January 5, 2016

How many First times do we get in a lifetime?

  • The first time I have had a studio that is not part of or just beside the house. I have a commute to work, It is a ten minute walk, a three minute scooter ride, and a full day of work away from home. It is strange and freeing to be disconnected.
  • The first painting is finished. It is titled “Guanxi”     – Guanxi – noun 1. a Chinese social concept based on the exchange of favours, in which personal relationships are considered more important than laws and written agreements.   I like the process of getting to know people. I like talking to and learning about culture. It can test your patience when you really need something to move forward, but the exchange seems worthwhile is you allow it to take its natural cultural course. (pics enclosed)
  • The first time I have taken a 15 hour flight. Turns out, I like it better than a seven or nine hour flight. You can fall asleep (via PM meds) and wake up with only a few hours left of the flight in time for breakfast, a few movies and then you are back in time….
  • The first time I have hidden in the back of my studio with friends because a large group of police were walking down the street and I felt like I might not want to answer any questions on this particular day. Turns out there is nothing to worry about, they were simply making sure that the sidewalks and store fronts are clean and clear and up to ordinances.   I left my own cultural misunderstandings get the best of me.
  • The first wax is completed for the first bronze.
  • The first time I have to consider who my bronzes are foundered by because copying is an issue. Everyone I have met so far seems trustworthy and friendly. I look forward to the adventure.
  • The first time I have felt a large disconnect between myself and the school and the community. It seems magnified here because there is not a place where everyone gathers for coffee in the morning. This is the first time I have returned from a holiday break and not had a gathering place where I could commune and talk about the holiday journeys, airport mishaps, Christmas cookie over load, and share in the beautiful misery that is jetlag….
  • The first time I have a studio with a place for sculpture, with a place for painting, a place to show work, and with its own bathroom… I am blessed.
  • The first time I had to light fireworks and fire crackers to ward off evil spirits before starting work in a studio. AWESOME new tradition that I will carry with me on this journey.
  • The first time a new friend has given me a Nespresso machine for my studio, just cause he likes coffee as much as I do!!!!!!!!
  • The first time Christy and I have sat in a studio in China and worked on our own projects together. Sharing the creative space is always better then the isolation often felt in the studio. I am lucky that it is with my partner in crime and life.
  • Looking forward to some firsts still  to come in the studio,
  • First studio night where people gather to just hang and art and stuff
  • First toasting of a finished piece with friends. Airy Hill tradition demands that every time a piece is signed, some friends gather with a drink and toast the good fortune of completing a piece.
  • Who’s ready to raise the first glass to Quanxi….?

Cheers,  Cory 

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November 14th, 2015

The Before, the After, and the Toast…..

Last night we toasted the hard work, and especially the workers who helped to create  Airy Hill Studio Shanghai as a space to make art and for the community to  talk, have coffee, play guitar, and commune. Its simply a work shop in the broadest term. It has been a long journey from Penry, to Otley, to Rublevskoe, to Horomerice, to Huacao Town. After a lot of work, It is far from complete, but it is completed enough to raise a Toast and to Begin the process.

Enjoy

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Oct. 22nd.

Going Backwards to move Forwards.

Since moving to Shanghai, I have found that on the other side of the world you have to work from back to front. Usually you start by finding a studio and then begin finding all the items and materials you need to make art, however, this has not been the case here.

I have found all the things that I need to make art. I have found an art store, a person to custom make large stretchers and canvases, all the paint I could want. The needle in the haystack, so to speak is finding a  foundry for bronze casting that is willing to work with you.  I have not only found a bronze foundry, I have found a foundry where their representative speaks english and their work is good.

