Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Return to Fischer Creek

Day 27 (11/25/12)
It has been one of those summers that it is hard to let go of. Although the temperature was often outrageous and most of the country experienced one of the worst droughts ever there was a lot of gorgeous weather as well. Perhaps because of the lack of rain there was more than enough time to have fun. At any rate I am not ready for winter and when we saw that Sunday was going to be at least seasonably warm we decided we needed to take one more trip to Fischer Creek for some rocks. Eileen had recently sold a couple of necklaces and we were reminded that she would need more stones for the winter. We needed some supplies from Fleet Farm so we decided to run through Plymouth on our way to the beach. After leaving Plymouth we thought it would be fun to take some back roads across to the lake.  Our trip took us up hwy 57 to Kiel where as we were coming into town we noticed a sign for “Abler Art Glass” studios and turned on in. We were not disappointed. We started by watching a glass vase being blown and although we have seen it before it is always impressive to watch. We then went in to peruse the merchandise. There was some really fun stuff and if we had more room in our house we may have actually thought more seriously about a couple of pieces. We settled on some earrings and a pendant for Eileen and were back on the road again. From Kiel we headed up Hwy 67 the St Nazianz. From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump to Fischer Creek. When we got there it was kind of overcast and we were a little afraid it was going to be kind of cold and windy but when we got down by the beach much of the wind was blocked. After about a half hour of collecting the sun came out and the sky became almost totally clear. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful November day. We spend a couple of hours walking the beach and combing for stones. As always it was hard to leave but the hollow spot in my stomach was reminding me that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. So with our new found treasures we pointed the car south and headed on home.


Another lost Blog

Our Inspiration "Lil Z"
Day 26 (10/6/12)
This summer our friends Grant and Sally Van Driest invited us over to their house for the first ever “Done in a Day” celebration. We have collaborated with the Van Driest for many years but it had always been Paper making celebrations at our house so they decided to develop their own celebration of creation. The basic idea is to have everything you need to make art ready before hand such as boards, paint in various types of applicators, and tools for manipulating the paint. Since the first event Eileen and I have started accumulating quite a menagerie of paint and applicators. The applicators are as important as the paint itself. These include everything from atomizers, squeeze bottles and various brushes and devises used to put the paint on the boards. Once the application of paint starts nothing is off limits. Under the tutelage of our mentor “Lil Z” we threw caution to the wind and some paintings as well. When finally the sun started going down we had quite the collection of art work. We pondered the idea of setting up some shows were everything we displayed would have been made in one day, “Done in a Day” shows.
Hard at Play

Works in Progress

A Deck full of Art

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ultimate Dolmen Project

Day 25 (8/22/12)
This was the day I had been waiting for. Of everything else we were going to be doing in London, Stonehenge was number one in my book. We got up early to make sure that we were at the meeting point on time. As usual we were early so we spent some time just walking around and checking out the neighborhood. There was a couple from Australia there when we got back and we spent the remaining time talking to them. It was a pretty long ride to Stonehenge and I do mean pretty. Although the early part of the ride was on four and six lane highways eventually we started traveling through rural England. Although the landscape looked somewhat like the hills of Wisconsin there were subtle but noticeable differences. The most obvious is that everything is either made out of stone or brick. Even the fences are made out of stone. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, but there is also very little color in English architecture. Because of the materials they use for building everything is earth tones. The other obvious difference is the lack of corn. You can see oats and wheat and hay but no corn. We also learned that free-range pork is a big commodity in that part of England so you would see fields of grazing pigs like you would see cows back home. We also saw cows, horses and lots of sheep. When we got to Stonehenge we were a little disappointed to see that you could not get in amongst the stones. We had purposely looked for a tour that said admittance into the stones but it was a little misleading. It is still very magical to see something of this age and magnitude. After about an hour and photographing it from every possible angle it was off to bath. Bath is a City that grew on the site of a natural hot spring. The Romans first built a bath house over the spring and then other cultures continued to build over the site. Eventually the original Roman bath was rediscovered and excavated. We had three major goals in Bath. First was too drink Bath water, the second was to hike up to the circus, a circular street at the top of the city, which was supposed to have been designed using the proportions of Stonehenge and  finally to get fish and chips for lunch. Like so many tours there is too much to see and too little time. We still had a great time and the scenery was awesome. After Bath we had a long ride back to London which was supposed to take two hours but took three because of traffic. Then another experience with the Underground and we were home.
Walking around the Neighborhood

