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AMOR

Amor, 2006 by Robert Indiana, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., Droid Shots, June 26th, 2014, photo © 2014 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






Robert Indiana

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I took this photograph of the sculpture AMOR by Robert Indiana on a visit to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., June 26th, 2014. Exactly one year later, June 26th, 2015, Love Wins (OBERGEFELL ET AL . v . HODGES).

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, July 3rd, 2015

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Shuttlecocks, 1994 - 34/365

Shuttlecocks, 1994 – 34/365, Archive 365, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, April 2009, photo © 2009-2013 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


At a writing retreat in 2009, our host took us to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Like we had done at museums in New Mexico with Natalie Goldberg (see Diebenkorn Leaves Taos – Museum Walking Lives On), we walked around in silence, then gathered in front of the museum to do Writing Practice. I like the practice of taking photographs in the silence; this photo of the sculpture Shuttlecocks was snapped on a slow walk around the museum grounds. Museums are energizing places to find inspiration for writing and art.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a neoclassic structure designed by Kansas City architects Wight and Wight. Groundbreaking took place on July 16, 1930. The sculpture Shuttlecocks was created by husband and wife team Claes Oldenburg (American, born Sweden 1929) and Coosje van Bruggen (American, born The Netherlands, 1942), the same pair that created the Minneapolis sculpture, Spoonbridge & Cherry at the Walker (see my foggy winter photograph of Spoonbridge & Cherry in the piece White Elephants On Art). It is the scale of these sculptures that draws me in.

According to Nelson-Atkins, when Oldenburg and van Bruggen were commissioned in 1994 to design a sculpture for the space, they responded to the formality of the original neoclassical building and the green expanse of its lawn by imagining the museum as a badminton net and the lawn as a playing field. The pair designed four birdies or shuttlecocks (made out of aluminum, paint, and fiberglass-reinforced plastic) that were placed as though they had just landed on opposite sides of the net. Each shuttlecock weighs 5,500 pounds, stands nearly 18 feet tall, and has a diameter of 16 feet.


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ARCHIVE 365: Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, January 13th, 2013

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2011-07-17 16.28.22 auto

Abe Lincoln’s Hand – 14/365, Archive 365, Fargo, North Dakota, July 2011, photo © 2011-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


On a road trip to North Dakota, we stopped at Scheels, a family owned business that has been operating out of Fargo since 1928. It was a new experience for me, but not for Liz, a native North Dakotan. On the way in the door of the 196,000 square foot building on 45th Street, off of Interstate 94, I was immediately drawn to the bronze sculptures to the north. I had to sit down on the bench next to Abe Lincoln and read the note in his hand. It contained words from the last paragraph of his second inaugural address given on March 4, 1865 (read the whole speech in its entirety here):

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves and all nations.

Lincoln is a life-size bronze sculpted by native Nebraskan Mark Lundeen. He now lives in Colorado.
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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, July 15, 2012. Related to posts: In Search of Letters & Artifacts On Abraham Lincoln

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2011-07-17 18.56.13 yes

World’s Largest Sandhill Crane – 29/52, BlackBerry 52 — Week 29 Jump-Off, Steele, North Dakota, July 17th 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



On a July trip to North Dakota, we exited off I-94 to fill up with gas in Steele, North Dakota. Across the street, next to the Lone Steer Cafe (formerly a bustling Greyhound bus station), a 40-foot sandhill crane stood grazing in the grass. Sandy, the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane, was built in 1999 by Arena, North Dakota resident James Miller. The sculpture weighs 4.5 tons and is constructed of rolled sheet metal welded onto a steel inner frame. It was built in three separate sections — the body in one section, the neck and head in another, and pipes fitted to make the legs.

Residents of Steele, North Dakota erected the giant sandhill to call attention to the fact that Kidder County is one of the best birding destinations in North America. The Coteau Rangeland of North Dakota, commonly known as the Prairie Pothole Region, is an area of glacial potholes located in the direct path of the migration flyway making this area a favorite spot for migratory nesting birds, including the Sandhill Crane. To the west, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, established as one of the country’s first wildlife refuges in 1908 by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest American White Pelican rookery in North America, where thousands of pelicans nest each spring.

