Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Albert Paley

too much to be said about the amazing work this guy has done and what an HONOR it is for me to have my sculptures displayed next to his at the memphis brooks museum of art. not to mention what an inspiration to keep chasing my dream.

Resume - Biography
Albert Paley is the first metal sculptor to receive the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA’s highest award to a non-architect. “The allure of Paley’s art comes though its intrinsic sense of integration of art and architecture,” as one noted architect stated.

Albert Paley has been active as an artist for over 30 years. At his studio in Rochester, New York, he and his staff work in a variety of metalworking disciplines.

Commissioned by both public institutions and private corporations, Paley has completed more than 50 site-specific works. Some notable examples are the Portal Gates for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Portal Gates for the New York State Senate Chambers in Albany, a plaza sculpture for AT&T in Atlanta, GA, a sculpture and plaza designed for Adobe Systems in San Jose, CA, major entrance rotunda gates for the State Courthouse in San Francisco, the main entrance gates for the Naples Museum of Art, Naples, FL, as well as a 65-foot sculpture for the entry court of Bausch and Lomb’s headquarters in Rochester, NY. Recently completed works include, a pair of entrance sculptures for the Columbia Public Library, Columbia, Missouri, exterior archways for the town of Perry, Iowa, Sentinel, a monumental plaza sculpture for Rochester Institute of Technology, which is his largest work to date and Animals Always, a ceremonial archway in Forest Park for the Saint Louis Zoo.

Pieces by Albert Paley can be found in the permanent collections of many major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, England, and The British Museum in London.

Broadly published and an international lecturer, Paley received both his BFA and MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Rochester in 1989, the State University of New York at Brockport in 1996, and St. Lawrence University, in Canton, New York in 1997. He also holds an endowed chair at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
- Biography
Major Commissions


for the past 20 years, all of my metal working, for the most part, has been small scale and for adornment purposes. when i first began considering this proposal, i knew that the fabrication on these pieces would have to be farmed out somewhat. daunting for me since i had never made a piece of art that i didn't execute from beginning to end; production of my jewelry designs excluded. there were plenty of options, any of the reputable welders here in town, the guys at the metals museum, but i chose napoleon boyd of c&n welding and this is why.

about 10 years ago i met napoleon through a client of mine that i do restoration for. since that time, we've done some small projects together- he built the stands for our jewelry cases in the showroom, the stand for the work table that is bolted to the floor- that sort of thing. and i've seen other work that he has done for other clients.

what i liked about napoleon right off was that he was real. he was funny. he was serious about his work. loved his wife. loved his kids. proud of his land. but most of all, didn't see color, just as i didn't. we were on the same page. we were just people sharing an experience.

this was most of all the reason he first came to mind. but also- it was important to me that i had my hands dirty for as far into this project as i possibly could. i knew that he would understand that. and i knew that it was gonna be an experience of a lifetime and one i was thrilled to share with him, and he with me. in the end, i feel like i couldn't have done it without him. his sense of humor, his professionalism, his inventiveness, his craftsmanship, his appreciation for others, and his friendship are priceless to me and i cherish them all.

besides, how could you not love a guy that wears a hat that says "you can't scare me, i've got grandkids"

honor (part 5)

it was quite a wait for installation. there were many huddles and decision making sessions in regards to placement. all in all, i'm very pleased with where the museum chose.

arriving at the brooks

waiting for placement

first one in

couldn't wait to see these against the sky!

second one in

bird and nest

last one in, tightening down

checking the levels


big sky

from left: Al Lyons, Napoleon Boyd, Tootsie Bell, Jan Lyons
(jan and al lyons, gracious patrons of this project)

this shot is special to me- never thought i'd have a sculpture in a garden at a museum next to albert paley. amazing.

proud moment

end of installation- not too bad for first thing in the morning.

i must give kudos to my loving and supportive partner jamie. i think it's pretty clear how she feels about my work.

i've had many exciting events in my career as an artist; being commissioned to make a silver egg for pulitzer prize winning author of "the color purple", alice walker; as well as, opening my business. but i think they may have just gotten trumped.

honor (part 4)

the next step was to bend the circles and weld the pieces together. the base to the pole, the 1/2 circles to the pole, the pole to the tree top- prime, paint, seal and sign. the circles were quite an undertaking. after a few long distance calls to companies in the pole bending business, and a couple of trips to local muffler shops, i wasn't liking my options and napoleon came up with a way to do it himself.

inventiveness. this is only one of the reasons why i chose to work with this guy. more on that later.

i drove out to mason one last time, early on a saturday morning, for a final viewing before installing and to sign each of them. after all, or hopefully, these will be around for a long, long time...for many bikes to be locked to. the kid on his way to art school, the couple playing hooky, and the man with his little girl in the seat on the back.

