Archive for the ‘Oregon City’ Category

Jaipur cover_bogHello, everyone, I’m not dead. I’ve been… well, that’s a long story for another post. Right now I want to tell you that The Theory and I have put together three new books about Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly. Who is, coincidentally, my father.

Observatory at Jaipur
Catalog accompanying Lee’s show in October 2015 at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Full color, 86 pages. Get it here: Observatory at Jaipur

One through Nine_cover_blogLee Kelly: One through Nine
In 2013, Lee Kelly created a significant body of new work, a series of paintings entitled “One through Nine.” These nine paintings are oil on canvas, a medium the artist had largely abandoned in 1963. However, these new paintings do not represent a return to Kelly’s Abstract Expressionist past but emerged from his sculptural work of the last ten to 15 years. Full color, 68 pages. Get it here: Lee Kelly: One through Nine

A bog cover_blogBook of Gardens
A Book of Gardens was first published by Lee Kelly and Bonnie Bronson in 1987 as a study of garden designs from India, ancient Egypt and Japan. Hand-printed and illustrated by Lee Kelly, designed and spiral bound by Bonnie Bronson, this small book had a single release of fewer than fifty copies. This 2015 edition includes a facsimile reproduction of the original book and photographs from Lee’s sculptures as installed at his home in Oregon City. Get it here: A Book of Gardens

For the next week or so, I’ll send free pdfs to anyone interested in taking a look at the books. Leave me comment below and I’ll get back to you.

What’s next?
With these books in mind, I’m considering doing some posts about the process of putting together print-on-demand books for artists. In a world where exhibition catalogs can be expensive to produce, print-on-demand might be something for artists to consider. So more on that later. And hopefully another year doesn’t pass before I do these posts!

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The snow shown in my last post (February 7th)? That’s long gone! So many un-wonderful things have happened since that peaceful snowy day that I haven’t had the heart to post anything.

Where should I start? Oh, right. Let’s start with the money. My studio roof is leaking. Actually it is pouring, flowing, dumping and flooding. I have five buckets set up inside but the water is sloshing around on the floor, free-flowing and unrestrained. I had a scary moment when I realized that rain was actually coming in THROUGH the light fixtures. How did I know? Because I had just turned the lights on. Believe me, I walked carefully back to the light switch and turned them off.

We got a bid for a new roof. As you can imagine, this is the part that really hurt: a new roof is going to cost two bills. Let’s all join hands for a moment of silence.

Here are some photos:

OMG. There's a quart of water in that globe.

OMG. There’s a quart of water in that globe.


Inside the studio. My wintering geraniums are in the back, getting lots of water.

Inside the studio. That’s my work table under the tarp. Wintering geraniums are in the back, getting lots of water.

Another work area with a water-catching device on top. My heat gun, torch and many jars of dry pigment are under there. Did you catch that? DRY pigment. Ugh.

Another work area with a water-catching device on top. My heat gun, torch and many jars of dry pigment are under there. Did you catch that? DRY pigment. Ugh.

For anyone who wants to get all sentimental, here’s a photo of my studio before the blue tarps descended from heaven to ruin my life:

BEFORE: Here's what it looks like under the blue tarps. Bet you see the problem: moss.

Bet you can see the problem: moss. I thought it was picturesque!

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I’m watching the snow fall, the very snow I’ve been waiting for all year. I understand, people in other parts of the U.S. scoff at Oregonians’ inability to drive in the snow, dress for snow or, let’s be honest, think in the snow. Snow starts coming down and we flee the workplace by the thousands convinced it’s the end of the world and we’re all going to freeze to death. On the other hand, what group of people knows more about seasonal affective disorder than Oregonians?

Although we’re only getting our snow now, we had a savage cold snap in early December. The lows were in the single digits. And again, I understand, this is nothing for you folks in Montana (Stacey Jean Barron of Missoula, Montana, I’m talking to you) but for us it was unexpected, especially for beekeepers. A friend lost two hives, and we have no idea whether our bees are still alive. Anyway, it’s still pretty out there:

Sculptures in the snow.

Lee Kelly sculptures in the snow. The one in the foreground is from the 1960’s. The lonely table in the background is where The Theory and I had lunch during the reno. It was sunny and warm then. Seems so long ago now.

Lavender from the garden, probably dead.

Lavender from the garden, probably dead. I don’t want to talk about it.

Our beehive huddled under straw bales.

Our beehive huddled under straw bales. That’s Akbar’s Elephant in the background, a stainless steel sculpture by my father. Sculptures always look great in the snow.

