Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two Weeks In September

I was in Florida again for the first two weeks of September. It was a very busy time working on a prototype for an award, buttoning up loose ends around the studio and finally planning and participating in a performance art piece at the Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. Along the way I also got to take see a great exhibition opening at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery and participate in an exhibition at the Silver Meteor Gallery in Tampa ( the gallery's 20th anniversary show ).

I created a new process to make a life time achievement award for the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts given posthumously to Theo Wujcik. The award was meant to be a sculptural echo of Theo's 1984 painting Tampa Tornado. Using thermoplastic cut into patterns the shape of the tornado was achieved.

 The tornado was then attached to a cast plastic snail shell ( one of Theo's most enduring images )

Originally I was going to have the object 3D printed but the scans had much of the information missing. So the prototype was used as the actual award.

Cast plastic, black lab epoxy and concrete.

Next I traveled to Fort Myers to participate in an Experimental Skeleton, Inc. performance piece at the 24 Hour Festival at the Florida Gulf Coast University. The group was commissioned to create a half hour performance piece to entertain the crowd as judges made their choices on the student participation in the 24 Hour Festival. We created a framework for executing the first laser level generated poem in human history. Using methods adopted from surrealist games such as exquisite corpse, recently generated collage panels from our Silverfish Revolution project, a skill saw and a crew of interpretive agents filtering down to a typing poet, we did just that.

Also in Fort Myers I had the luck to see the Wayne White exhibition "Here Comes Mr. Know It All" at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery. Wayne White showed his paintings, drawings and put on a puppet show. Probably best known for his work on Pee Wee's Playhouse and animated music videos Mr. White's artwork is equally engaging.

Most of his paintings are text based and excited on thrift shop canvasses that he finds. Some of the text looks as if the fonts are sculptural studies- like this one above. It reminds me of Max Ernst's painting "Garden Airplane Traps"

The puppet show featured Mr. White himself in a large Rauschenberg puppet that took several other student volunteers to operate. Strange and very unwieldy, the figure moved through the crowd.

The puppet show culminated in the Rauschenberg painting a canvass which grew arms and painted on to its own surface.


Friday, September 18, 2015

From South Florida to South-Central Wisconsin.

There is an inevitable lag in the amount of information that can be transcribed by a person in motion. This is an attempt to "catch up" on some the most interesting things that I have encountered from a few months ago up to the present.
Wrestler by Dudley Vaill Talcott, Aluminum 1929

I wanted to say a word about the Woflsonian in Miami. This very cool museum and research center focuses on objects and how they influence change on culture. The collection is pretty much from the beginning of the industrial revolution to the end of WW2.The Wolfsonian is very much worth the visit.
Giant African Land Snail shells from the canals of Fort Lauderdale.

A walk along the canals in Fort Lauderdale on a sunny afternoon will treat the visitor with a show of exotic invasive species. From crowds of running iguanas to the empty shells of eaten African Giant Land Snails. It is another thing I recommend to anyone visiting South Florida. Just watch out for Nile Monitor Lizards! They bite.

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami has had a recent history of struggle with its very own identity. The institution was recently thrown into a battle to remain where it physically is and continue to serve the community it exists in or be moved to Miami Beach. This battle was concocted by members of MOCA's own board of directors and a few cultural elites who viewed the multicultural and diverse neighborhood that MOCA calls home not as desirable as the Miami Beach neighborhood. Well, the gloves came off. One manifestation of this battle is the exhibition "Alternative Contemporaneity: Temporary Autonomous Zones" which was on display from March 21 - May 30th 2015.
Farley Aguilar, The Puppet, oil on canvass 87" x 77"

Guo Jian, Mock Tiananmen Square, meat, plexiglass box, 2015

Detail of Mock Tiananmen Square

Belaxis Buil, Nadiya, mixed media
Beatriz Monteavaro, Mother Superior Jump The  , photocopies, oil,spray enamel, spray foam, carpet glue , white glue on wood, 96" x 72"

This exhibition demonstrates a flexible and reflexive nature that I wish were more the norm in institutions that display art. A museum that reacts to issues that make a difference to the community that is it's audience is OK in my book.

Below are images from the Chazen Museum in Madison WI. This exhibition called "Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art" represented artists trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. Many of these artist had never been shown in the West and surprisingly the exhibition did not travel outside of Madison. My favorite artists from the show were- Xiang Jing ( the fiberglass stacked circus girls and the figure sticking its tongue out ) and Ma Shulin.

And finally- an image of brats. We have located a butcher shop that sells an incredible array of brats. Blueberry brats, beer brats, ghost pepper brats, cheddar and jalepeno brats, philly cheese steak brats, you name it. If you didn't know- brats are big in Wisconsin.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fort Lauderdale/Miami- A Mythical landscape in South East Florida

South east Florida is an amazing place. I have spent the last four months working in Fort Lauderdale and have had my share of chasing invasive exotic lizards, viewing some very interesting art and generally exploring the area. I wanted a post with a bright thread of mythology running through it because more and more I noticed these themes popping up in everyday exploration.
The first thing that I was introduced to was Pegasus Park at the Gulfstream Casino and Horse-track. This was the reason for my time in Ft Lauderdale- I worked on the sculpted rock from which the bronze pegasus emerges and it was about a four month project. The 150 ft. tall sculpture is of the mythological winged horse trampling a dragon. The owner of Gulfstream Park explained that this is a symbol of good triumphing over evil. The project can be watched by live feed on the web at What is strange is how this figure's origin bleeds into my next encounter with a mythological creature. Not everyone knows that Pegasus was born from the blood that issued from the Gorgon Medusa's body when she was slain by Perseus. Fewer still are the people who associate Medusa with jellyfish and other sea life. Enter Medusirena.

