I just recently finished off a bunch of unfinished terracotta pieces, some from quite awhile back. Then I photographed the newly finished pieces. Pictured above is one of them. "Shelter" is finished with casein paints, and its dimensions are: 11" h. x 15" w. x 4" d. Now that that task is finished, my thoughts turn to my next project.....
Way back in February, a dear friend of mine mentioned that she and her husband had had to cut down a large basswood tree that was growing in their yard. Of course my ears perked up when I heard this! Basswood, (also known as Linden or Limewood) brings to my mind the great German renaissance era sculptors, such as Tilman Riemenschneider and Viet Stoss, who carved masterful works from this wood. Long story short, I was interested, and they were very happy to have me take whatever I wanted of the tree. Back in June, when the snow was all gone, I managed, with the help of good friends, to get the largest logs into the back of my car and make it home...in two trips, one log per trip.
Then I had to get them out! Thats my wife Akemi helping, and the ramp we rigged up to slide the log down and out of the car. So the logs are now sitting outside of the studio door, just waiting for me to figure out what I am going to make of them. Tomorrow, I will start playing with clay, and we'll see what happens...
Life being what it is, all kinds of things came up and slowed the work on this carving. But yesterday, I finally finished!
"Collateral Damage" Poplar, casein paint 14"h. x 26" w. x 2 1/8" d.
Now that the paints are out, I'm planning on painting and finishing up a bunch of fired, but unfinished terracotta maquettes.
I guess its been a while since I last posted and an update is in order!... I recently started work on a carved relief. Here is the terracotta sketch that I'm working from. It is an expression of the sorrow and outrage I feel regarding the tremendous amount of harm being caused by the power elite's seeming addiction to war and militarism... an addiction which destroys not only human lives, but also the lives of so many others....including, as in this particular image, the lives of those in the ocean who have been exposed to the extremely loud blasts of Navy sonar.
This photo shows one of at least 12 Cuvier's beaked whales that stranded and died in May of 1996 during tests of NATO low-frequency active sonar in the Kyparissiakos Gulf of Greece. Before, and since that time, numerous other mass-strandings have occurred as a result of naval sonars.
This photo is from a January, 2005 mass-stranding event that occurred in North Carolina. At least 34 pilot whales (6 of which were pregnant), 2 dwarf sperm whales, and a newborn minke whale stranded during and following US Navy sonar exercises.
And here, one of at least 3 beaked whales that stranded and died on Guam in March, 2015 as a result of sonar exercises being carried out by the US Navy and Japan's so-called Self-Defense Force. The sonar-caused strandings in these photos are just a few of the many that have occurred over the years. An important question to ask is...how many more animals have been injured and killed as a result of exposure to naval sonars, but whose injuries and deaths remain unbeknownst to us for the simple reason that they never stranded? It is widely believed that the dead and dying whales and dolphins that we do see on the beach are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of harm that is being needlessly caused by the US and other navies. I say needlessly, because there are many measures that could be taken to greatly reduce the harm being done, such as simply avoiding sonar testing and training exercises in areas at times when it is expected that vulnerable species are likely to be present. This is thought to be one of the most effective mitigations, but...the US Navy, in its arrogance, simply refuses to do this. And so the great harm to marine life continues, and with it, my need to vent my outrage!
But back to the sculpting....
I'm using more of that nice wide poplar I have for this relief carving....Here it is being run through the planer.
Now that the surface is nice and flat and smooth, I place my scaled up drawing over the board so I can then transfer the design on to the board.
And the carving has begun!
One of the reasons that I love doing relief sculpture is that I find it to be very challenging, as it combines illusionistic drawing with 3 dimensional form. As in most carving work, there are no real sign posts in a relief carving telling you how deep to carve a certain area, and in the early stages of a carving, where things are largely undefined, it is very easy to make a serious mistake that can ruin a sculpture. So, I take it slow and try to establish the major forms and make them relate to one another to achieve, in a convincing manner, the illusion of depth in space that I'm after. Its a challenge to do it well! We'll see how this relief progresses......
I finished the banner (in photo above) just in time for my trip to Okinawa with the Veterans For Peace solidarity delegation. The banner is acrylic on canvas, 102" x 36". And the trip...what a trip it was!
