April 19, 2004
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Issue #6: Serendipity By Design; Inspired Monotypes; and Digital Wonders
An e-magazine published by Silicon Valley Open Studios.
Garrett: Serendipity By Design Dewey Garrett mixes art and discovery
in his unique application of the age-old wood turner’s craft. He can be
found in his Livermore garage studio – brimful of sawdust and power
tools – spinning forms on his lathe, building on the legacy of
woodworkers who came before him.
Dewey Garrett mixes art and discovery in his unique application of the age-old wood turner’s craft. He can be found in his Livermore garage studio – brimful of sawdust and power tools – spinning forms on his lathe, building on the legacy of woodworkers who came before him.
Inspired Monotypes Five or six times a year, Laura Deem
travels with her husband to the mountains - mainly in California - to
hike and rock climb. On these outings, Laura is often left speechless
by the amazing views before her. The images she gathers on these
excursions are used as inspiration back in her studio.
Five or six times a year, Laura Deem travels with her husband to the mountains - mainly in California - to hike and rock climb. On these outings, Laura is often left speechless by the amazing views before her. The images she gathers on these excursions are used as inspiration back in her studio.
Bruce Hodge: Digital Wonders The computer - most notably, the program
Adobe Photoshop - has become an invaluable tool for so many different
kinds of artists. Bruce Hodge, a photographer, is one such artist. He
uses it in place of the darkroom to develop and control his pictures.
The computer - most notably, the program Adobe Photoshop - has become an invaluable tool for so many different kinds of artists. Bruce Hodge, a photographer, is one such artist. He uses it in place of the darkroom to develop and control his pictures.
Issue #6: Serendipity by Design; Inspired Monotypes; and Digital Wonders
Issue #1: Jellyfish, Trinity Alps and Tranquility
“Getting there is an evolution,” says woodturner Dewey Garrett of his art process. Like it sounds, a woodturner (or just turner) shapes wood by spinning it rapidly against the edge of a cutting tool. The spinning machine is called a lathe, and archaeologists believe its use may date back to 700 B.C. in Egypt. Today, centuries, seas, and landmasses away from ancient Egypt, Dewey Garrett can be found in his Livermore garage studio – brimful of sawdust and power tools – spinning forms on his lathe, building on the legacy of woodworkers who came before him.
His parents, in fact, were the woodworkers who came most recently before him. Dewey grew up in a small Missouri town watching his mother and father craft their own furniture. After finishing an engineering degree at Northwestern University in Illinois, earning a master’s degree at UCLA, and enjoying a decade of full-time work as an electrical engineer, Dewey realized that all along, he had quietly yearned to make his own furniture, as his parents had. “I always looked at books about tools and woodworking,” Dewey says reflectively, “but – living in an apartment – I just didn’t have the opportunity.” With a brightened expression, he adds, “When I bought a house…[woodworking] was just something I needed to do.” Naturally, he tackled his first project – a set of round table legs – with an engineer’s approach to problem solving and a previously undiscovered zeal for creative work. “I was seduced by the lathe,” he recalls, explaining the joy and curiosity engendered by the spinning forms, their idiosyncrasies blurring unpredictably into merged hues and whizzing lines on the lathe.
Today, twenty years after turning those first table legs, Dewey is still at it, leaning over the lathe, making graceful forms, solving design and fabrication problems, and delighting in the surprises inherent in every piece. His studio, the birthplace of these processes, is lined elbow-deep with pegboard shelves. Among the recognizable articles hooked there, are clamps, belts, saws, and – revealingly – first aid supplies. Dewey is a sensible, practical, man with a slight frame and faintly graying hair. When talking about his work, he is appealingly unassuming and earnest. Unlike many artists who use lofty language to describe their inspirations, Dewey simply says he’s interested in the transformation from raw blocks of wood into graceful and symmetrical art pieces. “…[The process] is always fascinating and full of surprises,” he says evenly, with modest and uncomplicated charm.
In that light, it is not surprising that process drives most of Dewey’s work. There are, of course, a few exceptions: one piece, influenced by architectural elements, is reminiscent of the coliseum. Others take shape around their innate burls and holes. Still, these are not as numerous as Dewey’s process-driven works like his “constructed” pieces and his palm-wood series.
