Monday, January 31, 2011

To Change the World...

   Not including Penicillin, can you name Two things that changed the world?  There are probably a lot of them but these two are fun, and I think maybe had an effect of the most people.  In a way, with a little stretch anyway, these are both related to art. Well, if Formica and yellow arches can be considered art.
   Can you even imagine a world without McDonald's?  They have taken cuisine art, made it bland and standardized it to mush.  It wasn't easy and they revolutionized economics, gave us "Happy Meals",  taught the world to smile and even introduced ketsup as a vegetable.  They created a huge industry the likes of which had never been seen.  They taught farmers how to grow potatoes and built canneries to process them.
They created paper mills and plastic processing plants all over the world to supply them with napkins, plastic forks and stirring sticks. They introduced pickles to areas of the world that had never seen a cucumber.
In some countries they created schools, teaching their employees how to smile and be polite.  The biggest McDonald's in the world is in Moscow, Russia.  After you have had a "Big Mac", the Berlin Wall can't even contain you.
     Pepsi followed and then Coke and now even Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Pizza chains.  You can even get a bad Pizza in Italy now where Pizza was invented but never standardized and mass produced. It is the "American Dream" gone amok and people all over the world have tasted it.  Bitten from this apple.
     The revolts and street protests in Egypt and other parts of the world are about this very thing.  It is not about Democracy.  No one is protesting to read Jefferson or Adams or John Stuart Mill or anyone.  They want stuff.  They want it "supersized" and they want it now.  I am not sure it can be prevented.  Revolutions always occur when things are getting better.
    There are no secrets anymore.  The Internet ended that.  Everyone knows everything, everywhere, all the time.  In the thickest Jungles of Africa they know we have flat screens.
     Before the Internet we had the Beatles and that "British Invasion"  which conquered the world in song and music.  They were spreading ideas! and changed the world in the process. 
     What else has changed the world? for better or worse?
My Other Blog is Here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Consumers Have Power!

     You don't need a Government Decree to change the world.  You don't need protective tariffs and restrictions on imports to preserve local jobs.  You can do it yourself.  You only have to discover this power that you already have.  Like any good argument, there are two positions to this story and you can choose which side you wish to be on. 
    One side is production, the manufacturing side, which is after cheap at any cost.  This side is in competition with China and basically states that we have to lower our wages, lower our standards to attempt to make what they make at competitive pricing.  This is the side of advertisers that tell us what we need. It is no mystery why we see the same white (I think they come in green now too) vinyl lawn chairs all over the world, even into the far reaches of Africa and the Outback of Australia, your own country, in your city, maybe your backyard.  We have been convinced these are good, easy to clean becomes a world-wide virtue and they are cheap.  Without making a thousand page list I want to make it clear that it is advertising and mass production that is dictating our desires.  It is the Mall.  I refuse to believe that we have 10,000 years of Human History for the soul purpose of acquiring the same plastic stuff.
     I think back in American History and the trickery we did with the Indians, trading plastic beads for beaver pelts.  I remember not that many years ago that antique dealers would traverse the world, trading "Tupperware" for copper bowls.  These copper bowls are now found in our antique shops and the Tupperware is long gone.  We are tricked into buying things we don't need and things that won't last.
    None of this is cheaper and all comes with a price.  Trees are cut down for packaging, oil is fought over to provide the fuel for distribution, our environment is being trashed and we are losing local employment.
     Consumers have power too and this is the other argument.  We don't have to continue into this destructive abyss where we have found ourselves.  We have power and we don't need the government to protect us. Just don't do it.  Here is my challenge to people in Bloggerville:
    A One Week Challenge to discover your power.  It makes no difference where you live and what country you are from.  For one week don't buy anything imported from anywhere.  For one week don't buy any genetically modified food, don't buy milk with Bht given to the cows.  Buy from local farmer's markets. For the artists out there, don't buy paint, brushes or papers that are imported.  Don't buy junk. Other than food, if it won't last at least a year, don't buy it at all.
     You all know how LOCAL money works, don't you?  You give the local mechanic $100 to fix you car.
He gives that same hundred dollars to his doctor for his check-up, who in turn gives it to the carpenter for repairs on his house.  The carpenter then gives it to the local farmer for meat and vegetables, who then gives it to his feed supplier for grain for his animals. and so on and so on.  Once you pass that money out of town it is gone forever.
My Other Blog is Here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Billions and the National Debt!

     Yesterday I was talking (off the top of my head) about personal economics and was referring to hundreds and thousands of dollars.  That is "chump change" (what you pay a boxer to lose a fight on purpose); the real issue is in Millions and Billions of Dollars.  Can you count that high?  Personally I think it is pretty exciting when someone can earn this kind of money and I would like to think they worked really, really hard for it.  If I just weren't so lazy, then maybe I could get into this part of the American Dream too!  Maybe if I slept less and got another job?  Or went back to school and learned something useful?  I realize that a million bucks isn't what it used to be.  It is, after all, only $500 per hour!  Some CEO of Google just received $100,Million dollar bonus for this past year.  It was a good year for him and I am sure he worked extra hard.
That would be $50,000 dollars per hour!  Doesn't sound like a lot when put that way.  I saw on the news last night that a Wall Street Banker made FIVE BILLION DOLLARS last year, a huge improvement from last year when he only made $4,000,000,000 Dollars.  Five billion would be about $125,000 PER HOUR, maybe anyway, I get lost in the zero's.
     It takes 100 thousand people, each earning $50,000 a year to make Five Billion, that is a whole city full of people each making pretty good money.
     The difference in Tax Revenue is pretty big.  This "city worker" would be taxed at about 35% and to that you would have to include his Social Security Tax, his share and his employers shared being about 15%.That would be about (this math is killing me!) 650 MILLION DOLLARS!!! for the City Workers.  The guy who made five billion paid NOTHING!!! and he didn't pay 35% either, only 15%
     I think making Millions and Billions, maybe even a Gazillion Dollars would be pretty cool. This is America, right?  and if you can figure out how to do this without going to jail, well then more power to you!
But I am in favor of the same tax rate for everyone for everything.  This is no kind of punishment or a tax on the wealthy.  I am sure they have expenses, legitimate reasons for their deductions.  I am only saying that if they were taxed at the same rate as everyone else then we wouldn't have a National Debt and the Social Security Fund would have a surplus.
    In order to reduce the National Debt you only have two choices: Reduce Spending or Increase Taxes.
The Wars are our biggest expenditures and if you add to that the cost of taking care of our men and women in uniform who return broken and in pain, you are talking trillions of dollars there.  Taxes are simple and you can get this money from wherever you want to.  We could tax bread so even the poorest of the poor would have to pay. Or, we could make taxes more equal, say, after the first $30,000 everyone would pay the same percentage on everything. Or, we could admit that it is only in our society where we have a certain reverence for greed and wealth, that it is even possible to make FIVE BILLION in ONE YEAR, and just bump these people a little tiny bit, say a 2% extra for wealth tax.  Then the country would have a surplus.
    We live in a Democracy and these issues are up for voting all the time. The Social Security Tax applies to the fist $116,000 of earned income, that means wages.  The guy who made $5,000,000,000 paid NOTHING because his money came from "Capital Gains".  The google guy who only made $100,000,000
paid NOTHING for the same reason.  Their tax rate is 15% and our tax rate is 35%.
    The National Debt has to be paid down or China will own us, it is that simple.  All of this is simple math.
The guy at the corner store buying his dinner with food stamps or who is on public assistance is the "chump change" to all of this.  He is irritating because we work so hard and maybe he doesn't, but he is a diversion and represents pennies to this problem.  We see him every day and it is a thorn in our side but he is not the issue.  On a pie chart he is not even a slice.  The biggest piece of this pie is the servicing of our National Debt, like making minimum payments on a Visa card, it just gets bigger and bigger.
Here is my Other Blog

