A Couple of Old Columns…

So, in my last post I was discussing strange shapes, or, more specifically, how I like to work in formats that are not in the usual Golden Mean of proportions – namely, squares, or columns.

Lately, I have been working on a lot of vertical collages (just browse some of the earlier posts here), but this format is nothing new. Way back when (in graduate school in Baltimore), I got infatuated with columns – part of a general interest in architectural decoration. After a couple of long, tall paintings on wood, I got the opportunity to install some ‘real’ columns in a church in Baltimore. The occasion was a small exhibition of installations I was organizing at the back of a space that was being used for theater performances; the church had had a fire that had done some serious damage to the main hall, so until they got the funds together to replace all the pews, they were holding services in a smaller room on the other side of the church and using the pewless hall for art – bless them!

The pictures below are the only images I have of the 2 columns (had old slides turned into JPEGs last year 🙂 ). The columns were made out of sonotubes, i.e.concrete formwork, which I sliced in half vertically so that I could work on them and then put them back together around the existing church columns. Once I managed to get the tubes to fit in the elevator to my studio, things were pretty straight forward – except for a little difficulty that I might refer to as the ‘pop’n’fresh effect’ (picture a giant toilet paper tool trying to uncurl itself). I covered the surfaces of the columns in a layer of plaster mixed with plastic, another layer of acrylic paint, and then metal leaf, and then drilled holes for Christmas lights – as, luck would have it, the existing church columns each had an electric outlet at the base: plugged in, I had some pretty flashy columns…

With the theme of religion as inspiration (!), the 2 columns were a Goddess Column and what I refer to as my Crusader Column – or, from a more modern perspective, “Black Man, Blue Man”.

Column - brown man Column - blue man

This has been fun, this “Blast from the Past” – makes me want to do some more big sculptures. (I believe one side of the lower half of the Goddess Column went to a friend of mine in California, but the other parts are long gone to the landfill…)

Long, Tall Art

I have always had an attraction to strange, regular shapes.

Regular in that they are simple – squares and rectangles;

Strange in that they don’t exactly fit the Golden Rules of proportions.

Square paintings (like my Water Paintings) and long, tall collages like the ones I’m doing now

are supposedly ‘hard to do’.

Actually, I don’t think they are – although they are hard to view on a computer – the long ones, that is –

because they don’t fit so easily on a horizontal-formatted screen.

For example, here’s a view of one of my new ‘column collages’

Column Collage n unknown dec 2014

Hard to see…
Let’s make it a little bigger…

Column Collage n unknown dec 2014

Well – that’s okay if you want to just look at the piece from top to bottom (or if you get creative with your scroller, bottom to top – but it’s not like you have the opportunity to jump back and forth between the different parts of the collage like you would if you were standing in front of it. If that were the case, you could look at the whole thing – like so –

Column Collage_Sherezade

and then hone in on the parts – top –

Column Collage sherezade top

middle –

Column Collage sherezade  middle

and bottom:

Column Collage sherezade bottom

Or, maybe, you’d prefer – after you’ve noticed ‘hey, there’s a collage over there

Column Collage_Ottomania

to look it over from bottom –

Column Collage Ottomania bottom

to middle –

Column Collage Ottomania middle

to top:

Column Collage Ottomania top

In point of fact, you probably wouldn’t be ‘choosing’ to view the parts one at a time – your eye would fall on different parts of the piece, and you would start unconsciously making connections between the parts based on visual parameters such as color, shape, size and placement and, of course, personal preferences (as in, Dog People prefer pictures of dogs, while Cat People prefer pictures of cats).

This part-to-part thing is kind of interesting to me with regards to these collages, because the details are so small (the whole piece is only about a spread-out-hand’s-width wide – 15 cm – by 70 cm in length), yet you can’t take them in all at once – you need to make the connections, one piece at a time. Even though you get to make the connections any way you like – or, rather, any way your subconscious inclinations would like – the process is Work. If you just stroll by identifying objects hung on a wall (‘Collage, collage, painting, collage’), you won’t get very much out of the experience (except maybe tired feet and peeved friends wondering why you dragged them along). You actually have to expend some effort to make looking at this stuff worth your while. The more effort you make, the greater the reward.

It’s like a conversation: if  you stop listening, the person (or the artwork) on the other side will eventually stop talking.