What is usually the starting point has become the ending/beginning.  Today I signed the lease agreement for the Airy Hill Studio Shanghai Branch. This process has been an exciting and challenging study in patience, understanding, learning, and humor. The details are sketchy, but I am pretty sure I just signed a studio lease for a year so I have a place to make art. There will be a lot of work to get the space ready, and I can begin the cleaning and building process on Monday. I will go into depth in the next post and will include pictures of the process. The reality is, I am tired, and have spent a lot of time and energy today, and just finished celebrating with friends and family so will have to leave you with this bit of food for thought.

Paul Herr once told me in his Paul Herr raspy, good hearted yet Clint Eastwood voice. He said. “Hey Cory, you have to take diversions from your normal path. If you don’t, your normal path will stop moving forward and your art will die.”   I miss Paul, but as I signed a lease today with a pen and a thumbprint, I think I have taken my fare share of diversions over the past few years.

The art process is very much alive, my spirits are high, my motivation is high, and I am ready to continue to trust the process no matter how backwards forwards may feel.  Signing Shanghai Contract. copy

August 15th, 2015

Shanghai, China… First impressions

Today marks exactly three weeks when we boarded our flight to leave Prague and take on our new adventure in Shanghai. Imagine we just walked into a museum and saw a painting titled “Shanghai”

When you first observe this city it embodies a large painting hanging on the wall of a vey grand museum. The scale of the museum is beyond comprehension. Yet the painting/city of Shanghai fits proportionately and comfortably in its surroundings.   Visually you are struck by the richness of the colors and stark contrasts within each layer. There are intense juxtapositions everywhere. From massive high rises next to Temples, Western Schools with grand facilities, next to outdoor markets where you can see and smell fresh vegetables, stalls with spices, curtain makers, water delivery service, and live seafood.

One of the first things to observe is the movement throughout. Like the lines that move across a painting, the people, the cars, the dragonflies, all have a strange fluidity to them. They move, duck, dive, jerk, swerve, coast, and flow as if it is part of a well oiled ballet….

The backdrop of beautiful blue skies has greeted us with the weight of humidity and intense summer heat that you can both see and feel. But as we continue our journey it seems to be giving way to more pleasant days and warm summers evening. Brilliant colors strike through the evening above a green/gray hue of activity at street level. Energy, still, people, food, smells, all seem to collaborate in a village under the guides of a super mega city. Turn the corner and you only hear the shuffle of feet, the sweeping of streets by singular people with hand made booms. Turn your head and feel the electric scooter, the dog brush by, and the cellular conversation that breaks through the air…

This place is a unique piece of work in its very own magnificent definition of the word. Mostly it has, will, and wants to challenge your senses, understandings, and above all it inspires.  Chuck close says, “The advice I like to give young artists, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work”

I very much agree. I am fortunate in I don’t have to look for inspiration; inspiration is on my doorstep.

It is time to walk into this place, build a studio, create a team, and get to work.

Cheers,    Cory

June 18th, 2015

T-minus twelve Parties till Launch…….

Mission control this is Cory,

Asking for final clearances for all systems go to launch.

  • Visa for China….check
  • Cat shipping……..check
  • Housing upon arrival…..check
  • Shipping of Art Cargo……check
  • Final art show…….check
  • First good-bye party…….check
  • First good-bye breakfast……check
  • Insurance…….check
  • Flights…….check
  • Thirsty Thursday…….check
  • Shipping allowance……check
  • Bank closure………check
  • Schedule shift and reshift…….check
  • More good-bye drinks…….sheck
  • Flights for child……check
  • Good bye dinner and drinks……..check
  • Medical……….check
  • Cancelation of phones……check
  • View of the clock at night one last time……check

Houston we have a problem……

I believe we are approaching full liver shut down…….

Rehydrate, Rehydrate, Rehydrate………

Shutdown averted…

5, 4, 3, 2, 1,                  Launch,

Tell my family and friends at home I love them, tell the people in Prague I thank them, and most of all make sure the world knows how far we have come.  This journey is for all of us, not just the ones who travel in our ship, but for those who travel in our hearts and our minds eye.

