Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Set to Launch

March 10, 2021
Launch shelf that our family uses every morning.

Thanks to my friend, Brandon Barker, I have regained access to my blog following a migration, smoked Macbook, and a couple of routers. I am back on track trying to find some of the myths of our modern world. Those thoughts that have become so normalized that you unwittingly take as the truth. I have a big one currently. It deals with the how to get shit done as a creative when you have a day job, family, pandemic, whatever. It is my deepest dive into research on the “act” of making. That may be as a hobby, as a job, or as a consortium of many sorts. I remember being terrorized by David Bayles and Ted Orland’s “Art and Fear” in Graduate school. I still love that book and visit it every so often.

I often thought that one had to stand at the crossroads in search of a university job, or find that perfect gallery that was in love with your work. One day, as an adjunct professor, I was doing all of the training and paperwork to start my semester when I found out that both of my classes had been dropped due to low enrollment. Then, I knew- this is not why I got in to the arts. I got in to entertain myself by working through my thoughts and ideas, making things, and possibly getting people to look at those things and step outside of what they previously thought was gospel. I decided to spend my creative energy elsewhere. (Despite not having any classes to teach, the College was still asking me to register for pre-semester H.R. requirements!)

Every few years, I reassess my current situation and adjust course. One of the first questions that I write either in a journal or on a piece of graph paper in front of me is: “What makes me happy.” I know- super easy right? But we have to constantly ask ourselves this or we drift off-course. In Graduate school we had a visiting artist (I have dug deep but cannot remember her name) that said “for inspiration, always refer to your childhood.” This has been some of the greatest advice ever. I began to write down what motivated me through the years. My opening for my TEDx talk in Decatur referred to these things: rockets, racecars, trains, electronics, militaria, trucks, industry… In my twenties there was a resurgance of these themes when I watched Mythbusters on Discovery Channel. I received a total creative infusion when I stumbled upon Adam Savage’s Tested channel on YouTube. I have also learned to revalue my inspiration vs. actions through Austin Kleon‘s books Steal Like an Artist, Show your work, and Keep Going. I hope to absorb and reflect some of the great energy that these two provide for me.

To channel all of this new energy, (here it is: the big one) I have decided to assemble some of the greatest inspirations for my work into a collected volume of knowledge. Yes, I am going to write a book. I do not care if I have to self publish and print 10 copies. It is a goal that I have, and I am committed to keeping it. Bubble thought drawings have been filling my sketchbooks for months now and have coalesced into about twelve general areas (chapters). I will begin researching each one until I feel that I have something worthwhile to provide for creative types like myself. I hope to keep my blogposts short and informed with links to further reading so that the reader does not feel obligated to review a doctoral thesis each time I post.

Also, I will include photographs. Many photographs. Having five paragraphs without a pretty picture is not of my nature. I ask you to follow along and share with those that need a push. I will provide artwork, sign work, and exhibits on Instagram links try Sandcruiser13. Thank you for reading this far! Oh! the working title of my book is “Launch Pad– the creative’s guide to getting shit done.”

Sandy

The Power of Falling Short

November 19, 2017

Graduate School taught me to “Fail” regularly. I often told myself that in the “real” world that I would have the tools to not fail. I would set goals and keep knocking them out. Great joy comes from lining through a completed item on a list. Just over a year ago, I got a “real” job back in my field. I began as the Director of Museum Experiences at Children’s Museum of Illinois. Life has taught me to take an advantage of that first day of work, while energy is high to write every thought, goal, message, personal notes to self down on my legal pad. The first task of not failing has to be documenting everything that needs accomplished!

One of the phrases that my Executive Director shared with me on my first day, was “Make people’s experiences awesome.” I held on to that quip as I felt it was very honest and a bit vaporous. Over the course of a year, I referred back to it often when I found myself in a quandary about how to proceed forward with an element of some object. Should I find myself “failing”, this phrase would help re-calibrate my course. At the end of the first week, I had created a list- a long list- a long list with half-crazy unattainable goals to use my ability as a creative to put my stank all over this museum.

20171114_105046.jpg

Crane Day event in conjunction with O’Shea Builders and BLDD Architects. 15 Nov 2017.

