• Featured artists: Eco Baroque - collaborators Bruce Conkle and Marne Lucas

    'Warlock Spritz Bath' From the exhibition "Warlord Sun King: The Genesis of Eco-Baroque" -The amethyst geode with the bottle of champagne in it will be getting custom-made brass plumbing and will be a bidet that runs on champagne! Louis XIV would surely have one if he were alive today. ===============================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================

    It is with great pleasure that I feature the work of Conkle and Lucas as my last blog about rock oriented art work, or at least the last blog about rock oriented art work in association with the Eagle Rock Rock and Eagle Shop. Their work employs humor and a well tuned aesthetic to address some serious issues about the environment and our drastic human effect upon it. This image of the champagne bottle in a large geode is on first glance celebratory and jubilant about nature's excessive beauty and ours for it, but also it emits a subtle yet powerful ominousness that seeps in upon looking at Conkle and Lucas' entire body of work. This image deepens into a symbol of our excesses despite nature. Humanity's blinders are on, and our disregard for how our hedonism affects our planet is paramount. I see this thread of celebration throughout their work, a tongue and cheek enjoyment of combining materials from the natural world and the manmade, but to great effect. Instead of hitting the viewer between the eyes with a straight forward message about what we're doing to our planet, they employ a more effective playful storyline of baroque aesthetics to hit home the message memorably.

    Eco: Concerned with living things in relation to their environment. Baroque : Extravagantly ornate, florid, and convoluted in character or style.

    Eco-Baroque artists Bruce Conkle and Marne Lucas. (Photos by Lucas, Alp Horns by Conkle) ======================================================================================== Conkle has been dubbed the preeminent eco-artist dealing with topics such as global warming and a post-apocoliptic future, but not without any hope. His thought is that there exists a rainbow beyond the mushroom cloud, as pictured in a colored pencil drawing by Conkle, called New Beginning. Lucas, more focused on the merger of the self relating to nature- her series called MLSP (Marni Lucas Self Portraiture) is an ongoing evolving series commenting on social roles, the nuances of persona and our fragile existence in nature. Together Conkle and Lucas bring the best of their perspectives merging their tools of trade to form humor-filled but powerfully emitting works.

    "Warlord Sun King" chandelier. From the exhibition "Warlord Sun King: The Genesis of Eco-Baroque" =================================================================================================

    Tanning bed, grow lights, cable, crystals, rocks, live plants, moss, coconut, meteorite, recycled containers, motor, mixed media. At the lowest point of the 'chandelier', a single large pendulous crystal turns on a motor.

    This piece, Warlord Sun King, refers to a post apocalyptic imagining of Luis XIV's Versailles, but instead of the grandeur of gold and dangling cut crystals, geodes and clumps of moss hang on wires, florid tin foil wall panels back the artist's ornate self portraits, and a tanning bed upturned becomes the chandelier substitute. There is a sadness in this work but it leaks out, seeps through, and reaches through an enjoyable facade.

    ditto =====

    ditto =====

    Everytime I look at the Moon I think of Crop Circles By Bruce Conkle. (photo Marne Lucas) Wood, metal, stone, meteorite, silicone =================================================================================================================================

    “Sodom/Gomorrah/Milk/Salt” A short film by Marne Lucas. (photo Bruce Conkle) An hallucinatory slow motion scene of languid and sensual interludes with two separate couples cavorting in a milky white pool, references the biblical story of Lot and his Wife who turns into a pillar of salt upon looking over her shoulder as they leave Sodom and Gomorrah; but also aims to reclaim the Old Testament references of bodily sin or lust, as one of an intimate, healing, and life affirming ritual. Video footage and photos shot specifically for this project at Great Salt Lake, Utah of salt-encrusted beach, rocks and milky saline water will be combined with footage of the couples ritually bathing in the ‘milk pool’. Eerie black & white Oregon desert landscape scenes will be filmed with a heat-sensitive IR (infrared) camera and used in the green-screen backgrounds. ===========================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================

    -BIG NEWS! MONGOLIA 360° The 2nd Land Art Biennial Bruce Conkle and Marne Lucas have been invited to participate in the MONGOLIA 360° Land Art Biennial, where they will be building an Eco-Baroque site specific installation August 5-18th in the Gobi Desert and presenting at the Symposium 2012 in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia. The team will be metal-leafing rocks using non-toxic materials, felting stones from local wool, and working with ideas about local mythology about the land and the current mining situation in Mongolia.