The trip was a sort of whirlwind. We went to Okinawa to be in solidarity with the vast majority of Okinawan people who are opposed to the militarization of their island that has occurred as a result of the occupation of Okinawa by the US military and its 32 facilities that are used exclusively by the US. Okinawa accounts for only 0.6 % of the land of Japan, but 74 % of US military bases in Japan are on Okinawa! Many of these bases, including the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station and the Kadena Air Force base are located in heavily populated areas...As you can see in the photo above, Futenma is right smack in the middle of crowded Ginowan City, surrounded by apartments, private homes, daycare centers, schools, a college, and hospitals. The people are forced to hear the very loud noise of aircraft taking off and landing over 50 times a day, explosions from explosive ordinance disposal, live-firing drills and other training exercises. They have also been subjected, over the years, to numerous accidents involving US aircraft, some of which have resulted in injuries and deaths of Okinawans. Both of these bases violate US aviation regulations, as they lack required clear zones. The US military could never get away with doing to the American people what it has been doing to the people of Okinawa since WWII!
A few days before our visit to Okinawa, a part fell from a US Osprey helicopter and landed on this roof, denting it where Miho, one of the delegation, is pointing. It is the roof of a daycare center, and it fell when children were playing in the yard only a few feet away. While we were there, a door frame from another US helicopter fell into another school yard, again missing playing children by only feet!
And then there are the rapes and murders committed upon the Okinawan people by members of the US military. There have been many such incidents, which very understandably, further infuriates the people and makes them more determined to rid themselves of the US military presence. Here, the VFP delegation, along with our local guides, visits a memorial set up for Rine Shimabakuro, a 20 year old woman, who a year and a half ago was abducted, raped, and then murdered by a former US marine. He dumped her body in the woods near where this memorial now stands. Needless to say, the place held a lot of sadness.
Here is the banner, finally seeing some action in front of the gate of Camp Schwab, a US Marine Corps base. Camp Schwab, which sits next to Oura Bay, is where the US and Japanese government have long wanted to relocate the extremely dangerous Futenma Air Station. To do this, they plan on building twin airstrips, each over a mile long, but that will necessitate filling in part of beautiful Oura Bay, home to the extremely endangered marine mammal, the Okinawan dugong (thought to be only 2 remaining!!!) and 261 other endangered species! But there has been ongoing resistance for many years in the form of lawsuits, demonstrations, and civil disobedience. On December 26th, just a week following the delegation's visit, that resistance reached 5,000 days, or over 13 1/2 years of daily, ongoing resistance!
Back to the Camp Schwab gate.....Several vehicles (not sure what they are called) loaded with marines come face to face with the VFP delegation, standing and blocking their way.
Police move in...
...and we all sit down blocking the road. Here, the police start trying to drag some of us away.
Alas, the police have hauled away enough of us that the vehicles can now pass.
A little later, we join those sitting down in front of another gate, ready to block the construction vehicles that are coming (illegally) to continue filling in the waters of Oura Bay.
Filling in those waters will doom the Okinawan dugong (pictured here in paper mache) to extinction. That the American and Japanese governments are fine with that outcome makes me disgusted and incredibly angry!
And again, the police move in to remove those blocking the gate.
The VFP delegation has now been hauled away and the police start removing the locals and their many other supporters.
After being carried away by the police, we are left in a "holding cell" made of fencing and many police.
But a plan is hatched. Some of us attempt to escape the holding cell...making enough of a distraction that others are able to successfully jump the fence and avoid the police long enough....
...to very quickly position themselves in front of the first vehicle in a long line of construction vehicles waiting to gain entrance to the base.
Others are caught by the police before they can make it...but these folks did it! Note Miles, who managed to slide underneath the truck!
One by one, the police haul the truck-blockers away. Here Mike is giving them a wee bit of a difficult time.
After all are removed, the long line of Bay-filling construction vehicles start rolling.
But the resistance continues, and will not give up...We'll see what happens, but I am praying that those twin airstrips will never be built, and that the dugong, and all those other endangered creatures might still someday recover, and then thrive.
