I have all this space to write as I like. I'm going to add text from time to time as it occurs to me.
May 18 - June 24, 2012: Artomatic, the incredible show of wonders that happens every so often in DC and surrounds. Hundreds of artists, thousands of works, tens of thousands of viewers, the biggest art party in town!
Artomatic is over now, but it was one grand event. I went again and again, but never got to the end of it. A thousand-plus artists, and 11 floors of art - too much even for me. Wonderful glass pieces. Of those who made new pieces for this show, Sean Hennessey, Dave D'Orio, Rob Kincheloe spring immediately to mind. I also particularly liked the mural by Trinka Margua Simon, which shockingly was painted over in grey the last day. I was very taken by dance performances coming out of Dance Place. The mash-up of different artistic mediums is a wonderful aspect of Artomatic. See it all at once! We can expect another, so if you didn't make this one, come to the next Artomatic.
It was great, chaotic, messy, hot weather, good tempered except when someone tried to steal a painting. I heard the story - as the show was coming down, and artists were taking their art out, a fellow came through with a painting - but he didn't have the signout sheet, and he didn't have the wristband, and when challenged he took off running with the painting. Pursued by a vigorous but perhaps slightly out-of-shape Artomatic volunteer and an overweight security guard, the thief headed up 20th St toward Highway 1. The security guard stumbled and fell, delaying the volunteer who paused to make sure he was ok, so the thief got a pretty good lead, but a passerby joined in the chase, as the thief leaped into a taxi and took off into the night. Meanwhile, the security guard phoned police, who arrived on the scene, where the pursuer had recorded the taxi number. Thus was the miscreant caught and the painting restored to the artist. Pretty dramatic stuff! Art is never boring.
My piece Trajectories consists of long glass rods shaped into curves and colored with transparent oil paints. They hang to represent the path your hand takes when throwing something, like a javelin, a shot-put, a cricket ball, a spear. I hang them in pairs. If you want, you can think of them as the shine on the back of a leaping dolphin. A curve is a very primeval shape.
Each rod of glass is ¾ in diameter, 4 feet long. They are borosilicate glass, which is particularly strong. Currently there are eight, but there can be more.
How do we get a tough shiny glass rod to curve, to take paint evenly? A very darling problem!
Heat makes glass move. I thought of balancing the rods in the kiln over a curving surface but touching the curved form, they might end up flat on one side, and, balancing freely, they might touch each other and stick together. Not good.
Thinking, thinking. Finally I placed rods on props at both ends, the middle unsupported, like a bridge.
First time, the rods ended up on the kiln floor having fallen completely off their supports the kiln was too hot. The second time, a little better. This was like Goldilocks and the too-hot, too-cool, just-right porridge. The third time I got beautiful curves, just right. Pointed one end, rounded the other.
Next the color. Shiny glass. Streaky paint. Not good.
The glass has to be sandblasted to a matte surface to take the paint. The sandblaster where I work at the Washington Glass School is too short to hold these long rods. So I used a little hand-held sandblaster outdoors in the parking lot, using play sand from Fragers Hardware.
Did I mention that sand bounces off hard glass? Long sleeves, scarf, mask, goggles, gloves, the works. Did I mention it was a hot day? How about sand in my hair, inside my ears, down my shirt, in my shoes? Did I mention that the sandblaster is powered by an air compressor? We are talking noise.
I got a mainly matte surface. Lovely strong colors, transparent earth red, alizarin, hansa yellow, pthalo blue. I could show the piece, and I did. But up close, the color was uneven because the sand-blasting wasnt perfect. Not good.
The solution a friend willing to cut a hole in the side of his sandblaster to let the rods in. A trip to the wilds of Falls Church. There we are, eight perfectly curved, perfectly matte glass rods, no distractions from the idea of a trajectory. Good.
Feb 9, 2012