Sunday, July 26, 2015

Planes, Cranes and Frogs

Wade flying the Vectron
Day 14 (7/23/15)
All things come to an end and so it is with “Grandpa Daycare”, at least for the time being. The nice thing about living 300 yards away from our son and his wife is that almost every day brings an excuse to see Wade. It was one heck of a summer and even in five short weeks Wade has changed so much. More and more he has gone from being an observer to being an actual participant. This week he made two solo builds of his own not to mention numerous colorings. He has started becoming more aware of his surroundings and it was he who first saw the cranes on Tuesday. Grandma and I have tried to squeeze as much in as possible these last couple of days. We too feel the end of summer vacation coming to an end and want to get as much done as possible. Fortunately the weather has been great for outdoor activities and if we haven’t been on the trail we have been exploring the backyard and all its mysteries or even aviation. 
New Build

A Start

More planes

A Ribbit

Ribbit's new Pad

More building

And more

One more look at the Woodcock


Making Ants

Men at Work

Wade's second Solo

Here Papa

Walking the rails

Did I mention Cranes?

Thanks again to Eileen for the Photography and colorings

Looking back on another great summer

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wade's First Build

Wade's First Build
Day 13 (7/21/15)

I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog, which was supposed to be about family involvement, to announce Wade’s first solo build. It had been a typical morning and we had taken off on a windy but otherwise beautiful day. Wade is starting to get a little bored with the whole biking routine and was getting restless soon after we hit the trail. I am astonished at his development over the last four weeks. He is now is not afraid to tell me when he doesn’t want to do something. I convinced him that there would be coloring and that got him more interested. For whatever reason the trail was extremely busy so we stopped once to color at the sculpture garden but didn’t get any openings to build. Wade wanted me to draw him a dump truck so that is what I did along with a barn to go with the tractor that was already there. We then continued on down the trail until we got to the prairie site. I determined that if I was going to get anything done I was going to have to build right away while there was nobody around. I wasn’t sure how Wade would do left to his own devises while I built but before long I noticed he was working on stacking rocks on his own. I couldn’t get the camera in time before he had knocked the first build down but he was fortunately starting on another. At this point knocking them down is as much fun as building them. He is on his way, however. I hadn’t planned on staying long but seeing as he was having fun I actually finished a new build which I really liked and started resetting up one of Chris’s before he started to get restless. We hopped back on the trail and continued back toward home to another of my favorite sites that I still referred to as “American Gothic Site” although the American Gothic builds haven’t been there in some time. I started reconstructing a build there when quite sternly Wade told me, “Grandpa, Go home”. I had never heard that one before but decided to follow his wishes and call it a day.
Wade's Dump Truck

Wade working on his first build

Hmm, lets see what else do I need

Grandpa this is pokey 


Start of Chris's rebuild

Warrior Class

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Time for Reflection

Wade and I with "Tripod"
Day 12 (7/17/2015)

Today was a day of reflection. Eileen had the day off so the three of us went out early to beat the heat. We had heard it was going to get into the nineties and it did. After yesterdays disappointment I was eager to at least get “Tripod” back standing. As I have stated many times “Tripod” is one of my oldest builds and has survived in different incarnations for eight years. Perhaps it was because I was working on this build or because of yesterday’s carnage or possibly it was the old man who stopped us to ask if we were the people who did the building on the trail or maybe the article that a friend had sent me written by a lady who condemned the building of all cairns that I started pondering once again why I have spent so much time and effort building something that at best may last a few months. When I started eight years ago I wrote a manifesto of sorts. My goal was to exercise my body and mind by making daily excursions, riding for exercise, building cairns to exercise my creativity and writing about it to stimulate my brain. At first I only built with stones and had a goal of having one hundred standing cairns at some point. That was before it occurred to me, not by accident, that some people would actually knock them down and in some cases find them an abomination. It was about this time that a lovely church lady started leaving notes on how I could be saved and that these may be false idols. I returned her baggies with notes assuring her that I meant nothing religious with my building but that I appreciated her concern for my salvation. As these things go at some point setting up rocks to have others knock them down became tiresome and somewhat futile. At the time the trail was littered with an abundance of old weathered railroad ties and I figured what could anybody possibly find wrong with sculptures made of large wood beams. The exercise potential of lugging around these hefty objects was tremendous. At this point I started developing some ground rules. The first and most important was to use nothing that did not come from the trail. I also try to pack any litter out that is of the trash type. I am always amazed at how much litter is left on the trail. The second was to use no tools or fasteners to hold them together. If cord or twine has been provided by the trail I have on occasion bound stuff. The third was to not get caught building them. This one has kind of fallen by the wayside since many of my students and community members know anyway. Also, we now occasionally take guest builders with us and it is just easier to forgo the dashing off every time a bike comes along. It sure was fun in the old days though when I would have to exit a build site to evade being caught. Finally I try to make the trail better than I found it and promote creation as recreation. Through the years others have left their own builds much to our delight. I have come to look at the trail as a sketch book with the builds being maquettes that are continually challenging my sense of aesthetic and structure. Since the eighties most of my art work has been about recycling in one way or another and these are just an extension of that vision. The repurposing of objects found on the trail which will later return to the general ruble but for a brief moment represent something more inspired has a poetic circularity to me. I try to situate the builds so that they become flashes of something glimpsed for a brief second in passing, something that is obviously man made but yet organic. This was especially important when I was building in secrecy with the idea that they would just appear overnight.  Many take on an identity to me but often it takes several rebuilds before I start to associate certain characteristics while others are instantly an entity. The last two years since Wade has started going with me the building has sometimes become secondary to exploration and discovery. We now spend more time with chalk “coloring” as he calls it. It certainly has had its own rewards. It is impossible to know what the future holds and how the process will evolve. Because of its nature it is in constant flux and that alone keeps me doing it.  
Giacometti Build

