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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Cyra Jane Hobson

My identity as an artist is embedded deep in my psyche; for me there is no choice and there is nothing else. Yeah, I do other things, but creation is a primary force of my personality, and the narrative I live is entwined with my artwork in a way that it is the literal visual record of my experience. I use art to purge, to define paths, and to embark on new journeys.

As a child growing up in the stark farmland of Illinois, surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, I dreamt of growing up to be a published poet, performing opera singer, or professional visual artist. In higher education I trained in the first two, up through degrees in writing and choral competitions while painting secretly in my room. I refused teachers in visual art until much later, intent on developing my voice first. And while I had always considered visual art to be the least strong of the three for me, it’s what ended up becoming my dominant path over the course of my 20s.

Partly, the reason for that is how my narrative, my personality, and my creativity melded. For me, my art is my breath. I wither and suffocate without paints, stone, or tools. I have nightmares of losing my hands and won’t ski or ice skate or otherwise put them in danger.

I painted almost exclusively until 2009, until coming home from a 3 month walkabout to 11 major cities in Europe and North America. I went to every art museum, letting myself be drawn where the magnets were. The stone statues in particular—I was so mad they wouldn’t let me touch them. So at some point, I gave myself permission to make my own so that I could: I gave myself permission to sculpt. the Knife

So I came home and dove into whatever I could learn. I joined a Burning Man blacksmithing collective where we made large-scale pyrotechnic art. I interned at Pillow Studios with a kinetic steel and glass artist. I was accepted to a residency at The James Washington Foundation, initially for steel fabrication, but they let me switch to stone work and make a huge dusty mess in his studio. Stone work… it felt like medicine. And I needed medicine, so I ran toward it.

My first major piece was “The Knife,” and through the process of working on it for 175 hours (the initial sculpture 120, the bronze castings 55), I discovered something of a drawn–out process of mapping my subconscious on a particular theme. I already knew I could manipulate my experience with reality through what I was making, but this was something different: I could actually dive into my thoughts without reacting to them and just observe while my hands were busy doing detail work with X-acto knives and dental picks. Like most of my major works, the end image of “The Knife” came to me fully formed: in a flash second, my eyes white over and there, the construction (or substruction) of the piece crystallizes in front of me. I know every moment of the surface before I even begin. Then, I just have to make it.

“The Knife” was a study of emotional defenses, in short, a hard look at everything I was doing to misguidedly “protect” the emotional, soft sides of me that I’d locked away somewhere. A katabasis journey into the dark, seeking out those parts of me and looking at which behavioral guardians jumped up in the way to distract me from finding them. Every feeling and thought on this was mapped onto the surface of that sculpture.

"The Dragonfly on my Shoulder" Brucite. 2018. #7 of the Katabasis Series. The final shedding of the exoskeleton; A molting. The result of that really captured me, and I created seven major works with this particular method, choosing themes that could take me somewhere stronger, somewhere more open. Chlorite was perfect for it. Smooth and consistent, working with the stone wasn’t a struggle. I love brucite and this crazy old marble I’m working in now, but surfacing and detailing is a serious challenge because of inconsistent densities that need too much attention. I’m moving into basalt, which is also nicely consistent, as I’m looking to work in life–size figurative. I’d also like to get back on track for public work, so the durability is very attractive, too. Still, the last piece of the series was in brucite, as it couldn’t be in anything else. “The Dragonfly on My Shoulder” (2018) was the final molting, as a new me, whole and integrated, shed its last skin. A lot of people react to the imagery with the little alien bug face crawling out of the back of a dragonfly nymph as creepy, but all I remember is that first breath of fresh air and the intense beauty of becoming. 

But let’s talk here of some of the side missions I’ve gone on with stone carving. Not every piece could be that kind of intense psycho-emotional journey, and often those would take me well over a year to get through, so I’d take a month or so off to explore another theme. Plus, I could fill a book with that narrative (ooh, foreshadowing!) Still, I have such a method built in now that each of these proved rather intense experiences as well.
"Something of a Shearing" Chlorite, bronze, mahogany. 2014-2017. The quite literal journey of moving to an island and building a studio; the sculpture began first.
“Something of a Shearing” was a fairly long term side story, and the full narrative of it was published in this journal a few years ago after it was finished in 2016. It first came into being when I decided to start working in 3D—for months my entire perception of the world was from inside the top of a lighthouse, the gears moving it slowly as my focus and visualizations shifted. At first it was a painting; then I determined to make it a stone carving. It quite literally became the story of building my studio. I started it at Pillow Studios, where my boss was kind enough to let me do stone work outside the metal shop, and worked on it at eight different places, taking it with me through my travels and journeys that led me to Vashon. The last little part of it was turning on the light in my greenhouse when I had finally landed on Vashon for good. The weeks leading up to finishing it were mostly up at Studiostone in Vancouver (all the fitting and polishing), then at Tom Small’s place (where I made the base), and during this time as it was coming to life it started to walk beside me rather than up on my shoulder. It pulled off of me like some sort of budding and became its own little creature.