My lofty goals included repainting every wall in the 15,000 sq.ft. facility. Inventory, and reset the maintenance shop, install 3-4 new exhibits, repair every broken exhibit piece in the museum, establish Standard Operating Procedures, an OSHA approved safety program… I am serious. The list went on like a runaway letter to Santa. All of the way to the “5-year plan.” Glad I did not over-do it.

 

I started right in on the first exhibit installation. It was a rather new purchase that had been sitting idle in a classroom awaiting a permanent installation. Maintenance immediately painted the entire wall that it was to be installed on. Electrician ran wiring. I designed, cut and applied all of the graphics. worked some late nights and BOOM! -first exhibit down. That was also the last exhibit to go smooth. By our first event, an excited group of 7-year old kids found a flaw in the design. They learned that if you smack it hard enough, all of the parts will fall to the inside. The following Monday was spent with our new Maintenance worker, uninstalling the brand new exhibit so that we could make modifications. I have learned in the Children’s Museum world, that “modification” is a commonly used word. There are other popular words that are used on Monday mornings I will exclude those from this post. In short, kids are stronger than one may think.

20170303_091942_HDR.jpg     Late winter found me trudging along- still positive, still updating parts for special events, developing exhibit upgrades, working toward awesome. A detail that I have yet to mention is about the “5-year plan.” The first week of my employment, my Executive Director called me in her office and basically asked if I could alter that to a “1-year plan!” [spew hot coffee now] Yes, sure I told her. I still remember the day. It was late November and raining. I was wearing fancy clothes walking around the property measuring to find the best way to expand the facility. As I sat at my desk feeling the water weep through my fancy clothes and shoes, I sketched. I measured, drafted, colored, and drew multiple ideas until I had a workable design.

20170804_114517.jpg    Meanwhile, we received a grant to build out a new Toddler area in our museum. I thought, no problem, I will build this in house to make the most out of awesome. Then another grant came through to build a previously conceived exhibit, then a collections exhibit that had been in the works, then a giant eyeball. Somewhere during that craziness, our “5-year plan” that turned into a “1-year plan” was awarded funding by a very generous donor. [face palm, up eyebrow, head shake]

At a few points (like building a 1/2 scale train engine in my home studio) I thought I was going to lose my brain. My days were spent doing director stuff, then I would come home at night and work on exhibits in my studio. My amazing wife actually served lunch to me one Sunday in the cab of the toddler train engine. I always tell myself that this is what makes awesome. And you know that the opposite of awesome is failure.

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Early rendering of Heroes Hall Expansion. Courtesy BLDD Architects/Chastain & Associates.

Fast forward to last week. I hit my One-year mark and somewhere between meeting with our Construction Manager and ordering custom parts for the local college, I thought that I should take note of what actually did happen in the last year. Two weeks prior, I had just met with my Right-hand-Maintenance Lady discussing how many walls were still left to be painted before she took some time off.

In contrast with the many remaining items on the list, I looked back at those job folders that returned to the file cabinet because they made it off of a list. We ended up installing 6 exhibits in a year. This is a rate of about one every 10 weeks. A safety program has been implemented and our facility is up to code. We have an updated color palette that is being reflected in about 90% of the building. Outreach has been increased and we have started developing traveling exhibit pieces to enhance our rental catalog. We are in the process of adding 7000 sq.ft. of exhibit space. (first floor pours next week) Our land lease has also been extended by about 15,000 sq.ft. for future exhibit development. Most of our changes will become very obvious over the next few months.

I often read articles posted by The International Institute for Failure Studies to get my bearings on the idea of failing. Andrew Salyer highlights unique juxtapositions as to what is referred to as a failure. At times, I feel like I work for Ice Road Truckers while gremlins toss random appliances in front of me. After stepping back to reflect, I have realized that you never stop failing. You just find creative challenges to questions that you did not ask. If I could provide one ounce of productive value for this post it would be: Scratching tasks off of a list can be very rewarding. It may seem that we are falling short because we see that The to-do list is still there, so throw those completed tasks in a jar. Weigh what is completed with what remains on the list. Now, to finish painting those last couple of walls…

 