Wade and Eileen

New Tripod

Wade loves Water

A Labor of Love

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Almost total Destruction

Chugga Chugga
Day 11 (7/16/15)

I must admit that I hate days like today. It started out as almost a perfect day. It was cool enough when we started out to have sweatshirts but there wasn’t a lot of wind and it promised to be a great day. That was until we got to the first build site and saw that everything was down. We had missed going out yesterday but Tuesday everything had been standing. Seeing as they had survived the weekend storms and we had not really had any bad weather since I had my suspicions. We traveled on. I had noticed Tuesday that “Giacometti Build” was down so Wade and I stopped to set it up. I like this site but unless I am able to scavenge some new materials it is likely to be left to nature. Each time it gets harder to put it back up. It was when we got to the “sculpture park” that my worst fears were realized. Everything was down. Not even “Tripod”, which had managed to make it through the entire summer, was standing. By now I should be used to it and I realize that if I choose to build in public places others have the right to knock them down. It is still exasperating though since last weekend had produced so many nice builds. Life goes on and soon Wade and I were back at work. I managed to set up one of Chris’ that had gone down in the storm on Sunday. I was going to set up “Tripod” but when I was almost done it fell on my foot so I decided to wait for another day to finish it. We determined to go home and lick our wounds.
Cedar Waxwings

Giacometti Build

Brown Thrasher

New Dangler Rebuild

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Second Coming (Day 2)

What to do what to do?
Day 10 (7/12/15)

Sunday morning we did not get out as early as we would have liked. We had gone to an Art Opening Saturday night and hung out with some friends. By the time we got up and had breakfast it was already getting pretty warm outside. One of the things we did want to accomplish though was see how many builds had survived the night. It turned out that they had actually done very well. The other thing I wanted to accomplish was to get Giacometti build back up. When we got there I noticed that it must have been destroyed by humans because some pieces were on the other side of the tracks and others appeared to be gone altogether. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot to work with but after much contemplation we were able to get it back up and standing. We then pushed on to the Sculpture Garden area where we had to rebuild some of ours from the previous day. They were not totally down but did need some attention. We didn’t do a lot of new building because time was limited. Chris had to make it back home by early evening and had several hours drive in front of him. We did do a little more on the one I had started in the Prairie area yesterday but otherwise it was mostly maintenance. That being said I was very happy with some of the refurbishing.   
Giacometti back up and standing

Chris in the Garden

A rebuild that I really liked

Another Rebuild

Where do we go from here?

First we look for material

Then we discuss

Finished for now
Again I want to thank Eileen for the great photography.

The Second Coming

Our first Piece
Day 9 (7/11/15)

Every couple of years an old friend Chris shows up to go out and help build on the bike trail. Since he has his MFA in sculpture it gives them some “street cred” not to mention a different vision. This year was extra special because I don’t get to build as much anymore and it was nice to have a block of time to devote all my attention to creating. Seeing as Chris was here and we had only a limited amount of time we determined to dispense with stealth. This became a good decision since the trail was the busiest I think I have ever seen it and it was the only way to get anything done. We wasted no time and started building as soon as we came across the first viable site. It didn’t take us long to get into the swing of things and were soon collaborating on our first piece. Eileen appointed herself as designated photographer and recorded the whole affair. At the first site we were reminded that creating on the bike trail has its own set of challenges when we were attacked by biting ants. I just always remind myself that they were here first and it is I who is disrupting their home. It turned out to be one of the warmer days we have had so far this summer and before long we were dripping with sweat from the exertion. Before long we fell into a routine of building for awhile and then riding to cool off. At times I would let Chris build and I used the time to salvage materials from the area. An important part of my credo is to use only materials that are already on the trail and to never introduce foreign objects so this opportunity to peruse the area in search of new materials was a godsend. It wouldn’t take long however and I would be busy building a new sculpture of my own. It was a great day. It was fun to watch Chris fall into his own style of work. One of my favorite builds of the day was a very loosely weaved vertical sculpture by Chris. It had a very Native American look, almost reminiscent of their elevated platforms for honoring their dead. Unfortunately the time came when we had to bid the trail goodbye for the day but decided to return tomorrow for a little more building. 
Chris's first solo build of the day

Chris doing that Voodoo he do so well.

My first solo build

Good shot of the Sculpture Garden

Chris's second build

Chris's Native American Build

Final Product

Another View

Chris was saying how he liked to bind things
and almost on cue I found this bright orange

Another view

Our last piece a collaboration 

Our two last builds
One I started but will have to finish another day