"Foremother" Australian ring marble, uranium glass. 2017. “Foremother” (cover image) was the next side–mission in 2017, and perhaps the first that was truly a concept piece from the start. I had this ancient marble from Neolithic, with some of the earliest fossils in it and the opportunity to cast some uranium glass. I’d been feeling the idea of offerings lately and decided to do a piece about cyclical reproduction—the unstoppable drive for renewal. What it will feel like for Gaia to repopulate life after we destroy it. And part of what it feels like to be being flayed open right now. I spent about two months on this, all told, and it was incredibly intense. I hadn’t really known where I was going to go emotionally with it. At one point we got into a fight when I found out she had no skin. I fell head-first into her anger and the ground beneath me turned solvent; I ended up in the woods, charging overdressed and overheated, the trees pulsing and guttural screaming around me. It was coursing through me. So what do you do with that? Shower, eat, self care, and listen. Then finish the piece and kind of decide not to go back there again.

Yeah, it’s kind of like method acting. 
icanbreathinthiswater.jpg - "I Can Breathe in this Water" Marble. 2018. A wash in the feminine.
“I Can Breathe in this Water” was a piece done in translucent marble for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival in 2018. She was based on a commission by a woman who was moving across the country, pulled from her lover, as a parting gift. The figure is based entirely in hearts and exudes femininity, submission, and seductive power. This was really a fun one. It was spring in the studio, and I spent every day just awash in my feminine side. I bought dresses and makeup. I danced. I really loved working on her, and this particular marble is such a joy. This stone was quite sugary, so I was released from sharp edges, and the curves all had to be so soft. It filed like a dream, and the metal veins ended up emphasizing the contours better than I could have planned.
"Reconcile (the Mother)" Marble. 2019. Pulling out my bloodline
“Reconcile (The Mother)” is a terrible title, but I haven’t come up with a better one yet. It’s one of my best pieces so far though. Made this spring, 2019, I initially thought it would be about my own relationship with my mother, though going into that didn’t really thrill me. It’s the same marble from above, and a solid piece of it. So gorgeous to work on—there were moments it took my breath away and I cried in joy. After having spent something like 350 hours already carving hands, this entire sculpture happened quite quickly, 83 hours overall. What I didn’t expect was for it to be more about my own decision not to have children. First of all, when I started, it opened up this tunnel back to my birth, and all my memories were happening kind of at once. I’m having to do things like go to the grocery store and be ‘normal’, while wide open so far that, inside, I’m reliving screaming at birth and the intensity of pure infant emotions and looking through wounds, stitching them together. My arms were searing. And then my body decided it was pregnant. This hasn’t ever happened to me before, and of course I wasn’t. I’m an adult with an IUD. But my body was convinced, and I had all the signs. I went through all the “what ifs” the “how would I handle it” the “would I want this?” to the “if so would I change my lifestyle while I still have time?” Oh lord. It was a lot. I ended up taking a test to just stop the questions. I went back to living in the portal until the sculpture was complete and did in fact make some peace with my mother. I got a pair of kittens. And then all that receded into the distance. In progress. Australian ring marble.

I’ve started working on another piece of the ancient marble now; a piece about the acceptance of failure and moving on with grace and dignity. It may not turn out. The surface is a struggle, so the anatomy isn’t ending up correctly. I’m ok with it. It will do what it wants with my narrative and that will be the truth.
Overcurrents(cover)(actualized)" Chlorite, marble, steel, silk. 2015-2018. #3 in the Katabasis Series. Also in the Kinesics series. The release of anger.

