One of the gifts of the recent extended period of "downtime" was an abundance of time to not only catch up on neglected tasks and unfinished business, but to take time to re-visit ideas and projects that had been put aside for one reason or another. I found myself reconsidering a bronze sculpture titled "Upstairs Downstairs" that I did a number of years ago. When I first conceived the piece, I thought that it could be elevated on a rod. When it came time to figure out the mechanics of that option, it seemed that the weight of the bronze (the "sphere-of-stairs" measured about 11 inches in diameter) would be prohibitive, so I opted to simply attach the piece directly to its base. Fast forward to June 2020 and the chance discovery of an 8 1/2" long piece of 3/8" threaded rod in my work area ... inspiration for a re-do!
In addition to the threaded rod, I found that I had a piece of 1/2" aluminum tubing which fit nicely over the rod and would hide the exposed threading. I knew the aluminum wouldn't take a patina, but I also found a piece of 5/8" copper tubing that would - and it fit easily over the aluminum tube. I used a black cold patina on the copper tube and sealed it with satin lacquer. Then I began the process of elevating "Upstairs". After removing the original 1/4" threaded rod, I used a tap & die to drill out a new threaded hole (as you can see from the photo, I did not have a lot of room to spare!), and then screwed (and epoxied) the new rod into place. Next I enlarged the hole that ran through the base to fit the larger sized rod, and deepened the recess on the bottom of the base to accommodate the larger nut needed to attach the rod and sculpture to the base.
The final adjustment that I made to the base was to add a small wooden square over the hole in the top of the base. I made a hole 5/8" in diameter in the center of the square that would serve to hold the tubes surrounding the rod securely in place. Now all that was left to do was to mount the piece on the base and tighten the nut...or was it? Once I had the sculpture mounted my "internal critic" told me there was something missing. I immediately knew what I needed to do. I dug out the 3 small bronze balls that were extras left over from another earlier sculpture. Each measured about 5/8" in diameter and had a bronze peg extending from it that could be utilized as an attachment appendage. After determining the optimum position for each of the balls on the top surface of the base beneath the mounted sculpture, I used a right angle drill attachment to make 3 holes in the wood and then epoxied the pegged balls into place. Now - it was complete. I will leave interpretation of the piece to the individual viewer.
Note: "Upstairs Downstairs" can be viewed at River Arts Gallery in their new location at 36 Elm Street Plaza in Damariscotta from July 15th through August 15th.
The process of getting the gallery ready for opening presented its own new challenges. Once we were given approval from the state to open, we had to then determine if and when the 25 members artists would feel comfortable opening up and sitting the gallery. The next step was to schedule time for each artist to set up their display area so there wouldn't be more than a few people in the gallery at a time. We also decided that would not be having the two open house events that had originally been on our calendar for the 2020 season. We opened the gallery for the first two weekends in June in oder to test out our safety protocols before opening full time on June 19th. Things have gone fairly smoothly so far, and we have been happy to have lots of "Maine-ahs" on "staycation" stopping by who are out enjoying the myriad of offerings of midcoast Maine.
I recently was notified that I had had two pieces juried into each of two different end of the season statewide juried art shows - ArtinME and the Yarmouth Art Festival. A great way to finish up the Maine summer season!
The opening reception for the Boothbay Region Art Foundation ArtinME annual juried fine art exhibition will be held on Saturday, October 19th from 5-7 PM, and will run through November 23rd. This statewide art show features the work of full and part time Maine artists who work in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, fiber, and mixed media. The juror for this exhibit was Roy Germon, the manager of Greenhut Galleries in Portland. Both of my sculpture entries, "Unintended Baggage" and "Visceral Torso" were juried into the show.
