Friday, March 18, 2011

Tucson Artist: Made Bed Finished, Melinda Finds A Way

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It must be assembled

As I was looking for something today with a dust cloth in hand, I found A Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi. I opened it to the "Water Book." There were two things that jumped out at me and related to my sculpture project:

1)"The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze, "Perception and Sight." Perception is strong. Sight is weak."

2) Knowing the Way of the long sword means we can wield with two fingers the sword we usually carry...try to wield the long sword quickly you will mistake the Way.

I considered meditatively how this sand could speak in context, in 3D form. I thought of a basket, as in, "to hell in a hand basket." I thought of the countless birds photographed for the news, some being saved during the BP oil spill in 2010.

There were old milk bottle wire baskets that I thought would hold the jar of sand and containers of oil, perhaps with feathers hanging off the edges. There were wire baskets for sale online with blue preserve jars just like mine! But, the cost was prohibitive. What about a bigger platform? Ah, "You've made your bed, and must lie in it" came to mind. Whoa! The prices of old beds were even more outrageous.

The question became, How to take the large view, and moreover, wield the sword of my idea with two fingers?

Clean the pool. Think some more.

We have a 'no man's land' on our property sectioned off from view. As I went to get something for the pool in this section, I dared not hope that we still had the old 1920s/30s iron bed.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It was there. Could I find a way to use it? When I shared my new idea with my family, it had been three months of waiting for the ideas about the sand to mature. But, even though "it was an ambitious" project, I began.

The iron bed was dragged out and placed in front of the red studio. I took paper towels and stuck them in the wire springs. I ordered white feathers and black feathers. The black feathers were iridescent, as though the birds had spent a lot of time drinking from pools of "gasoline rainbow" water.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The individual constructs developed quickly: white plastic grocery bags (The ones we're trying to avoid) were cut up and became the inner ball-like armatures. Inexpensive white feathers from a craft store were glued around the ball, followed by the larger white feathers. A pigmented encaustic held them together at the base. These feather constructs were then tacked to small balls of bubble wrap placed in each of the spring openings. Glue and tar bits held the black feathers in place around the edge of the bed--as a kind of bedskirt. A trip to Goodwill resulted in the purchase of glass dishes for the white platter on which the preserve jar would sit. Motor oil was poured around the base of the jar.

Serendipity was everywhere

For a year, I had boycotted Target for several reasons. However, I returned there in January for some household items. In the bedding isle, there were two pillows. Only two.

They were turquoise blue (I later subdued the hue by hand sewing a gauzy, gray knit fabric over the centers.) They were lined with white feathers. The same white feathers I was using.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

In addition, while writing the earlier post about this, I googled the BP Oil Spill and clicked on a wikipedia listing. There I learned that the flow of oil lasted for ninety days. I did not know this, or did not remember it. There are ninety iron bed spring openings. That was a major woo-woo moment for me.

I once wrote a poem for a university class titled, I Am Not A Poet. I still maintain that and would add:

I Am Not A Sculptor
I am merely me,
Merely Melinda middle aged
Who sometimes forgets
What time it is...

Made Bed, Pensacola Preserve, Or What I Saved, What I Didn't (tar, feathers, bed, Pensacola beach sand, plastic bags, bubble wrap, pillows and glue) brought it all back to me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda: Everything Was Times Ninety

The evolution of a work, from emotional response, experiential context, and how memory becomes matter

The living room is connected to the strawbale studio, and the strawbale studio is connected to the living room, which is connected to a built-in bookcase. This bookcase holds "tchotchkes, gewgaws (from wikipedia)," and even a few lagniappes with the books. However, there was an item that I passed by every day that began to whisper, "Think of me. Remember me. Say something about me."

It was a preserve jar filled with the luminous and pristine Pensacola beach sand collected back in the 1960s when I lived there as a kid. It is perfect and clean. It is without tar balls.

One child's saving from a time so distant it almost seems Edenic compared to our world today.
Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It shouted to me, Irony! Synchronicity! Look, that sand is in a preserve jar! I saw a connection. This connection was leaping through time right into 2010 and the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico of 2010. The oil spill continued for ninety days, from April 20, 2010 to July 15th.

Now what?

Today, I am sitting here thinking about how life becomes a kind of 'everything is times ninety' regimen. Tragedy and mayhem, a ninety million good deeds by ninety million people, the working of an inspiration toward a comment both beautiful and disturbing, feeling as though we are repeating the same acts, making the same gestures (and mistakes), while one lovely spring day contains the deaths of two neighbors, the full throated song of birds heralding the end of winter and the end of an era, juxtaposed with a birthday (not mine, but a loved one's) so miraculous that words are quieted by joy and gratitude and laughter.

How will I illustrate a small act of saving without maudlin, heavy handed gestures? I cannot paint it. It must be assembled.

More soon...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tucson Museum of Art Arizona Biennial '11: Fire in the Belly and Tucson Artist Melinda

filmed by Mr. Arty Fice.

There's an art idea I've been working on for about five months now.

This ain't no BBQ, although my brain's cookin' with ideas.

Here's a hint:
Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It's part of a sculpture/installation that I've been working on. It's had me so excited (and sleepless) that I just had to start sharing a bit of it with you.

Painting has been tabled momentarily. The deadline for the Tucson Museum of Art's Arizona Biennial is next week and I'm working on finishing the piece and considering other works I'd like to submit. My mind might turn to ashes by then. Almost done with the fire references.

Until I can show you the finished piece, enjoy the fire. Light one within yourself--to be more of who you are, to push further into how you approach your work, to allow yourself a voice. And, don't let anyone steal your flame. There!