Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Message in a Bottle

In 1919 Marcel Duchamp, the founder of the art movement called Dada,  purchased a 50cc glass ampoule from a pharmacist friend. After emptying the original contents he had the pharmacist seal it again with nothing inside but Paris air. Duchamp took the ampoule to New York as a souveneir for a friend. It was later exhibited as one of a series of found object artworks Duchamp called  Ready Mades. At that time exhibiting found objects in the context of art just wasn't done. Duchamp and his Dada buddies caused quite a ruckus.

50cc Paris Air, Ready Made by Marcel Duchamp

So... I'd just like to say...Thank you Marcel Duchamp... for sending that Ready Made message in a bottle... you let everyone in on the sometimes grimey little secret...that in the right hands (and/or minds) found objects can speak volumes, tell stories, make jokes and even recite poems- of the visual kind. Sometimes it's done with elegant simplicity like the glass jar assemblages of  photographer, painter and assemblage artist Valerie Galloway. See more of her lovely works in her Etsy shop.

Submerged by Valerie Galloway

Entanglement by Valerie Galloway

Or with delicate poetics like those of jeweler, assemblage artist Marina Rios aka Fanciful Devices. She often titles and accompanies her works with snippets taken from arcane stories, obscure scientific facts and forgotten texts.  Click on the link below the photos to visit her shop for the wonderful descriptions of these pieces.

Blanca Queen of France by Marina Rios/Fanciful Devices

Futility by Marina Rios/Fanciful Devices

Assemblage artist and jeweler Priscilla Moore's lovely works tell fascinating stories through her subtle choices in found materials and techniques. As a bonus she often accompanies her pieces with historical anecdotes or poems. Click on the links below the photos to visit her Etsy shop for details about these pieces and more.

Tobacciana by Priscilla Moore/Read Between Lines

Affianced Edwardian Necklace by Priscilla Moore/ Read Between Lines

Mixed media artist Lynn Whipple creates poignant, multilayered works with an intricate combination of found materials, paint, and text. Visit Lynn's beautiful website and her Etsy shop to see more of her amazing works.

Mixed media assemblage by Lynn Whipple

Mixed media assemblage by Lynn Whipple

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Little Cartoon Souls

Coquette - Little Cartoon Soul No. 10

Have you ever had a day when your life seems to be a comedy of errors? Maybe you trip over a that invisible crack in the sidewalk or the soda explodes from the bottle when you open it to take that first delicious sip? If this sort of thing has happened to you it's probably just your cartoon soul reminding you that it's there. We all have one dwelling somewhere inside. It's their cartoony duty to remind us not to take all of life's little twists and turns quite so seriously.

The Little Cartoon Souls are carved from found aspen wood and mounted on a vintage wooden toy block. Each has a pair of antique porcelain doll arms. They're painted with acrylic then lightly sanded to give the surface an aged appearance.

These Cartoon Souls are having a dance party in my Etsy shop!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hekate's Angel and a Fairy Tail

Hekate's Angel

This assemblage and carved wood piece is named for Hekate the Greek Goddess of doorways and crossroads. In ancient Greece she was considered the guardian of the veil between the worlds, the material and the spiritual.

Hekate's Angel is made with a vintage doorknob plate nailed to a found piece of wood. There is a magnifying lens where the doorknob once fit. Behind the lens I inserted an antique porcelain doll face. Behind the keyhole is a tiny bone. The keyhole is covered with mica. I carved the wings from fallen aspen wood.They are painted and then gilded with metal leaf. There is a hook on the back so that the piece can hang on a wall. 
Size: 7.5" x 11" x 1"


Tulip is from a series called The Secret Garden. As a child one of my favorite books was "The Secret Garden" The story of a young girl who discovers the locked door to an abandoned, overgrown garden. As the story unfolds the garden is revived along with the girl and her closest companions.

The objects in this series are worn and maybe a little crusty on the outside. They've a few chips and dings. With a little love and attention something wild and wonderful grows out from their ruins! Tulip is made from a vintage porcelain doll and carved aspen wood. I carved the wooden stems and leaves. Each detailed carving is attached by a tiny carved peg and glued in place. The wood is painted with acrylic and waxed.The figure is set in the stem with jewelers epoxy.

