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Wall Sculpture for Taipei

This wall sculpture project is under way and to be completed in Spring 2014. A 13′ x 10′ bronze wall sculpture (4m x 3m), it will go in the new JC Residential development in Taipei, Taiwan. I am working with YIYI Creation and Consultants in Taipei on the project.

Latest updates at top. Please scroll down for earlier updates, photos, videos of this project as it progresses.

Update 2014-02-05

A short video showing some of the construction progress.

Update 2013-11-08

I have completed a 1/10 scale model in bronze, as well as a 1/20 scale paper maquette, visible towards the end of this short video.

Update 2013-10-09

This is the latest and probably the final concept sketch for this new wall sculpture.

The material will be bronze with a fiery red-gold color. The form is a continuation of my recent fascination with the ‘funnel cloud’ shape, and in a similar vein to the recently completed large wall sculpture at the new hospital in Miki City/Ono, Japan. The tornado-like shape carries a sense of power, yet at the same time a grace and simplicity, with the chaos and randomness in the upper area, organizing and swirling and focusing to a single point below.

Overall rendering of the lobby with sculpture sketch

Overall rendering of the lobby with sculpture sketch

The dark marble desk is the reception area of the lobby

The dark marble desk is the reception area of the lobby

 

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Kinetic Bronze Wind Sculpture for Creek Casino Montgomery

“Wind Feathers” was installed on site in Montgomery, Alabama in early January, 2014. The overall height as installed is about 15′ (4.6m), while the sculpture itself is about 12′ high (3.5m). This is made of bronze with a red patina, delicately balanced on ball bearings to move in the wind. We had wonderful weather and light and perfect winds during installation and I was able to put together this video showing the sculpture in motion. The video is narrated, with some explanation of the motion and strategies for dealing with winds of different strengths.

The fabrication of this piece took about 5 months. Getting the balance and movement right is painstaking and time consuming. Also the red patina is quite difficult, being a transparent red that is applied with a torch and spray of ferric nitrate.

Further down on this page are some visuals and information posted earlier as the project progressed.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12' high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12′ high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12' high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12′ high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12' high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

Wind Feathers, bronze, kinetic by wind, 12′ high, Commissioned for Creek Casino Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.

 

Earlier post – Oct 9 2013   The Creek Casino in Montgomery, Alabama has commissioned a 12′ (3.5m) high moving wind sculpture for the entry plaza. This is well under way and should be completed in late 2013. It will go in the middle of a fountain pool.

This will be all in bronze with a dark red patina. I am thinking of calling this sculpture “Wind Feathers”. The Casino is operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and they thought the motif of feathers matched well with their identity and is present in the logo for their tribe. There will be some subtle feather motif details on the pieces.

Three shots of the paper maquette for this 12' (3.5m) high bronze kinetic sculpture

Three shots of the paper maquette for this 12′ (3.5m) high bronze kinetic sculpture

I have some video of the sculpture under construction. Here I have complete the base structure and one moving shape, and balanced the pieces on good bearings, so you can get some idea of the movement. There is a second upper moving shape not shown yet.

 

Video Update 2013-10-15: The wind was blowing a bit today, perfect for setting up the sculpture as I just welded on the shaft holder for the second, upper moving shape. The basic form of the sculpture is now together, and the balance and motion are not quite there but getting close. And still quite a bit of work to do of course.

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Funnel Cloud – Large Wall Sculpture Now Completed in Japan

 

Funnel Cloud, aluminum wall sculpture, 27' wide x 15' high, Kita Harima Medical Center, Miki City & Ono City, Hyogo, Japan

Funnel Cloud, aluminum wall sculpture, 27′ wide x 15′ high, Kita Harima Medical Center, Miki City & Ono City, Hyogo, Japan

In July 2013 I traveled to Miki City and Ono in Japan to install the large wall sculpture at the new Kita Harima Medical Center. This is just to the north of Kobe.

I do hope to get photos taken from a better angle. This is the first photo I have with the scaffolding removed, kindly sent to me by Takaki Tanaka, the art consultant with Art Inter Tokyo who arranged the commission.

