Wednesday, December 7, 2016

This Post Begins with Goats and Ends with Goats - Mad City and Beyond: Summer 2016

Following a surgery at the Meriter Hospital in Madison, Kym and I set off on a week long adventure to tour parts of Wisconsin we have not visited yet. We started with the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. The fair was a great experience and I got to see plenty of my new favorite thing- GOATS!!
We also ran across a very humorous situation at the expo center, A pro Donald Trump booth selling all kinds of crap. Also on hand was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson to sign anything that you put in front of him. I was interested in what kind of messages were being put into the world by these Trump supporters and found something irresistible.
So I bought this button that, for anyone who truly understands the symbol that is being used, means freedom and socialism exist together and are necessary to each other. The lady that sold it to me then said "And you must meet the Senator, he's right over there" I thanked her and started walking off. She actually yelled at me "No, he's that way!" Very funny people.

After the fair we traveled to The Witch House of Fox Point. This very odd house and environment is found near Milwaukee on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful area with a fantastic view of the lake and......terrifying sculptures!
The Witch House is the stuff of many legends. The most common being that the women that lived here lost her husband and son to Lake Michigan and she made these sculptures as sentinels to watch for their return.

The true story is that artist Mary Nohl lived in this home ( owned by her family ) alone for many years. Mary Nohl never married and never had children (except her spiritual offspring seen in these photos). The environment is very interesting and I only wish that we could have toured the home itself. The home is private and visitors are only allowed to look through the chain link fence that surrounds it.
The Witch House is on Wisconsin's Registery of Historic Places and the estate itself was given to the Kohler Foundation after Nohl's death in 2001 at 87 years of age.

The next day we set out for Rhinelander, WI to see Project Mayhem- a death metal festival in the woods of Pelican, WI. On the way we stopped in Rudolf, WI to walk the Rudolf Grotto, Gardens and Wonder Cave. The Rudolf Grotto is the work of several pastors, the first of which made a promise to the Virgin Mary (some may say a pact) when he was ill in Europe that he would build a grotto in her honor if he was allowed to get well. Father Philip Wagner was appointed Rudolf's pastor in 1917 and he immediately began work on the grotto. To make along story short, the grottos last project was completed in 1983. The beautiful gardens are filled with very interesting structures piled out of stone and decorated with some very creative materials to form mosaics.

 The materials I was most drawn to were the rock itself and the broken glass mosaics. It seems a good deal of the rock is rare lava rock found within a 15-20 mile radius of the grotto.

The glass mosaics were made by obtaining glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. in Indiana and melting it down in the school's coal furnace. These mosaics look like chunky plastic amalgams, like nothing I have ever really seen before.

The Wonder Cave is a 1/5 of a mile long underground catacomb with 26 shrines to Jesus. It is quite an accomplishment. Some of the most interesting features in the vignettes that are encountered along the catacomb are the signs or "illuminations" in hand punched tin. These signs give the "cave" a look all its own. This metal working technique is a lost art. An interesting side note is that a few years ago I had a conversation with a metal fabricator/ blacksmith about this very process at The Goat Farm in Atlanta GA.(image pending)

Statues abound in the grotto and in the Wonder Cave.

Another interesting feature is this thorn bearing tree, said to have sprouted on its own , at the foot of the mound that makes up the Wonder Cave. It is a Swamp Locust in the Gleditsin-Honey Locust family.

After visiting Rudolph we moved on to Rhinelander to attend Project Mayhem in the woods of Rhinelander. Project Mayhem is an annual death metal festival sponsored by a local radio station. We heard about it from our friend Paul Josheff who is also in one of the featured bands Twichard. We took in music from Forcefield, Towering Abomination (it is worth mentioning the song "Where is My Skin?" as one of our favorites) and Twichard before moving on. My next mission was to find some evidence of the Hodag ( a legendary monster that roams the woods of Rhinelander ) . We found a few sculptures in town and I got a Hodag t-shirt at the local Walmart.

