Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Talented Artist

I met Eugene Tanski at the big Loveland Sculpture Invitational several years ago. A retired plastic surgeon, Dr. Tanski now focuses on artwork.

Not that he started after he retired--he actually started drawing as a child during a bout of polio.

This artistic talent was a great benefit to someone in his field. I would certainly want my plastic surgeon to be an artist--if not in painting or any of the traditional "plastic arts"--at least at mending my body and minimizing scars.

Gene is an independent artist, not feeling he has to ascribe to any one style of medium. His pieces often resonate with a deep spiritual side.

His photography and sculptures are often very abstract. Even his more traditional, realistic shots have an abstract quality to them. He is influenced by cultures around the world. In some pieces a strong Japanese influence is evident, in others pieces more of a Native America or African or modern European bent is present.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Art on Loan

Many people are familiar with art on loan to a museum. There is typically a nice sign by the piece or exhibition, citing who has generously lent the piece. The lender may be the artist or, more frequently, a collector.

Artists can often lend their art to their community as well. This is a win-win situation for both artist and community as well as the citizens.

This sort of program saves cities and towns money because rather than buying the works, they typically pay for moving the piece(s), set up and insuring the work. This is a benefit to the artist because their work is viewed by more people, and they get the sense of pride of contributing something to their community. And the citizens benefit because they get the opportunity to see pieces they might otherwise miss.

My city of Loveland, Colorado is considering a sculpture loan program which would be administered through our Visual Arts Commission. I'm looking forward to this new addition to our wonderful City of the arts!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stone Monuments

I've long been a fan of cemeteries. Even before I ever carved a stone, I enjoyed looking at the different headstones and monuments.

I was fascinated by the stories I read on the headstones, and those I imagined, and in awe at the incredible carvings out of stone.

Don't overlook your local Monument Works as a source for beautiful art. Many will create pieces for your home, not just your burial plot. We have a company in Greeley (The Greeley Monument Works) that has been in business for over 100 years and they have an entire portfolio of pieces they have created for gardens.

Whether you want a piece to remember a loved one who passed or just want a nice piece for your garden, keep these craftsmen in mind when you are looking for options.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Glass Art of Kathy Bradford

Kathy Bradford carves glass. Not with a hammer and chisel like I carve stone, but it is indeed carved. She uses sandblasting to get the depth, detail and beauty in her work.

Just like carved stones, each piece is unique. She does not utilize any computers to aid her. She draws each design and carves them all by hand--and sand!

This Colorado artist is nationally recognized. She is commissioned on a regular basis by builders and architects who want to use her art in their structures.

The famous Stanley Hotel has a door which boasts Bradford's carved art. New York City's Russian Tea Room features 10 panels etched by Bradford in the ballroom with dancing bears and another panel on the main floor featuring Moscow.

Carved or etched glass is not the only work she does--she works in glass in just about any way you can imagine. From stained glass to slumped and fused glass, she can take this fragile medium and make exquisitely beautiful art from it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marble Sculptor Claire McArdle

Claire McArdle currently lives outside Longmont, Colorado and is a fantastic sculptor. She works in a variety of media, but I particularly like her marble pieces.

The Old Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Ave, in Longmont is featuring McArdle's work in an exhibition called "Myth & Mystery" which runs through Oct. 18.

McArdle began working large scale in marble after visiting Italy. Three of hre large marble pieces will be in this Longmont exhibition.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chapungu Sculpture Park Tour a Success

Last Saturday, Roy Guthrie gave a nearly 2 hour tour of the Chapungu Sculpture Park. This is the first permanent collection of the Zimbabwean sculptures in the United States.

About twenty people listened as the Chapungu founder and director told stories of the stones, the artists and the at movement in Zimbabwe.

There are eight sections to the park, only a small portion was covered in the tour. The park is designed so that you can stroll around the entire garden enjoying the stones and the environment, or you can focus on one or two areas and come back another time to see the rest. Benches are available for resting.

The stone sculptures are all created by hand by a wide variety of artists in a broad range of styles.

The sculpture park is located by the Promenade Shops of Centerra and makes a nice break from shopping. Many of the pieces are visible from the restaurants on the east side of the center.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sidewalk Chalk Art

Sidewalk chalk is not just for kids. Harkening back to the days of Mary Poppins, street artists have used chalk on the sidewalk to create some incredible pieces.

Remember when Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews popped into a chalk drawing and were suddenly in a world of animation? How fun was that!

Chalk art festivals are popping up all over the world. Some feature fantastically 3 dimensional pieces that defy our brains--"trompe l'oeil" or "fool the eye".

This Saturday, Loveland, Colorado is having its own sidewalk chalk art exhibition with a new event "Feet on the Street". There will be music beginning at 10:30am at Thompson Park, in the heart of downtown.

