Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rome, Bits and Pieces of History: Survey #3

It didn't take me long to realize that beneath every step I made in Rome, I was walking on top of history. The Roman Forum is one of the more famous historic holes dug around the city, a city that is passionately linked to the history buried under its feet...

or incorporated into its buildings (Theater of Marcellus)...

or simply given right of way because it was there first. This respect for the past is because modern Rome knows that the dirt and stones they walk on are the embodiment of tradition and family.

This respect leads to the preservation of ancient fragments no mater where it might be found. Midway up a wall in the sub-basement of the Capitoline Museum or...

as a subterranean window boxes in a Metropolitana station.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shortlisted for the Artpace Artist in Residence Program

I received this letter from Artpace just before we left for Rome, and then it got berried in the accumulated pile of vacation mail so I am a bit late opening it up.  It says I have been Shortlisted for the Artpace Artist in Residence Program in San Antonio. And that there is a possibility that the Guest Curators will request a studio visit in the near future. So, I should clean the studio, or keep it the rat nest that it has become.

                                                          Studio with Mammoth Tusk

On another note, the Texas Biennial turned down my application with a We Regret to Inform You e-mail.  It would have been really cool to be a part of that event... I'll just add it to my stack of rejection notices from other organizations such as TEDxSMU, The Lawndale Art Center, The Drawing Center, The Idea Fund, Henderson Art Project, and don't forget the Texas Biennial 2007 and 2009, and Artpace 2007 and 2008.

Of coarse I have been accepted into several great art programs and art shows. I ramble on and on about each of them here on my blog. And don't think I am belly aching about getting rejection notices. It's all part of expanding beyond the studio walls. To be turned down by some of these organizations is something I sometimes wish I could put on my resume.

Wow, Mr. Smith, the quality of your rejections indicates that you would be an excellent candidate for our multi million dollar artist grant!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rome Art, Sculpture and Food: Survey #2

I get the feeling that every trip to Rome could result in the creation of a travel book on art, history, and food. I know I filled up a moleskin with drawings and notes. Brought home a few pounds of post cards and magazines. And I still haven't finished sorting out the hundreds of photos.

So to help me get a handle on some of this information I'll be posting some thoughts and photos over the next few days on things that stand out for no obvious reason.

These photos are from the Capitoline Museum. The first 2 are marble fragments from the colossal sculpture of Emperor Constantine the 2nd. I've wanted to see these detached body parts since I was a little kid. Next is a giant bronze hand, also of Mr. Constantine. 

These are just some of the large sculpture fragments I saw scattered across Rome. It just goes to show, if you make it really big and flashy, future generations may only remember you by the sized of your toenails.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Class to Teach

I recieved the CAC catalogue in the mail today, and there, in black and white is the listing for the sculpture class that I will this teaching in January.

It's a figurative sculpture class that works from a live model. It's just like a figure drawing class, but I think that working in clay from a model is much easier than drawing. For one thing you aren't started off with that old tired mind set "I can't even draw a straight line". You also don't have to learn how to translate a 3 dimensional world into 2 dimensional pencil marks. All you do is make this round piece of clay look like that round piece of person. That is of course an over simplification for demonstration prepossess.

Anyway, as you can guess, if the class makes, I'll be blogging about sculpture a lot in the next few months. The name of the class is The Expressive Figure in Clay, and you can click HERE for more info on the class.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rome: A Quivering Woman and Monk Bones: Survey #1

We arrived in Rome with only the normal inconvenience of having the live on air plan food for 7 hours. We have a small apartment not far from the Spanish Steps, and not far from a small moldy church that happens to be where Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Taresa is located.

And around the corner is the Cappuchin Crypt. I got a big snort full of moldy bone dust but no photos. A lot of the churches don't allow photos, but they have post cards for sell, which are better quality than anything I can snap with my dime store digital.

Tomorrow,  good food and the Roman Forum.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Damn Good Interview By Aja Martin

Half A Cord Stacked Up High
Anybody who has been following my blog knows I have done a lot of artwork and volunteer work with La Reunion TX. I find it a great way to get out of the studio and out of my studio frame of mind.

Aja Martin has taken on the task of interviewing artists involved with LRTX, and then posting it on the LRTX web site. Well, She just posted my interview last week. Aja did a great job of keeping me on topic, and did an amazing job at researching before the interview. It was a strange experience to have someone I have never met before tell me about my own artwork, and also add insightful comments about my history. It was like having a little taste of being a famous artist.

