Created: Thursday, 02 May 1996 00:05
Joy, oh joy. Tra la, tra la. It's another election year. Nothing holds quite the promise of thrills and excitement as the up coming months and months of watching highly paid adults fmd new sophisticated ways to call each other a butthead. How can a person possibly feel down when endless political ads and yard signs will brighten the rest of their year? Not only does the thought make a gal almost perky, but why not seize the opportunity and use it to band together as artists and shove around our considerable clout to force the candidates to take a stand on the really big issues facing us in our endeavors. No, I'm not talking about the NEA funding stuff - let someone else figure that out. I meau the other issues I often hear my fellow artists talk often about. If it's important to us, then shouldn't we vote for people brave enough to state what they believe? I, for one, not only want to know what the political hopefuls plan to do for us, but I also want to know the 1996 politically correct way to say "wuss".
So Mr./Ms. Politician, do you have the courage to state what you feel is the proper way to polish black soapstone? For over five symposia I have witnessed private conversations in which otherwise peace-loving, friendly people get close to fisticuffs over exactly how this procedure should be done. I have seen nostrils flair, teeth grit and hands clench regarding oxides vs. linseeds vs. floor polishes. By God, if it's that damn important I want to know where my congressperson stands on the matter.
Secondly, I want a federal law requiring that any place that shows art must have its own pedestals or lose its business license. It's bad enough we traipse the Northwest like a band of Gypsies, carrying hundreds of pounds of sculpture, hand trucks, nubile young males, but we also have to supply furniture. Do Clinton/Gore warmabes bring their own podiums? I think not. Next thing you know we'll have to supply our own lights and cheap hors d' oeuvres. Consider the waste of time and money spent on building and painting and repainting and repainting our pedestals. Time and money that could be spent traipsing even further afield.
Thirdly, I want each and every candidate to take a stand on the "Bigger and Harder" controversy. I'm sick to death of everyone pointing their fmgers at someone else when we who produce "shorter and softer" sculpture ask for accountability on who the people are who determined bigger and harder is always better. Now I am the first to admit that in certain areas of our lives bigger and harder are important, but to have this credo spread to the extent that the art we produce derives its value based on this assumption has gone too far! It doesn't stop there - now it has to "bigger, harder and waterproof'. What next? Vibrating? Clinton, Dole, Buchanan, speak up. How do you like your art? Once answered, then, and only then can we smaller and softer artists cast our votes.
Fourthly, if this bigger/harder stuff is so strongly embedded in the American art culture that it can never be changed, then I want the same federal law referred to in "secondly" to require that not only pedestals be made available, but also magnifying mirrors must be installed on the walls behind the displayed sculpture. (It works in bathrooms.) I also want building codes to require that every household have huge empty spaces built to accommodate the bigger and better stuff. And I will vote only for those who promise every damn stone sculptor a semi-truck and crane in every garage and yes, that old chicken (or tofu) in every pot.
Finally, my vote will be cast for candidates willing to form a senate sub-committee, spend as much money as it takes and hold as many hearings as needed to determine who came up with the inane expression Post Modern. I want them held accountable and made to publicly explain how anything can be post ("after, subsequent, later")* modem ("of, relating to or characteristic of a period extending from relevant remote past to the present time")*. Now for all history our generation of artists will be labeled by a term that makes no sense. Oh I understand that it holds a place in time and names a certain period of art following the Modern period, but couldu't they come up with anything better. Just because Impressionist and Cubist were taken is no reason to dive to mediocrity. Perhaps the person who first used Modern to define a period in art history should be brought to justice too. Who were they to determine that their modem would be the only modern for all time. But sadly, if it should occur, as often does in our cumbersome political system, that a serious problem such as this cannot be solved, then I am officially going on record, here and now, that I have first dibs on calling my sculpture Post Future.
* Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
Created: Friday, 01 March 1996 23:21
I would like to pay homage to all of those unfortunate people out there who, by self-infliction, or through no fault of their own except a had gene pool, live with, are related to, or just plain see too much of stone carvers. Now I'm not saying that we aren't a swell group of extremely deep and meaningful people, who have a special "gift" to bestow upon the ages, but like most driven individuals we often forget to express our appreciation for those who hold us together.
