Cluck!

Cluck!

This was the first artwork I saw by Molly Riefler. She came across my FB feed as a friend of a friend so I guessed she was local. I searched out more of her stuff here and found an old fashioned drawing style by a young woman which reminded me of The Fleischer Bros. animations of the 1920s and 30s (Betty Boop). We became friends and she ended up being one of my daughter’s favorite art teachers in middle school. I really love her stuff.

Artists are beautiful

Artists are beautiful

Having an extremely non-productive day

Whether they are onstage or in the studio and the moment hits when it all comes together you can see their halo. I am fortunate enough to know many artists personally. I buy their art. I am drawn to the flame.

On this Blog, for the indeterminate future, I am going to introduce you to them in hopes that you will love them too.

I have another site which I started when I was teaching illustration here. These are artists that I am aware of and have reposted because I think that students show know them. Go get lost in this one.

This blog will be about artists in my life. My daughter is now an artist and I am teaching her about the life of an artist and showing her their ways and how to find them and learn from them. These are artists I know and part of my life and have affected me and and who I am. I hope you love them too.

Quiet

Quiet

It takes a lot of work to be quiet.
I once asked a very prolific artist how he managed to create so much work. His reply, “You have to learn to shut out the noise”.
He is a metal sculptor with a studio in a big city so I assumed he was speaking about the cacophony of traffic sounds and scream of angle grinders.
But that’s not what it seemed he meant. The inner noise I hear; Am I making something that is worthwhile? Will this art sell so that I can pay my bills? Do I need to spend more time on my promotional activities to boost my SEO? These are all thoughts that can stop one from doing the work. Even if you live and work in the middle of nowhere.

South Toe River

South Toe River, Yancey County North Carolina.
Sophia and I visited the home and studio of Bruce Greene and koreloy wildrekinde~ mcwhirter. Bruce and koreloy have been observing the world around them, together, and devoting themselves to what they care about for over 47 years.

Bruce Greene is an internationally recognized fiddle and banjo player and singer who has learned and preserved traditional music from Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. If you have studied this style of music, you know about Bruce. Even for the uninitiated, the sound is pure and profound and you can find his music here: brucegreene.net

Bruce playing

koreloy wildrekinde~mcwhirter is a visual artist and poet. Her works seem to come from another time. She is a master printmaker and letterpress printer who’s work has been published and exhibited extensively. The drawings and prints she produces are interwoven with her words. The imagery she produces is skilled in technique and comprehensive in design by an old soul. Her work can be found here: https://www.koreloy.net/home

Both Bruce and koreloy learned their skills and much of their craft and knowledge on their own and through apprenticeship.
You may inquire directly though their websites about an apprenticeship opportunity.
Sophia is a practicing artists and has been invited to work in Koreloy’s printshop next summer.

Bruce and koreloy share a mutual admiration for each other and their work and I have a deep respect for both of them. Their lifestyle and work ethic embodies a sense of intimacy, dignity and sophistication which is rare.

Browns Grove Project

Browns Grove Project

In 2007 I inherited a partial interest in a parcel of land in East Palatka on the banks of the St. Johns River through the death of my father, a Florida native. On this parcel was a 2 story “L” cracker house, a barn and a “boat house”. In the house were stacks of documents dating from the 1880’s to the 1960’s pertaining the the business of Brown’s Grove, an orange plantation and personal correspondence of the Hampton family, it’s proprietors.

These documents include Bank Statements, Riverboat Bills of Lading, Accounting docs, business reports to the “Brown Bros. Import of Utica N.Y.” and personal correspondence. It is a fascinating and comprehensive collection. The buildings, no longer exist and the property is no longer owned by my family, but the documents are all in my posession.

I have been trying to put together a narrative about this family and recently had an exhibit at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Jacksonville, Florida, in which I displayed many of these documents. The exhibit gained broad interest, primarily from the feature story on the front page of the Florida Times Union.

Some of the documents on display at Th3Rivers Exhibit at the Karpeles Museum 2021

I was fortunate enough to get in contact with Dr. Connie Lester with the History and Florida Archives Department at the University Of Central Florida. She was very interested in archiving the documents as they represent a detailed, comprehensive record of a Black Owned Business during the “Classic Jim Crow Period” in the South, which is not only rare, but unheard of.

Dr. Lester and Dr. Fon Gordon of The African Studies Dept. examined the documents and we began to shape a plan to begin archiving the documents as well as establishing a narrative of the history of the Browns Grove farm.

A detailed study of the data collected from this primary source will be of use in the study of farming techniques, transportation systems, business practices and insight into the personal lives of the of the Hampton family who ran the farm and the Brown Bros. who were the business partners.

Early transportation systems like this riverboat distributed citrus from Palatka, Florida to the railhead in Utica N.Y.

We have made headway so far with the research of the ancestry records of the Hampton family as well as the Brown family. I am hoping that fluid narrative will emerge from further data analysis because, after all, what I am seeking from this is a good story.

IAM Residency’s focus is on creative projects. Our interest in special cultural projects which explore historic and regional themed concepts is based in our mission to create content through the interpretation of artists, musicians and writers. Installations like Th3Rivers exhibit distills information into spacial narratives which allows for a broader audience experience.

