Posts Tagged ‘oversized art’

Darwin’s Interior ‘Magic Tree’

January 8, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Darwin, an Idyllwild sculptor, is not one to shy away from large art projects. His giant cowboy hat, which sets on top of Wooley’s, is testament to that.

Darwin points to a large tree that he built for an Idyllwild toy shop

“C’mon, you’ve got to see my tree,” said Darwin to friends standing outside Higher Grounds.

He lead them around the corner to a toy store. They looked up and gasped, “Wow, that’s beautiful!”

Inside, Darwin had created a life-sized tree with a large trunk and several limbs that stretched across the high ceiling.

“My kids call it, ‘The Magic Tree,'” said Julie Fourroux, one of the owners.

The idea of having an interior tree sprung from a need to do something with an odd corner, Julie said. The toy shop stands in the former location of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce and the Idyllwild Realty office.

“A wall had been knocked down to create more space,” Julie explained. “But there was this odd corner where the former entryway used to be. We just had to do something about it.”

Her husband Chris suggested that they put in a natural tree trunk called a “wrap,” similar to the posts holding up the porch outside. Then Julie suggested an entire tree, and Darwin, who had been standing there, said that he’d like to build them one.

Looking up, the manzanita limbs and branches are spectacular

For nearly a month, Darwin set up his workshop inside the toy store. He worked half days from a large table, while his manzanita branch collection stayed outside.

“I found the manzanita limbs up in the high country,” Darwin said.

He sanded them down and added clear varnish, showing their natural dark red color. The rest of the tree was constructed from everyday materials, including chicken wire, paper mache, large carpet tubes, paint, and varnish.

Darwin knew, after creating a giant hat for Wooley’s, that sound construction was key. (See ‘Hats Off to an Idyllwild Artist,” an Idyllwild Me  blog post dated March 2, 2010) Because large sculptures like these are only as good as they can last.

Darwin’s Wooley’s hat had to withstand Idyllwild’s extreme weather conditions, such as snow, rain and wind. At least, The Magic Tree was inside the toy shop, and only needed to be securely mounted. However, it stood over 15 feet tall and weighs about 300 pounds.

Darwin, the artist, next to The Magic Tree

When Darwin was forming the chicken wire, and before adding the paper mache, Chris mounted some electrical equipment inside. The equipment would be the energy source for the twinkling lights on the branches above.

“The tree is heavily mounted to the wall,” said Julie reassuringly. “It’s not coming down.”

However, to deter teens and children from trying to climb it, they put up a sign.

“So far, everyone’s been respectful,” Julie said.

Teens like it best, Chris added. “They stop at the door, look up and  don’t go any further.

However, the younger ones, look at it briefly and run to the toys, added RJ, the toy store clerk.

To get the texture of the bark on The Magic Tree, Darwin used crumbled up newspaper. Then he added many layers of brown acrylic paint.

“It looked like a chocolate tree,” Darwin said. “I was afraid the kids might peel off the bark and eat it.”

So he toned down the color to a lighter brown, and added lots of glitter, adding to the “magical” feel.

In addition to the twinkling white lights, there are some ornaments, such as birds, hanging from the branches, and little stuffed animals inside the knotholes.

Close up of the manzanita tree branches

“The plan is to add some paper snowflakes, and make it seasonal,” Julie said.

Her mother gave her the idea. She has an inside tree in her home that she decorates with ornaments according to every season, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

“We plan to add decorations to the tree, and when there’s no holiday, we’ll just add leaves,” Julie said.

Chris said that they’re pleased with the results and Darwin’s professionalism.

“He does great work,” Chris said. “Have you seen his mountain view sign on the top of the coffee house?”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Oversized Art at Student Show

May 9, 2010

Bella Oh's oversized phone sculpture is set to contact aliens

From oversized phones that hope to contact aliens to a tea cup that only “Alice in Wonderland” could drink from, it was all about oversized art sculptures at the  Idyllwild Arts “Visual Art III” opening on Friday night, May 7, at the Parks Exhibition Center. The show continues through Friday, May 14.

The five seniors participating in the show are  Jasmine Marin, Yoo Bin Cha, Sana Liu, Bella Oh and Brent Terry.

Walking down to the Parks Exhibition Center from campus, the first thing you’d see is a large, lightweight sculpture of a phone. Not a cell phone, mind you, but just the handset of an old fashioned phone, made up of wood, wire and cheese cloth. This phone was mounted on the roof.

“Did you see the phone on top of the roof?” asked Rob Rutherford, head of the Visual Art Department at Idyllwild Arts.

“Bella (Oh) wanted to stay even after she mounted it up there,” Rutherford said. “She wanted to see if it would contact any aliens.”

Once you see Bella Oh’s series of alien drawings, everything fits together. Like an architect’s blueprint, Oh drew the phone sculpture to scale, including the mounting platform and attachments.

She printed her alien drawings on velum, because you cannot print large-scale drawings on paper, Rutherford explained. Architects used to, but nobody prints large scale anymore.