North Dakota artist James Miller, creator of the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane, died October 17, 2002. According to his obituary in the Bismarck Tribune, Jim and his wife farmed north of Arena from 1955 until retiring in 1991. He created metal work sculptures in his shop and invented his own version of “Miller Bilt” hydraulic presses, along with everything from two wheeled trailers and wheelchair ramps to yard ornaments, docks, crystal radios, and even a steam engine. His art live on in 26 states throughout the country.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Lotus and I will continue to respond to each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC — ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS,   dragonfly revisted — end of summerfirst dragonfly, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Shadow Of A Dragonfly, Dragonfly Wings — It Is Written In The Wind, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas, sticks for legs and arms

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patrick dougherty masks (one)

Here’s Looking at You, Patrick Dougherty installation at Bosque School,
Albuquerque, October 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
One evening last week I went to see North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty give a talk to an audience of parents, students, faculty and staff of Bosque School, plus a few members of the broader Albuquerque community. The turnout was solid. All seats were filled, yet I couldn’t help but lament how tucked away this globally recognized, soft-spoken artist was—how very hidden his presence in our city was to the public at large. And just how much they were missing by not being here.
 
Dougherty was guest artist at the independent Bosque School (grades 6-12) from October 5-23. According to the multi-arts organization collaborative LAND/ART, which sponsored the sculptor, Dougherty was here to create “a site-specific work on the grounds of the school adjoining the Rio Grande Valley State Park, using willow saplings harvested from the site and involving the students and teachers in the process.” (Bosque School is known for the way it incorporates study of the adjacent cottonwood forest—also known as “the bosque“—and river into its Science curriculum.)
 
This was Dougherty’s first time working with students this age. He’s done installations at museums, university and college campuses, and on sites of all types, from Ireland to France, Connecticut to California—over 200 works in the US, Asia, and Europe over the past two-plus decades.

He wasn’t in New Mexico to create art in a highly visible public space. His primary job was to work with students and teachers. The installation was open to the public most days and weekends during his stay, and many people took advantage of visiting hours. But still, hearing him speak on a late afternoon in October was like stumbling upon the city’s best kept art secret.
 
 
 
 
 

patrick dougherty (the man)        patrick dougherty land art 3

Patrick Dougherty poses for a shot after his talk (left), building the installation
required scaffolding (right), which visitors were sometimes allowed to climb,
October 2009, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
Drawing with sticks
 
Dougherty began his talk by walking the audience through a slideshow, starting with images of the log cabin home he built by hand, then moving to samples of his installations. He was funny and charming and deep in an unassuming way. He told us that he thinks about sticks as drawing material. “Consider the stick as a line,” he suggested, talking to us as if we were fellow artists.

His favorite piece, which he said he liked precisely because of its good lines, was “Tension Zones,” installed in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1995 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. (Unfortunately, the only image I found was in a hard-to-read archived article from the Milwaukee Sentinel.)
 
He went on to talk about his work in three ways, showing examples of each:

  1. Architecture: Many of his installations have an interplay with buildings. Stick sculptures climb walls, cap towers, or lean into buildings.
  2. Trees: Dougherty often uses trees as “a matrix.” He might make use of the limbs, trunks, or the canopy of the tree, building his installation in relation to one or all of those parts. He showed us pieces that seemed to sprout leaves in spring and shed them in winter.
  3. No thing: Many of his installations, he said, were built in “just space,” indoors or outdoors. 
     

After the talk, members of the audience had many questions. “How did the students catch on?” someone asked. “Great,” Dougherty said, “we know all about sticks; it’s the Hunter-Gatherer in our blood.” He reminded us that the stick is a universal play thing for all children. They use sticks to draw in the dirt, as instruments, building material, weapons, and utensils.
 
 
 
 
 

drawing with sticks (two)    drawing with sticks (one)

Drawing-with-sticks details from the Bosque School installation,
October 2009, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
Two Years and Three Weeks
 
Dougherty’s pieces generally have the same lifespan as that of a stick, which is about two years. After two years, most installations come down.

In an interview (date unknown) on Don’t Panic Online, Dougherty talked about the temporary nature of his work:
 
 

I think that part of my work’s allure is its impermanence, the life cycle that is built into the growth and decay of saplings. My focus has always been the process of building a work and allowing those who pass to enjoy the daily changes or drama of building a sculpture as well as the final product. However, the line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years.  Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season.

