Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FOCI - First Visit

Monday came around and I thought I would drive in to visit the folks at FOCI, Minnesota Center For Glass Art. I had the truck mostly emptied, still dealing with the weight issue, as well as the fact that I couldn't really get to anything with out totally unpacking. I would deal with that whole conundrum later on.
FOCI has a great combination of things going on. First of all, the space is amazing. Four stories, open in the middle all the way up with balconies all the way around on each floor. Industrial. Apparently where Alvin the submersible was built. The complex of buildings was originally a research facility for one of the big cereal manufacturers, and now houses the glass studio, a research laboratory, coffee roaster, chocolatier, metal and stone sculptors and a great creative vibe.
A really cool center of creativity. I had a chance to help out a little bit & chat with Sofia Lorraine and Michael Boyd. Sofia has been the office administrator of the glass studio, teaches Yoga and is one of the “Minnesota Glass Girls”. Michael is the visionary founder of FOCI as well as being a very talented glass artist. We hit it off and had some very productive brainstorming. Everyone at the studio was very welcoming and genuinely into what I am up to. I left there very excited about the possibility of future collaboration.
At lunchtime I visited a place called Ambles Machinery Hardware &Steel which was hilariously difficult to find, not knowing my way around town. But oh my was it worth it. Ambles is full of all kinds of hardware and odd ball industrial left overs, a candy store for someone like me. Of course, my battery on my camera was dead, so check out the link for pics. While visiting Ambles, I realized that I no longer need to carry around certain raw materials with me. I think places like this exist in every major city, not to mention that tapping into ore local resources along the way is more suited to my Adventure.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Much Needed R&R

     I spent several days at River Falls after the visiting artist gig was over, helping Eoin make some work & catching up on some much needed rest. We went out to the McKeachie Johnston Pottery Company for a walk in the woods. 

     Randy Johnston is a collegue of Eoin's, and a renown potter. He and his wife have a beautiful estate just outside of River Falls where they live & work. It was a lovely afternoon walking through the woods & checking out the kilns, studios, and galleries. We revisited Hudson (during the daytime) and also visited Quarry Glassblowing Studio, one of the local glass studios.
     Spent the afternoon the next day running a couple of errands (picking up equipment to make mead) and tooling around Minneapolis & St.Paul. I took a liking to Minneapolis right away. A little confusing to get around, but then again, if I spent any time looking at a map, that would probably not be the case!
The Walker Arts Center was well worth the trip. There is a terrific outdoor sculpture park, and some fun & funky exhibitions on display inside.

This is a giant carp created by Frank Gehry!  

A closer look & it makes sense, the tiled, compound curved surface attached to a more rigid interior structure. 

     There was a graphic art exhibit that was very impressive, there was a printer that would cut a word (of your choosing) into paper as a series of dots. Of course, after the fact I had some ideas for it. Oh, well.
I must say it has been a while since I have been to an art museum other than the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Getting in touch with some more recent and relative work is very healthy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Visiting Artist - University of Wisconsin River Falls

I arrived in River Falls on Monday the 7th. Just in time for dinner. I would be staying with Eoin Breadon and his family for the next week.  They had a very cozy spot for me - it was a warm reception for sure!

I spent several days at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls demonstrating and hanging out with the students. The vibe was great. This being my first visiting artist gig outside of Philadelphia, I admit I was a little nervous. I was the first visiting artist they had for quite some time, so the students were very excited. I presented a short version of my life history, in picture format (See Portfolio), before proceeding to the hot shop.

     The studio is equipped with a 600 pound Stadelman electric furnace, that pot is HUGE! A little hot to gather out of when it gets low, but that's the way it goes. The glory holes (2) get nice and hot, and the ventilation was great. The shop was very comfortable to work in.
The students' final assignments had been tailored to my visit – all were being required to create their own tools and/or blow molds to manipulate glass.
Knowing this sort of freed me up to play around a little with the objects after they came out of the mold. There were quite a few new discoveries made! I left the molds out in the shop as well, didn't really make any announcements about it, just anted to see what would happen. The first thing I did on the second day was check the recycle bucket. Low & behold, there was much evidence of the molds being used. I would later find that there was even more evidence in the annealer! The molds hung around long enough for everyone to have an opportunity to play with them and play with them they did! Very interesting to see what shapes inspire different folks, and what they do with them.
My birthday happened to fall in the middle of the visit. Three different classes sang Happy Birthday! Eoin and family took me to the nearby town of Hudson for dinner that night, and his wife, Carrie bake a killer vegan chocolate cake. It was a great way to welcome my personal New Year!
There is some video from the first day (once I figure out the editing program...) and loads of pics from the third day taken by SusannaWaits.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Road: First Stop, Toledo

   The first gig on the Adventure is Visiting Artist at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, where my good friend Eoin Breadon is the glass department head.  The interesting part of this is that it is where my Professor, Jon Clark went for undergrad.  It was a brief conversation with him last year that prompted me to set out on this adventure.  I asked for some advice regarding a particular blow mold that I kept getting stuck in.  He pointed out that I was hanging around too long in the mold - the glass was setting up & getting stuck.  He then pointed out "That's your problem, Phil. You hang around too long!".  Hmmm...
   So, now I am trying on the Nomadic Life for a while.

On the way to River Falls, I decided to stop off in Toledo to visit the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art .

As you will find out on there website, Toledo is essentially the birthplace of the studio glass movement.  Rather fitting for my first stop. I met a few folks, watched some demonstrations and checked out the collection.  They have some great examples of ancient glass that I was pretty thrilled to see - some of the stuff that really inspires me - I was pretty excited.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Break Away

    Saying all this wasn't easy is quite the understatement! I am finally on my way! Once the Open Studio Tour was over, the reality of what it was going to take to get out the door set in.  There were many projects to finish. Still many objects to find homes for.  On top the obvious stuff that needed to be done, there was this underlying uneasiness. It was like pushing against a bubble that kept stretching and stretching but wouldn't let go! Then BOOM! I'm free of it!
    It was a bug-out at the studio & apartment. I drove away from Philadelphia at 1:30 in the morning, to Gettysburg, where I spent the next day repacking:
I had to shed some weight. It is not only a Volume restriction, but the pickup is only a quarter ton. That is not much in terms of  everything that is needed to make my art and live. I had to leave behind even more tooling that I thought was important. Looks like there are more adjustments that will need to be made.