Sunday, March 28, 2010

CSI Board, CounterCurrents and "Give"

This week I was given the wonderful news that my newest sculpture, scrape, will be included in the CounterCurrents Outdoor Exhibit at the Merchandise Mart for Art Chicago! I am thrilled to be exhibiting with fellow members of CSI. This is the best picture I have of it right now. It is about 7.5' tall to give you an idea of its scale.
I was also officially voted in as the new secretary for the CSI board of directors. I am very excited to be able to help with the organization add my ideas to serve the membership.
On a trip to Winfield via Belleville this week with fellow sculptor and curator Tom Scarff I was able to find an amazing new (old) piece of metal. We made the trip to repair Tom's sculpture Echo Comet at Southwest Illinois Community College and to pick up some materials. Below is Tom looking up at the transformer that needs to be replaced. This piece is made with neon and LED lights and paints the side of the building with light when it is on at night. It is really a beautiful, light Echo Comet!
The picture below is a piece of 14' in diameter pipe that was left behind at Victor Pipe & Steel. Really you ask, someone just left 1000+ lbs of steel around? Well, yes and lucky for me I found it. I am going to clean and polish it up and turn it into a proper sculpture. It has this wonderful bounce in it when you give it a little push. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to YouTube. Another fun thing about this piece of sculpture is that I get to research things like harmonic vibrations and different ways to transport it. I think I will call it Give.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Link to Neoteric Art article "One Question" with Dusty Folwarczny

Here is the link. 

Thanks to Neoteric Art and Jeffery McNary for their work on this!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jeffery Mcnary's question

Jeffery Mcnary is a writer who found me on facebook and took an interest in my work. He does freelance write for art magazines among other things. Here is a link to his blog, check it out!

He asked me to answer this question: 

"you operate in a genre requiring, not only passion, but strength, fire/heat and tools many visual artists have no relationship with. what brought you to this medium and how do you wrestle with it?"

My answer:

Simply put, I grew up around steel. My pops owns a pipe and steel company back home and the material made it was into my subconscious. I can remember going to the steel yard after school and searching for bunnies hiding among all the rusty pipe. I remember getting a piece of scrap pipe and telling my dad how I thought it would make a really pretty vase for the wild flowers I picked if it had a bottom. I am a very family oriented person and my way of being part of the family business is using the scrap from Dad's business and transforming it into public art.

As a sculptor, I am attracted to the the strength and mass of steel. If you are sculpting with steel you mean business and have to be dedicated to the material and respect its properties. I love the aesthetic of rust – the beautiful oranges and browns all swirling together to form a protective coating. This protective property humanizes the steel for me and gives it a more of a personality. We all wear our protective coating from time to time don't we? But despite its mass, I find ways to make the steel look light and airy. I want to show that it too can be delicate and sometimes lyrical (remember those bunnies a flowers I talked about). This is sort of the opposite from how people react when that discover I am a steel sculptor, "Well, you weld that yourself?!" I get that a lot. 

The steel does present several challenges for me to work with. First off, I'm not Hercules and have to work "smart" in order to stay safe while I'm schlepping the steel around my studio. My tools enable me to work in a medium that requires a lot of support. My work is directly dependent upon my gantry, my grinder, and my welder I affectionately call Elmer (because it is like my glue for the metal). Steel doesn't allow you to be quite as impulsive as maybe some other mediums do. It makes you think. I really appreciate that. It's a material I will continue to learn about and grow as an artist while I find new ways to manipulate its form.

 I think a lot about energy when I designing a sculpture or just walking down the street. When I am welding, I am focused on the metals joining and becoming stronger together as one structure.  The permanence of my work is something that is attractive to me and also very intimidating. I'm making something at 30 years old that will be around well after I have left this earth and how can I make it something that might help to define me and my culture while still evoking a feelings toward it from someone who I don't know?