The title of this sculpture, “Funnel Cloud”, is a reference to the somewhat tornado-like shape that inspired the form. The focused energy of these great clouds is what fascinates me. Although as with most of my work, there are hints of the human form and pose, trying to relate a powerful natural phenomenon to human experience.

Below is a video shot during the installation, which will give an idea of what I might call an organized riot of activity going on with hundreds of construction workers rushing to finish the huge hospital with an opening only about a month away.

The installation went very smoothly, which was a relief and maybe a little surprising considering the complexity. The sculpture in 8 pieces was sent in three large wooden crates by sea. There are 17 attachment points on the tiled wall, provided by stainless steel anchor plates which were installed by a work crew before I arrived. These all had to be very exactly located for the sculpture to fit. And to make things more difficult, the building engineers insisted that the anchor plates emerge from the wall in a grout space between the tiles. So back at my studio in California I had to lay out a huge grid representing the tile pattern very carefully on the floor of my studio and locate each plate with drawings and dimensions. It was extremely exacting, and therefore a little nerve wracking before installation wondering if the brackets would end up all being in the right place.

Due to all this careful work in advance, however, the installation went perfectly and the sculpture was hung on the wall with a crew of about 5 people in one day. Unfortunately, the four floors of scaffolding in front of the sculpture could not be removed before my departure, so I was not able to take my own photographs of the finished piece. I hope to get more photos from a local professional photographer who is slated to cover the new hospital opening.

As a wonderful and remarkable coincidence, I found out that the hospital is owned by the cities of Miki and Ono, and that Miki City is the sister city of my home town of Visalia, California. So I met some wonderful people from Miki City and had a lovely time hearing about a number of common acquaintances from back home. It is a small world indeed.

 

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Wall Sculpture for Hospital in Japan

In December 2012 fabrication will begin on a very large wall sculpture to be installed in early 2013 at the new Kita Harima Medical Center, in Hyogo Prefecture, west of Kobe. The sculpture will be made of aluminum and will extend 7.25m wide by 4.75m high (about 24 feet wide by 15-1/2′ high.) This will be attached to a broad expanding white tiled wall just inside the main entrance, in the main atrium corridor beneath a glassed roof.

Initially I was contacted a few months ago by the art consultants Art Inter Tokyo to submit a design for consideration. (These are the same consultants that coordinated the project I did last year of five sculptures for the resort in Karuizawa.) The architects were not very specific in their request, but simply asked for something dynamic, that would take advantage of the sunlight coming through the ceiling to cast shadows and provide a changing pattern depending on sky conditions. On the other hand, they wanted to keep the sculpture from extending out from the wall surface more than 600mm (24″).

To get a better idea of the environment and light, I constructed a full 3D computer model of the hospital lobby from blueprints. Then I started sketching ideas on the wall. For the last few months I had been toying around with large scale wall sculpture concepts based on swirling designs, initially inspired by funnel clouds and tornados. Eventually renderings of the concept were produced as below.

Kita Harima Wall Sculpture Rendering A

The project schedule is tight, as the finished sculpture is scheduled to be crated and shipped at the end of February 2013. I will be going over to supervise the installation some weeks after that.

Since I don’t have access to a wall this big here at my studios, I will be laying the sculpture out on the floor. So we’ve been busy finishing up other projects and moving machinery around to make room. This is one of the largest sculptures I’ve executed, so it’s going to be very exciting to see it come together.

Kita Harima Wall Sculpture Rendering B

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Wind Sculpture

Someone Sent Me Two Feathers is a kinetic wind sculpture commissioned for a private home in Capistrano Beach, California, south of Los Angeles.

The sculpture is kind of unusual and I consider it to be one of my finest works, so maybe it deserves a page of it’s own. It was completed in 2006 but recently people have inquired about similar sculptures and I realized I didn’t have the video up on the website, so here’s a post about it.

As a kinetic sculpture, of course it’s heavily influenced by the work of George Baker, with whom I studied and worked for quite some time. I was an assistant in his studio for about 12 years and helped build over 100 commissioned sculptures, nearly all of them kinetic — motorized pieces, fountains, wind sculptures, some moved by hand. Although most of my own work is not kinetic, it is nice to revisit that genre once in a while.