Friday, January 28, 2011


     What is Rich anyway?  How much money would you need to consider yourself rich?  The town next to me is considering an income tax to help support the local schools.  The first $50,000 is exempt and then the tax kicks in.  Some are saying this is a tax on the rich but their first $50,000 isn't taxed either.  If the schools need money where are you supposed to get it from?
    Our President wanted to increase taxes on those who made OVER $200,000!!! Not the first $200,000 they made but on money over that amount!  I can't even imagine money like that and in my wildest dreams I could never spend it.
    I can reminisce and tell you of a time when I was at my wealthiest.  This goes back to the days when the dollar was actually worth something and just a different math to the economics of living entirely.
    It used to be, previous to 1980, that one could buy a house for 25% of his wages.  It was always the same 25%, the only difference was if you made a lot of money you could afford a nicer, bigger house.
I was working at the local cannery, a seasonal job at that, processing carrots and beets and corn from the local farmers.  I made $2.00 an hour in those days, which was considered average for a not too spectacular job.  I bought my house then, a not too spectacular 900 square foot house on a large lot in the middle of town.  I paid $8,375 for it.  My down payment was $1,500 and the monthly payments were about $85 per month.  My utility bill was about $25 per month.  With overtime and long hours I made about $100 per week.
     In those days, my wife worked at the cannery also, we could work a season, about five or six months and saving our money like fanatics, we could go to Europe and live for three months there. When I wasn't traveling I would be at the University and that would cost $97 for a term. Or you could buy a brand new car for $2,500 dollars, about half a years wages for an average not too spectacular job.
    Those were the days when there was no excuse.  If you had just an average run of the mill job, you could do anything you wanted to:  buy a house, buy a new car, travel the world.  All of that is impossible now, at least impossible with an average job.
    My house now I couldn't afford.  Even in this slumped economy it would sell for about $250,000!!!!!!!
and after a hefty down payment would cost about $1,500 a month with utilities adding another $200. If the math had stayed the same and we were still talking about that 25% of income for a house, you would then need a job that paid $6,000 a month!!! That would be about $38 per hour!!! Travel would be about impossible and a new car pretty much out of the question.
     That's my story for today.  We have created a bleak world of slavery and insanity.
My Other Blog is Here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I am on a Roll...

     I went eight months without working in my shop, part of the fun bi-product of cancer, and part due to this lousy economy.  I have been busy this past two weeks and completed two nice jobs which are now at the powder coater getting painted "silver vein", a black and silver combination.  They will be gorgeous.  Iron work is traditionally black because for thousands of years it was made on a forge and touched with beeswax to inhibit rust.  That process always turned it black and the color just became traditional.  For outside work I still prefer the traditional black.  It just seems right that way and it is an easy color to touch up when the inevitable rust does appear.  And it will.  It is one of the very few quotes from the Bible that I know.  If a customer asks me if it will rust I always guarantee them it will, says so in the Bible!  I think part of the charm of very old ironwork are the layers upon layers of paint.
     Inside work is a little different.  These pieces are not exposed to the weather and not subject to rust.  There are about a thousand colors to choose from and over the years I think I have used them all.  Silver vein and copper vein are probably my favorite but I have done them in bright red and every primary color.
White is my least favorite because it never stays that way and shows every speck of dirt.
     Nothing is perfect but powder coating is pretty close.  Think of the paint job on your car or a brand new bicycle.  In fact it was a bicycle racer who invented powder coating.  He wanted that smoothest, no friction ride as was possible.  Powder coating is just that, a powdered paint is sprayed over the surface and then the piece is put into an oven and the paint melts evenly and into every crack and hole.  It always comes out beautiful.
     My next job which I will begin today, is an arbor, and it will be in rust.  I like the natural just plain rust surface too.  It is flawless to begin with and never needs maintenance.  My arbors are strong, not like the imports that come in a cardboard box that won't even support themselves let alone a vine.  Each side is "L" shaped and has 3 legs which are set in concrete.  The roof varies depending on the setting, but a steep gabled Victorian is my favorite.
     Three jobs, one right after the other, makes me so happy but I don't think it is a sign that the economy is turning around.  I could wait weeks or months for the phone to ring with that next job.  I will build up my Spring inventory during this time and get ready for the garden art shows.
 One of my arbors in rust.
My work can be seen Here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Socialist Approach