Artist Spotlight: Bruce Kleeberger

“Blushing Rose” Alabaster 12″ h x 14″ w x 12″ d  Bruce KleebergerFirst of All
Many thanks to Penelope Crittenden, Lane Tompkins, and Ben Mefford for the opportunity to share my sculpture experience with Sculpture NorthWest readers. The NWSSA is the most welcoming and supportive organization in art I have ever experienced. I am an “emerging” artist, in my second career: my first being a satisfying and rewarding career as a dentist.

BS (Before Stone)
Although I have dabbled in drawing and three-dimensional art for twenty-five years, I no longer “live by the clock” or have the responsibility of raising my children. Now I focus on satisfying my curiosity through working with stone. If ten thousand hours is a measure of mastery of a skill, I am about one-third of the way up this learning curve. Although I also sculpt wood and clay, I keep returning to stone. My association with the NWSSA is no small part of that.

Art and Science: Discovering Stone
When discussing my art with me, people often assume a correlation between my experience in dentistry and sculpting. Actually, I think competence in dentistry depends on right brain skills and art more from left brain skills. Certainly both require technical skill and ability to work with and understand materials and tool science.
Dentistry is a highly technical skill which requires careful application of rules for mate-rials and equipment usage. Parameters for design are limited by the variations of human anatomy and aesthetics. The real “art” of dentistry is the diagnostic phase which often requires innovation and imaginative thinking.
Three dimensional art (sculpture) however, requires experience with an unlimited variety of materials and technique. Even if limiting oneself to sculpting in stone, there are no two stones which are alike. What really makes every sculpture unique is the imaginative process that can conceive and then implement a design. Expressing imagination through art is a very left brained skill!

El Camino de Scultura - Sculptural Journey
In the absence of a formal study in fine arts, I am continually seeking opportunities to develop my imagination and skills. Ideally, my skill and my creativity are growing in tandem! My mentors are key to my development and I am honoured to include among my influencers established artists like Michael Binkley (and by extension George Pratt), figurative sculptors Linda Lindsay, Gabriele Vicari, Melanie Furtado, David Hunwick, Alexandra Morosco, Sampa Lhundup and all those whom I have met at two NWSSA symposia so far. I have a small library of literature focusing on sculpture, am developing my online presence, and am focusing my on-line education through technology. Podcasts as developed by Jason Arkles (who is guest presenter to the NWSSA in Pilgrim Firs during July, 2019) and online education offered by the New Masters Academy offer extensive resources to the curious neophyte artist.
To grow as an artist I participate in the art world, in addition to my home-study. I have travelled in Europe for many years, recently being dedicated to viewing and studying art. I have competed in juried shows in Canada and the USA. Showing in commercial and pop-up galleries and participating in community art tours extends the experience of connecting with art consumers, my intended audience. During summer 2019 I am proud to be invited by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (Friday Harbor) to participate in their exhibit Deep Dive. By writing for art publications I must reflect on my process and product and learn to explain them clearly. By participating in public art calls and art critique forums I am learning to accept criticism. The most valued part of my learning is my association with other artists such as the members of the NWSSA. I hope some day to teach, because I believe this can be the most powerful learning experience.

Figurative/Realism/Representational vs. Abstract/Contemporary?
Perfect symbiosis for me would be the ability to move back and forth between figurative and abstract styles. My journey is dedicated to continually working, producing and advancing. It is only through dedication to push the limits of creativity that skills and imagination develop. This also keeps the mind open to new permutations of a current pro-ject. Both require technical ability, but to think abstractly is more than technical ability. By seeking exposure to other art and artists, I hope to develop my own ability to see out-side and around the edges of my projects.
I am seeking to take my highly representational experience to the next level by creating a story with each sculpture which can be conveyed to my audience, leaving an “impression” of the meaning, and a need to interact with the work. I love it when my audience wants to touch my sculpture.

Why Sculpture?
The impetus for me to sculpt is to create and then have the creation appreciated. To create what my mind can conceive and produce a tangible representation of what I can imagine. At this point in my development, I need to produce art which serves a purpose: attract an audience, have a practical application (such as to memorialize, or meet a need such as a commission), or serve as inspirational, attractive or functional public art.