    Posted by hubbyco on 5/27/12 | Permalink
  • Featured artist: Christopher James, a struggle against sea, self, the practice of art, and/or rocks

    *Sometimes you need to misrepresent what your doing to be able to make the art you want to make. *
    ~Chris James

    statement on the wall upon entering Chris' studio:

    In the fall of last year the Los Angeles artist Christopher James was videotaping the construction of a sculpture (Cairn, 2011, polyurethane foam) on a rocky stretch of nearby coast. He was videotaping the erection when an accident occurred which led to an unexpected turn of events in which the artist and the sculptural flotsam was swept out to sea. Fortunately the camera was taken along and periodically taped what followed. Although not actually an artwork- this is simply the unedited raw footage removed from the camera afterwards. It has been clearly salt-water affected, but enough information remains as to warrant viewing.

    This video/sculptural piece is unsettling, remarkable and haunting. It rose like the swell of the sea and took over the senses - I could almost taste salt. It ushered flashes from my mind's storehouse of of water, sea, ocean, shipwreck, nature gone haywire, man gone haywire because of nature and/or solitude, slices of films about those things and characters that endure nature (and art's) unpredictable forces. It was a ride both mental and visual that I enjoyed having no buoy for. This salt-affected film, or a story of salt-affected film gave me a reference that became dispelled by the slow but sure realization of the dexterity of the technology used to edit the film itself. Seemingly, no salt could do what this film has done, but the poetry of the supposed damaged film clips and effects of that damage were mesmerizing and it doesn't even matter who or what did what to the film - it exists.

    I think, and oh I do realize the subjectivity of this, that this work of Chris' is a multi-tiered reflection of this theme, but also about the artist and his practice and its solitude, as well as the chance that one could get lost in it. There's a risk to have the physical structures being made and the intentions for those things collapse together (i.e. house of cards) into a giddy or insane heap. It is, after all, absurd to use your art as a life raft unless you're making your art near the edge of a perilous shoreline... to use floatation devices in your art, not so absurd in cases like these. There is an absurdity that remains though, poetic absurdity, since there aren't many cases like these, to see the artist building his sculptures on a craggy foundation with surging waves converging.

    Another tributary of this film is that the material itself, the surfboards, shift in purpose throughout the film. At first it is a material for a sculpture, yes, a precarious one, on the water's edge, but a structure nonetheless that has no other purpose but to be such. Then, as it collapses, the sculpture becomes disassociated driftwood, a carcass of the sculpture floating with an ominous shipwreck sadness. Then a part of the wreckage becomes the life-raft upon which the castaway paddles. But, the uncertainty of the mental state of the castaway becomes more palpable as he gathers and re-stacks the shards of the former structure and makes them into a kind of shelter, his shirt now used as a head-wrap, and his purpose unknown. There are many layers to the work, many ways to read it - this is just a sliver of one. I commend Chris for having the wisdom not to shove any kind of summation of meaning on the viewer. The soundtrack too, I haven't even touched on it, but it is paramount to the experience. The mutterings of the castaway, the water noises, and jags and kinks in the film are all integral.

    I ended up wanting to quote from book and film etc. that touch on these themes, so I inserted such words throughout the rest of this digital page. I do so playfully, but in a spirit of homage to the complex marvel he's created. I've taken the liberty (with Chris' kind allowance) of inserting these texts underneath some of the photos.

