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.

20,000 Leagues Exhibit

It looks like my “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” illustrations (which I refer to as “20KLUS”) will be on exhibit for the month of September at the Richland Public Library, located in Richland, Washington. This will be the first showing publically, other than on this web site, of the twelve digitally re mastered prints of the original mixed media drawings. It’s very appropriate to show these works in a library facility, since the art was inspired by the early illustrations of Jules Verne’s famous novel from the late 19th century. I have the Library Director and her staff to thank for the opportunity, and hope the exhibit will spark more interest in these pieces. I am also in the process of working up an exhibition of the original drawings, along with some of my sculptures, and will keep you all posted on that. You can view these illustrations on the “Flatwork” page of this site.

Title page for Tom's 20KLUS series
Title page for Tom’s 20KLUS series

Art on the Avenues Again

I have the “History Lesson” sculpture on exhibit in the Wenatchee Art on the Avenues public art exhibition this year. This sculpture will be on loan for the exhibit for two years. It is located in an exterior facing display case at the corner of Wenatchee Ave. and 1st. The case has a mirrored backing so viewers can see all the angles of the sculpture. I have exhibited in this event several years ago and am pleased to be included once again. This kind of exhibiting is a great way for sculptors to show off our work. Wenatchee is a beautiful area with a river front parkway that has a number of larger sculptures, some of which are permanent installations in the city’s collection. Come check it out! www.artontheavenues.org

"History Lesson" by Tom
“History Lesson” by Tom

Learning From Nature

I have been taking up one of my favorite hobbies lately, which is hiking cross-country out in the hills and shrub-steppe environment around eastern Washington State. While “out there,” I tend to feel very much at home and always soaking up whatever there is to see and experience; not just the visual beauty of that landscape, but also the emotions that arise in me, as I clamber around on the rocks and sand. The tenacity of the wild juniper trees that have grown for thousands of years in the dust and stone of this back country. I have watched them survive fire and storms and draught conditions for many years, and, although they have dwindled in numbers, the few remaining have more growth and berries on them this year than ever. Amazing what a little rain in the winter can do! They teach me lessons of survival and strength of character.

Wild juniper tree with an amazing sky
Wild juniper tree with an amazing sky