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Archive for January, 2014

Carnegie Center for Art and History facade, New Albany, IN, Jan. 2014

On January 24 our long-awaited exhibition at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana opened with a big reception.  I say “our” because this is a two person show featuring work by R. Michael Wimmer and yours truly.  The exhibition in entitled “The Potential in Everything” because both Michael and I utilize a diversity of materials to make our art.  While I depend on what I find at the river, Michael goes much further afield to locate objects that project a certain “aura” and associative power for him.  Following are some images from the exhibition which will be up until April 5.

My sculptures just delivered, Jan. 2014

I brought about 25 pieces that I had saved from the river and park visitors.  I have gotten into the habit of keeping some of my better creations for events like this.  It’s such a big leap first seeing the work at the river and then in a more formal art space where everything is displayed, labelled, and illuminated with care.

opening reception for the Potential in Everything, Jan. 2014

The other extreme is having several rooms full of friends, family, and assorted art lovers coming out on a very cold night to take in this exhibition.  A wonderful jazz band provided music. At times, it was hard to see the art because of the people…which is a great situation to be in and I felt very lucky.  I know I did a lot of talking and meeting people who said that they knew my work through this blog.  This happened more than once and it made me feel good that local people were checking out my river adventures online every now and then.  I returned to the center the following day so I could get a better look at the show and to take a few more pictures.  Overnight, it snowed two to three inches while we slept.

Potential in Everything installation view, Jan. 2014

Installation view at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, Jan. 2014

Installation view with "Cycladic Oarsman", Jan. 2014

Both Michael and my sculptures are assembled.  He favors a wider variety of materials and I have over time evolved a vocabulary of forms and found materials that I prefer.  The pieces I’ve saved function for me as mostly a means to an end.  The story telling aspect of my work has been the biggest shift in what I do over the years and it has caused me to reassess my priorities when I go on location.  I was pleased that people thought the stories added something extra to the artworks.  Wall labels had excerpts from my river tales and I supplied a binder with printed stories that accompany many of the objects on display.  It takes the pieces away from being strictly artworks as usual.  I do, however, try to make compelling sculptures to help activate the spaces I work in and to assist in creating interesting images.  The tall figure in the foreground is entitled “Cycladic Oarsman” and was made specifically for this show.  I gave it this title because the face has some similarities with very early Greek marble statuary.

Three Styro-birds on a shelf, Jan. 2014

"Audubon's Habitat", R. Michael Wimmer,  at the Carnegie Center, Jan. 2014

Karen Gillenwater, the Carnegie Center’s curator did a fine job of pairing artworks together and finding what Michael and I have in common artistically.  Both of us have channeled John James Audubon and bird imagery.  The naturalist’s earliest attempts at drawing birds happened in the Kentuckiana area during the early nineteenth century.  Over the years I have made several Audubon figures and most of the birds I’ve created are creatures he never encountered in America’s pristine wildernesses.

Installation view in The Potential in Everything, Jan. 2014

"More than Skin Deep" by Michael Wimmer and my "Time Traveler" tableau, Jan. 2014

The Styro-fish I’ve made stand near a wall piece that Michael did about the deteriorating marine environment where he lived for a while in Florida.  My fish are made with some of the junk I’ve removed from the Ohio River.  Michael now makes his home and studio in New Albany.  Both of us are also fond of time references.  My stuff flirts with time on a number of levels including quantum mechanics.  Clock faces and dials appear in many of Michael’s Carnegie pieces and some of his sculptures are also working clocks.  A good friend of mine once told me that much of life is what we decide to spend time on and that seems true for both artists in this exhibition.  I appreciate that the Carnegie Center for Art and History believes it is important to generate good quality materials to help supplement an exhibition.  The staff at the center produced a wonderful gallery guide, show announcement, a banner that hangs from the building’s facade, a poster, and both Michael and I have the opportunity to give gallery talks and lead workshops.  I may never have a chance like this again where the hosting institution helps the artists out as much as the Carnegie Center for Art and History does.  I know of many regional and local artists who feel that this is what makes showing at the Carnegie such a treat.  The exhibition continues outside and both Michael and I have works positioned in front of the building.  Here is Michael’s piece and all the work’s components find similarities with details and materials on the building.

R. Michael Wimmer sculpture outdoors at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, Jan. 2014

My piece is my long, beaded necklace made from softball cores and is entitled “La Belle Riviere” which I originally displayed at the Falls of the Ohio in October of last year.  It was quite a production and required a bucket truck and a worker supplied by the city to hang the piece in the tulip poplar tree outside the center.  For now, I will close with this image and look forward to my next post as the Artist at Exit 0.  Stay warm everybody.

