Friday, October 24, 2008

| Day 3 |

| Day 3 |

It was still raining when I woke up, so before I got to the site, I stopped at Lowes and got the cables (that will suspend the rings) cut by Todd—a nice enough guy in the keys/chains department. Later, on the way to PNC, I spoke with Amylee for an article she is doing for the Post Tribune on the PNC show and my pieces.

When I arrived, I had to pick up where I left off at in the rain from Tuesday evening. The crane was available and I used it to build Cutoff in the morning. I got it tacked into place in about and hour and then used the crane to move the top rings over to the the top of center supporting pipe for Bration. It went incredibly smooth. I had Cutoff in place by the time Terry got there. When he arrived he said he loved it and and wanted it…I don’t know if he was serious or not, but it felt great to hear it from him, since he hasn't seen a lot of my work. I told him I would give it to him.

I started the long process of vertical welds to finish that piece. I had 12 to do, each one was about 18" and consumed a number of electrodes. Halfway through we broke for an “artists lunch” with the whole Purdue campus invited. It was me Ed, Tom, Terry, Judi, and Liz (and Amylee on the phone for some more interviews).

After, lunch I started to work with even more determination to get the top of Bration set and in place. I also needed a few more minutes to finish up some welds on the base plate with gussets.

Then Steve came over and wanted to set Cutoff that afternoon, so I went back to work on Cutoff. Tom had sent the crane back anyway. It would be back in the morning. I walked the suspended Cutoff over with Terry and Dustin while Steve was driving the tractor. We placed it on the rock bed and it went really well.

Next comes the worst/most challenging part of the project. I built up the ground with some wood to work on drilling the holes in the rings. I needed to finish this today to be ready for the crane in the morning. I started the long process of drilling the holes through the green top rings and the 6" pipe walls. I thought it would take...ummm....say an hour or so??

I WAS WRONG. After breaking 3 of the best $20 bits I could get my hands on and after two trips to Lowes i still wasn't finished. Apparently the makers of drill bits need to buck up and make a better bit to drill through steel.

The next hour or so was a hard time drilling. The order to maximize the daylight went: lubricant, Terry, lubricant, then me. Lubricant, me, lubricant, then Terry. You get the picture. I nearly broke my wrists trying to get through the steel. We drilled until dark. It was physically exhausting, but very satisfying to leave with that task accomplished.

On the way back to Tom's, we stopped for wine and a local shop and procured a couple of well deserved bottles. We came home and grilled deer steaks and veggies. Again dinner conversation was about making art. These guys are the real deal!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 2

| Day two |

So this morning was one of the most thrilling mornings I have had in a LONG time. I woke at 5:30 am, 5 minutes before my alarm and realized I didn’t need to be up for another hour. Westville is on Chicago time but right on the border of the eastern time zone, so maybe my phone was confused. I know I was, but I stayed in bed just waiting to get started—anticipating the day. I was eager to work and when I pulled up the crane was there.

Richie was a huge help! He had my primed 19' long 6" wide pipe on the flat bed. I asked him to place it on the concrete parking bumpers that just happened to be stacked on the lot. Next I asked him to lift the 4’ squared 1” thick plate, which is the counter balance for the top load of the wind chimes and will be underground. We cinched straps on each side and the crane picked it up and it slid right onto the pipe. It was fortunate that those old parking bumpers were there and the perfect working height, no less.

Now comes the fun part, WELDING! I tacked each gusset in place at 90ยบ angles. Then Terry suggested I have the crane turn the pipe after each gusset to allow me to weld at good angles (ie not upside down). I am so thankful to have had Terry nearby to give his pointers. I am so thankful and honored to be is a show with the veterans on the Chicago sculpture scene. Terry helped to make the morning go smooth as silk. I am hopeful that I can work with him again. He is a genuine, polite man with so much to offer, but is completely approachable. He is a great ear and has his head on super straight. I am really excited to see his way of doing things and would love to just listen and watch him work.

So recap: basically I was welding within 15 minutes of parking my car. I call that making art!