Save the Dugong and Oura Bay! No Base! US out of Okinawa!!!
The beautiful Henoko and Oura Bays, in Okinawa, Japan.
And this image shows the planned expansion of US Marine Corps base Camp Schwab, to include a twin airstrip (drawn in red above), which would require filling those parts of the bays with over a million truckloads of sand and gravel. As one might suspect, this will have consequences for the local people, and for life in the bay...
The bays have seagrass beds that the extremely endangered Okinawan dugong feeds on. The dugong is a marine mammal, similar in appearance to the manatee. It is thought that there are now only 3 (or possibly only 2) of these animals still surviving, as the dugong in this photo, thought to be the offspring of one of the others, has not been sighted since 2015 when land reclamation for the base expansion project started.
Besides the dugong, the bays are also home to 261 other endangered species, including corals and sea turtles. Very obviously, the base expansion will have a devastating impact on these species, and will make certain the extinction of the dugong if allowed to go forward.
But there has been an ongoing, determined resistance to the base expansion.
For over 10 years, there have been daily protests, sit-ins, and civil disobedience by the local people and their supporters.
Among those supporting the resistance to the Henoko base expansion, and the resistance to the many other US military bases on Okinawa, is the group Veterans For Peace (https://www.veteransforpeace.org/ ), which sent delegations to Okinawa in 2015 and 2016.
Pictured here is the 2015 delegation, seen here blocking construction vehicles at the gate of Camp Schwab.
Although I am not a veteran (I applied for, and was rejected conscientious objector status during the last few months of the conscription lottery) I have been invited to be a part of the 2017 delegation to Okinawa, which will be going in early December. And so....I'm now working on a 9' x 3' banner for the trip...Pictured above is the original sketch for the banner.
And here, the actual banner in progress. And seeing as I still have a ways to go on it, and much other work to do in preparation for the trip, I better get myself back into the studio and painting! More later...
Well, the Maine Peace Walk ended almost a month ago, on October 21st. Like other Maine Peace Walks that I have been involved in, this one was well worth doing. Although it is difficult to measure these things, I'd say it was pretty successful in sparking numerous conversations in the greater Bath community around the subject of the need to convert Bath Iron Works (BIW) from producing weapons of mass destruction to producing products that actually serve life, and might help us deal with genuine threats to our national and global security such as climate change and other forms of environmental destruction. In the photo above, taken the evening before the Walk's official start, good friends Jason (left) and Bruce (right) helping with hanging the banner on the Walk support van.
One of our early morning vigils at BIW. We did these vigils twice a day, both times during a shift change of the workers.
Here, Bruce Gagnon, the inspirational guy who years ago initiated the Maine Peace Walks, and who is still the driving force behind them (and so much more...see his blog at http://space4peace.blogspot.com/ ) stands in front of BIW during an afternoon vigil. You can see some of the workers gathering behind the gate, waiting for the horn to announce the end of their work day. A few moments after this photo was taken, the horn blasted and hundreds of workers came streaming out of the gate. Bruce and others offered the workers our flyers, which outlined the reasons why we need to convert BIW from building more weapons for ever more wars, to building things like high speed rail, wind turbines and solar arrays. Most of the workers refused them, but some would take them each vigil. While many of the workers clearly didn't like us being there, I have little doubt that many would in fact prefer to be making things other than these death ships.
During the Walk, we not only handed out flyers to the BIW workers, but we also left our flyers at every residence and business in the city of Bath. Here, Bruce and Liz McAlister, set to go a-flyering on Bruce's scooter.
The Walk support van, with Maka the dolphin on top, in front of BIW. Looking between the two buildings, you can see two of BIW's products; Navy Aegis destroyers. And that is what they are...DESTROYERS, in the truest sense of the word.
Another good friend...Joyakgol, who came over from Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea to join the Walk. Joyakgol came in part to share his first hand experience of the ongoing struggle of the people of Gangjeong to resist militarism (see http://savejejunow.org/) which is having such a negative impact on the village, the region, and the world. Gangjeong is now the site of a navy base (built to US Navy specs), where US Navy warships, some of which were built at BIW, now port. The villagers and their supporters have been non-violently resisting the construction, and now the operation, of this base for over ten years now, in a truly heroic struggle. Joyakgol also shares with me a passion for protecting our oceans and the whales and dolphins, and has an organization named Hot Pink Dolphins, which does great work! Go Joyakgol!
