As I looked through my sculpture inventory to select a piece for the June Members Show at River Arts Gallery in Damariscotta, I came across a wood sculpture that I had made a number of years ago. It is titled "Visceral Torso" and I carved it out of a section of a limb that had been trimmed off of a Linden tree on my property. (It is also known as Basswood.) The wood had various interesting surface textures and sections of irregular growth that made it a natural playground for sculpting. The original concept involved hanging the piece. It had one length of chain that went from the center of the top of the piece to the ceiling, and another that extended from the underside of the piece to a cement slab placed
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.