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

The alternative art school movement

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“Back to school” sounds good to children (who get to see their friends every day again) and to their parents (who get to not see their children for a number of hours every week day), but adults often find that their own schooling – say, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree – can be a hassle, what with the job, the kids, the cost of tuition, moving. Tuition for an MFA in sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art currently runs $43,760 for a full year (and it is a two-and-a-half year program), and then there are a range of required and optional fees, and we haven’t even gotten to food and accommodations. The low-residency MFA in studio art at the college is exactly half the cost of the full-time rate, which may be more palatable but still a big chunk of change. Continue reading

Is That an Insult?

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It sometimes seems as though being an artist gives the rest of the world a license to be insulting, if unintentionally. Can you really make a living from this? Is that a cat? Could you do that in yellow? Wouldn’t it look better flipped on its side? Artists who sell directly to the public regularly face those and other questions and comments that seemingly denigrate their professionalism and their art. What’s more, the same questions get asked repeatedly by different people at exhibitions and fairs, which could turn sensitive souls sarcastic and mocking, hardly a good way to engender sales. Continue reading

Reestablishing Rockne

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The Miami Line in 1987 photo by RK

“I got to spend a lot of time on roof tops with my dad,” says Heather Krebs. She recalls a postcard from her father, dated 1974, telling her the laser piece they worked on had been turned on. She laughs. “I was five.”

Rockne Krebs, the father of laser art, got rooftop access to some atypical locations for his installations—The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, parts of Disney Land—and often took his daughter.  “It was sort of like having this backstage pass….hanging out in these areas and looking over the scenery and the laser sculpture from views that few would see,” she remembers. Continue reading

Pet Portraiture

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William Nedham’s A Toy Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel in a Landscape

Let’s talk about pet portraiture, a memorial in paint or metal of that other member of the family. The most common subject is a horse, followed closely by dogs and far behind is a wide range of creatures – cats, canaries, snakes, fish and whatever else people want in their homes. “Someone once painted a lizard, and we had a painting with a frog in it,” said Jaynie Spector, owner of the Charleston, South Carolina-based Dog and Horse Fine Art & Portraiture gallery, which represents “more than 30 artists across the United States and Europe” who specialize in animal art and take commissions for pet portraits. Most of those artists are painters, but some are sculptors who are asked to create a bronze of some animal that has passed away. Continue reading

When Artists Divorce

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How much more enjoyable it is to speak of love and marriage than of splitting up, but divorce happens, and it happens to artists at probably the same rate as for everyone else. Marital property – everything acquired during the marriage – needs to be divided in some way: the cars, the house, the bank account, the furniture. So, too, the artwork created by the artist-spouse, and along with the physical objects are current and future revenues from licensing as well as the copyright. Continue reading