After all the gussets were tacked in place, I was able to ride with Terry to the powder coater. They had everything ready for me and shrink wrapped for protection. It easily fit into the back of Terry's truck. I was, however, where I was faced with an opportunity to find myself a work around for the touch up paint I thought I was receiving. They were helpful with giving me the item name and number to try and reach the manufacturer of the exact match paint, but I called and it is a custom color and I would need to order 15 bottles at 18 dollars a pop and it would take 3 weeks. Not an option on this budget and timeline.

Meanwhile, Terry was inside looking at the color samples. He mentioned that he was seduced by the colors! They had a nice selection of new colors from a company they hadn't ordered from, yet. Think 1980's roller skate wheels. He decided on a more conservative/appropriate color, silver vein, to finish his base with in the spring.

Upon our return, I continued to work on the welding the gussets. I took a short break for some lunch and the clouds rolled in and ended the day with rain. The rain started light, but then the rain came down with a vengeance. I got soaked. My stuff is soaked.

I was able to tack part of my second piece, Cutoff, together with the help of Steve and that is huge, because I can finish the vertical welds tomorrow.

I think that I am so lucky that Terry let me use his welder—gas powered. It is so cool, I want one.

After I got rained out I went to Menards and cleared my head and found the closest match for touch up paint. I also bought some extra hardware, just in case... And because today Tom said he had an architect friend who told him a long time ago, that one (bolt, screw, whatever) is good, two is better, but three is the way to go. I am using two 500 lbs strong bolts on each ring at the top on Bration.

When I returned to home to Art Camp, I made some spaghetti and meatballs (I brought some venison meatballs). We had wine and watched the debates… We drank each time McCain said "My friends." It was a lively bunch! John and Vivian were a nice addition to dinner and ended up spending the night.

I tinkered with my new bolt cutters and other metal cutting tools and found they won’t cut the cable clean enough work ☹

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 1

The following posts for the next week will be my journal entries from the installation week at PNC...

| Day one |

I arrived to PNC later than I wanted, but had an easy drive and was greeted with a big smile from Steve as I pulled up to the maintenance shed: AKA, my studio for the week. After greeting Jaci and Fisher, I was immediately approached by Steve to go and check out the one of the sites they had built for me. It was perfect! I could tell he was really proud of it and it will make a perfect resting place for Cutoff for the next year.

When I returned, Judi and Liz welcomed me. These ladies are the muscles behind the scenes. Judi is directly responsible for bringing the Odyssey show together each year and she is supported by Liz who heads up special events. Their fine attention to detail was nice to work work in the planning and development stages. They let me get to work, but made me promise to call if there were any good photo opportunities. Judi gave me some meal tickets so I didn’t have to pay for lunch…I felt pampered already!

Then back at the "studio" I got right to work. The steel pieces hadn’t budged since I dropped them off a few weeks ago and the rain had knocked off some of the dirt, so that was great. I got out my grinder, put on the wire cup wheel and started erasing a perfectly good coating for the metal – rust. Thanks to whoever invented the wire cup brush and power tools! they have been saving me time since at least 1999. When I gave my wrists a break, I couldn’t help but notice the red maple (I think) that was right next to the parking lot that boasted the autumn colors of purples and oranges. The rusty oranges and browns next the purple were exactly what I was going for. I decided then to leave the edges rusty and paint the surfaces a lighter eggplant color.

After some time, I received a call from Liz letting me know that and her and Judi wanted to have lunch with me. I felt like I was being interviewed about my life's story. They were very interested in where I came from and what I doing.

After lunch, I went back to work and Steve found me to show the other site for Bration. How lucky am I that I didn’t have to dig the hole myself! It was 2' deep and 5' squared wide with a 6" circular hole in the center (for the supporting pipe to go through) that extended down 2 more feet. I suggested they put some gravel in it to help level it, but other that, it was spot on! PNC’s crew has already proven to be so helpful in this installation process.

Shortly after, Terry arrived with the welder. I told him it was the sexiest welder I had seen all week. And it was! The gasoline powered, portable Trailblazer worked like charm and now I want my own! I have a Miller Shopmaster in my studio in Chicago, but it is not so easy to move. I could get to work putting Cutoff together at any time now, THANK YOU Terry!

