Friday, March 30, 2012

Telegraph Pass

Day 9 (3/26/12)
Top of the Hill
Yesterday we flew into San Diego, rented a car and drove to Yuma. It had been raining in San Diego but as always it was sunny and beautiful in Yuma at least if you like hot dry weather. We had arrived late at our friend Steve’s house. After a few adult beverages we planned our next day’s adventure which included a hike up to telegraph pass. After about a 30 minute drive we made it to the pass. It was warm but not hot when we set out along the pass. Nobody had been there before so we were not exactly sure which path to follow and as these things go we ended up taking the long way around. There was lots of opportunity of build cairns and no shortage of rocks. Steve tolerated my occasional stops to erect towers and I think everybody appreciated the rest. We didn’t end up making it all the way to the top of the pass. We had no idea it was going to be as far as it was and nobody brought any water. After many jokes about going into a desert without water we decide to turn around before the vultures circling overhead had something to snack on. We found a shorter trail back that cut through a scenic pass. We managed to get back to the car and vowed to take water in the future.

Eileen with Attitude

First Cairn

Second Cairn

Desert Beauty

Long and winding Trail
Two Old Farts in the Desert

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Charles Biederman ( Part 2)

Biederman's Later Work
After that I did not see Charles for many years. It wasn’t until I decided to write my master’s thesis about him that I went back to Minnesota to see him. By this time he was getting quite blind but still feisty. I had brought him a box of cigars, which I had taken some time to research his favorite brand. When I proudly presented him with his gift he asked me what it was and I told them they were his favorite brand of cigars. I was totally deflated when he told me he wasn’t allowed to smoke anymore. I made a comment about it probably being better for his health to which he responded that it had nothing to do with his health but with his blindness they were worried he would burn the place down. He then told me that against his doctors orders he still liked to have an occasional nip though. I wish I could remember his drink of choice. On this visit he dug deep into the past and brought out some of his earliest works. It was without a doubt one of the highlights of my life. Only once did I offend him when I mentioned the new sculptures he had all over his yard since my last visit. I said I was surprised that they were raw stainless steel in contrast to his early writings where he insisted that sculpture should be painted. He said they were exactly the way they were supposed to be, end of subject. That was my last visit with Charles. I took the time to walk up the path to where he used sit almost every day and observe nature. I corresponded with him for a time after that although by then somebody else had to read and write for him. His thank you letter to me after reading my final paper will always be one of my prized possessions. I was saddened to hear of his passing in the paper while visiting the twin cities. I have always wondered if Charles would have had a more compromising personality he would have taken his place in history with his cohorts, Mondrian and Leger. 

Early Sculpture model

Another Sculpture

Yet another

Late Stainless Sculptures

Path up to Biederman's sitting spot in nature.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Charles Biederman ( Part one)

Chris Hindle, Charles Biederman and myself at his show.
An interesting observation that I have made lately is that most of the influential people of my life, the people I really consider heroes, have been considered curmudgeons’ at least by some. My father had a surly side to him and one of my best friends Bob had a personality that could curdle milk until you got to know him and realized he really would give you the shirt off his back.  This was also true of Charles Biederman. I am not going to pretend that I knew him well but I wish that I would have taken the time to have known him better. Charles although opinionated, loved to talk to people and probably more importantly correspond with people through letters leaving a paper trail of his thoughts through the years. Whether you like his art or not you cannot help but be overwhelmed with his profound understanding of the lineage of his “New Art”. Beyond his art he published over a dozen books on art including his most ambitious work, “Art as the Evolution of Visual Knowledge” from 1948. It is not my intention to bore anybody with the facts of his life however. I would rather like to share a few antidotes of my time with Charles. The first time that I had any dealings with Charles was while helping to set up a retrospective show of his work as a member of the Red Wing art guild with my friend Chris Hindle. I had been warned that the misplacement of a painting could bring down the wrath of Biederman which may or may not include a beating with his cane. I guess it goes without saying that I survived that encounter and came out pretty much unscathed. In fact I found him to be quite pleasant. I remember him telling us how he had rarely driven because he had the tendency of turning towards anything that caught his interest. He and his wife decided it may be safer if he let her do the driving and he did the looking. As a member of the guild I ended up winning a poster of his from a previous show. I mustered up the courage to visit him to get it signed. This was the only time I manage to raise his ire by suggesting that his work reminded me of stationary Calder’s. I must have hit a nerve because he went on at some length about how Calder had apparently cheated and skipped a few stages of development and that the art world was not yet ready for kinetic art. I think the reason that we got along as well as we did was that I never considered myself a very smart person and as such much of what he said just went over my head but I enjoyed listening to him and looking around his house. 
All of the following photos are from my last visit.
Biederman's House


