30 August 2012

Another Charity Art Auction Request

Sorry folks. I don't donate my work to charity. I do donate money when it is a charity whose philosophy aligns with my own point of view and/or I feel does good work for society... but give them my artwork to auction off at a fraction of its market value - nope.

Most people who ask for art feel like it benefits the artist - you know, gets them "exposure." In reality, it hurts artists and galleries. When art sells cheaply at auctions - which is almost always the case for all but the most renown of artists - it devalues the art and the artist's name/brand and makes it harder for all artists to sell their work at a fair market value.

If the buyers can get the art at auction prices, why would they ever buy from artists/galleries at a fair price (definition - one that pays the artist a living wage)?

Did you know that  the IRS does not not let the artist take a deduction for the market value of the art donated? Artists cannot take a deduction for their labor either - only for the cost of the materials used in the piece... while mosaic materials can be quite expensive, the real cost for me is my labor. Some of the mosaics I've done have over 100 hours of work in them. Even if I only paid myself $10/hour the cost of the labor for any of those pieces would be well over $1,000.00... I doubt if anyone would cough that much up at an auction, let alone the higher rate I actually do pay myself.

I don't need to make my living off of my art so theoretically I could donate it without greatly harming myself - however I feel that making that kind of bad business decision does a great disservice to other professional artists, especially those who are trying to make their living off of their art.

And in the end that hurts all of us.

Others' thoughts:

Joanne Mattera

Mat Gleason

and Harlan Ellison (warning - profanity, indignation and a whole lot of emotion)

28 August 2012

The Long Year - nearly finished

The stone & glass mosaic is done all except for whatever I do to frame/finish the edges.

The Long Year, 11" x 17", stone & glass

Under the pezzami
Tiko, the studio cat who oversees all my work (and uses the workbench legs as a scratching post...)

18 August 2012

Labyrinth - Day 1

Great progress was made! Today we got 63 of the 180+ stones mosaiced.

 Over the course of the day I'm guessing we had 25 or so volunteers come by and create a mosaic stone or two.

We'll be doing this again on Thursday, August 25, between 4pm & 7pm. 

Once all the stones are completed we'll be touching up the alignment in the labyrinth, filling in the areas around the stones with the dirt and laying sod. The small gaps between the stones in the pathways and the larger gaps between the stones in the switchbacks will get filled in with dirt and be seeded with grass so that the visual effect of the gaps will be minimized.

Getting the stones in place. We had to re-level the ground because the sidewalk ended up higher than we thought it would be.

We ended up placing all the stones in the actual labyrinth space and taking up the paper template. It worked better than I thought it would.

Our workstations (and the sand pile)

Buckets of recycled glass stones and buckets of river rocks

Mosaic work on the concrete paving stone

More mosaic work - a mom and her helper

Meanwhile the excavation and leveling continues

See the frog?

Some of our volunteers

Laying out the labyrinth

Working on the stones

More volunteers working

A closer look

One of the switchbacks

All but a few stones are in place

A fish

A whirlpool

Bends in the river

More bends

A turtle

Taking a look at the end of the day

Evaluating the day's work

Being contemplative

In the end, kids prefer a pile of dirt over most play equipment.

15 August 2012

The Long Year

A quick update: here's what it looks like as of tonight...

This photo is a bit orange-y, but I wanted to finish up tonight without color correcting.

13 August 2012

The difference between miserable and exhilarated

Well, I wasn't singing in the rain... but it sort of felt like that when I rode home today.

I think that during the 20 minutes it took for me to get home tonight nearly an inch of rain fell. It had been raining on and off during the day, but when I left my office it was not raining. By the time I got to the outside door the drops were beginning to fall, big, fat rain drops - the ones that make splotches nearly an inch in diameter on the sidewalk. I was wishing I'd left my work clothing on instead of changing into my biking gear.

It was miserable and cold, and I was drenched before I even got to the bike path (less than 100 yards from the door). I worried that I'd hydroplane and go down or that cars and trucks wouldn't be expecting me to be there in a downpour (so I turned on my flashing taillight and was very mindful of traffic). The wind was blowing hard enough at times to turn the rain drops into stinging needle-like projectiles.  I couldn't tell if it was worse to wear my glasses that were so streaked with rain that I couldn't really see, or to go without them and try to squint enough to keep the above-mentioned stinging-needle rain out of my eyes while hoping that I could see enough to avoid any mishaps.

Oh, yeah, I really didn't appreciate the driver of the beat up pickup truck deciding to hit the gigantic puddle at full speed just as I rode by going the other way... luckily it was during the worst of the rain, so the debris got washed off pretty quickly.

Even with all that I have to say it was the most exhilarating ride - the most exhilarating thing - I've done in a while... totally worth being really cold, wet and scared. Strange how something so simple makes us feel so alive.

arriving home

Best of all - my new Timbuk2 backpack kept all my stuff mostly dry!

