Sunday, May 01, 2005


The faces in motion become the spiral.

Composition for the Right Hand is leaving me next week. It will become part of the collection of Roland Chisolm and Robert Johnson in Atlanta. They have gathered a number of my original sculptures, including several very personal works like this one. The very cool thing about them is that they don't just collect the work, they explore it, seeking to uncover what's in there. I hope to do an online exhibit of their collection. I have but to find the photographer. I hesitate only because I'd thought I wanted to shoot it myself. Just now it occurs to me that it might be more interesting to see them from another view point. Sort of like when someone writes a story about one of my sculptures. Usually there's a surprise or two there.

This fall Aubrey will begin her studies at the PS Art Institute. She will be photographing "Jack" for the trade paperback of Strange Attraction and today, whilst I stuggled with writing this, she brought coffee with clairvoyant timing, and extra cream. She hates the rabbit figures, so of course, I have made it very clear to all that "Bunny" is hers.

As always, thank you for reading.


Carl V. Anderson said...

I find it interesting and exciting that you can let really personal pieces go to others for their enjoyment. I haven't really made a lot of art for myself or just for the sake of doing it, creativity is usually done specifically for others but I wonder if I made something that was extremely personal if I would be able to part with it. I think that is really neat that you can do that.

I also find it amazing that so many of your sculptures have movement and "life" in addition to the artistic movement that they show. I hope you, or they, do find someone to photograph their collection of your works.

Robert/ GuardianAlien said...

My thoughts on Composition...before it gets here. First let me say that these detail photos and descriptive blurbs further emphasize the FACT of this piece's importance in Lisa's body of work. The photos I had seen up to now only hinted at the complexity of the construction and the message. Let me say that those long distance "hints" spoke to me more than most artist's work will speak up close and personal. This is true of all of Lisa's work, from the seemingly simple idea of a single small figure (see all of the work under the "Gift Shop" to get an idea), to the many life size figural sculptures, to the astounding engineering marvels of the Dark Caravan series and other mechanical works, to the new 2 1/2 dimensional pieces (look in the “Gallery”).

In fact since first seeing photos of Composition, it had to be more than a year ago, it has continued to speak to me frequently. Both when I came across a mention or photo of it, and often from the dark cobweb strewn recesses of my memory and imagination. Sometimes Lisa's work springs out at me unexpectedly from my often addled brain. The voice that comes with these surprise visits is Lisa's, of course. The work & voice spring up to remind me of my childhood, and not to let it control me, or to rail at me if I am behaving sheepishly. Which is regrettably often I am ashamed to admit.

When presented with any piece of Lisa's work, be prepared. Even a quick glance can last several minutes. What you get back is worth every bit of time you spend with it, I guarantee it.

We have many of Lisa's pieces in our home. My partner and I live with these other "people", and their stories, in our home everyday and we know them intimately. And yet both of us often find ourselves momentarily captivated by this piece or that piece. Pieces we have stared at for long periods of time, pieces we have held and turned over to see more details, pieces we have owned for years. I can be walking from one room into another intent on doing something and then minutes later find that I am standing in front of "Relic III", or "If Love's a Fine Game...", or "Lolly's Insignificant Angel", or the bronze magician’s wand or the collection of rats... I really could go on for a while here, but I won't. Often during these moments I find myself thinking thoughts my conscious mind would block if my defenses were up. Lisa’s work speaks directly to your true heart, I think.

Anyway back to Composition. My partner and I were intrigued by the idea of this piece, and as time passed it became clear that we wanted it to join our collection. Of course our reaction to all of Lisa's work is the same. We WANT it! But that is the childish desire to have every new toy. Lisa’s works are like toys for the soul. When you take the time to stop and think about one of Lisa’s works, you really really want it! Often we can’t resist and thus our collection grows.