On the way to Stonehenge

More Scenery

Still More

Fields of Pigs




Bath Abbey

Roman Baths

Eileen drinking Bath Water

The Circus

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Go with the "Flow"


Day 24 (8/14/12)
The other night a friend dropped by for a bonfire and conversation soon turned to the sculptures on the bike trail. Although he loved the sculptures, he couldn’t understand how somebody could see a pile of junk and visualize a sculpture from it. I assured him that it was more about letting go and just building and that having a preconceived idea would only lead to frustration. I thought I would spend a little time today trying to analyze the development of a bike trail build. I always tell my students that creating abstract designs whether 2D or 3D is both the easiest and the hardest thing they will ever do. Although freed of the confines of representation, design now becomes all important, so while you are resting your sight you are depending more on your brain. That being said the first rule on the bike trail is “putting creation back in recreation” so basically it is all about having fun. Opportunity is perhaps a good place to start. Without some assessable junk and a place to build, you would have zilch. The better the materials you have the easier it is to develop an interesting sculpture. It is no accident that I continue to build in the same areas. That is where the materials are. The problem is that when continually working with the same materials it becomes hard to get out of a rut and build something new. Structure is the next thing I have to deal with. If you can’t get it to stand at least long enough to get a picture of it and have some people enjoy it you lose the motivation to continue building. Back when I used to put them up one day and they would all be knocked down the next I got a good idea of what that was about. At least it gave me a lot of practice. In the early years I worked a lot with tripods. They were very structural and offered a lot of different possibilities for design. This last year I have been trying to work more vertically since I no longer have the abundance of materials that I had before they redid the tracks and grabbed all the ties form along the route. Design is my next consideration. Since most of the designs are not held together in any way, balance both physical and visual becomes a huge concern. Within the confines of the material I try to develop a sense of space by cantilevering objects out from the center to add to visual significance. The element of surprise or the unexpected is also a concern. I go to great lengths to make things seem almost physically impossible, like the two huge rocks balanced on the top of the female figure in “American Gothic” or huge railroad ties balanced together in the now defunct “Down by the Corner”. Rarely do I actually set out to achieve any type of representation but occasionally I will start to notice something that directs me in a particular direction like the prow of a ship in the long gone “Boat Works” or the figures in “Giacometti” or “American Gothic”. That is why I still like to use stealth when building the sculptures. I like the idea that someone just happens upon something that wasn’t there the last time they went through. Evolution also plays an important role in the sculptures development. Often I will get chased away from a piece when I am halfway done with it and on the way home I will think of something I will want to do the next time I get back to it. Then there are the few mainstays that have remained essentially the same for years but have had a tweaking here or there to make them what they are today. Ultimately, there is no magic to it just a lot of hard work and fun.
American Gothic Cat

What is left of "Down by the Corner"

New "Question of Balance"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Work Zone

Day 23 (8/13/12)
It was cool, drizzly, Monday morning so I thought I would have the bike trail entirely to myself, boy was I wrong. Apparently cool, damp days are great for biking because everybody was out in force. Eileen and I had gone out Friday night to assess the damage of several days of heavy winds and rain. As we had expected many were down. The only two that escaped damage altogether were “Tripod” and “Dangler” who somebody recently referred to as “the fisherman sculpture”, which works as well. I just liked the idea that somebody had seen it and it inspired an image. Just as I was pulling up to the “American Gothic” site some guys in a truck stopped and put up a work zone sign and I thought that was going to be the end of my doing any building there today but as I rode on I saw them drive away. So when they were out of view I snuck back and at least did some rudimentary repairs. I will have to get back there when I have more time and flesh it in a little. I decided to head back and rebuild the “Giacometti” build on the way home. Again I would like to do a little more with it but at least it is standing. “Down by the Corner” had gone down and I thought I would try to work on it a little before I went home. This has the potential to be a really cool piece since it is one of the few sites that still has three almost intact railroad ties. The problem is that there are three almost intact railroad ties and only one me. After struggling for a while only to have everything fall over. and me with it, I decided that sometimes you just have to live to fight another day. On the way home I saw were there was a rock in a tree either done by others or left over from a past build but at any rate I decided it needed company so I spent a little time doing a stacker. When I was almost to town I saw a doe and two fawns. Day complete.