Certainly, the motion can be fascinating, bordering on the hypnotic. But the challenge is in balancing pure sculptural form, while adding motion and a certain amount of choreography. The wind does not always blow, of course, so you want the still composition to be as successful as when moving.

The site is a residence on a bluff, up above the beach, the house commanding views north down into Dana Point Harbor, south down the beach, and out to sea. The work was commissioned by Ann and Roger Worthington, who knew George as well. I eventually did a number of other sculptures for them, but this was the first and largest. The house they built and helped design is just magnificent inside and out, everything from the landscaping to the furnishing would not be out of place in a museum.

A better site for a wind sculpture is hard to imagine. It’s ideally situated on the entrance side of the house, just out of the direct daily ocean breeze. A direct blast of onshore wind would probably just send the sculpture whirling around too fast. But with the wind being broken up by the house, there is a nearly ideal blustery quality to the air that gets the sculpture moving gently and randomly nearly every day, especially in the afternoon hours. Of course the morning I went to take some video – what would you expect – there was not much air movement.

Someone Sent Me Two Feathers, kinetic wind sculpture, stainless steel, 12' high, commissioned for a private residence, Dana Point, California, 2005.

Details: the sculpture and base are made entirely of 304 stainless steel. The base is about 4′ high and the total height of the sculpture is 12′ (3.66m). There are three sets (pairs) of aircraft stainless steel ball bearings. They are well shielded from rain and are not highly stressed, and should last for many decades without any attention if past experience is a guide. As I write this in 2012 the sculpture has never needed any mechanical attention. The sea air has not had an any deleterious effects on the stainless steel.

Fun fact: you can see this sculpture from space! If you go to Google Maps, enter the figures in the search box 33.458911,-117.670547 (latitude-longitude of the sculpture location). Zoomed in all the way, in satellite view, the sculpture is clearly visible in the middle of the circular driveway.

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Installation of the Sculpture Project in Karuizawa, Japan

I was in Japan from Jan. 9-14, installing the five sculptures for the resort in Karuizawa. (Original blog post describing this commission.) The sculpture crates all arrived by ship in Tokyo Harbor safe in their container and were unloaded and trucked to the XIV Karuizawa resort. ArtInter Tokyo, the art consultants managing the project, headed by Takaki Tanaka, arranged everything wonderfully and it all went quite smoothly. The installation crew of four were experts at this, being full-time art installers that do quite a bit of work maintaining the sculptures at the renowned Hakone Open Air Museum. So altogether there were seven of us on the installation.

The resort itself was a hive of activity to completely finish construction, as the building is scheduled to open for occupancy soon. This is really a first rate resort, and of course the legendary Japanese attention to detail was evident everywhere in all the design, the landscaping, the materials and finishes, everything.

XIV Karuizawa - the new resort - sculpture crates

XIV Karuizawa - the new resort - sculpture crates

Shipping a few thousand pounds of artwork nearly 6,000 miles, it gives you a bit of trepidation opening the crates. It was encouraging that the crates looked immaculate from the outside. Everything inside was in perfect shape.

We uncrated and moved all the sculptures to their positions, where footings had been poured to bolt them down. Unfortunately two of the footings were in positions that just weren’t quite right. We went ahead and placed the sculptures carefully, with the exact rotation and position I wanted. But since the two footings would have to be re-located and this would take some demolition and concrete work taking some days, there was no choice but to arrange to return later and finish the installation. So we took the sculptures to a temporary safe storage area. The crew was scheduled to return without me on Jan. 27 to finish the installation and anchoring.

So at the point these photos were taken, the installation is quite incomplete, the lighting is not finished, the buildings and landscaping aren’t quite there, and so I was unable to get great shots of the final sculptures in perfect settings.

Below is the first sculpture you would encounter leaving the resort lobby and starting down the path to the residences. The first photos are of the sculpture at my studio just before being crated up. 