This piece in particular initially appealed to us because of it's unique mechanical nature. As I said above, Lisa imbues even the simplest creation with levels of detail and significant amounts of mental effort (an almost palpable psychic energy). So that the person lucky enough to view a presented piece is captured by the sophistication of the technique, and by the often delightful (and occasionally disturbing) veneer, or surface (by this I mean the aesthetic value of the compositional elements), and by the amazing level of creative detail and by the complexity of the underlying messages.

Up to now we did not own one of Lisa's engineering masterpieces. While the mechanics of Composition are simple in comparison to a work such and "Luck be Nimble" (the Neil sculpture) or the Dark Caravan series, it perfectly fits with the artistic composition of the piece and with the messages it carries. There are the elements that provoke childlike delight (horror too maybe) such and bunnies, angels, puppets, etc. There is the spiral of puppets. Two of my favorite things, spirals and puppets! There is the motion and the noise (I can’t wait to hear the noise). There is the toy like aspect which is present in so much of Lisa’s work. After all of the geegaws and doodads there is the message of the piece. And behind it all (or perhaps in the middle somewhere) there is the artist. We love Lisa. Lisa deserves astounding earth shaking success. She creates thoughtful beauty and it’s many counterpoints. She has a message. Her message is one a wider audience needs to hear. We want to help her continue to create and share her message. All of these factors brought us to the point where Composition is coming to our house. Here it will delight and inspire us, and amaze and possibly terrify our visitors. It’s happened before.

I will make some interpretational comments, these are what I see and I am quite certain much of it is different from what Lisa sees. This is not uncommon in interpreting artwork and is why I rarely offer my interpretations in public, or to another artist. Never the less, this piece resonates with such power behind it's messages that the thoughts and feelings it inspires deserve to be expressed. So here it goes.

I LOVE the photo of the spiral of puppets in motion. The base shape implies a message, or a sermon. The way a pulpit, podium or even a music stand implies a message to be presented. When I look at the piece as a whole it reminds me of the messages I heard at Grace Baptist Church, back in hot unpleasant North Ft. Myers, Fla. circa 1978. Messages from individuals I knew personally, pastors, choir directors, Sunday school teachers, authority figures, family members. Messages that told me ugly things about myself. Messages that told me to hate myself and to hate other people. Things I knew, even at the time, to be lies, yet still haunt me. These messages did not teach me what the presenter (preachers and others) intended. These messages instead taught me that I didn’t belong and to isolate myself. These messages taught me to hide. Are these the messages I hear when I view this piece? No. These are things I remember.

Turn the wheel and listen. Clack clack clack grrrrrrrrrrrrrrind clatter. It’s noise. This piece reminds me the messages I heard as a child are so much noise. I know this in my mind, but it’s a wonderful relief to hear others say it with their hearts, a balm. The wheel says more to me. What of those around us who hear the ugly messages and embrace them. Turn the wheel and watch. The puppets, the sheep, they spin and spin. The noise is tied to them spinning. Perhaps the noise makes them spin. Stop turning the wheel. The puppets stop. Sheep need such messages, such noise. They even need less ugly messages to tell them to go about their daily business, to care for their children, to help people who are in need, to tie their shoes.

There’s much more I see and feel in this piece. When it arrives I expect to be even further blown away. Who wrote the composition? Is this an instrument or the performer? God is in there somewhere. Is the devil? Were the bunnies bad? Are we safer because they are bound to this post? Is the blood a sacrament or refreshment? Can puppets ever watch where they are going? You can poke ‘em to get them moving, but if they start planning the next step they might just blossom into people. Puzzle pieces. Life is a puzzle. The point is Composition for the Right Hand stirs up thoughts, so many wonderful, disturbing, provocative, delicious thoughts.

Keep up the good work Lisa and thanks!

P.S. Maybe I will shoot some pics and see what you think :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, Robert. I'm happy for you that this will soon find a home with you and look forward to hearing any more thoughts once it arrives and you've spent time with it!