Migration Theory

All the talk and posturing about immigration these days has hooked into my anthropological/archaeological studies, as well as my interests in cultural studies. For thousands of years,it has been the nature of human beings to migrate all around the globe, usually looking for the “greener grass:” either escaping from environmental conditions, some form of social oppression, or to find a better place for their descendants. My own Grandfather, essentially cast out by his father in Ireland, immigrated to Canada for a new beginning, which, included, among other things, serving in the Canadian militia and fighting in the trenches in France during W.W.I. Immigration can bring about cultural diversity as well as a rich mix of new ideas, and helps to prevent stagnation in any society.

“Migration Theory” by Tom in process
The title will be engraved into the bronze.

It’s Cold Outside!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EACH AND ALL! As I write this, the outside temperature is around 10 degrees with snow on the ground. I have been working on a new piece entitled “Go Figure,” finishing up the welding and tooling. The sculpture is composed of bronze and steel, and I think, is my response to the general state of affairs in this country, with more divisiveness and confusion within the populace than I have witnessed before in my lifetime. I refuse to give in to any kind of defeatism and will continue to move forward in creating the best art I possibly can. I will blog soon on that piece of sculpture, once I have sandblasted and finished the patina work.

A small snow drift at our home

“Go Figure”

Now that Christmas is almost here, Happy Holidays to all of you out there. While the north wind blows, and the temperature hovers around 18 degrees, and the chill factor drops to around 10, I am kicking around concept ideas with another new sculpture. The figurative element of the design is the same one I used in the “Migration Theory” piece, and has suggested to me a “Go Figure” attitude, so I am inclined to follow through with that idea. I think this direction is my response to, not only the last presidential election results, but also a general state of confusion in this country and much of the rest of the world. I should have this piece together in the next week or so and ready for sand blasting, then patina work. Onward!

“Go Figure” under construction in the studio.

Thanks, Mark Di Suvero

I was fortunate enough to interact with internationally recognized sculptor, Mark Di Suvero, while I was an undergraduate student at Western Washington University, in the 70’s. He was building and installing the “For Handel” sculpture on the campus, at the time, and I learned some important lessons from him. Aside from experiencing abstract sculpture on a truly monumental scale, Mark helped me understand how to open up my own sculpture to create a more lyrical approach to form and get away from the more monolithic forms I had been making for years. Of course, like all good lessons, they took some time to learn, so it was a few years after Di Suvero left Washington that they came into focus for me, but I have never forgotten this artist’s influence, and have applied those lessons to my explorations with the human figure, as well as more abstracted pieces.

Sculpture by Mark Di Suvero at Paula Cooper Gallery
Sculpture by Mark Di Suvero at Paula Cooper Gallery

Migration Ideas

I am working on new sculpture pieces with ideas centered around human migration/ immigration. I want the designs to reflect these ideas with a broad brush stroke, rather than limiting their communications to a narrow contemporary news focus. When I think about immigration, I reflect on the ancient history of human migration all over the world, starting when humans were a different species, and including modern peoples as we are today. Above and beyond politics, humans have always migrated from one area of the globe to another, for all kinds of reasons. I’m not sure just where these ideas will take my art, but the image included with this blog is a glimpse into it. I am still working on this piece, and one other, with titles in the works, as well. Here, also, is a shot of the finished George Jones commission piece. More later!

Migration idea by Tom in the works.
Migration idea by Tom in the works.
Finished George Jones piece
Finished George Jones piece

Parts

As I finish up on the Jones commission, I have two newly cast figures, as part of a new series of sculpture pieces in the making. I spread parts out, including recycled forms from earlier sculpture work and prospective bits and pieces for consideration in my design ideas. As I start to put two or more parts together, the ideas begin to take shape. Of course, ideas have been in my noggin for some time, and I sketch out rough drawings to help formulate some concepts, as I bang away in metal. This approach to art making, helps to keep the conceptualizing fresh and vibrant for me, and, thus, ranges far beyond the tradition of reproducing a completely predesigned form into bronze, which can get too caught up in technical tedium. It’s a strange and wonderful journey.

Parts to be assembled and some to be discarded with the figure at the center of it all.
Parts to be assembled and some to be discarded with the figure at the center of it all.

Jones Commission; Second Act

Yesterday, I travelled to T. Hunter Bronze foundry in Walla Walla, Washington, where they cast the portrait bust of George Jones that I have been working on for the past month. I will return to pick up the rough castings next week, after which time, I will be welding, and tooling out the bronze and finishing the sculpture, complete with mounting bracket. The piece is scheduled for completion by October 31, and will be installed at the Southridge Trios Center sometime after that. The Trios art committee members joined me for a tour of Trevor’s facility, and got to see our piece being poured. The widow actually got to swing a hammer and chip off some of the ceramic shell mold after the piece was cast and cooled, revealing the face of George, her departed husband. Trevor did a great job as tour guide.

Trevor Hunter giving an explanation of how the waxes are melted out.
Trevor Hunter giving an explanation of how the waxes are melted out.

New Exhibits

The exhibit of my “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” illustrations is up and running in the Richland Public Library, and runs to September 30. This is a showing of digitally re-mastered prints of the original drawings, and I have to thank my friend and professional photographer, Dan McCool of Cool Breeze Photography, for documenting the original illustrations. Because of this, I was able to manipulate the text and get sharp crisp prints for this exhibit, without a lot of hassle. I also will have an exhibit of the mixed-media originals, along with a number of sculptures next year at the Robert Graves Gallery in Wenatchee, WA. I will keep you all posted on that, as the dates are not yet set.

20KLUS illustrations by Tom at Richland Public Library, Richland, WA.
20KLUS illustrations by Tom at Richland Public Library, Richland, WA.

Good News All Around

So, the good news is: I am moving ahead with the George Jones Commemorative Bust commission, (see image) I just heard yesterday, that I will have a one-man show at the Robert Graves Gallery in Wenatchee, WA in 2017, and I set up my exhibit of my “20KLUS” prints next week, as posted last month. Life is good! In addition to that, Ann had a good showing at the antique show in Yakima two weeks ago, and we took a much-needed break to go visit the Pacific Ocean in the Long Beach area. I came down the trail to the beach,saw the waves, was immediately reminded of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and thanked Jules Verne for his inspiration in my life. The trip cleared my head, and I’m back at it with stinky wax work in preparation for casting in bronze.

Clay original for George J. Jones commemorative for the Trios Foundation
Clay original for George J. Jones commemorative for the Trios Foundation

What’s Next?

I have been busy putting together the framing for the ” 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” drawings exhibit in September, that I mentioned last time. See those drawings in my “Flatwork” pages on this site. I have been negotiating for a couple of possible commissions, which, because I don’t like to jinx these things, will blog about them later (soon, I hope)
Meanwhile, I have been developing ideas for some more small cast/fabricated sculptures with “the man in the suit” figure. So far, nothing has stuck, so I continue to ponder concepts, while working on our home and helping my wife, Ann, with her various furniture repairs for her antique business. More to come!

plaster original to be cast soon.
plaster original to be cast soon.