 

And above is the same sculpture set down temporarily to determine it’s best position. On the level above, behind the railing, you can see the smaller sculpture In Virtue of Adversity

The rough-hewn granite pedestal I had designed for the fifth smaller sculpture turned out very nicely. It was built in Japan from my sketch. We were able to anchor this sculpture down permanently during my visit. (In this photo there is a bit of masking tape around the pedestal top to mask off the anchoring cement.) 

To explain a bit more about this resort, XIV Karuizawa is a large complex with a number of different sub-resorts in the same location. There is the original resort section called Grand XIV; while we were there we were given luxurious accommodations at the second complex Sanctuary Villas, shown above. The units are large suites with gorgeous glass sunrooms, formal Japanese tatami mat dining room, huge spa-quality bath – decadent.

My sculptures dot the grounds of an entire new wing of the resort – I’m not exactly sure what they will be calling it. There is also another half of this new wing, and the artwork there is a very long fountain installation by British artist Simon Allison.

The entire resort is actually a time share arrangement – XIV refers to the number 14 – each unit has 14 owners who are each entitled to time of 1/14th of a year or about 26 days. So no, in case you were wondering, it’s not a hotel open to the public that you could just make reservations at.

Hopefully I will be able to obtain much better photos of the sculptures in a fully finished installation in the next month or two.

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Completion and Shipping of Karuizawa Sculptures

At the beginning of December, all five of the pieces for Karuizawa were finally finished. (Original blog post on this commission.) This is a project that has occupied the studio in pretty intense activity for the last 6 months, so it was quite a relief to put the finishing touches on them, get some photographs and video here at the studio, and get them in their crates. On Dec. 16th the container was loaded on the MOL Explorer out of the port of Los Angeles en route to Tokyo.

The movie shows the sculptures outside the artist’s studio just prior to crating and shipping.

Prior to the work being packed up, representatives came to the studio from Japan to check on the finished sculptures. I am scheduled to be in Japan in mid-January to oversee the sculptures in their permanent placement. The resort buildings are just being completed and it will be mid-winter in Karuizawa, and due to our installation the landscaping may not be quite finished yet, but I do hope to get some decent photos of their new home.

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Karuizawa – Close to completion

Patina work involves putting the final color on the bronze, using a large blowtorch to heat the metal up, and spraying on the secret alchemical formula. Bronze is mostly copper but is quite a bit lighter orange hued than copper. It’s very reactive so tarnishes and stains and turns green or brown outside quickly. The patina I favor is a red that is said to be the most stable of all bronze patinas.

In these photos I’m putting on a first patina application. The metal has to be around 200 degrees F or near the boiling point of water, so that the chemical steams off. The temperature is pretty critical, and if the metal isn’t hot enough the solution just dribbles down the surface and pretty much ruins the patina. So you quickly learn not to let that happen. And that explains the foil, which protects the cold surrounding metal from overspray. I now use an infrared electronic thermometer that can just be pointed at the surface to get a readout of the temp.

Later I decided the color should be a bit deeper because outdoors it looked much paler than under the studio lighting. So another entire layer was applied. It takes about a full workday to do one layer on a sculpture this size.

Both the bronze and the stainless pieces in these photos have what I call a textured or “parrot’s feather” surface. This is engraved into the surface with the edge of a disc grinder. The heavy 7″ grinder has a coarse cardboard disc with a hard rubber backing pad. First the pebbly mill finish of the plate stainless steel has to be ground away. Then the edge of the disc is used to lay down bands of layered wavy lines of arc shaped grinding marks. Up close it resembles feathers.

The stainless for this particular sculpture is just left the natural silver color. I also use this surface for stainless and bronze sculptures that get colored with a patina in some way, either through just heat treatment or with heat and chemicals. The texture not only makes the surface very lively and reflective, it can also result in a variety of different colors coming through.

The other shots here are of welding the stainless sculpture to it’s base, and engraving the signature. Signing it means it’s done, so that’s always a great moment, believe me, when you sweat over a piece for a couple of months.

Below is a short video showing some of the work being done on K2. I don’t have titles yet, and despite the number, this is actually the last of the five sculptures to be completed for the project. The other three large sculptures are currently being ‘detailed’, fussed over and patinated, which takes some time. But it is good to have the major construction of them all finished.