New Show

March 1, 2016

Hello, friends! Last weekend found me taking a relaxing though scheduled drive to the Saint Louis Metro area to deliver new artwork. The pieces are a diptych of two 24″ X 36″ “airscapes” done in acrylic on wood. Yes, I do make two-dimensional artwork! I often find that some of my sculptures are too large for some venues and over the last couple of years I have begun finishing some of my sculptural ideas so that they can be displayed as well. The title of the diptych is Air to Air Porn Remix. I sometimes spend too much time on titles but this one is different as the title reflects the history of the piece. In Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, it was a house cleaning every year that a graduating class moved out leaving friends with loads of artwork of varying degrees of finish for their friends. One of my good friends, Justin Maes awarded me with some large wood A-A Porn Close-upcanvasses depicting military individuals in compromising positions. They were very beautiful to look at but the content makes them quite hard to display. Justin was always remixing artwork and music, producing his own tracks in Grad School to accompany some of his works. two years ago, with little money to buy food, let alone canvas, I chose to do my own remix. For two pieces, I chose to paint over the figures with various shades of blue depicting the upper atmosphere. I then placed paper planes engaged in a dogfight, launching phallic salt and pepper shakers at each other. I feel that the content of the original piece still comes through but in a very different way. Over time, I will probably do at least one more set of paintings based on Justin’s paint-outs. More paper airplanes could be involved. Not sure, but they keep coming back repeatedly in my work as I dig deeper into the connections between, violence, beauty, war fighting, heroism, toys, and patriotism. So, if you are in the STL area, check out the show at Saint Charles Community College! March 7th – April 8th.

Talk soon,

Sandy

Making Stuff…again

November 24, 2015

It is far too easy to get focused on “things” in life and forget to stand back and document what has been going on. I promise (maybe in a pre-resolution) that I will start updating regularly now that my new website is running. First, a quick catch up on what has been going on:

After moving around the U.S. for a bit, I used my available time for some “friend” work that needed catching up. At the top of the list was my friend Eric’s basement of his new house. The canvas was a 1300 sq.ft. basement with 10′ ceilings that he wanted to look like an East Coast “speak easy.” I began with faux painting 52oo bricks (on concrete cast walls) to look like 100 year old wood fired bricks. While I designed a late colonial bar, back bar, and paneling from quarter sawn oak, he used acid to finish the concrete floors in a copper-ish tone. Since then, it has been a work in progress. I hand painted a Victorian era advertisement for his pub (Station #7) on one of the brick end walls. We had discussed a theatre add for the opposing wall where his projector was set up. Meanwhile my friend, Eric, married a designer. With her collaboration, we narrowed in the focus with a very industrial spin on Colonial design. For the entertainment end of the space, we decided on a vintage cinema sign complete with incandescent glove lights with motorized optics. As the wiring is finally getting finished, we are discussing finishing the back bar with a salt water aquarium and a copper bar top. The space has been finished with vintage signs and Edison bulbs. The bar seats 15 patrons, and has full amenities including a popcorn popper.

While doing the Station 7 project, I had a piece in the Ossuary show by Laurie Beth Clark at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, as well as the Herron Gallery in Indianapolis. It was a silver necklace displaying five silver bullets that had the firing primers replaced with black onyx. It was part of my ongoing research of populations using war detritus as objects of function and beauty. I would suggest reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maartin Troost. Not just for the small references of Pacific Islands using left over combat materials as playgrounds for children, but because it is disturbingly funny.

#HIDJS_ArtOfCan

On a threat from my Wife, (girlfriend at the time) I decided to enter the Red Bull sculpture contest in 2014. I had been working on a piece and after committing, I did a run for 60 hours straight to finish the piece. With no time left to ship, I caught three hours sleep and took the train to Chicago for the initial judging. When asked about return shipping, I told them that they could discard the piece after the judging. Two days later, I received an email telling me that it was accepted to the final show Art of Can. Wow, OK! So I booked two more tickets on Amtrak and we shot up to Millennium Park for the show where Red Bull Corp. had set up a glass gallery in the middle of the park. It was a great reception with many perks and swag. I found it a bit crazy that I was slaving away at a “real” job during the day, sculpting at night, then less than a month later, we were partying it up on a Chicago rooftop until 4:00am. By the way, I got zero votes as Red Bull mislabeled my Twitter vote from #HEDJS to #HIDJS. Instead of letting people vote for my piece it directed them to a Twitter sight for a group called “HI DJ’s.” Oh, well, still a great time!

Next post, I will put up images for the creative types as I know that all of these words can sometimes be a bore. Be sure to check out sandysandbergcreative.com or sandbergcreativeservices.com  contact me if you are interested in industrial looking exhibit work.