Inspired neither by architecture nor nature, his “constructed” pieces spring from his daily musings and their resulting designs. With these as his guide, Dewey glues together staggered wood pieces, leaving negative spaces between. When the parts are connected, and their negative spaces are held intact with temporary fillers, he fixes the conglomeration to his lathe and turns it against his cutting edge, beholding, finally, his finished work –at once smooth and organic, symmetrical and elegant. Indeed, the surfaces of these “constructed” series are so visually appealing that they spark a primal human desire to satisfy the sense of touch, to run a finger along their interwoven and silk-smooth lines, to hold a piece inside each palm and judge its weight. Amazingly, though, the touch-appeal of the finished “constructed” pieces is not Dewey’s primary objective; rather, it is the design-challenge and the fabrication-process that motivates him.
Texture also beckons viewers to touch Dewey’s palm-wood pieces (which are often rough, not smooth), but as with the “constructed” works, his motivation to make them lies in the challenges they present. Turned palm-wood, like milled deciduous wood, has a visible grain. But palm-wood grain is comprised of bundled fibers rather than consecutive rings; thus, its cross-sectional appearance is dotted, not lined. Between these fibers (or “dots”), lies a soft, pithy material, which often flakes away while the palm-wood is on the lathe. Ever the pragmatic optimist, Dewey calls this complication: “serendipitous.” In his search for a solution, he brushed away the pith to discover and expose the underlying basket-like texture, which became a defining element of his palm-wood pieces.
Serendipity indeed. Red Truncation, Dewey’s acclaimed palm-wood vessel, was selected for Collection 2004. To sense the spirit of the piece, readers must close their eyes and imagine the color of pomegranate seeds; the weightlessness of balsawood; the texture of coconut shells; and the scent of dried grass; each integrated into the shape of a single, hollowed pear, its top lopped off at a surprising angle. “I’m privileged and honored to have had this piece chosen,” Dewey admits, adding that he looks forward to meeting new people during Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) this year. So enthusiastic, in fact, that he will display his works during each of the three SVOS weekends.
Whether wood or palm; organic or constructed, Dewey’s works share a common element: they are born of his quest for fresh challenges and solutions. Thus, each new piece teaches Dewey something he can apply to the next. Undeniably - getting there is an evolution!
The beauty found in nature is a source of inspiration for Laura Deem. Five or six times a year, she travels with her husband to the mountains - mainly in California - to hike and rock climb. On these outings, Laura is often left speechless by the amazing views before her. She always brings along her travel watercolors and camera, making studies in watercolor, capturing the essence of the place, and taking photographs for detail. The images gathered on these excursions are used as inspiration back in her studio.
Laura is a printmaker and a painter, the majority of her work being monotype printing. “Monotype printmaking combines the best of painting and printing techniques,” she explains, adding that it is “…a spontaneous medium that allows deep, rich hues and tones to be developed.” She likes the painterly qualities of the process and is excited by the degree of surprise that can take place when pulling a print. Different conditions like humidity, paper type, or the pressure setting of the printing press can affect the outcome of the print. Monotype printing, unlike other methods, makes only one unique image. To make a monotype print, Laura uses brushes or rollers to apply ink to either a metal or Plexiglas plate. She then places heavy paper on top of the plate while the ink is still wet and runs it through the press, finally lifting off the paper to see the printed image.
When she is ready to start a new series of work, Laura refers to her travel watercolors, photographs, and working notebooks. Her working notebooks are photo albums created from images she has collected over the years. This image-collection process, however, is not as simple as it initially sounds. For many years, she has kept pictures ripped from magazines in a giant file labeled “thought provoking.” To keep abreast of the file’s contents and control its size, she culls the images into groups labeled “composition” and “color.” Once divided, she selects the more interesting images to place in photo albums. For future reference, she makes notes on each page detailing what about the images had originally caught her eye. These photo albums then become her “working notebooks,” their contents providing fresh color and composition ideas when she starts a new series.
