Seascape Relief: Update 1
A friend is opening a wine bar in Mooresville. He came to see me and said, "I want you to put whatever you want inside. I'll take you to see the space." A number of emotions flooded through me. I was first and foremost touched that he came to me - it's always an honor when a friend wants to show your work. This being my friend's first-ever restaurant endeavor, it felt particularly raw and special.
I was immediately excited about the prospect of creating some new pieces, wondering how I could best help him. I tried to listen to the details of his timetable, but already my mind was racing ahead. What could I build that would make his establishment unique and amazing?
As we began driving north to see the space I realized that I was also more than a little nervous. I did not want to become overwhelmed. There is a very real sense inside me that I have pushed well out past the breakers on a huge curling wave that I've managed to ride all year long. I've used up all my resources during the last nine months, in fact I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have actually broken the First Law of Thermodynamics in the process, burning through more resources than I possessed as I battled the Mola mola, created art, coached soccer, and raised my Beasties.
At times I seem to have skipped through the pain and challenges on wit and guile alone. Or perhaps through sheer stubborn determination. One way or the other, I have not only survived but I have had an amazing year with the kids and now the end of the school year is in sight and if I can just make it to the beach - both literally and figuratively - I can recharge, renew, and reinvigorate myself and my little family while we travel, read books and enjoy the simplest and purest joy of all: simply being around each other.
So as we're driving to the construction site my mind is full of questions. I am wondering, Can I do this? Can I do this well? And what will the personal cost be? But as he unlocks the glass doors and we walk into the empty space, I dismiss these fears and concentrate on the artistic challenge.
One of the most dangerous things to do is tell an artist they can do anything they want. No boundaries, no restrictions . . . It sounds good for about 30 seconds and then you start to go into brainstorming overload as ideas begin clashing with each other, with reality, with time-management. There are so many ideas that sometimes a truly great one gets drowned out by the swirling maelstrom of limitless opportunities. Or the reverse can happen and you can quickly go into a state of brain-freeze where no ideas surface - at least nothing that is remotely realistic.
You have to imagine a passionate front-runner, something that you can both imagine and create. Or at least have a reasonable confidence that you can figure a way out to create it along the way.
I stared at the blank walls and tried to imagine my friend's long mahogany bar and custom cabinetry . . . I realized that I wanted to do something totally new. Something I've never done before.
No drippy metal, no towering angels or massive creatures. No contemporary furniture. No matter how cool one thing or another might be, I really felt a powerful drive to go in a new direction. To swallow the nervous fear I felt and create something totally unique, not just as a work of art but unique to me as an artist. An entire new direction.
This of course compounded my fear. Why choose this moment to go in an entirely new direction? Why must I add layers of complication and new challenges on top of an already wide-open commission? I can see all the pitfalls ahead of me. Summer is coming and I will have the kids and simply want to head to the beach and build sandcastles. I could put him off until next September and enjoy my treasured free time with the little ones . . .
Or I could sit down, focus my energies and come up with something totally new and involve the Beasties in every stage of the project's development, teaching them how a commission goes from brainstorming to material management to fabrication and let them see just how complicated and invigoratingly-rewarding a process it is to take a drawing of something you think is really cool and have no idea how you're going to build it, and then figure out a way to make it come into existence.
Three days later I picked up a large sketch book, my colored pencils and I headed to the bar where I first met my friend. I ordered a bottle of wine and started drawing.
I decided I wanted to build a series of reliefs filled with steel and light. As is often the case, my first drawing ended up being my strongest vision. I've never made a relief before and it has been a long time since I created any forced-perspective artwork, so I really had no idea how I would fabricate the sketches I was making.
I began designing and fabricating some chairs for the bar while the kids finished up the school year. I shared my ideas with Kelly and we poured over drawings, talking about how we might be able to create a large-scale steel relief with a dynamic lighting element involved.
My friend came by the studio to see how the furniture was progressing and I showed him my sketches. He said, "They're awesome. Do it," and with that simple affirmation I began working on the first relief.
A 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of 16 gauge sheet metal awaits the jigsaw. Also pictured: blue pitching machine, Alexander and Isabel working on their soapstone sculptures, black noise cancellation headphones, red jigsaw