Oh also drew a rendering of a crop circle from the air, outlining all of the parts. Crop circles are large-scale circles created by flattening of crops, such as wheat, barley and corn. Skeptics dispute it, while alien enthusiasts believe they could be caused by freak meteorological phenomena or messages from extraterrestrials.

In another large drawing, Oh drew an alien, that looks like the ones portrayed in the movies, with an oversized head and eyes, and a slight body with elongated arms.

“Do you believe in aliens?” someone asked her the next day. She was surprised at the question at first, but “Yes,” was all she said.

Sana Liu (R) and friend pose in front of her oversized sugarplum tea cup

In the same show, there was another larger-than-life sculpture: a sugarplum and marshmallow tea cup hanging from the ceiling. It was created by Sana Liu, who said that it was part of her “Home Sweet Home” series.

“I was watching her create that teacup,” said Haley Kuhlmann, another visual arts student. “And she wasn’t using any glue at all. She just pushed the gumdrops and marshmallows through the wire.”

Half white miniature marshmallows, and half multicolored gum drops made up the tea cup’s design.

Everyone around it marveled at his size, and the amount of time it took to create it, not to mention the bags and bags of marshmallows and gumdrops.

Oversized modern art has been done by many artists over the years, including Cristo, who was best known for “wrapping” things, such as cars, buildings and canyons. However, Cristo also created 3,100 oversized umbrellas that he mounted on hillsides in California and Japan. These yellow and blue umbrellas measured 19 feet, eight inches high and measured 26 feet, 5 inches wide. Without the base, each weighed about 450 pounds.

During their 10-year exhibition, Cristo had some trouble with the umbrellas detaching in the wind, but Oh wasn’t taking any chances with her phone and Idyllwild’s tulmultous weather. On Sunday, May 9, Oh heard there was a 20 percent chance of snow, and took the phone down from the roof.

“It’s made of wood, wire and cheesecloth,” she said. “But it’s not that strong.”

Hopefully, she moved it inside the Parks Exhibition Center for everyone to enjoy.

Although not oversized, Brent Terry’s series of black-and-white photographs were an interesting character study.

“I annoyed a lot of people,” Terry said of his photography set-up in the campus bookstore. Like the opening of an industrial meat locker, Terry attached long plastic strips over the front door at the bookstore. Generally, the strips are used to keep the bugs out, and the cool air in.

“The cool part,” Terry said, “was that the bookstore kept his whole project  a secret.”

When students would walk into the bookstore, they had to pass through the strips, he said.

“It was disorienting and annoying to most of them,” Terry said, whose photographs portrayed mostly silhouettes of students with bowed heads, arms flayling. In one of Dakota Bailey, you can only see her dance tutu jutting forth.

Terry said that the idea came from a photography experiment that he did in New York. He had put the same plastic “meat locker” strips over a door in a flea market.

“But this time, I put myself in front of them,” Terry said.

Many of the students didn’t know their photographs were part of his senior art show until the opening Friday.

“Hey, that’s me!” several students said to Terry. It didn’t matter that they didn’t look their best, were obviously annoyed or distressed by the plastic barriers.

An observer looks at the watercolor and ink art labels of Jasmine Marin's ginger beer bottles

For those who came to the show late, they didn’t get to sample Jasmine Marin’s homemade ginger beer. She had made 28 bottles for the show, and they were gone quickly.

Haley Kuhlmann was one of the lucky ones. “It had a strong ginger taste, with a hint of lemon,” she explained.

“But it didn’t taste like gingerale, but more like a beer,” she said.

Jade Huggins, another visual art student, said that she tried a sample earlier in the week, and it was sweet.

Marin made the ginger beer for her senior show because she questioned the idea of art always having to be “pretty.”

“I want to make art that can be enjoyed by me and my friends,” she said.

There was a pretty element to the ginger beer installation, however. The brown bottles that were suspended on wires from the ceiling had small watercolor and ink drawings on them, along with French words.

On one of the bottles, there were portraits of women without faces. On another, there was a nude woman’s torso. Still another depicted a large, “Bumpstead-style” sandwich, with a tongue hanging over the side. Marin admitted to making great sandwiches.

“Something tells me that she’s also a good cook,” said one student. “Making ginger beer is an advanced cooking technique. I couldn’t do it.”

The last piece, or pieces, in the show were created by Yoo Bin Cha. They were Asian-style plates with feet on them. These plates are similar to sushi plates at a Japanese restaurant. However, instead of the standard black or white, Cha’s ceramic plates were painted in colorful greens, pinks and blues. Some had flower decorations on them.

It was hard to count how many plates that Cha created, but there were a lot. Some were even used to display the food at the reception outside. What type of food they had on them was not known, because, like the ginger beer, if you arrived after 6 p.m., the food is gone.

So Cha showed that her ceramic plates were not only colorful, but functional as well.

The “Visual Art III” show continues on display until Friday, May 14 at the Parks Exhibition Center. For more information, contact Morgan Satterfield at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251.

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