I’ve been asked how the ‘engraved’ surface finish is applied so I chose some of the footage to illustrate that. We have taken some good film throughout the design and execution of this sculpture project that will be made into a short documentary sometime in 2012.

 

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Progress on Karuizawa – October 1

 

The smaller 36″ high sculpture for the Karuizawa project is now finished. Doesn’t look like stainless steel? The gold finish with the texture probably looks a bit like bronze, but that is a heat patina I apply to the stainless using a blowtorch.

For the moment I have no titles for these sculptures, so I’m just calling them K1 through K5 for “Karuizawa”. I find it difficult to think up titles and usually do this after the sculpture is finished and I have time to reflect on it a bit.

Additionally, the first large stainless steel piece is also virtually finished except for mounting on it’s base.

The first large bronze sculpture is also nearing completion, and the raw plate metal for the other big bronze piece is on the cutting table ready to begin soon.

Plasma cutting (below) is a process of cutting stainless steel with a torch, in this case an electric arc combined with compressed air does the cutting. A hand-held torch is drawn along   the edge of a pattern laid out on a plate of metal.

 

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Five Sculptures for Karuizawa, Japan

Four sculpture sketches, concepts for the XIV Karuizawa project

Four sculpture sketches, concepts for the XIV Karuizawa project

5th smaller sculpture for XIV Karuizawa project

5th smaller sculpture for XIV Karuizawa project

Karuizawa, in the famous “Japanese Alps” northwest of Tokyo, is home to beautiful mountain scenery, trails to waterfalls, spectacular roads winding through steep canyons, golf resorts, and beautiful autumn leaves. I was able to visit the area back in 2002 and had a wonderful time camping and riding with an old college friend on a motorcycle through the spectacular fall colors.

So I’m quite excited to be going back to Karuizawa soon, this time to install five sculptures commissioned for a development called XIV Karuizawa. (They are Roman numerals but pronounced as ‘Eksiv’.) The company developing the project, Resorttrust Inc., was introduced to my work by the Tokyo-based curator and art consultant Takaki Tanaka, director of Art Inter, Ltd. Also involved in the project are architectural firm Nikken Sekkei, and Sumisho Interior.

Mr. Tanaka and his assistant Yuko Suzuki first contacted me in early 2011, and scheduled a visit to Los Angeles for March. As it so happened, the great earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan just days before they were to leave. They persevered through those chaotic days and made the trip anyway. It was at this time we first met at my studio and they described the project for me with some preliminary blueprints and renderings.

The resort in Karuizawa was first developed some years ago, but a new wing is being built called the West Annex. It was the owner’s thought to have four large sculptures placed along the pathway outside the residences as a sculpture garden, and they considered a number of artists from Japan and other countries. At first the plan was for the various sculptors to each submit a preliminary proposal. However, a few weeks after the art consultants’ return to Tokyo, I was notified that the owners had selected me to do the project.

I worked on sketches for a number of months, going back and forth via email with the owners and building designers and art consultants. Near the end of this process, it was decided to add a smaller fifth sculpture, to be placed in a covered open air terrace which serves as a second floor elevator landing. And the other sculptures locations were adjusted to distribute the now five works better. With all the sculpture design sketches and placements agreed upon, the commission agreement was finalized at the end of July 2011.

So the sculptures will be made on a tight schedule over the coming months in my studio in the Los Angeles area, and crated for shipment at the end of November 2011. I should be in Karuizawa for the installation in early January. This will certainly be a busy time, as creating four large sculptures in only four months, plus the smaller one, is quite a task. I would normally ask for 3 months to do one sculpture.

Below are some shots of the Karuizawa area I took on my trip there in 2002. Later during this trip I was also able to visit the magnificent outdoor sculpture museum at Hakone which is closer to the Mt Fuji area. You could hardly wish for a better backdrop or inspiration for a sculpture garden than the Japanese mountains, and I’m quite fortunate to have this opportunity.

Some shots of my trip to Karuizawa and nearby mountains, 2002

Some shots of my trip to Karuizawa and nearby mountains, 2002