Most of my work is “breadbox” size or slightly larger and each piece takes, on average one hundred hours to create. I am fortunate to have a workspace, separate from my living space, and far enough from neighbours so that dust and noise are not an irritant to them. I work 25-30 hours per week on my art: 1/3 in study, research, and design, 1/3 in creation, and 1/3 in marketing. My long term goal is to move the balance towards creation at the expense of marketing as I continue to “emerge” as an artist.
Most of my work has been in soft stone such as limestone, chlorite, alabaster, and soap-stone, but I prefer working in marble. During a trip to study figurative sculpture in Pietrasanta, Italy last spring, I was able to personally select 1200 pounds of Bianco/Statuario marble from Carrara.
I take inspiration from my environment, my family, friends and fellow artists (gallery work or personal association). Sometimes the concept of a project comes to my imagination as a fully developed three-dimensional form ready to be created. Often the project requires additional development. This may require a sketch in order to be able to scale and fully understand the subject. The sketch might be two dimensional such as pencil drawing, or increasingly, digital drawing. Sometimes I can skip the two-dimensional sketch and move directly to the three-dimensional maquette of oil-based clay in sufficient detail to use as a proportional model.
My process is to record inspirations on a mobile device with photos and notebook sketches and notes. I research the subject fully, mostly with web searches, and begin design using a digital drawing tool. Then, I seek a stone to fit the project: col-our/texture/size/shape are all important. Sometimes I use the drawing tool to superimpose the drawing over photographs of the stone and then print out the superimposed pictures to simplify the rough out.
I use power tools as much as possible, including diamond chainsaw and angle grinders for the rough-out. I have chosen not to use air tools at this time, but instead have a large selection of angle grinder attachments and the industrial power Foredom tools and accessories and a micro-motor. I imagine this dependence on power tools comes from my experience in dentistry of over 30 years. I would like to supplement my power tools and develop ability with hand tools more extensively, especially in the final carving stages.
Generally, I have a 2-3 pieces in progress at any one time. I find it necessary to leave a piece to rest sometimes, and then revisit to avoid errors. It is important to step away, and return to see with fresh eyes. Also, sometimes it is necessary to allow a piece to dry out, or glue to set, or cool down. If I have other works in progress, it is a good time to turn to them.
One of the greatest difficulties I have as a less experienced artist is the maturity to know when a work is finished. Sometimes, the enemy of good is attempting to make it better. Often before I have reached the stages of finishing, my interest in the project is waning: the concept I had envisioned is realized and now the finishing is a process that is necessary but less appealing to me. I have both under finished and/or damaged by over finish-ing. I have yet to figure out the balance between too much finishing or too little…
Ever since my work has been sought by galleries, I have documented, photographed and numbered them. By cataloguing each sculpture sequentially, I can assess my growth as a sculptor.

As with most things it isn’t the destination, but the journey. My journey in art is fully underway but the stage when I can consider myself accomplished is not yet in sight. I don’t interact intellectually with the stone or my art and am still learning how to do that. I look forward to be able to create art from my imagination which conveys my intent: humour, emotion or an appreciation of familiar forms and inviting textures or at least inspire the viewer to interpret in their own way.

Bruce Kleeberger
2653 Country Woods Drive, Surrey, BC, Canada V3Z 0E6
(604) 536 7324
Instagram: bruce.kleeberger
Facebook: bruce.kleeberger.5

Artist Spotlight: James Horan

James Horan with BIRTHRIGHTI currently work in Co County Waterford (South East Ireland). Art is my main occupation, it is what I spend most of my work-time doing. It is not always my main income. Like many artists I have had many jobs to enable my sculpture habit. I was encouraged, artistically, as a kid. I don’t know if I was any good at art then, it didn’t matter. I loved coloring, drawing and making. I think my parents’ philosophy was “go and be happy.” Art School was the next step in that process, and lots of luck. There is a saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” Without hard work, I think it is impossible to be a professional artist. I’m not sure there was a conscious “why” to becoming an artist, I just was and am an artist. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an artist. One of my earliest artistic influences was the great illustrator of Roald Dahl’s children’s books, Quentin Blake. For me, those stories are inextricably linked with Blake’s illustrations. Those characters came alive in my imagination. Perhaps that is where my loose interpretation of human form stems from.

"Scuba Explorer" limestone 2016 30x 8 x 10 inch held over kilkenny marble base using perspex rodsWhen I first attended art school I thought figurative clay and bronze was what I wanted to do. Realistic figure modeling was it; I wanted to be like Rodin. But the art school had a stone carving area…. It did not take long to find my way there. The older students, equipped with hammers and chisels, were a frenzy of dust and noise. Their forms emerging from rocks. I was hooked. I remember my tutor asking, “Do you know Eric Gill’s work?” I said no and his eyes lit up, “you’re in for a treat.” He brought me straight to the library and found a book about Gill, then Jacob Epstein. It was an awakening. Gill, Epstein, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska are still the strongest influence on the form and style of my sculpture. I have also found inspiration in my contemporaries, even the ones that don’t carve! In terms of themes and motif, I can find inspiration in anything from a Mother with a child, drunks fighting in the street and our species’ insistence on being at war. Swimmers and Icarus figures are currently holding my interest, they defy gravity. To make a stone look weightless is a wonderful challenge.