Cue the music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaEmf9G0PyU

March 31st 2015

Suffer without my art.

I like to paraphrase Todd Snider when I say.

I don’t go into the studio to change anyone’s mind about anything

I go into the studio to ease my own mind about everything.

 We are going through a massive shift in our lives as we prepare for life in Shanghai for the next four years.

When you make a monumental shift like this it brings energies and perspectives and experiences to the foreground. Some good, some bad, and others that seem to just want to hang out. Unless you have made this type of shift from unknown culture to unknown culture, you cant really wrap your head around how it all works.

What has made it work for us in the past may not be what makes it work for us in the now. There have always been a few constants for me as we take this journey. My wife, my son, and my art.

The tricky piece is to know how to balance those things and how to refuel the ones, who need it, reassure the ones who need it, and evolve gracefully while doing so.

I have never really done anything gracefully. …..

 While going through all the paperwork, endless questions, endless discussions, and dealing with understanding and needs it certainly puts the art on the back burner. Making art isn’t something I feel like I am supposed to do. It is something that makes me a better person and helps me stay deeply connected to the human condition. Right now it is impossible to get into the studio.   It is easy for people around me to say, make or take time, but that just frustrates me further because in saying that they don’t understand the depth of the creative or reactionary process that artists go through.

 I know this for certain, with all this peripheral noise, I cant even think of entering the studio

Without the studio there is no art, with out the process of art I am not a better person

I have heard the term that artists need to suffer for their art, but I never really bought into that, but what I do now know for certain is that for me,

 I suffer without my art.

 That’s all for today Debbie downer of an entry.

Feb, 23rd.

Last Bronzes in Prague…

The past few months have been mostly spent working on new waxes for bronze sculptures. Today I finished the last bronze I plan on making in Prague and it is a personal gift for Jaz.   I am excited about the new works coming from this last session and will be extremely satisfied with the work if it all comes to fruition. This has included, commissions for patrons and friends, a donation for the International School of Prague,  the continuation of a series, and an experimental process of bringing bronze and glass together.

The private commissions mean a lot to me because it involves collaborating between the patron and myself. Through art we get to know each other and develop an understanding of a vision. It is a massive responsibility for me to take on a private commission because it involves a lot of trust on behalf of the patron. In most cases the patrons are friends or people who become friends through the work. This is the greatest gift art brings to my studio.

In a unique project Tim and Eva Shaw commissioned a piece and wanted to be directly involved in the creation of the works. It involved a rare evening of working in the studio and having them become collaborators in its most honest form. They rolled up their sleeves and helped pour and create the wax sculptures that will be part of the piece that will hang on their wall. Their children will be involved in the finishing work of the bronzes. It is a piece that reflects a relationship, friendship, and experience that we will share for time. At the end of the evening of course we toasted our collaborative spirit.

As an added bonus this past week was the first time my son saw a bronze foundry that he would remember.   The people at the www.hvh.cz HVH foundry have become my sculpture family away from home and it was an amazing moment for me to show him the bronze process and the facilities needed to make it happen. I hope it gave him a deeper appreciation. At one point I heard him tell Christy, “I can see why Dad loves making bronzes, all the things you need to make them are just big toys!!!!

From the mouths of babes.   True true true…

I am also excited for the experimental works I am doing to bring Czech Crystal and Bronze together in a few of the pieces. This project has afforded me the opportunity to spend the day in a Glass Casting foundry in the northern part of the CZ. It was quite a learning experience. If this works, it will be a fitting visual culmination on the story of my time in Prague.

I have included a smattering of photos of the works in process. It is a real collage of pieces and projects and friends becoming collaborators.  It is strange for me to think that I am packing up the sculpture materials. The reality is that once the waxes leave my studio it takes another six weeks until they are ready to have the finish work done on them. So proper planning is necessary.

They will all be shown at the May 16th exhibition.

Enjoy,

Cory

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