Sioux Falls SculptureWalk 2012 — Day Two

Installation

Up at 5am — I can’t sleep I’m so excited.

Judd and I drive over to his site for a 6:25 am install. The weather is cloudy and misty — not the 86 and sunny originally predicted. 

There are cranes, welding trucks, and volunteers all over downtown. The cops directing traffic wave us through — I’m feeling like a celebrity.

Next, it’s over to the storage area to drop off Samurai Dancer and Judd’s pieces going to other locations.  I bend Samurai Dancer back to vertical.  It needs to be welded a bit to keep it that way.  He’ll be at the Orpheum in a couple of weeks.

We head to my pedestal in front of AdWerks.  It’s a great spot for Maelstrom.  It’s towards Falls Park on 5th and Main near the Museum of Visual Materials in a beautiful courtyard.  Here’s a video of the install:

And a few photos of the piece. Note the famous blue shirt.

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After this, Judd and I wanted to see the other sculptures and get some breakfast.  So, we parked the van and walked over to Phillips Ave were all the action was taking place.  We talked with Kyle Fokken, who has a fun movable piece near mine (he also does great work) and hooked up with Nick Legeros too.

But before that, all four of us were interviewed by the local media.  I’ll post that when it becomes available.

Finally breakfast at the Phillips Avenue Diner (delicious) and a much needed nap (it was wet, rainy and cold — not the nap but the weather).

Art Discussion Panel

Five artist were asked by the moderator various questions about art.  The artists were: Bill Walker, Ben Hammond, Lance Carleton, Joe Castle and Nick Legeros.  The moderator was Marianne Weil.  There were three bronze sculptors (four counting Marianne) and two steel artists.

 Some on the panel had classical training while others were completely self taught.  Some knew practically from birth they wanted to be artists while others took awhile to get there. It was an inspiring panel. I loved the comments and the insights about who their mentors and inspirations were.  How they approached their art and what it all meant to them.

Ben made a comment that caught my attention.  He wanted just one piece in the art history books and be included with the great artists of the ages.  An admirable goal.  For you Minnesota Vikings fans, he did a bust for John Randle’s entry in the Hall of Fame.  Very cool!

We discussed why visitors ask sculptors about the act of creating sculptors and how we do what we do, along with some good-natured ribbing of painters.  There was discussion on naming the piece and how the name can affect how people see and interpret the art.  I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who wrestles with the naming thing.

Seeing the Art

After the discussion we broke up with a group of us heading to see my work Maelstrom, and then on to all the other pieces for the show.  About eight blocks worth of art.  Seriously, there is really good art here in Sioux Falls.  Go see it!  As soon as I have all the photos I’ll add them to a Flickr feed.

Falls Overlook Cafe Reception

The final official event of the weekend was a reception at the Falls Overlook Cafe.  Sioux Falls has a beautiful park the encompasses a waterfall that has carved out the pink quartz to create striking landscape.

This event was artists plus Jim Clark, the event organizer.  We got to hear from Jim. He said it was the best show in it’s 9 year history.  And that next years will be even better to celebrate 10 years.  We all showed our appreciation for Jim, the sponsors and all the volunteers.  Without them, there would be no SculptureWalk.

We had beer and more great conversation.  I was quizzing  Ben, Shohini Ghosh and Kate Christopher (part of the Minnesota posse) about how they do their bronze sculptures. Ben does busts for athletes and takes physical measurements and sculpts with clay as they sit. Being a technology guy I naturally asked why he didn’t just scan them with a three-d laser measurement device.

Well, you end up with a model, but not a sculpture was the basically the response.  There are a lot of lifelike bronzes out there, some more detailed than others.  I learned that during the creative process the artist will make the sculpture bend or move in ways no human really could to emphasize a certain aspect or meaning.  The model is transformed from a technical creation to a piece of art with meaning and emotion.  It’s a crucial step.

I feel the same way working with steel and copper.  I take what are often standard low-profile construction materials and heat, bend and shape them to imbue a meaning and create an emotional attachment. 

It reminds me of the show Chopped on the Food network.  Four chefs get a basket of mystery ingredients, one or two of which are not meant to go together in a traditional sense (Spam and gummy worms, for instance).  The winners are invariably those that can transform an ingredient they would ever use in their restaurants into a delightfully edible dish.

Seems like art is like that too. Take a pedestrian material (steel, bronze, copper) and love it until the art appears.  Transform it to have a reason that transcends its initial purpose in the universe and create a funny, sad, scary piece of art.

Minerva’s

Dinner was at Minerva’s on Phillips Avenue with a large group of artists. We had a delightful steak dinner (they throw vegans and vegetarians out onto the street there) and more stimulating conversation.  During our walk to see all the sculptures I had the opportunity to get to know the guys from Anvil Works in West Virginia. Lee Badger is a master blacksmith and I feel honored to have met him.  Having done some really basic blacksmithing I have the ultimate respect for his work.  See, lots of very talented artists here.

At the dinner I spoke with Lee’s partner Steve and the others about websites and the internet.  I don’t pretend to know everything but I do know website development — it’s what I do professionally.  So we had a great conversation about the technologies and services we can use as artists to connect with our audiences.  Steve was kind enough to describe his results with internet marketing and SEO and I emphasized the need to have a mobile-friendly version of their websites.

A few of us ended the evening with a walk to Grand Finale by Jennifer Cannon. You’ll enjoy it. 

The walk back to the hotel was through busy streets of people coming and going.  Downtown Sioux Falls is definitely a vibrant downtown.  Personally I think it has lots to do with the 9 years of SculptureWalks.  There’s life and plenty of activity in this town.

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