September is going to be a fun month. I’ve been working on these two projects most of the summer and now as that cool air starts to slip into the windows at night, I will be able to hang up my new work and share. I will also have new work up at Cup & Top in Florence, MA and the lovely Popcorn Noir in Easthampton, MA. Also you can always find some of my little works at Sticks & Bricks on Market St in Northampton, MA.
RECEPTIONS September 6th & 8th
5 -8 pm
HOPE & FEATHERS GALLERY . 319 MAIN ST . AMHERST . MA
These underwater paintings are from my photos taken of friends exploring swimming holes and pools around Western Massachusetts and Vermont. Capturing figures underwater allows me to explore light, color, reflection and distortion. Water is a never-ending source of life, evolution, but also is a place of quiet and stillness. Ultimately, my work is about this dichotomy in the human experience: the inescapable turning points and psychological transformation and risk, taking that proverbial leap of faith, balanced with that quest for finding a place of safety and escape.
Although the figures here are people close to my heart, I omit their faces hoping that you, the viewer, might imagine yourself inhabiting this moment of weightlessness and refuge in the water.
Happiness is A Unicorn
Showing at The Dirty Truth
September 4 – October 5
This show pays homage to the pursuit of Happiness.
Happiness is a Unicorn. Elusive if pursued to closely. This hollow shell of a unicorn as a tribute to our pursuits of happiness and sometimes the futility trying to keep happiness, store it, hope it will cure suffering, make it our trophy. Trying to capture a unicorn has been a difficult and evasive creature to render.
The making of these unicorns was actually one of the hardest art projects I have ever untaken. I thought, sure. I will just make a sculpture. THEN, once that is done, I’ll make a mold. And THEN, hundreds of unicorns! WHENEVER I WANT THEM! HOORAY!
not even close
The sculpture was so fun to make, but it kept toppling over from the bulk of the head. A few months later, after falling again, I worked through a day and a night and it came to life!
NOW THE MOLD. 2 months later
THEN THE HARD Outer shell. Three days later with 8 hrs sleep. YAY! It’s there. finally after all that work!
BUT Then…you realize you can’t get the original sculpture out. Wait. What the sh*t do I do now. I have to cut the mold? But , but, but…. can i still make it work? we dunno.
Ok now what… the sculpture gets taken out…it is destroyed within minutes and becomes pieces of clay that resemble parts of a horse head. and this giant rubber skin… that was so perfect before, is cut right down the back.
So you glue it together with caulk and pin needles. Wait for it to dry. hope and hope. Then the rubber mold goes back into the hard shell and you put it all together, tightly hold it together with bungee cords and Heather and I hoist this 90 billion lb mold out into the yard.
so goddamn heavy.
The lady on the phone at PolyTek suggested this material because it would cure within 30 minutes and could be light weight and easily moved around to coat the inside of the mold.
So around 10pm after a friend of mine, Carolyn Clayton and I sealed up the cut rubber. Heather and I geared up with a smock and gloves. I poured the first round in. I have waited 5 months for this moment. This is going to be easy. I’ll just move it around. But suddenly, the liquid wouldn’t move around anymore.
The sticky liquid sunk to the nose of the mold and when I tried to slush it around the rubber mold had risen to a high enough temperature to melt my gloves off my hands hardened . The entire length of the smock I was wearing I soon realized was covered in this thick plastic mess from reaching into the mold, and was now hardening. The smock was ruined. Heather eventually took to talking on the phone and I was trying my darndest to get more layers in.
Then we loaded it into Heather’s truck bed and brought it to my yard. The cement outside of Carolyn’s studio was crushing the hard shell mold that held the rubber mold in.
Round two and three proceeded into the night. I rolled this giant white mold around the yard until 5am. Then decided I would sleep a little to let the piece rest.. i mean me. 7am I kicked off the sheets and headed out into the yard. This was the moment that my unicorn head would be born.
I untied the cords that held the heavy white walls of the mold together.