In the past I have often been disheartened by interviews or exhibition reviews that have resulted in not quite right information or even just plan misleading. Take a look at some of the press around the TEDxSMU SculptCAD Rapid Artists exhibit. Having trouble finding it? That is because the name of the show appears written 10+ different ways. Grrr.

Now you may be asking why a man with dyslexia would be coming down on someone else's misspelling. It's because in some of those articles they have misspelled the name 3 different ways in the same article. That's just not... well I could go on and on...

Back to today and the happy results of the LRTX interview. Thanks LRTX for doing a GREAT job of getting it right, and to Aja for all the work she put into the interview. Her other interviews for LRTX are great too. Read them all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On Board the CADD Bus Tour

I would never dream of comparing myself to Julie McCoy on Love Boat, but after my experience as the Cruise Director for the first CADD Bus Tour I now know why she smiles so much. It is really fun to guide people through an adventure.

When Brian Gibb from The Public Trust asked me to be part of the CADD Bus Tour (Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas), and was explaining that they needed someone on the bus to introduce each of the galleries and to help keep the bus on schedule, I was saying "Yes, This sounds like great fun" but I was thinking this sounds a lot like that TV show where they went on a tour, a 3 hour tour, and that turned out pretty badly.

Anyway, after saying yes, I hit the local websites and blogs to brush up on the galleries, artists and collectors that were on the tour. That was pretty easy because I always try to stay informed about local art and culture. What was difficult was the nights I spent dreaming about being on a bus filled with cannibals and a bus driver named Wrongway Feldman.

Eventually it was Saturday morning, I got up, channeled my inner Julie McCoy, drove over to Photos Do Not Bend Gallery, picked up my clipboard, and put on a smile.

The tour started at PDNB with coffee, donuts, and 3 photography exhibitions. I really enjoyed the iShow. But duty was calling, and it was time to get this crew of 25 art loving adventurers on the road. Our second gallery was in Oakcliff, at Mighty Fine Arts. The drawings on display by Erik Tosten turned out to be my favorite things on the tour, and I think some of the best work I have seen Erik produce.

Manet once said that art is best viewed on an empty stomach. That maybe true, but this bus was stopping by the studio/home of Brian Scott and Brian Jones for a little lunch.

The Library

A Cosy Fireplace
The interior of their small wood frame cottage was a feast for the eyes. Brian and Brian have been making and collecting art for a very long time, and they don't like keeping any of it in the closet. It was like walking into a 2 bed,1 bath art installation. It was full of color and humor. The culture clutter made for some insightful juxtapositions and great conversations.

After lunch, we drove back across the river to The Public Trust for a preview of the Blakely Dadson exhibit. There is an interview with Blakely in the October issue of Arts and Culture DFW. Brian Gibb gave out CADD gift bags and special edition t-shirts.

A few glasses of wine, and a quick drive through Hollywood Heights brought the CADD Bus to the home of Dee Mitchell. Dee is involved in multiple areas of culture. I know him best from his art reviews in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer, and now at Arts and Culture DFW. If you Google his name, you will find several artists' websites that link to art reviews that Dee has written. He supports what he likes.
The Library

A Cosy Bedroom
Dee gave us a tour of the his home which Ron Wommack built to showcase Dee's art collection. The works on paper above the bed are by Thomas Nozkowski. I absolutely love them. On the bus ride back to PDNB, the contrast between Dee's collection and Brian and Brain's, generated lots of discussions about  collecting art, living with art, and personal styles.

As we pulled up to PDNB,  I asked for comments or recommendations about our first CADD Bus Tour. After a hardy applause, one person said they had a great time but wished the tour was longer. I pointed out that tour had lasted 4 hours and 15 minutes. Everyone was very surprised. When your having fun, time flies. Later, 2 couples said they were new to Dallas and that the tour was a great way for them to see galleries and meet other people interested in art.

After turning in my clipboard, I drove home with a big smile, opened a lovely bottle of Lexicon Malbec and raised a glass to the Dallas art scene, Rightway Charlie (our driver), and to a total absence of cannibals.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shout Outs and Link Love

One of my favorite resources for art information in the Dallas Fort Worth area is Art and Seek. On Thursday they posted a short article which included a shout out to my blog! The post also noted 2 other local art blogs Art This Week and This Week In The Arts, both of which I highly recommend, and are now listed on my Blogville Link List.

In honor of Art and Seek spreading the link love, I am highlighting 2 Texas artists from my Artists of Note list. Each have created wonderful sites.

Brad Tucker - His site begins with a standard artists website title page, but as you dig into it, you realized he is having lots and lots of fun making all kinds of wonderful things.