James Horan "Reclining Female" 30 x 15 x15h cm I think our life experience pushes and pulls us from one place to another; it doesn’t immediately influence my work. I think life’s influence is more subconscious. Ideas take time to filter through. Mostly my inspiration comes from a chance encounter or a glimpse of the unusual in the everyday. There are, however, two things that clearly stand out as a push in a certain direction. Firstly, an exhibition, in my 3rd year of art school. Michael Quane a well-known Irish sculptor had a solo exhibition in a gallery beside the art school. He works in stone. He also went to the same art school as I did 15 years previous. I was amazed by the sculpture. I visited the exhibition several times. More importantly, he was a living Irish figure sculptor, working in my local area. Becoming a professional artist went from dream to a real possibility. A more recent influence inspired a full exhibition in 2015. In fact, I am still making pieces inspired by two books I read in 2014. The first book was “Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Uganda,” by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire. The second was “Whistleblower, Soldier, Spy: A Journey into the Dark Heart of the Global War on Terror,” by Tom Clonan. These books had a common theme: war. One book highlighted the specific horrors of war, the other that we as a species were constantly at war, conflict, rebellion, etc. This will be a recurring theme.James Horan "The Mighty Oak" 2018 Kilkenny Marble 36inch h 2

James Horan "Little Miracle" 2006 irish limestone father and child 26inch h 1I make expressive, figurative, sculpture. I exaggerate the proportion of the figure, large hands and feet usually. This started almost by accident but grew into a style and useful compositional tool. Adding weight to an area or focusing the attention on a certain section. I use negative space, to ensure a sculpture inhabits rather than invades the space it’s in. To be able to see through the stone helps make the stone feel malleable. I have heard my sculptures described as sketches in marble. I want the work to have potential energy, not be too refined. As a result I think my work borders on an unfinished look sometimes. I don’t like to high polish everything and refine it to infinity. When I decide a piece is finished, it can feel arbitrary, but I tell myself it’s a subconscious experience. I see a block of stone as 100% potential, each time the chisel hits the stone I remove some of the potential, I go further down a path to a specific destination. Eventually I pass the point of no return, where the form is there, but very rough. After this point I am refining the shape. Too little work and the piece looks unfinished. Too much and it can look flat and even lifeless. I want to express myself with every sculpture. I am not sure I have an overall expressive goal, at least not a permanent one. The most consistent aim I have is honesty. To be making sculpture for me, because I love to do it. I think this is at the core of all art, the art I admire and aspire to, at least.
James Horan "Game Over Generation Alpha" 105 x 100 x 40cm
I make sculpture that is purely about aesthetics too. Taking a block of stone and transforming it into a figure that is compositionally balanced. This balance comes at the expense of realism through distortions of proportion and exaggerated movement. Every few years I get focused on a more serious theme. Usually a social commentary idea, often dark humored. These narrative ideas overwhelm my practice for six to twelve months, culminating in an exhibition. Afterwards, I usually make a few very simple compositional pieces again. It seems to be cyclical. The same happens with scale. I will long to make a big sculpture, once I do, I relish making smaller work again. For now I have abandoned very small work. I am curating a sculpture exhibition due to open at the end of May and also currently designing for a large private commission for a garden which I hope will take up most of the summer.
James Horan "Swimmer" 2017 Irish Limestone
James Horan "Don't Push The Red Button" Cevec Marble 50 x 20 x 25hcm 1Direct carving is my method, and this certainly influences the final form. With direct carving, the ideas grow or change in a very organic manner. Some direct cavers let the stone dictate the design or start point but I mostly use cut stone, which means shape is rarely suggested unless through strong veining. I feel I need to know my design, fully in the round before I start, I then need to set about re-producing the idea exactly. Most importantly I must be willing to change the design at any moment. I use air hammers and tungsten tip chisels, and an array of small hand hammers for delicate work. Occasionally I have access to softer limestones, alabaster or soapstone but I prefer the medium hardness of marble and Irish limestone. They are very versatile, having the hardness to take great detail and be sited outdoors and the softness to carve by hand with hammer and chisel. I work on two or three pieces at a time. One being finished while the next is half way and the next just starting. Each of these stages requires a different energy level. Heavy physical work at the beginning gives way to delicate decision making and finally almost meditative surface finishing.
James Horan Father child and Maternity child 6 inches high
The Icarus legend has inspired several of my sculptures since around 2006, I think. The most recent one was simply called “Icarus,” an Irish limestone piece I completed in Dec 2018. This piece really shows the variety of finish available in the stone. Polished, the stone turns almost black. Rough tooling shows a great texture and lighter color. It is very satisfying to create a sculpture with minimal contact with the base/ground. Aiming to achieve weightlessness and movement takes a little planning. I drilled the holes for the dowel pins before starting to carve the sculpture. I felt the piece would be too delicate to drill once completed. “Icarus” required a lot of drilling to get the negative spaces right (It’s hard to know if the drill or the chisel is best sometimes). I also began to add extra elements to sculpture. I first did this after returning from Pilgrim Firs with some jade!

