Tag Archives: Art

Stone Sculpture Legacy Program

A couple months ago I submitted a proposal for the Stone Sculpture Legacy Program in Barre City​, made possible by the Semprebon Fund and Studio Place Arts​. My proposal was accepted based on concept, and the scale model shown here. The final piece will be carved in Barre grey granite, out of an 8 x 3 x 4ft block, and in more detail than the model. Below is the concept proposal, which asked for, “the creation of a granite sculpture that helps to tell the rich, multi-cultural story of the people who settled in Barre to work the quarries, to start small businesses, and to create their ideal new home”.

Culmination
For the Stone Sculpture Legacy Program, I propose a sculpture titled “Culmination” which will consist of a cluster of geometric forms that will suggest the silhouette of a small city emerging from a mountainous base. Negative spaces around and below the cluster will refer to the “quarries” from which these forms were built. The sculpture will be slightly larger than average human height and there will be “windows” in the forms around eye-level.
The concept for “Culmination” is an abstract representation of a small developing city. The buildings will all have different shapes that recall different architectural styles from around the world to allude to the cultural diversity of Barre. The way in which those forms emerge from the boulder but remain connected to it will evoke the idea of a town which consists of many different parts but remains unified. In this way, “Culmination” will reflect the spirit of the quote by Aristotle that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” “Culmination” will be both an abstract sculpture with rough natural forms and refined geometric shapes as well as an architectural model that combines highly detailed sections which depict the facades of buildings and draw the viewer in.

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Voltaire Continued

Once you’ve done all the roughing out with black granite, then you really start to appreciate the detail that you can get with this stone. The grain is really fine, and the dense stone is really strong, allowing you to use smaller and smaller chisels for fine detail. I have just started to punch in the eyes, and will be finishing those up, and trying to get the finer wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

As you can see, I am working from photos at this point and trying to take my sculpture farther than the cast that I used to rough the face out. There are multiple versions of Voltaire done by Houdon, depicting him bald, and with a headband and wig. I am doing the version with the headband, but trying to go after the detail of the marble carving.

At this point, drawing on the stone is important, and more enjoyable than it is during the earlier phases. Through constant drawing and re-drawing, you eventually achieve the level of detail desired. I’ve added 4 new chisels to the mix, and may invent a few of my own as I progress.

Voltaire Case Study

In this post I will show you the phases of a pointed stone carving start to finish. Of course, I’m not showing all the tools I am using at each phase, but some things are just tricks of the trade and will remain a mystery… unless you want to come to Vermont and see for yourself!

The photo shows the initial cuts in the stone, and the first few points made from the original.

Here, I’ve cleared away a lot of the stone between points and started to go after some of the details.

At this point, I would say the piece is “roughed out”, and I am ready to start going after the details.

After roughing the piece out, I begin to become more systematic and go after sections of the face. I’ve started with the mouth, and I will move my way up the face, and then begin to push farther back to get some of the jaw line and the ears. For the finished piece, I would like to create an effect that the face has emerged out of a rough piece of stone, and leave marks from each phase.

True Blood

After a few grueling weeks hunched over this granite block, I’ve come out with something that I would call finished. We’re still not sure who from history is depicted here, so if anything screams out at you let me know.

For my next sculpture, I will be doing a full size portrait of Voltaire. Through reliable sources I obtained a copy of the original sculpture done by Jean-Antoine Houdon, which sits in Montpellier, France.

This week thing got off to a rough start. Unlike Houdon, my sculpture will be carved out of South African black granite, which I like to call, Unabtainium (it was a toss up between Unabtainium and Kryptonite, you decide which is funnier). South African black has turned out to be not only extremely hard, requiring me to swing the hammer a little harder each time I need to break something off, but as sharp as broken glass when it splits. Oh, I’ve had my fair share of missed swings, but this week was brutal. This may not look like much, but bare in mind this is after 3 missed swings at full speed with a 8lb sledge.

It’s puffier than a muffin top.

5 minutes of grunting, stamping, and teeth grinding later, I found out just how sharp this stone is.

Being something of a fatalist, I decided that life was trying to tell me something. Just moments before this photo was taken there was literally blood pouring down my face. Kind of like that scene from The Fifth Element when Zorg is talking to the darkness… The piece of stone hit me directly in the middle of my forehead, right in my third eye. I immediately looked up what a bindi represents on wikipedia. Apparently, the bindi represents concealed wisdom, and strengthens concentration. The bindi is placed on the site of the sixth Chakra called, Ajna.

It was like an ironic epiphany to start bleeding out of my mind’s eye and I do feel a bit wiser and definitely more focused…

Profile/Recent Work

For my first piece this summer I will copy a roman relief carving of… a senator. If you can tell who it it from the picture please let me know. We have the plaster cast in the shop and I figured it would be good practice to get started. I’ve been doing all the with with a pointing machine and things are going pretty smoothly.

Eagle Installation

So I’ve been back in Vermont for about 3 weeks now. Since I’ve been back I went down to East Hartford, Connecticut with Jerry for an installation of one of his most recently finished pieces. The eagle monument was a historical restoration job. The original was carved out of brownstone just after the civil war.

Job well done!

Knight Performance

As Times get tough here in Berlin one has to take whatever job comes their way. Last weekend, as a part of Gallery Weekend Berlin, I was asked to play a part in a performance by the Italian artist Pietro Roccasalva at Johnen Gallery.

When I asked if the gallery still needed people for the performance (at which point I had no idea what I would have to do) they said, “Yeah, it involves painting using a spray gun.”  Sounded simple enough, “How tall are you?” There was a follow up call to double check my height. When I got there I was taken to the room where the performance was going to be, and looked down on the floor to see full sized plastic knight armor laid out. “What’s that for?”, I asked. I looked back at the gallery director to see a finger pointing at me.

Laugh track.

So I tried the suit on. Felt good, felt real good. Then I had to try it out with the spray gun. “You’re really good with that! Could you go a little slower?” Little did they know that I had experience with a spray gun. The last detail was that I had to spray another knight while he was spray painting me.

Roll the tape.

Notice how there is no armor covering the butt.

If I were to then do paintings of these photos, would that be considered self-referential? I’m the one on the left, by the way.

There were two performances. One on Friday night, and the other on the following Saturday afternoon. The performance took, from head to toe, one hour to complete. These photos were taken, as always, by Nick Simpson on the Saturday performance. Hopefully I can get some photos from the opening. That was only the first gallery I went to that night.