Tracy Hicks- It starts with frogs in jars, but it is so much more than that. This is a wonderful collection of art. Really beautiful to look at and think about.

Also in the spirit of supporting artists, bloggers and online art magazines in my own small way, I am creating a page on my blog that is dedicated to cultural linkage. So stay tuned for that.

Thanks again to Art and Seek. You Rock.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Manet Mash Up

As I was driving to Sulfur Springs yesterday I started listening to the audio book The Judgement of Paris by Ross King. The story revolves around two artists, Ernest Meissonier and Edouard Manet. In the book it mentions that Manet used the figure of Adam from the Sistine Chapel in his painting Luncheon on the Grass.

So here I am, Sunday morning playing with photoshop to see how it looks. Then I came across the album cover for Bow Wow Wow's Go Wild in the Country, so I had to add Annabella Lwin in to the scene.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Putting a Name to the Photographs

I mentioned in the last post that TEDxSMU had a really good photographer at the TEDxSMU salon SculptCad Rapid Artists exhibit. I just found out it was Kim Ritzenthler. Here is the link to her website and the link to the TEDxSMU flickr page.

Thanks Kim for catching the moment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

After the Art Salon Talk and Opening

It turned out that the TEDxSMU salon for the SculptCAD Rapid Artists exhibit sold out. The attendees were of very diverse back grounds. I think linking up with TEDx brought in an intellectual segment of the population that usually do not attend art openings.

As for the art talk, Nancy Hairston gave a strong powerpoint overview of the technical process. Shawn Smith then talked about developing his sculptural idea, followed by Heather Gorham with images of her sculpture being fleshed out. I presented last with a bit of babble about creating without touching. The acoustics in the One Arts Plaza lobby were so bad my voice bounced back at me in a foreign language. Thankfully for me and the audience I only had to talk for 5 minutes. Afterwords several people approached me with some great questions, so that was great.

TEDxSMU had an event photographer there, Sadly I didn't get her name, but when I do I'll post it. Anyway, her photos are now posted on the TEDxSMU Flickr site. Check them out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TEDxSMU Salon and SculptCAD Rapid Artists Exhibit Opens tonight

As of last Saturday 140 people purchased tickets to the salon talk tonight. That's a pretty large group of people, and I must say more than I was expecting. It's 4 days later and the media has hit the wires, So now the event has changed from something fun to do, to something very serious. That means I now have to reconsider what I was going to wear as I give my portion of the art talk.  Of course when I start to think about it... what I am wearing is the least of my worries. I so hate the feeling I get just before I talk in public. But I know it's all going to be fun and I'll have a great time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Nature Of Sketchbooks

My use of sketchbooks began with a journal in high school. Journaling was a way to sort out and examine all the unexplainable actions and reactions that occur while coexisting in a building filled with hormone driven teenagers. Over the years my artwork and my journals have merged, resulting in sketchbooks filled with images that are maps through a world that still seems to be driven by questionable actions and reactions.

For a long time I used my sketchbooks as a kind of petridish, place to compose my thoughts and images, and then transfer that information to an outside medium such as painting or sculpture. Two things occur by doing this, first there is a shift from the reactionary thought process to the mechanical mind, a change from what do I think about this, to how do I reproduce this. Secondly, processing the imagery remove some of the personal baggage associated with that imagery. This makes the artwork more comfortable to display in public

The sketchbooks have a symbiotic relationship. I work in multiple sketchbooks at the same time. Some of them I have been reexamining and reworking for years. Others seem to fill up over night. All of them feed from each other to expose new possible relationships and directions.

There is a rawness inside the sketchbooks that is related to the subconscious grittiness of reactionary thought. Because of the imperfections and flaws associated with this rawness, the sketchbooks have always been held back from public viewing, but I have come to realize that this rawness also conveys an honesty and truth that is after all the foundation to all great art. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Museum in the Dark

Segal and Me

Once a month the Nasher Sculpture Center stays open until midnight. They have all kinds of things happening after dark like movie screenings, live concerts, guided tours...

Burton Chairs in Moonlight

...But what I like best is that it gives me the opportunity to see some of my favorite sculptures literally in a new light.

Night Time Boolean 

Of course I just play at taking photos. The subdued lighting in the sculpture garden results in mostly blurry grainy images, but I like the way that shifts my perspective.

Water Works

There is also the James Turrel "Skyspace" which I didn't photograph. If you have never gazed up through that square hole at the night sky, you have miss out on a psychedelic experience.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

TEDxSMU SculptCAD Rapid Artists Salon + Exhibit Opening

The Press Release for the show is finished and is being sent out to, well the Press.

