Monday, September 26, 2011

#9 art on loan

Earlier this year I was pondering if I should involve myself with art on loan programs that are popping up in many cities in Colorado like grandma's bermuda grass sprouts up in her garden. I decided I might as well be on board. I was initially against the idea thinking that it would lessen the likelihood of a public art commission becoming available because a city would instead be investing in these art on loan programs which means they get a lot of art on city property for approximately one year at a time and therefore will spend less on commissioning an artist for a single work of art (phewwwwwww). It is really too good of an idea and I was vehemently against it (vehemently-geeeez, I'm never using big words). Well, I'm my wisdom I've learned it is wise to not be against anything, but rather for something. I thought what was I for. I was for getting public art commissions. Why? To make a living. Why? So I can do what I love to do. Why? So I can, wait a minute! Well, my conclusion was I wasn't landing s..t as far as public art commissions so why not be gung ho for the other team. Besides it may be beneficial to have artwork with a city art on loan that way they can see if they like my work first rather than blindingly selecting an artist for a project. It got me thinking. Maybe this is why there is so much unappealing public artworks because it is hard to visualize how someone's proposal will look. Committee's are only seeing 8 1/2x11 proposals on a 2-d surface or 3-d maquettes at 1/12 the scale of the proposed piece. The art on loans offer something else. They introduce an existing artwork to the public for scrutinizing. If it doesn't pass it is ignored and the city hands the sculpture back and says 'see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya'. If it is a hit, the artist finds himself with some new friends and possibly a sale and some good publicity. While it is a financial investment to make a large sculpture it seems to be worthwhile in an ever increasing field of self titled 'experts' in the field in order to stand out above the rest. I feel that I am doing larger pieces because I want people and art committees to see that there is still something new that can be done with the human figure using traditional skills. There is some kind of movement going on and eventually they will listen. To me, it seems that everyone and their brother are applying for public art commissions and many of these commissions seem to be geared for the abstract I-beam artists. I'm not bitter, but I've realized that I'm becoming less and less against something and more and more for something and the art on loan can be the vehicle to express what I'm for. The something I am for is the new return to realism, to traditional skills. It is becoming more and more widespread as people are tired of explaining the concept behind the round rustic steel ball on the stainless steel teeter totter. We get it, art can be anything, a toilet bowl with R. Mutt or a decaying human hand in a glass box. But where is the beauty in that? Where is the beauty? Art, traditionally is about beauty. Modern art seems to be challenging that while all the traditional artworks have silently said 'ok, go ahead, we don't mind it being art'. But now, traditional art is breathing again. It is like it is saying 'f..k this!' I am following some of the realist artists in New York and Los Angeles and greatly admire their works and notice that some of them are creating movements of their own in response to the last 100 years of art history. It is with the greatest joy that I see a Jeremy Lipking painting or a Bruno Lucchesi sculpture. These artists are keeping alive the vision artists from the pre-Rodin's era had. Actually they aren't keeping alive, they are revitalizing art and inspiring young generations to create and challenge themselves in so many ways. As I've aged I've realized that today is a unique era in art history with a pluralism of styles. There are so many things going on it is mind blowing, but underneath it I am feeling and sensing a return to the beautiful. And oddly enough I am connecting the art on loan programs to this. For me it is a way to showcase my talent, but also to educate America that there is good artwork here. It is not just in Europe. It is starting to pop up here and there like, hmmmm, like my grandma's bermuda grass I suppose some might say. Recently I had the opportunity to introduce the art on loan program to a city in California who had never heard of such a thing. I was asked to write a one page description and so I did and this is how it reads:

Art is an important part of our lives. Sculpture, in particular, plays a large role in our upbringing as we grow from child to adult. Many of us can remember seeing the Statue of Liberty, the David, Mount Rushmore and on and on. These colossal monuments shape peoples lives. So do the smaller and lesser known works that one sees while visiting a neighboring art community. A child and an adult will certainly remember seeing an egghead on campus or a large blue bear peeking in a building. These sculptures bring out the child in us all and inspire us to look deeper into our own self for what is possible. They make us laugh, cry, think and admire all the while absorbing the vision that the artist had. 

Recently there is a new trend in displaying public art sculptures which benefit both the sculptor and the entity funding the display. It is the art on loan (although there are many other names it goes by "Sculpture Walk", "Art on the Corner", etc etc). In Colorado there are quite a few cities which have developed their own art on loan program based on some of the successful ones that have been around for 20 or more years. It has also sprouted up in Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota. Essentially what this art on loan is is an outdoor gallery of sculpture temporary displayed on city property for the duration of one year. 

How it works: To get started the city designates several locations for the placement of the sculpture (dependent on their budget) and issues a call to artists. For a successful art on loan program the city needs to supply the location for the sculptures and permanently mount a steel base to the concrete (the city supplies this). Sculptures are mounted to a steel base (the artist supplies this) and these two steel bases are welded together to prevent theft. When a sculpture is ready to be removed the city grinds the welds to release the sculpture. Once the dates are decided on a call to artists is issued and the city selects the winning sculptures. The initial setup (payable to the sculptor) can cost anywhere between $500-1500 per sculpture, and these sculptures are made available for purchase. When a sale is made, a portion of the sale goes to the city that sponsored the program (similar setup to a fine art gallery), generally around 10-20%. The sculpture is then either A) moved to it's new home and replaced with another of the sculptors inventory or B) remains at the location until the duration of the year. 

A successful art on loan program benefits a city without the cost of purchasing or commissioning an artist for a permanent outdoor display.  It is an inexpensive way for a city to improve upon the look of the community and provides great exposure for an artist to show his/her work to the public. It is a win-win for both parties involved! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

#8 She Loves Me will have a new home

I'm thrilled to have sold my sculpture She Loves Me to a woman I met at the 2011 Loveland Sculpture show. The sculpture will be placed in an Inn west of Denver and I am quite excited and can't wait to see it installed. The buyer will be pouring a concrete pad in the next few weeks and it'll be placed in a small garden with flowers, a perfect setting! The inn also has a few other artwork that is faery related so this garden gnome will make plenty of friends out there. I am curious who he will be falling in love with so I will have to check back periodically to get updates. Actually me and Jessica stayed at their 'tree house' and it was a very pleasant stay. The tree house is the inn's prized possession and it is three stories of magically designed architecture and interior decorating. We both hope to go back often to stay their. I'll post pix of the sculpture after installation which should take place in the next month or two.

#7 Memorial for a young woman

Jessica reminded me that I haven't done a blog in quite a while and when I asked for her advice on subject matter she said don't you have a project you want to say something about. And that I do. Soon after shipping 12 sculptures for the 2011 Hostfest I started on my next project. I was contacted through someone I know a couple of months ago and asked if I'd be interested in doing a memorial for a young woman who passed on 2 years ago. After meeting with the client and going over some numbers we began. The project is for a fairly large and old cemetery, dating back to around 1880. It'll be located at the corner near one of the main entrances. The woman who is commissioning me wants to have snowboarding gear in bronze decorating the recently completed garden. It, being an old and traditional cemetery, will make for a unique memorial. In fact there is only one other memorial that stands out in the 300 acres of traditional headstones and occasional bronze statue and it incorporates water and plants with a bronze cross. This memorial will be just as beautiful without the water and cross. The client and I are both very excited at how things are shaping up. The snowboarding gear is now being molded so I hope to have it installed by Christmas of this year. It will be situated in the center of the rocks as if the young woman was putting her gear there while taking a break. While this is a project which doesn't require a figure it is actually quite enjoyable and I've gotten to listen to many wonderful stories of her life. How quickly life is for some, vanished into the night but not forgotten.