Functional Art: Occupying that tenuous space between fine art and the everyday, functional art refers to aesthetic objects that serve utilitarian purposes. The genre is remarkably inclusive: it encompasses everything from furniture and lighting to dishes and even books. artspace.com
Early this year Josh and I were invited to participate in an exhibit along with 30 other artists. Artists who worked in all different medium. The exhibit was called “Unfinished”. The idea of the exhibit was for all of us to come together and bring two pieces that, for whatever reason, we had started but never finished. When we met, all of our names were put into a bowl and we each drew out two other artists names. We then had to take their piece and go home and finish it, however we wanted to. The exhibit was to be in the summer.
My first thought was, “I do metal sculpture. What am I supposed to do with a painting??” And for that matter, how is a painter going to finish a sculpture? I admit I went home, put my two paintings in the other room and sort of put it in the back of my mind. I think Josh did too. But, every time a reminder email came I was forced to think about it and stress over it. It really was a test of creativity and vision. In a way, it put me back to my college days when we were given assignments that forced us to think “outside the box”.
When I finally made myself get into it, I really liked what these two artists had started. I liked the lines, curves, and feel of each piece. They were actually somewhat similar.
This piece was started by Denise Gasser.
I have a can of small metal punch outs that were perfect on both pieces. It was a real change to be working with little tiny pieces of steel instead of the large pieces I’m used to. Most were stainless steel but a few were steel and I painted several of them black. Pieces of fill rod worked great on some of the lines. I cut different sizes of stainless steel grating to fit into some of the blank areas. When it was complete, I welded together a steel frame and painted it black.
On this piece, instead of the stainless steel, I used pieces of steel with a rust patina that I often use in my sculptures. Again, pieces of fill rod worked great along the lines she had already done.
This piece was started by Aundrea Frahm.
I would have to say it was one of the more challenging projects I’ve taken on, but when it was done, it was kind of fun and I was happy with the way both pieces turned out. It was fortunate for me that the two pieces I got actually blended well with the materials that I always work with!
It was an interesting experience to work with what another artist had started. I very much hoped that what I added would please them rather than disappoint them. I was very happy with the way two more artists finished my unfinished sculptures! The entire exhibit was amazing! I’m not sure that everyone viewing it could really appreciate the challenge we all had but it was a great experience.
Thanks to Namon Bills and Carrie Wardle for the invitation to participate in an awesome adventure!
The exhibit was held at the Bountiful Davis Art Center, which is a beautiful facility with a staff that is knowledgeable and very supportive. I feel bad that I am writing about this after the fact, but you can still view all of the art work in the exhibit at facebook.com/unfinishedartshow
Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Maybe the trick then is to just not grow up? Dan made the comment one time that doing sculpture is like a second childhood for him. Our son, Josh, quickly responded, “Second childhood? You never grew out of your first childhood!”
The advantage of growing up–or at least growing bigger–is that you get bigger toys to play with. Things like welders, grinders, polishers…
and plasma cutters.
Toys that were cool when you were a child
are even more cool when they are 5′ tall and made out of stainless steel
As an adult you can create your own fireworks display whenever you want.
It’s no wonder our nine grandkids love to spend time in Grandpa’s shop. It may seem a little scary to have children in a shop with access to these kinds of tools, but that’s where I come in. As a Grandma, I make safety inspectors look like amateurs. One quick glance at the shop and I can spot any sharp pointy things below 4 feet, any head bumping objects, anything above the temperature of “warm”, or any tools within the reach of curious little hands. But in spite of my OCDness, playing in the shop with Grandpa is a magic time of building and creating art–and building and creating imagination.
Albert Einstein once said (according to the internet), “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” I am constantly amazed at the imagination and the logic that Dan, and many other artists we know, possess. It’s one thing to have the imagination and creativity to come up with an idea. It’s something else to be able to clearly see the process of creation. It’s something else again to have the skill and ability to make it happen. To have all three is truly a gift.
George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
Thankfully, there’s no worries about that around here.
I recently read an article telling of a survey where 900 artists were asked the question, “What is the greatest reward you get for being an artist?” From their answers, the author compiled a list of 101 reasons to be an artist. The list was quite varied. Answers ranged from “I get to be my own boss” to “Taking part in making history”. Though I haven’t experienced all of what was shared, there were many that I totally agreed with.
“Being filled with ideas that you can bring to life visually”
For the last eight years I have had the opportunity to participate in Art Around the Corner in St George, Utah. This has been a great experience both to associate with the people there and to mingle with other artists that I admire. The committee members go out of there way to help the artists feel appreciated and to promote their work. I have also had the good fortune to have my work purchased by the city in the last two exhibits. “Alex” was purchased in 2015 and this year “Held V” was purchased.