What the heck is this anyway?  I mean in America, land of the free.  I am not a socialist, let me be clear about that.  I am way too much in favor of descent, have often mentioned here that I wouldn't join a group that had such low standards as to accept me in their membership.  I like a thousand ideas on the table and after sifting through them I make up my own mind.  I think all ideas need to be expressed without labels which only raise the hairs and befuddle the issues at hand.
     Historically a government has two main jobs and in our country it has further tasks that we give it. These jobs are to protect us and to redistribute the wealth.  That's right.  That is why we have commerce laws and taxes and certain rules and regulations.  You can't rob a bank; you have to actually get a job and earn your money.  That's the law. In a real socialist society the "people" might actually rob this bank.  It has happened and it just never seems to work.  We are really robbing this bank right now, stealing from future depositors, our very children.  Our National Debt has grown to over $40,000 for each man, woman and child living in the United States.   If you want true freedom and responsibility this debt could be transferred to each of us personally, just added to our Visa cards!
   I fear the word, socialism, we all do and that is why it is used.  We imagine it with a police state and Stalinist tactics of oppression.  But let me tell you things we have now and see how you feel about them.
Economic Socialism is nothing but shared responsibility.  We share the benefits and we share the risks.
Have you been in a store recently where the employees are wearing badges that say something to the effect:
"I am an owner of this employee owned store"?  We have grocery stores, hardware stores and even variety stores in my town where they wear these badges.  That is socialism.
    If you don't use that emotional word and just think about the shared responsibility around you, you will see we have socialism everywhere.  Unemployment, Food cards, and any public assistance is a method of redistributing the wealth.  It is nice to think we do this from the kindness of our hearts, that it is the right thing to do when someone is down on their luck.  Historically that is garbage.  We do it to prevent riots,  as an alternative to robbing banks. Go back to the Great Depression in the twenties when we didn't have these "safety nets" and read what happened, or in the 1890's when cities were burnt to the ground.  Desperate people do desperate things.
    We have National Health Care, and a lot of it, just not everyone.  Our military has it with the Veteran's
Administration.  It is not self supporting, it is funded by taxes.  We pay for it.  Personally I think we do it out of guilt for what we have asked our servicemen and women to do in our name.  And, if you can make it to 65 in one piece we have Medicare and once there, probably the best system of Health Care in the World.
That is Socialism.
     Libraries are socialist.  We can't even imagine a time when if you wanted to read a book you had to buy it, but it used to be that way, before, as a society, we valued reading.  Our system of medical care has very little to do with capitalism and free enterprise. I think, however this idea should be included for discussion!
You can't just build a hospital or set up an MRI in a corner store and go into business for yourself.  We have laws to prevent that.  We have a lot of laws to prevent free competition in the medical business.  Pharmacies are heavily subsidized.  Most of the research money is generated from taxes, the government, us. We pay for it.
     I am not saying any of this is good or bad.  I am only saying it should be discussed, put on the table without emotional labels, no one wearing any political hats, and see what the ideas are, see if we can come to a kind of agreement.  Besides a particular vocabulary, what makes this very difficult is it is all expensive.
Nothing is free.  I don't need any kind of National Health at all, in any form.  I had (past tense, thank you!)
Cancer and it cost $130,000 to cure me and all but $1,000 was covered by insurance.  I have a "Cadillac"
policy, which means, basically, someone else paid for it.
    Some of these issues should be really easy to discuss.  Would National Health be less expensive? That is just math and someone should be able to explain this to us.  Why are we paying, as an average, $7,000 per year for medical costs and other countries pay half of this and live longer? and there are a lot of other real questions and concerns we have that, maybe, without emotional catch phrases we could get to the bottom.
In California some insurance companies raised their premiums by 50% just last month!  Businesses can't afford this; we can't afford this.  How much worse does it have to get before we are willing to make changes?
     One other issue makes this complicated.  Do we vote for ourselves or do we vote for our children?
I wouldn't mind a true Capitalist System.  Pay for it or die.  I would live.  I have been a businessman all my life and I have and pay for good insurance.  What happens more often than you would like to think is a guy has a good job with good insurance and he gets cancer.  Halfway through his treatment he is too sick to work and loses his job...And his insurance.  Happens all the time.  Maybe this is an opportunity to discuss  what kind of society do we want to live in?  Could we dare to not just think about our personal selves?
     I refuse to believe that this is not a discussable issue. There is an Art to discussion, we just have to find it.
My Other Blog is Here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ideals and other silly thoughts...

    Sargent Shriver died last week.  He was the main person behind the Peace Corps which to me represented the Best of the 1960's.  We still had idealism in those days, a pride of Country, alternative to the war in Vietnam, a belief that we could get things accomplished.  Heck, we could go to the Moon if we wanted to, and we did!  I was in High School when Kennedy became President and remember his words so well: "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".  I was in High School when he was shot. And in quick succession, Bobbie and Martin and others.  Like single sniper shots killing a dream, we lost our innocence when we awoke.
    I am a "Baby Boomer", born in 1946 after the last great War, I am at the head of the line. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and I am left with how easily sidetracked we became.  Why did we derail?  Why did we derail so easily?  What happened to our dream?  What entered in our sleep to make it all become a nightmare?  The Wars are nuts and a farse and a lie.  We are not being told the truth about anything.  It is no big deal to fine British Petroleum billions of dollars for their oil spill. We pay for it.  They just add it to the price of a gallon of gas.  We rape and pillage the environment.  We destroy our home, this very planet we live on.  And everyone is lieing to us all the time about everything.
    Republicans and Democrats are both guilty of this.  The "Glen Beck's" of television want to rile us. We have no leaders to take us out of this mess.  It has become every man for himself on a sinking ship. And it seems as though we don't even give a rip!  We just carry on and hope that tomorrow will be better without a clear definition of what "better" means.  We don't really seek to understand anything.  We dig in and form our opinions based on, I don't know what, emotions?
     National Health is one of these emotional issues with "death panels" and such nonsense.  What would happen if we just didn't do it?  You could get really radical and repeal all National Health, not just "Obama Care" but ALL of it..  I say this because we already have National Care for millions of us, just not everyone.
Our Health Care for Veterans is National Care and so it Medicare and Medicaid.  Sometimes you hear about how bad our system is but did you know that for those of us over 65 years old, when we can get on Medicare, we have the Best National Health Care in the world?  It is true.  If you can make it to 65 you will live longer and healthier and be taken better care of than anyone in the world.  Where we fail, and there are 35 countries that do better than us is for everyone under 65.  You are more likely to die, more likely to be not treated, and more likely to go bankrupt.  We have the highest rate of infant mortality in the industrialized world! We pay more too, a lot more and get a lot less.
     Twenty-five Million Americans are losing their insurance every single day.  Those that have it can't afford it.  Business can't afford it anymore.  In California the rate recently went up over 50%!  People are dropping out.  There is no mystery about the economics of this, it is not a secret.  The more people who participate the less expensive it becomes and every time someone drops out the price goes up.  What do you want to do?
     If you have work, a good job with benefits, it is easy to develop an "I'm all right Jack" kind of attitude.
Until you lose your job, are made redundant (I Love that word~Useless, right?) or your company reduces or eliminates the insurance part of your benefits.  Happens all the time.  What is the solution to this problem?  Could we really sit at a table and discuss this?  Without calling each other names?
    I think in order to do this you must first identify the problems and admit that what we have now doesn't work and is becoming more and more expensive by the day.  It IS a crazy system.  It doesn't really cost $5,000 a night to stay in a hospital but that is what you will pay.  You are paying for empty beds and for those that can't pay.  Think if a Hotel operated this way?  If the hotel were almost full and everyone was paying your room might cost a hundred bucks.  If people skipped out or the hotel was empty you would pay a lot more.  That's almost, almost, god forbid, Communism!  The way we do it NOW!  We are paying for something we don't use; we are paying for
     If I were in charge of this discussion I would put all offers on the table, including the option of scraping Insurance altogether, make it illegal!  Wow, what would happen?  Maybe you would only pay for what you used?  Maybe a lot less paperwork, maybe a lot more competitive?  I am just talking here, but what would happen if medical school were free? Well, sort of free.  Free in return for a couple years of community service?
     Perhaps a more realistic option might be, what would happen if we snuck it in?  Just slowly increased the circle of those who are covered?  How about including Peace Corps Volunteers and others who have served America into the Veteran's programs?  What would happen if Medicare became available to those from 62 years old. and later, maybe 60? and children to 10 years or 12?  The biggest problem is the notion that some deserve Health Care and some do not.
    Believe it or not this is the effect of our Christian Heritage.  Some are deserving and others are farther away from God.  Deep down inside we believe they get what they deserve. It is only now that we realize that it is us who is paying the bill and we can no longer afford it.  What would happen if we just dumped them?
We could put that on the table.  To each his own.  Create a slum on the outskirts of the city for the poor, the degenerate and the sick.  Funny, how that just slips off the tongue isn't it?  "Poor, degenerate, the sick" like leper colonies of the past.
    Maybe the bottom line will be math and we will put all the ideas on the table that will offer better and less expensive treatment.  Nah, that might be too reasonable.  Got any ideas?
My Other Blog is Here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Greenhouse

