“The Medium is the Message”-
The technique I employ in my art is simple and straight-forward; I use an oxy-acetylene torch to weld bronze and copper and finish the piece with acrylic colors. About the only other tool I use is a pair of pliers. More interesting than the medium, perhaps, is my message. I am not trying to showcase my virtuosity with a torch by reproducing an aspen, for example, but to create an impression of an aspen tree without resorting to making a replica of an aspen leaf. My work is impressionistic, abstract, if you will. It is circumscribed and defined by the medium- metal sculpture. An anecdote may explain what I mean. A number of years ago an elderly man came by my display and asked, “What kind of trees are those?” “Aspens,” I replied. “Well, they don't look like no aspen leaf I ever seen,” he objected. “What do they look like?” I asked. “Nothin',” he said. “Then don't buy it.” “I ain't,” he shot back. And that was the end of that conversation. You can't please all the people all of the time.
Fact is, all art is abstract to some degree. Even extreme photographic realism in graphic art is by definition abstract, since it represents a three dimensional object in two dimensions. The question is, where on the bell curve from photographic to non-objective does the art object fall? In my case, most observers would readily identify my trees as aspen -or birch, or “birch-like trees ” depending more on their experience with trees than their interpretation of art. If they were more photographic or “realistic,” they would say, “Oh, yes, this is definitely a birch,” or an aspen, if there were identifiable distinguishing characteristics. Or maybe, like the hybrid Ponderosa and Jeffery Pine in the Sierras, they would come to the conclusion that they were both, yet neither. And that's fine with me. In that case, I have reached my goal. I have created the impression of a tree. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye and the mind of the beholder.
The folks who don't like abstract art and “just don't understand it,” have every right not to like it. And those who like traditional landscapes are....traditional. Nothing wrong with that. Art is communication. If the art and the viewer don't mesh, communication between them is blocked. Or the viewer can become more emotionally and intellectually involved and come to see eye to eye with the artist. This is every artist's dream. There are various reasons for liking or disliking a work of art, most of which are legitimate.
Me? Often, after finishing a piece I will think, “That isn't bad.” I will hang it on the wall, and the next time I see it I will be transported back to my childhood in the snow belt in Michigan's lower peninsula, or in my mind's eye I will re-walk a Tahoe trail in October, the reverie to be broken only when a visitor comes in and says, “Wow! Those fall colors would go great with my brown sofa.” “Thanks,” I say, “That's exactly what I was hoping to hear.” C'est la vie. Different strokes for different folks.