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A Gift to Vic from His Community of Friends - Sept/Oct 2001


Communities of any sort need, periodically, to acknowledge their members and to give them a chance to come together to give of themselves and to test how they are functioning as a whole. For these reasons, plus the educational opportunities of working side by side with others and the camaraderie involved that stone sculpture does not usually afford, I am a strong believer in the making of a group piece.  Using only hand tools (so communication is spontaneous and skill levels easily mixed) and giving the group a very tight time frame mean the people involved have to give that much more of themselves. Like any other giving experience it’s a good mirror to hold up to oneself after the completion. Was I willing to give? Did I have to control? Did I have to be “right”? Did I need to be scared? 

So how did we do with our group piece this year at Camp B? Great. From beginning to end people came together and set themselves aside, or brought themselves in, to create a gift for someone who has given so much to NWSSA. When Hank Nelson thought about Vic Picou’s retirement from the roles he has been filling for over 15 years as President, Board Member and Symposia Director, he knew we needed to do something special to acknowledge that tremendous commitment. Hank went to Michael Jacobsen and they got the ball rolling to do what sculptors do best, sculpt. Have the group make Vic a piece to symbolize his tireless commitment to making NWSSA an ongoing community.

Tracy Powell, Rich Hestekind and I were asked to help. Tracy came up with the idea that a hand should be made to represent all of the giving, support and nurturing that Vic has given to the group. Michael came up with the idea that the hand in the mudra position of Buddhist teachings was perfect because it tells of devotion, something Vic clearly has given to us for so many years. It was to hold a flower - an offering of growth, beauty, delicacy and love.

Georgia Peterson and her committee were totally supportive of the idea and, with the help of the Board, came up with the time and money for the piece to be created.  Irene Hewins donated the large, wonderful oolitic limestone for the hand, Anastasia Miller gave the special orange alabaster for the flower, and Arliss Newcomb found and donated the perfect river rock to serve as the hand’s base. We needed tools, and Dennis Joram cleaned and sharpened the ones the group already had, while Ken Barnes and Jim Tobin bought the group over $200 worth of new tools to be added to the community tool chest. Alexandra Morosco provided a discount on the tools.

Then there was the huge donation of time and effort. Michael and Tracy were tireless. Joanne Duby gave so much: designing and roughing out the flower. Many, many individuals gave of their precious symposium time to work on the hand, including six different people each completing a different petal on the blossom. Alfonso Rodriguez Medina, Sabah Al-Dhaher and Kazutaka Uchida were there whenever we needed them, and Carmen Chacon even came up on her day off just to work on the piece.

The community finished it in seven days. We presented it to Vic on the eighth, with acknowledgment, love and appreciation for all he has given to NWSSA and to all of us.


Silver Falls 2001: The Memories Last Longer


Our memories will last a tad over 91 times longer than the four wonderful days we actually spent at Silver Falls this year.  You do the math, you’ll see I’m right.  All this winter and right through next summer we will be mulling all those splendid memories until its time to jump in and do it all again.

If we have to be honest about it we will admit that the two days of rain we started with, sucked out some of the goody.  Even the toughest of us had cold fingers and chills running around inside our multiple layers of clothing.  We got through those first days because we are a tough bunch who loves to hug.  Yes, you heard me right.  Two or more friends shivering up against each other generate a wonderful kind of warmth.  When I first came to one of these things three years ago the hugs were a little difficult for me.  All of us haven’t lived our lives with the benefits of the overtly physical howdy.  I am getting used to it though.  The first minute I saw Stewart Jacobson, I just walked right up and hugged him.  Not that I find him irresistibly attractive, but, you have to admit that he is a very warm-hearted guy and it was, in fact, a bone-chilling day.  Having benefited from Stu’s hug I went on to hug lots of other people too.  I felt better with each one. The pressure of a hug seems to set the memory in the body and the mind.  Hugs last.

Wow, and was it just me or did our instructors beam down from some other, higher evolved planet?  Shazaam! Repetitive Kudos to the super heroes of the symposium: Joanne Duby, Stu Jacobson, Alex Morosco, and Marla Samuel.  Harder working, more helpful friends you couldn’t ask for.  Even while crowding our muddy feet under scant cover while it rained, they filled our minds with sunshine by lending us their knowledge, dedication, and unending good will.

