August 2017: Focus on Andy Moerlein

"I have enjoyed a very lively summer. I created a new piece for a show I curated with BSG colleague Donna Dodson, I organized a reading in my gallery in Anchorage by Alaska writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes, I went to Denmark for the Ringkobing International Wood Carving Symposium and I recently completed a month residency at the National Museum for Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, Taiwan, creating another Avian Avatar with Donna Dodson under our collaborative entity The Myth Makers.

Installation at Art Complex Museum

Installation at Art Complex Museum

So why co-curate a major exhibition, Wood as Muse at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury MA. with Donna Dodson?

Researching and selecting artists allowed me entry into the lives and studios of artists I admire. It made me think deeply about my affection for and lifelong connection to wood. It was an opportunity to create a community of twelve artists who mostly did not know each other.

How did an engagement with Alaska Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes come about? I had never met her, but had been reading her books with enthusiasm. I knew she would be in Anchorage for a workshop the week I was visiting. My Alaska gallery, blue.hollomon gallery often hosts readings, and always an event when Donna Dodson and I are in town. Ernestine had a new book and was eager to read. It was a warm synergy of meeting and shared work – a perfect intersection of her fans and ours.

Alaska Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes with Andy Moerlein

Alaska Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes with Andy Moerlein

What is an international wood carving symposium and why Ringkobing, Denmark? A wood symposium brings together an elite selection of the world’s best wood sculptors to carve monumental logs in a brief period of time. This is performance sculpture in rare form. The art making process is laid bare to daily observation, bark-on log to finished surfaces.

 

Ringkobing invited twelve artists to this short week-long event. The skill level was uniformly evident. These artists knew shape and understood how to create it. We had great accommodations at a local hotel, an endless stream of meals featuring the many ways this harbor town prepares and serves fish: fried, baked, smoked, poached, spicy, salted, hot, cold etc, tours to nearby sights and places of community pride, and many fun evenings with local supporters and our fellow sculptors.

 

Ringkobing is an ideal symposium location. The city is celebrated internationally for it’s fjord harbor, fish restaurants and markets and tourism. The symposium is a summer highlight that is visited by hundreds of visitors daily. A grassy acre overlooking the harbor provided the perfect background for chainsaws, tourists, sunshine, sawdust and photos with sailboats in the background. The Director Otto Pilgaard is a superhuman organizer who has earned deep respect and affection from town leaders, businesses and the world sculpture community.

 

Why not Boston?! We have the arts focus, tourist volume and necessary business value. We have a dozen great possible sites I can think of.

Work by Andy Moerlein at the International Woodcarving Symposium, Ringkobing Denamrk

Work by Andy Moerlein at the International Woodcarving Symposium, Ringkobing Denamrk

Next stop? Taiwan! A jungle coated mountainous country with a dynamic economy and vivid culture, Taiwan is diligently seeking to focus education and attention on their precious ocean environment. My invitation there was as team Myth Makers. Working with Donna Dodson we were invited to make another of our monumental “Avian Avatars”. The theme of the residency was Making Connections. We built one of a series of globe embracing sculptures addressing ocean health and the sustainability of this vital world resource. Connecting harbor cities our first Widow’s Walk debuted in New Bedford MA and wsa followed by the Interpid Albatross in Keelung. Please see the following Youtube video to see how this project culminated."

Widow's Walk, New Bedford Massachusetts USA

Widow's Walk, New Bedford Massachusetts USA

Intrepid Albatross, National Museum of Marie Science and Technology, Keelung Taiwan

Intrepid Albatross, National Museum of Marie Science and Technology, Keelung Taiwan

-Andy Moerlein

Christina Zwart: Pussy Tower

"One of the best things about this project was the involvement of my sons, ages 15 and 18. My older one went with me to the Women's March in Washington, and both of them were heavily involved -- from listening ad nauseum to the word "pussy" to gracing the gallery walls with their sentiments about our commander-in-chief."

"I went to an all-women's college and, had I had girls, it would have been a given that they would grow up as feminists in our house. It's not as expected with boys, and I've felt an added responsibility to make sure my sons treat women with respect. Just like the proud mom I saw at the march whose young son was holding a sign that read, "Even I know how to keep my tiny hands to myself," I love calling my young men the "F word."

-Christina Zwart

Chris Abrams: Orifice and Oculi

The objects in ‘Orifice and Oculi’ are heavily influenced by the time I spend with my boys, aged four and seven.  

 

Of course, we spend a lot of time together looking at and playing with toys and games and cartoons, but I’m also interested in the way children invest those images and objects with lives of their own.  

 

The objects in ‘Orifice and Oculi’ grew from a realization that I also imagine life invested in physical things, and the details I include speak to the idea of the objects ‘looking back’ at us with internal lives of their own.

