July 27th, 2011
By: Mark Rice
So……… So……… Here we go.
So, the night of Pro-Wrestling was amazing. Steve did a decent amount of filming and got some sort of blurry action shots. Usually during a theatrical performance, there are clear delineations between audience and performer, but at this event I can’t say that I was anything but immersed in a powerful role-playing fantasy. The bad guys were so good at being bad; no wonder Andy Kauffman was so instantly attracted to the idea. I would gladly have a conversation about it with you later if you are interested. I had a corndog and a Dr.Pepper. They were delicious and so affordable.
Sincerely, Mark Rice
(Please forgive A Small Tangent)
I’m still reeling a little bit from the news that my girlfriend just got accepted to the VCU fellowship in Qatar!
( I had to look this up… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar)
They just started the new program there and she will be the inaugural guest MFA Artist-in residence. Check out her artwork here: http://laurenpakradooni.wordpress.com/
and her music here:
(ok, back to work……)
So, this week I want to talk about wood.
Specially “used wood.”
Besides my brief flings with other materials, it is my solid.
I always come back to Used Wood.
Used Wood is my Rock.
I grew up in the woods. Well, in a house in the woods. We had no real close neighbors. I would have had to get on the highway on my bike to get to town and see my friends. I wasn’t allowed to do that until high school.
I mention this intermediate time between childhood and the time I had friends because I was a bit isolated because where we lived. There was about 4 or 5 years that I had friends but couldn’t really see them that often because of the proximity of our homes. It was in this time that I found a multitude of ways to entertain myself. This was also the prequel to my lifetime love affair with Used Wood.
My mother is an artist. She is a primary a painter, sculptor, and ceramicist but would consistently splinter off with different projects in video, jewelry, and interactive installation.
She was also an educator. She spent years teaching painting and ceramics at the local art center in Zionsville, Indiana before she moved her art and teaching practice into our house in 1994. So, needless to say, it was a very creative environment out there in the woods.
So I was in the midst of all this creative construction and artist instruction on a daily basis. But, of course I was in middle school and absolutely had to be a contrary. I had to prove my separation. I did this by making weapons. I was not a violent kid and my parents are both incredible pacifists. I really wasn’t into making weapons because of the violence and destruction aspect. I was influenced by the movies that I grew up with, and as I said, the left field counter-intuitive quality of the practice…plus I was just bored. I made bottle rocket launchers, and potato guns, and machetes, and swords and shields. I remember failing at the fabrication of a battle-axe.
All of these projects were approached with a budget of zero. All materials were scavenged from the garage and the surrounding woods. There was a consistently hideous practice of illegal dumping that occurred on our country road that maintained opportunities for a wonderful selection of miscellaneous industrial materials…including lots of Old Wood.
At the same time and on similarly counter-artistic premises, I started playing music in a band. No one in my immediate family, save my father, had any musical training. He played the guitar, so I decided to play the drums, the most weapon-like instrument I could acquire. I played punk music, as every child does that does not want to submit to music lessons.
My two music-minded friends and I created a lot of our own equipment. Being the frugal gentlemen that we were, we created our own PA system out of stereo and car speakers. This was mounted on the wall of my parent’s basement with more scavenged materials. I remember making a microphone stand out of electrical conduit, a microphone out of a telephone, a cymbal stand out of an old weed wacker, and an unintentionally atonal xylophone-like instrument out of a couple of steel fence posts.
We played music…or something similar. After a couple of line-up changes and a couple of shows at the nearby Boys and Girls Club, we decided it was time for our own backyard venue. We successful secured 60 to 80 old tires to form the foundation of the stage (who decided that?) and found the wood from construction dumpsters and backyard scrap heaps.
We had several shows there. The trampoline effect that the tire foundation gave to the stage ended up being hilarious yet somewhat perilous for the actual performers. Being that the “tried and true” job of a stage is to Hold Things Up, this stage was not doing its job. It was eventually fired and our shows were eventually moved to the air-conditioned basements of the well-to-do suburbs. These “venues” were comfortable and offered a higher percentage of snack and swimming pool opportunities than did the backyard venue made of garbage, but something was gone. This something was important.
By striking out on my own, I ended up where I had started. By attempting to avoid the music-making practices of my father and the art-making practices of my mother, I was eventually led right back to them, creating sculptures (weapons, PA System, bunk instruments) and interactive installation (bouncy tire stage.)
(Also, I love my parents. Never could I image the sounds that were emitted from that basement. You were both always incredibly supportive, and for that I am grateful. More grateful, in fact, than I am for Old Wood.)
That pre-teenage attempt at originality as well as that era of my life is symbolized in my personal attachment to Old Wood. Its rough, beaten, and muddy façade, with its precut factory lengths and widths, resemble building blocks. The best part is that this universally available material provides a situation that is easy to transcend, provided the viewer/user has no lofty expectations and desires to find “their own way”….no matter what the soundtrack actually SOUNDS like.
If you like sculpture made form old wood, then you will love these artists:
Luke O Sullivan
There are a lot more that I cant think of…. Oh the there is this guy… Good bye!