I would like artists to create a story using images, sound and words in an interdisciplinary exhibit to interpret this historic data for a more complete user experience.

Any historic narrative, no matter how much data, is essentially fiction. It’s based on the perspective of the writer. These paintings are from a series called “Home” I did a few years ago. Simply paintings of ordinary objects found around my house which I could finish in one day. I would like to do a series of paintings like these of objects one could have found in the home of Malachai Hampton as a visual narrative. These could be accompanied by sounds and music, words and data chosen from the documents or specific documents referencing ordinary events such a grocery receipt from 1923 or the weather report from an ordinary day or the recipe for a pie. This could allow the narrative to be interpreted by the viewers perspective. Perhaps this could be an interesting approach to a spacial narrative composed by the viewer.

I am not sure what form this exhibit will take, I am merely suggesting a delivery system. This is the way an artist approaches their work, unsure of exactly how it will look in the end. Employing the techniques of their craft and allowing it to unfold itself.

All I know is that everyone I have told about this project seems very interested in it’s creation and that I should move forward with it. I hope it can become something very special.

The Endurance and the Redemption of Crisis

The Endurance and the Redemption of Crisis

Introduction

You may have never heard of Earnest Shackleton and his heroic expedition on the ship Endurance to reach the South Pole (Aug 1914-Aug 1916) because it was largely overshadowed by the events of World War I or because it was a complete disaster.

Either way, It’s a good story and worth your time to see this short documentary about it.

Further investigation about Shackleton’s 3 failures to reach the South Pole or die trying can be found in his Wiki Bio.

IAM:Shackleton

The spiritual experience can be a beautiful awakening into a journey of new faith and gratitude that often begins with the painful and frightening reality that the world which you knew has completely fallen apart.

It has been a year since I have posted anything on the IAM website after the launch of Th3Rivers exhibit. A lot has happened since then and I will take the time now to outline the disasters which have overshadowed my ability to sit down and write. I apologize for the delay.

IAM:Shackleton

In July of 2019, I had just buried my Uncle after a short bout with cancer. During his illness he was staying with my family on the Ribault River and I had conceived of the Th3Rivers Project, an exploration of the St Johns River lower basin as interpreted by contemporary artists. I applied for a grant through the IAM Residency Program and received funding for the project and exhibit. At the start of 2020, the COVID epidemic became a world crisis as I carried on with the planning and organization expecting that certainly a launch date of one year would allow the COVID pandemic to run its course. On New Years Day 2021, I suffered a heart attack and postponed the launch of Th3Rivers until April 2021 at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum.

IAM:Shackleton

After a successful launch of the exhibit, I was planning a cross country journey with my daughter Sophia to Taos and Zuni New Mexico to meet with the tribal councils to finalize the plans for a cultural exchange program with artists from IAM Residency. On route, the Taos Pueblo was closed to non-tribal visits and Zuni only allowed a meeting because I have family on the reservation. COVID was still in full swing around the world and no progress was made in planning any future programs. It was a beautiful trip with my 13 year old daughter nevertheless. We were traveling in a vintage Airstream trailer and camping all across the country. I had done a trip like this with my wife and her son when I married her 17 years before. Some time together for bonding between us was needed as my wife had announced that she wanted a divorce and was moving out when we returned in July. This was when my world went dark.

IAM:Shackleton

I continued on emotional Auto Pilot for a while after we got back home. Our son Cris had finished college and attended police academy which he graduated and became a patrol officer in our city. I am proud of him and supported his decision completely. Unfortunately it was the same year as the civil unrest after the George Floyd riots, the destruction of public monuments and the Presidential election which led to the attack on the Capital on Jan 6, 2022. It seemed to me like a bad year to become a cop.

IAM:Shackleton

By October 2021, COVID was still in full bloom with no end in sight. IAM Residency had received another grant but I had to cancel any future plans for projects which included public participation of any kind. The Cultural exchange programs which had been the focus of my grant application for the upcoming fiscal year was off the table.

IAM:Shackleton

I pulled a rabbit out of my hat and shifted all focus towards a new project for IAM. As a result of the archival research and field work I had done for Th3Rivers and the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, I had exhibited a collection of historic documents which I had found in an abandoned farm house on the St Johns River. In this collection were hundreds of letters and documents belonging to a family farm which ran a successful citrus operation located in Palatka, Florida from the 1880’s though the 1960’s. It was a Black owned business which thrived during the Jim Crow era in the Deep South. I contacted the Florida archives and History Dept at UCF and discovered that finding a comprehensive collection of farm records from this era was rare. A collection of farm records by a black owned business during this period was unheard of. I met with the African Studies and History Professors and made plans to add the documents to the Florida Archives and create an exhibit and catalogue with IAM artists to accompany the historic narrative.

IAM:Shackleton

In January 2022, I was broke, exhausted and suffering from depression and acute anxiety. The reality of my personal life and uncertainty of the future had come into perspective. My world was falling apart.