TEDxSMU is partnering with SculptCAD on the Dallas premier of the SculptCAD Rapid Artists sculpture exhibition. Twelve Dallas artists have diverged from their typical mediums to explore the boundaries between sculpture and the high tech world of 3D computer modeling. On display will be their final creations, each sculpture having been created and produced using ground-breaking 3D printing processes in materials ranging from bronze to plastic.

The exhibit will open at One Arts Plaza with an evening event co-produced by TEDxSMU and SculptCAD. Please join us for the exhibit and a TEDxSMU Salon with Nancy Hairston and a panel of artists involved in the SCRA project. Afterwards the artists will be available for one-on-one discussions about their sculptures, inspiration and the experience of working with 3D modeling technology.

Tuesday, September 14                                                                                   
6:00-8:00pm | presentations at 6:30
One Arts Plaza Lobby
1722 Routh Street, Dallas, TX 75201

Exhibition runs through October 16

Tickets: $15 in advance / $20 the week of or at the door

Participating Artists:
Heather Gorham, Ginger Fox, Shawn Smith, Dave VanNess, Mark Grote, Jay Sullivan, Tom Lauerman, Albert Scherbarth, Heather Ezell, Brad Ford Smith, Shane Pennington and Nancy Hairston

About the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Program

The idea was to expose artists to something new, something they had never worked with and then see what would happen. SculptCAD Rapid Artists is an experimental project launched by Nancy Hairston, President of  SculptCAD, a leading provider of product design and rapid prototyping services. Dedicated to the creation of fine art, the project’s mission is for artists to explore and expand on the use of computer technology to design and produce sculpture. Experiencing freedoms from the constraints of physical media that digital processes can offer and investigating how that freedom would effect their work. SculptCAD Rapid Artists was founded in October 2009 and is based in Dallas, Texas. For more information about how SculptCAD Rapid Artists is changing perceptions of art in the physical world, visit

In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSMU, where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDxSMU, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

De Vinci in the Morning

The De Vinci After Dark party at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History was a big success. The museum was expecting to have a total head count for the event of about 400 people. They sold that many online by that morning. So the unofficial head count was around 600 people. (I'll have to confirm that).

In these times when museums and historical societies are suffering serious cash flow problems, it's great to be part of an event that turns out way better than expected.

As part of the, Show and Tell, I guess you would call it, I had a table in one of the activity rooms where I worked on a sculpture based on one of De Vinci's drawings of street people. As you can see from the photo above I didn't get very far, people really asked lots of questions, and then asked questions about the questions they just asked. I not only talked up De Vinci and the FWMSH, but also community collage art programs, Trinity Ceramic Supplies, the finer points of working in clay, and art conservation just to name a few. I'm a little bit horse this morning, but it was a blast.

They'll be doing it again at the end of September.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

An Evening with Da Vinci

My sculpture supplies are packed in the car, and I am just about to head over to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The museum is hosting a Da Vinci After Dark party as part of their exhibit Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius. There will be 2 bands, wine tastings, a cash bar, a couple of inventors and me working on a sculpture basted on some of Da Vinci's drawings.

This will be my first time to see the new building sense its completion earlier this year. I have heard lots of good things about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Testing the link from Flickr to Blogspot to Facebook

Walking Man, originally uploaded by Brad Ford Smith.

I just set up a Flickr blog link that "should" connect my Flickr, Blogspot and Facebook accounts. To test the connection I have selected a photo from a work in progress: Walking Man from the Rodin in Vermont Project.

This project began while I was at the Vermont Studio Center. I am using 48 pages from an old book on Rodin's sculptures as the building blocks to create new abstract shapes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

After the Flickring at the DMA

The Dallas Museum of Art Flickr group meet up today turned into a very nice roundtable of topics. We talked about the importance of putting titles on ALL of your photos, and how nice it is when there are descriptions too. Keeping things in titled SETS is a great way to keep the images organized by subject.

Tags are important, but there is still a mystery as to keeping the words in the tag separate: Dallas Museum of Art as opposed to dallasmuseumofart, which seems to be the Flickr tag default.

There was also some discussion about connecting and building a community on Flickr. Nicole from the DMA Flickr group and Stephen from Art and Seek talked about using Flickr as an extension of various cultural institutes.

