illuminate (the most beautiful night ever) - clock 2011 Esherick museum themed competition/exhibition
I was really excited to find out the theme for the 2011 Esherick show....
Continuing on with the theme of "Abstract Anatomy" I designed this clock to be a functional art piece. It was the first time I used a two inch thick mahogany single panel to create a work out of.
Walking into my grandparents house who were antique dealers/collectors you could help but be surrounded by clocks of all manners. I was excited to put my own unique spin on the form.
ILLUMINATE (the most beautiful night ever)
the piece was described as follows for the exhibition :
Although this work was declined from the exhibition I still really love the piece and it became a building block for my works to come.
It would also mark the final time I would create a work for this exhibition as the following year I would become very busy with collaborations and custom projects.
2011 sees a good mix and moving forward of abstract as well as realistic creations for me with the standard kept of only using hand tools in my work.
The first work was based around reimagined hanger design.
As I take influences from so many places I feel it's best sometimes to take a more simplified from the heart John Lennon approach to my work as seen in the first work.
The challenge of this work was keeping a consistent roundness to the shape of the work.
The next piece was the last time I focused on creating a work focused on the hand. It once again is a simple gesture.
Dreams and Distances
This work is another tribute to my Nan that passed away. It shows my hand reaching for help.
It is a simple statement that in life if we are lucky enough we are granted the ability to follow our dreams which can be measured by the path or distance we travel. My journey and art is a tribute to those who helped me become who I have.
The piece is mounted on a shuffleboard top that I played a lot of on growing up before it was cut up.
The next piece was
OLD MAN and COW
This piece is another creating in the "abstract anatomy " style I was working on. I hid various images in the line work as well as subtracted parts to create a puzzle for the viewer to figure out. (if the so choose)
The last I created was
It represents femininity.
i liked creating the illusion of a cherry under glass for this work.
The theme for the 2010 show was …..
While at my brother's house my mom asked if I knew what I was making for the exhibition yet. I knew I wanted to make a pen of sorts when my mom said she really liked the large pepper carving I made earlier in the year titled A Mother's Wisdom.
As the conversation continued it was her idea to create a pen the shape of a jalepeno pepper.
I added the soft "cloud" hugging the pen and so was born my 2010 submission for the Esherick :
I wanted to the pen cartridge to be easily replaced so incorporated the BIC pen design.
It took me three attempts at carving the jalepeno to get the right feel for the shape/scale of the work but just loved the final result.
The piece was accepted into the exhibition and won second place.
This piece will always remain a favorite of mine. Not only because it's just dang good! but most importantly because I could create a work with my mom. Someone whom as well as my dad has been there every step of my journey and always been nothing but proud and supportive of who I am.
2010 becomes my most productive year as a pure artist. I had lost my job that I held for 11 years and was going through many emotions from betrayal to inspired confidence.
At this time the economy was very poor and jobs were scarce. It was a struggle to hold onto my home but I fought and most important survived while trying to stay as positive and hopeful as possible.
My art became my refuge. Creating these works requires 100% attention as just in chess every move is important.
These works were 100% hand carved outdoors out of single piece wide boards of mahogany. I had very limited tools at the time which defined the style that defines me,
Other than HEARTBROKEN all the following works were created along Boathouse Row and the Azalea Garden behind the art museum in Philadelphia as I spent anywhere from 8- 10 hours indulged in my art.
This piece was made shortly before losing my job. I had befriended a gentleman with special needs that I learned passed away. We would share greetings and smiles and that was enough.
I utilized the four tiered "E" that I was using previously in carved wall reliefs in 2005 as well as an incomplete "N" to show hope.
I loved this beautiful piece of Spanish Cedar that had sap leaching to the top creating the speckles. It provided a great contrast to the natural cedar that was revealed through the carving of the letters.
I also loved the simplicity of this work as used only as straight rasp to outline the letters and one gouge to remove material inside the lines.
The first carving following my unemployment was No Man Shall Build Upon My Soil.