     February is almost here and in the Pacific Northwest it will be time to plant peas!  Many people plant them too late and complain when they quit growing at the first hint of hot weather.  I plant snow peas, the edible pea pod type found in Chinese food.  I am too lazy to shuck peas.  Peas are planted directly outside and don't require much soil preparation.  You can poke a hole in the ground and plant them in the mud.  They add nitrogen to the soil and are finished by the time tomatoes are ready for planting, so you can get two crops in one space.
 Polycarbonate windows and slate over plywood walls
     Gardening is my favorite art form, more than painting and working with steel.  I start all of my own plants from seed in my greenhouse beginning April 1st. with lots of flowers and my almost famous tomato plants.  My greenhouse is almost forty years old and I will tell you about it today.
 I always leave one tomato plant to grow in the greenhouse.
It is about 12 feet long and 8 feet wide and built to retain heat.  It is on a 6" thick concrete slab with the first three feet built of concrete blocks and painted black on the inside. It is built like a house with 2 x 4 framing, insulated walls and plywood paneling painted white on the inside to reflect the light. Originally I had redwood planting benches but they have long since rotted away and a few years ago I replace them with a continuous, poured in place steel framed concrete benches covered in tile.  Not only will these never disappear on me, they are easy to clean and retain their own heat.  In the coldest months I can heat this space with a little 60 watt (think one light bulb) heater placed under the concrete bench.  The heat radiates throughout the bench and warms the entire greenhouse.  It really only comes on at night, two minutes of sunlight and the greenhouse is very warm.  There is a large attic fan in the far gable of the roof, set to automatically turn on when it becomes 90 degrees f. This is essential in a greenhouse as two hours of winter sun will make it very hot in there.  I also have a tiny fan, just enough for a little air circulation, that I leave on 24 hours a day.  This prevents "damp-off" disease, the curse of any greenhouse.
   It is a great place to hang out on nasty rainy days of early Spring and that is usually where I am. Tomatoes love to be transplanted, always deeper each time and I will do this three times before they are ready for the garden.  I have had as many as 150 plants in this space and I only keep about 20 for my garden and give the rest away to worthy homes.
More of my Garden is HERE.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby you can drive my car!

      My wife drives a 1988 Mercedes Benz.  I don't know the make or model, it is sort of black with tan leather interior.  It replaced the 1978 Toyota Station Wagon she drove for over 25 years.  The Toyota (we don't name our cars) was pretty reliable and always took us wherever we wanted to go.  We have hauled hay in it, took the chickens to the vet in it, my daughters to soccor practice and an occasional movie and a date.  It was an accident finding the Mercedes, I wasn't even looking for a "new" car.  It was in the parking lot of the business where I get my metal work painted with a "for sale" sign in the window.  I didn't even notice it.
    Most Americans love their cars, tend them carefully, wash them often, drive them for show, park them in heated garages, and treat them better than their lovers.  I don't even know one car from another.  I would be a horrible witness at a bank robbery, couldn't describe the getaway car at all.  I don't know one year or model from the next.  The truth is I don't even see them.  I can drive down the street and you could quiz me about any iron work or art or construction sites I might have passed but don't ask me about the cars.  I just wouldn't know.
    What I expect from a car is that it will start, start every single time and get me to where I want to go.  I want that and I don't want to be a slave to it.  The continuous insurance payments are bad enough, I don't want the car payments also.  That is slavery to me, indentured servitude, a promise of my future labor far into the future.  I like working because I want to, not because I have to.
     I was with a friend and he saw the Mercedes, black with tan leather interior.  It had 67,000 miles on it.
When  it was new it cost $75,000.  I can't even imagine that.  For a car?  People  drive these fancy cars for show, a sign of accomplishment, sign of success. Maybe it is, for that twenty minute ride they want to be really comfortable.  It is a pretty incredible car I ended up buying it, just like that, on the spur of the moment, no test drive or anything. $5,000 bucks!
    I have decided that cars are not an extension of one's personality but a chance to isolate yourself from the world, from everything else, and maybe even from yourself.  This car is a dream.  It is more comfortable than my bed and far more powerful than any shop equipment I own.  Power and comfort and hundreds of conveniences for that twenty minute ride.  It will easily go 100 miles per hour and it seems like forty  The seats are heated, can you imagine that? and adjustable with a toggle switch, it is like an airplane.  They go up and down and back and forth and angles I have not discovered.  The headlights have their own windshield wipers! and the outside mirrors are heated and it has environmental controls, each seating area with its own heating and cooling!  The radio is some kind of surround sound, I thought I was in the very center of the orchestra. There are a lot of knobs and buttons I haven't tried yet.
     It is a little extravagant and embarrassing and when people see it I am always explaining that I bought it for $5,000.  I thought I would tell you too.
My Website, what I do, is Here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Art in Steel

I don't work off of Blueprints and don't consider myself a fabricator.  I don't work on cars and have never made a trailer.  I learned about design in Ornamental decorative iron work from reading books.  I learned to weld by just doing in, trial and error until I got good at it.  Iron work has its own "Art History" and it is pretty interesting.
    It began as a secretive trade, part of the metallurgy turning lead into gold type of work.  It became a criminal offence to share the secretes of this trade.  No jail in those days, you died.  They were pretty serious.  I think it was like an electricians' union.  You convince people it is difficult and they won't try it and you can charge more money.  In the Middle Ages every little city had an iron worker.  That is how you got the shoes for your horse.  It was the guy who made your sword and the source for the gates around your estate.  These were individual artists, each developing their own methods and artistic flair. The designs were not just pretty elements added to the iron work.  They were an integral part of its strength.  Today we remove the design, take the art out of it and add cross bars to attempt this strength.
   It wasn't until the seventeenth century that Architects attempted to take over the business of iron work.  Yes, they had problems with city planers in those days too.  They lost a lot of their individual styles, what a particular iron forger might dream up, as architects and city planers took over the trade.  This remained that way until the early part of the Twentieth Century when Art Deco and Art Nouveau rebelled against this situation and once again new forms of this very old trade emerged.
     Today it seems we are back to the city planers and what I would find in my city, you will find in yours.  It is pretty much the same now all over the world, people building the same stuff.  Mass importation and cheap foreign products have encouraged this sameness.  That Cosco Arbor is everywhere, in backyards all over the world right next to the white plastic lawnchair.  Pretty amazing, really!
   I can't get excited about building stuff like that.  I can't draw worth a damn although I can make a sketch and always tell my clients that it will look "something like the drawing".  I promise them code compliance and it will be strong, on time and on budget, but I need license to work.
    I start the project at night as I get ready for bed.  I put myself there.  Seriously, I am at the top of the stairs
or wherever the job may be, and I just have a good old look around.  I don't do the measurements in my sleep but I do dream about it, placing bits of steel here and there and maybe twisting them to see what they may look like, just collecting ideas.  Sometimes I can do this in one night and sometimes it could take a week.  I know when it is done and I wake up and I am full of energy and I have already built it.
    I don't weld on a table, hunched over the piece like most fabricators.  I have a steel wall in my shop, a vertical wall and my work hangs there as if a painting on an easel.  I add bits and pieces and stand back and look at it, see what it needs to be.  There are no drawings, no blueprints, the only confinement is a measurement.  It has to fit.