Early Work

Early Cubist Work

Early Painting

Another Early Painting

Stained Glass

Later Work

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Well of Souls

Here we go again!
Day 8 (3/11/12)
It was only a week ago that we snowshoed out the bike (ReCreation) trail in search of the builds we had made just the week before that. If yesterday had been beautiful then today was without description. The wind had died down and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We dragged our bicycles out of the garage and prepared them for the maiden voyage of the year. After airing up the tires and giving them a quick inspection we were ready for the trail. As expected it was busy and we figured we would get little building done. Fortunately, we had only one major goal that we wanted to accomplish. That was to start the “Well of Souls” or soles as it is. There are little concrete wells all along the trail where poles have been pulled out. I figured something had to be done with them. Yesterday, while walking the beach I came across an old dilapidated shoe. It was just what I was looking for to start my well of soles. I felt a tinge of guilt for bringing trash on to the reCreation trail but I figured I wasn’t so much littering as relocating. At any rate it looked like it wasn’t long for this world anyway, a perfect subject. I was also a little concerned about where the shoe originated having just read an article on shoes with feet in them washing up on a beach somewhere. Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. Had it not been so busy I would have had a little more ceremony but as it was we had to make it look as we were photographing some birds until we had a window of opportunity. All in all it was a great day.

Well of Souls

Laying the Sole to Rest

Needs more Soles

Keeping watch

Eileen's Tree Build

Cool Graphic

Rebuilding Grotto Build

Another Sign of Spring

Fischer Creek Conservation Area

Day 7 (3/10/12)
Fischer Creek Beach
No need for snowshoes today. Eileen had to work in the morning so when she got done we were ready to celebrate one of the first sixty degree days of the season. Right before she got home our son, Nate, called to see what we were up to. We decided to check out a beach by their house which he and his wife, Rita, had found that had lots of rocks. Fischer Creek beach turned out to be everything they said. It yielded some of the best stackers we have come across so far. There was a plethora of small flat stones perfect for Eileen’s jewelry. As I have said before, it is an addiction. And like all addictions it is not just the addicts who are affected. Our son and daughter-in-law probably get tired of being drug (no pun intended) to beaches and subjected to searching for stones. But their two little dogs love it and have a blast digging in the sand and chasing the waves. In little more than an hour we had our booty of stones. It is always hard to stop. You always think the next one you find is going to be the best. After a couple of false starts we finally made our way off the beach vowing to return when we had more time.  

Nate & Rita

Signs of Spring

Fischer Creek

On the Beach

More Rocks

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Return of Winter

Day 6 (3/3/12)
In Wisconsin we have a saying “If you don’t like the weather now… wait a minute”. Although it took more than a minute our trip down the bike trail today was quite different from two weeks ago. For one thing we were wearing snow shoes. Perhaps, snowshoes were a bit much but it was only the second time we had an opportunity to use them all winter so we went for it. Two weeks ago we had to keep an eye out for bikers and other pedestrians, today I think if I would have heard “on your left” shouted behind me I would have freaked. There were human tracks in the snow going one direction but otherwise we saw no sign of people. Another ironic twist was that we did see three cranes fly over the trail, a sign that spring is on its way but it sure didn’t look like it today. For whatever reason there was a goose following the cranes as if he wanted to join the flock but just couldn’t keep up.  We spent most of our time looking for things we had built two weeks ago. Some were still there and others were gone or covered by snow.
Tripod today

Tripod 2weeks ago

Dangler 2 weeks ago

Dangler today

Tree build today

Tree build 2 weeks ago


Eileen on the trail