This piece was a self portrait of sorts defining who I was. The anvil represented strength. The hammer represented the drive and the apple purity and completeness.
The next work was Peace.
It was an homage to the classic tradition of throwing your sneakers onto electric lines whether to mark your territory or celebrate moving on.
One of the fun parts of creating this work was carving/creating space between the shoe lace and background.
The next work was The Resurrection.
Another self portrait as well as a trinity reference.
The outlet or power source is open, a gallon of milk showing purity and the light switch on open meaning giving light.
The one thing I will remember about this work is how loud and percussive it was when carving it.
Next carved Beautiful Wishes,
A self portrait as a strong racehorse on the move. I really enjoyed carving the shallow straps on this work.
I then carved I'm not afraid of dying.
This piece represented taking a bite out of life without care (or a cupcake) . I really liked carving the big jimmies (or sprinkles as some may say) as well as the punk quality of the paint job.
Next I created A Mother's Wisdom based off a poem I wrote.
As always whenever I would carve or create I was trying to take my craft to a new level. I designed the next work By the End of This Story You Will Be in Tears as another work in memory of my Nan passing.
At the time I thought it was pretty intricate, made a dedication to the mostly forgotten rrs.forgotten era/ beauty and craft of the 1920"s to 1960"s
I then carved FATHER/SON.
This piece refers to the bond and strand holding a father and son together. It is also a continuation of the hands theme I had been producing over the years. This work features the most detailed version while in a 2d format.
The string in the picture below was carved to be floating off the board to produce the connection.
The next work was The Duke,
This work was in memory of my Grandad as not only a reference to his love for fishing but also the tangled lines representing the journey of life.
I remember him saying as we both got older in life " where did all the time go?" and doing this blog chronicling the past 19 years I 'm questioning the same.
I remember this piece as well as the one following We Once Existed as being the most challenging I've ever carved due to the interlocking grain of the wood. Interlocked grain is difficult to carve as typically you can successfully carve a piece of wood in one direction but this as you move for instance upwards you hit a spot that wont let you travel upwards. Even carving across the grain is problematic in this situation so you must get a feel and adapt.
We Once Existed
I created this work as I viewed my nephew Ethan at the time who reminded me of myself. He was around 2 at the time but inquisitive and exploring life. It took me back to a moment that was as clear as it is now when I was 5 and asked my mother what happened when we died. Although I will not elaborate on her response it is loosely interpreted in this piece.
To end 2010 my art begins to shift as I begin to utilize a variety of experimental concepts merged into what I was defining as "abstract anatomy" which I later defined in 2012 for a book on the making of the work TO LOVE IS TO SAVE.
These works were based around my love for anatomy drawings using a female silhouette with a rhino horn type of growth that contained a "power source" as well as the extended head that showing as cross section of the inner works.
The first work completed in this four part series was :
It was based off the Fibonacci sequence as well as utilizing the power and energy of scrolls.
The breathe is taken in from the mouth and directed into the main power source of the large spiral and distributed to the left side of the scrolls. Reflective of religion and God.
I then created FREEDOM
This work shows the power source as more of a flower that energizes a flourishing system.
The piece features the four tiered "E" once again and moon/sun over mountain in the lettering of FREEDOM.
I then created UNWOKEN.
This work is a reference to a poem I wrote with the beginning phrase "I am a dream unwoken"
The power source is reminiscent of St Basil's cathedral in Russia as architecture has always played a role in my mind/designs.
The last piece in this series is SURRENDER.
This work is fueled be the dispersion of sense of smell featuring a glowing abstract pine cone type power source and vented central brain system.
Surrender was another work that was difficult to care due to the interlocked grain.
I feel like I have a lot more to explore and add to this series. I have a ton of concepts sketched out but as with much of my art one finding time for everything is the major issue.
The theme for the 2009 years exhibition was …..
Sadly this piece was created as a direct reflection of the loss of my Nan as well as other stuff happening that year.
It seemed that life was throwing obstacles my way any time I was trying to take a first step forward so I designed It's Been That Kind of Year.