“Receiving awards for your work”
Being juried into the Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art is an award in itself, but I was very happy to also receive an Honorable Mention for my piece “Daydream”.
“Having another artist buy you work”
This summer I was able to do a trade with another artist that we particularly like. Jeannine Young traded her piece “Romance” for this piece in her backyard. It’s such a great compliment to have another artist like your work that much!
“Knowing that your creation has contributed to the happiness of a stranger.”
We had a great time again in Loveland, Colorado! Sculpture in the Park is such an enjoyable show to be in. The staff and the volunteers are amazing and so well organized. We really enjoy associating with the other artists and also the patrons. After five years of participation, we have made friendships that will last a lifetime!
These two sculptures have now found permanent homes! One in Colorado and one in California.
“The joy of creating and sharing art”
We have had some other great experiences this year that I will share next time. I feel very privileged to be able to do something that I love so much. I hope the joy I feel comes through in each piece I create. To me, the greatest compliment I can receive as an artist is to have someone like my work enough to want it in their home or yard. Thank you for your support and friendship!
Nothing like being in the right place at the right time!
About six years ago, that’s just what happened to Dan. A 30,000 gallon stainless steel silo imploded. He was asked to look at it and tell them if it could be saved or not. It only took one look inside to know that it would be of no use to them. They determined it would be best to send it for scrape metal. The more Dan thought about it and looked at it, the more he wondered if it might be material he could work with for sculptures. He decided to take a chance and offered to haul it off for them.
It was a huge job, and took hours and hours to cut apart and carefully save and store large and small pieces of stainless steel, but the whole thing was worth it when he cut a section away and looked inside to find an absolute treasure! Heavy steel, through the power of nature, had been folded, formed, and shaped in a way that would be impossible to do with machines. The question was how to save it and work with it. Many more hours were spent carefully cutting, grinding, and polishing until, what could have been left for scrap, was formed into a beautiful stainless steel sculpture. It was a unique experience for Dan to work as a team with Mother Nature.
It seemed only appropriate to name it “Rescued”. This sculpture is approximately 11’x10’x6′. It is currently on display in downtown Salt Lake City but we would very much like to find it a permanent home. If you would like to adopt this amazing sculpture, please get in contact with us. It is 100% stainless steel so it won’t “rust, bust, or collect dust” as Dan is fond of saying. Well, it might collect some dust but it certainly cleans up nicely and easily! It would make a beautiful addition to any sculpture garden, personal collection, or commercial property.
In early 2014, our grandson was born 13 weeks early weighing 1 lb. 6 oz. Most of his first year of life was spent in the hospital and involved surgeries, tests, xrays, therapy, and so on. Needless to say, we all developed some close relationships with, and much appreciation for, the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Thankfully, our big guy is now over 20 lbs. and progressing well!
Also at this time we had been trying to think of a project we could do that would involve “giving back”. We knew we wanted it to involve art because art has always been a big part of our lives. We decided to combine our appreciation for the hospital and our love of art by creating an “art bag” that could be given to children who might appreciate a break from the tests and therapy they may be going through as patients.
Then, we decided to go bigger. With our whole family involved, we would share the bags with other children who may need some inspiration and encouragement when they are faced with difficult situations that may come into their lives.
Earlier this year, Young at ART was born! Each of our nine grandkids drew a stick figure self portrait that became our logo. We put together a book that tells a little about nine master artists. After each artist, an assignment is given. We created a sketch pad for additional drawings and put together crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Since our desire is to encourage and inspire all kids to be artists, we determined that we would sell the bags and for every bag we sell, we will donate a bag to a child in need. It may be in a hospital, it may be in a shelter, or it may be someone we are acquainted with.
We visited with individuals at Primary Children’s Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital, and The Christmas Box House. Our idea was warmly received and we came away realizing that we could easily place over 500 bags if we had them. We got to work creating a website and an Etsy shop where the bags can be purchased. Young at ART bags make wonderful Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and anytime gifts! And the best part is–when you purchase a bag for a gift to a loved one, we will give a bag as a gift to a child in need.
We’d love to have you follow and share us on Facebook, Instagram, and our blog, check out our website, or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you. If you have a young artist in your life, we would love to post some of their art in our website “gallery”. Just email or text it to us along with a first name and age.