Tulip can sit on a surface or hang on the wall.
Size: 2"h x 7"w x 3"d

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Works November - All Souls

I Love November. beginning with All Souls Day and ending with Thanksgiving, it's a month for remembrance and celebration. In keeping with the spirit of this season I've started a new series inspired by Memento mori. This genre of art dating back to antiquity is meant to remind us of our mortality and to remember lost loved ones. My Memento mori, made with antique photographs, carved wood and found objects, alludes to life's ephemeral nature. I'm so excited to be able to exhibit some of these pieces in a fantastic group show at Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop. The show is part of The Santa Muerte Music and Arts Festival and runs through December 31, 2011.

Memento mori #1

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat ~ Los Luchadores!

Movie Poster featuring the luchador El Santo, 1965

This time of year in the US most kids and quite a few grown ups are putting on masks for the Halloween holiday. Wearing masks for celebration, theater, and ritual started long ago. Probably around the same time we humans were hunting and gathering. Nowadays there are few places on earth where masks are  regularly worn but in pre-Columbian Mexico masks were worn by priests and kings. The Aztecs and Mayans left behind stone carvings and paintings of those masked men. They were kind of the rock stars of their day so I guess masks were a part of pre-Columbian pop culture. In present day Mexico masks still have a place in mass culture on the faces of luchadores (Mexican wrestlers). Real, live, flesh and blood masked men, luchadores are part superhero/villian/amazing athlete/ film star/comic book character/icon. And not only that ...their images are painted on the sides of buildings, adorned on clothing, and are used in advertisments. They're inspiring subjects for visual artists all over the world.

Luchador postcard

Valentino The Luchadore of Heart Breakers by Robert Palacios

Lucky Lucho by Max Lehman

Their form of professional wrestling is called Lucha Libre (Free Wrestling). The masked version originated in Mexico in the early 1900's. Most luchadores begin their careers wearing a mask. Many only appear in public masked. Even those who appear unmasked go to great lengths to guard their true identities. The mask is sacred. At some point many luchadores will lose their masks either in a  "face off" (challenge) with another wrestler or as a ploy where they remove one mask and replace it in order to transform in to a new luchador character. Sometimes a masked luchador is umasked at the end of his career relinquishing his identity once and for all.

Luchador Poster-Mask vs. Hair

They fight the timeless battle of good and evil. There is  lots of drama in a luchador match but they are also true athletes known for their high flying  moves. Some take on the role of the good guys. They follow the rules of luche libre to the letter and execute the luchador wrestling techinique with consumate skill. They are called the tecnicos. Others are a bit tricky, They are the brawlers, the bad guys. They are known as the rudos. All of the wrestlers are expected to stick to the Luchador code of honor.

El Santo by Teresa Villegas

El Santo and the Blue Demon Coutesy of Saide's Art

Street Art, Madrid

Painting on Metal Sign, Mexico City

At this point you've probably realized that I have a bit of a "thing" for luchadores! When I set out to do this  post I realized that I've gathered quite a collection of luchador stuff. It was hard to choose. Recently I made some of my own Luchador inspired artworks, these little Luchador Angels. I can't wait to do more!
Luchador Angels

I've only included a few of the images here that I wanted to, some from my own collection along with a few stock photos and best of all the works of some wonderful artists. There are links back to the artist's websites under the images of their works. I hope you'll visit to see more of their fantastic art!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Traveling Angels

Tin Can Angel
While you were dreaming... an angel might have flown over.  She was circling the planet. Observing all of the people, the animals, the varied landscapes. Ocean to mountain to desert.  Angels like to travel. This one even has her own map.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Earth and Man

Earth and Man 

The Earth

Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon
the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up
to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from
as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon
He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at
every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon
it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest
motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and
all the colors of the dawn and dusk.
For we are held by more than the force of gravity to the earth.
It is the entity from which we are sprung, and that into which
we are dissolved in time. The blood of the whole human race
is invested in it. We are moored there, rooted as surely, as
deeply as are the ancient redwoods and bristlecones.

