The Circuit City Principal

     While recently on the road, as we often are, we stopped into a small, prestigious gallery. We went out of our way to see this gallery as it represents many international Art Jewelers whose work we rarely ever get to see in person. We were excited about seeing both the gallery and the work. And, as we were traveling, we were in our everyday street clothes.
     Upon entering the gallery, 4 or 5 people were gathered around the desk, one of which said "hello". That was the end of the interaction. We spent 10 or 15 minutes perusing the wares, discussed some of what we saw, and went back to reexamine a few of the works which required a second look (there weren't many which did).
     We are not only makers, but also collectors of Art and Art Jewelry. We have been known to reinvest our meager income on others works, if and when we find something we must have. And although we were not in the market for anything at the time, and certainly saw nothing there that we were even remotely interested in, we were snubbed at this Gallery.
     I do not expect to be doted on, but when a customer comes through the door, you never know who is serious.  So you treat everyone with the same attention and respect that they deserve for crossing your threshold. And granted, we were not dressed in Armani or Prada (and NEVER are), we are people who are collectors of what they peddle. We have come to call this the "Circuit City Principle".
     Some years ago, while Circuit City was still in business (karma, perhaps), we went there with cash in hand to purchase a new tape deck (yes, cassettes were still in use then). We were working all day and decided to go and buy the item at Circuit City because we knew they had it in stock. This is the only way we would step into a store like that, knowing exactly what we want when we go. Their tactics were useless and unappreciated.
     We were ignored repeatedly by salespeople, bypassed for better dressed folks than ourselves. Granted, we were dressed sloppily, but were patient, thinking that someone would aid us eventually. By the time the fourth or fifth person was helped in lieu of us, we left, cash still in hand.
     We are amazed that in this day and age that any brick and mortar store can afford to ignore anyone who takes the time to enter.  We can't afford to ignore anyone who would show interest in our work. Everyone is a potential customer. Everyone who takes the time to stop to see what we make, deserves our attention. Everyone is a human. Don't "Circuit City" people, or you may suffer their fate.

Beauty and The Beast

Once again, our post is not a happy tale, much to our regret. The disaster in Japan awakens fear and angst for everyone. A natural disaster of this magnitude is too much for most souls to bear. Compound that with a man-made disaster, that has far reaching and deep psychological implications, and the burden may be too much for one nation, or the world, to handle.

We, as artists, but more so as Human Beings, are deeply concerned about the effects of nuclear energy. Yes, it's a "clean" source of electricity; Until an earthquake happens or someone falls asleep at the controls (think Homer Simpson!), or someone decides to fly an airplane into a reactor. Are we so arrogant to believe that any or all of these scenarios can't happen? Some of the comments from our politicians following the initial reports from Japan lead us to think so. And France as well, who derives 75% of their electricity from nukes, seem unfazed by what is happening in Japan.

Our concern about nuclear energy has once again pre-dated the latest disaster in Japan. And, again, we are not visionaries, merely observant, concerned and fearful. We also live about 20 miles from a nuclear power plant, whose steam can be seen rising above the nearby mountains and farm fields. This proximity coupled with our disdain and visual awe spawned some interesting pieces relative to current issues.

First there is "Cloudy," a Currier and Ives-esque pastoral landscape until closer inspection. Here we are pointing out the cloudy issue of living in close proximity to a power plant and how that effects both psychologically and physically those who live in the shadow of these plants. Not to mention the fact that many new houses are built in the shadows of these behemoths. Our houses are blue (from an old Milton-Bradley game called "Finance". Ironic, no?). The tree is dead but for one dying leaf.

In another ironic and timely piece, "Fallout" depicts a cherry tree whose leaves are blown off in a wind (nuclear) depicted in a very Japanese style. This landscape is also above a row of black (scorched) houses. Although this isn't speaking to nuclear power, it is addressing the effects of radiation on a population, specifically, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and more recently the entire Northeast coast of Japan.

And the final piece, and the most recent, is "Tower", again depicting a pastoral landscape. In the foreground looms a giant cooling tower. There are clouds in the blue sky. But upon closer inspection, the clouds are steam from the towers and the grassy hill is comprised of green Monopoly houses. This is directly influenced by the construction taking place near and around our local nuclear plant that can be seen while driving past. What are these people thinking who live in these houses today? How easy their access to the highway is so their commute is less painful?

We can't imagine seeing those huge towers out of our kitchen window every day.

We feel that our pieces about nuclear power and humanity reflect an honest concern for the future. Are we, as a people, willing to risk everything for electricity? The atmosphere, the air we breathe, the water we drink, our lives??? It is time to rethink everything. Everything.

Prophet or Profit?

