PANTOMERICA

Seeking Color In The US

artists

Gettin' Artsy Fartsy in Baltimore

Maggie OwensComment

Baltimore is the home of one of the best museums we have ever been to. The American Visionary Art Museum houses work by boundary-pushing, self-taught American artists. I would love to go into an elaborate review of everything this museum has to offer, but what would be the point when the review, below, says it all? 

There’s no need to be redundant here.  This five-star rating really captures our entire experience, if by “son” you mean Ceil, and by “fart machine” you mean a literal fart machine.  

Sculpture Artist Wayne Porter

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Wayne Porter

Profession: Artist.  Wayne is a self-taught sculpture artist who works with mostly recycled materials.  He makes both small-scale and large-scale sculptures, some getting up to 60 feet tall.  

Hometown: Montrose, South Dakota

About His Studio: Wayne’s property in rural South Dakota is now a much visited sculpture park featuring all of his work. Pieces of his that range from a giant, red dragon to a demonic Jack-In-The-Box clown tower over highway 14.

It’s clear Wayne loves living in South Dakota. He was as enthusiastic and excited to show off some of the flora that grew on his property (like bluegrass and sage) as he was showing us a, say, 8 foot statue of a frog dissection. In fact, he gets some complaints from his neighbors about how he doesn’t cut the grass. “Really weird,” he explained. “I love the grass.”

Wayne also lives with his albino dog, Bambino.  

How did you get started with sculpture?:  “I grew up in a blacksmith shop,” he explains.  Wayne’s dad was a blacksmith in St. Lawrence, South Dakota.  His first experiment with sculpture design was a small bull, which he still has on the desk in his shop. It’s funny to think years later, he’d own his own studio / property with a 60 foot bull’s head he crafted himself. 

IMG_3206.jpg

What is your process?:  Despite the fact that Wayne’s sculptures are often life size or larger, he works with no preconceived plans.  He says that he pretty much just flies by the seat of his pants.  “I can’t draw them first ‘cause I can’t draw.  Can’t even write the idea down ‘cause I can’t read my own handwriting. I just have to go for it.”  

On the topic of inspiration, Wayne added “It comes to me at two in the morning and I just let it talk.” This wouldn’t be the last time Wayne anthropomorphized his art by a long shot. Frankly, if you were creating gargantuan figures of flies and goldfish toting umbrellas, you probably would too. 

Porter says cartoons are a big inspiration for his art. 

Porter says cartoons are a big inspiration for his art. 

What kind of materials do you use?: Wayne uses everything he can find, including but not limited to old refrigerator parts, cement mixers, soft water tanks, diesel tanks, car rims, and old station wagon parts.  

Porter says he doesn't understand why people constantly compare his work to that of Tim Burton's or say it is macabre. He just doesn't find what he does all that creepy. 

Porter says he doesn't understand why people constantly compare his work to that of Tim Burton's or say it is macabre. He just doesn't find what he does all that creepy. 

“When I was younger I used a lot more recycled materials ‘cause I was working faster.  I would take anything I could find and just start making something with it.”  In recent years, Wayne has has taken a slower approach.  He spent three years working on the bull's head alone. 

Favorite Color:  Red.  “i don’t know anything about color or art,” he insists.  “But like anyone, if I like it I like it.  I’ll completely change the colors on a sculpture if I decide I don’t like it.”  Red shows up a lot in Wayne’s process. “Rust is the disease of iron,” he says. And if he likes it, he likes it. 

What colors remind you of Montrose?:  He says that the spectrum of natural colors in the area has changed a lot since he settled on his property 15 years ago.  “It’’s hard to find colors here now.  The county is disappearing.  It used to be 1000 people, now theres 3,900.” 

"Steinbeck said 'you'd be proud of anything if it's all you have," Wayne told us. 

"Steinbeck said 'you'd be proud of anything if it's all you have," Wayne told us. 

Snow Drawings Sonja

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Sonja Hinrichson

Hometown: Oakland, CA (by way of Germany).

Profession: Artist.  Currently in her third residency at Anderson Art Center in Snowmass, Co.  Sonja creates large-scale, completely impermanent and completely beautiful design patterns over huge tracts of untouched snow all over the world, including Colorado, New York and France.  She invites volunteers to help her creates the stunning designs, captures them with aerial photographs, then allows them to be completely overturned by nature. 

Briancon, France

Briancon, France

How She Got Started With Her Snow Drawings: During her first residency at Anderson Art Center in the appropriately named Snowmass, she borrowed a pair of snow shoes and went walking around.  She started noticing patterns she created against the snow like on a blank canvas so she started goofing around making patterns with the shoe prints.  

Soon she began taking photographs of the patterns, and began noticing different light patterns such as shadows within the imprints, or the sun beaming straight in.  She then began playing with angles, light, and shadow through photography.  