 
Other highlights from Dougherty’s talk include (italics direct quotes; the rest paraphrased):
 

  • On Art and Being an Artist: The art world is not a wall; it’s a loose-knit group of people. Artists are just normal people who are looking for their place in the world.
  •  

  • On finding that Place in the world: Hysteria rides on the shoulder of every creative person.
  •  

  • On building his own house, a log cabin: He wanted to build a house that was functional, with no maintenance once it was done. That way he could live and work there when the money wasn’t rolling in.
  •  

  • On living in North Carolina: Lots of maples in North Carolina, and the stones there have color. Some places have a lot of stones, but they’re not different colors like they are in North Carolina.
  •  

  • On using willows to build art: Every time you cut the base of the willow, you get twice as many sticks that grow back. (Which was good to hear, given that my daughter was worried that nature was being sacrified for art. It wasn’t.)
  •  

  • On how long it takes: Dougherty stays for about three weeks in each locale, which, he joked, is about the maximum amount of time before his hosts get sick of him.
  •  

  • On climbing the pieces: Please don’t. Even though the structures are solid due to the layers and layers of sticks, as well as the stick foundations that gird them, climbing tends to destroy the surface over time. However, people (drunk adults, especially!) love to climb the sculptures.
  • On whether the students liked it: They loved it, although they felt at times constrained by doing things the way Dougherty wanted. In order to give the kids some freedom, there were three experimental installations where the students could do whatever they wanted.


 
 
 
 

patrick dougherty land art 4   experimentation with patrick dougherty

Long view of the installation (left), and looking out from inside an experimental
sculpture, October 2009, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





Brown meets Green

After the talk we were invited to go outside to see the installation and walk around and inside of it. The piece is made up of three two-sided heads, like masks with eyes and noses, which, according to Dougherty, are a combination kachina and Green Man, who often can be seen adorning ancient cathedrals.

The masks were much larger than I had expected. I’d seen them just a few days before during an admissions open house at the school, but my viewing was brief plus I was distracted by the other goings-on. In my mind’s eye, the sculptures were about twice as large as a person. Wrong! They are many times taller than the average person, as you can see by the photo below, which shows someone standing in the doorway/mouth of one of the masks.

The best part of the event was watching people of all ages marvel at the creations. Inside, outside, peeking around corners. A father dressed in a suit and tie (he must have come straight from work) played a sort of hide-and-seek tag with his two daughters, running in and out of each structure. I walked slowly into the giant heads, looking at elegant lines of the willows and taking in the most wondrous fragrance of sage and willow. One woman turned to me and exclaimed, “If only we could bottle that smell!”

The sun was sinking as the visitors scattered. I went over to the experimental installations. The sticks were not nearly as tightly layered as in the giant masks, but they had shape and structure. What an opportunity to learn with a master. Art in the Schools like it’s never been done before.




patrick dougherty masks (three)







More information on Patrick Dougherty


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Grandmama Elise On Washington Road, Augusta, Georgia, August 23rd, 1958, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Grandmama Elise On Washington Road, Augusta, Georgia, August 23rd, 1958, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



What do you remember most about your grandmother? Was she tall, thin, short, heavy? Or maybe she changed shape over the course of your lifetime. Do you remember what she smelled like, or the color of her hair? Is your grandmother living? Or has she passed on after a life well-lived. Out of all the relatives that come to mind, grandmothers wield tremendous power and are often respected by the entire family.

Grandmothers are the Elders, the Wise Ones, the Matriarchs, the glue that holds a family’s odd misshapen tree together. Many writers and artists are influenced by their grandmothers. Frank Gehry’s grandmother was the inspiration for his personal symbol, the fish. He includes fish in his architectural drawings, makes fish lamps, and has even designed buildings shaped like fish.

One of his most famous fish sculptures is the Standing Glass Fish commissioned by the Walker Art Center. Its first home was the lobby concourse between the Walker and the old Guthrie, where it was built scale by scale and exhibited as part of The Architecture of Frank Gehry Exhibition, September 21-November 30, 1986.

After two years in the Walker concourse, the 22-foot sculpture (constructed of glass and silicone and supported by a wooden armature with steel rods) was taken apart in five sections and reassembled at its second and permanent home in the central gallery of the Cowles Conservatory in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Gehry made a number of plexiglass models to study the flip of the fish’s tail, the characteristics of its eyes, and the shape of the scales.

The brass plaque on the edge of the pond nearby, calls to mind Gehry’s fond remembrance of his grandmother’s fish:


In Toronto, when I was very young, my grandmother and I used to go to Kensington, a Jewish market, on Thursday morning. She would buy a carp for gefilte fish. She’d put it in the bathtub, fill the bathtub with water, and this big black carp–two or three feet long–would swim around in the bathtub and I would play with it. I would stand up there and watch it turn and twist . . . and then she’d kill it and make gefilte fish and that was always sad and awful and ugly.

        —Frank Gehry



Glass Fish Scales, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Standing Glass Fish, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Liz. All rights reserved.Flying Fish, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Liz. All rights reserved.