More of my work is HERE.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Thought Towards Reading...

It has been a long time since I was a school teacher and I am wondering how it is done now?  My whole life has been in teaching, I know that now.  I taught High School for only one year and then move down a bit to Junior High School where I taught for only two years.  In 1979 the Recession of the '80's was upon us and I was laid off with 30 other teachers so that part of it was a short lived career.  I found other work, I've told that story, and always had people working for me.  It is the same relationship: teacher-student or boss and employee.  If you want someone to do something you have to show them how.  There is no penalty for a teacher when they give a "C" Grade and some would even grade on a curve: 5 "A's" and 5 "F's" and a bunch of "C's" in the middle. I never did that as a teacher and would have gone out of business if I ran my company that way.  I wanted all my employees to be their best and did everything I could to make sure this happened.
As a teacher I always considered it my failure if I gave a "C" grade.  Why couldn't I reach that kid anyway?
What should I have done that I didn't?
       I suspect that reading is even less important now than it was then.  Junior High School teaching is a bit different than any other level.  Kids are bouncing around all over the place.  There is a lot of energy and hormones are in a race with brain cells for supremacy.  They know just enough to get themselves in trouble and lack the experience to know it.  Most kids don't read because their parents don't read.  It is that simple.
They have no concept of reading as pleasure.  I could spot the students within fifteen minutes who grew up in a house without books.  They have a different language and can't see as far.
     This situation is getting worse, not better at all.  There is no improvement.  We don't even enjoy a newspaper anymore and they are going out of business or getting smaller, dumbing down the articles.
We lose the ability to read, to think critically, to analyze, to synthesize, to write a report, form an opinion,
to even enjoy the experience.  You can actually get IN a book become a part of whatever is happening.  The process will expand your vocabulary, tangle your synopses, enlarge your imagination, tickle your funny bone and lift your horizon.  Television puts you in the audience, not on the stage, and it is not the same thing at all.
     You can visit me Here

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Banned from Facebook! Yes, really...

  I have been kicked out of the village, ostracized, left to wander on my own without support from family and friends. I don't even know why.  No one had the courage to face me or stare me down or point out my transgressions.
I was just "Blocked", just like that, as easy as the click of a mouse!  I am forbidden to post on my very own Wall.  I am first curious as to how they did this?  Truthfully, I don't really know much about facebook but I am looking forward to seeing the movie.  I joined it by accident a couple of years ago.  I think it was one of those situations where you can't get off the page. "Click Yes to continue or Cancel to stay on this page"  Yeah, right I speak American English and this meant nothing to me!  I once got so frustrated I unplugged the computer and it took me three days to figure out where all the wires were supposed to attach!
Anyway, I signed up and never knew I had so many friends!  It is a bit like that deep fear we all have about winning the lottery.  You know, friends and relatives that you have never met coming out of the woodwork?
Always I would get this message, someone knows someone who knows someone who knows you who wants to be your friend!  I'm thinking, gosh, maybe I do know them!  Maybe I went to school with them, or god forbid, maybe a lost lover and in some kind of madness I forgot her name?  How embarrassing! Another human being reaching out to me, for friendship even!  It would be rude to reject them.  So I would happily click away and I got more friends than I could count!  How cool is that?  I am very popular!
     Now, of course I am thinking someone Blocked me.  On my very own "Wall", that sacred place that was supposed to be mine!  Well, mine and my friends, that is where we hang out, right?  Is this a "Judas" thing?
Et tu Brute?  Have I been betrayed?  I do know secrets.  I admit I know secrets.  It is not necessary to torture me to find them. You don't need to water board me or break my fingers.  I am a marshmallow and can't stand pain.  I will tell you everything I know!  Maybe they know this about me and are preventing me from saying something?  If I only knew what I would make it a headline, spill my guts and get it over with.
But I wouldn't know where to begin. I know too many secrets!  What friend do I have that wants to quiet me?
    I wonder who else has been blocked by facebook?  Maybe we could start our own little community?
They have low standards anyway and I wonder what the heck I could have done to be lower than the lowest?  I get naked pictures from Susan who wants to be my special friend.  That's pretty flattering! She likes me!  She said she did.  And I get a bevy of "Hot Russian Babes"!  They are so pretty and they all want my phone number!  They want to be my friends!  And the friendly Viagra salesman is always friending me!
And offering me free samples in brown plain envelopes so the neighbor's won't know!  It is kind of him and certainly understanding except, maybe, my neighbors might be my friends also?  And I am rich beyond belief,
beyond my wildest dreams!  Yes, it's true and all because of facebook!  I have found lost relatives, in Nigeria of all places!  I never even knew that so long ago my dear sweet relatives were Christian Ministers (it must have been my mother's side of the family) and a King, a real King of Nigeria was so grateful for his salvation that he bequeathed his King's ransom, everything he had, to my long lost cousin!  I am not sure why they didn't track down my brother.  I get it all.  Oh, I am so grateful, I hate to be leaving facebook.
     But leave it I must.  Someone doesn't like me.  It could be my art.  I like to think that I am on the "cutting edge", really on to something, the next great best thing ever!  But I doubt it.  I have actually had other metal artists sneak around my studio to see what I am doing and how I might be doing it.  They find my work at galleries and shops around town and copy it.  If they would stop to say hello I would tell them everything, show them everything and teach them how to do it.  I have no secrets there.  At best you can copy what I did last week.  I don't even know what I will build next week. That is still deep in the recesses of my brain.
     It could be my cancer thing on my other blog?  I hate cancer and give it no respect, no energy, no preoccupation in my brain, nothing.  Maybe that is it?
     The point is I have discovered that it is not my facebook.  For some strange reason I thought it to be a friendly, not too serious site, where I might post what I ate for breakfast or how the weather is doing, and I admit when I blogged I would post that on my wall. Well, what I thought was my wall.  Now someone has blocked this; I can't do it any more.  So I quit.  My other, also banned Blog is Here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When we were very young...