Gently. Gently. I tried to pry them apart.
It’s stuck! I was shaking.. I kept prying and slowly the first wall fell. Now the skin of the rubber was exposed. The second wall should be easy… nope. But slowely it fell too.
Now I started to unpin the seam of that we made at the neck of the head. it ran along the hair of the neck. the pins were embedded into the rubber. it was like they nestled in and just weren’t budging. So slowly I started pulling them out from their little red, yellow, and blue balls, but my fingers would soon find other needles running the opposite direction and the balls kept popping off.
I repeatedly stabbed myself. My hands were showing little red beads of blood forming on my finger tips. I started prying the needles out with my teeth. I couldn’t get them all, but I had enough space to start prying the rubber open. It wouldn’t budge. It was like I had glued the plastic substance to the rubber. I mean, it was coating all over my arms and cloths, but washable right? (Three days later some of the material was still stuck to my skin and I had stripped most of the arm hair from my body)
Slowly, I rubber started to pull away from the white plastic and I could pull the rubber skin up the neck of the beast. I got the skin past the ears and off the jaw. But the rubber wouldn’t budge from the top of the head where I had left a deep hole to put in the unicorn horn, a seperate part of the sculpture. I tugged once. nothing. I try to loosen the sides with pokey thing laying near by. Nothing. I pulled and pulled with the nose of the horse between my legs for an hour.
The sun came out. The birds were delighting in the humid June day before us. neighbors started sleepily gathering themselves into the car and side glancing, this crazy person sitting in the yard, covered in grass and whatnot, straddling this huge weirdly shaped thing and pulling a large rubber skin from it. I live next to a faily large parking lot for apartments. One woman looked over at me and said, ” I don’t know what your doing, but I like it.” I sheepishly smiled and kept pulling.
Nope. haha. not budging.
I started crying. I couldn’t help it. I had spent so much time and resources on this project. The tears just welled up. I had been thinking that this mold was going to help me produce dozens of lovely unicorn heads and I would be able to sell them relatively inexpensively to make back the 2,000 I spent on the materials to make this project.
I had started this project to initiate the first steps to become a resourceful independent studio artist. I had no other job, and now, I had no savings. I had no unicorn. I called texted Carolyn & Heather who have experience with molds about what to do.
I went upstairs and my roomate Justin was getting up and rolling his first cigarette between his thumbs. I was distraught. He offered we go to breakfast. I wavered, but then, yes, breakfast is always a good idea.
oh Northampton. This town is amazing sometimes. It’s small enough to into syncronicity just often enough that it may just be a little magic.
Justin and I sat down to breakfast and there was Carolyn. I went into my “all is lost story” blah blah. She just looked at me and said, cut it. Just cut it. I paused and let it sink in. Yep. I’d the that fucking shit off. We had a really nice breakfast. There were lots of lovely faces to say hello to and have some conversation about anything but this ridiculous thing. I left feeling light. Life goes on.
I got home. I got my exacto knife, and cute the damn thing off. and then slowly again, I peeled the rest of the rubber off the snout and there it was! This lovely, white horse head. I love it.
I immediately sewed back up the seems with the pins and caulk glue, and went back to sleep. One unicorn down.
Every time I put the mold and such back together, I thought it would be easy now that I understood what was going on. It wasn’t. Nope. The mold shredded and tore. There were more repairs, more prying, more late nights. I now have 5 unicorn heads.
phew 5. Not the 20 I was dreaming about.
This project was just a small sample study of the pursuit of happiness and I learned so much about the nature of finding happiness in this process. It is some hard work. Happiness does not look like what you expected to be. There can be some really wonderful things to learn out of the experience of our life’s work, but if we pursue the unicorn too closely, it’ll keep eluding us and find us when we least expect it.
if you arn’t totally bored with this long winded tune, take a moment to check out this link about Happiness from the Shambala Sun. I found it after I finished my third unicorn.