    Thus we never see the true State of our Condition, till it is illustrated to us by its Contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it.
    ~ Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

    Roberta 'Bertie': Do you like the sea, Fritz? Fritz Robinson: I like things you can depend on. The sea, you can never be sure of it. Roberta 'Bertie': Well, that's the fun of it. Not being sure of things.
    ~ from Swiss Family Robinson, by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss

    “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
    ~James Joyce, Ulysses

    Chuck Noland: Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on. ~From the film Cast Away, directed by Robert Zemeckis (wilson is the soccer ball he's painted a face on with his own blood, who becomes his companion and link to sanity)

    Allie Fox: If it's on a map, I can't use it...
    Allie Fox: Everything we need is right here.
    ~from Mosquito Coast, the film directed by Peter Weir, based on the novel by Paul Theroux.

    I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky--seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness. ~Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness

    PS - personal side note: Watching this film reminded me of being on the sailboat with my Dad in Savannah as we managed to, over many outings, find every sandbar in the sound after gleefully ripping through the waters of the open sea. Many a night did we wait for the Coastguard to come and take us back for shore. We would practice tying knots, re-route our routes, and enact rescue missions overboard with the lifejackets to pass the time. Dad would stay with the boat for the tide to come back in and Bolyn and I were taken back to shore, to mom. A classic captain and his ship sipping luke-warm hot chocolate and looking at maps that would take him no place for that moment, but everywhere in a way. He also lived in a treehouse on a friend's property once, and a boathouse, so a man with/against nature theme has been persistent in his life, and therefore mine.

    Posted by hubbyco on 5/24/12 | Permalink
  • Featured Artist: Boris Kutchukov, Impressionist Bulgarian sculptor

    This photo says it all I think (the cat, the skull, the eagle, his countenance) but to fill in the blanks if you like: Boris is Bulgarian and grew up in the rural eastern Europe, which is where he first developed a feel for different kinds of wood and raw materials to sculpt with from nature. Later, he pursued his commitment to art through study at the University of Architecture and Fine Arts in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1947. He then escaped to Germany in 1948 and endured a harrowing time of his life. In 1949 he defected to Paris and married, then immigrated to the United States where is is currently semi-retired, still painting, remarried and living part-time in Bulgaria. He' s been sculpting and painting now for over 40 years, and many of his images have taken the eagle form. A mighty large wooden bear looms and commands the shelf of a cityscape lookout at his daugther's home in Eagle Rock.

    "He's a primitive, yet sensitive, definitely masculine, and strongly opinionated artist who feels even to this day that he should have lived in another era." - from his bio

    I heard about him through rave reviews of his sculpture of a grand sculpted wooden eagle which now proudly resides in the Eagle Rock High School (not pictured). He and his daughter came to the opening of the shop on April 1st, curious about its eagle-centric theme. I showed them around and he bought a small wooden eagle ornament; then we set up a time to meet the next week before he returned to Bulgaria. I went to the daughter's home where Boris, now a bit more chiseled and demure a figure, but still as commanding in attitude, painted in the garden; a show of the recent works were hanging on the fence around the yard. I felt lucky to have met such an artist, someone who actually struggled through large obstacles to be an artist, to become one, and to stay one.

    a closer look at my favorite of his eagle paintings:

    if you'd like to get in touch with Boris: Ralizo@hotmail.com, or SculptBK@sbcglobal.net - appointments to view work could be arranged.

    Posted by hubbyco on 5/21/12 | Permalink
  • Featured artwork: Nick Herman's rock fountain

    I met Nick through my good friend Chris James, whose work I will feature in a couple of days. I'm going into thrill of exposure overload. a) Nick mentioned that he had made some semblance of a 'rock fountain' in amongst his pile o' art accomplishments. b) I asked if I could see it. c) It is now in the shop. The title: "M0DEL F0R A WINTER PALACE" 2012 pIexi, pump, ceramics, siIver Ieaf, aluminum, Ieaf, Iights

