Rob Burroughs, a good friend and colleague, passed away on May 1. He was an amazing musician, a creative individual of large visions, and a friend who, along with a very small group, understood my work as an artist. I worked with Rob, his ex-wife, Suzanne, and other musicians and performers, as a member of nspace3 creating mixed media performance art. We performed three such pieces at the theatre facility at Columbia Basin College between 2002 and 2005. Rob combined many artistic influences in these works and was passionate about it all. He was courageous in stepping out and inviting the audience to participate in our experimentations. Rob was also a music instructor at CBC and touched a lot of people over the years. He used to say that, when it came to politics, he was “just right of Atilla the Hun,” but, boy, what a creator! I will miss him.
As mentioned on this site a few blogs ago, I worked with the Vet Corps group at Washington State University to create a sculpture dedicated to veterans entitled “Stories.” The latest issue of Washington State Magazine that is published by WSU has a nice article focusing on the services that the university offers its vets, and includes a bit about the sculpture project with a couple of photos of Yours Truly and the piece. It’s great to see our university system embracing returning veterans for educational training and help with placement opportunities in society. The quotations we incorporated into the sculpture are powerful reminders of the veterans point of view. I must say that Zach Mazur’s photograph of the bronze really make the “pages” appear to fly off into the air, which is what I had in mind. So; Thanks, Zach!
I just finished giving new life to an older piece entitled “Bone Circus.” The sculpture has needed some retooling and patina changes for some time now, and I’m happy to say it’s done. The result is a fresher crisper look to the concept, which is my visual statement in response to the politics surrounding the Kennewick Man discovery of 1996. With all the layers of politics and the media blitz on international fronts for years, as well as the U. S. District Court case, it became a three ring circus! So, we have a figure with Kennewick Man’s face dancing on stilts among red, white and blue bones. Lots of color…lots of movement, and, should I dare say…poking at the government. What fun!
In response to various comments about the need for more verbalization or text writing to explain my art to people, I must state the following;
I am a visual communicator, not a writer. I am happy to provide clues to the interpretation of my work, but I will not be drawn into lengthy written dissertations about content. I spend months or longer adapting ideas; accepting some and rejecting others; in the process of creating a single art piece, and it will require some effort on the part of the viewer to establish their own interpretation of that artwork. I realize the limitations of viewing three dimensional art on a web site such as this, but I put my work out in the broader community, through public installations and gallery exhibitions to offer it up to the more tangible method of viewing. This web site is here for me to entice the viewer to get out there and see and touch it. So, get out of your armchair. It’s a physical world.
With spring around the corner, I have rebuilt and completely reinvigorated the “Poet Fencepost” into the new “Poet” sculpture. This piece was part of a series of vertical sculptures inspired by old weathered fence posts I discovered while hiking out in the countryside, and, although it never incorporated an actual fencepost as the other sculptures in the series did, it remains vertical in its design. The new piece has new proportions and an entirely new patina coloration, which, in combination, establishes a stronger presence than before and comes closer to my original vision. Along with “Poet,” I have a couple of other new sculptures in process. More on them soon.
One of the many creative directions I take, designing graphics for signage and marketing for my wife’s retail shop, is among them. We recently reopened the coffee house in the Roxy building as an addition to the Roxy Theatre Antiques shop and needed a new look for the business, so my thought was to convey the idea of how a little (or maybe a lot) of coffee helps us to clarify our ideas, and, in the process, establish a conversation of sorts. As you can see in the graphic shown in the photo, entitled “Conversation.” If you get to Kennewick, WA, stop by the Coffee Cup and have a conversation with someone, or, even with your own thoughts!
It’s a new year! I think 2013 is going to be a great year for me. Right now, I couldn’t tell you why, other than it’s a gut hunch. As I look back over the past years accomplishments, I realize it was a very busy time for me in and out of the studio. Not only the large scale commission of the “Stories” piece for WSU, but I also designed and built exterior steel decorative panels for a private patron, created 14 mixed media drawings illustrating Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, have created several display furniture pieces for the Roxy Theatre Antiques, and three new metal sculpture pieces for a show in October. Amongst all this stuff, are several proposals for future work that will, hopefully, generate more studio commissions and sales for both Tomart (my business name) and the Roxy Theatre Antiques shop that my wife owns. It’s cold outside, so let’s stay warm rubbing our creative “sticks” together.
With the long nights of winter upon us, I grabbed my photographer buddy, Dan McCool, and we took some shots of the “Stories” sculpture at the Washington State University campus in Richland. This was my first chance to see the piece with the lights on it, and I am pleased with the way it looks. Coming up on the end of the year, as we are, I’m reminded of story telling of all sorts, and it seems appropriate to spend time with veterans’ stories, as well as my family’s.
Before I say anything more: Happy Holidays! I continue my dialogue with abstract explorations in space and time with new sculpture work, while I also look for new commissions; both private and public. My priorities right now are: 1. explorations of space and media, 2. helping my wife, Ann, solve her creative conundrums, and 3. celebrating with friends and family the ending of this year and the beginning of a new one. Of course, all these are wrapped up in a surreal and organic mass. There is no linearity in my life, and, as much of a pain in the ass as that is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Onward!