-Chris Abrams

April 2017: Focus on Michelle Lougee

"Cynthia Switzer Ross and Anne Marie Crotty, directors of Flatrocks Gallery in Gloucester will be visiting my studio in April to select works. I will be exhibiting with Resa Blatman, Adin Murray and Mia Cross from May 25-July 2. The exhibition is entitled In Deep Water and will be focused on our relationship to nature and our impact on it ... particularly the sea. Included in the exhibit will be selections from my crochet plastic sea creatures, barnacles, and other works inspired by the plight of our oceans.”

-Michelle Lougee

http://www.flatrocksgallery.com/

Marilu Swett: "Drift"

My cousin came to my artist talk at the gallery and, in seeing the work, began reminiscing about our grandfathers who had been mariners, in Canada, and one a marine engineer on the docks in East Boston. Someone asked me about my installation, Untitled (Drift) and suddenly I remembered a photo of my Dad, a newspaper reporter in Boston, wearing a diving suit with a copper helmet and lead weighted shoes, readying to descend into Boston Harbor for a story. I hadn't been thinking about family history in making this piece, but there it was!

- Marilu Swett

Sculpture: Embodied Energy and Carbon Credits by Nancy Selvage

"I wanted to offset the carbon footprint of the materials that I used in my exhibition as well as my daily-life carbon footprint.

I used about 250 pounds of aluminum to create work for this exhibition. Aluminum is a material that requires a lot of energy to produce - so much so that abundant bauxite ore from Australia is often shipped to Iceland for processing with that country’s abundant supply of geothermal and hydroelectric energy. 

Using renewable energy sources for processing reduces aluminum’s carbon footprint, but not all aluminum is processed in this way, and there are mining, transport, and manufacturing considerations.

On the average 9 pounds of Carbon Dioxide are produced for each pound of rolled aluminum sheet. 

TerraPass is a company that sells Carbon Offsets. https://www.terrapass.com  The income is invested in carbon emission reduction and renewable energy projects.

At a cost of $5.95 per 1000 pounds of carbon, I offset the 2250 pounds of Carbon Dioxide produced by the 250 pounds of aluminum used in my exhibition by paying $13.38.

Then I used the TerraPass calculator to find that my personal activities generated about 25,000 pounds of CO2 this year. I paid $148.75 to offset these greenhouse gas emissions.

To compensate for the paint used in this exhibition, I held a forum at the gallery to educate artists on the responsible way to prevent any paint residue from polluting the enviornment.

Let’s all contribute to global survival by being aware of and responsible for the environmental impact of our art practices and our daily lives."

- Nancy Selvage

Claudia Olds Goldie: "Skin Deep"

"The figurative ceramic sculpture in my current show, Skin Deep, investigates the complex contradictions of body, mind, and perception. Focusing on the lives and bodies of women, I have examined how living and aging change the psyche and the physical body. My intent was not to create traditional figurative sculpture, but rather, to imagine honest, strong, compelling, sometimes humorous, sometimes conflicted individuals.  For this reason, I never work from models or photographs."

- Claudia Olds Goldie

 

"In Navigating a Dream, as in much of my recent work, the surface detail is an integral part of the sculpture and adds visual complexity to the piece.  I was inspired to begin drawing in graphite pencil on my sculptural work after seeing Sol Lewitt’s exhibition of wall drawings at Mass MOCA in 2010.   The smooth texture of the pillows in this piece served as a perfect foundation for this type of surface exploration, and I enjoyed imagining a variety of bold, graphic motifs to carry this young dreamer on her surreal adventure.  Textile patterns such as animal skins, checkerboards, dots and stripes suggest the wonders of a magic carpet ride."

-Claudia Olds Goldie

Sally Fine: "Sea Change"

My grandson's class came on a field trip from his Montessori School (22 six and seven year olds). This image above shows me explaining about sea urchins to them at the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Look at their attentive gazes! In addition, I did 2 workshop visits to his classroom in Hingham. In the first workshop we made jellyfish based on my jellyfish, but with paper and wire rather than riveted metal and EL wire. In the second workshop we made sea urchins. (See the image below.)

- Sally Fine

My grandson Ethan Fine's (age 7) sea urchin/ spaceship.

My grandson Ethan Fine's (age 7) sea urchin/ spaceship.

"Grey Matters" by Dennis Svoronos

One piece that stands out in this show is "The Mind Reactive Instrument" by sculptor Dennis Svoronos. It uses thoughts to generate sound. After numerous brain scans, he wanted to produce an experience that made the brain an active participant, rather than a simple specimen. Viewers don a scanning helmet and let the sculpture react to their brainwaves.

October 2016: Focus on Sally Fine

My show of 2014 was titled Catch and Release; it dealt with our relationship with fish, in terms of evolution and as a source of sustenance. "Catch and release" is a fishery conservation term.  In my upcoming exhibition, SeaChange, I have gotten more specific in terms of conservation, looking at species that are most effected by climate change, pollution and overfishing.  Some species, for example, the squid and jellyfish, manage climate change well but most do not. Whales have fallen victim to overfishing and some sea urchins have fallen victim to warming sea temperatures.  In the time between the two shows I learned to scuba dive and ultimately received my scuba certification. The dives I have done have given me a close up experience of life under the seas and an appreciation of the disastrous effects of climate change on coral reefs, the incubator for ¼ of all sea creatures. 95% of the oceans are unexplored and we need to understand better our affect on 2/3 of our planet's surface.

