Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Sandberg’

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.

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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…

 

STEAM

December 22, 2016

As always, I get busy with the hands on parts of my life and run late doing things like…blogging. I told you this summer that I was brewing up a program to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math).I had just secured a group of websites for “steamworks.” I had recently secured a handful of websites with the name “steamworks” and felt that I had to brand this and investigate learning practices.

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How many times have you heard the story about the Uncle that could fix anything? It always starts the same: “When Frank was young, he would take apart anything he got his hands on.” With a reply from the Uncle explaining that by deconstructing household items, gave him the knowledge and confidence to make/fix/repurpose things. This spurred me to tinker with the idea of “no instructions needed(R).”

I began by locating a venue while developing a two day learning program. The tie-in was “STEAM” so I chose a standardised model railroad element to introduce kids to the concept of STEAM while actually applying it. After hitting up some area businesses for funding, I put together a package for each participant that included a modular wooden base kit, an N-scale (1:160) railcar and some random details. Now, we could have set around and followed the instructions and worked as a class to get everything built at once, mount their track and off they went. But, what would they learn? As they opened their module kits, I collected everyone’s instruction sheets. I informed them that they would not need them and threw them away. Instead, they were provided with blueprints and standards for a final product. They immediately began to experiment and figure out how to build their base modules. As some finished, they assisted the other participants to keep the whole class moving forward. When their wooden modules were 20161112_113841complete, they had to choose from a random box of N-Scale track pieces to come up with the exact final measurements for their required module. All of a sudden, the class was waist deep in rulers, calculators, digital calipers, hammers and power drills. This is the magic that I live for! Skipping ahead, after the second class, parents had looks of amazement on their faces. I am not sure if it was the fact that their children were adept at using math and power tools or the fact that someone let me do this in public.

20161203_102328After class one, the kids got to choose paint and landscape details to take home with them while they prepared for the final reveal. During this time, I accepted a new position for a Children’s Museum because I did not have enough going on in life! More on that later…

On December 3rd, our Steamworks team reconvened at Blue Mound Memorial Library to set up their finished works while visitors came to see Mr. & Mrs. Claus. After twenty minutes of set-up and minor tweaking, the children had two steam engines pulling train cars around the 3′ x 7′ assembled layout. It is also of note that gender had no influence on the participants or the visitors. Everyone fought the same to get their time running each train.

I would like to send out a special thank you to our local supporters of the program:

Blue Mound Firefighters Association, Legacy Grain, Dippin’ Merv’s, Castle Trains & Treasures, Blue Mound Memorial Library. With you, these local children gained skills and confidence that can be used as they seek out their careers in a few years.

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!

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