The 11th Annual Yarmouth Art Festival will take place from October 23rd through the 26th at St. Bartholomew's Church in Yarmouth, with an artists' reception on the 24th from 5:30-7:30 PM. The jurors for this statewide show were Bob Keyes, arts writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Anne Haas, art librarian at Bowdoin College, and art curator Wes LaFountain. My plaster relief entries, "Common Ground" and "Quiet Passage" were two of the 170 pieces out of 629 entries accepted for the show. The full show catalogue can be viewed of the festival website at www.yarmouthartfestival.com.
bolt head in with some epoxy and then epoxied a piece of tagboard over the bottom of the "G" to seal the split. Next I tackled the challenge of assembly.
I epoxied one letter on top of another, making each one at a slightly different angle from the one below it. In order to make the junctures more secure and stable, I used Apoxie Clay to "chink" the undercuts between each letter. I coated the entire piece with gesso and then gave it a coat of off-white latex paint. The next step involved using rubber lettering stamps and a sepia colored stamp pad to print dog related words, names, and sounds on each letter form...doggie, pooch, mutt, Spike, Spot, woof, grrrr, etc. Finally, I sealed the form with a coat of clear matt acrylic, and was ready to attach the piece to its base.
For the scuIptures base I decided use a "book-shaped" cutting board that I had put aside a number of years ago. I drilled a hole in the center with a recessed larger opening on the back side so that the bolt could be attached with a nut. I used my letter stamps and some of the off-white paint to print a title ("Dog Tales") on the "binding" edge of the board and then sealed the whole thing with satin polyurethane. I attached the letter form to the base with both epoxy and the bolt. The final step to completing the piece was to add 8 small plastic dogs that I had purchased at a local toy store. I made thin Apoxie clay bases for each dog, painted them a deep green, and attached the dogs to them with epoxy. Four of the dogs were epoxied around bottom letter on the wooden base and each of the other four were epoxied to various levels on the letters. Woof woof! Ready for the show!
DOG DAYS OF SUMMER at SWAG opens with a reception on Aug. 18th (3-5PM) and runs though Labor Day!
I began slowly bringing out and shaping the nose area using chisels and my Dremel tool with a sanding drum attachment. I continually had to make assessments as to how much definition I wanted in the features and how the emerging light wood was integrating with the remaining bark areas. Eventually I committed to creating more definition to the end of the nose and separating it from the mouth area by removing more bark from the area between the end of the nose and the top lip. I also decided to refine the mouth by gradually removing more bark from the area surrounding it.
As I started revealing more of the light wood along the sides off the nose, I made the choice to use my Dremel tool sanding drum to shape heavy lidded eyes in the bark. Sanding the bark revealed some interesting layered color patterns. I continued using the Dremel to shape the areas around the eyes and the cheek bones, and to refine the shape of the nose. My final decision on the face was to remove a curved section of bark at the top of the forehead. This served to reduce the amount of visual weight at the top of the piece, create downward flow into the facial features, and mirror the shape of the mouth.
The next step was to refine the surface on the back side with chisels and sandpaper and then seal the entire piece with satin finish polyurethane. Finally I mounted it with a metal rod onto a 7" x 6 3/4" x 3" block of Sapele wood that I had also sealed with satin poly. The finished piece stands 22" high. I will be entering it in the "Wild Things" show which will run from August 16th through September 12th at the River Arts Gallery in Damariscotta.
"Call of the Wild" ... sealed & mounted
*Photos by Jay York Portland, Maine
It's that time of year...selecting artwork to go to different galleries with different requirements and in different towns. Sometimes the submission deadlines and show durations coincide, sometimes they overlap, sometimes they are totally different. This can make selection, delivery, and pick-up of artwork both a challenge and hectic at times. I try to co-ordinate the "delivery dance" as far ahead of time as possible. I also have to figure in trips to accompanying the artist receptions. Once in a while, when the "stars are aligned," I am able to get to 2 places in one trip...like a drop-off at one and a reception at the other, or a reception at both. The galleries that I show at are about a 1 1/2 hour drive (sometimes much longer with summer traffic), so it makes a bit easier for me if I can do a "two-fer". My next trip the coast will be for a reception at the Boothbay Region Art Foundation and a drop-off and pick -up at River Arts Gallery in Damariscotta on July 5th.