A large part of why I make art is to share it with the public and to bring it outside of museums and galleries that can be intimidating. I want my art to be approachable and endearing to the public. What is interesting about this is that I don't really hear back from the public on how they feel about my work. Recently a friend of mine relayed a story about his friends who walk by my sculpture, Position, frequently and how much they enjoy seeing it. This simple piece of feedback from these folks I don't know is so exciting to me. It worked! The sculpture prompted a dialogue that actually made it's way back to me. I love that. And I love being a sculptor!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

fundraiser prep and some kind words

Whew! I have been in Hazlet, NJ, Decatur, IL and Herndon, VA in the last 12 days, working 12-16 hours a day for 10 of those days. I'm finally back in Chicago (for 1.5 days) during which I  have a big fundraiser to pull off along with my fellow Third Coast Sculpture Gallery directors. We are expecting a good group of folks and have already sold $500+ worth of raffle tickets for the donated sculptures Here is a link to the event page where it shows who all donated. Hope to see you tonight!!


A few days ago, I was speaking to Reinhold Schmid, a fellow sculptor and the man behind Third Coast Sculpture Gallery,  and me mentioned he wanted me to meet his friends at the Benefit Party on Saturday. I thought that was nice, but then he proceeded to tell me that they live over on Armitage and they walk past my sculpture, Position quite frequently and really enjoy it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

boards, contracts, rejection and cheese

I was out of town last week working on a project and a lot can happen while you are away!

The good news first:

I found out that I was selected to be a new board member for Chicago Sculpture International, an affiliate chapter of International Sculpture Center. I was very excited and pleased to even be considered on the short list and even more so to be picked! I am officially the secretary. I have a lot of ideas and look forward to getting started and serving the membership. My first meeting is in a couple weeks. Yay!

I also came home to my contract for the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit. It's official, now! I have to get a move on creating 5 for the May installation.

Now onto the bad news:

I was not selected to be in two outdoor exhibitions that I applied to. Oh well. That is part of it being an artist too. I will submit work next year and hopefully be considered. I have plenty to keep my hands full right now and will work on new sculpture that will hopefully improve my chances of being accepted in future shows.

Now to end this blog with something cheesey: here's a link to a video of a panoramic view of my studio space. I took this during the photo shoot of scrape last week.

Fund raising and steel raising

This last week or so I have kept busy in my studio as well as with the administrative part of being an artist. I am on a board of a new sculpture gallery, Third Coast Sculpture Gallery,  that is in the process of incorporating and getting ready to open our doors. I am working with a team of other sculptors that are dedicated to this project and have a lot to offer.

We are hosting a fundraiser next Saturday at Frank's on Clark to help with some start up costs. Here is a link with information about the benefit. Some of my internationally known and talented sculptor buddies have generously donated some works of art that we will be raffling off for $10 a ticket or 6 for $50. If you can't come to the benefit, but would like a raffle ticket, email me: and we can arrange something for you!!


In other news, I have been building a new sculpture, scrape, that will hopefully go on display in downtown Chicago outside the Merchandise Mart in about a month. It has been a fun and challenging piece to make and I am happy with the end result. I struggled with how to arrange the 46' rings for about three weeks. Last Wednesday the 3rd, I finally had that breakthrough moment around 9:30pm. I tacked all the pieces in place and slept on it.

When I cam back the next morning I was still happy with my forms so I went to work welding here is a little video of some of that:

Here are some photos of the process: 

When I finished all the welds I used the boiled linseed oil to give the rusted surfaces a bit a sheen. It really enhances the beauty of the rust! For the inside of two rings and the outside of the other ring, I primed and then mixed good old Rustoleum. I am pleased with the finish. 
Next I set up a photo shoot with scrape. Here are some of the raw pictures from that afternoon. I will clean these up and then I will be finished! Well, maybe not, because if I can't drill into the concrete when this piece will go, I have to attached  a large steel plate to the bottom of the sculpture. I am still waiting to hear if that is the case.