Monday, July 27, 2009

It was a good day before I even got into the studio...

Why? Because one door down from my studio is a granite counter top shop. They have a dumpster that caught my attention as I drove by and parked. There was a lot of granite sticking out, so I took a closer look and found some great pieces to gather. I must admit it felt weird to take stuff out of the dumpster, but the holes they cut into the granite for the sink produces a perfect oval to reuse as something else. So, I went dumpster diving before I worked on the finishing Curl.

Below are two shots of this piece. When I started on this one I was thinking a lot about my St. Louis roots and what icons have shaped my subconscious. Partially because of the sculpture symposium I am starting/organizing with some fellow sculptors...which is set to take place just north of St. Louis in the early Spring of 2010. The three other sculptors and I have been brainstorming about why we as mid-westerners are compelled to make things. I thought about what other cultures have made and my mind wandered to the wheel and then to the arch and aqueducts and cathedrals and (duh!) the St. Louis Arch.

This is my interpretation of an arch, using what appears to be a lighter feeling, one that isn't always present in other arches, because they are holding something up or they have both feet grounded. That is actually how this piece started, with both feet level flat on the floor.

After thinking about it more and moving the pieces around and watching the interactions of the negative space and the forms, I came to realize this piece was actually and arch that was continuing to curl, like the double helix or a vine or another other curling form. Bio mimicry was taking place long before the word was ever coined.

My sculpture, Curl, is an arch that is a piece of curl or part of something bigger...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review of "Position" by James Arrigo!

A Few Words About "Position"

There is an oasis on the near North side of Chicago in the Old Town neighborhood, at the end of Wisconsin, where it intersects with Mohawk. After being desensitized by the architectural Frankensteins of the nouveau-riche that assault you for blocks from the east, or the soul destroying public housing that leads to it from the west, you come across a small clearing (you can’t call it a park, there isn’t as much as a bench here.) This long space with a brick walkway lined by trees is the yearlong home of “Position,” a remarkable sculpture by Dusty Folwarczny; one of twenty sculptures that make up the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit. This space is an oasis of order over chaos, where you can’t help but stop and drink in what you find.

The first impression of “Position” is that of the classic monolith on a pedestal, but take a closer look. It stands over seven feet tall; made of steel and painted black so that in the bright sun it takes on an almost copper sheen. Dusty, like David Smith and Sir Anthony Caro, works primarily in recycled steel, and simple shapes. “Position” is comprised of seven large cylinders stacked one on top of the other. The middle cylinder is turned ninety degrees to those above and below. Maybe it’s the way the cylinders are placed, the appearance that with one good push they could go over like building blocks, or the way the middle cylinder is set on its side, letting you look through the piece, the thinness of the steel, whatever optical illusion is at play, “Position” feels much lighter than it’s 800 lbs.

Residing on this small sliver of urban walkway which connects two residential streets; it is flanked on one side by the classic red brick of an old Victorian structure and, more strikingly, on the other side by a house of modern design. The fat black horizontals of the sculpture pop against the long orange and burnt red slats of the home. The dark bay of windows that rise up two-stories is picked up by the sculpture and provide it with lift. Trees planted along either edge of the walk add a natural element and soften the space.

Draw closer and you notice the vertical weld lines of “Position” providing a counterpoint to the strong horizontals. Gaze up into the core and you’ll see that the inside has not been fully painted. As the work ages rust will begin forming from the inside out giving the piece another fascinating contrast; I look forward to the effect of the changing seasons.

It’s my personal belief that a work of art, once it leaves the artist’s hands and is put into the public space, belongs to those who experience it, and as such can be whatever the viewer wants it to be. Dusty has said that this piece represents her place within her family. To me, it’s a reaction to the modern McMansions lining our gentrified city streets with their out of place interpretations of classical elements; “Position” is a column ripped apart, reformed, and remade so that it now stands as something infinitely more dignified.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Curling steel?

After sleeping on it, I decided to move forward with the design I came up with. I am naming it Curl. The first picture above is the maquette and below is the larger piece (just balanced not yet welded). I am really excited to have found pieces of scrap that allowed for a maquette and larger sculpture. And I have been waiting to use the textured rusty piece for over a year now...just hoping for the right design to pop in my head.

Now to get my hands dirty (well, gloves really), one of my favorite parts!

First, I use the wire brush to clean off the pieces for the maquette.

They actually are cleaner here, I swear. Don't forget to wear eye and lung protection if you try this at home, kids! Next, I tack weld these four pieces place and when finished it looks just like the first picture above, only stuck together.

Often when I am putting sculpture together I work with weight and gravity a lot. I try to balance the pieces in what may seem to be compromising positions for the steel, so that they posses the verge of kinetic energy. I feel this make the pieces stronger when they are welded together because they could stand alone. The left picture is an example of this, as well as the first two pictures of this post.

First, I tack weld the pipes together, then I go back and fill in the welds to create more strength in the joining of the two pieces of steal.

Action shot, here I am welding on the inside. The part of welding that takes the longest in this sculpture is setting up the pieces to be welded together, not the actual welding.

There is my weld. I hid it inside the pipe away from the viewer, hoping to give the piece a more whimsical feel.

Below is a video of me welding. I always get funny and curious looks when people find out that I can weld, so here is a little video clip of it. Enjoy!

Final thought for today
I feel great about this piece. I think I am seeing the interactions of these round forms in a different way...which is why the sculpture is called Curl. It is exciting to be excited by this personal discovery. I imagine it to be like when we were learning to really see object when our eyes were still discovering how to see objects and define shapes and light et cetera. There are few things cuter in life than when you realize a new baby or puppy recognizes you and smiles or wags their tail. I feel like that puppy or baby realizing a new form that was always there, just not yet relevant to me. Which is why I am try to share it on this blog. More to come on that!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday is for Studio day

I went in to the studio today to just make art. Lately, I have been asked a lot of questions about why I make a sculpture, what are my influences, or what is the meaning behind it. All very important things to think through and talk about, but today wasn't about that as much as the thrill of coming up with a new design.

In my recent work, I have liked working with maquettes first and then translating the maquette to a larger piece. I hadn't done this much in the past because when you work with scrap, you find one of a kind pieces. But you know you have found a good design when you can scale it to any size. So, I began tinkering with the different scraps of steel I have on hand at the studio.
It looks a lot like a mess to the naked eye, but a bunch of metal all spread out on floor is how many of my sculptures come together. Like when you used to study on your floor and spread all your notes around you in a circle. Something about being surrounded by your notes made sense. Well, something about being on the same level as the metal and sitting with it makes sense to me.

I came up with a bunch of designs. I am sleeping on it to see which ones are still good ideas tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

LSE Promotional Things

This is the poster that was designed for the LSE exhibit this year. This is what the people were having me sign at the Kick-Off Party. You can see these hanging in many restaurants and shops and public buildings around Chicago.

These are pages from the brochure that tells you a bit about each sculpture and has a map so you can easily locate it. You can find these at the Alderman's office and they are being distributed to libraries around town. Go and check out all the great new sculpture in the city! 

AND now a word from our sponsors...

Please frequent the businesses that sponsor this exhibit.  All of the funding is through private donations. I think it is so awesome the the public is sponsoring artists that want to work in the public sector.  Thank you all for you generosity and for bringing art to everyday lives of people!