Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Three Dimensional Art: Visual physicality

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

As a painter, my only experience with three-dimensional art is when I try to show the planes in something like a table, or work with perspective to try to draw the viewer into the scene. But a painting is always two dimensional because there is no actual depth. When you add that extra dimension of depth to length and width, you get 3D art.

Sculpture is a wonderful form of three-dimensional art. It’s primarily a hands-on process, and color takes a back seat to form. I wanted to know why some of the artists at Wilde Meyer favor sculpture (how can they live without red paint??), and learn about their techniques.

Tony Dow creates abstract bronze sculptures, as well as mixed media 3D pieces. He said that he’s always loved this medium, and has the ability to visualize a three dimensional image even before he starts to work on a piece. In his artist statement, he says the following about his work: "The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them.”

Tony produces limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture. He describes his method this way: “The first and most important step is to create the original figure that is to be cast. My originals are done in burl wood, which is extremely hard, requiring special carving equipment. The natural contour of the wood contributes to the form of each piece. Using various saws, chisels, grinders, and sanders, the details are brought out to reflect the concept of the piece.”

The bronze sculpture is then produced using the lost wax process at the foundry. It’s a pretty interesting process used by many sculptors, which I’ll describe here. A heat-resistant mold is formed around the wood original and encased in plaster. Once dry, the mold is separated into two pieces and the wood original is removed. Sometimes multiple molds are made for one sculpture.

The mold is then bolted together and filled with hot wax to produce a duplicate of the original wood sculpture. The final wax version is dipped in a plaster-like slurry to encase the wax figure. Once hardened, the new plaster mold is placed into an oven at 1800 F, where the wax melts away through ducts in the mold and leaves a plaster reproduction of the original mold. The cavity of the plaster mold is filled with bronze or other desired metal. Once cooled, the plaster is broken away leaving a rough cast version of the original sculpture which now has to be cleaned, reconstructed if more than one mold is necessary, and sandblasted.

Now the sculpture is now ready for patina, or coloring. After the piece is washed down to remove any contaminates, it is heated to the applicable temperature depending on the combination of acids used to produce the desired finish.

Jim Budish sculpts his smaller pieces in clay, and then casts them in bronze in the same lost wax method as Tony’s. For life-size and monumental works, he prefers to sculpt in low density foam with a hot-knife, applying clay to the surface before casting in bronze.

Jim said that he loves the feel of three-dimensional sculpture, and knowing that a bronze piece “will be around in 5,000 years, even though I won’t,” He creates whimsical animals that have exaggerated features, such as the rabbit ears in “Abby,” or the long, long legs of “Moose.”

Long ago, Jim realized that he didn’t want to sculpt "photographs" in bronze. He says, “I felt that I wanted to create my own new and unique direction in representing the human form and the forms of the multitude of special creatures surrounding us, exploring the unique attitude, emotion and personality of each, while attempting to capture the ‘joie de vivre’ that I believe is lurking somewhere inside all of us. Maybe if we smile more and take each other a little less seriously, people would get along better!”

Horses have always been a part of Lisa Gordon’s life. She says that there’s an emotional bond between herself and her horses.

”I drew and mimicked them as a child; I owned and trained them as a teen; studied and revered them in college. Now as an artist, it’s natural that I sculpt the horse's image. The horse is the figure through which I actualize my ideas. It becomes a tangible bridge between the viewer and me. My goal is to render the horse with empathy and respect without getting bogged down in realities.”

Lisa’s art studies exposed her to bronze casting. She said that she loves the hands-on physicality of sculpture. Her method is different from that of Tony or Jim’s. Lisa actually works directly in wax, heating it enough to manipulate it and then carving on it when it cools. “It kind of marries the skills of ceramics and woodworking,” she said. “I work with many technical processes that are woven seamlessly together so that the viewer cannot see the complex assemblage that’s required.”

If the scale of the piece is small, such as “Rocking Foal,” she’ll make a one-of-a-kind piece that may be part of a series with a theme. For a sculpture like “Trophy,” Lisa created the horse in that manner, then cast the handles, pedestals and balls. The central column is fabricated and and colored.

After speaking with these three artists, I realized that although it’s a tedious process, the pleasure of handling the materials and creating a three-dimensional image is what drives them to pursue this medium.

In my next blog, I’m going to speak to some other 3D artists – this time, the mediums will be ceramics and glass.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

WILDE MEYER Celebrates 30 Years of Art

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

On November 7th, Wilde Meyer celebrated its 30th anniversary at its Marshall Way gallery with a party for clients, artists and “art walkers.” It was fun for me to meet some of the artists I’ve spoken with on the phone during blog interviews. I met Ka Fisher, Charles Davison and Chaille Trevor. Nancy Pendleton and Brian Boner also came for the occasion. Mark, Laura, Jonathan, Ryan, Tyler and Andrea were all there to chat with everyone while we enjoyed a delicious anniversary cake.

If you don’t already know, Wilde Meyer is named for owners Betty Wilde and Mark Meyer. Betty’s son Jonathan Henderson, also is a partner.

Since Betty wasn’t able to attend (she was at the WM party in Tucson), I decided to give her a call to congratulate her on this milestone and learn a little more about the gallery’s history. I didn’t know that Betty has a BFA in fine art, and that she had a gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 1983, Betty and Mark came to Scottsdale and opened a gallery on Marshall Way, just across the street from their current location. They brought some artists’ work from Tulsa, but quickly, other artists applied to have their work exhibited. Over the years, the gallery has had several locations on Marshall Way. Betty said that their present location used to be a veterinarian and dog clinic. Instead of art walks, Thursday nights were for dog training classes! Wilde Meyer moved into this space in 1990. Wilde Meyer Annex, their other gallery in Scottsdale, has also had several previous locations, but has been at the Main Street site since 1997. It’s a fun place to shop, with colorful art, jewelry, gift items and some “arty”clothing.

Quite a few Wilde Meyer’s artists have been with the gallery for many years. Linda Carter Holman and Charles Davison have been represented here since its inception. Barbara Gurwitz came a little later. Sherri Belassan, Timothy Chapman, Ka Fisher, Alix Stefan and Nancy Pendleton have been showing their art here for 10 to 15 years. And, I’ve been with Wilde Meyer since 2006!

The year 2000 marked the opening of the beautiful Wilde Meyer gallery in Tucson. We artists are fortunate to have these three venues for our work to be displayed. And, sometimes, we’re featured on the walls of the Canyon Ranch Spa.

But no matter which locale you visit, you’ll find the contemporary, colorful art that characterizes Wilde Meyer. Whether it’s paintings that portray everything from landscapes to amazing chimpanzees or art glass, ceramics or sculpture, the recurring motif is quality art that pleases the eye.

Betty told me that owning art galleries is a fascinating endeavor, certainly not without its challenges. But she, Mark and Jonathan are looking forward to a bright future. “Both visitors and local residents in these two cities enjoy and support art, and we feel very fortunate to be in this business.”