The event starts at 10 and runs until 5pm on Saturday, Sept. 27.

At least 10 artists will be creating temporary masterpieces. There will be an area for the kids to join in, too.

Even if you aren't interested in the drawings, be sure to go, there will be sales (sidewalk sales, of course) at numerous stores. It's all happening downtown in Loveland thanks to the Association of Downtown Merchants.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kent Ullberg Wildlife Sculptor

Kent Ullberg is a resident of my town, Loveland, Colorado. A native of Sweden, Ullberg is a top flight wildlife sculptor.

Ullberg's beautiful works combine the realism of wildlife and abstract shapes inspired by natural forms.

"Canyon Watch" is a lifesized portrait of male cougar. I love how the big cat has his haunches on a large tree stump while his lower feel rest on a lower root. The circular pattern that is created is as beautiful as the animal itself. One of the edition of 20 has been recently been dedicated in Los Alamos's North Mesa area.

The theme of circles and wildlife continues with Ullberg's piece, "Ring of Bright Water" which features two playful otters and the solo otter in "Laid Back II"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 4

Today's test is specifically about softness of the stone.

This is important for the beginner especially. With limited tools and experience, you want to start with soft stones.

To test for softness, it is best if you have a point or chisel and possibly a rasp with you. Before you take any tools to the stone, be sure to ask. Most reputable dealers will say okay, but you haven't bought it yet and you will be scratching it up, so I ask.

Take your rasp or file and rub it across the stone. Does the stone yield easily? Either flaking or creating a powder? That indicates it is probably a soft and workable stone.

You can also take a chisel or point and hit a small corner of the stone. If the stone chips off easily it is soft.

On the other hand, a stone that appears soft, may be too soft--or have other issues.

White marbles that have been outdoors in the weather can become "sugary". I learned this the hard way. It is a distinctly different thing than being "soft." When the rasp runs across the stone if the powder is like powdered sugar...keep testing! Take your chisel to a bit of the stone. If the stone feels like it is disintegrating, pass on that stone. It will literally dissolve while you work!

If the stone is not a white marble and you think you like it, wet a small area and run your finger nail across it. If your fingernail can scratch it, it is an extremely soft stone--in the neighborhood of soap stone. These can be beautiful stones, but the scratch very easily and so it will be more difficult to have a finished piece without any unwanted scratches.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 3

We covered a basic visual test and then the hearing test. If your stone passed both those tests, it is ready for another visual test.

Wet the stone with water. The entire stone. Some people just squirt the stone a little, but this really just gives you an idea of the color of the stone, not the quality. So, this is not dab a little water on part of the stone and see how pretty it looks...

With the stone wet, look for any dark lines--typically thin and fairly straight.

I'm not talking about color variation like veins in marble. Look for lines that seem to go through or around the stone. This usually means there is a crack in the stone, or a layer of different material that will probably cause your beautiful stone to break into two or more pieces.

Tomorrow we'll talk about testing stones for softness!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 2

Yesterday we covered the initial visual observation "test", today we will move on to a test involving a different sense--that of hearing!

Keep in mind that no test is 100%, that said, here goes.

This is the first test I was taught--I take my point and tap the stone lightly all over. Some people use a hammer, the theory is the same. Listen to the stone as you tap it. You are listening for a bright, clear sound. If you hear more of a "thud" or if it sounds kind of hollow, you don't want that stone. We call it "dead."

Try the tapping technique on several stones and listen to the differences.

This is good a time to mention that you should ALWAYS listen to your stones. Know what your stone sounds like when you start and listen to any changes that occur as you work it. You may be coming up on a hidden flaw that could destroy your piece if you ignore the sound change!

Your stones literally "talk" to you as you work. Part of your job as the sculptor is to listen.

Tomorrow we will talk about one more visual test for our stones.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 1

If you pick up "any old stone" and try to carve it, you could be setting yourself up for more troubles and heartaches then if you take a little time and test the stone.

The first "test" is to visually inspect the stone on all sides for any imperfections. Imperfections include cracks and soft spots, veins of different materials (harder or softer than the main stone.) These flaws can lead to the stone breaking or perhaps challenging the sculptor due to the differences in tools and techniques required.

Look at all sides of the stone for obvious imperfections. Because stones are natural, there will be (naturally) imperfections. Some will be hidden inside and you won't know they are there. Others will be glaring.

Some imperfections add "personality" or "character" and you may be tempted to work around them. These imperfections include imbedded crystals and fossils, and stones with big holes or pockets in them. While these may be beautiful to look at and could possibly be worked into an awesome piece by an advanced carver, they indicate that the stone has different levels of hardness which makes carver more of a challenge.

For a beginner, it is recommended that you have as few imperfections as possible. A stone that is consistent throughout in grain and character will be much easier for you to carve.