James Horan "For a better world press play" 2017 carrara marble 25 x 18 x 12 inchesI made a sculpture called “The Mighty Oak” from Kilkenny marble (a darker variant of Irish limestone). This piece was a female figure holding a jade acorn. I left the stone honed in this case, suitable for outdoors. I also used a round base which helped with the circular flow of movement. Both “Icarus” and “The Mighty Oak” are based around compositional challenges and simple beauty. In contrast, an ongoing theme of warfare (anti-war,) has preoccupied me since 2014. “Game Over, Generation Alpha” is an Italian marble sculpture of a male figure sitting on a predator drone flying it via games console. This was one of six pieces in an exhibition called “Behold Man: Apes with Guns.” Each piece dealt with a different aspect of modern warfare. Spending seven or eight months thinking about war and its effect on society was a real drain. Although I designed a couple more pieces after the exhibition in late 2015 it is only now I am starting to make them.

James Horan Exhibition 2006 5 large limestone figuresI organize sculpture exhibitions to promote 3-D art in Ireland, in doing so I have exhibited with many people who inspired and encouraged me early in my career. I have also managed to swap art works with some exceptional artists too! The social aspect of these exhibitions is important to me. I joined NWSSA at the first Camp Pilgrim Firs. Surrounded by stone, and enthusiastic carvers, I had the time of my life and met some great carvers and new friends; also new carvers and great friends. The experience helped me remember that stone is fun. That the joy of stone carving is why I use stone over any other medium. To continuously learn as I work is part of what drives me. Joining NWSSA at Pilgrim Firs reminded me there are many techniques to be learned from the honed masters or the beginner with vigorous energy and fresh eyes. I felt the welcome of the group. I felt at home, united by a passion for stone sculpting. I look forward to seeing my NWSSA friends again soon!

James Horan

Artist Spotlight - Daniel Cline

From a single point, all things formDaniel Cline

I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario. For as long as I can remember, I have made sculpture. My sculpture process has developed over my whole life and has been devoted to stone sculpture for the last thirty plus years. Originally, I made things from various clays that I convinced my mother to make or buy and I learned the fundamentals of stone sculpture from my brother Sandy Cline, a renowned soapstone sculptor. As a young kid, I sanded his sculptures and made a few small stone pieces. My interest in sculpture led to making stop-motion animation films with hand-sculpted figures moving about the scene. This in turn led to film school; unfortunately, my graduation coincided with the recession of the 80s, so I returned home to figure out my next move.
OCTOPUS ESCAPE BC marble 2 feet tall 2017 by Daniel ClineAt the same time, my brother and his wife were living at my parents’ home before moving to a place up north. During this time, I started to sit out in the garage and carve soapstone with Sandy. We would just talk about everything and sculptures would be carved. After I had made about twelve sculptures, he asked if I wanted to go to the Ottawa Christmas show with him; that was 1985. At the show, I sold six and made about $1,000. Good for an unemployed film graduate in the 1980s. 

Next, he was planning a three-week trip to Florida to do art shows. Let’s see: Niagara Falls in the winter with no money or warm in Florida and selling art! Each weekend we did an art show and spent money on new tools and stone at Montoya’s sculpture supply store in West Palm Beach. 

