Ram and Sage (work in progress)

I began this piece some months ago, on a big piece of weathered plywood. I started with a permanent marker, outlining the two main forms on either side, with the wood grain as my guide.

I have become so enamored with this way of working; letting the appearing of natural textures and lines inform my seeing of the whole work. I feel that with this practice, as with others such as outlining and detailing coffee or wine stains, I as artist can step out of the arbitrary looping of thought in my mind, and engage with something that is already there, just waiting to be “seen”.

After the initial marking and framing of composition and difference in the piece, I went in with acrylics, then later oil, building up certain parts in the base and casting light washes in the sky. More markers on top of the acrylic parts have followed, and now I stand on the precipice with oil paint pens and oil paints in hand.

Because I have in some way removed my conscious thinking from this work, it has and still reveals itself to me. I look upon it as a story that I did not write, and yet hope to understand. A host of characters have emerged, from the lone sage standing across the divide, to the Krishna-like Ram at the top of the cliff, to the those unsettling and disturbing in their apparent grasping and manipulation of those around them.

Whatever is going on, it seems to be rather epic. I am enjoying the ride deeper into the full revelation of the story and the appreciation of its contents.

The DO School Visits The Hudson Company

Several days ago the DO School fellows and Challenge Lab facilitator Scott Francisco took a short walk from the Made in NYC Media Center to the nearby Hudson Company in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The Company was founded by a man named Jamie Hammel who chose to apply his business education to the arts of fine woodworking and reclamation.

When he began his research on the subject, he discovered a small group of productive woodchucks who were deeply passionate about wood but lacked the business knowledge to work on a larger scale or with more mainstream clients and firms. In response he established his business to offer a platform for these fine woodworkers who were so diligently rescuing and upcycling old timbers from abandoned or condemned buildings such as old barns and tobacco mills.

I was pleasantly delighted and surprised to walk into the showroom, where a variety of woods hang, most of them samples of one of a kind “limited batches”, and some of them hundreds of years old. The company focuses mainly on flooring and interior design applications but shares the showroom with Mark Jupiter, a man and his crew who are making beautiful furniture with the woods that Jamie sources and processes at a mill 90 miles to the North of NYC. I look forward to visiting the mill one day with my brother James who is also a passionate woodworker and currently making furniture in Santa Fe, NM from reclaimed shipping pallets. Some of his past work can be found here.

All the best to Jamie, his crew and their upcoming projects such as the flooring of the new Whitney Museum in NYC.

– Joseph Stodgel 3/14/14