     When I say that I would return to my youth in a heartbeat, well, I think that I should explain that a bit more.  I was not a girl chaser so it was not that.  I have always thought that it is more significant to make love a thousand times to one woman than a thousand women once.  It is not the carefree lazy days I miss.  I am retired and I have too many of those now.
     I miss the strength of my youth.  When I built my house I was working at the local cannery, the night shift,
twelves hours at a time.  I did that and built my house!  My last term in college I took 27 credit hours, that is like two full student's full of work AND I did those same hours at the cannery.  I got all "A's" and one "B"!
Oh I wasn't that smart.  By then I had realized that the professor's didn't really want you to learn anything, certainly not enough to get sidetracked on any issue.  I knew they just wanted me to spit it back at them and that is what I did.  There have been classes where I got "C's" where I had learned far more.  By my last term in college I just wanted to finish so I just did what was expected and got better grades for it.
     When I was young I could lift huge beams, just put them on my shoulder and walk up the ladder.  I have no strength like that now.  The strength of youth is replaced by wisdom but I am not sure it is a fair trade.
Wisdom comes with caution and a particular loss of adventure.  The horizon of life should be huge in your youth.  I have travelled a thousand miles with two dollars in my pocket.  I would go to Europe on a whim and like a rich man, stay for six months at a time.  No agenda, no itinerary, just an amble, pausing as I liked.
This is the little MG I crashed! I told that story yesterday.
    I was a virgin to everything, all was new and exciting and mysterious.  There weren't the evil drugs in those days and people were not so self destructive.  It seems that people were happier and friendlier and not so suspicious and cautious.  I bet I have hitch-hiked 100,000 miles in Europe, as far North as the reindeer go in Norway to the Southern areas of Italy and everywhere in between.  People were friendly and curious and would take you way out of their way and always feed you and offer a place to stay.  It was a time without suspicions.
My Other Blog is Here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My first real date...

     Here is a topic we could talk about.  Do you remember your very first date?  I do, in bits and pieces anyway.  We met at a play, a series of skits actually, high school kids being serious.  I was in one of the skits
and that is pretty foggy to me except I remember very well the make-up I had to wear.  A huge mass of gelatin something to resemble a scar on my face, oh and a pillow under my coat, I was the "Hunchback of Notre Dame"!  I don't even know what she was doing there, maybe lighting or costumes.  She had long black hair and just a little make-up to highlight her eyes, make her look interesting.  I don't remember if there were tryouts or even if we actually put this play to work in front of an audience.  I would go back there the next day just to see if she were there.
    One night after practicing whatever it was we were doing, it was a hot summer night, I remember that, I asked her if she wanted to go to the University with me, just to walk.  Maybe get some coffee.  "I'll go in costume, we will advertise this play!"  I remember saying that.  It was not far; it wasn't a long walk.  I hobbled beside her, hunched over like I supposed a good hunchback would do.  People, students I am sure, passed us by and gave us plenty of room!  I am sure it was quite a scene:  a hunchback with a huge scar on his face and the most beautiful girl in the world.  Seemed like that to me anyway.
     We came upon a group of students entering a building for some lecture on something and we followed them in.  Sat in the back row, me hunched over and she like my caretaker.  It was a riot and I was playing the fool, drooling and making weird noises.  You could smoke in those days, anywhere, right in a classroom if you wanted.  I remember lighting a cigarette and first puffing a couple times, then putting it out in this mass of jelly on my face!  I know how to impress dates!  It was funny when we left.  Well, funny and I was damned well frightened.  She was walking about ten paces ahead of me and I was chasing after her when four college kids came to her rescue.  They surrounded me and it seemed they would be happy to beat me up!  I told them we were just joking, having fun.  I told them about the skits we were doing.  I was frightened and talking pretty fast, "please tell them you know me" I pleaded!  "I have never seen him before in my life."
That is exactly what she said.
   Our real "first date" wasn't for another week and I remember it well.  My dad had an MG, a little black convertible with red leather upholstery and he let me borrow it.  It was dirty and dusty on the outside and I parked it right on the front lawn, just drove it over the concrete driveway and into the grass.  She came over early that day and we were going to wash it.  I remember writing "Miss 1966" in the dust on the car's side.
That was the year and she was laying across the back of the car like a beauty queen on a parade route. Actually throwing kisses!
     We washed the car and later went to a little pizza place on the campus.  I remember distinctly talking about sex.  I couldn't have said much because I didn't know much about it.  I am sure I lied.  What I do remember is we finished eating and it was a hot summer night and the top was down and we decided to drive through the downtown section before heading home.  Kids do that, want to be seen with a cool girl in a cool car.  So we are downtown and she is sitting next to me, not in her seat with a seat belt on, but on a pillow, right next to me.  We are laughing and being silly and mostly, she is right next to me!
     Somehow and I really don't understand this, the conversation turned to other girls, she thinking I am interested in all girls in a generic sense.  I am denying this of course with all of my heart.  "Oh, yeah," she says, "what about THAT ONE!" pointing to my far left way over on the sidewalk.  Well, like an idiot I turned to look.  No one was there and I crashed into the car ahead of me.  My first date and my first traffic accident and I am trying to kill this girl I so wanted to fall in love with!!!   It was a tiny car and the whole front end of it was smashed.  I didn't even notice that.  She had blood all over her face!  Her head smashed into the rearview mirror!   The car was sort of drivable in a wobbly way and I raced to the hospital, actually going maybe 70mph.  In the city.  I parked the car in the front lawn of the hospital and carried her into the emergency room.  I was shaking!  The doctors took over (three stitches was all but it looked much worse)
and I had to call her dad!  Then I called my dad!  His car was a total wreck.  Her dad took her home. My dad took me home in a taxi and the wrecker took the little black MG to the wrecking yard and that was my first real date!  We are still friends and I hope she gets a laugh out of this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fun in a Fight

There is some fun in a fight especially when we agree before not to use any serious weapons, no blood and no name calling.  I wish our government would understand this.  I love showing on my blogs the current project that I am working on, how I shape the metal or splash paint but when I do this I only get three or so comments:  "good job Jerry, nice work, beautiful"  I know that! Those kinds of comments don't tell me anything about you!  I want to know what you are doing on this planet.  Just visiting?
     Now when I get a fight going, state some kind of position, argue with my Art History friend (I hope), or just come off the wall entirely and say something crazy, Then I get a response!  A conversation. Your ideas, and I know we are alive!  I mean, really, who in the heck would buy a butterfly covered in oil??? That would be pretty stupid.  On the other hand...and there are two sides to every argument, what can artists do to help the world right itself?  Is it enough to paint pretty pictures?  Maybe we are that tired.
    I have been pretty convinced most of my life that it is difficult enough to control myself, and sometimes, just making me better is all I can do.  Of course I try to persuade my close by circle of friends. We influence each other.  But this NET thing, the Internet is making our circles larger.  I am now aware of things going on in South Africa, or Australia, or Iceland or India, and all over the world.  These are more than news stories.
They are the result of having conversations with you!  They are personal stories about your life, your art, your struggles and when you succeed I get that too!
     The function of any good fight is to make friends.  Well, it should be. Find out who is on your side and maybe shake hands with the others and apologize.  I just wanted to know who you really are. And maybe solve that problem that all writers face, what the heck should I talk about anyway?  AND I have maybe a fun idea!!!  It would require a little bit of honesty on our parts because it wouldn't be so much fun if we cheated
and compared blogs before we wrote our own.  What might it be like if we all wrote on the same topic on the same day?  This could get a conversation going because we would have to talk. To each other! In order to "play" this game we would have to come up with a topic and a time, say a month from now? It doesn't have to be political at all, even though you know I am a far left of center extremely conservative independent businessman, self employed for the last 40 years, with a Cadillac Health Insurance policy who just got cured from cancer at a cost of over $130,000 which cost me only $1,000, who is very in favor of National Health care (NOT insurance) kind of guy! Whew!  It doesn't have to be about my distaste for academics, my cynicism or anything controversial.  We could talk about anything!  from the best restaurant ever, saddest day of your life, happiest!, fear of failure, mile high club for those who are members, to anything!  Let's pick a topic.  If you encourage this on your blogs we might get a hundred essays all on the same thing. A hundred points of view!  That would be some horizon!
     That is the whole point of a party.  The dullest parties in the world are when everyone is in agreement, and they are always short with everyone going home before ten pm. It is winter now anyway and we are struggling with new thoughts and ideas, some kind of energy.  Although maybe it is summer in Australia?
I just discovered they are a whole day ahead of us!  That's right. They already know what will happen tomorrow!
If you are really bored, THIS will get you into all my websites.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A World of our very own...