During this time, my style and technique developed in the shadow of my brother’s work. At that time, I learned his techniques and processes and as time went on, I developed techniques and ideas that led me to other ways to carve stone. His work is primarily soapstone, quarried in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I carved hundreds of sculptures from this stone but I was always attracted to various other kinds of stone for their unique qualities: the translucency of alabaster, the opaqueness of limestone, the inner depth and luminosity of marble and so on. Additionally, I began to explore power tools, air chisels and grinders to work faster and on harder and bigger pieces. As time went on, I started to do my own shows and started to show in galleries. In 1990, we moved to BC. 

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Artist Spotlight : Joseph Kincannon

Joseph Kincannon - photo by Holly Kincannon
Joseph Kincannon and the Portal of Stone
In 1979 I entered the world of stone through an unusual portal; a portal at a cathedral, to be specific, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

1)	Cathedral St. John of the Divine, West front with S.W. Tower in view, 2009 - Photo: Holly KincannonAs cathedrals go, this mammoth edifice is a 19th century show of American might. It’s a cathedral to beat all cathedrals… in size, anyway. The interior floor is two football fields in length. The ceiling height is 120 ft. at its highest and with massive granite walls sheathed in a thick skin of limestone. The place is dirty, dank and cold just like the city it sits in, and I loved it instantly. I had never seen such grand architecture. There was nothing timid in the construction of this building. I was immediately struck by how the roaring city outside is silenced upon entry.

2)	Roughing out statue blocks placed in 1920's of Cathedral central portal, 1988 - Photo: Robert Rodriguez

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Artist Spotlight: Oliver Harwood

Oliver HarwoodAs an art student I was influenced by two accomplished sculptors who followed their passion in very different ways. I explored figurative sculpture inspired by John Fisher while working at his Italian studio, and conceptual sculpture under John Greer, my art college professor. Both these artists have taken their careers to a very high place, a lifelong pursuit and though they may not know it, I owe a lot to them. I regret not diving deeper into both figurative and conceptual art while I had the opportunity to work with them. There is something innately beautiful doing figurative work as well as satisfying bringing a theoretical concept into the three-dimensional world.

But being a head-strong young artist, I moved away from both figurative and conceptual art and started my own exploration of metaphorical art. As I got interested in a subject, I would explore the topic through several sculptures that often spanned years.

“Zephyr”. Limestone. 1994 20”x20”x20” by Oliver Harwood
One of my first stone sculptures – "Zephyr" – God of the Wind.

“Formation” (detail), marble, 1995 by Oliver Harwood

"Formation" Art college days, the dance between the material and the artist.

“Inner View”, marble, 2001, 104” X 42” X 10’ I removed the surface and changed the structure of stone from crystal to muscle.  This was part of a series that went on for a few years trying to get beneath the surface of things… “Inner View” Marble. 2001 104”x42”x10’
I removed the surface and changed the structure of stone from crystal to muscle. This was part of a series that went on for a few years trying to get beneath the surface of things… 

For me, what I call metaphorical art is sculpture that brings two or more unusual elements or representations together in a new way to suggest a meaning. For instance, the 
“Shifting Culture” series combined the idea of ship hulls with iconic ancient civilization architecture. The ship hull is a fascinating manufactured object, made of a rib cage and skin, but instead of containing water, like us, it displaces it. A ship is in a precarious balance between weight and displacement, always trying to remain buoyant. My fascination with ancient cultures came from my first degree in history and anthropology. The “shifting culture” series developed from my concern over the loss of value placed on history. The great civilizations of the past have become commodities, bought and sold in markets around the world. I created a series of boat hulls transporting our displaced and commercialized history.“Lost City”, limestone, 2008, 26” X 10” X 8”

Staying with the boat hull, but moving away from archeology, my next series looked at the divergence between reason (the mind) and nature (the body). In “Symbiosis,” we are the rational “tokens” transported by the organic world almost against our will through the timescale of life. My question… What happens to an organism that chooses mind over body, that prefers an artificial constructed environment more than the biosphere that sustains it?

“Symbiosis”, (detail) tufa & slate, 2010, 23” X 8” X 6” by Oliver Harwood

This series ended with the carving of a coelacanth (my interpretation) which is known as a living fossil. Definitely one of the strangest carvings I have ever done.

For these sculptures I found some wonderful boulders of tufa that were completely organic looking – filled with random holes, deposits and micro crystals. “Coelacanth”, tufa, 2012, 52” X 20” X 12” by Oliver Harwood

Tufa is formed when carbonate minerals precipitate out of a solution, like how stalactites form in a wet cave. The only difference with travertine is that travertine is precipitated from a hot (geothermal) solution usually making it a bit denser and harder.