A close-up of the hive. Snow is insulating, right? I can still hope.

A close-up of the hive. Snow is insulating, right? I can still hope.

Well, I need to get the hurricane lamps set up in case we lose power. A happy snow day to all… and to my bees, good luck.

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On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, a ragtag crew of sculptors, welders and students installed a public art project in downtown Oregon City. Created by Oregon sculptor, Lee Kelly, and called moontrap (lowercase m is intentional), this sculpture was commissioned by the Rotary Club of Oregon City and gifted to the citizens of Oregon City, past present and future.

Lee, father of this blog’s author, has lived in Oregon City since 1963. And despite his lengthy residency, moontrap is his first piece of public art  in his home town. Go anywhere else in the state and you’ll see quite a bit of Lee’s work.

Moontrap is located on Railroad Avenue and Eighth Street, anchored to the large concrete wall that separates the railroad tracks from the city.

Initial sketch of moontrap on a cocktail napkin. Winestock, Oregon City, February 2011.

The idea for moontrap was sketched on a paper napkin one evening at Winestock, our local wine stop, almost a year ago. The idea was to make a connection between the natural world of the basalt bluffs and Singer Creek above, and the human built world of industry and commerce. The title of the sculpture comes from Moontrap by Don Berry about the rowdy, raucus early days of Oregon City, and the compromises that had to be made in order to live with civilization.

At the dedication a few days later, Railroad Avenue was filled with citizens of Oregon City, members of the Rotary Club, Winestock folks, and friends from distant Portland, all celebrating a new work of public art in Oregon’s first city. Art and the rain—two good reasons to take shelter and create fellowship in this funny old town.

Here are some photos taken by The Theory on November 1, 2011:

Moontrap is made from type 304 stainless steel. It is 39' in length and 8' 9" in height.

Lee Kelly and D'Nita Carbone (at center) with moontrap installation crew, November 1, 2011.

Moontrap, looking north on Railroad Avenue, Oregon City.

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Since having my own sort of epiphany over the holidays, I’ve been looking at artist statements from encaustic artists. Here’s one from an amazing artist, Pamela Farrell:

“I am moved to make art that explores themes of loss, identity, and memory. I have a tendency toward revealing…something: remains, lacunae, vestiges, scars, traces of memories, clues, the barely discernible….The work seeks to bring forward traces of memory and experience which cannot be expressed with words. I am interested in the tension between what is known and what is not.” Read the whole thing here.

A piece of Ms. Farrell’s from 2009, called Ophelia (grey) is worth checking out. Watch me be a good Internet citizen by not posting a large version of her image. Go to Pamela’s site to see it in situ.

Pamela Farrell. Ophelia (grey). 2009. Encaustic on panel. 36" x 36".

As a viewer, I look at Ophelia (grey) and respond to the artist’s brilliant control of the medium. The title evokes memories of other times I’ve heard the name Ophelia. From Shakespeare through The Addams Family and finally to the non-fiction work Drowning Ophelia.  It resonates as an idea, a character, and a sense of female sadness. On the other, it is simply a lovely piece of art. Would it mean as much to me if it didn’t trigger a range of thoughts that exist outside the piece–inside the viewer’s busy little brain?

I’m tempted here to suggest that words, such as this title, impact my feelings about the work a lot. As a writer, it may be hard-wired in me.  But I don’t like this piece simply for the name; it also possesses a non-verbal, liquid, lost in falling beauty. See how many words I used there? Sheesh. A picture’s worth a thousand of them, so they say.

I am moved to make art that explores themes of loss, identity, and memory. –Pamela Farrell

From the artist’s statement, I posit that she too has a deep and thoughtful relationship with words. However, her work is lovely without them too.

Speaking of words, here’s another piece of mine from last weekend. The text is from a poem about a woman who leaves home in a hurry. It wasn’t intended to be about my daughter, the Baron Lucy-Lee, who moved out to go to college(leaving a lot of stuff behind), but it’s all in there. Life imitating life.

Vanishing Point. 2011. Encaustic on prepared board. 9" x 12".

This piece doesn’t have the extra layer of chalk, which leaves it a little more bald and plain than I would like. Thus I see a lot of words I would change. Maybe this weekend, I’ll do some revision.

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Bonnie Bronson. Porcelain enamel on steel, detail.

Bonnie’s first show in eighteen years is over. Four pieces sold out of the show, which covers our expenses and leaves a little bit extra for the next phase of Bonnie (Re)Introduction.