"La Belle Riviere" hanging from tree at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, Jan. 2014

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Louisville as seen from the Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2014 Happy New Year everybody out there in blog land!  I want to thank everyone over the past year who have dropped by to check out the latest from the Artist at Exit 0 at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  This year is shaping up to be much like the previous one.  Which means both man and nature are predictably unpredictable with a sense of timing not easily plotted.  Since the holidays, the Ohio River has been up and much of the park that I access has been underwater.  That in itself is not news, but the length of time the water has been high has been.  It all points to heavy rains and snows in the northern part of the Ohio River Valley and water flowing downriver.  The forecast at the time of this writing is not encouraging with showers turning to snow today followed by a precipitous drop to sub-zero degree temperatures.  This cold could be historic for us and so far we have received more snow than in recent winters.  I think I will stay indoors today!  Since my last post, I have been to the river twice (including New Years Day itself) to see what there is to see and experience.  Here’s a synopsis so far.wooden pallet in the trees, Falls, Jan. 2014 Between rising and falling waters I have been able to skirt around the edges.  One thing that unfortunately hasn’t changed is the junk in the river.  I’m always interested in what gets stranded in the trees like this wooden pallet that has a corner delicately balanced on the surface of the river.  It’s cold out here and despite being warmly dressed, my eyes and nose water from the bit of wind that is also present. various kinds of debris at the water's edge, Jan. 2014 At the water’s edge is a mix of debris.  Most of it is natural with driftwood, wood bark and bits being the most prominent.  Trees that have surrendered to the river are rolled against other logs by the waves and the grinding (which can be very audible as well) knocks the limbs off with a loud crack and chews the bark away from the trunks.  Intermixed is various man-made and colorful junk that is mostly plastic in composition which also gets masticated by the river.  The above photo is fairly typical with lots of polystyrene fragments which also make up the core of my art materials.  Most artists have positive feelings for their materials, but I have a love /hate relationship with mine.  Let’s move on and see what other sights are along the river in this new year. floating automotive tire at the Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2014 Floating tires always catch my eye.  Their blackness and circular perfection contrasts sharply with the rest of the objects on the river’s surface.  A short distance away from this wheel I find a dead steer at the water’s edge. dead steer in the Ohio River, Jan. 2014 I debated with myself whether to include this distasteful image in this post, but decided to do it since it represents some of the truth that is in the river.  Pictures of man-made trash are one thing and have an almost benign aura to them by now, but something that was once alive registers in a different way.  The gravity is far heavier.  This poor cow is the largest dead animal I have encountered in the park.  Dead deer and other smaller animals are not too unusual in the river.  No telling how far this unfortunate animal has floated to arrive here?  Rising high waters could once again carry it away.  I take this picture and walk on. plastic turtle sand mold, Jan. 2014 There are other objects that the river has delivered to the park like this plastic turtle sand mold.  Having gone through my river collections recently I discovered that turtles are among the most common subjects for sand molds.  Who knew?  I have found six or seven of them and they are all different like the plastic hamburgers from a recent post of mine.  Here’s something else to add to a growing collection. plastic pintail duck decoy, Jan. 2014 I have a Rubber Duck Collection as well and all found within the park.  Truthfully, none of them are actually made from rubber and are of course composed from plastic.  This is a hunter’s decoy of a pintail duck and would have been cooler had it been made out of wood…alas.  I haven’t seen much of actual bird life in the park except for a few hardy species that are around all year round.  I noticed that the ring-billed gulls that come here for the winter are not present.  I wonder if the cold has them migrating further south this year?  To mark how exceptional this winter has been, our area has seen a rare migration of snowy owls from the far north.  The snowy owl is listed on the official Falls of the Ohio bird checklist as extremely rare and accidental.  For me, this would be a good enough reason to journey here and this just might be the year to see one, but I haven’t heard if any were actually seen in the park?  A short distance away from here, a snowy owl in a weakened condition was rescued by our local raptor rehab folks and is being nursed back to health.

plastic body of "Mr. Potato-head", Jan. 2014

Here’s a test for you.  Do you know what this is?  Time’s up…this is the plastic body of a Mr. Potato Head toy!  I count Mr. Potato Head as one of my artistic influences for my Falls of the Ohio Styrofoam projects and this is the first one of these that I have found out here.  According to Wikipedia, Mr. Potato Head has been in continuous production since 1952 (that’s a lot of plastic) and was the first toy advertised on television.  I can remember as a kid…using actual potatoes to make funny faces and now I use Styrofoam.

My former outdoor studio, now river-swept clean, Jan. 2014

I walked up the riverbank to access my outdoor atelier and discovered that the river has swept over it.  All the materials that I had cached here over the last couple of years have floated away and the large logs that defined my space are rearranged.  I will need to create a new studio if I continue here.  I suspect, however, that the river is far from being done and would wager we will experience more flooding in the near future.  I picked up a few small pieces of Styrofoam and willow sticks and made my first figure of the new year and posed him at the river’s edge as waves lapped the shoreline.

New Year's Day figure at the river's edge, Jan. 2014

He is not a large figure and the expression on his face is one of amazement.  I first posed him near the river in an old life-preserver that washed up.  In addition to being expedient on a cold day it also seemed symbolic.  For me, it always comes back to the river and its waters.  The quality of our fresh water remains our number one vanishing resource and the river’s course is the journey we all take through life.  I will continue to use my creativity at this one small spot on a large river and publish my results on this riverblog.  Thanks for checking it out every now and then.  As the year progresses, I hope to be like the river by being predictably unpredictable.  May we all have a wonderful 2014!

First figure with life ring of 2014, Falls of the Ohio, Jan. 2014

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