Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Feb 13th, 2017

Embrace the Strange.

My wife gave a TedX talk on finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments. Those times when you think, “Never in a Million Years”.   On the same night, my friend Kevin gave a TedX talk on finding comfort in the uncomfortable. Both talks were profound, touching, and comical. I walked away reminded to observe.   It was also a point of reflection on my own process from the first marks of a pen in the studio to the artist’s reception.

In the beginning of the movie “Pollock” starring Ed Harris, Jackson Pollock is standing at an opening of his work, several people approach him for autographs, he politely signs, but as he does he also looks around. His eyes move across the room, observing, looking for something, he is searching for or observing the order in the chaos. He is a stranger in a room full of friends, family, collectors, and art lovers.   It is a moment that I feel most artists have had as they put their work on display for friends, family, and strangers alike.

Why do we do this? It’s a question that is asked not just by the audience, but also by the artists themselves. I ask myself in those moments, why? Then I try to embrace those who have come to share in my work. The work is done most often in isolation, but the presentation of the product “the art”, is shown for public consumption. It is a juxtaposition built into the creative process. I have openings to share the art, to see response, to share in a moment. It is amazing that people will give of their time to share with me. It’s humbling when you put your work out there for everyone to see and people show up to see it. Its that moment that is so perfectly portrayed in the “Pollock” film. As the artists  you are standing alone in a room and you cast your eyes to see all those who have come to share. Its intense, its inevitable, its humbling, and you and your art are vulnerable.

It sounds pretentious,but I have handlers at my shows.  Their job is to move me around the room.  If left to my own devices in this moment, I know I will retreat to a friend and stand in the corner and talk in isolation. Someone once said, she feels like she’s in charge of a dog at a dog show, as she pushes and pulls me around the gallery. The reality is, I love people, I love socializing, and I live off the energy of motivation and conversation. I’m not saying I’m good at it, in-fact I often have to apologize for what I’ve  said, but the truth is it balances the isolation in which the art is made.

At the end of the day, it is part of my job, it is what I do, it is who I am, it is normal, it is strange, it is part of the process. Some moments are stranger than others, but I find comfort when I remember to embrace the strange.

Cory

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August 31, 2016

Shanghai Part II

Being back in Shanghai for our second year is always more comfortable than the first year anywhere. The excitement of the “New Everything” has become tamed and it is often when the real work begins. I am in the middle of Three pieces right now, a bronze (still in Wax), a Skyline (not quite finished), a Triptych (maybe finished), and on Thursday evening I am presenting to the heads of a multi-national company on “Why and How I think differently”   That being said, this is short and sweet,

Enjoy

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March 7, 2016

The Gardener, The Tree Guy, The Foundry Man. & Lin…

The Gardener.   A few weeks ago I found the bottom structure of an old wheelbarrow. It was dirty, rotted in spots and in general disrepair. I like looking at and thinking about the history of these pieces. I brought it to the studio and originally thought it would make a great coffee table. I took it apart, reinforced it with steel rods and auto body putty,  then began drawings for the small Gardener men that would become the legs.   AS it turns out, I liked the drawings better as drawings, and turned them into a painting of a Gardener on a wooden plank to be attached and displayed as a large wall hanging.   It works well and draws a nice relationship to the history of the tool and the person who would have used it.

The Tree Guy was found when I went looking to purchase some body putty to repair the wheelbarrow mentioned above. While searching for auto repair shops I noticed a vacant lot full of large tree trunks. I came back another day and asked the tree guy if he had any small root systems or interesting pieces. We walked in, on, around, and over large pieces of tree trunks. We found terrific little bits.  We needed to get them home so we stopped a lovely lady with a large tricycle to deliver them back to the studio. This is a very normal occurrence…   I offered to pay for the scraps of wood, but instead the tree guy asked me to return once I had used them to make something interesting and show him pictures of what I had done with his interesting scraps of wood.,  He said then we would celebrate our cooperation  with tea. Very cool, agreed and the pieces are on their way to the foundry today.

The Foundry Man stopped by with his team, Sun, and Alex.   We talked, had tea and coffee and looked at how they would create bronzes from my waxes and other pieces.   One wax sculpture is to become bronze, another to be bronze combined with wood from the tree guy, and finally another wax sculpture to be cast in bronze and in aluminum and combined with metal and paper dragon fly wings that I made with Lin..   Handing over the last two months of work to a relative stranger who assures you everything will be all right is a study in letting go.

Lin is a very nice and gentle man who I met while shopping for a new dresser for my wife. His wife and he own a furniture and light store in Shanghai. She introduced me to Lin because I told her I was a sculptor and wanted to meet someone to do some metal work. AS luck would have it, her husband did just that. We have since formed a nice relationship and I spent the day with Lin working on and designing the wings out of metal that will later have traditional Chinese lantern paper on them as a translucent skin.

These are the fun, intertwined, interesting, and unique adventures that I am afforded because of this crazy, what the hell are you doing, what were you thinking, are you sure you want to move to China life… ?!!!!

(Small print…   I have attached pics of all the pieces in process to this point.  Also, please understand that much of this is made possible because I have an apprentice named Max who is handling all the translating on these adventures, in turn I am instructing him on the artistic process)

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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