Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elf ring and geomancy in Ybor City Tampa

Several Sundays ago I encountered several strange things at once in my neighborhood.
about a month before this odd Sunday a home burned down on 21st Ave. catty-corner to our studio. This home had been a favorite target for arson, having caught fire some 4 times(or more). This was the final fire for that structure- the City of Tampa quickly razed the remains of the structure leaving an empty lot.
Then several Sundays past I passed the lot driving and noticed several people digging in the lot.
I turned to swing around the block thinking to ask what they were doing ( there are lots of abandoned properties in my neighborhood and often people dig the lots for treasure in the form of antique glass and other trinkets that are now of value). In changing my coarse i came upon another uncanny sight, In the field next to an old nursing home a perfect ring of mushrooms. I knew the legends of Elves Rings on a very superficial level but it was enough for me to reverse myself again and go to this sight.

After documenting the Faerie Ring i moved along to my original quest- the digging lot. Once i arrived at this location the two gentlemen digging had been joined by a third and they had put up umbrellas for shade.
I spoke to the gentlemen about their activity and was informed that the block that i live on was once a dump where trenches were filled with trash- trash that is now vintage glass, antique crystal, embossed jars, old chamber-pots- the stuff that occupies antique store shelf space.
I asked if they had ever found a bottle of Pluto Water ( an artifact i have been after for quite some time) and one of them replied that they find them all the time. My interest had been stirred. Pluto Water was "cure water" for constipation that my grandfather would always mention to me because it had an embossed devil image on the bottom of the bottle (Pluto=Satan) so i got their contact info, took a bunch of discarded glass in two 5 gallon buckets and went on my way.
I then started to research "Elf Rings" and found an incredible amount of folk lore on the subject, most of it cautionary in nature. It seems that these fungal patterns are a gate-way to the spirit world, perilous in nature and most dangerous on a full moon (which it was). 
So i resolved to go back- i had read that to circle the ring 9 times would make it safe to enter the ring. Strangely i had not walked inside the ring on my first visit but i did walk all the way around it. I also drove around it once completely. So i figured 7 more circles should do the trick.
I convinced Kym to join me (although she did not want anything to do with entering the ring) with our dog for a little walk. Once we arrived ( i had Rici on the leash ) i began my first circle.
1/4 or less around the "Elf Ring" the dog stopped,would not go further even if tugged and bent her head down and started eating grass. I took the hint. I like to say that i am not supersticious but.....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When it Rains it Pours.... Or a function that is not a function.

Last month was a very busy one for me. I began working in Orlando Fl on the parts for Legoland in Winter Haven Fl, produced a multiple for PYT Tampa, painted the bus for Blue Bird Books and continued to work on the "Sugar Shanks" for Current Space Baltimore. 
Young Philanthropic Tampa, founded by Anneliza Musoke Taylor and Hampton Dorhman ( pictured below at a meeting we had at The Bricks in Ybor City Tampa), is always looking for ways to connect people with the arts in Tampa. We came up with a membership premium that would also be a multiple art object as a strategy to boost memberships. This idea eventially became the Tampa Nazar.

The work i produced is part charm part trinket and part sculptural object. Based on the Nazar amulets popular around the world to "protect against the evil eye" this work has the  latin words- "sedem tueatur a malis artibus" embedded in it which translates to "protect this place from bad art". This phrase is has a double meaning that can be taken in the original function of these amulets, protect this place from evil magic (black art) or protect this place from bad art (which is subject to the tastes of the owner of the amulet). This brings up an interesting argument in that even though the member owners of these amulets are all part of the same organization they will all have their own take on what is "bad art". Perhaps the Nazar itself could be considered "bad art" by some which means its function would be to negate itself.
I kind of like that possibility.
The first 10 Nazars (pictured above) are translucent resin with the central eye tinted the color of the PYT member that owns it.
5 gift Nazars were also made for PYT and are solid copper cold cast with aluminum iris.

For the last month or so i have been also painting a bus. This is not just any bus though- It is the Blue Bird Books Bus. The blog connencted with this project can be viewed at The idea is to create a mobile project space that focuses on artist books, rare books and book-like objects. Blue Bird Books is the creation of Mitzi Gordon and she has been working hard to make her dream come to fruition. I look forward to working with Mitzi and BBB on future projects after the completion of the bus's
Above the bus is taped off with its original orange and black school bus color.
Here the bus has received a caot of epoxy primer after much prep work (sanding, degreasing, taping......)
And the base blue for the bus.