Conceptual art is art in which the concepts or ideas involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. I enjoy the fact that the word begins with Con. I frankly find that most such art leaves me cold and uninterested in exploring the motives, thoughts behind the piece. I find conceptual art often lazy, dispassionate, numb and humorless.
I choose to create hard-earned beauty in nature. Often it is a beautiful thing in nature. It has materials. It is made from something. It speaks from the stage of its atomic form. It won't let you forget it. It welcomes you to experience a feeling in its space, the way you feel a special energy from unique people. It will last a long time, long enough for fashions to come and go, critics to die and be reborn in tight pants.
Meet Iris. This punctuation mark is simply a remnant stone that survived the dynamite charges intact. Its graceful form and flow soothed me, even when I found it laying on its side, destined to become gravel. The brutally perfect horizon line of its base was also natural to the stone. I did nothing here but deem the stone worthy of being a work of art in my mind.
Humans are skilled at extracting and manipulating earth's resources. We take things that we think belong to us. And we put nothing back but waste. All stone dwells in purgatory when it is torn from the ground. This stone dwells there but lightly. It literally floats on 4 innocuous steel pins. When the irises are in full bloom and the wind moves their tops, the stone appears content. But the truth is far more complicated as we will be shocked to discover in this coming century.
1998 / Steep Rock, Ct.
Collection of the Artist
The Second Hotel
Second Imperial Hotel that is. Frank Lloyd Wright's 1920's Tokyo structure influenced my step pattern in this granite dolmen. Known as the Maya revival style, such work is marked by decorative flourishes, pyramidical forms and strong horizontals. You can see it apparent in all of Wright's buildings.
Unfortunately, his Tokyo hotel developed structural problems and rather than repairing them, the owners demolished the building and replaced it with a gargantuan modern box.
I vividly recall the first books on his life's work that I found in the library when I was 11 years old. I thank him and the talented architects of his firm who engaged my attention then and now.
2004 / Roxbury, Ct.
Dating back at least 7000 years, Dolmens have appeared consistently in nearly all neolithic cultures, from Korea to Western Europe. Most were entryways to megalithic tombs, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone, although there are also more complex variants such as the circular Stonehenge. Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.
As the go-to Druid for my clients, I am asked to build these structures on an appallingly regular basis. And though I've been asked to replicate certain dolmens from my portfolio, I make a point of never building the same thing twice. The simple stone assemblies today serve as chapter turns, pause points in a garden tour, meditation areas and view frames of the landscape.
Named so because the lawyers and brokers in this commercial building were, for a while, afraid to walk under this entrance gateway. Stone doesn't inspire confidence when it lifts its off its legs to paw the air. The piece is, in fact perfectly safe, even over-engineered. A heavy welded steel compression plate in the peak locks the triangle form in place even without the thick threaded stainless steel rod that collar ties the columns together.
Once the tenants grew accustomed to the sculpture and trusted it, they requested benches to eat their lunches around the base.
1999 / Westport, Ct.
One of my favorite incarnations and a tip of my hat again to Bomarzo in Italy. The core of this assembly was a naturally occurring shape that begged finishing. This 13 foot avian bench sits at the terminus of a 300 foot long stone laid woodland path that circles the Monolith you may have seen in Gallery One.
The narrative concept is that the baby bird has flown astray to this spot in the dark woods, having been mesmerized by the white tower. Visitors to the estate garden tours end their promenade at this bench where they can read a plaque with the end of the bird's story. It turns out the path itself is a long, large snake whose endpoint is the snake's head, with jagged stones depicting the fangs. It is about to devour the little bird for having been excessively curious. ( At age 4, I started reading the Brothers Grimm and haven't stopped.)
The photo of the bird's feline companion is still a mystery to me. When the photographer and I were taking these shots, out of nowhere, the cat appeared. She sat next to her friend, the bird, and just stared at us, not moving, completely nonplussed. Later, I asked around and it turns out nobody had ever seen her before or since the shoot. Makes me wonder and ponder sometimes, this path I've taken.
2006 / Gloucester, Mass.