Peace!

October 18, 2011

As installed on SIUE campus

This is the Enemy!

It has been a busy autumn! The new season began with a trip to Dubuque, Iowa to repair Sinking of the S.S. Innocence. One of the red “kill pegs” was broken off. I had a local manufacturer roll 11-gauge steel to replace all of the pegs. I then welded them directly to the base of the sculpture. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in a while. I suggest to everyone to include the “Driftless” Region of Southwestern Wisconsin if you are ever in the area.
I began the semester trying to locate a specific machine gun to create an art piece that has occupied my brain for some time now. After much stress, I secured the weapon, materials, and a place to fire it. The first part of the series was in the show “Exchange” at the Mosse Humanities building in Madison.
At the Children’s Museum in town, we finally finished the Rockit! exhibit. It is awesomely stellar! Kids are loving it. One can climb in the capsule and just play while ambient music is playing. For older kids, there is a learning curve allowing one to control the beats, melodies and sound effects to create their own songs. It was a long hard year that included two back spasms and one trip to the hospital for a butterfly bandage and a tetanus shot. De-constructing an aluminum airplane and retro-fitting it to accept a new array of electronics and wiring is a head bumping, finger- slicing hair full of drill shavings type of event. It is very nice to see it installed. I would also like to thank my team: Dan Ganch (fabrication), Nadia Niggli (Graphics), The crew from Sony Creative Software, and Matt from NuVibrations for pulling all of the systems together.
On another note, I have been feeling like Richard Serra lately. (not in the famous aspect) There is a group of individuals trying to get a sculpture of mine removed from a park adjacent to their property. The sculpture was formerly installed on the campus at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. It was originally funded through a grant from the Gateway Foundation in St. Louis. After its time was up, I contacted my hometown to see if they were interested in it. Blue Mound is a village of 1200 polite Midwesterners that live in an agricultural community. They had recently formed a park district to manage the swim club and the towns two parks. One park contains the following items: Outdoor theater and covered stage, children’s playground, water fountain, pavilion, WWI canon, bathrooms, sidewalks, gates and landscaping. The other park contains: a scattering of trees, and a stream. I proposed that it be placed in the park that had nothing so that people would have something to look at. It is my wish that others would embrace the park and ask the district to move forward with making it a real park. The little “Madison-esque” world that I live in envisions park benches, some winding trails, park benches, a small playground, and a couple of bridges spanning the creek. But there are some problems. Step one, getting a piece of art in the park happened. There was some talk of possibly getting benches and one neighbor told me that they should have a block party at the park. That was the end of the rainbows and unicorns. A couple of residents started filing complaints that the sculpture was ugly, it was reducing the value of their home, and reducing their income as they stared out the window for hours on end deciding how to get the art removed from the park.
Here is what I think the truth is: There are three housing additions adjoining this park. One is a middle class tract on one side of the park. The opposite side has a back addition of very nice homes, with a small front tract of lower rent apartments with one building including Government Subsidized Housing. Due to proximity and a shared road, the Social Class A and C have learned to live with each other. The complaints seem to be coming from the Social Class B side of the park. I believe that they do not want the park developed, because people may actually come use it. I believe that they see the stream as a moat protecting them from “poor” kids getting too close to their property. They claim that it is a flood plain. Yes, and so is the rest of the area. Central Illinois farm country is one of the flattest landscapes in the nation. We know how to properly develop watershed areas now. Since the stream is actually a field run-off waterway, maybe it would be a good time to use a section of this park as an educational experiment that provides good in a variety of ways.
Last week, I was contacted by the Park District asking if I wish for the piece to stay or go. I contacted them sharing my reasons on why art is good, why we develop parks, how that helps children, families, home values, and such for their Monday night meeting. There was also a presentation by one of the board members based on Scientific Research in Virginia showing social and economic benefits of public sculpture.
The leader of the “Remove the Sculpture” organization emailed me today. It was a 9 point, two page email telling me all of the reasons that they hated my sculpture. Which by the way is a twelve foot tall thumbtack painted green that uncomfortably imitates the surrounding trees. They compared it to living next to a livestock farm, alluded to the possibility of erecting something on their property to block the view or maybe even suing to have it removed. The homeowner’s girlfriend told me in shocking detail about the fateful morning that they woke up and saw ART lingering in a city park!
The angry lady told me that we should spend less time making art and educating people in the humanities and more time raising children right and going to church!
AMEN!