I have to say, I was stressed out! Every time I went to Winestock and saw the work–or saw people ignoring the work–I worried. What if no one liked it? And whose fault would that be? Not the stalwart patrons of Winestock. Not the generous (and patient) owners Sarrah and Carlos.  No, it was me. Bad daughter.

Deafening silence.
It was worse than people ignoring my work. Heck with ’em. But all I could think about was how my ma would feel if she knew.

But it didn’t happen.
So I learned where those daughterly emotions exist in me now: right here, baby. Right up front next to my trigger finger. But work sold and I didn’t pitch a fit or cry in public. I’m even happier knowing that some pieces will come home to become part of the permanent collection.

Above is a Bonnie enameled panel from the early seventies. She did a number of “body parts” pieces, richly colored and seductive, and very much part of the Garden of Eden era we remember as the late 1960’s.

Gouache over wax video
This video from Angeline Marie really deserves a post of its own. It shows an interesting craquelure technique using gouache over wax. I haven’t seen the first video in the series, though the artist shows the piece she worked on in the second video. Check it out, along with a very moving series of encaustic paintings about the Gulf oil spill disaster. The lady does nice work!

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I’ve never been a huge fan of green. As Dad says, “Green is what happens when you’re doing something else.” I presume he means doing something else with blue and yellow.

Verdigris "rust" on some kind of copper or bronze fixture.

The green pigments I’ve been able to afford are quiet earth colors just a step or two away from gray. In other words, boring. But I was listening to the incredibly diverting At Home, Bill Bryson’s newest and learned something about how to make green pigment. Do yourself a flavor and get the audio book. Bill is a perfect reader—soft-spoken and funny. No one delivers a line like “…and he died, obscure and penniless, a broken man,” with more vaudevillian regret. In this text, Bill describes how the ancients made verdigris, the basis of green.

It’s simple. Take some copper and suspend it over a vat of horse dung and vinegar. The copper will corrode, like it does on your arm when you wear a copper bracelet. Scrape the green “rust” off and there is it. A Google search reveals that horse dung is just the beginning. Lots of people prefer using their own urine, and in fact there was some discussion at Winestock the other night about how common this is. Mind you, the discussion was among men, and I was faintly disgusted.

Here’s an image of a work in a series by Andy Warhol from 1978 called Oxidation. The Theory tells me this series was created in just this way, with urine:

Andy Warhol, Oxidation Paintings. 1978. Acrylic ground, copper metalic paint, urine on canvas.

Here is a lovely description of the final result:

“For all the conjecture surrounding why Warhol made these somewhat perverse works, one is left, in the final analysis, with objects of extraordinary beauty. The present example is one of the largest Warhol ever ‘made’, possessing the same qualities one finds in Oriental screens. Indeed, a Zen-like serenity pervades the surface, quite at odds, one can imagine, with their creation One can see the paintings as ethereal landscapes, or portraits of micro-organisms, wildly amplified Whichever way one looks at them, the Oxidation Paintings remain Warhol’s most economic works and some of his most elegant compositions.”

I found this text on a restricted area of the Georgetown University web site (it came up in a Google keyword search, so how restricted could it be?) and there was no author given. Go here to read the entire the article which also includes some entertaining notes on who did what.

Addendum: The Theory used his mad skills to glean more information about the article quoted above: “The author is Martin Irvine of Georgetown U.  Teaches contemporary art theory and visual culture. He is quoting an exhibition catalog from Piss & Sex Paintings and Drawings, from Gagosian (NYC, Madison Avenue).  Catalog essay was by Bruce Hainley.  Exhibition dates September/November, 2002.  Catalog is out of print.”

(While this not a proper citation, I express my thanks to both Georgetown University and the Gagosian Gallery for the link.)

While I really hope NOT to use my or anyone else’s bodily products, verdigris seems like a worthy Hive experiment. The Theory checked pH levels of various household compounds and discovered that very close to the top, just after battery acid (1.0 pH), was lime juice (1.8 to 2.0), followed by lemon juice (2.2 to 2.4) and vinegar (2.2). Go here to check pH values of other interesting household items.

Bits of copper salvaged from other projects.

I took some bits and pieces of copper and put half in white vinegar and half in concentrated lemon juice. Both solutions were warmed and soaked in paper towels with the copper bits arranged on top. The lime juice I set aside for my gin and tonic constitutional. Check back later to see how my verdigris experiment is progressing.

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