Her inspiration came from the huge, untouched, pristine snow spaces found in Colorado.

Eychauda, France

Eychauda, France

How did you start taking photographs of these large-scale works in the snow? 

During a residency in Steamboat Springs, Co, a local pilot offered to fly her up to photograph her snow patterns.  So began the aerial photography and the help of volunteers. 

What unforeseen problems did you come across as you began to create more of these snow prints? The first few times were definitely a learning process.  “Sometimes I would do a whole piece and then realize that there was no place to photograph it,”  joked Sonja. Issues like this are the nature of her work. For example, there is always a chance that a project won’t work out because of weather, which happened in Finland.

Ooms Pond, New York

Ooms Pond, New York

On The Help From Community Members, Volunteers and Strangers: Being as large scale as they are, her works began to take on the nature of a community project.  She began having volunteers help her create the large scale patterns.  She started by having about 8 or 9 volunteers, but now has up to 70 people helping over the span of a project, often 30 to 50 people a day for a 2 or 3 day weekend.  

“Starting from the weather to the people, I don’t know who my participants are, so its truly a community project.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

She has works that allow her volunteers to roam through the snow freely, but she also organizes volunteers to work in patterns.  “It’s almost like a performance- knowing what steps to take, never crossing each other.  If you sped it up it would look like an organized performance.”  

She says that it’s about an environmental experience for the participants.  “It’s a long process, and you really tune into that one space.”

She says emphatically that her works is “really about the participants, in the moment.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

How do you feel about the inherent nature of impermanence in your work?

“I am immaterial in my life too, not a big collector of stuff.  I don’t think we need to add more stuff to the earth.”  

She says that European magazines that have done write ups on her always nearing up Land Art.  “They do not understand Land Art.  This is not Land Art.  I do not want to add any material.  In my work nature takes it back completely.  The only documentation is photos and the peoples’ experience.”   

She says the her snow designs are a “combination of appreciating art work and the nature that it is in.”

Hayden, Colorado

Hayden, Colorado

The Role Color Plays In Her Work:

She says that the pure whiteness of the landscapes she works in is an important element in her projects.  The white makes it possible to play with shadows and light.  Imprints either reflect the sunlight or cast a shadow.  She reiterates that she didn’t really think about it at first, and that it all sort of just started out of play.  With the scale and organization that she now works in, “it’s like painting with natural light.”  

She also mentions that much like so many other uncontrollable factors, colors often come into the pictures by accident.  It could be a lone standing tress, a person still walking their way through the pattern, a ski lift, or a park sign.    

While working on a commission in France, they took a shot of the snow pattern that had a bright orange restriction sign in it.  The arts commissioner hated it, and wanted the sign to be edited out. 

“For me, those little splotches of color are interesting.”  She explains that these “mistakes” can help express relation to scale.  She enjoys photos that are completely abstract without those kinds of modifiers, but those little spots of color have the ability to show human smallness.  “That’s where real color comes in- it’s fragile and small but important.”  

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

What is your favorite color?  Green.  She is a nature fan, and an environmentalist.  “I barely have any green clothes,” she laughs.  “This is my first time here in summer and my green receptors are over stimulated.”

What color reminds you of Oakland?:  Blue, because of the blue sky there. 

All pictures of Sonja's snow drawings were collected from her website. Do yourself a favor and check it out at http://www.sonja-hinrichsen.com. 

Weasel & Fitz Crico

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Christopher.  He had trouble pronouncing his name as a young child so he’s been going by Crico (pronounced Kreeko) his whole life.  

Hometown: Madrid, NM

Profession: Works at Weasel & Fitz art gallery in Madrid, which features work from local artists and specializes in recycled, found object, and Folk Art. 

Favorite Color:  It’s between lime green and orange.  Crico says he just likes the way these bright colors make him feel, and that he's always been drawn to them.  He especially likes the way they work together and bounce off of each other.  (The front of Weasel & Fitz is a very bright shade of lime green). 

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  “Adobe colors,”  he says emphatically.  It’s everywhere.  “I also think of a specific shade of blue that people here call ‘door blue’.  It’’s called door blue because a lot of people paint their doors with it’”.  Go figure.  We had never heard of “door blue”, so he pointed just across the street to a classic New Mexico adobe home painted with blue accents around the door and windows. 

Like many other New Mexico residents, he also says that when he thinks of New Mexico he thinks of the color of the sky.  “It’s different here.  It’s so blue, almost like looking at the ocean when you see the horizon”. 

How do you use color?:  Crico says that he loves to use lots of bright colors, like his favorites, orange and lime green.  His house is so bright that other people wonder how he can stand it, which has made him wonder if he is not a little bit color blind.  Crico himself is a painter, and tends to use his love for bright colors in his work.  “I have toned down my painting style since my youth,” he says.  “I used to paint in only really crazy colors.”