Art Updates

October 18, 2011

It has been a busy autumn! The new season began with a trip to Dubuque, Iowa to repair Sinking of the S.S. Innocence. One of the red “kill pegs” was broken off. I had a local manufacturer roll 11-gauge steel to replace all of the pegs. I then welded them directly to the base of the sculpture. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in a while. I suggest to everyone to include the “Driftless” Region of Southwestern Wisconsin if you are ever in the area.
I began the semester trying to locate a specific machine gun to create an art piece that has occupied my brain for some time now. After much stress, I secured the weapon, materials, and a place to fire it. The first part of the series was in the show “Exchange” at the Mosse Humanities building in Madison.
At the Children’s Museum in town, we finally finished the Rockit! exhibit. It is awesomely stellar! Kids are loving it. One can climb in the capsule and just play while ambient music is playing. For older kids, there is a learning curve allowing one to control the beats, melodies and sound effects to create their own songs. It was a long hard year that included two back spasms and one trip to the hospital for a butterfly bandage and a tetanus shot. De-constructing an aluminum airplane and retro-fitting it to accept a new array of electronics and wiring is a head bumping, finger- slicing hair full of drill shavings type of event. It is very nice to see it installed. I would also like to thank my team: Dan Ganch (fabrication), Nadia Niggli (Graphics), The crew from Sony Creative Software, and Matt from NuVibrations for pulling all of the systems together.
On another note, I have been feeling like Richard Serra lately. (not in the famous aspect) There is a group of individuals trying to get a sculpture of mine removed from a park adjacent to their property. The sculpture was formerly installed on the campus at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. It was originally funded through a grant from the Gateway Foundation in St. Louis. After its time was up, I contacted my hometown to see if they were interested in it. Blue Mound is a village of 1200 polite Midwesterners that live in an agricultural community. They had recently formed a park district to manage the swim club and the towns two parks. One park contains the following items: Outdoor theater and covered stage, children’s playground, water fountain, pavilion, WWI canon, bathrooms, sidewalks, gates and landscaping. The other park contains: a scattering of trees, and a stream. I proposed that it be placed in the park that had nothing so that people would have something to look at. It is my wish that others would embrace the park and ask the district to move forward with making it a real park. The little “Madison-esque” world that I live in envisions park benches, some winding trails, park benches, a small playground, and a couple of bridges spanning the creek. But there are some problems. Step one, getting a piece of art in the park happened. There was some talk of possibly getting benches and one neighbor told me that they should have a block party at the park. That was the end of the rainbows and unicorns. A couple of residents started filing complaints that the sculpture was ugly, it was reducing the value of their home, and reducing their income as they stared out the window for hours on end deciding how to get the art removed from the park.
Here is what I think the truth is: There are three housing additions adjoining this park. One is a middle class tract on one side of the park. The opposite side has a back addition of very nice homes, with a small front tract of lower rent apartments with one building including Government Subsidized Housing. Due to proximity and a shared road, the Social Class A and C have learned to live with each other. The complaints seem to be coming from the Social Class B side of the park. I believe that they do not want the park developed, because people may actually come use it. I believe that they see the stream as a moat protecting them from “poor” kids getting too close to their property. They claim that it is a flood plain. Yes, and so is the rest of the area. Central Illinois farm country is one of the flattest landscapes in the nation. We know how to properly develop watershed areas now. Since the stream is actually a field run-off waterway, maybe it would be a good time to use a section of this park as an educational experiment that provides good in a variety of ways.
Last week, I was contacted by the Park District asking if I wish for the piece to stay or go. I contacted them sharing my reasons on why art is good, why we develop parks, how that helps children, families, home values, and such for their Monday night meeting. There was also a presentation by one of the board members based on Scientific Research in Virginia showing social and economic benefits of public sculpture.
The leader of the “Remove the Sculpture” organization emailed me today. It was a 9 point, two page email telling me all of the reasons that they hated my sculpture. Which by the way is a twelve foot tall thumbtack painted green that uncomfortably imitates the surrounding trees. They compared it to living next to a livestock farm, alluded to the possibility of erecting something on their property to block the view or maybe even suing to have it removed. The homeowner’s girlfriend told me in shocking detail about the fateful morning that they woke up and saw ART lingering in a city park!
The angry lady told me that we should spend less time making art and educating people in the humanities and more time raising children right and going to church!
AMEN!

