Posts in Land Art
Mother Earth Asks Dr. Stonework

Having landscaping and stonework done can be a geophysical boost to Earth’s well being in the long run but it’s not without short-term costs. Before the shovel goes in, here are some FAQs for a planet considering a surgical procedure.

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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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Slate Bauble

Upon completion, the Bauble perched on its temporary base in the sugarhouse woodshed for three months while the adhesive that held it together cured.

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The Solitary Stoneworker

Conditions being what they were of late with snow storm after snow storm, I stayed away from the stone project in-progress and gave myself a propertyless assignment. The premise was to compile a collection of photos that illustrate the work life of a solitary stoneworker; with myself as the subject and past projects as the source material.

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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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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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The Stone Hollow

Environmental art serves a wider community. It can prosper plants and animals as well as humans. Art making in nature stirs the pot of local ingredients, recombining elements in ways previously untested. Wild things are opportunists; it’s programed into their DNA for survival. When something new appears in the landscape, ecologies respond. An environmental art work is breeding ground for creative adaptation. Its ultimate use is left up to the invention of its inhabitants.

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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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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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Cairn With a Twist

As solid as land art is, it’s capable of absorbing an unlimited amount of meaning. Each viewer brings a unique perspective and adds a bit of their own story to the experience of the work. The memory of the work that they go away with is a blend of what they brought and what they discovered while there. The meaning of the work is modified by every viewer. Over time, with many viewings, that adds up to a hefty load of ephemeral meanings, none of which physically impact the land art. It stays the same as its meaning changes.

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TICKON Diamond Mines Land Art

“Diamond Mines” is an abstract, site-specific sculpture built of loose, natural stone. The work is situated on westward-sloping ground in a grove of mature beech trees. Wooded hills rise to the north and south. Park paths wind along the west and north sides of the sculpture. To the west, Tranekær lake and castle can be viewed. ‘Diamond’ is the perimeter, outline shape of the sculpture. The shapes of the nineteen interior facets are also diamond. There are a total of eighty-five obtuse and acute angles in the sculpture. The stones are set on their near-vertical axis in the construction, pointing up and down in the wall faces. In “Diamond Mines” there are diamonds within diamonds within a diamond.

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TICKON Diamond Mines

The building of “Diamond Mines” was a delightful experience due to the many wonderful people who helped make it possible. Thanks go to my new Danish friends; Alfio, Lone, Ole, Birthe and Trine. To on-site workers Francesca and Jared goes my grateful appreciation. Always behind the scenes and in the middle of it all was Elin, who supported me in every moment and was my guiding light at every turn.

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TICKON Sculpture Installation Completed

This song, from Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’s “All the Roadrunning” album, makes a good anthem for those of us who grub our living out of the ground. We stone workers labor to lift something special from the earth. Our efforts are mainly brutish and blunt but we continue day by day in the belief that something beautiful will arise in the end. When it finally does, the light of what we’ve created shines briefly before for us. And then we must turn our backs and leave it all behind.

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TICKON - Working at the Diamond Mines

About once an hour, or so, someone walks by the site and asks me what I’m doing. Often they wonder if I am repairing something. I’ve been told the piece looks like a temple, fishponds, and human tissue under a microscope. “How long before it’s finished?” and, “What’s it called?” are the common follow-up questions after they hear I’m building a new abstract sculpture for TICKON art-park. I can now say that it will be finished in a few days, and that the piece is called “The Diamond Mines.” It’s been a rare experience for me; spending these past weeks in a grove of stately old beach trees. Plus, daily visits from Elin, and picnics with her Danish family, have quickly turned this project into an all-time personal favorite.

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TICKON - Diamond Mines Discovered in Tranekær Castle Park

Working hands inform thought and awaken understanding of the art builder's place in the natural world. Undulant lines and patterned spaces are the result of many choices made by the art builder who recognizes, and utilizes, the unique character of stone.  The presentation will examine the many uses of stone in art; how stone can support a design, or simply be the art itself. It will also explore the "give and take" experience of working in nature, and the connection to spirit expressed through stone.

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