I have carved stone for 20 years and seldom get tired of it. I have recently been exploring other materials either for large scale or to express things that can’t be captured in stone.

Some of my greatest memories came from the early years. I loved Art College, but there was a strong bias that “good art” was purely conceptual. I have often joked with my friends that it took years to recover as an artist from art school! For me, art in all its forms is expression; words are expression, movement is expression, even silence and stillness is expression! Everything has a context, every object is part of a space, every story echoes against a wall of history. As artists, I believe we are the interpreters, whether consciously or subconsciously, we fashion form, colour, texture, sounds, patterns, movement into new identities.

Beginning “Song of the Deep” in Saint John, NB. Summer 2018It was a great experience to attend the Saint John International Sculpture Symposium this past summer for six weeks. Working alongside seven other sculptors to cut through tons of granite, each creating our own vision for a public art piece.

The sculpture I did is called “Song of the Deep” and it invites people to listen to the voices of nature in a new way and hear the life around us. It asks the viewer to consider the music of the ocean … a whole orchestra of sounds and songs we don’t hear. I created an audio graph of a particular Humpback whale song; the visual pattern of the resonance. The Humpback whale in particular is known to compose intricate and beautiful songs up to a half hour in length that transmit up to a mile through the ocean. The songs overlap in depth and volume beneath the waves.

I am intrigued by wave forms … not the ocean wave forms but sounds waves and patterns. They are beautiful and alive in their invisible world. Full of energy and direction until they dissipate into stillness. Song of the Deep (detail) by Oliver Harwood

For this sculpture I was inspired by the Bay of Fundy with its massive tides that create their own resonance and rhythm, forming macro and micro ripples through the biosphere. These wave patterns merge with sound waves and songs to create intricate and complex overlapping harmonies. The whales are the largest voices in the natural ocean and come to the Bay of Fundy in the summer as their primary feeding ground. We had a wonderful trip to Saint Andrews one day to go out and see them in their habitat.

The sculpture I made has three main elements, the visualization of the whale song supported by granite blocks that have been split, like the song is splitting the earth and stone and reaching into the sky. The side stones form the outer shape, some say it appears as the jaw of a whale, and the resonance patterns extend into these stone, creating new sound patterns.

Song of the Deep at Sunset “Song of the Deep” 2018. 13’tall x 8.5’ x 4’

Part of this project is also interactive, viewers can listen to the whale song depicted in the sculpture on their own phone. The link is:

It was a great opportunity to share knowledge with artists from Europe and Turkey. It seems a lot of the European artists use nine inch flush mounted blades on extra powerful grinders. I think grinders in Europe are rated differently than here as they get much higher wattage for the same size tool. We had 7” grinders with 7” flush blades. One of the biggest lessons in a symposium is not having the luxury of slowly working your stone down, one has to cut straight to your finish surface. You just take a deep breath and go for it! We would often burn through one 7” sintered diamond blade a day – and that was with water. The symposium was well organized and provided everything we needed to stay focused on our task. The evenings were full of laughter and stories and a few invented games that corresponded to the amount of alcohol consumed … but we all hit the pillow by 10pm exhausted from a heavy day’s work. We worked hard six days a week for six straight weeks, often the whole day with a gas powered saw. "Song of the Deep: By Oliver Harwood

The stone we had, came from a quarry that used dynamite, so there were lots of fractures in it and it would not split in a straight line! This was one of the biggest challenges for me; I needed to split through several large boulders at exact right angles, so I ended up drilling all the way through, with holes 5” apart! It meant one full week of holding on for dear life to a big quarry rock drill that shakes you to the core. Fortunately, after being shaken silly, all the rocks split perfectly.

It was a great experience, setting out to do this sculpture, working through all kinds of hurdles and getting it all together on the 2nd to the last day! There were a few sleepless nights along the way but it all came together in the end. The best part of the symposium of course was the camaraderie with the other sculptors and interns and organizers, there was seldom a dull moment.

The last few years I have been consumed with an art related business so have had very little time for my own artwork. Spending six weeks carving granite really drove home the importance to create regularly … to focus on developing one’s voice and ideas at least some time every week. I have set a few new art goals and am looking forward to next year’s Pilgrim Firs already.

:) Oliver