Speaking of good will, our memories wouldn’t be complete without recalling THE AUCTION.  Could there exist a more delightful way to fund the work-study program?  Picture the scene: In a hush, our auctioneer steps to the fore, the sash of her clan magnificently draped across a robust bosom.  For down home chutzpah, Elaine MacKay has no equal.  And what a crowd we had.  Mark Andrew, our director for the last three years, (what a great guy, what a great talent, what a great job) insisted, as his last directive, that the wine be free.  And Terry Slaton helped the atmosphere along by handing out samples of his homemade Raspberry Magic.  Under Elaine’s charmingly firm guidance we gave until it hurt, gladly bidding large sums for a variety of stuff.  There was the cozy lamb’s wool and camel hair hat (donated by Yak rancher Michael Wheeler), a bit of clever stitchery donated by the neighboring quilters - at Elaine’s suggestion, an exquisite fused glass picture frame, hand made tools, a still warm shirt direct from the Auctioneer’s assistant’s body, more tools, pictures, books, lots of rocks and bunches of other stuff.  And when it was all gone and the bidding was over, our untiring masseuse, Caroline Anderson, asked if Chuck Davis would auction off one of his dreadlocks.  Well, I guess you know that Chuck zipped out the door, well ahead of his nearest scissoring pursuer, which conduct we all took for a “NO”!  A few minutes later, as the auction was opened for last minute donations, Caroline with a sly wink and one very small blond lock proudly mustached in between her nose and upper lip donated thirty dollars.  Because of the small size of Chuck’s offering, it wasn’t so much a dreadlock as a slightconcernlock but, it proved what we already knew, that Chuck is indeed a great sport.

Well, anyway, that’s a few of the things I will remember for about 91 times longer than this year’s short 4 days at beautiful Silver Falls Park.  I believe it is safe to say that we all took away what we came for: information, renewed communal strength, a greater love for stone and certainly for our wonderful, huggable friends who can chisel and finesse that stone into inspirational art.            


The Wings Update - Mar/Apr 2002


This is an historical look at the development of the Cascade granite sculpture, currently titled The Wings (working title only) begun at the 1999 Camp Brotherhood Symposium and also an update on its current status. Especially for those of you who have worked on The Wings Of Fantasy (alternate title). You may be interested in and/or curious about where this Flight of Fantasy (yet another title) sculpture has flown off to (and landed).

It was the hope at the 1999 Camp Brotherhood Symposium that the Monumental Workshop directed by myself would produce a finished product in the form of the 10-foot tall Angel Wings (do you notice the pattern developing here?). Those who participated in that workshop worked extremely hard in the attempt to complete Heart Wings (last alternative title parenthesis). There was a continuous supply of chips and sweat flying at any given moment that the machinery was in operation. Alas, despite our most gallant efforts, it did not result in that fully complete and signed work of art, The Wings of Fate, that we had hoped and longed for.

I made a great mistake in estimating the time it takes to create a work of art. What I had failed to do was to initiate my now current rule of thumb for estimating the length of time a creative project will take. Here is my rule:

Figure out as best as you can absolutely all of the many aspects of a project. Be very generous with your time estimation and allow for all matter of unforeseen obstacles. Allow for design changes, weather challenges, human error, machinery breakdowns, flaws in the stone, Karmic lessons, not to mention sloth and torpor.  Don’t forget to toss in extra time for Acts of God, etc. Now that you have arrived at what you believe to be a very safe, conservative and manageable time frame. ..... double it. Yes, I know that sounds like a bit much but believe me it is necessary. Now, and this is the most important part, take that figure and then multiply that times three. There, you now have it! But again ...there is more to the story!

At the millennium Camp Brotherhood Symposium, I returned again with The Wings Of Time .... this time ..... for sure ...... determined to complete the sculpture. To be absolutely sure that we would, in this year complete The Never Ending Wings Of Time, I spent an additional two weeks prior to the symposium working in earnest doing preliminary work such that, during the symposium, participants would easily be able to finish the piece, then titled The Wings Of Relativity. I even had pins secured into the individual wings bases and had a heavy circular steel plate constructed and prepared to accept the threaded pins with their nuts and bolts. Well, as you might imagine from the discussion thus far The Wonderful Wheel of Wings were still not completed by the end of the 2000 symposium. We were, however, able to erect The Wings Of Infinity such that about 60 people were able to pose and be filmed in all sorts of angelic, demonic, silly and compromising positions and situations (I have the negatives, guys). Actually this was absolutely great fun and demonstrated the potential that I had hoped for – that being - an interactive sculpture that was not complete until a personmade the piece whole.      I however realized from this second failed attempt at completion, that I needed to put yet another 30% contingency factor onto my most final time estimate. Silly me! Hopefully this rule with its contingency factor will help others who stumble along this path of trying to estimate the time it takes to create, from scratch, creative projects out of stone that have never seen the light of day before (for better or worse).

Now for the update:

At this point in time the Wings Of Pegasus are standing upright in a grassy horse pasture, attached to the steel base and elevated approximately 3 feet above the ground so as to allow for ground (tree and shrub) free photo opportunities. The PLAN is to create a permanent elevated and rotating base that will allow for maximum opportunities for correct natural lighting. The Wings Of Frequent Flyers were designed to be interacted with from both sides — one side of the wings would appear to be folded back and from the other side to be folded inward toward the angelic/demonic being. The basic base design has been sketched out. Now all I have to do is simply estimate the length of time it should take and enter into another twilight zone of creative fulfillment.  I have recently had a brilliant flash of inspiration to title the piece The Wings of Hope. What do you think? I am open for suggestions. Perhaps we can open up a competition to come up with the best title -the winner to receive a copy of my recently developed computer software, Sculpture Design And Fabrication: Estimating Made Easy.

Thanks to everyone who has helped with and or interacted with The Wings. It has been great fun - thus far.