I could barely stand to get out of bed. I started the bargaining phase. “If I do this I will get that”. I talked to doctors and tried different medications for depression, most of which made me feel worse. I couldn’t sleep at night. I looked into resources in case I needed to be hospitalized. I told close friends what was going on and asked if I could call in the middle of the night, if necessary. I felt hopeless and desperate. I wanted to die. My dog even got sick.

IAM:Shackleton

I surrendered everything to whatever power was out there because I was out of answers to my relationships, my finances and my life. I walked miles everyday. I spoke to my wife and kids everyday. I kept doing these things, over and over for months. This was the spiritual experience. The moving ahead with no direction. It is painful.

I saw the wreckage I had made and began to clear it away. Selling or giving away things I had thought I needed. Throwing out 12 cubic yards of useless junk into a rented dumpster. Donating clothes. Taking inventory. Letting go of old ideas, of my wife, of what had been.

IAM:Shackleton

One year after my trip across the country with Sophia, we took another trip together up the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I didn’t get my wife back, or my stuff, or the past. I don’t regret any of that now.

“Confluence” Sculptural Installation at The Bridge School

“Confluence” Sculptural Installation at The Bridge School

I was invited to design a sculptural installation for the opening of The Bridge School which would be interactive in nature.

The Bridge is a school set up with private funds through the Weaver Foundation as an after school learning center for “at risk” youth with programs in computer learning, health and the arts. It is located in an abandoned Public School building.

The concept was simple. I wanted an interactive piece that the students could participate in, but without complicated or “virtual” computer based electronic elements. It needed to be REAL.

I wanted to represent the journey of life from an “egg” or birth of an idea, into a “wing” which represents action and freedom.

The kids would, upon entering the program at The Bridge would write their dreams or goals onto a piece of paper (chinese ceremonial gold leaf Joss paper in this case). The “egg” shaped cage would be lowered to accept the notes then raised back up to the ceiling height. No one could read or remove the paper once it enters the “egg”. The students would be reminded everyday as they pass the Egg sculpture that their dreams and goals were held within.

Upon graduation from the program, the student would get to sign their name or “Tag” the Wing sculpture in a similar ceremonial act of lowering the sculpture for the occasion. The students could have a visual reminder of those who came before them and succeeded.

I would like to dedicate this sculptural work to the memory of Harold Esposito. Friend. Builder. Comrade.
Master Class – Sculpture Residency at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Master Class – Sculpture Residency at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Sculpture studio Master Class with Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida
Installing “Spirit of ’76” on the rooftop overlooking the sculpture garden at DASOTA

DASOTA opened a new sculpture studio and sculpture garden on their campus in Jacksonville Florida andI had the honor of being asked to teach a Master Class to the sculpture students as well as display one of my sculptures “Spirit of 76” on the roof of the Library overlooking the newly opened sculpture garden and courtyard.

I spent 8 weeks in the spring semester teaching the class about wireform technique and we designed and built a student led sculpture from design through installation to be on permanent display at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Installation crew with Brett Waller and Khanh Tran the studio arts teacher at DA

It was a fantastic experience for me. I am always learning when I am teaching. What a great school. I wish I had gone to a High School like this.

Thanks to Jackie Cornelius- Principal at DASOTA for making this happen

Special Thank you to Agnes Lopez @posewell photography for taking time out of her busy schedule to make me look good,

…and thanks to my students for teaching me.

The Passing of Dale Walsh

The Passing of Dale Walsh

I never met Dale Walsh, I have been friends with his son Mark for many years. Dale Walsh established the DEW Foundation, which has been a supporter of IAM Residency and our mission, since it’s inception in 2017. I thought it fitting to include a Bio in our blog about him after I learned of his passing. He was an inventor and humanitarian, among other things which made him a standout human on this earth. Here is a brief article by Marialyce Petersen which summarises his many qualities.

“Mark always downplays it whenever I announce proudly to our friends that ‘Mark’s Dad invented the modem!’ but as VP of the then startup US Robotics in Chicago in the late 1980’s, he and a very small team of very early computer nerds did just that. After accomplishing this great success and amassing the wealth that followed, Dale and his wife Edna Mae became foster parents for infants with special needs in the Chicago area. Then, to make an even bigger impact, they formed the DEW Foundation, a charitable organisation which has to date provided millions of dollars to ‘meet pressing needs and fulfil vital missions…promoting the common good worldwide’. Many of our artist friends know the DEW Foundation because of Mark’s role on the Board and his passion for directing foundation funds to the Arts”

Dale Walsh passed away on Oct. 27, 2019 but his legacy lives on through the DEW Foundation and the world he helped change for the better.

Moiré Mandala

IAM Residency helped with the fab and installation of this public art project by Mark Walsh for Pershing Square in Los Angeles.

Pershing Square in Los Angeles is an open public space in the center of Downtown. This piece was designed as a central stage and focal point for performers as a modern “bandstand” complete with integrated lighting and sound system. It was designed by Mark Walsh, an old friend of 30 or more years. IAM Residency helped with fabrication and installation. Moiré Mandala was completed and installed and a good time was had by all. More about this project and other designs by Mark Walsh at the link. https://www.markwalshart.com/bws-gallery/moire-mandala/