Declining number of art supply stores

A.I. Friedman, the Manhattan art materials store, never had a lot of products for sculptors – there were some small tools for carving, some Sculpey and a limited number of small bags of plaster – but its closing on April 30th after 80 years in business means that yet one more venerable brick-and-mortar supply company for artists to visit, shop and learn about new products is gone. New York City, where there are perhaps more visual artists per capita than anywhere else in the world, has seen a spate of these closings in recent years. In 2014, Pearl Paint closed its doors for good after 81 years, and both New York Central Art Supply (founded in 1905) and Lee’s Art Shop (founded in 1951) closed last year. In 2006, Peter Leggieri Sculpture Supply was shuttered after 17 years. Continue reading

Children of Artists Carrying on their Parent’s Legacy

It is rare that an artist retires, so when sculptor Rob Fisher died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 67 in 2006, he left five large-scale commissioned projects uncompleted. In most contracts to produce a new work of art, there is a clause to cancel the agreement in the event of the death of the artist, but Fisher’s family looked to maintain and extend his legacy. Over the ensuing six years, his son Brett and daughter Talley took over the process of completing these commissions and even to begin new projects that they themselves designed, however still under the imprimatur of Rob Fisher Sculpture. Continue reading

Working in a Sculpture Foundry

Casting Iron at Carrie Furnaces at the 26th International Sculpture Conference in Pittsburgh.

Casting Iron at Carrie Furnaces at the 26th International Sculpture Conference in Pittsburgh.

Cynics like to claim that a studio art degree is training for a life of unemployment, but many graduates of BFA and MFA programs find that they can put their technical skills to use, even if not directly towards their own fine art careers.

For instance, Sheryl Hoffman’s main interest at Cleveland State University (where she earned a BFA) and at Ohio State University in Columbus (where she received an MFA) was her sculpture, but the process of creating her mixed media pieces required her to learn welding and various casting techniques (plaster, sand and wax), which enabled her to find work in sculpture foundries after graduation. “While I was waiting for a teaching job to come along, I took up casting, because I knew how to do this,” she said. For eight years, she worked at several different Ohio-based foundries–Studio Foundry in Cleveland and David R. Kahn in Athens, among others–working with artists in their studios to create rubber molds of their work, then at the foundry making waxes and the investment that resulted in editions of their artwork. During those years, she earned between $20,000 and $30,000, depending upon how many jobs came in. Continue reading

Making Your Life as an Artist: Making Workbook

Making Workbook inside cover.

Making Workbook inside cover.

In a previous blog post I reviewed the book and digital download Making Your Life as an Artist by Andrew Simonet, a considered insight into the role of art and methods for working efficiently with an art-based skill-set. This matter-of-fact publication has unsurprisingly expanded into an even further practicable format in the Making Workbook. Continue reading

Responding to Suggestions

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Mark Hopkins, a sculptor in Loveland, Colorado, was offered a commission by the director of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, but the proposed subject was a bit odd. “He wanted me to do a sculpture of Noah’s Ark, including a dinosaur or two,” he said. (The Creation Museum “brings the pages of the Bible to life,” according to its Web site.) “I thought, ‘that’s ridiculous.’ I told him, ‘it will look like Dinotopia.’ It just wouldn’t make any sense, so I rejected the idea.” But he said it nicely, diplomatically, “something like, ‘Let me think about that for a while,’ because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.” Continue reading

The Missing Archive of Yuri Schwebler

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Installing “Magnetic North,” c 1970-71. Image Courtesy Rory Connell

Now that it is winter, and the east coast of the U.S. is likely bracing for another portmanteau of snow, we’ll take a moment to recall the time the Washington Monument was turned into a sundial.

Featured briefly on the CBS Evening News on Monday, February 11, 1974, sculptor Yuri Schwebler, visibly cold, stands by and somewhat awkwardly discuses his motivation to ray lines away from the base of the Washington Monument to transform it into a sun dial. As his response ranges from articulate to school-boy giddy, it’s clear his motivation is sincere: sincere-enough that in 1971 he filed a permit with the National Park Service and waited three years before the snow was just the right depth to make the work. Continue reading