My concept of the Hodag- ball point pen on DaysInn note pad paper.

We visited some more goats in  Waunakee Wisconsin with this nice goat climbing tower.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

27,000- The Music Box at USF Contemporary Art Museum

From June 6th - July 23rd 2016 I happily participated in the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum's exhibition  Amplified: Reverberations from The Music Box which asked participating artists to react to New Orleans Airlift project The Music Box- Tampa. I drove from Miami to see the second performance on March 26th and instantly knew I needed to build a sculpture for the exhibit.

Sketch book drawing made the evening of March 26th, 2016 during the Music Box performance.
Bringing Airlift to Tampa was curator Sarah Howard's vision and the exhibition that followed simply flowed like a river from the site specific to the galleries of USF CAM. This kind of activity was no surprise to those who know Sarah, who has championed public art and intervention through recent years in Tampa (Bringing Rebar's Parking Day Project to Tampa as well).
I visited the site as the Music Box was being built and had a very nice tour with Devon Brady which kickstarted my ideas in regards to the USF CAM exhibition, the site and the environs.

Above-Music Box performance March 26th, 2016 Tampa Fl. with all major architectural musical instruments in view- from left to right- The Lunar Tool Shed. The Syphonium, The Pitch Bow House and in the foreground burms equipped with speakers and also functioning as seating. The artists responsible for building these architectural and musical elements are- Tory Tepp (Lunar Tool Shed), Janine Awai/Devon Brady/Michael Lemieux (Syphonium) and Ranjit Bhatnagar/Alyssa Dennis (Pitch Bow House)
An interesting historical side note, which is documented in the pamphlet documenting the project, is that the Syphonium appeared in a different form earlier as part of an Experimental Skeleton, Inc. collaboration with the BONK Festival of New Music. This earlier version of the Syphonium appeared in a performance in Tampa and Miami (I will attempt to find the documentation in the ES, Inc. archives and post at a later date as an amendment to this post)
Photo by Will Lytch
My contribution to the USF CAM exhibition was greatly influenced by the location of the Music Box installation- on the bank of Hillsborough River. The great oaks and the hanging spanish moss gives one the feeling of something primordial, of great age and of mystery. I thought there should be a monument there, superimposed as if some unknown culture left a puzzling reminder of their presence. I folded this over my current interest in the television program that I watched as a kid- Krofft Entertainment's "The Land of the Lost". Combining the form of an obelisk with the memory of one of the "pylons" from the television program (the pylons were structures that contained a table full of crystals. The crystals would change the exterior environment of "the land of the lost" when manipulated) I made an obelisk shaped optical theremin which could be played by moving the cast crystals around on a bed of silicone impregnated sand. A proper symbolic hybrid (the obelisk of the Egyptians represented a solidified ray of sunlight and the pylon being an agent of change) I called the work 27,000 which is the number of years that the Hillsborough River has been flowing from the mouth of Green Swamp according to geological records. The sculpture is accompanied by four drawings which document the ideas that formulated 27,000 as well as other possible works inspired by The Music Box.
View of 27,000 with drawings in background.
27,000- Upcycled styrofoam, cement, cast plastic and electronics. Photo by Will Lytch

Cast crystals in bed of silicone impregnated sand. Moving the crystals around changes the amount of light received by the optical theremin circuit below the table, changing the pitch of the instrument. Photo by Will Lytch

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Exotics and Art in South Florida: Captions only to catch up.

Knight Anole caught at Zoo Miami. This guy gave me one hell of a bite.

Bark Scorpion (named Leopaldo) caught at Zoo Miami. One of two that I captured and observed for weeks in an aquarium in my hotel room. These are amazing animals to watch!