Glass Fish Scales, Standing Glass Fish, Flying Fish, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photos © 2008-2009 by Liz & QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


In dire circumstances, when money is tight or family tensions rise, grandmothers often step up and help raise their children’s children. Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1943 and, though she moved to Cincinnati as a child, she returned in 1958 to spend her summers in Knoxville with her grandparents, John and Louvenia Watson. With explosive tensions between her parents difficult for Giovanni to handle, she chose to live in Knoxville for a time and attended Austin High School where her grandfather taught Latin.

It’s at this time that her grandmother’s influence profoundly shapes her life. According to her biography:


Her grandmother, who is involved in numerous charitable and political endeavors, becomes an increasingly important influence on her (Giovanni), teaching her the importance of helping others and of fighting injustice. When a demonstration is planned to protest segregated dining facilities at downtown Rich’s department store, her grandmother Louvenia cheerfully volunteers her granddaughter Nikki. In high school, Giovanni has two influential teachers: her French teacher, Mrs. Emma Stokes, and her English teacher, Miss Alfredda Delaney.


Her grandparents’ home stood at 400 Mulvaney Street in a neighborhood that’s long since been demolished, a casualty of urban renewal. In 1964, Giovanni’s grandmother Louvenia must move from her home at 400 Mulvaney Street; Nikki’s biography recalls the impact: Although her new house on Linden Avenue is nice, it lacks the accumulated memories of the home on Mulvaney, which Giovanni has also come to regard as her own home.

Nikki Giovanni often mentioned her grandmother when we saw her at the Fitzgerald Theater in January. She had returned to Knoxville on April 29th, 2008 when Mayor Haslam unveiled of a historical marker honoring Giovanni and the old neighborhood where her grandmother lived. It is now Hall of Fame Drive across the street from the Cal Johnson Recreation Center. It was on that childhood ground that Nikki Giovanni stood and recited her poem, “Tennessee By Birth.”


  Elise & Her Children, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1940s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Elise & Her Children, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1940s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Elise & Her Children, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1940’s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


My maternal grandmother (lead photograph) is standing on the dirt of what used to be Washington Road in Augusta, Georgia. Her neighborhood, too, has been long gone, sacrificed to the growth of suburbs and cities. She was a hairdresser in her 30’s when I was born. My father was “allergic” to work and could not (or would not) support our family. My mother left him at 18, a few years after their marriage, and went to work. During that time, I stayed at my grandmother’s home. When I was a child, we were always close.

I remember the smell of her talcum powder, the imprint mark she would leave when she dabbed her lips after putting on her lipstick, the sound of her laughter in the evenings, her snoring at night.


*     *     *     *     *

When you say the words “my grandmother,” who comes to mind? (Most of us have at least two.) Who was your grandmother? Was she the matriarch, a dowager, estranged from the family? What was her name? Did you call her Grandmother, Granny, Grandma, or Grandmama. Did she spoil you, was she strict, how often did you see her, what kind of house did she live in? Does she ever sneak into your dreams?

Get out a fast writing pen and write the words “My Grandmother.” If you have any family photographs of your grandmother, it’s fun to pull them from the archives. Then set your timer for a 15 minute Writing Practice and Go!


Della Elise, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1950s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Della Elise, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1950s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Della Elise, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1950s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Della Elise, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1950s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

For Della Elise, I Miss You, Augusta, Georgia, circa mid-1950’s, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Resources:


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, March 19th, 2009

-related to posts: Art & Architecture – 2 Reasons, WRITING TOPIC — MEMORIES OF CARS, The Dying Art Of Letter Writing (Postcards From The Edge), You Can’t Go Back, Nikki Giovanni – Hope at V-Tech

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Woodrow, Minneapolis Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Woodrow, Deborah Butterfield sculpture, bronze, 1988, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I was thinking of Novelty Pets when I photographed this Deborah Butterfield sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden yesterday. When she created the sculpture in 1988, she named the horse, Woodrow.

The inscription on the plaque reads:


In the 1970’s I made horses out of real mud and sticks. They were, in part, meant to reflect how much a horse is part of his environment. I combined the figure and the ground.

–Deborah Butterfield


I also found the Horse Colors site. It has not been officially launched but is fun just the same. For all the horse lovers out there.



Butterfield Horse, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Just Horsin' Around (Snowball), Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Just Horsin' Around (Snowball), Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   

 Just Horsin' Around (Snowball), Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   


-related links: Interview With Deborah Butterfield on Art!Space – Jackson Hole, Fall 2006, Deborah Butterfield Horses Grace Park Avenue Malls on NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Fall 2005

-related to post, White Elephants On Art

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, January 6th, 2008

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