Navarre Scott Momaday

Earth and Man 22"x6.5"x7"           

This figure is carved from fallen aspen wood that I collected in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.. The base is made with a mosaic of vintage wood. The figure's tattoos and the earth are  painted with acrylic. The entire piece is finished with wax.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Harvest Moon

Bird Boy and the Harvest Moon

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~ George Eliot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sueño/ Dream

Sueño/ Dream
8" x 27" x 6"
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

~William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Carved from fallen aspen wood this piece holds a tiny window made of antique tin, collage and mica.The figure is painted with washes of iridescent acrylic paint. The delicate details are done with paint and a wood burning tool. The entire figure is coated with wax to enhance the richness of the paint and protect the wood surface.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Story for the Magpie

Story for the Magpie
87" x 17" x 15"

It is said that Magpies can be taught to speak the language of humans. I'm sure they already have a language of their own. If we could converse with the Magpies I think they would have marvelous stories to tell. This piece carved from aspen branches collected in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico tells a story of the Magpie's adventures. The figure holds a book made with five tiny windows. One  contains a miniature painting of the starry night sky done on Mexican amate bark paper. The others include found objects and collage suspended between sheets of natural mica and then framed with antique tin. The sculpture's headdress is made with layers of old copper nailed to a wood form. It's painted with acrylic and metal leaf then coated with a light layer of wax.

Story for the Magpie
87" x 17" x 15"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From the Dragon's Garden

From the Dragon's Garden

You have probably heard that when a lizard loses it's tail another will grow back in it's place but did you know that if a dragon loses it's claw it can also grow another? In order to do this the old claw must be buried in the dragon's garden in a perfect place at just the right time of year. There are other secrets to the growing and not all claws make the grade. If for example the dragon had an exceptional amount of dirt under his nails to begin with it will throw the entire chemical balance of the soil off and a new claw just will not sprout. But, if all is done according to the magic dragon code not only will the dragon grow a brand new claw but also a magical flowering dragon's claw plant!

This dragon claw is made with a found cast iron piano stool foot. It holds a little glass globe in its talons. The foot was purchased from the fabulous Etsy shop of ProfessorTiny. I carved the plant section of the piece from found aspen wood. It's painted with acrylic and metal leaf and finished with a light wax.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In the works...

Here's what's on the table after an inspiring trip collecting aspen in New Mexico.

Church doors in Chimayo, New Mexico

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mica, Music of the Spheres and a Really Big Book

So... I've been working on a little project... and I finally shipped it off last week.  It's a tall carved figure  holding a really big book. The theme of the book began with the Music of the Spheres. The wonderful person who commissioned this work had absolutely inspiring ideas. It was a pleasure and an interesting challenge to make it.

The pages of the very big book are about 30" high when enclosed in the book frame. They're made with two 9 x 12 translucent sheets of mica laminated together to make one side of each page. Those large mica sheets were doubled to form the front and back side of each page. Found objects, collage and transfers of renaissance illustrations by Robert Fludd are suspended in between them.

The book frame is made with strips of antique tin riveted together... and riveted and then riveted some more. As you probably gathered I  like rivets but in this case they are really useful and also create an interesting visual effect. There are three little carvings inside the book. They are pop up parts that suspend from the books spine. To make them do their lovely "pop up" thing I needed a solution that was both light and strong. Light so that visually it would appear that the pop ups were almost floating out of the pages but strong enough to hold the weight of the carvings and withstand shipping. I ended up soldering brass wire to very thin gage brass tabs then riveting the tabs into the metal spine of the book.

And that is the story of how I made The Magic Book. Now I'm  holding my breath-just a little- until I hear whether it made it to it's new home safely. (and also hoping my oh so thorough packing job did not completely frustrate the kind person  who had to do the unpacking!)

The Magic Book  81"x 15"x 16"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Food City

One of my favorite grocery stores here in Tucson, Arizona is called Food City. There are a few small versions of the store scattered around town but the the big super store is by far the best. It carries all the basic items found in any market  but what makes it so special  is the vast assortment of  products from Mexico along with exotic produce and hard to find ingredients necessary for Mexican cooking. There are bins with dried cinnamon sticks, and  cones of cane sugar. Mounds of chilis from anaheim to the extra hot habaneros. Edible cactus pads called nopales (Yum!) money drawing room spray, colorful cleaning products, statues of catholic saints, an entire row dedicated to dried herbs and spices.

Today I was in search of the delicious queso fresco to use in a summer salad.

Here's my recipe for Sonoran Style Pasta Salad:
1lb. Whole wheat penne pasta cooked
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup sweet corn- fresh or frozen
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mango
3 scallions chopped
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1 cup mesquite grilled chipotle chicken sausage or chicken breast (optional)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill salad at least two hours before serving. Sprinkle top of sald with a little crumble queso fresco and serve.