08 August 2012

New Projects

Want to see the new things I'm doing?

Sorry for the long dry spell – I've been working on several new projects and it's difficult to make myself take the time to write when I want to be doing...

A stone & glass mosaic which might end up in a show at the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics in Chicago (at the Chicago Mosaic School)
A clean up of the back porch and yard (Wes and the bees were part of the backyard urban farming tour, so...)
New shelving in the pantry (ok, it's not really a pantry - it's just this weird cubbyhole at the top of the stairs going from the kitchen down to the basement)
A large planter for the front yard (concrete with glass & stone mosaic)
A public art commission

First the small mosaic:
Working title: The Long Year.

Some of the materials for the mosaic.
It measures 18" x 11" and is made up of two partial pizzas of smalti, rocks I collected from the river, tumbled stones I purchased at various places, some landscaping stone I picked up (legitimately - from a local stone company) and some glass from Kokomo Opalescent Glass.

Inspiration - all the sorrow and joy life brings you and the strange way you can experience both at the same time.

The back porch:
At our house the porches can get pretty messy... and they sometimes stay that way far longer than we like. Earlier this month Wes & I cleaned the back porch and the back yard. It's so much nicer to sit out there now.

Inspiration - the Backyard Urban Farming Tour - Wes & the bees were part of the tour...

The rebuilt pantry:

This may not look like much - but if you'd seen the old shelves you would simply be amazed...

Inspiration - not being able to find anything and the ugly-gross old shelves...

The Planter:
This has been dominating my front room for a month now...

Planter - 48" x 80" x 16"

I'm waiting for more fiberglass mesh - it's ordered and should be here sometime next week. I also need to find a place to get some concrete additive for accelerating the curing/adding strength.

The foam armature/base is made up of FoxBlocks reinforced with 1/2" rebar. The entire planter will be wrapped in the fiberglass mesh (most of it is right now) and nailed. Then it will have layers of concrete and mesh and concrete added until the concrete is around 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Once the concrete work is done I will mosaic it.

Inspiration - the prickly pear cactus that grows so well in Minnesota...

And, finally the public art commission which merits a post of its own...

East End Rec Center Park Labyrinth

I've been commissioned to create a labyrinth in the newly recreated East End Rec Center Park.

The rec center location: the entire block between 4th & 5th and
Zumbro & St. Charles streets – building, the basketball courts,
the skateboard park, and the park.
The park as it was
The park as it will be
The work of building the labyrinth:

The first step was to select a design for the labyrinth. I decided that we should use a Classical labyrinth design instead of a Medieval or Contemporary design. I choose a Baltic Classical labyrinth which is a double spiral labyrinth. The double spiral labyrinths can be walked in multiple ways (as opposed to other forms of labyrinths where one follows the same path in and out).

The location for the future labyrinth. Note: all the old playground equipment
is being replaced with earthenworks and other interesting play adventure features.
The labyrinth will be in the southeast corner of the park. Originally the plan called for a 20' labyrinth, but I convinced everyone that it needed to be bigger in order for the pathways to be wide enough. It will be a permanent installation, but we're creating it with blocks instead of digging a footer and pouring concrete. We wanted the walking surface to be grass, not pavement.

We will be using solid concrete blocks that will have mosaic work on the top surface. They will be set into the ground so that they can be mowed over. The mosaic will be a river with river creatures in it. We're using recycled glass and river pebbles for the river and the river banks. The river creatures are being created by local glass artists, Bernadette Mahfood and Walken Ratajcyk.

The Work Days
The mosaic work will be done over the course of 3 or 4 days by members of the community – Saturday, August 18, 9am - 3pm; Thursday, August 23, 4pm -7pm (at the Rec Center's Block Party Olympics); and Saturday, August 25, 9am - 3pm. The builds are open to everyone (but we're asking that any child under the age of 10 work with their parent or another adult/older teen).

Making the River:
The surface of the blocks measures 8" wide and 16" long. The river will be 4-6" wide (varying width as it goes along) with an inch or two of shoreline on each side. We'll draw the outlines on the blocks. I'll have a second full-sized drawing to spread out on the parking lot at the park. We'll lay out the blocks and trim any that need shaped. We will work from the spread out blocks during the mosaicing  – the blocks will be numbered so that we can keep track of where they went in the pattern. We will let the blocks set for 24 hours before the installation to make sure that the thinset mortar is set up anhd they can be handled without damaging them.

What's been done so far:
I drew the labyrinth full size (the 20' size – which is how I figured out that it needed to be a bit larger) on heavy paper (with the help of Emerald) and took it to the park last Friday. Since we were increasing the size we cut out the diagram and expanded it on the field. We pinned it in place with insulation supports (very strong thin metal rods), and once it was all in place we marked the path dividers.

After I left the Parks & Rec crew and volunteers dug out the path divider trench.