Tree Build


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Perfect Pitchfork

Prairie Build with Shack 

Day 22 (8/6/12)
Some Days are meant for building. Today was definitely not one of those days. It was a beautiful day and probably because of that everybody was out on the trail. I really only had one real goal and that was to find the perfect pitchfork for my couple. I saw a couple areas where I might have tried to build but whenever I would look there was always either somebody coming from ahead or behind. Finally, after I turned around at Oostburg, it seemed like maybe it was going to be quieter so I stopped at the area I call the prairie site. There is an old shack on the other side of the tracks so I decided I would guise myself as a photographer taking pictures of the shack while I scavenged for materials. I didn’t end up with a lot of materials but I did get some pretty cool pictures of the shack. Throughout the trip I was always keeping a look out for the perfect pitchfork for my “American Gothic” build. I found one that will do for the time being but will still keep my eyes open for a better one. I would still like to do some more work on that site but as I said before, it wasn’t going to happen today.
The Shack

First Look at the Interior

Not much Left

Indoor Plumbing

Complete with Swallows Nest

They now have a PitchFork

Saturday, August 4, 2012

American Gothic

Start of "American Gothic"

Day 21 (8/4/12)
Perhaps I should have known better, after all it is Saturday, but the bike trail was buzzing with activity. I kind of had an idea in mind though and was on a mission. On my way out I hooked up with a guy about my age and we just talked about the current political situation and although I suspect he was on the opposite side of the continuum we agreed that something had to be done to bridge the gap and bring people back together. I rode with him as far as Oostburg where he was going to meet some buddies for breakfast. On my way back home I got a few opportunities to build, although once I had to ride off when I saw somebody up the trail. Fortunately the builds I was working on are situated by a road crossing and I can just ride down the side road to avoid detection. As I have said before stealth isn’t as important as the early years but I still like to keep it on the down low. I was excited about getting out building. On my last trip I had built a female abstract. On my way home I had decided I wanted to try to expand on the theme and develop a sort of abstract “American Gothic” feeling piece. I knew it would be kind of a work in progress but I wanted to at least set the foundation. I would have liked to have done more than I did but the trail was just too busy. When I got finished, as I  photographing an older work a pickup stopped and the guy inquired if I was photographing the art work to which I replied; “Yes, yes I was”. He then went on how some of those kids get pretty creative and he just didn’t like it when they built in his fields. I would like to have assured him that these kids would definitely never build in his fields but left it at yes kids will be kids and rode off into the sunset.
Bad Garbage

Good Garbage

I was happy to see that my Queen Anne's Lace tie was still surviving.

Straight Up

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Women with Hat

Women with Hat

Day 20 (7/31/12)
Eileen worked late today so I got out later then yesterday. I was expecting the trail to be teaming with people but much to my surprise it was really quite quiet. It had rained during the night and there had been some wind so as I suspected some things would need repair. Both “Totem” and “Giacometti” needed some work. I thought about changing the name of the “Giacometti” build to “After the Rain”. I liked the surrealistic ring to it. I had it in mind to head out to one of the builds that my friend Chris had made. I had noticed on our trip out the other night that it was in bad need of a rebuild. At first, I tried to follow Chris’s oeuvre but found it to damaged to really be able to do it justice. I just decided to go with the flow. About half way through I started to notice that it had sort of a feminine quality so I decided to run with it. As I was wrapping the torso with rusty old barb wire and sheep wire, I was thinking that I really should put disclaimers on these; DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME WE ARE TRAINED PROFFESIONALS or at least get a tetanus shot. After I finished “Women with a Hat” I redid another one as a Male. I have already decided I want to make some changes though. It was starting to get late and I had things to get done at home so I headed back to town.
Male with Hat

The Lovely Couple