The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Posts from — July 2009


Sweet smell of oil on
Fingertips from rubbing down
A piece of walnut.

July 30, 2009   Comments Off on 202

Möbius Strip of Experience

This piece reminds me of a Möbius strip (which it isn’t, of course). It has that feeling of something that curves endlessly. Carving it, I remember getting hung up on how it twisted in space. I finished smoothing it today and added a layer of oil. I can now add it to my pantheon of sculptures that will be thrown out with my box of writings when I die. It’s not a bad feeling, just a very lonely one. But isn’t this how our lives actually are? Despite the love we make and take, we live and die alone. The Möbius strip of experience is our own and no one else’s.

July 30, 2009   Comments Off on Möbius Strip of Experience


Owl’s hoot barely heard
Through din of planes and drunken
Voices raised at night.

July 28, 2009   Comments Off on 201

Softened and Transformed

All things masculine becomes softened and transformed in a marriage if the woman is strong (and persistent) enough. That’s certainly the case with this piece which began its life as a simple sculpture that soon became encased in a white box with a paper flower on top. The stuck-on part of the sculpture is loosely attached to the upright piece with a single rod. The larger piece has been treated with linseed oil (and is darker); the other has not. The truth is they really did belong in a white box but I never knew it until I saw them there.

July 27, 2009   Comments Off on Softened and Transformed

Bound Form in Oak

Bound Form in Oak

July 27, 2009   Comments Off on Bound Form in Oak

Relegated to the Basement


This piece found itself on the floor beside the piano, because my wife didn’t like it, and then was relegated to the basement, where it now sits next to the cat’s perch on an old flat file. It’s not an easy life being abandoned among assorted junk, but that’s what happens to sculpture no one likes. Well, that’s not quite true. I like it. It has very erotic connotations to me, but, then, I have an overactive imagination. Maybe one day I’ll finish it and everyone will see what I see.

July 27, 2009   Comments Off on Relegated to the Basement

Live and Let Live

I’m depressed now that I can’t watch Lance Armstrong ride every day in the Tour de France. It was truly a great performance, but more off the bike than on. His efforts to rebuild a number of burned bridges were especially laudable.

Lance seems even to have won over Christian Prudhomme, the general director of the Tour, who said recently that the French public embraced him because he suffered on this Tour as never before. He is now a “sportsman” in the grand French tradition. The only person who seems to hate Armstrong (beside his still-vocal legion of detractors) is Alberto Contador, who says he has nothing in common (“zero,” “totally incompatible”) with the American. Unfortunately for Alberto, the flies are now circling around him. Gred LeMond (who suspects everyone of cheating except himself) has implied that Contador’s climb on Verbier was fueled by drugs.

And so it goes. Our emotions make us crazy. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. I’m not sure why Greg has to say these things. I suppose he feels he’s making the world a safer, better place. But there’s no need. He came back from a shooting accident and debilitating illness to win the Tour twice after his initial victory in 1987. He put American cycling on the map. LeMond was (and is) a great champion, but the sad fact is that he seems to be the only person who doesn’t know it. Wouldn’t it be easier simply to live and let live, Greg?

July 27, 2009   Comments Off on Live and Let Live

A Jumble of Forms

This jumble of forms is another sculpture I created from something else. It was originally two pieces my wife did for Arnold Flaten. She never finished them and said I could modify them if I stayed true to her original intention. I did, and the forms are really hers, not mine. It is now three pieces, though it’s impossible to tell where one ends and others others begin. Many of my sculptures are like this, forms that fit or interlock into one another anyway you choose.

July 24, 2009   Comments Off on A Jumble of Forms

John, what is it you see?

On my walk today, I encountered a slight, thin older man riding his bicycle back and forth on the path behind a couple of expensive homes between the lakes. I asked him what it was that interested him. He said he loved the space and often stopped to look at it. When I wondered why, he pointed to the statue of a saint in one corner, to another place where there might once have been a driveway, and then to a kind of arched passageway through the evergreens to a house higher up. It was evocative of something, though he wasn’t sure what. I asked whether he was Catholic, and he said he was, and then noticing his familiar brand of humility and intense blue eyes, I asked if he was of Irish ancestry, and he told me he was. He had been an accountant before he retired, has glaucoma and trouble seeing, but loved his visits to Dublin, where, he said, he lost track of time on his first night there and went down to breakfast at 7:00 in the evening. He could tell me this because he didn’t know me and would probably never see me again. He didn’t drink, he said. The famine was terrible. His family were from Sligo.

John was charming, easy to get on with, and Irish to the core, even though he’s several generations removed from the old country. I wonder what it is he sees in that magical space he loves so much.

July 24, 2009   Comments Off on John, what is it you see?

Arnold Flaten

My teacher was a man I never met. I knew him only through his work and that of his students. I inherited the tools he made my wife buy for her course, a wooden mallet, a rasp, and some gouges. I still use them. It never occurred to me to introduce myself until it was no longer important. His name was Arnold Flaten. I even know his famous words of advice to his sculpture students, though I can only paraphrase them. If it doesn’t work, bore a hole through it, and your piece should be solid enough to roll downhill. I don’t pay much attention to either one of them.

It’s disappointing to find so few references to Flaten on the web. It’s how it is with minor artists. They spend their lives creating a body of work, enrich the lives of thousands of students, die, and are quickly forgotten. Hey, Arne, I still remember you, the mentor I never had and never wanted. You live on in my hands.

July 23, 2009   Comments Off on Arnold Flaten