Monday, June 9, 2008

honor (part 3)

from this point on, all the work was done at napoleon's shop in mason tn. it was about an hour drive each way but i loved it. i've always enjoyed a road trip. perfect opportunity to listen to music and get some good thinking done. by the way, what is it about a good song that makes you reach for a cigarette? jus sayin

after cutting out the templates, they were laid on top the sheet of steel and traced around with chalk. once we had that done, we began to cut them out. everyday i work with metal, soldering, fabricating, shaping, finishing, etc. however, it's been nearly 20 years since i have welded on this scale and prior to this day, i had never used a plasma torch. and let me say that whoever invented the plasma torch, not only was genius, but made a huge mark on the metal industry. whereas before, the options were to saw out your pattern (take forever, burn through many blades) or use a cutting torch. the cutting torch is a huge step above using a saw but using a plasma torch takes it to a whole different level. i was cutting through a 1/4" thick piece of steel nearly as quickly as i could draw it on. the torch itself can essentially be your pencil if you want. it also leaves very little flange to be cleaned up after the cut. amazing.

here you can see the image has been traced onto the metal and napoleon is about to make the first cut and show me how it's done. i had no idea how quickly we could move through this so i only brought one template with me the first trip out. the following saturday i came prepared and in just a few hours had the others cut out and were waiting for the rest of materials to come in. i have to say it was one of the coolest things i've done in a long time.

the room was full of smoke and i looked like a coal miner when i was done.

honor (part 2)

finding out that i had been chosen was truly an exciting day for me. i never dreamed that i would have a public piece of art. the idea of people, anyone, viewing, on a daily basis, something that i've created, taking it in and processing whatever it means to them, doesn't mean to them, having a random thought about it, it's just an amazing feeling for me. it never crossed my mind that this would happen but it has definitely popped the top off a new love for me. hopefully there will be more to come.

so the first step of execution was for me to draw to scale the tops of each piece and make a template that could be used to draw onto the sheet of steel.

Friday, June 6, 2008

biggest honor (part 1)

in january of this year, the memphis brooks museum of art put out a call to all artists living in shelby county to submit designs for a bike rack. the purpose of the request was to fill a need to go green; to have a smaller carbon footprint, and to encourage others to participate in this idea

the submission included a written proposal and 2 power point presentations; one visual of my previous work, one of my proposed design, along with- an artist statement, a biography and resume. in febuary my design was chosen. i hired napoleon boyd of C&N Welding for welding fabrication, and on may 7th we installed. the project was generously funded by jan and al lyons of memphis.

the process began with many days and nights of research. what should a bike rack look like? what are some of the ideas that had been done before? what worked? what didn't work? how do you make an esthetically pleasing, artistically satisfying sculpture that has to function as a bike rack and function well? it's one thing to create a sculpture; this i'm familiar with. it's quite another to make it cycle friendly and neither of the factors becoming secondary to the other.

originally i had one idea that i was pretty set on. then another, then another, and then another. but none of these were blowing me away. whenever you get something that blows you away, you know it's what you gotta do. but at this point, it was just too vague. too many good ideas, but not one right idea.

so, it was late, and raining...and i had the dogs. we all three got in the car and drove to the museum. they dutifully watched and waited as i walked around in the cold misting rain to take in the surroundings; to search for inspiration; to find my clear direction. i thought about the starkness of the white building against the dark sky and imagined it against blue in the day. i thought about the park and how the building was surrounded by trees. i didn't really know what yet, but i felt closer to something. i drove back to the shop and started sketching trees and bikes and somehow they married right before my eyes. it was perfect. just what i was looking for. the thing i could get behind.

after the sketches came the models. i made this to scale of 1 inch = 1 foot. the models were 12in. tall- the final pieces, 12 ft. tall. the models were made of copper and painted black. the final pieces, steel painted black.