My sculptures have become larger and more substantial as my welding skills have developed and as I’ve created a studio at my home (instead of traveling to weld, carrying the pieces back and forth in my car).
I’m also undoubtedly influenced in the area of Public Art by my involvement as Executive Board Member of Collaborative Concepts, a Hudson Valley (NY) artist-run nonprofit organization dedicated to providing exhibition opportunities for artists and exceptional cultural opportunities to the public.
Collaborative Concepts creates a yearly outdoor sculpture show with music, dance, and performance art called The Farm Project in Garrison, NY. Sculptures in The Farm Project must be both cow-friendly (the sculptures can’t hurt the cows with sharp or tripping elements) and cow-proof (the sculptures must be quite durable because the cows seem to think the art is placed in the field either for them to eat or to be used as giant scratching posts). It turns out that sculptures which meet these criteria are also safe for humans!
I create a large sculpture for The Farm Project yearly. I am also on the Engineering Committee of Collaborative Concepts, guiding other artists on how to execute their own plan in a cow-proof and cow-friendly plan. Several of the sculptures I made for The Farm Project have been placed in other municipalities as Public Art.
“Can’t Keep Me Down” (2010) is a 15’ tall vase with an abstract lily shooting out of it. It was conceived in humor, as I liked the thought of taking an image of a natural object such as a flower and placing it into a “manmade” container, blowing it up into a huge form, and then placing it back out into a rural setting. Choosing the lily as a subject was natural for me because Asiatic and Oriental lilies are in bloom in July and August when I’m making my Farm Project sculptures.
“Can’t Keep Me Down” was originally called “Bud Vase.” I couldn‘t think of a title but needed one for the show catalogue. As I think about my pieces, though, feelings and needs emerge. I decided to rename it “Can’t Keep Me Down” because I felt this sculpture is a visual statement about victory in spite of problems and struggle.
Nora Veca, one of a powerhouse group of people from Leonia, NJ who runs an organization called Sculpture for Leonia, visited the Farm Project in 2010 on the last day of the show. Ms. Veca arranged for “Can’t Keep Me Down” to be placed in the Sculpture Park in Leonia. I’m proud to contribute to this organization’s goal of filling Leonia with sculpture.
I made “Facets” for The Farm Project in 2011. It was intended to be an expansion of my 2010 image of the flower in a bud vase, this time with a more involved “vase” and 3-6 “flowers.”
I think of “Facets” as almost bomb-proof because of the interior welding. In fact, at one point during its creation I became so frustrated with it that I tried to carry it off and throw it down a hill. But it was too heavy on a hand truck for me alone, and I barely got it 3 steps before it heaved over to one side onto a stone wall…with no damage. (At the time THAT was even more frustrating… .)
My husband, Yoni, and I ended up taking “Facets” off of the mountain at the Farm Project during what became a blizzard (the storm moved in faster than expected). After sliding and jackknifing down a steep, switch backed road, we were able to drop it off at the Department of Public Works in Putnam Valley, and pick it up after the roads were cleared.
Luis Perlman of the Blue Door Gallery in Yonkers, NY, arranged for “Facets” to be shown as part of their Public Art program. I am thrilled to write that this sculpture sits in front of the Yonkers City Hall. It looks as if it belongs there, echoing the rocky outcroppings of the site as well as the spirit of strength through revitalization apparent in the efforts of city residents.
During visits to Leonia I met Michael Bertelli, an artist and primary mover/shaker behind the Public Art program of Clifton, NJ. The municipal campus of the City of Clifton was once a quarantine center for the US government. It is now a grassy expanse dotted with new buildings such as City Hall and old buildings, used previously for quarantining animals, which function in different capacities such as a recycling center and Clifton Arts Center.
Michael arranged for three of my sculptures to be installed on the Clifton campus. “Big Bug” (2007) was placed up in a tree along the road which bisects the campus. Because this sculpture is made of recycled street signs, it is luminescent at night when lights hit it. Michael plans to move it periodically as a surprise for visitors. “Big Bug” got that name because it’s a big, big bug. The wingspan is about 6’ tip to tip.
“Sigmund” (2008) sits near the intersection of Clifton and Van Houten Avenues. A traffic light slows drivers down so they can enjoy many of the sculptures there. While installing this piece, a lady waiting at the light yelled to us, “I like it.” I loved that experience! “Sigmund” is named because of its shape, which reminds me of Sigmund the Sea Monster, a character in a popular 1970s Saturday morning show.
“Under the Sea” (2007) is mounted onto the Clifton Arts Center, and it looks strikingly as if it was tailor-made for this building. I conceived of it while recovering from back surgery and planning for an upcoming show. At that time I spent a considerable amount of time in the hot tub at our local gym. The pool area is beautiful but sparse, and I daydreamed about what I’d make for its walls if I was given the opportunity.
The space at my upcoming show had a wall which was 25’ long. I essentially created one of my Arabesques as a relief sculpture for this spot, using very long horizontal elements as a scaffold, and then adding colorful shapes I had previously cut at random. The colors were chosen for this location. While the punctuating shapes weren’t conceived with this purpose in mind, they work for the water theme because they evoke sea flora and fauna. A couple of the shapes look like spines, which I didn’t intend. But it makes perfect sense to me given my surgery and focus on recovery at that time in my life.
One of my dreams is to make Putnam County, NY a tourist destination for Public Art. To that end, I am actively searching for locations to place sculptures by local artists. If you own land here and you think a big sculpture would enhance it, call me at 845-216-1012 or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would welcome the help of government officials as well.