Medusirena the Fire Eating Mermaid heads up a mermaid show along with her "Pod" at the Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale. The Wreck Bar is located in the historic Yankee Clipper hotel and is worth touring just for its architecture and history. On Friday and Saturday early evenings the retro mermaid show is one of the coolest things you can see in the area. Marina will tell you the history of such performances, if you are lucky enough to speak to her, and also speak with great knowledge of other denizens of the water- marine biology being one of her first loves.
Marina swims by one of the windows at the Wreck Bar which looks out into the hotels pool.
A member of the Medusirena pod performing.
This chimera is on display at The Wolfsonian in Miami. The Wolfsonian is a museum of design and well worth a visit. This Chimera was part of a larger ironwork piece and yet another example South Florida fantastic beasts.
Minotaurs in Wynwood! Along with a host of other crazy murals I happened on this one Sunday walking through the arts district.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The 6th of The 13th Grape Series- "Apologies to the Sea"

The 6th edition of the 13th Grape subscription is finally on its way.

Meaning and use

The multiple "Apologies to the Sea" was conceived of while I was working at the Georgia Aquarium on the dolphin encounter tanks. We were demoing and redoing some of the concrete rock work around the pools and every evening our chipping hammers would terrify the dolphins in the tanks sending them into frenzied jumping and swimming. My time there allowed me to observe the dolphins every night very closely and it bothered me that these animals, however briefly, had their homes invaded and their comfort level challenged. I collected fragments of the demoed rocks and then developed the piece around them.
There are two fragments of the concrete in each piece each with a small resin ear glued to it.
Under each fragment is a stencil of a duck or a drake. The recipient is meant to choose the piece of concrete (duck if female and drake if male) and at the next opportunity, when at the ocean shore, skip the fragment on the water with a toss attempting to get as many skips as possible. Take note of the number of skips. Speak an apology to the ocean the same number of times as the fragment skipped into the ear of the remaining fragment.

The game of Ducks and Drakes is a very old human activity and is also associated with wastefulness. Wealthy players used to often use coins to play with essentially "throwing away money". I draw a parallel with our treatment of the environment.

The other symbols of interest here is the dolphin's echo location sense (which I am sure we rattled terribly with our chipping hammers) which appears as a stencil on the envelope. This contrasts the legend that a duck's quack (or a drake's quack) produces no echo.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mercury Switch- The Artlab exhibition.

Here is a view of the Florida Gulf Coast University exhibition "Mercury Switch" which was on view in Febuary of this year.

Images and sculptures of anaerobic bacteria which contribute to elemental mercury being converted to Methyl-mercury.

Studies of human molars with central architectural elements from Jerome Bosch's trip tic " The Garden of Earthly Delights" in place of amalgam fillings.

Resource materials, samples, test casts and sketches developed for "Mercury Switch" along with older studies that relate to the project.

 Studies of vestibular apparatus of different organisms.
 "Coconut Jack" A work developed in the last days at the Vester Marine Research Field Station. The imagery is pulled directly from the path of a tiger shark tagged by the scientists at Vester (Darren Rumbold and Bob Wasno) to better understand mercury contamination in these predator species. The work is mixed media on plastic tarp.
Another view of the "Mirror Teeth" exterior sculptures.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mercury Switch- My experience at Vester Marine Research Outpost and FGCU

I arrived at Vester Marine Research Field Station on January 5th 2015 to participate in the first Florida Gulf Coast University residency which focuses on interaction between the sciences and the practice of visual art. The Crossroads of Art and Science Artist Residency Series will be an annual program which places the artist at Vester to mix it up with the scientists that run the facility and other faculty that come and go at the site. Vester is located in Bonita Springs, Fl about 14 miles away from the FGCU campus. It is on Little Cedar Island and surrounded by water on 3 sides. The environment there is absolutely beautiful, mangroves and small oyster beds rise from the dolphin and manatee populated waters. The wildlife is all around you at Vester and one can spend hours just watching the day unfold in conflicts between turkey vultures and osprey, dolphins speeding around catching fish and pelicans lazily floating by.
View from my room at Vester Marine Research Field Station

Local boat traffic passes Vester all day and night.

Vester seen from approach by boat.

My stay was to be 10 days and nights in which time I had to assemble and create work to be shown at FGCU's Artlab venue on campus. I had visited Vester some 6 months back and met with Darren Rumbold PHD, Director of Vester, and Bob Wasno, M.S., Coordinator of Marine Education and Outreach, from this meeting I learned that Darren had done extensive research in to the levels/affects of mercury levels in marine wildlife. I started my research on this particular direction and until I arrived for the residency the subject obsessed me. I developed several works based on the use of mercury in dental amalgam fillings as a symbol for human activity that adds mercury to the ecosystem.
My most ambitious work for the Artlab was to be sculptures of large amalgam filled molar teeth. Some of the teeth were to be sited outside Artlab and another series would be in the gallery.

Above the process of casting and building the "Mirror Teeth" is shown. The work took the entire stay to complete and by the opening of the exhibition I had two completed sculptures ( 1/3rd of what I wanted to make) The teeth found a home in the lawn outside of the Artlab while smaller sculptures and works on paper and plastic tarp were displayed in the Artlab Gallery.