The steps were made out of a naturally yellow wood called yellowheart with the banana peel carved into the first step
The structure holding the steps made from mahogany was designed to create a feel of unease.
I was happy that the piece I made in remembrance of my Nan was accepted into the exhibition.
My Nan was always proud of my accomplishments. I spent a lot of time with her after my Grandad passed away from ALS. We would make a lot of crafts together in her kitchen where I learned how to use a scroll saw to create little wood pieces starting around 19 years old. I was amazed by the process of creating works with it.
Looking back these days were beyond special to me and a huge reason for me getting into the craft of woodwork.
(one of my earliest works made back then below!!!)
picture a few years earlier at an opening of an exhibition at the Esherick Museum in front of his studio (my Dad, me, Nan, Mom and brother (my sister was taking the picture!)
The first work I completed in 2009 was Some Days I Own the World and Some Days the World Owns Me, basically a self portrait in begging dog form.
I designed him to be a hybrid animal mixing a Chihuahua with the Chupacabra or as I called him a Chupachihuahua
One of the features I love about this piece are the deep black ebony eyes I turned on the lathe.
The next piece was I wish you were here with me (right now)
This work is a deep contemplative/introspective work.
One of the unexpected details of the finished work was the glass in the bottom as the piece fell off the wall just after being completed crashing through the glass top on insecTABLE. I felt it added to the theme an overall work so left the pieces that found their way into the box.
The next two works were inspired by the decorative lawn ornaments of pink flamingos.
As I saw the typical plastic pink flamingos as representing the perfect American dream life these were meant to represent the opposite.
The first one was Triumphant.
It was carved out of mahogany, painted and scribed with a poem that I wrote. I purposely broke it and repaired it poorly to show the state out disrepair in America.
The second work was Falling in love is easy.
This work featured the flamingo painted in the classic pink color, purposely broken, poorly repaired with an attempt to create a new identity by painting over the pink coat.
The next piece was a cabinet titled I'm Sorry I Won't Do it Again.
I saw a call for entries for cabinets for Lark books 500 series. I wanted to make an unusual cabinet and well at the time at work there was some practical joking going on involving balloon popping and the phrase "i'm sorry I won't do it again" so paid homage it.
It was a very fun piece to create turning a large block of maple on the lathe, hand carving the knot and adding the razor blade pull to create a little danger.
The piece was accepted into the exhibition and was super excited to find out it would be located in the gallery section.
I enjoyed creating the balloon so much that I followed it up with You're All Talk.
The next piece made was you'll be ok boy.
This work was created after a poor pigeon I saw deceased in the street combining carving and found objects.
The last piece was hand and pail
This piece is based off of one of my favorite quotes "As I walk the universe walks with me." - Navajo Native American.
The hand and pail represent carrying the universe.
The theme for the 2008 Esherick show was
I was excited to make a chair and began to contemplate/sketch ideas. If a concept would pop into my mind at work at Ibanez guitars sometimes they were sketched on the back of warranty cards like the two original sketches for structures and is your heart free?
The first work Structures was designed to create a functional art chair that seemed non functional and would make the person leary about sitting in it but still be very strong.
After building the chairs "structure" or skeleton I added a glowing fluorescent plexiglass seat then completed the work by it a encasing it like a spider web.
The next work was Is your heart free?
This piece was created to be kind of anti chair. A lot of chair design and construction becomes so labor some with delicate precise joinery. These "labor of loves" begin to lack emotion and feeling because of how time consuming they become.
I wanted to make this work in one day to captured the emotion behind it. The piece featured a birds nest with a front screen placed where the heart would be. It has been pulled open to beg the question has love escaped or return to nest again.
The cedar shingles have been placed the wrong way to show that while it may be protected it will eventually break down due to the elements like rain falling downwards.
Is your heart free was accepted into the exhibition.
2008 is a significant year as it was the beginning of carving outdoors around Philadelphia. For me the ability to create in the energy of outdoors has become a major factor in my art.
