Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Customer photos are always appreciated!

A customer of mine in the Netherlands recently sent a picture of the Apogee mobile that I made for him. I think it looks great!

Hanging mobiles are difficult to photograph and a lot of the photos on my website were taken many years ago in poorly illuminated rooms with a digital camera that is woefully inferior by today's standards - even for the cheapest cellphone.  It's always nice when a customer sends me a picture - especially a beautiful one like this.

Friday, February 28, 2014

They're blowing up a Calder in Fort Worth!

I love this...

For 30 years "The Eagle", a 39 ft. tall sculpture by Alexander Calder, was arguably Fort Worth's most iconic piece of art - commissioned in 1972 to stand guard in front of the new Fort Worth National Bank.

Unfortunately, the Eagle was not "public art" was owned by the bank, which was later purchased by Bank One, who then later sold the building and sculpture to a real estate investment company named Loutex, which in turn sold the sculpture to another mysterious group of investors who "tried" to find a buyer who would keep it in Fort Worth but failed, and the result (although the details are unclear) was that the Eagle was snatched from its perch and moved to Philadelphia where it sat at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a time...hoping to find a new home in the Calder Museum (which was never built), and then ultimately sold to the city of Seattle where it finally came to rest as a prominent feature of the city's new Olympic Sculpture Garden.

To this day the residents of Fort Worth are hurt and dismayed by the loss of their beloved Calder.

But a group of art lovers and artists have decided to take action. 

A collective known as "Homecoming!" has created a blow-up version of the Calder Eagle and for one week it has been appearing in random locations through-out the city - to the delight of its citizens who are dutifully posting images of the floppy red inflatable to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds.  The event is called "The Eagle Has Landed"and began on February 23rd.

It's a bittersweet reminder of the sculpture that the city lost - a controversy which resulted in the establishment of the city's current-day public art program which, ironically, played a major role in bringing this project to fruition.

I think this is such a brilliant idea, a perfect blend of art, fun, satire and policatial commentary all wrapped up in a perfect inflatable package.  I wonder how Alexander Calder would have felt about it?

I hope that someday the city of Fort Worth finds a suitable replacment for their Eagle - they sure deserve it.

Fort Worth's Eagle - back in the glory days

Sightings around Fort Worth this week


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Exorcist

We attended a special screening of "The Exorcist" a few nights ago at the Cedar-Lee Theater (Cleveland, Ohio).  It was being shown as part of a group of classic films from the seventies.  It's been at least 20 or 30 years since my wife and I have seen it, and my daughter Bridget had never seen it, so we were really excited to have the opportunity to watch this great classic movie on the big screen. 

Something caught my attention in the scene where Regan is examined in the doctor's office....

and here's a wonderful photo that my wife found of Linda Blair and the director William Friedkin preparing for the scene...

Can you think of any other movies that have a "Calder" in them?  I'm pretty sure the Flamingo appears during the parade scene in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Fleurs et Riviere"

(Brian Kelly / ArtPrize /September 18, 2013)

This is artist and screen printer David Dodde's submission to ArtPrize - an important and popular art competition held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  His idea was to transform the city's most iconic sculpture, Alexander Calder's "La Grande Vitesse", into something new by applying various flower shapes that had been cut out of a non-permanent magnetic material.

I'll come right out and admit that I love it.  I think it's creative, whimsical, and beautiful.  Just like Calder's work.

But apparently someone complained about it, as someone always does in matters like this, and the city decided to remove the flowers after receiving a harsh letter from The Calder Foundation (headed by Sandy Rower, Calder's grandson) declaring that it was an "abomination" and added nothing to the dialogue of the sculpture.  Pretty harsh.

Note - this isn't the first time that La Grande Vitesse has been decorated as part of various events or fundraisers - city manager Greg Sundstrom estimates that it has been done "over 100 times over the last 45 years", but you can bet this will be the last.

