Posts in Art
Dowsing for Genesis

Basically, wallers are spare-parts jobbers. The loose pieces of indigenous stone they collect and parcel out are really nothing more than the duft of earth’s crowning mantle. In rare cases, bedrock, stone’s “birthmother”, is present on a building site and can come into play as a defining element of a dry stone design.

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Going Public

Navigating the process of a public art proposal feels like a long walk by flashlight through a snowstorm. Signs are unclear and paths become obscure along the way. Because the destination is not a geographically fixed point, there remain, at the conclusion of an artist’s unsuccessful bid to win a competition, questions about where they traveled, and why the trip dead-ended.

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Modeling Clay as a Medium for Design Development

Clay sketches are the instruments of communication I use to express ideas. The truthfulness of any idea is uncovered by thinking and working it through using three-dimensional materials. With clay, a concept forms through the fingers. Questions about a design come up in the activity of applying clay that might not otherwise be addressed until a project is underway. Solving problems in small scale is more easily done than at the full scale of a construction site.

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2017 Stone Projects and Art Travels

The 2017 work year was a variety-pack of projects and travels bringing rocks and people together. Projects from 2017 now lie nestled in snow, while projects for 2018 are already underway.

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Diamond Mines

Environmental artworks in the public domain can quickly fall into the realm of personal legend. One of the best qualities of art in the outdoors is its ability to be endlessly personalized. Each new viewer makes it their own and every return visitor reestablishes their claim to it.

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Art Above the Arctic

A week on Sørvær in Northern Norway kept me immersed in the land and enveloped by the sea. The atmosphere of this island among islands is reigned by the sky above and waters below. Combined, they create an undeniably powerful influence. My moods changed at the whim of the weather. Even though I’ve spent my adult life working outdoors I’m unconditioned to the reality of light reflected from a vast and shifting water surface, or, tides streaming in and out all around. Grasping the totality of the archipelago's grand and sweeping vistas was a heady experience.

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Something from Nothing

A recent artist residency at AARK in Finland’s western archipelago allowed me the freedom to make something from nothing. There were no tools at hand and none of the materials I’ve grown accustomed to for making artworks. The islands were swept clean of loose stone by the last ice age, leaving a landscape of bedrock, worn smooth. Enough soil caught in low pockets to start the growth of the forest that now thrives there. It was in that birch and evergreen forest that I found my moss muse.

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Granite Jenga

What could be a more direct expression of form than molding earth in one’s hands? While the modes of earth shaping may vary, the impulse is ages old and remains strong as ever. My personal choice for satisfying the desire for hands-on interpretation of the earthly elements is the manipulation and configuration of loose stone. Within that narrow frame a wide variety of creative endeavors can be manifest.

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TCLF Garden Dialogues: Artists in Residence: Vermont

A fourth generation of the Key family has begun to ramble Winhall Hollow. Pond and stream, woods and fields, are the wider setting for their active home and garden life. Into the mix comes long-time friend and dry stone specialist, Dan Snow. He has constructed numerous stone features on the grounds around their house and barns. Stone from the property has been used to fashion steps, patios, retaining walls and fences. Robin Key’s landscape design has seamlessly woven a contemporary aesthetic into the historic fabric of the Hollow.

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Art of the Outdoors

My classmate, Hass, and I were standing on a rooftop on the lower west side of Manhattan watching a dance performance taking place in a vacant lot across the street when he nudged me and whispered, “That’s Robert Smithson.” The tall guy to my left at the parapet, in a cowboy hat and black trench coat, was solemnly staring down at the ground, along with a couple dozen other bohemes of the downtown art scene who had climbed four flights of rickety stairs in a derelict, cheese warehouse to view the show.

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Fire Circle Square

The design and layout of Fire Circle Square highlights quartz boulders by turning a collection of them into a fireplace and four adjacent perches. After positioning the stones, I carved depressions into them to create smooth sitting places. The fireplace stones were also cut, ground and polished, and then assembled into a plinth to hold a steel fire bowl. Between the plinth and seats I laid a floor with flagstone from a local quarry. The location of the piece was chosen to take advantage of a preexisting wall corner and a western overlook facing the mountain-ridged horizon.

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A Ripple Effect in Stone and Steel

As part of its 40th anniversary, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont commissioned me to create a permanent, interactive, environmental art piece. The result is a 1,000 sq. ft. dry stone and stainless steel sculpture that rises like a geologic upthrust from the open space alongside the museum entryway. Visitors can walk, climb and sit on the undulant surfaces of the work, or, simply view it on their way to, and from, the building.

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Finn Island at Landmark College

During the month of May, a 22 meter long sculpture surfaced on the quad at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. The dorsal fin of the granite and earth construction rises 2 meters above the MacFarlane Science, Technology & Innovation Center lawn. Once the cover plants are established on the earthen swells of the shark body, the piece will become an inviting land feature for students and faculty to congregate for outdoor classes and conversation.

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The Shadow Hill Concept

With a strong northwesterly wind whipping “snownados” up from the frosty ground outside, I’m in the studio devising hypotheticals for an unfrozen future. There’s time enough for a wonderland of “what ifs” to decorate the internal landscape when the porch thermometer reads 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Most are just a smokeless pipe dream, but sometimes an idea takes hold and won’t let go until it attains some semblance of reality. Nothing is real to me unless it achieves three-dimensionality. Even at ¼”-1’ scale, a concept materialized in modeling clay is enough to make me a believer.

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Montshire Museum Raindrops

A raindrop splashing on still water ripples the surface with expanding wave rings that grow in number as they diminish in height. From the purity of the physics involved comes a simple beauty. Liquid in motion is mesmerizing to watch because it’s constantly changing while remaining the same. For the upcoming project at Montshire Museum I will petrify an instant in the life of two raindrops.

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Artist Statement Stone Clouds

Stone Clouds is a tribute to the sustainable agriculture practiced by generations of Mettawee Valley farmers who've picked tons of stones from their fields, all by hand.

Every year, the plow turns up more stones in Ken Leach’s cornfield. It appears they’ve floated up through the rich Mettawee Valley soil from below the surface when in fact they’ve floated down upon the face of the earth from far above.

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Stone Clouds Materialized

The shape of a project is pointy at opposite ends and lumpy in the middle. The spark that starts things off may be as quick and simple as seeing a cornstalk-stubbled field sprinkled with the till of a bygone glacier, and thinking, “What would it take to put those stones back up into the sky from whence they fell?” In between that thought and standing under Stone Clouds at Shelburne Museum yesterday was a year-long ride’s worth of lumps and bumps. The unknown is an uneven landscape. Highs are best employed to gain speed for the roll up out of the lows ahead. Uncertainty provides its own propulsion.

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Rock Springs

Like other environmental art works I’ve done, Rock Springs is in, of and for its home place. The 32’x44’x5’ sculpture invites exploration. The interwoven coils of dry stone walls rise and fall underfoot as they’re traversed. Broad top stones elevate viewers above deep fissures separating the walls. Hand trimmed and set sandstone blocks comprise the double-faced walls, with architectural remnants repurposed for top stones.

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