A recurring motif in Laura’s work is a particular landscape she has observed over time. She experiments with color combinations and abstracts the image, leaving only the fundamental shapes. This process of stripping all but the most essential elements in an image was inspired by the Japanese minimalist designs she has seen in her many trips to the Far East. Laura has an affinity for simplicity. Dan Keegan, executive director of the San Jose Museum of Art, noted that affinity when he selected one of her works for Collection 2004. In his statement, Keegan wrote: “This artist creates beautiful, sensual monotypes. Sometimes the best things are simple, elemental. The works have a haiku-like quality to them—a single gesture repeated, a movement expanded. [Laura’s piece:] Trunks has simplicity, repetition and rhythm wrapped in a subtle composition that borders on the sublime.”
Laura dedicates two full days a week to making art, along with some nights and weekends. She spends more than half of one of those days working on the business aspects of her career and the logistics of exhibiting her work. She has been working professionally on her art career since graduating from Chico State University in 1991 with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Visual Communications, Graphic Design, and Studio Art.
Laura’s activity in the Bay Area arts community goes beyond her art making. Two years ago, she was appointed one of seven Public Art Commissioners to the city of Palo Alto. The seat of the Public Art Commissioner is a 3-year volunteer position that provides recommendations on policy and placement of public art throughout the city. Laura has been involved with eight projects to date. Her most recent project was one she designed in collaboration with Palo Alto artist Kathryn Dunlevie. It is a 720 square foot community poetry wall mural in Midtown consisting of six panels, each containing a poem by a local poet. It was installed in March 2004.
The computer - most notably, the program Adobe Photoshop - has become an invaluable tool for so many different kinds of artists. Photoshop has been around for over fifteen years, and it continues to be a favorite among artists, who use the innovative software program to manipulate their images. Bruce Hodge, a photographer, is one such artist. He uses it in place of the darkroom to develop and control his pictures. Bruce has a firm foundation in both color and black and white photography.
Bruce uses color transparency film to take his photographs. After the film is processed, he spends hours looking carefully at the transparencies through a loupe, a magnifying glass used to view transparent film over the illuminated surface of a light box. Gradually, he selects the images he feels would make interesting prints. After the initial selection process, he has the transparencies digitized on a high-end scanner. He then uses Photoshop to manipulate the scanned images, changing their contrast levels, adjusting their color saturation, and cropping them as needed. Despite many years of developing his color photographs in the darkroom, he has found that Photoshop gives him even greater control of their look and feel. Once he is satisfied with his results, the images are ready to print.
His computer is color calibrated to match the photo-processing lab. Color calibration ensures that the colors he sees on his computer at home will be exactly the same as the ones the lab technicians see on their computers, wherever in the world they may be. The lab prints Bruce’s photographs on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. This archival quality paper is used by professionals and provides outstanding color reproduction with enhanced clarity for detail. Although he uses this technology to change his images, he continues to be concerned with maintaining the integrity of the original scene photographed.
Looking for the unusual in the usual, Bruce surveys locations, mostly around the Bay Area, looking for raw material to photograph. Nature is his starting point. He says he uses “representation as the seed of abstraction.” He is particularly interested in water, photographing its patterns and reflections. In the photograph Sag Pond, Salt Point, Bruce creates a dynamic composition. A fallen tree limb serves as a strong diagonal, and the texture of branches and leaves look like stirring marks caught in the water. The water’s reflections of sky and mossy ground are beautiful saturated blues and greens. The image is quite striking.
He composes his photographs in a way that abstracts their original content, integrating design elements like line, shape and texture to make formal compositions. He is not always interested in taking a direct picture of something; rather, he wants to make something new out of what is seen or often overlooked. His ability to capture painterly aspects with photography draws viewers in and keeps their attention.
As a young photographer (he started taking photographs at the age of twelve), Bruce was inspired by the West Coast tradition of photography. His favorite photographers were, and still are, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. He is fond of their landscape images and has studied them closely. In 1979 - in order to be immersed in the landscape that inspired Adams and Weston - he moved to California. Like them, he was drawn to the diversity of the natural environment. He has lived in the Bay Area ever since. His home and studio are located in Palo Alto.
Bruce looks forward to Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS). He has been a participant for five years. The annual SVOS activities keep him on his toes and thinking about making new work throughout the year. SVOS also gives him the incentive to get his studio organized. Over the years, he has built up his mailing list and is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as meeting new people. He enjoys having dialogues about his work with visitors. Bruce’s studio will be open the second weekend in May.