The first work I created was "powerless".
Carved from a single piece of 4" thick X 6" wide mahogany this work was a direct reflection of emotions I was going through. Falling out of love, hopeful, missing love, wondering and feeling powerless.
Every time I create a work my intentions are to take what I have learned from the previous and surpass it. powerless was a challenging work.
powerless would be the second carved hand following the 2006 sculpture based cutting board "A New Beginning."
It was important to be as realistic in the carving as possible from the veins to the pinch between the thumb and index finger.
The nail driven into the vein an bending from being pulled represented the yearning for pulse. The string holding onto the slightest amount of hope while the fingers gesture to the self "you will be ok" while also the symbolically saying to a person "yeah sure" I don't believe you.
I then created the envelope piece called self portrait.
I used Ambroisia Maple for this work which is known for it's streaks in the wood left behind by the ambrosia beetle burrowing through the wood. Using it would give every envelope a uniqueness.
The "self portrait" in envelope form represents a life of experiences pilled up in sculptural form.
This piece was the first time I started carving around Philadelphia. I sculpted/detailed every envelope in the Azelea garden behind the art museum.
I continued the theme of carved envelopes with Time
The envelope represented the self and black sand the journey that is spilling out.
The final envelope piece was "buttons"
"buttons" is a piece reflective of my Nan who was my last living grandparent at the time and someone I was very close to. She was very sick at the time. Buttons represented to me mending, fixing and bringing together.
The 2007 theme for the Esherick show was ….
I wanted to enter two works into the show, one fun and one more serious.
The first work I created was off based of a poem I wrote called The Captured Soul.
As a lover of anatomy I wanted to incorporate the heart as an object that had been dissected to have the soul removed, resewn and transform into a flourishing object encased in an atrium.
The soul was represented in a small carving laying next to the heart .
I turned then steam bent the maple spears growing out of the heart.
This was the beginning to a more focused shift in anatomical works.
The piece functions by turning the portion just below the copper wire having the groun pepper fall out of the bottom of the heart.
As I was thinking/designing the second work for the show while driving a long distance the concept of a sock puppet popped into my head. I felt it would a great opportunity to work on my carving technique by trying to create a super realistic wrinkled sock so I sketched what would become Sockrates.
I carved "I am the wisest sock of all, for I know one thing, and that is I know nothing" - Sockrates out of mahogany.
It was the first time I started to utilize rasps in my carvings which created the pulled cotton look.
Creating Sockrates also let me revisit the concept of using objects outside of wood in my work like the wall reliefs I created in 2004-2005.
His head detaches to fill the cavity with pepper seeds. To use him he lifts off the zebrawood pedestal and by turning his head pepper comes out the bottom of the sock.
He was accepted in the exhibition and remains one of my favorite works to date.
I went on to create more themed sock puppets over the following year that can be viewed at :
The title "the captured soul" went on to become the name for my first website domain circa 2009- 2015
GENETICALLY CLONED AND SLIGHTLY ALTERED ROCKING BUSHEEP
I saw an opportunity to create works for an exhibition called Dysfunctional Furniture. The concept of making some sort of child's rocker was in my head which then turned to making an ode to the current President George Bush and his stance on cloning.
I created the two Busheep out of walnut and maple, with painted maple/copper handle bars and zebrawood appointments.
I was really happy at how clean these works came out and still up there on my list of favorites.
Although they were not accepted into the show they made appearances in numerous exhibitions over the following years including one in Washington, DC during his last year of presidency.
A simple straight forward form based carving that was covered in plaster and chipped away at.
everything is a distraction
This work was a continuation on my concept of creating lathe turned and hand shaped fried eggs. It was the first time that I created a "work" out of them.
view the meaning of my fried eggs at :
The following works were created after Sockrates for the 2007 Esherick exhibition.
They were portraits of my friends. I really loved making them and wish I had more time to create more.
I utilized a heavy rasp to give them a worn cotton aesthetic to them.
view more detail pics of these works :