- Sally Fine

Nail Fish

Nail Fish

Last Sea Horse

Last Sea Horse

"Zodiac" by Donna Dodson

Virgo is often depicted as a virgin the zodiac, so I took that concept one step further and applied it to the Virgin Mother or Madonna figure that one commonly sees in Catholic icons. The little blue penguin was my animal inspiration for this piece. The spalted maple grain patterns work perfectly to give the feeling of a belly button and delicate claws on the toes. The pale blue color adds both the narrative  and symbolism to my interpretation of Virgo.

- Donna Dodson

Virgo

Virgo

"Geology" by Andy Moerlein

Montagne Sainte - Victoire

Homage to Cezanne.

Three sisters and their little brother - an adored landscape. Bend, Oregon.

I have known so many great landscapes. I have strode free, skied deeply into valleys - I have LIVED. I feel great expanse inside me. 

Clay is earth. When I handle fine wet stone, it speaks of the many mountains it has been ground from. The push and tear of my hands, the smoothing and stretching, is the weight of gravity and the pushing of plates. I fashion the earth I love with only vague recollection or accuracy, but with undying affection.

Cezanne stood in the same place many times, observing his beloved Montagne Saint Victoire. Painting it with strained intensity, yet a familiar inaccuracy, he strove for the soul of the place. His affection for color and paint - his passion for layered space - speak to me directly.

This sculpture is akin to the classic Scholars' Rock: awesome scale in intimate whispers. A secret I share with those close enough to my heart to hear.

- Andy Moerlein

2016 ceramic, cold patina of acrylic paint, India ink, 6 x 8 x 10”

2016 ceramic, cold patina of acrylic paint, India ink, 6 x 8 x 10”

A Tribute to Joseph Wheelwright by Donna Dodson

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

For years I had a distant inkling to whittle wood like the Beverly Hillbillies. This urge came from a void that had appeared in my life when my best friend joined a convent and abandoned the future I had imagined for the two of us. The urge to fill the void was channeled into something tangible due to my recent epiphany. The first step to quitting smoking was a spiritual awakening for me. Even though several cessation attempts had failed, I started to feel guilty for littering fiberglass cigarette butts. My second epiphany was that I needed to find something to do with my hands if I was going to stop smoking and stay stopped.

My first forays into art making came from my self-proscribed atonement to Mother Earth. I would pick up trash from my local park to pay for the sins of having littered for the previous couple of years that I was a smoker. Then it was just like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The pile of things I found in the park that I took home with me took on the shape of a giant face in my living room floor. Then two more appeared: one made from recyclable materials and one made from found objects. As it turned out the face that was made from ephemeral materials was only a temporary installation. Same for the recyclable one. However, with rudimentary carpentry skills, the found objects made their way into sculptures. These found object sculptures were charming but also very fragile and it felt like I was forever fixing them- reapplying the epoxy, or repairing other parts that would fall off. I came to the realization that I would need to learn how to weld in order to take this body of work further. I called it my found object assemblage series. But I could not figure out how to depict myself autobiographically in this medium.

Fast forward to one day, while we were visiting an art museum exhibition, my mother made a very poignant comment, “Did you notice on all of the artists’ resumes, that they each studied with someone?” Shortly after that, I met Joseph Wheelwright at his studio during South End Open Studios. We connected over the fact that he taught art at my alma mater, and we had friends in common. He invited me to join his Boston master class at his studio on Wareham St. To supplement my knowledge of wood, I worked as a cabinetmaker for Dixon Brothers Woodworking, an architectural millwork shop in the South End.

With Joe, I took the beginner’s track- carving first a spoon then a bowl and then a few masks. The next thing I carved was the head of Ganesh followed by “Pegasis,” a feminist spin on the Greek myth. My goddess figure had a horse head attached to a woman’s body with wings, no arms, two hooves and a tail. For me it represented something powerful, something personal and a new direction in my work. Joe’s teaching opened up a mature body of work for me that I am still developing more than twenty years later. 

Our relationship changed over the past 20 years from teacher/student to colleague and friend. At his urging, I applied to the Boston Sculptors Gallery in 2008 and have been a member ever since. Upon learning about the recent news of his illness, I went to visit him for the very last time.

RIP Joseph Wheelwright. I first saw your ice sculptures during First Night on Government Center when I was in High School in 1985. Then I remember seeing you at Wellesley College when you were a visiting artist in 1990. I ran into you again in 1995 ... and you changed the course of my life by teaching me how to carve wood. For that I will be forever grateful. 

- Your forever fan, Donna Dodson