The Countdown…

April 13, 2011

Hello, all!

Wisconsin politics are in the courts now and I have been working on the sculptural installation for my M.A. Show. It will be on April 30, in front of the Art Lofts on 111 N. Frances St. in Madison, WI. I was just getting ready to change venues and order cards, when I finally got approval to shut down the street that night. My cards are coming this week. At least it will be fresh in everyone’s memory. I worked with my fellow artists, Dale Kaminski, and Andrew Sawler on my imagery. I wanted to get the context just right. We chose an image of a 9=year old on a flight line near some jet fuel tanks. Some details were ‘shopped out and others enhanced. We paid close attention to the position of his eyes, and the position of the text. I will just post it. Feel free to critique my postcard. Even Better, come critique my show! It begins at 8:00 pm.

The Myth of Patriotism

I had bounced between a couple of wordier title versions but it began to sound like a doctoral thesis. Leaving “The Myth of Patriotism” is short, effective, and sacrilegious. I want to open more dialogue about patriotism and nationalism. I believe that both are tools for manipulation and power. I often recall the thought that one group’s terrorists, are another group’s freedom fighters. Only with a true discussion can we strip away  layers of the programming that family, friends, community, government and culture as a whole have been applying from the time we were all children. Many of my friends in the military, as well as many family members, would not agree with this but I enjoy a friendly discussion! Logically, nationalism/patriotism does not work out as a productive “ism” in culture. I will leave that alone for now as it is time to go teach then get back in the studio and finish up the mounting system for my feature piece of the up-coming installation.  Peace!

To Mother Earth

December 23, 2010

So, the end of another semester came. I took a couple of days off to get my mind right before submitting grades. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from the emotional connections to be utterly fair. In my time off, I began working with some artist neighbors of mine to build an Ice Bar. This is great back breaking work for anyone looking to unwind at the end of a semester in the snow belt. We began with a simple Art Deco’ish design in their front yard. The other “forts” that I have built for art pieces are usually well planned and thought out- or at least planned to develop in a certain way. This one was was drafted on the back of a pizza box. Ok, so you think we may have had too many drinks and come up with this. You would be correct on that assumption, but probably not on the next. We followed through and received help from a couple of other friends in the last two days. The fort is now, five feet tall (we are building the ceilings at 6ft), we began casting the windows in ice to install over the holiday, the vintage Preway fireplace is installed, the roofs are ready and last, but not least, the bar is installed. After returning from a Winter Solstice celebration, I felt the need to celebrate, I asked my neighbors to join me, and they suggested that we finish the bar first. So, after 2 more hours of back-breaking labor and 11 more ice blocks, we were polishing the top and popped open a bottle of cab sav to celebrate the solstice just as Mother Earth would intend. Erick documented, and I will get some photos up soon. Tomorrow, we will finish the two top courses on the rear of the fort and install the roofs, (reclaimed box-springs) Erick is installing a thermometer to gauge how warm we can keep it without melting it down. We are currently looking for an animal hide for the door. (please do not kill an animal just for this, there are plenty of hides floating around already). Our next step is to install a strand of holiday lights through bottles inserted in the back wall for some mood lighting. My neighbor, Erica, claims that we should build a snowball trebuchet just in case any of our other neighbors become jealous, or the city attempts to raise their taxes.

As far as my other work, I finished the semester up with a half-dozen new pieces. I am only excited about two of them. I will revisit the large scale toy planes as well as more custom tool boxes. The new year will find me working with my friend, Dale Kaminski on a new projection piece that I am really excited about. Enjoy your holiday, whatever that may be and your new year!

Sandy

December 11, 2010

Been busy this week getting ready for the Graphic Attack show at the 7th Floor Gallery here in Madison, WI. It is great that I am finishing up teaching. Work has shifted into high gear for my last run at the semester. The Graphic Attack show is going to be fun. The reception is Thursday, the 16th 7p-9p. Student, Lucy Jost and myself, Co-curated it with assistance from our Urban Graphics instructor, Erin O’conner. She developed and secured funding for this new class. This weekend, I will be stenciling a Stormtrooper and a Rockem- Sockem Robot. Master Chief will also be included in the show. There will be a game of bags going on all night on Gabe Meija’s East/West rapper bag boxes. (Step next door as Gabe has a show in the East side of the Gallery the same night. There will also be a live D.J. and snacks. See you there!