We have realized recently that we had made a piece in 2006 bemoaning the oil industry and its penchant for deception, lies and basic tactics that make it the most criminal of enterprises on many levels. The piece is titled "RIG", and depicts vintage metal Monopoly cars circling around what appears to be a mammoth aquamarine behind which lies a pastoral silhouette of a typical oil rig.

The title refers to both the equipment that extracts the crude from the ground and how the system in place to deliver said oil is designed to make us junkies for the stuff. The entire industry, from large, greedy corporations to lobbying groups trying to convince us that it is clean, safe and necessary for our future. Everything is rigged in their favor. That was until April, when they could no longer hide the ugly truth with slight of hand.The cat was out of the bag. The pelicans were drenched in product.

"RIG" refers to this with its outsized fake gem (cast epoxy resin made to look like a precious stone) and its endless ring of cars (from a game) circling both this faux stone and the oil rig, creating a very sinister Currier & Ives-esque narrative. Even the necklace closure is a gas pump nozzle, the equivalent of a gasoline hypodermic.

Some may look at this piece as somewhat prophetic. Many say that artists foretell the future through what they create. Perhaps, but in the case of "RIG", we are merely practitioners of common sense, not seers or prophets. We are angered by what we see to be as a plain truth and "RIG" was our way to express our grievance. We are responsible humans who are both saddened and sickened by the recent events that only further point out that the system is broken and that change to the modus operandi is needed.

A special thanks to Joan for the "nudge" and for her support.

Magnum Opus

We (humans) are always asking "what was your favorite...?", at the movies, the museum, talking about books and music. People are obsessed about finding out from each other what their favorite song is or their favorite food, painting, actor, artist. After a recent trip to a museum, the normal banter took place; "What was your favorite piece that you saw?". It created a whole new set of questions. How does one choose a "favorite?" What is the criteria? Can one be objective? Or is it a whim? "Today I liked the Picasso." "I thought the VanderWeyden was magnificent."

It raises the question for us as artists that we are constantly trying to create a "great" piece. They can't all be great. Yet it is the striving for something special, a hint of the eternal or spiritual or that sublime something that seems the quest of makers. Why does one aspire to greatness or care to be compared amongst the gigantic looming shadow of History? Certainly ego enters into the picture. But that can not be the only answer. It is far too simple.

On a daily basis, we don't think of this. We make and sometimes the outcome is good, sometimes not. But in the soup of everyday making, we are incapable of deeming something indelible. It is with the passage of time, the opinion of the few, and the endurance of the work that are the judges of what becomes "important." After all, even the educated are subjective.

So, we just keep making. Always striving to create something better than the last one. It is the struggle and the striving for betterment that makes us human. The pursuit, subconsciously, of the Magnum Opus, the defining work. We certainly won't know if or when we have made that piece, but we might get a glimpse when we hear "Oh, that one is my favorite".

The Winter of This Content

 

Ah, Winter. Stuck in our cave, toiling and trying to stay warm. We love Winter. Holidays, family, snow. We just don't like being cold while indoors. We spent December and January making new work for Chickenscratch, redoing our catalog, doing photography, postcards and making stock for retail shows. And the past month has been getting ready for 3 shows and making new(!) One-ofs for said shows.

As though wearing all the hats we do isn't enough (our house is so cold we both actually have "house hats"), we have finally decided to enter the 21st century and have created 2 new websites from scratch, one for 'Scratch and one for L&S Cylinder(One-ofs). This was a large undertaking. And not willing to relinquish control, we did them ourselves, adding more to the mountain of work we already have to move. A very special "THANKS" to Hilary for the nudge, and to Amy, our technical & spiritual Web advisor!!!

So, please, check out our new sites. Enjoy them. Savor them. Send us questions or comments or condolences or whatever you like. But please enjoy them. We feel they are a good source of info about us and our work and have enough content and links to keep one busy for hours.

And in so far as our prior unflappable nature about putting handcrafted items on the web, being that the 2 are mutually exclusive in our humble opinion, well we fought the good fight for as long as we could. We still fervently believe that ONLY in person can handmade objects be truly appreciated, in 3 dimensions. That the web belittles and lies about Craft, craftsmanship and the truth of an object. This is why it has taken us so long to commit to this project of ours. This is why it has been "The Winter of This Content." Until the next time, enjoy our little lies on line.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A good question usually. Generally the answer is working hard.

This is never easy. Being creative, that is. We try to never repeat ourselves and this becomes increasingly hard when every day you make something new that you can never repeat! A conundrum, certainly. And getting older each day, we forget some of what we did prior.

We have 2 kids, a white elephant of a house, a needy dog, Argus, and an penchant for watching movies. So it is easy to become distracted. However, we are disciplined. We are completely self-directed. We love what we do, how we do it and who we work with and for. So the answer, in a roundabout fashion is working hard, always. A good question usually. Generally the answer is working hard.