    Bellmer and I now get to be near its aura-ific glow and gurgle every day. The light is transformative, and the gush of the spray hitting its lid is a sensation bomb!

    click here for his website and discover the depth/breadth/width of his art/writing/publishing. I just devoured his publication called FATLAND printed to accompany his solo show at LAX art last year. Its the kind of read that I feel a dark shade of greedy about, wanting to hoard the words.

    in situ

    frothy power-lit hum and gurgle ===============================

    PS - polar to gurgle and glow, but yet relevant to this theme, and notable, is an image of his piece for the Socrates Sculpture Park

    On Earth, 2006 ==============

    Posted by hubbyco on 5/10/12 | Permalink
  • Featured artist: Randolph Thompson, Murder on the Rocks

    Randy came in to show his work to me but I was 'out in the field,' as I like to call it, so he left a few of his pieces for me to check out with Mark Verbioff, my venerable shop keeper. Mark had a big mischievous smile on his face when I came in, and he showed me these curious works. At first I thought they were simply coated rocks with twisty wire trees on them, but on closer inspection I saw a little figure that turned out to be a nun perched up in the branches of the tree, and a little penguin down on the ground brandishing a spear threateningly towards the nun. The nun was "treed," a term used in hunting when an animal is trapped in a tree with no place else to go but down, into the hands of its patient predator. The other pieces were a bit different, say two penguins with smaller knives ominously facing the nun or the penguin seeming to guard the nun with his/her back to the nun whilst still holding some kind of weapon.

    I have since asked him to come back and bring more of these pieces for me to feature in the shop and had the great pleasure to meet and chat with him about the his Murder on the Rocks series and to see further manifestations of the theme, which included the nuns and penguins in travel/quests or exchange of suitcase scenarios. There is an obvious dark humor to them, but also a quiet eerie beauty in the stillness of the scenes he sets up, and a 'NO EXIT' type of tension/atmosphere. And I, coming from a flagrantly strange and at times off-kiltered nun-riddled upbringing, have been wooed by these pieces in spades. Here are a couple of images, but better to see them in person and consider owning one for your rock, nun, penguin or other worldly art collection.

    Here is what he's written about the origin of these works:

    Backstory: It all began in 1999 when “Murder On The Rocks” creator, Randy Thompson began collecting “unique” rocks from beaches along the coast of California and from several mountainous areas in Arizona. In particular, Randy would search for rocks that had a certain look to them; rocks that would appear to have an unusual, mysterious presence. Randy then fashioned scary, dead-looking trees made of wire and affixed them to the rocks, which further gave the pieces a haunting look. But something was missing, something that would give the art piece a story, something dark, but funny. That’s where the nuns and penguins came in. See, Randy had been traumatized at birth by a nun. Randy’s mum would always tell him the story of when he was born at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. His mum gave birth to him in the hallway of the hospital while waiting to go into the delivery room. The first person to walk by was a nun and she screamed bloody murder. Twenty three years later, Randy would marry a Catholic girl (Senator’s daughter) who would run off with a tennis pro within the year. So, down the road, Randy began to work out his issues by adding miniature nuns to the rocks. The miniature penguins came into the picture because they were wearing the same outfit as the nuns and created a “nature vs. religion” feel to the artwork; especially, when the penguin was holding a spear or sword. Sometimes the nuns and penguins are exchanging luggage (fish for bibles, plutonium exchange, who knows?). Sometimes, a penguin has a nun “treed”. Sometimes, it appears as if a penguin is receiving “the word.” Sometimes, they are on an adventure together, fleeing from an unseen menace. I give the eventual owner of the artwork the opportunity to complete the story; “what do you think is going on here”?


    Bio: Randy Thompson currently works for The Warner Music Group (Rhino Entertainment) in Burbank, California and was previously a professional songwriter/musician for 20 years. His music and band appeared in a Disney movie in 1986. Until recently, his art pieces have only been owned and exhibited in the homes of certain rock stars and music/movie executives.

    Posted by hubbyco on 5/02/12 | Permalink