Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Long Ramblin' Ride Down Memory Lane

It's strange starting again after having stalled for a while...for a long while(being unemployed for nearly a year can really deflate one's motivation). But, things are changing...the skies are clearing, the stars and planets are aligning beautifully and although I still need more sleep (because what tortured artist doesn't?), I am Doing - lots of Doing.  Also, creating a lot more art, sculpture in particular.  So, let's start with, CV7(cervical vertebrae 7 for those uninitiated in human anatomy) or something and then round back to point A a little further down.  It'll make sense, I swear.
While attending art school, I had to take American Illustration history.  I remember a lot of names, but not so much of the work they produced mainly because I wasn't impressed or inspired, but Polish - born W.T. Benda was an illustrator turned mask-maker who was extremely skilled, known for his eastern influenced work, mostly comprised of very sultry, yet mildly menacing, looking ladies:
W.T. Benda
Cover of LIFE magazine-W.T. Benda
The Rotarian Cover Illustration-W.T. Benda

"Zebra Rider" W.T. Benda

Heck.  Yes.  Pretty sweet paintings.  That Native American there, man, he looks like he'd slice the shit outta you and not even blink.
Anyways, Benda moved on to crafting masks of awesomeness, making all the masks for the production of "The Mask of Fu Manchu" staring Boris Karloff (the film well-known now for being über racist), among others, all of them imaginative and lovely and done in papier goddamned mâché.
Which brings me to masks.  I want to make masks.  I know that sounds silly because who needs a mask, but if I could, I would wear a mask everyday.  And my research and knowledge of sculpture in general has brought me here, with this, a first in a series of masks.  "Transition" started out as something very different, something with ears and more cat-like appearance until I just got really fed up with how stupid I thought it looked. It's a partial mask, meaning it has no lower mandible (the jaw and chin area), and is probably not going to be wearable for the fact that it's my genesis piece and I did not consider the thickness of the whole thing (meaning it will be too heavy to wear on one's face), building it as a wall decoration/totem.  Oh and learn.
"Transition" Sculpting Stage
"Transition" Paint Stage

This re-immersion into sculpting has had me reminiscing about how I got started in sculpture, why I abandoned it, but have now come back to understanding that, really, I am a sculptor/painter...I am more mixed media than I imagined.  And it all started with my Aunt Jan and Topanga Canyon.

Literally, Aunt Jan's house was the place you wanted to be growing up.  Located in Topanga Canyon, right next to, but completely removed from LA, the Valley and Santa Monica, the drive there was always arduous, but when we turned off PCH and into the oak filled canyon, I could barely wait to be there.  The house overlooked the canyon, surrounded by oak trees with wind chimes hidden everywhere, while truly spectacular music (my aunt and uncle both have superb taste in music) blared from somewhere inside the house.  In the garage was my aunt's studio and I probably get my organizational skills from this place.  The stereo had CDs stacked to its height, on both sides (and sometimes on top), metal shelves lined the walls on both sides of the garage, filled with drying, fired, to be fired, in progress and long forgotten pieces.  Long tables dominated the length of the garage, and the one nearest to the entrance of the house was where she would knead clay for her various students.  This place was a mad mess of experience and artistic freedom (including the cluttered table with holders filled with different tools, slip, and a wash bowl or two).  Oh, and far above the stereo lining the wall were gold records from when my uncle used to manage big name musicians.  I just thought they had nowhere else to put them and it was funny to have gold records in frames.  The whole extended family has at one point made a piece in that studio, and my cousins and sisters all had formative experience with hand-building and glazing (My ma still has our tragically cute/sad elephants, dinosaurs, and the like, in a display armour in the living room).

Those are some of the strongest, and many of the best memories I have of childhood.  And they are all around that garage with my Aunt, making mistakes and exercising my creativity.  Now, I understand my difficulties with pen/pencil/brush to a flat surface; I just want to sculpt it and the surface just stopped me from the complete spherical movement I was able to have with sculpted pieces.  Now that I understand this though, Ha!  Eureka, as they say (because I will not do the Oprah moment).  And when he is all done, I will get him properly shot for all to see on my website.

So until later...

Song of the Moment: "Stand Up" by Ludacris
Color Obsession: Prussian Blue
Word the makes yer sma'ta': "Alembic"

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