Tools I can’t do without

IMG_1839These past few months, I’ve had to get into a whole new category of tools in order to do the color on the bronze work.  A hand cart and a blow torch have been essential.  Color on bronze is an alchemic process called “patina” which combines natural elements, air, rain, chemicals plus heat. There are some ancient recipes that involve burying the bronzes in dirt or peeing on them- all natural – and then you let the air do the oxidizing. The pee recipe would work better for male sculptors, the French sculptor August Rodin  instructed assistants at his studio to urinate over bronzes stored in the outside yard.

I’ve done my patinas with  common chemicals, liver of sulphur, vinegar, salt, lemon juice and ammonia. I’ve applied heat with a propane flame thrower. To get the flame you have to use an old fashioned sparker and pray the spark and the propane like each other. If they do the flame sprays out forcefully and if you don’t think ahead it can ignite paper, your work pants, or melt plastic containers. I’ve done all of the above and survived. The ultimate goal is to heat up the section of bronze you’re putting patina on to about 200 degrees, then you apply whatever chemicals needed. I’ve had a palette of blacks, browns, reds and greens.

I’ve also discovered that moving bronze sculptures is  an athletic effort, steel toed boots and a hand truck are required. Where are those assistants when I need them?

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An Evolution

The evolution of the Forest Memoir project from initial idea in 2015 to permanent bronze pieces is reaching a turning point. As it’s gone from wood to bronze I too have evolved. There have been so many new techniques and tools to learn, and a different kind of energy is needed to work in metals- its hard body work. But the bronze chairs are altogether and now what remains is final surfacing and patina work. The fabrication help from Michael McLaughlin has been excellent as was the casting done by Mystic River Foundry. And always there is the support of my husband, Gabriel Warren, who is an expert metalsmith. My job for the next month is to learn patinas and design the platform and anchors. There is never a dull moment, middle of May is my deadline so they can go out to their installations.

March/ talks and shows

Seed for Poetrees/2019 This month I’ll be doing a number of talks based on art and the environment as well as exhibiting  new work from a series called Historias. The series continues the thinking started with earlier Cuba work, how inanimate objects carry energy and stories. (I’m also looking for more books if you’re editing shelves : Latin, Greek texts, natural history guides, poetry and history books.  Old and used is fine- as long as they are hard cover).

Ana Flores at Yosemite Valley, 2019The talks will address the influence of artists on the beginning of the land conservation movement in the U.S. This research and new exploration for me was done thanks to the  Robert F. Schumann Foundation.  Please join me for some of the events if you’re in the area        March 4-28 URI/ Providence Art Gallery    Telling  HerStory: Group show               
Reception  March 21 5-9pm

Sunday March 17th 3 PM  (free)                       
South County Art Association, Kingston RI
The Artistic Gaze and the American Land Conservation Movement 

Saturday March 23rd   8:30- 5 pm  ( register)      Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT  Connecticut Land Conservation Conference  Partnerships between Artists and  Environmental Groups

A bouquet of pheasants, a parliament of owls, a flamboyance of flamingos

We’ve created such imaginative words to describe groups of different bird species, I’m wondering what to call a convening of land stewards- the non feathered type. ‘Conference’ doesn’t do justice to describe a gathering of the hard-working, passionate citizens who protect our lands, our habitats and the habitats of owls, pheasants, turtles, newts and other creatures. How about an embrace of stewards, a mission of stewards, a cathedral of stewards? What is your word?

On March 23rd I’ll be at Wesleyan University in Connecticut presenting at the 2019 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference. I’m excited to be part of the busy one day conference that has over 30 workshops and panels. The workshop I’m giving is entitled, “Partnerships between Artists and Environmental Groups” It’ll address my decades long experience working with environmental groups as well as projects done by other artists. Some of my collaborators from the most recent project in Old Lyme, Peter Cable, Jane Cable and Patricia Shippee, showed up this week to helpinstall an exhibit of the Vision Box project at the Old Lyme Public Library which runs through early March.   I felt very lucky to have the embrace of my steward friends.

Here are some events and exhibits on the calendar for the next few months, please come by if you can.

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Forest memoir / study for sculpture ink drawing 14″ x 17′

Jan 10- March 10 Vision Boxes                            Old Lyme Public Library, Old Lyme,CT

March 4-28  Telling Herstory, Creating the Future, University of Rhode Island Gallery, Providence, RI, Gallery Night reception on Thursday 3/21 from 5-9pm.

March 23, 2019 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.  Presenting “Partnerships between Artists and Environmental Groups”.

June 5-30 “The Dignity of Trees Dedee Shattuck Gallery Westport, CT.  Reception June 8, 5-8 pm