I give credit to the city for allowing the flowers to remain on the Calder long enough for them to be seen by the artist's son (who has Down Syndrome) as part of a class trip that had been planned.  I also give credit to the officials at ArtPrize for allowing Dodde's submission to remain in the competition, even after the flowers were removed.  Out of 1,524 entries it was voted into the top 100 in the first round of voting but did not make the final top 10.  A winner will be announced tomorrow.

I understand that the Calder Foundation's mission is to protect and promote the work of Alexander Calder and I would imagine that in decisions like this, Mr. Rower would try to carry out policy in accordance with what he believes his grandfather would decide if he were still alive. Do you think that Alexander Calder would have been upset by this piece?  I don't, but perhaps I'm wrong. I suppose if anyone should know it would be Mr. Rower.  Perhaps the Foundation was fed up with 45 years worth of "abuse" to the sculpture and grew tired of pink breast cancer awareness ribbons, knitted webs (a submission to last year's ArtPrize), images of the sculpture on city street signs, letterheads, and garbage trucks...perhaps flowers were just the final straw.

Personally. I am not surprised by any of this and I think that the decision was a mistake and bad PR for the Foundation especially if comments like this one, which I found here and have copied below, are any indication of popular opinion:

leodegras at 4:40 PM October 02, 2013
Letter I sent today to the Calder Foundation ...
Dear Sir or Madam:

Was it really necessary to send such a rude letter to ArtPrize? Was it really necessary to hurt the feelings of Mr. Dodde, who did nothing but put removable flowers on Mr. Calder's sculpture? And to cave in to the snobbish complaints of the few, while the many quite liked the happy, silly, harmless flowers? I simply do not understand. And this:

"Foundation president and Calder's grandson Alexander S.C. Rower last week sent a letter to city officials calling Dodde's work an "abomination."",0,4945980.story

Now you have garnered unpleasant notice from the press and the public. Is that really a goal of your foundation? As we all move forward in time the sculptures and mobiles begin to look a bit dated. Does Mr. Rower not have sufficient work to occupy his time? He seems to have ample opportunity to write nasty letters to well-meaning folk; perhaps he can cast about for a way to fill his days other than riding on grandfather's coat-tails. I can only wonder at the judgment and bad manners of Mr. Rower. There is the true "abomination."

For shame.

Wendy Howard
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Liquidation Sale - EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Could things get any worse in Detroit?

Yes.  Take a look at this article recently published in the Lansing State Journal.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering whether the multibillion-dollar collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be considered city assets that potentially could be sold to cover about $15 billion in debt.

It is a very sad state of affairs indeed when a city begins to consider selling its artwork to pay for its debt.  I truly hope that Detroit can avoid this catastrophe. Get out there and buy some American-made cars!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Ultimate Mobile?

Thanks to Bruce for sending me a link to this wonderful performance by Miyoko Shida!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Some interesting sketches and correspondence from Alexander Calder

I received an interesting email the other day, from a woman who had acquired some Alexander Calder ephemera.  She was wondering if I could tell her how much it was worth and how she should go about selling it.

I wrote back and suggested that she either get in touch with the Calder Foundation or a reputable art appraiser in her area. I'm certainly no expert on the value of Calder's work - although I know that his art is highly collected and consistently fetches the highest bids at auctions. I've done pretty well selling my own art but selling a Calder is a completely different ballgame!

Of course my curiosity was piqued, and I asked if she could describe what the items were and how they came into her possession. This is what she sent back. (note: there was a lot of yellow color-cast to the photos which I've tried to remove a bit in Photoshop)

I'm not a handwriting expert either, but I have no doubt that these are authentic!  

Very exciting stuff here, not only because they are from Calder, but as a mobile artist myself I find it interesting to see that Calder corresponded with his clients much as I do - with sketches and notes and hints on installation.  It's amazing to see that he has no problem with the client bending wires and and adjusting hanging lengths as necessary to make it fit within their space!

I'm really grateful to have been able to see these wonderful items, and to be allowed to share them with you. 

Oh, by the way, you won't believe how she acquired them....they were found in the TRASH!