Tomorrow in Testing Stones for Carving, Part 2 I'll teach you the first test I ever learned!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Glass Sculpture with Volcanic Ash

Yesterday I mentioned metal sculpture. Today I'm talking about another extreme--glassblowing as sculpture.

I've long admired glasswork and have talked about taking classes for years, and somehow have never done it. Hmmm, that will have to change!

One of the things that appeals to me about working with glass is similar to the appeal in stone--dealing with a natural element that has a lot to say about the finished product. Sometimes we can create exactly what we envision, but it is always a give and take between the artist and the medium.

I recently read about a glassblower in Washington State who incorporates volcanic ash from Mount St. Helens in his work. The ash gives the glass a unique color. I remember when the volcano erupted--and standing outside in central California and getting "snowed" on with ash. This memory makes the Washington artist's work more intriguing.

For those of you who are under 30, Mount St Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. The ash was spread across 11 states, including where I was living at the time. The Original Mount Saint Helen's Volcanic Ash Glassworks was founded as a result. Little over a month after the eruption the first products were marketed with the volcanic ash. 28 years later, the company still exists and tourists can watch the glass pieces being created.

If you are going to be near Mt. St. Helen's--stop by one of their studios, one is at the Hoffstadt Bluffs visiting center (only 15 miles from the edge of the crater), the other is in Centralia, Washington. If you have never seen glassblowers in action, it is a really "hot" experience!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

David Norrie Metalworker and Sculptor

Metal sculptures are not all cast. There are sculptors who use a torch to meld pieces of metal together to create their work.

Metalworking can include torches, welders, and forging tools. Yes, forging, as in anvil and hammer and the old blacksmith.

One local sculptor, David Norrie, uses both hand and pneumatic forging hammers--over 150 of them altogether.

He first learned about the art of blacksmithing at 18 in Canada, where he was born. Like most of us, he thought blacksmithing was about creating functional items, and so that is how it all began.

His viewpoint shifted at a conference in 1978 where he learned about metalworking as an art form. He still creates some functional pieces, like staircases, but also creates pieces that are purely aesthetic. While the forge was his first love and he still uses it for the majority of his work, he likes to push the limits and try new things and see what he can make the metal do.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sculpture Tours to Put on Your Calendar

Here are two tours you will want to have on your calendar if you live in the Loveland, Colorado area:

1. Benson Sculpture Park Tour, Saturday, Sept. 20, 11am. The park is at the corner of Aspen Drive and Taft Ave, across from the high school. The tour will be conducted by George Walbye--one of the founding members of the Sculpture in the Park show. The group will meet at the Pavilion. There is now a bathroom at the park, which is a nice benefit.

2. Chapungu Sculpture Park Tour, Saturday, Sept. 20, 1:45pm. This park is near I-25 and Hwy 34 in the Promenade Shops at Centerra, the address is 5871 Sky Pond Dr. The tour will be led by Roy Guthrie who is the curator of the exhibition and also of the parent sculpture park in Zimbabwe. The tour will start in front of PF Chang restaurant. This is a beautiful park right at the edge of a big shopping center, with bathroom facilities as well as restaurants for after the tour.

For both tours be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Art in Your Community

Check to see what is happening in your community in the world of art. Most cities have a museum, or gallery or two. Take some time and see what they have to offer. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Several of our neighboring towns have events called "Studio Tours" where you can actually see artists working in their studios. It is a great opportunity to meet the artist and see where/how they work.

If there is no museum or gallery where you live, see what is nearby. You probably don't have to go to the "big city" to find art. Talk to your neighbors, shopkeepers, people in your government or Chamber of Commerce. They may know of someone in the area who makes fantastic quilts or sculptures.

Keep your eyes open for what is happening locally and you might just find a great piece for your collection!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Governor's Arts Award

Loveland one the 2008 Governor's Arts Award and was named the top place in Colorado for use of arts to "enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the community." The award was actually bestowed upon our fair city in June, but the celebration is happening this month, September.

The Governor's Arts Award was bestowed from 1969-2002 upon artists and organizations and community leaders for their contributions. Dormant for a few years, it was reborn in 2007 with the new focus on the role of arts in community development.

A series of events will be taking place around the city. Many arts disciplines are featured in these events. This is fitting because Loveland being a big sculpture town is just one reason we were selected for the award.

If you have questions about the Governor's Arts Award, contact Elaine Mariner, 303.892.3802,, or click here to read the press release, available at the State website.

This Saturday, Sept. 6 starts the celebration when a new sculpture "Whirl*Pool" will be dedicated at Loveland's new Fairgrounds Park beginning at 10:45am. Other events occur winding up with a tour of the Chapungu Sculpture Park on Sat. Sept. 20 at 1:45.