Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Resurrecting Another Blast From The Past

Out from the vault.

When I had initially started fabricating my Statue Of Liberty figure back in 2016, I was thinking about using it in a show I had coming up in 2017.  However, the opportunity that was presented by showing it at North On 71 (which was a guerrilla show we put together down in Kansas City back in 2016 to coincide with the NCECA Conference (you can read a little bit about that show by clicking this LINK)), was too good to pass up.  I hurriedly (horridly?) 'finished' the piece in time for the show.  It has sat in storage for nearly two years since, unloved, and unfinished to a level of my satisfaction.  Time to revisit the matter.

I had several dissatisfactions with the piece.  The splotchy color was the most glaring offense.  I'm gonna take it back to ground level by unifying the color and then rebuild it from there.  Purple seems to be as good of a base color as any.

I may even return it to its verdigris finish in the long run, but it will be far more even in appearance.

In addition to reusing portions of the collaborative sculpture allinitogether (a piece that Terry Rathje, Dean Kugler, and I built back in 2015) for portions of my horse and rider sculpture (which can be seen/revisited by checking out THIS recent post), I am also reusing parts of it to fabricate the 'base' of statue of liberty as well.

However, I feel this piece needs to have more than just reused sections to form the body.  I want to add some newer carved wood elements to make the base a little more interesting.

This was a 'leftover' face I was considering for the rocket ship in Countdown that has finally found its purpose in this piece.

I make the base out of sheets of plywood that I glue and screw together.  When you mean business, you use both a chemical AND a physical method of fastening.  Once the layers are all attached, I spread Bondo over the surface to make it nice and smooth (or smooth-ish as the case may be...).

Here you can see one half with the pink Bondo color and the other half the exposed edges of plywood.

I brought in one of my studio helpers to paint every nook and cranny on the piece.  She did an even better job than I expected.  The statue looks wonderful/obnoxious.  Here she is just finishing the SOL.  Immediately in front of her at her feet, you can my Mr. Peanut sculpture waiting to be painted.

Another element that is finding a place in this sculpture is the 'Minor' fortress from my previous POST -Building A Fortress: Major, Minor, and Medium.

You can see it here...

You can see it more closely in this image because I climbed up a big ole heavy ladder and took a picture specifically of it.

A shot that hopefully conveys the size/scale of this particular Statue Of Liberty

The same idea from an upwards angle.

Pop Culture Palimpsest is open.  The show runs until September 2nd at The Figge Art Museum.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday: Part II

Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday is a 5'x20' mural.  I discussed its origins in a PREVIOUS POST.  Here are some images from the 2nd half of the fabrication process.

Actually, before I get into the images, some 'thank yous' need to be doled out.  With profound gratitude, I thank my friends Dawn Wolford-Metallo and Troy Swangstu (you may remember seeing Troy's robusto paintings from a POST back in February) for graciously giving of their free time to help paint the panels with Iron Metallic Surfacer.  Even after I had coated/primed each panel with 4 coats of paint, the panels were still quite 'thirsty' for the iron paint.  It took 2 hours to paint each panel.  It would then take an addition hour (give or take) to come back in the next day and fill in all of the little pits and gaps in the paint coverage in order to ensure each panel was thoroughly covered with paint.

After the whole piece is covered with the Iron Metallic Surfacer they look like this installed side-by-side on the wall.



All five panels together.  Now all I have to do is take them down and hit them with a rusting solution.

I take them out into the Figge Plaza (technically the Bechtel Plaza), lay out some plastic, set the panels up on buckets, and spray them with the rusting solution.  Realistically, since I was using a little hand sprayer bottle that formerly housed some glass cleaner, I probably should say '...I spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray, spray the rusting solution...'.

After the 1st coat...

Three coats of rusting solution and an hour of drying in the sun and wind, the panels are moved back inside and reinstalled on the wall.

A few detail shots....

Then some shots of the ceramic debris.......

There you have it,  Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday.

Pop Culture Palimpsest is open now through September 2nd at The Figge Art Museum.  If you can, you should go check it out!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Countdown Gets Even Closer To Liftoff.

I'm just a few days away from the opening day for Pop Culture Palimpsest at The Figge Art Museum.  I have had a labor-intensive 2-week set-up to get the show ready.  Countdown is one of the pieces I have just finished up in the last few days.

