Thursday, November 8, 2012

Poetry of Form: A Day With The RatMan

It's not often that I get the chance to help Terry Rathje out.  To say he is perpetually bailing me out of situations in the studio involving lack of manpower, materials, or knowledge is probably an understatement.  In fact, in the age of caller i.d., I am constantly surprised when he answers the phone after he sees my number come up.

A shot of Terry and I during a multiple day set up for ELEMENTAL back in 2011 when we realized that we should have lackeys/apprentices to help with all of this nonsense.

So Terry, and another cool/interesting/fun artist Monica Correia (she's the Head of the 3-D Design Area at the University of Iowa) have a show in Cedar Rapids at Legion Arts, which is a really cool space in the CSPS building (check them out here: ).  I got the opportunity to be the grunt labor for the day helping Terry install some of his pieces!

The show is called Poetry of Form.  I know, it's no 'Gorilla-Fart Showcase' or 'Things of Which Our Mothers Would Not Approve' for a show title, but both artists work in levels of nuance and class that are beyond me.

Here is a quick look at some of the pieces we set up and a glimpse into Terry Rathje's construction processes.  Below is an image of the main exhibition space at Legion Arts.  There were still some pieces on the wall from the previous show and you can see some of the foam arches that were to be used to set up an architectural space (more on that when we get to it).

Just a few shots of various components that Terry had staged around the gallery

The piece that you are about to see assembled is called Skep.  Terry designed it on the computer and it is compact enough that it fits into three suitcases which hypothetically could then be flown to, let's say Portugal, for a show there.  Here is Terry laying out the different piece sizes.

This is the start of the base.

The entire piece is held together through interlocking joints and grooved biscuits -no glue, no duct tape, no screws, no duct tape, no nails, no duct tape (Wait!?! No DUCT TAPE!).  *In a side note I begged Terry to change the name of the show from 'Poetry of Form' to 'Grooved Biskits', but to no avail.

I present to you the grooved biscuits.

Each section within a ring is held together with interlocking joints.  Each ring is held to the next with them-thar biscuits.  

Judicious application of rubber mallet to insure a snug fit.

Here we are moving the third ring into place.  Mel Andringa shot the following three images.  Feel free to note that I have not entirely (remotely?) shed the aftermath of the Ultimate Carnivore Burger..... (see the Ultimate Carnivore Burger in all of its glory at a previous post There and Back Again Part II:

A little more mallet-on-wood action.

The top ring!

Terry is intrigued by the thoughts and realities of portable architecture.  How does a portable space affect the preexisting space it is constructed in?  If you are in Skep in Portugal, are you in the same space when you are in Skep in Cedar Rapids?  What are the implications to the space's inhabitants?

Some interior shots:

Here is the start of another piece entitled PPMH (Personal Portable Museum Hut) which is a decagon structure.

A look at the inside.  Each panel is held to the next panel with either screws (for the panels with an entryway) or bolts (for the other remaining 5 panels).

We had yet to install the 'artifacts' on the inside so I was left to marvel at the fabaroo metal on the outside.

Cool stuff.

Yea!  Kohrs Lard, Davenport Iowa!!

The pairing of architectural spaces and these cool vintage metal signs & containers should come as no surprise when you take into account a couple images from a recent visit out to the Rathje compound to see his studio and the new addition he made on his deck.  These images came from a studio visit back in May (explore at your leisure:

Although lacking in duct tape, I am pretty sure that the previous two structures at least used screws and/or nails.

The last piece I helped with was Ophidian (go ahead and look it up: which was a collaborative structure designed and built by both Terry Rathje and Monica Correia.  Terry and Monica got a bunch of this fancy foam (Micro Cell Polyurethane) which can twist and bend without breaking.  This is a stack of the support ribs made from that foam.

Basically, a long structure is created in segments by holding two ribs upright, and then placing the three-part skin on the outside.  Once a few segments are constructed, you just attach one new segment after another.  Simple, straightforward, and elegant.  All of that being said, it still took us over 3 hours to go from 'start' to 'finish' (and by 'finish' I mean "let's quit for today, we'll finish it on Friday!").

a shot of Terry positioning the next rib in the process.

Ophidian roughly 1/3 completed.

The structure is up, but the finessing touches have yet to be applied.

The structure is held together with wooden skewers.  We close with a couple shots of Monica Correia and Terry Rathje blowing off a little steam by 'modeling' some skewers.

Opening reception for Poetry of Form is Sunday, November 11th 2-4+ pm (2012) at Legion Arts in Cedar Rapids.

Next time we take a look at some behind-the-scenes development of Epic Adventures In Public Relations....

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