First thank yous go to the Lindas, Eds, Larrys, Dougs, et al lot' of partners of NWSSA members who help not only the individual artists, but consistently come to the aid of the pack. They strain their backs, muck up their cars, loan us their homes and places of business, and often get real messy for not ouly "their" sculptor, but bunches of us. The fact that there are hundreds of carvers roaming the Northwest, chisels in hand, being passionate with stone, would be enough to make most people run for the hills. So thanks to the many of you who stay and help keep us sane. Take solace in the fact that we as a group notice and appreciate your support and that your special carving partner has been marked for instant public harassment or possible replacement if they aren't appreciative enough for all of us.
If your significant other does not do group therapy that doesn't in the least diminish their contribution to your stone addiction and/or the overall health of the association. So carvers out there grab that important person in your life and lay one on them. Say thanks for hanging in, because, let's face it, being with a stone carver isn't always the little bit of artistic bliss we would like people to think it is. Take it from me, having been both married and single while a sculptor, we do have a few drawbacks.
For instance, we are often very. very dirty. Well, more like dusty, but not your walk-in-the-Sedona-sunset-dusty, it's your roll-around-in-the-possibly-toxic-stuff-in-the-old-drought-driedriverbed dusty. When you first meet one of us performing our act, I suppose there is an initial "Oh don't they look cute/rugged/intriguing/macho/butchll shouldn't touch them but I want to" allure. But if that "look" had any kind of lasting turnon effect, there would be a "Messy Guys" calendar, magazines like "Dusty Girls", or movies like "Daisy Dusts Davey".
Our lovely wardrobes also have no real universal appeal. So we better come up with more than a few thanks for putting up with our general ambiance, or we may all be forced to write a personal ad. "DWF (insert your personally appropriate consonants) - Nice but very dusty. Looking for someone to sharpen tools with. Favorite cartoon character - Pig Pen. Must live in highly industrialized or wilderness area. Reliable income important - mine isn't. "
A few flowers should be bestowed for all the great social events we drag our important people 10. Have you ever considered how few dates you'd get if you asked someone to go stand in a gallery for a minimum of three hours, drinking mediocre wine or warmish seltzer and eating stale pretzels. They get to listen to you tell endless strangers pretend figures about how long it takes to do a sculpture and watch your teeth grind when told what a pretty stone it is. If they are really lucky and your relationship gets serious, they can do this over and over, culminating in the thrill of getting to prop up your ego every time you don't sell a piece.
Most undoubtedly the reason the important people in our lives hang around is our idea of what a great vacation is. "Hey Honey! I'm going to use my two weeks of vacation time and take you to Mt. Vernon, Washington. You can stand around in a field all day, breathing in lot, of interesting stuff, wear ear plugs and see the most incredibly bad choices in headware ever brought together in one place at one time. The evenings will be rich with endless slide shows, rock beating and discussions on the proper way to polish almost anything. The fact that you don't carve and have no interest in learning is just fine because we can even shop together for my stone and tools."
We do have to be honest with ourselves and admit that as wonderful as our symposia are for our carving souls. as welcome as we try to make our loved ones feel, we're not exactly offering up the work related trip to New York City or Palm Springs that some jobs have. Even if they were in the best places, I went to plenty of spouse related conventions over the years, and it's hard to sit 24 hours a day and listen to any group, whether they are CPA's or astronauts, live and talk about what they do if you don't share their passion.
Which brings me to another topic. Sculptors are artists; artists are usually passionate; passionate people are generally passionate about more than just the sexual aspects of their lives; so buyer beware. All that great enthusiasm we claim to have can also come packaged in overdrive and despair from time to time. Along the same vein, don't forget that "Not tonight, I'm tired from grinding all day" can be just as annoying as the old headache line.
It's not only our lovers, et al, who deserve thanks, but our kids, parents, and non-carving close friends. Have you ever thought how boring our discussions on abrasives, pricing, someone else's sales, delusions of grandeur, or moanings of failure can be? I have to remind myself not to go on and on to my chemist friend, or I'll "owe" her hours of conversation on the molecular make-up of toilet paper.
So say thanks to all of those who put up with and support us in so many ways. After a long day of carving, glance at the mess in your studio and then track residue into the house. Look in the mirror, and remember the people who believe in what you do and why you do it. Not everyone is as rich as we are.