Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tatiana Trouve

 While I agree with Roberta Smith's review about the artists' statement (July 2, 2010), I'd like to visit Ms. Trouve's installation at Gagosian Gallery and have a look firsthand. I've seen the images and the video posted on the gallery site, and I find myself responding deeply to the use of well crafted object, inserted into and combined with large wall drawings and architecture.

Monday, February 8, 2010


My first encounter with a forge and all the various tools associated with forming and shaping steel, was as a grad student at the University of Maryland early 2000. I learned later that I was using  a Johnson trench forge. As it's name implies, you could dump a bunch of steel stock, any thickness or size into this hummer and move the red hot metal into all manner of forms. I had no idea  what I was doing or what the tools were for, even though the studio had a large variety of stakes and hammer styles. I remember once finding the bucket of oil (used for quenching) in a trash can behind the forge, and thinking it was a fire hazard suggested it be tossed. Fortunately I was stopped by the chair of the department, John Ruppert, who muttered something to himself on the way back to his office. Nevertheless, the seeds of passion were  planted during those long hours pounding and twisting round rod stock up to an inch thick into sculpture. I remember falling on the floor a few times trying to bend metal around rudimentary stakes rigged up on the workbench, even burned some skin off my forearms a few times, but I was fascinated by the fluidity of hot metal and determined to succeed. I had no knowledge of black-smithing traditions so my work didn't remotely resemble household or manufactured objects until recently.

Since then I've gone on to study with Meagan Crowley at Peters Valley, and take classes when I can at with the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland. I've also taken courses on forging non-ferrous metals with John Fix, at MICA, an accomplished metal-smith and teacher for many years in Baltimore. While I'm not a blacksmith by any stretch of the imagination, I've been able to incorporate the rudimentary techniques and operations I've learned into my aesthetic
, thereby expanding the palette of expression available to me.

I'll be posting more images over the coming week of my own work along with photos of mentors I've met along the way. Some artists that use black-smithing directly or indirectly, and whose work I admire are listed below:

Tom Joyce: MacArthur Genious grant recipient
Eduardo Chillada 
Richard Serra
Samuel Yellin

Saturday, February 6, 2010

FRIDAYS - Taylor Davis

Well it's actually Saturday and Maryland is under a "State of Emergency" due to 30 inches of snow over the past two days, weather not seen here since the 1920's.

I came across a review a couple years ago of a show of sculpture by Taylor Davis and I was intrigued by her work in wood and mixed media. I saved the article about her for quite a while so it's fun to be able take her off my bookmark list and include her here. Her craftsmanship is top drawer and attention to detail specific, with an aesthetic treading minimalist territory but with a sense of humor and a feel for process and materiality. She has exhibited in the Whitney Biennalle 2004, White Columns, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston  etc. I've never personally seen her work but her web site has lots of interesting categories to browse through.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Most Fridays I'll be posting links to interesting work by contemporary sculptors. I'm intrigued by the work of Yin Xiuzhen, whose work "Collective Subconcious" is on exhibit at MOMA till May 24.
Collective Subconscious.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trip to France

 The Brancusi studio, preserved just in back of the Pompidou Museum in Paris:

The link below takes you to a page with a very nice history of Brancusi with early photos of him and his work:

It's s sweet little building redesigned by Renzo Piano and well worth the visit. Highly recommended.

I visited this studio in 2007-it's a shrine-like, very quiet (far from the maddening crowd), almost comtempletive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chester River Casting

Patrick, Steve and Lincoln

Megan, Patrick, Mare and Lincoln

Chester River Casting was a group of sculptors who gathered on and off for a period of 2 years, 2005 to 2007; to briefly live and work together in a remarkable setting, alongside the Chester River just outside Chestertown Maryland. The artists came together when they had scrounged enough scrap to melt and there was momentum and molds enough to fire up the furnace. It was all hosted our friend, Marilee Schumann, who has a gift for making things happen; the catalyst for many memorable days making art and mischief, and bonfire nights of debauchery, eating and drinking ourselves silly.

Our set up was pretty simple. The furnace, fueled by propane, was put together by Steve Jone and Patrick Burke. Our molds were resin bonded sand or just loose sand in a trash can.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why Feel for Steel?

WINTER 2010: Now that I have some down-time (in between teaching and surgery on my foot) I thought I'd add some content and context to this blog, or more accurately, a random journal. "Feel for Steel" is an unlikely moniker but perhaps ironic in that I've come to identify myself and my studio practice with steel that can feel(?). But it's not so puzzling if you know that I grew up in Detroit Michigan, the now rusting and disintegrating former industrial capitol of American manufacturing in the United States. A memory of a childhood visit to a River Rouge steel manufacturing plant came to me recently, and I wondered if it affected me in some unknown way. I suppose I was in 4th or 5th grade, and our class made a day long field trip, a pilgrimage many school children made in those days, to see molten steel being made into huge red hot long bars, and then, step by step flattened into enormous rivers of plate. I recall the enormous space of the building from our perch high over the plant floor; the noise, the sparks flying everywhere like the fourth of July, and the exhilaration of the dangerous heat. I think that's where it all started, but how that memory relates to what I do now I couldn't say. I'm sure I'm not the only child from Detroit that was quietly but deeply affected by this experience.