Well, I did take notes so I could go on and on, but it seems that the best way to learn about Flickr is to use it, and to go to meet ups like the one at the DMA, or you might try DFW Area Meetup. Also the Dallas Camera

Flickr meet up at the Dallas Museum of Art

DMA sculpture garden at sunset
I have been using a Flickr account for a few years now as an online portfolio. It has been working fairly well, no real complaints, but I know there is a lot more that I could do with it. So, with that in mind, Nicole Leigh leader of the Dallas Museum of Art Flickr Group and myself are hosting a Flickr meet up. 

We are inviting all local Flickr users to come down to the DMA Sunday July 11th at 2PM, for a coffee talk and laptop discussion about tips and tricks for making Flickr a better tool. With the free wifi at the DMA, everyone who brings their laptop will be able to pull up their sites, explore, and make changes in real time.

If the results of this event are positive, we might have another meet up next month. Let me know what you think... and, if you have a Flickr site send me a link.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up Against the Pecha Kucha Clock

Several people have asked if I could post my Pecha Kucha Dallas presentation on line. So here it is, 20 slides, 20 seconds each. Pull out your stop watch and see if you can beat the PKN clock...

Tonight I'm taking you on a rambling journey of Flashbacks, Visual Connections, and Unintentional Concoctions.

Welcome to my slightly dyslexic world of Art-O-Vision.

When these Hummels came into the conservation studio, I was trying to quite smoking for the fifth time. They were coated in 30 years worth of second hand tar and nicotine. 

Sometimes when you make a tough decision, the world backs you up.

This pre-Columbian artifact was broken in half. Inside are fingerprints so clear that the FBI could use them for identification. 

This isn't a cold ceremonial artifact, it's a direct link to a once living person.

This is my childhood home. 

They say you can never go home again. 

Well, a few years ago I moved back into this house. So I can tell you from personal experience that it's much more surreal the second time around.

Every time I dig in the yard, I dig up toy guns, G. I. Joes, army men, and the tools that I borrowed from my Dad. 

Yeah, I'm just now returning them to the tool shed. Sorry it took so long Dad.

When I dug up this small ceramic turtle, suddenly it was the summer of 1966. I was 4 years old, sitting in the gravel driveway with the turtle in my mouth, squashing ants with a stick.

This is one of my Dad's paintings. It was in "deep storage" for over 40 years. 

When I pulled it out, I could see it hanging in our living room. I was just a tot, and I remember thinking it looked like fried eggs in outer space.

This is some of my work. A small work on paper, a lacquer panel, and a page of doodles, the kind you make while your listening to someone talk.

These were all done before I rediscovered Fried Eggs in Outer Space.

These abstract drawings were done for a show at Gray Matters. At the time, I was a senior art conservator, spending my days restoring gilded frames, chair legs, and drawer pulls.

In this project I photographed lots of buds and seeds. The photos were used as building blocks to generate the abstract shapes on top. So, those shapes would not exist without the information contained with in the photos below...

A few months later, I came across this almost direct photographic translation of one of the abstract shapes.

I spent a week at the Untitled ArtSpace in Oklahoma City producing a series of block prints that were totally non-representational.

It was all about creating PURE abstract shapes...

Yeah, apparently while I was up there in Oklahoma, I was channeling the creative spirit of the ceiling fan down here in my bedroom.

So much for purity.

Art Basel Miami! Developing Art-O-Vision. 

5 days of nonstop art viewing. 

On the first day, Damn I saw a lot of art! By the end of the fifth day, you have gone beyond burnout. Everything looks like art. 

I highly recommend it.

Vermont Studio Center, where each month a new batch of 50 neurotic, self absorbed artists and writers are let loose on the small northern town of Johnson Vermont.

I drew, painted, sculpted, photographed, shot videos, blogged, and talked Art Art Art 24/7.

It was very unnatural...

...Unlike making art in my studio at home.

All the distractions are actually part of the creative process. They allow ideas time to gel and ferment. 

SculptCAD Rapid Artists. I was 1 of 14 artists that spent 3 months learning how to create sculptures on a computer... 

The top row are the actual sculptures I created using the program. They're plastic resin sprayed with black velvet, so they are soft to the touch.

But I really like how the photos below have squashed the sculptures back into a 2D space.

This being my newest work, I really don't know what the epiphanies are yet. But with my niece graduating high school and my nephew graduating college, I assume they are about liver spots.

Thank You

Well, there you go. To much info, to little time, but a lot of fun to do.

All of the Pecha Kucha Dallas events have been held at small venues, Sons of Hermann being the biggest so far. The 150 seats at the last PKN Dallas, held at the Dallas Center for Architecture was sold out in just under 2 days. The small size of the audience makes each event feel like you are sharing something special with a bunch of friends. Of corse the small sized also means that a bunch of your friends have and will miss out on the event.