Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alphabet City, New York

Alphabet City
There is a neighborhood in the Lower East Village of Manhattan that is known as Alphabet City. The neighborhood gets its name from the 4 lettered avenues that run easterly from First Avenue to the river. Avenues A, B, C and D are the only streets in Manhattan to have single-letter names.

I lived in New York in the early 80's and the name Alphabet City evoked images of burned-out buildings, housing projects, garbage-strewn lots, squatters and drug dealers. For me, it was a "no-go zone", it was bizarre, scary, and seemed very dangerous.

Today this same neighborhood is sprouting up high-priced condominiums and luxury rentals. The area is more likely to be called the 'East Village' or 'the Lower East Side', as there seems to be a conscious effort to erase the history of what used to be the sleazy underbelly of the city.

This piece is an homage to what was Alphabet City, New York.

An 1800's dovetail drawer (found in a dumpster in Santa Monica), contains various vintage wood pieces depicting a neighborhood that once was. 
A printer's block, a clock's mainspring, vintage yard sticks, and mirror tell the story. Under the printer's block is a glass cigar tube containing marbles and yellow bingo balls. A ceramic mask has been papered in words and music and washed in gold paint. A glass chemistry rod added for effect.
A drawer pull has been added on top. The back of the drawer is papered in vintage dictionary text, and overlaid with brown and black stripped tissue, and an image of a bird on a wine bottle.

The piece may be displayed tabletop or wall hung.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Things They Carried . . .

"The Things They Carried"
 I love collecting old interesting wood pieces. Carved chair parts, vintage frames, drift wood, wood hangers, yard sticks, boxes, . . .The older the better.  It does not matter if the wood is painted or unpainted, carved or plain, I find wood to be delicate and exquisite and strong and worldly, with many stories to tell.  The older the piece of wood, the better the stories.

I just can's say no to a beautiful piece of wood.

I have had this idea that I wanted to construct an art piece using multiple and various pieces of wood from different origins, of all ages and with varied textures and patinas. I wanted to cut the pieces of wood and fit them together, like a puzzle and let their texture and their beauty speak for themselves.

This piece is my first attempt.

Some time ago while perusing blogs, I came across the quote "A lot like yesterday, a lot like never". The words resonated with me and I thought that at some point I might use it in one of my Scrabble pieces. After adding the quote to my 'list' of quotes, I printed out a copy and hung it on the inspiration board in my studio . . . so I could see it everyday.

In researching the quote, I discovered it is from a book titled "The Things They Carried" written by a Tim O'Brien, the book contains a number of short stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Using a piece of pine as substrate, cut pieces of redwood, fence board, clothes hangers and various other wood types are pieced together to form a whole. Embellishments include found metal pieces and bits of bling along with a small convex mirror and the head of a colorful rooster, formally a napkin ring holder.
The piece is finished in a frame made from a vintage yard stick with with bright blue lettering.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I had a very pleasant visit this afternoon with a new friend named Michelle. Michelle is a student attending Chapman University, in Southern California.  I met Michelle a few weeks ago, when she and her mom came by my studio during our open studio event.

She sent me an email telling me how much she enjoyed visiting the studio and the time we spent talking about my work.  I am always up for talking about asemblage to anyone who will listen, so I invited her back "anytime" she was in the area. . .  . well today she took me up on my offer.

I showed her some of the pieces I have been working on. She said she had been collecting 'a few things' since her visit to the studio and that she couldn't wait to start making something on her own . . .  well that's all it took.. I suggested we start making something for her today . . . . 

Michelle proved to be very eager to learn and quite capable at putting things together.  We came across a few 'challenges' like how to attach the porcelain doll's head to the wooden block, but we figured it out, and 'made it work'. In no time Michelle was even using the power drill.  

In no time, we put together this small wall-doll for her.  All the pieces 'came together' beautifully. 
I had a lot of fun.

 Meet Penelope (Penny to her friends) and Michelle (she's the one on the right)

Vintage printing block, electric organ stops, silver chain, brass bells and a sweet porcelain doll's head.

Michelle was very happy with Penny, she even signed her on the back. . .  I guess that makes her the newest member of the Assemblage Art Society . .  . Congratulations to you both!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do Better . . .

"Do Better"
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece, titled "Do The Best You Can" on this blog.
I was working on it during my 'open studios' weekend, and one of my early visitors said, "please call me when this is finished, I want to buy this piece to hang in my office . . ." 

Well, wouldn't you know, on the last day of open studios, another visitor fell in love with the then finished piece and bought it. So the following week, I got busy and made a new one for the first customer.  (she said she like the color purple, so I used more purple colors on her piece).

Then, I decided to make a third piece to hang at the gallery.  Here are all 3. All are similar, but each is one of a kind. 

The quote, by Maya Angelou: 
"Do the best you can (un)til you know better, then when you know better, do better."

"Do Better"

"Til You Know" 

"Do The Best You Can"
1" thick piece of oak butcher block covered in bits of text, images and tissues is the substrate for these. Scrabble tiles framed in wood spell out the Maya Angelou quote. A vintage wooden hanger tops each piece and a metal embellishment finishes each one.