This holiday season we hope you will join us in our journey!
young-at-art.com email@example.com youngatartjourney.blogspot.com etsy.com/shop/weareyoungatart
Thoughts from an artist’s wife
March 19, 2015
“When art critics get together, they talk about form and structure and meaning. When artists get together, they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine” Pablo Picasso
The first time we went to Jackson, Wyoming for the Fall Arts Festival, we were introduced to several artists. Mingling and rubbing shoulders with them for a few days was fun and exciting. Watching them paint and sculpt in the Quick Draw was truly amazing. But one of the things that sticks out most in my mind was how “normal” they all were. I have no idea what i was expecting them to be but I guess I thought they might be more…. standoffish…..more introverted…..more….ok, a little wierd I guess. But all of them were like one of your friends and neighbors. They were just there doing their job like anybody else. They were friendly. They were funny. They were sooo talented!
Over the last few years as Dan has become more involved in doing his own art, we have become good friends with several other artists, particularly other contemporary metal artists. We admire them, we learn from them, and we enjoy visiting with them.
Like most situations in life, when you think you are the only one struggling, you can always find others who have even more challenges and yet they just keep on going. We celebrate the successes of our artist friends because we know they have paid the price to get to where they are, and we feel their support and encouragement for us.
And seriously, who else could better sympathize with you than another metal artist when a well-meaning patron tells you that she just loves the sound it makes when she runs her keys over your shiny stainless steel sculpture! That happened to us during an install of a new Art Around the Corner exhibit in St. George. This sweet lady told how she walked by Dan’s sculpture every day, and everyday she would run her keys over the stainless steel pipes. There was dead silence in the whole group of artists! What she was meaning to be a compliment, was more than a little disconcerting!! What do ya do……attempt to smile and say…..t h a n k s??
In another week we’ll be in St. George again for another install and we’ll have a chance to mingle with friends and associates. We look forward to getting up to date on all their accomplishments and maybe learning a few new tricks of the trade.
Spring is beautiful in St. George!
THOUGHTS FROM AN ARTIST’S WIFE
March 11, 2015
“I think artistry is in having an insight into what one sees around them. Generally putting things together in a way no one else has before.”
Some of my favorite evenings in the shop are when Dan is busy working on a sculpture and he’ll ask me to put together some ideas for him. I look through the shelves of found objects, fall off pieces, and piles of steel, feeling like I’m back in school and the teacher just gave an intriguing creative art assignment. “Take these objects and create a masterpiece!” he says enthusiastically. I pick out three items and start playing with ways to put them together. Sometimes it just doesn’t work and I have to start over (as Dan reminds me–again–that you can’t weld steel to aluminum….but if you could– I’d have some beautiful creations!)
But, sometimes things do go together and I actually come up with a “rough draft” of a good idea! Dan will look it over, tweak it a little here and there, weld it, polish it, and low and behold– it’s a sculpture!
Even though I’ve only had a small part in creating it, I still get to feel that great feeling of excitement and satisfaction at seeing a piece of art that had it’s beginning in my mind and heart.
Someone once asked Dan which of his sculptures was his favorite and he responded, “They are like my kids…..they are all my favorite.”
The idea of adding a blog to the website seemed like a good way to personalize things. Give a little insight into the what, why, and how the sculptures came to be, and a way of getting to know Dan a little better. It seemed like a good idea.
The only problem is Dan would much rather have a welding torch in his hand than a pen or pencil. Unless, of course, the pencil is for sketching and not writing. Hence–he came up with the idea of “Thoughts from an artist’s wife“. It was a slick way out of it, I’ll give him that. But then I admit, I am his biggest fan!
So we hope you’ll check in with us once a week, or so–to find out what is new on the welding bench. The words on the page may be mine but the thoughts and feelings come from both of us. That is part of the fun in this whole journey, working together to see what we can create.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso
I love that our twoyearold grandson knows what Grandpa’s “culpechuhs” are and can point them out all around the house and yard. To our three year old, they are “sciptures”. They know what they are even before they can really pronounce it . I love that all of our grandkids not only recognize art but take it very seriously and enjoy making their own creations, whether it’s sculpture, painting, pottery, or whatever. We consider them all “emerging artists” and we try to encourage them and give them opportunities to show their work. One grandson designed and completed his first sculpture (with his dad doing the welding) at the age of about six. Another, at the age of seven, created his own design (with Grandpa doing the welding) and did a presentation on sculpture building for his school class. And still another is impatiently waiting for his turn in the shop.
Dan has often said that creating metal sculpture is like a second childhood for him. I guess it’s no wonder the boys enjoy being with him so much. I hope they always stay young enough to be artists!