As my first year of studying fine woodworking was coming to an end my teacher Mark encouraged us to create a piece for an annual woodworking competition/exhibition held at the Wharton Esherick museum.
Wharton Esherick is considered the dean of American craft bringing elements of artistry and sculpture to the field of woodwork from the early 1900's to 1970. His awe inspiring home and studio are located roughly 40 minutes from Philadelphia.
I was excited to find out that the 2002 theme was music stands.
I didn't have much machinery at my disposal as school was over so I designed a work that I could create with rather simple tools, mostly a jigsaw and bandsaw.
I saw the stand as a musical composition. I took elements and concepts from jazz, relationships of shapes, space, structures and colors intertwined.
It was important to me that the shelf that holds sheet music be fully adjustable depending on whether the musician is sitting or standing.
original sketch for O' Norman
NAMING THE WORK
After completing the piece I took it outside to take slide photos of it. Yes if you were creating works pre 2004ish you probably experienced the task of submitting slides to be juried for exhibitions before the digital era took over.
I took the pictures in my parents beautiful garden to submit for the exhibition then left for the day. Upon returning home I was greeted by my dad who was really upset.
He explained that he wanted to get pictures for me on his camera when a gust of wind knocked over the piece cracking it in the center section. He blamed it on "Norman", a name I never heard. He was supposed to be named Norman at birth before it was changed to Paul.
Having been involved in repair work for a couple years it seemed easy enough to fix.
I had the music stand on a pedestal in the basement as I began to repair it. I got a call at work from the Esherick museum that the piece had been selected to be in the exhibition.
I was beyond ecstatic. I went home to tell my parents the great news when I was greeted by my mom in tears.
Recently out of surgery and carrying a laundry basket down the steps when she knocked over something that fell into something that fell into the stand knocking it over and damaging it even worse than before.
I figured well ok I have about 4 weeks to correct the issues before I had to drop it off for the exhibition.
The next day the Esherick museum called again to ask if I could take pictures as soon as possible of the work behind a white background as it wouldn't look good in the exhibition brochure with the garden background. I didn't want to tell them that "well the piece is in pieces."
I told them that I needed a week to be able to find a place to take professional pictures which was more about working super hard to create as close of a replica as possible. i disassembled the original and used it as a template for the new Norman.
(the original Norman)
The exhibition opened in September and Norman won second place. It took me a couple years to fess up to those at the museum that the piece on display was not the original and tell them the story of Norman.
Obviously Norman holds a dear place in my heart for many many reasons.