Below is a paper that I just turned in for my Makers class. It is my solution to the world.

Makers Craft Project.

J.E. Sandberg

 

My childhood was a gifted one. Not by money or status, but was gifted by having a loving, hardworking do-it-yourself family. I spent my childhood days at my grandparent’s house five blocks from my own. Summer days were spent learning gardening, canning, painting, cooking, cross-stitching, crocheting, landscaping, working on automobiles and working in my grandfather’s wood shop. Little did I know that this early experience wood later inform my whole life. One of my earliest memories is my grandpa building me my own toolbox. It contained a small hammer, two screwdrivers, a fold out tape measure and a hand plane.

For the Makers Project, it was a challenge to create an art piece from theoretical conception to the object as opposed from choosing sketches and altering them contextually to create a piece. It turned out being very rewarding as it provided an opportunity to use life experiences and readings that I have been consuming as a map for the direction of my thoughts as a craft-based piece is conceived.

Foremost in my thoughts was the fact that everyone I was reading talked about using your hands to make quality items. Growing up, I spent most of my time my grandfather’s woodshop. He was a master craftsman in a variety of areas and taught me more than any other figure in my life. He taught me to make what the family needed from scrap or raw materials.

The last few years have raised concerns with me regarding the economy, the environment, and war. It would seem difficult to relate these had I not joined in Robert M. Pursig’s pain of trying to understand ultimate reasons for modern truths. His reason (which I do not dispute) was quality. The lack of quality in the modern world is a result of modern spending habits and inability to refuse lesser quality items in vain hopes to improve their social status. I take this line of thought farther by saying that all three derive from individual greed. This is not to be confused with corporate greed, the outlandish umbrella that protects everyone from overspending. [debatable] It is my belief that there is a personal greed that is predominately justifiable by it’s practitioners. Many say they “want the best for their children.” This is dangerous as it only promotes the abusive system by allowing corporations to provide lesser quality items from manufacturers that are not always produced under fair working environments.

Many people (specifically Americans) abuse the environment through personal greed as well.  Disposable diapers, private trips to school or events, plastic school supplies, and high poly- school clothes are all examples. Parents and individuals will justify their purchases as improving their family situations involving time and money. Wal-mart has focused on this rationalization in the last year with the slogan “save money, live better.” The public buys into the cost cutting more and more each year. On the outside, it appears that it has been a slow process for both purchasing and materials. In reality, labor has been outsourced to countries with less than honorable employment practices at an astounding rate. I recall an article in Business Weekly in 2002 espousing the need for a Chinese trading team for every company to speed up trade agreements and cash in on the cheap “manufacturing costs.”

How does the military fit in? We are a nation created on conquest. We are the smart Western civilization that earned every freedom that we have the hard way. No nation can tell us how to defend our inherent rights. We have the right to cheap stuff, we have the right to cheap oil, we have the rights to the best gemstones in the world, and we have the rights to precious metals. Our military will defend that. This is more complicated than I will fully explore in this paper. Previously, there were two reasons to attack a nation: resources or space. Since World War II, we have included the military-industrial complex.  This is a very interesting situation as people work jobs building military-specification items of the highest quality to earn a pay check to purchase items of the least amount of quality to save money or purchase more cheap goods.

How do we solve this situation? I look to Matthew Crawford (shop class as soulcraft) and the renegade metalsmith, Gabriel Craig for possible answers. Crawford states: “Since the standards of craftsmanship issue from the logic of things rather than the art of persuasion, practiced submission to them perhaps gives the craftsman some psychic ground to stand on against fantastic hopes aroused by demagogues, whether commercial or political. Plato makes a distinction between technical skill and rhetoric on the grounds that rhetoric “has no account to give of the real nature of things, and so cannot tell the cause of any of them”. Our society has become so involved with being able to purchase instant gratification, instead of working with their hands to create, that we have shipped most honorable trades out of the country to the lowest bidder. We are just now realizing that there are no jobs left. Politicians keep promising that they are going to bring jobs back. That is exactly what the people want: jobs to just come back. What the average citizen does not want is to have to adjust their lifestyle via cutbacks or elbow grease to get there.  We should look back to some of the writings of William Morris and read it with the luxury of being in the 21st Century. We should find the parts where he begins to justify labor changes and we should look as a whole to see if changes made to an industry will have an adverse effect in the long run. Or, it may be that as a post-contemporary or alt-modern world that we may have to set limits as to what is an acceptable practice in business.

