leon, trying to get it just right. This is one of the things I adore about Jim. He takes so much care with other people’s work.

I’m going to be sharing a studio with a friend at Litmus soon. I was a bit worried the other day when I tried to drive there and the street had been closed off. Police were swarming all over knocking on doors, stopping cars and questioning many people. Someone had been shot just a few blocks away. A bus pulled up, young children stepped out and found their way home among the chaos. This is one of the poorer neighborhoods and the studio is near the train station, just a block or so away from the women’s center. I like the way people are always walking everywhere, visiting with each other, waving, carrying bags of groceries, being human. The new civic center that is under construction will probably bring many changes.

My worries disappeared. I loved meeting the people who came from all over, listening to them, laughing with them. Recurve was purchased during this show along with several works by other artists. It was warm, and wonderful and a success.