Countdown in all of its freshly lined (2nd layer) glory.

Here it is with the new layer of line work completed.

Booooom!  Straight into the color portion of the show.

Ready for show time.

Next time we'll take a peek at a blast from the past...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday: Part I

Time is a curious thing.

The genesis of Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday goes all the way back to my elementary school days back in the early 1980s.  My school chums and I were in Social Studies class learning about the Tasaday -a stone age tribe of humans from a remote cave in the Philippines who had somehow remained untouched by contact with modern 20th-century human civilization.

Recently, memories of the Tasaday popped into my conscious brain, and I thought it might make an interesting piece of artwork to reference the Tasaday and their primitive way of life and maybe even make a piece that speculated how they might be if they were living their everyday lives now in modern culture.

To refresh my memory about the Tasaday, I got onto the internet and started doing some reading.  What I saw changed my memories of my childhood, my understanding of public education, and weakened my already eroded trust in authority figures.

In short, the Tasaday were a hoax (at least in part).  Their language was highly similar to neighboring tribes (indicating a language split with their neighbors sometime in the mid 1800s not thousands of years ago), there was no archaeological evidence in the cave they supposedly lived in for centuries (typically you would find layers and layers and layers and layers of bones, hunting weapons, trash, etc.), and where they lived in the forest could not provide enough food for the tribe by simply foraging.  There are more things to discredit the story, but you get the idea.

My problem comes from the fact that several anthropologists had raised serious concerns/doubts about the authenticity of the Tasaday based on a lack of archaeological evidence back in the 1970s.  None of this was mentioned in our textbooks in the 1980s.  We were taught straight up that the Tasaday were real.  At the very least, shouldn't the textbook publisher have known what was in their textbook was potentially a lie?  Did our teacher know we were being taught some dubious 'information'?

Anyway, I could go on more about power structures, authority, brainwashing, perception engineering, and whatnot.  Suffice it to say, out of this newly learned information, Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday was born.

Back to the present day.

The fourth floor gallery space at The Figge Art Museum has several long stretches of wall space.  It seems like an excellent opportunity to make something bigger than my usual run-of-the-mill kinds of work.  How about a 5'x20' mural?  Why not?

Let's begin...

There are going to be a whole bunch of building-esque/skyline structures running along the bottom register of this piece.  These next few images are sub-par in quality, but they will be invaluable to me when it becomes time to reassemble everything on the canvas because they show the orientation of all of the pieces.

Once they are cut out and wrapped with fabric, they look kind of like this...

...and this...
...and this.

Then I add some other ingredients like this...

...and like this...

...and this...

Just a slight detour here:  These are some letter blocks I was cutting out to form the word 'CAVE' (which you can see on the image above).  I am intrigued by the letter and arrow combo.  It may turn up in future sketches and/or pieces.  That is all.

A whole bunch of building-esque forms being laid out and adhered to the surface.

Now they have been hit with their first coat of paint.  They will get covered multiple times.  I am priming them in order to firm them up, unify their surfaces to some degree, and reduce their absorbency -so when I start using the expensive iron metallic surfacer, I don't have to use nearly as much.

Another detour: We've always got time to showcase some 'stinky paint'!

Alright, back at it.

Here's a shot of all five panels lined up.

Side by side...

That's all I've got for this post.  Before I go, however, I need to acknowledge several people.  By no means would I have been able to get this far with this piece without the exceptional and generous help of Terry RathjePedro CarranzaJosh JohnsonVanessa Sage, and Jennifer SaintFort.

In addition I would like to thank Katarina Wolf and Maysun Sallak (two of my former MetroArts interns who I was able to hire and help me out in the studio thanks to a Quad City Arts Arts Dollar$ Project Grant that I received this past Spring.  I am proud to say:“This project is supported by Quad City Arts Dollars, provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, and John Deere.”

One final note while I'm dropping names left and right, all of the wonderful burlap texture that you see comes from these large (empty) burlap coffee bean sacks that Katarina Wolf contributed to the project.  Her folks run Country Morning Coffee.  They get the beans in and roast the coffee themselves in small batches.  Making their own special coffee blends.  If you are at all into coffee, you need to check them out:  Here is a link to their website: and here is a link to their Facebook page:

Just a few days until Pop Culture Palimpsest opens!