The upcoming show at River Arts has a theme of "Night and Day". I am interpreting the theme as "black & white" and will be entering one of the two plaster reliefs that I wrote about in my 4/17/19 blog post. I will be entering "Calm Before the Storm", along with a piece made on Contrasto paper titled "Intergalactic Energy Field". (Contrasto paper is actually a material that consists of a top layer of white plastic adhered to a bottom layer of black plastic. You use an x-acto knife to cut and peel away areas of the top layer to reveal the black layer below.) I will be saving the second plaster relief, "Tidal Travelers", for a show later in the season. On July 17th I will head back down to Boothbay Harbor to drop off 2 pieces at BRAF, the bronze and alabaster sculpture titled "One" that I wrote about in my 9/22/18 blog post and the plaster relief "Oh" that I wrote about in my 1/14/18 post. So I am set for entries for the next month or so. In the meantime I will be exploring the topic of "dogs". Stay tuned!
directly below it on the floor. I liked the floating effect that I was able to achieve, but this method of suspending the sculpture also had limitations. Chain lengths had to be adjusted to accommodate varying ceiling heights and the piece could get overwhelmed by the amount space around it created by an excessively high ceiling. I had often thought about mounting the piece on a rod to create a more versatile and user friendly method of presentation, and the upcoming show presented the perfect opportunity to follow though on that thought.
After purchasing a 3/8" diameter metal rod at Home Depot, I went to the Rockler Woodworking Store in South Portland and picked up an 8"x8"x3" Padauk bowl turning blank to use as a base. I trimmed the Padauk down to 7"x7" so that I could add an 8"x8"x1" piece of Brazilian cherry underneath it to add just a bit more height to the base, and then drilled a 3/8" hole in the center of the Paduak. After sanding the two pieces of wood, I glued them together, adding 4 screws from the bottom to make sure the connection was secure. On top of the Padauk I also added a 2" diameter wooden disk (with a 3/8" center hole) that I made from one of the thin slabs that had been trimmed from the original blank. I finished off the assembled base with two coats of satin polyeurethane. The next step was to drill a hole in the sculpture for the rod. I drilled in the same place that the bottom chain had originally been attached and at the same angle. I was able to incorporate the place where the top chain had been attached into the contour of the sculpture with a bit of "creative carving". The final step was to apoxie the rod into the sculpture and then into the base. The newly mounted sculpture was well received at the show and will be on display until July 5th.
"Visceral Torso" ... 26" h
to the Gallery. The Seagull Shop & Restaurant has a shoreside view of the ocean and is right next to the iconic Pemaquid Lighthouse. What a way to start the day! (I must admit that I usually get to New Harbor early on the days that I sit the gallery, just so I can go to the Sea- gull before opening up the gallery.) After an informative member meeting, we got to the annual pre-opening tasks of cleaning windows, vacuuming and dusting, arranging furniture and trimming shrubbery. By the time we were finished, the gallery was ready for opening day on May 24th. All that is left is for the artists to come back and hang and arrange their work.
I went back to the gallery on Monday with my car packed with boxes of sculpture, reliefs and a few pieces of flatwork. I try to pre-plan the set-up for my area in the gallery on paper, but there are always a few elements that need to be rearranged a bit once you start setting them into place. This means bringing a few extra options that can be switched in if needed. This year I only needed to make a couple of changes to my planned arrangement, so things went into place fairly easily. After putting labels on all of my pieces and filling out my inventory sheets, I headed home. I'll be back on June 2nd for my first gallery sitting day of the season... after a relaxing breakfast at the Seagull.
My display space ... set up and ready for opening day on May 24th.
*Saltwater Artists Gallery will be open weekends starting May 24th, then 7 days a week starting June 15th.
Cynthia Smith, Maine artist, originally from Connecticut. Taught art at secondary level for 35 years, retired in 2004. Sculpts in bronze, wood, stone, clay & plaster. Her work can be seen at several mid-coast Maine galleries and shows.