One of the high points of the Walk for me was the gorgeous blue-skied day we walked from Bath to Brunswick, along the way vigiling outside two other BIW facilities. Here, 80 year old John runs up and down the line of Walkers carrying the Veterans For Peace flag, while we all cheer him on, a custom that Joyakgol shared with us all that is done by the peace walkers on Jeju Island in their annual Grand March For Life and Peace. Go John!
Well, its that time of year again...Time to start preparing art for the Maine Peace Walk, which begins October 13th and runs through to the 21st. I volunteered to again paint a 6 x 8 foot banner for the walk which will be hung on the side of the walk support van. The theme (and title) of this year's walk is: Maine Peace Walk for Conversion, Community, and Climate. This year's walk will be a little different from past Peace Walks, as instead of walking from Point A to Point B, we will be staying (and doing a lot of walking) around Bath, Maine. Why? Because Bath is home to General Dynamic's Bath Iron Works (BIW), makers of weapons of mass destruction for the US Navy.
Here is BIW as seen from the bridge as one crosses over the Kennebec River into Bath on Rt. 1. You can see a Zumwalt, a new class of Navy stealth destroyer, being worked on to the left, and a more conventional Aegis destroyer on the right.
Here you see a closer view of the Zumwalt destroyer. With development costs factored in, each Zumwalt costs around 7 Billion (thats right) dollar$.
And the Zumwalt's intended use as envisioned by an illustrator....War-making. But like the Aegis destroyer, its victims will by no means be limited to human beings...
Whales, dolphins, and other ocean life are also paying for the US and other government's militarism, sometimes with their lives. The photo above was taken of a mass stranding caused by naval sonar in Crete of at least 6 beaked whales following the Nato exercise Operation Noble Dina 2014, involving the Israeli, Greek, and US navies.
Right now, Bath, like so many other communities across the US, is dependent on military production for endless war. In fact, America's #1 industrial export is weapons. Instead of producing war ships for ever more wars which threaten the continued existence of most of life on this planet, the people of Maine could instead create life-affirming products such as public transportation systems and environmentally responsible renewable energy systems. Studies show that conversion to this kind of production would create more skilled jobs than does war production. It would be good for our communities (human and non-human alike), and good for the climate (The US military having the world's largest carbon bootprint on the planet)...In short, it would be good for us all! I hope that my drawing above gets these ideas across...it will be printed on this year's Walk sweatshirts. But back to the banner....
A color sketch I did for the banner design. Similar to the sweatshirt design, but horizontally oriented.
The paint mixing bench...
And a view of the painting in progress.The bright yellow color will work well as a background for the text, as it will make the words stand out clearly...
But I really chose that color in honor of the people of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea, and their supporters, who have been daily resisting for over 10 years now, the construction and operation of a navy base built to US Navy specs, at which US warships have, and will continue to be ported, including the USS Dewey pictured above, and built right here at BIW in Bath, Maine! As you can see in the photos above, bright yellow is the color of the many flags, banners, and shirts used by the people in Gangjeong in their resistance to that base, and militarism in general. So, I use it in this banner in honor of them, and in gratitude for the inspiration they have given me and so many others.
A closer view of the destroyer....And now, seeing as I have a ways to go to complete this banner, I had better get back into the studio and get on with the painting! More on the banner later...
It has been a while since I last posted here. That is largely due to my computer having died right after I last posted. I will spare you the details of the computer saga...But finally, now we have a replacement up and running. Some of what I was doing this last month (besides nashing my teeth and pulling my hair over computer stuff) was working on some terracotta maquettes for possible future wood carved reliefs. Not having done very many relief carvings, I realized it would be helpful to do the maquettes so as to give me a better idea of how to place the forms at the proper depth. Of course with clay, one can take away, and add back on. Not so with wood. The clay is still drying. After it is dry, I'll fire them, and eventually paint them in casein paint.
I think that I will probably work from this maquette for my next carving.I love clay, but it will be good to get back to the wood too!