Finished Tool Box

The luxury of speaking to masses of people is one that I do not have. What I can do is teach younger people that there are much honorable ways to get through life.  I will teach them to work with their hands. If you work with your hands, you contemplate labor and craft- you earn a deeper understanding of how things are made and how they affect the world.  David Nash responded in an interview with Sculpture Magazine responding to his use of simple objects and natural materials in his work. “Of course, we miss a lot now, because there’s so much on screen. It makes everything seem the same-everything’s virtual. There isn’t any “body learning” anymore, an it’s terrible for children because they should be playing with objects.” My proposal is to build toolboxes for kids.  I will build a prototype toolbox, of a classic and practical design from hardwood. It will be a children’s sized toolbox built to military specifications. It will be filled with basic tools and I will show kids how to use each one. Providing the kid is interested, I will give them the toolbox and ask them to use their hands and skills to make the world better.

Next Time, I will provide some more images of my work and less writing! I would also like to give a very special “Hello” To Fisher and Haley Sandberg! Love ya’s!

Sandy

Recent Artwork

November 18, 2010

Hello friends,

Sorry I have not blogged in a while. I have been very busy working on my M.A. show. Anyway, If you have not heard, there is a small dispute going on in Wisconsin. The Governor has created a false panic concerning our budget. It is actually an attempt to stick it to the working class. If you are unsure, look up the Wisconsin State Debt on the internet and divide it by the population of Wisconsin and you will find out that if each person sent a check for $1237.oo that we would be out of debt. ( not to count the millions that Walker gave in takes breaks to corporations at the beginning of February). Anyway, in an effort to protest both the Governor’s bill and the lack of creative signs, three of my fellow art students helped build this protest sign. Wisculpture Grads, Sam Isham-Shopfh, and Hongtao Zhou helped frame it up, and metalsmith Erica Meijer helped me finish it and march tonight. Hopefully we will have it out tomorrow when the Tea-Party shows up. The cardboard was provided by Willy Street Coop, and Ace Hardware on Williamson. Thanks to all who helped and to all who have been supporting us and the Badger State.

Hello friends,

Many days, I ask myself “where did all of my time go?” I sometimes search around for the answer over and over until, I decide to get images taken of my work. The photographer sits down with me and asks, “What all do we have to shoot?” My answer always begins by telling them that I don’t have much at all since I have been too busy to make art. I then begin to list all projects personal, private, commercial, institutional… then it comes to me: Fuck! that is where all of my time went.

This summer I was fortunate enough to work at the Madison Children’s Museum. The old Museum on State Street had closed while the new larger building was being remade into a world-class children’s museum on Hamilton St. As an exhibit worker, I got to work at the offsite shop on Washington Square. It was a beautiful shop with all glass windows facing the Yahara River where the Wisconsin Southern Railroad crosses onto the Isthmus. As the staff increased (as well as the size of the projects) We expanded to an adjacent space in the same building that could house its own metalshop while building three large exhibits simultaneously.

It is a great job when they hire you and say they are looking to buy an airplane for you to tear apart and build exhibits out of. I began by building small random items that would be used as counter weights for the high flying dairy between the first and third floors. It was kind of a shake down to get me adjusted and gauge my skills. I then began working on a variety of projects that required child-proofing, special anchoring systems etc. until we got the call… Someone located a slightly wrecked Beechcraft trainer that came with extra parts for a Cessna 152. I found my dream job! I felt like I should have been paying them!  We knew the first project. We had met with an architect and the exhibit director and knew that we had to create a learning station from part of the fuselage. It would be called Tinkerer’s Workshop and children would use it to experiment with simple projects that could be taught in a fast paced public setting.  That is all for today. I will provide more images later with exhibits that I helped with. Nothing is actually mine. Almost every project was a collaboration as the Museum hired or contracted over 100 of the best Makers in the area. It was an amazingly talented group to work with and we truly believe that we could have built anything that could be dreamed with our staff of artists and craftspeople. Have a great day! enjoy the winter. My new website should be running as I am finishing this semester. I changed to Adobe and have to learn HTML now. PEACE!