     I reread my blogs once in awhile to see what I have said and I reread all the comments to see what you have said.  I check up on you too, wondering who is this person who stopped by to say hello?  I have made lots of friends here from Iceland to Australia, Europe to India, my neighbors in Canada and all over the world.  It is a nice thought to think if I ever travelled again I would have friends there and conversations.
    Some stop by and never say "hello" and I wonder what would I have to do to interest them?  How could I expand this meeting of friends?  I talk about everything here and cancer on my other blog, so I think I have the bases covered.  Life, living, death and taxes, lost loves and new ones, metal art and my newly discovered interest in painting.  I have even tried arguments, joining both sides in a fight, just to discover your view!  I have fought with Art Historians, well, teased them anyway, and posted my favorite recipes.  It is interesting how recipes get more comments than a good fight! 
    I read some blogs about shopping and what someone ate for lunch and these just about put me to sleep. It makes me think what is really important about life?  I read somewhere that if humans were removed from this planet the earth, our planet, would be just fine!  Go about its business in maybe a cleaner fashion?  If the insects and spiders were removed the planet, our ecosystem would collapse!  And we would all die!  Maybe that will be the end?  It seems that we secretly want it.  Only wolverines and humans destroy their own nests.
I like blogs that question.  Blogs that wonder about the sensibility of things. 
     I wonder why cartoonist are the quickest of all artists?  I have seen no really great art, or even much little art addressing "The Great Oil Spill".  Lots of cartoon art on this but I am hunting for that beautiful butterfly drenched in oil, the art we have made of this earth.  In the future art historians will say that this polluting degradation of the planet and maybe our extended continuous wars were the defining moments for artists in the early 21st century.  But I don't see it, except maybe to escape from it all in a digital art madness creating colorful designs and continuous patterns.  Maybe that's it.  The madness of a world gone berserk has reduced us to painting simple flowers.  A wish the world weren't so complex.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fun in Art

     Sometimes I think that "Real Artists" are making fun of us and I admit in my "paintings" I am throwing that fun right back at them.  I mean, really, how in the hell could a print which you can get with a click of a mouse, be worth thousands of dollars?  I am an old guy and I think the "Beatles" were hugely successful and talented, but they always kept their humor.  Remember that song, "Give me Money"? At least they were honest.  Dennis Hopper collected a lot of art and now it is up for auction.  He once shot two bullet holes into a portrait of Mao painted by Andy Warhol.  Andy wasn't offended and called Dennis a "collaborator" in the new art piece,  Mao with bullet holes.  He laughed too.  He knew the joke is on us, that this portrait that might contain two dollars worth of paint on a thirty dollar canvas will sell for God knows what at the auction.
     I think they have a certain contempt for the public and we allow this because they are probably right. We don't know what we want and we change our mind when the Spring styles emerge.  It is a fact, well I heard it somewhere, that the fashionable colors for next year will be found in the underwear of French fashion models this Spring.  Are we really that stupid?  We throw away just about everything.  The only permanent monuments we build are landfills.  Art itself is cheap to mass produce and throw away on a whim. We like it, you know, because it fits with the couch.
     I really think it comes down to this:  art is a business. I know with my metal art if it just stays around my shop then I don't sell much of it.  It can be expensive to produce and if I don't sell it I can't afford to make more of it.  We need the galleries, the exhibitions and public showings, even the art critics to pedal our wares.  Selling of art is a business too.  In the 1970's some clever salespeople convinced us that shag carpeting was the lastest in home floor coverings and we bought that hook, line and sinker!  Art is no different.       My Other Blog is Here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In Progress

 So this is a sculpture in progress.  It is about five feet by seven feet and four feet tall, except the lady who is six feet tall.  The pots will be cleaned and repainted and planted with cascading fuchsias. I am building it for a juried art competition for a gallery show in September.  The Theme is recycling/reuse and I think this will be appropriate. It is made of 100% scrap.  The center support is a huge muffler and the twisted steel, stuff I found, rusted and thrown into the scrap heap.  The flower pots were once porcelain over steel light fixtures from an old school gymnasium.
    If this doesn't get me into the show or if it doesn't sell, it will look great in my garden!

The lady is far from finished.  She needs a hat! and arms, of course
with lots of bracelets and jewelry, and fingers with rings!
The eyes are ball bearings, tossed for their imperfections.
The eyebrows are bicycle gears, ears are washers and earrings
are stainless steel logos from a motor home company that went
out of business.

The child is pretending to be holding this whole display up. He is happy with his strength!

I really agree with the philosophy of this show.
All this stuff was found at my local recycling scrap steel yard and all of it was on its way to China.
Ground and bailed for their reuse so we could buy more stuff from China!  It would be so easy to stop this process!  Just don't buy junk, that is all it would take. A philosophy of quality. The satisfaction of knowing that whoever made what we bought did it well and sold it at a fair price. Easy to say but difficult to do because deep down inside we want it cheap.  Funny about that.  We get what we pay for.
My Other Blog is Here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

50 words for snow?

     What if there really were 50 different words for snow?  When does a language dominate, limiting us to express ourselves in simplicity.  I wonder how we even thought before language?  I once dreamt in German, a long time ago when I was in school in Germany.  I wasn't even startled and couldn't say the dreams were deeper or even different.  Language, any language is an attempt to describe and put a name to what we think and how we feel about any situation.  Does culture influence language?  Or the environment, does that influence language?  There must be a polite way to describe eating seal eyeballs and raw fish become sushi and that sounds more interesting in translation.  Language come with prejudice.  Sometimes only one or two words will tell me volumes about what you are talking about and how you feel about it.  I know your position without the whole statement.  "Couch art" would be a good example of this.  It is derogatory enough.
      Some words would be impossible to translate because we just don't think that way.  A single word might require a whole book of explanation.  "I love you," toast and jam, art and music, wow, that could be very confusing indeed.  We should really invent 50 words for love.  We have fifty ways to leave your lover and only one to express it?  We could narrow it down a bit with qualifying adjectives, limiting and cautious.  We could narrow it down until we no longer love it.  Until we were again safe with that word.
     Personally I use it often and rarely do I wish to entertain its definition. By defining it we are saying there are circumstances where the definition doesn't apply.  Or the worst kind, conditional, as long as you fill a need.  I think it is possible to love someone or even something without a desire to possess them.  I can love the dance of a butterfly without wanting to put it in a jar.  Just, as is, with no expectations.
     Sometimes I talk to my dog about this.  He seems to know a lot about it.  In a language not translatable or unnecessary at any rate.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gates Installed!

