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Fort Randolph, Panama Canal Zone, 1949
"Tommy, is that really pirate treasure back in there?
Yes, I think so." Artist on right with brother & sister.
Assemblage Art 20th Anniversary 1996 - 2016
My adventure with assemblage began much earlier with an innate fascination with objects as a child. Picking up a feather, a piece of bark or a stone was as natural as breathing. But bringing these things home never made sense to my mother and it didn’t make sense to me either and it didn't need to, curiousity ruled. As an artist I had worked in various mediums. But in 1996 I started making Christmas tree ornaments from elements of nature. I had become disenchanted with commercialized Christmas and wanted to give gifts that were impractical things of beauty. The raw materials were magnolia pods, shells, dried mushrooms, and other found objects. But this was just kindergarten boot camp preparing me for the next phase of my assemblage career.
The Flying Flisk - In 1999, I was on a film crew that was documenting the first East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race, hosted by the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. This was a race of human powered sculptures that traveled a 12 mile course that included traversing a sand pit, a mud pit and the Baltimore harbor. The course was monitored by kinetic cops
dressed as chickens. They made sure you didn’t take any short cuts, didn’t break any nonexistent speed limits, and always had your resident sock monkey on board at all times. There were trophies awarded for the most dramatic break down, the best water entry, the fastest, the slowest and the coveted “middle of the pack” trophy. There was even one for the best bribes to the chicken cops – usually done with candy bars, muffins or movie passes. The pure unadulterated impractical goof of this event caught me, hook, line and sinker. I just had to get in on it. So I designed my sculpture and called it the Flying Flisk ( flisk – a British term for a caper or a whim) and began the adventure of bringing this heady craft into the real world for the next race the following year. But the project was being delayed by the engineer who was translating the design into CAD 3D. He finally confessed that he actually hated the design. It was a labor of love project and he was not in love with it. It was mid year and too late to start again from scratch so the project was aborted. But my excitement was not so easily extinguished, I had already left the launch pad and was in orbit, with nowhere to land. So when I walked back through my studio with shelves full of my collected “junk” my creative engine found its new fuel and I started combining things into assemblage sculptures. I made 22 items and had my first show a month later.
The Shaman's Headdress Story
I had attended an annual Mardi Gras at the American Visionary Art Museum dressed as a shaman wearing the above headdress. A scholarly fellow approached me and gave me a short disertation about the two possible tribes that it had come from. I thanked him but didn't tell him that I had made it.
Exhibit Venues 2000-2015
Various venues throughout the tri-state area including Delaplaine Art Center, Maryland Federation of Art, Maryland State Art Councils Critics Residency Program, the TorpedoFactory, Dumbarton Concerts and the Strathmore Music Center.
Jackson Art Center
3050 R Street, NW
call ahead for studio visits or to discuss commissions
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