Painting titled "Gin Lin Way" by Mary Weatherford at the Rubell Collection during the exhibition "No Man's Land"

Sculptural installation "Untitled" by Kaari Upson- "No Man's Land"

"Lysa III" by Jennifer Rubell- "No Man's Land"
Street Mural by Dolla- Wynwood, Miami

"Don't Trust Harvey Dent" sticker in Wynwood , Miami
Otto Von Schirach performing live at The Wynwood Festival

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Edison Impluvium

The Edison Impluvium at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery
I had the great experience of assisting artist Keith Edmier in creating the Edison Impluvium in late 2015. The work itself is a sprawling installation which stands as a duplicate of the Edison estates concrete swimming pool in Fort Myers and functions as a self portrait of the artist smeared out across time. The duplicate of the Edison pool rested in the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery allowing visitors to walk in at floor level. Along the walls of the pool were 48 masks taken from various personalities (life casts) which touched Edmier's life and work. In the gallery of masks are several life casts of Edmier himself at various ages as well as a cast of his mother and father (placed at the beginning of the time line). The parade of personas ends with a cast of Edmier at age 48.

Cast of artist Keith Edmier at age 48.

Tom and Beverly Edmier from left to right.
One of the most interesting things about this work was that many of the people represented on the walls of the pool are alive and some are not living but two of the people represented actually passed from living to dead during the coarse of the exhibition. Those two people, David Bowie and actor Brooke McCarter, present a haunting testimony to the passage of time and mortality. This message is present in the work on all levels, with its time line and aging self portraits of Edmier.
Cast of David Bowie
Cast of Brooke McCarter
                                              Another feature of the installation appears on the railing of the stairway which leads to the "ground level"- this sacrificial anode (below). The anode is present at the true pool site at Edison's estate and is duplicated here with the corrosion that such a piece of zinc would "absorb" over time. There is a poetry to this work that is very difficult to relate but the anode reinforces the overall concerns of the installation in its manifestation perfectly.
Zinc sacrificial anode                                              

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Atlanta- Oyster shots and Imperial Collections.

My most recent stint in Atlanta, once again working at the Georgia Aquarium, was filled with highs and lows. There was more than the usual bar going on this trip due to the company I was with. This caused me to come across some very interesting things that I would normally not have experienced. Every day we had lunch at The Righteous Room, a nice little bar on Ponce de Leon, we also frequented the Millyard Tavern in Cabbage Town and a very special place called Six Feet Under across from the Oakland Cemetery on Memorial Road. Six Feet Under became my favorite of all the spots. At Six Feet Under you can order great sea food and get a variety of booze, they even have a list of oyster shots which is, yes, a shot of booze, tabasco and an oyster at the bottom of the glass!
Table at Six Feet Under with Firecracker oyster shots and a sea food steamer basket.

Abraham Mignon" Flowers with Dragonfly"
My normal pilgrimage to theHigh Museum of Art was also very satisfying. I took in a still life exhibition and a very interesting exhibition of art and artifacts from the Vienna Imperial Collection.

The Vienna Imperial Collection had everything, from medieval suits of armor to fine art, with a few unexpected surprises between.

Jost Bürgi, a clockmaker and scientific instrument maker, is responsible for this (below) instrument for drawing perspective. I was shocked to read that this man was responsible for inventing the algorithm among other mathematical tools. He improved clocks to the level that they could be used as scientific instruments for tracking the movement of stars. This device was made ca. 1604

The next surprise was "The Alchemical Medallion of Emperor Leopold the First" This artifact created by alchemist Wenzel Spiler von Reinburs is wrapped up in magic and economics ( that is all I will say).
A funny little side note there are three paintings in this exhibition depicting Jupiter (or Zeus if you like) seducing women in different disguises. This made for an interesting museum experience as I looked at the painting of Jupiter and Danaē simultaneously with a group of young students on tour of the exhibit. As they studied the painting of the god appearing to seduce Danaē as a "shower of gold" snickers and suppressed laughter moved through the crowd. I imagined what Titian, who painted the beautiful canvas, would have thought. I imagined him being pleased.

Jupiter and Antiope painted by Bartholomeus Spranger

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.