Now, this is a symposium of sorts, so we are helping each other through the week if someone needed a hand. Tom had the curator's bird's eye view of how the install was going and he came over and decided it would be wise for us all to rally and help Fisher get his piece, Seduction, set. He still had one other piece to set up that day as well and he is a professor at Bradley University and needed to get back for classes on Tuesday. His piece had first been seen by the public 10 or more years ago at the Navy Pier Walk. It had been in storage since. It was cool to see it take on some new clothes (it was repainted new colors gold and black for Purdue) and for it to have new chance to be experienced in a totally different setting. It made me wonder about the lives of the pieces I create...

Afterward, we had dinner with Judy and her husband, Mark, at Swingbelly’s. It was a nice end to the day – good lively conversation and small town food.

Back at Tom’s we had some drinks, listened to Lake Michigan, told stories and hit the hay. It was hard to fall asleep. I was waiting in anticipation to work with the crane and get some welding out of the way!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I am back in Chicago after an intensive week putting together and installing Bration and Cutoff. I am so ecstatic about how the entire week played out. I had a few minor opportunities to deal with, but overall had a fantastic experience I will never forgot!

I stayed the whole week with Tom Scarff, curator of the Odyssey exhibit, who dubbed his home Art Camp. I shared the house with a number of other sculptors and we had a great time sharing meals, stories, ideas and feelings over the course of the week. Art Camp provided a chance to discuss happenings in the world (past, present and future) from an artist's perspective. Tom was a gracious host claiming he had a Georgian (the country not the state) house and to help ourselves. Thanks go out to Tom for his hospitality and for recognizing the passion I have for this art and giving me a chance.

Tom's home is on the beach in Michigan City, IN. It's a wonderful retreat from the city complete with an outdoor shower and hot tub, both steps from the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It provided a calming landscape to come home to after long hours welding, grinding, and drilling – not necessarily in that order. Listening to the waves when I woke up each morning before the sun, helped to calm my nervous anticipation of how the day would go and hoping I remembered every detail or tool from my studio in Chicago. His home is also sans Internet connection and cell phone reception, which allowed me to really focus my energy to the art that was being created each day

The week ended with a tribute to the artists of the Odyssey exhibit of the last ten years. I was fortunate enough to be included in this group of amazing sculptors who have provided so much life to not only the campus of PNC, but also the campus of the entire world. You could feel the buzz and excitement in the dining room after the visual presentation of the more than 100 sculptures that called PNC home over the past ten years.

I am indebted to Terry Karpowicz for the use of his awesome Miller Trailblazer (gasoline powered welder), but more so for his experience and "know how" that helped me through the week. He was very supportive, quick to offer help and gently gave me pointers with a smile and superb sense of humor. He has amazing passion and energy for sculpture and I learned so much from just watching him. I hope to be able to work/learn form him in the future.

Pictured are (top left) Cutoff and (bottom right) Bration. I snapped these photos quickly, but they give you an idea of what I did last week. I will go into more detail when the weather is less beautiful and I'm drawn indoors...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the road again

I am getting ready to settle into my drive to Michigan. I look forward to that time to mentally prepare myself for the conference ahead of my and brainstorm new ideas. Since moving to Chicago, I don't spend as much time in the car commuting. I grew up in a car culture and I kinda miss it – sometimes. It's kind of like your best ideas that come to you in the shower, only you are in the car and have longer to develop them before having to rinse.

I am member of the International Sculpture Center, a professional organization for sculptors and those that like them or their art (that's a watered own definition). We also have a local chapter in Chicago I am a member of, Chicago Sculptors International. The conference I am going to in Grand Rapids is about art in public spaces.

Last year Part I of the conference was held in Seattle at the Olympic Sculpture Park on the water downtown. It was beautiful and had a nice collection for just opening. I learned a lot about behind the scenes of public art and maintaining sculptures after the works have been sold and the artist is gone (and so is the brand of paint used to paint the sculpture). Things like this are learnings to plan for when I am designing a piece.

I hope to make new contacts and learn more about the field that I am emerging to be in...bringing art to the people, rather than bring the people to the art. Keeping art approachable and not stuffy in an out of doors environment.