       Here they are, the installed gates!  23' opening, double Entry Gates.  The copper panels are lacquered and will keep their shine but the gates themselves will be allowed to rust and then be clear coated with Phylon, a heavy bodied clear lacquer.    My Other Blog is Here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hang Art

I don't have the hang of these new Blog features, and maybe this photo will not come out as intended.  Anyway, I think it is ironic that I call this blog "Hang Art" and here are my big gates ready to be hung! They are done and out of the shop and today they will be installed. They weigh about 250 pounds each and should last longer than I will.  That is the guarantee anyway. On Monday I will post the installed picture for your approval.  Never seen one like this before, have you?  Me neither, except in a dream, that is why I built it. It is not particularly expensive.  I have built much smaller gates for a lot more money.  It is actually a simple gate but finds its distinction in the copper panels and the center stainless steel panel.  It is well built with complete welds and structural steel throughout.  I think it will get noticed and that is how I find work, word of mouth, the best advertising there is! 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Art History

      I don't think that I am making art in any kind of Historical context, and at the same time I know I am not making it in a vacuum.  So far the Great Oil Spill and our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not entered my work.  Maybe, anyway.  Maybe I am not as free and independent as I think I am?  I found a new Blog that discusses Art in the context of History ( and it is getting me to think!  Damn, I hate that!  Not only have I discovered that I have been trying to climb a mountain all my life when I should have been going around it, I also discover that I may not be immune to forces around me!
     My Art is in a response.  I am just a welder, that is all I pretend to be.  I am appalled when I see the mass import of iron work from China and Mexico.  I shudder when I see it in the stores and cringe a bit when I see it in your yard.  It is not well made.  It is poorly welded.  It is feeble at best and won't support itself, as art nor as a support for plants.  I worry about our resources and that these were not worth the diesel it cost to get them to us. I think of 140 million steel panels all identical and scattered all over the world.  Okay, I learned a lot from Miss Shipwreck's essay but it has left me feeling not more educated and smarter.  I am a victim!  I need a phsycotherapist who specializes is metal, understands what it is that I am trying to do.
     I am a one man war in a battle against junk.  When I am long gone and dead and if Art Historians ever find me (I can't really imagine them digging that deep!), I will be thrown into the era of mass importation.  One warrior amongst many who battled it out against this world of importation.  I know I do this that is why most of my Art is big.  If it can fit into those horrible, poorly made brown cardboard boxes from "overseas"
I lose interest it making it.  That is a response to History, isn't it?  Sign of the times and maybe a futile battle at that.
     I like to think my "other art" is different.  I took up painting about a year ago and with great purpose I don't investigate anybody.  I refuse to study any kind of painted art.  I don't want to know what they do or how they do it or what historical markers made an impression on them.  I am a virgin artist when it comes to paint.  I have no clue as to what I am doing, whether it is good or bad or indifferent.  I do it for fun only and it is not for sale.  Most of it isn't even real in the sense that you could touch it or see it in another light.  I paint away, happily, madly, carefree and without thought or obligation.  When it is done I take a photo of it and put it into my computer.  Sleeping maybe, like a virus.  Then I paint over it.  Some of my paintings are seven layers deep, quickly one after another.  The last one standing gets to live.  They are painted for my enjoyment
and maybe, by definition that means they are not art.  Somewhere I read that art must be shared to be art.
Anyway, Shipwreck's blog has made me think, and of course I curse her for that!  It is an interesting read so I am passing her blog on.  I want to fight her so bad.  She has taken my once happy carefree life and reduced it to circumstance.  My Other Blog is Here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gate

One gate is finished. Now I have to copy it to make the pair, creating this large 22 foot entry. The first gate is the fun one to build. I won't do a job any more without being given a lot of "artistic license". Oh, I will get the size right and the basic shape and some of the desired elements but until I give it to you and you have paid for it, it is my gate and I do what I want.
I never increase the cost. It is whatever I said it would be, but I will stand back and add whatever I think it needs to be the very best gate that I can make. I create things on a vertical plane, like on a huge artist's easel. I don't like welding hovering over table. I am not a fabricator copying from a set of plans. I stand away from my work and have a good look at it and see what it needs to become.
Most of my gates are arched (thank you Rome!) offering the strongest design possible. I don't like wiggly gates. Where this gate will call home it needed to be flat across the top. You will see that when I post the installed photo! So its strength becomes the integral part of the design.

A person will be able to stand on the far end of it, away from its hinge side and not be able to bounce. That is always the mark of a good gate. I have seen poorly designed gates that cannot carry their own weight and I know the Romans are crying!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Copper Panels

Gates when closed have to say, "Do Not Enter", that is their job. Open, however, is entirely different. They should be welcoming and easily findable. Not part of a continuing fence, they need to be distinctive and let you know that you have arrived.
I often put copper panels in my gates, sometimes lacquered to preserve the polish. I like what the sun does to copper. You can see it from a mile away. These panels are in my office, their lacquer finish is drying and my office is the only warm spot in my shop. It is a big entry, two eleven foot gates, each with two copper panels and a stainless steel panel in the center. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Baby it's Cold out There!

New Year and new work, but man is it cold. I have to rearrange my shop a bit to create room to build two eleven foot gates inside. I've done that now and the heater is on! The human condition is to complain, not enough work! too cold!, always something. I am not going to do that. I have my rabbit fur-lined gloves, a little comfort to the neuropathy in my hands, and I am ready to go to work! I love it. It is what I do and haven't been able to do for about eight months because of that cancer thing. I chased it off and I am back and intend to make this year the very best that I can. I realize that it is all me, my focus, what I choose to see. We get what we hunt for in life. This will be the year of my best art, my best garden ever and a really nice big juicy tomato!

I have been invited to apply to a gallery show where they will pay ME $1,000 to produce ten

art pieces for their show. and still get 80% of my sales! Wow! It doesn't get any better than that! Wish me luck and a warm shop! You can see some of what I do HERE.

I am so thankful that I am regaining my health and my strength, that I get another opportunity, a rebirth of sorts, to do what I like to do. I have secrets and will tell you every one of them, bit by bit, on this blog and The Other One!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Investment in Art

I like to think that Art is what I do. Good Art is when you buy it and my "Great Art" is when you can sell it for more than you paid. A lot of what I do cannot be reproduced for any price.

They are from found flotsam and jetsam, discarded items given new life. Other pieces I have struggled with, maybe creating something you like but I am not willing to do it again. Still other pieces contain copper and that price has tripled. Three feet by five feet of copper plate is over a thousand dollars now. That alone makes my art an investment!

I don't think it is difficult to teach art. I think we just don't put much value in it. Even our own children's art is relegated to the refrigerator. That same piece, framed and on the living room wall would look better and be better and say more. Art is the first subject to get cut in school, then drama, and Shakespeare and literature. All the unnecessary things.

I like to think that Art is an investment. A key of some kind to open the doors of appreciation, eagerness and passion, the love of life.