I always enjoy going to the Sausalito Art Festival as an observer rather than an exhibitor and this year I found myself celebrating sculpture instead of painting. There’s something about three dimensional art that just displays better in an outdoor environment.
Lifting and Schlepping
I’ve tried my hand at outdoor shows and festivals and found the experience challenging and exhausting. Some artists tour the country showing at different events every week. If you are prepared to set up and break down a booth regularly, with all the lifting and schlepping involved, I guess you can get it down to a science. I never achieved that and I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Some artists take great pride in their efficiency. Andrew Carson told me proudly he had set up all of his giant kinetic sculptures in under an hour! I’m not sure how he managed that, but I was duly impressed. I enjoyed watching his spinning creations of metal a glass twirling in the foggy breeze coming over the hill.
This year I found myself drawn to and celebrating sculpture. I fell in love with small stone pieces by a sculptor from Ojai, CA, Duane Dammeyer. Dammeyer creates pieces using a great variety of stones. I was drawn to the many textures, colors, and finishes in his works as much as the shapes.
The subjects are sometimes realistic, for example, he created a limestone block that tells the story of winemaking from grapes to barrels in a series of story panels. On a rotating stand an open stone book holds a trio of polar bears. Is it a story of arctic exploration? There is a magical, Harry Potter-like quality to the object. Like the talking, moving portraits at Hogwarts, Dammeyer’s books open to reveal their subjects in three dimensions. Dammeyer follows a creative process in which he lets the stone suggest the subject, which can be anywhere from abstract organic ribbons to geometric shapes to realistic forms, each with their own beauty. In his own words, Dammeyer writes about his process on his website.
Duane Dammeyer’s Process
“I take two approaches to my work. At times the stone dictates the final form. In these cases, I let the natural beauty and color of the stone dominate the piece, using subtle shape and negative space in attempting to enhance what is hidden within. Other times, a shape or shapes may be imposed upon the stone–form and construction dominating.”
Dammeyer began life with an engineering degree and it makes sense to me that he can see so much creative potential in the many rough stones that dot his Ojai studio, waiting for him to unlock the power of their forms. Here’s a nice video of Dammeyer talking about his work and his evolution as an artist.
Visiting his booth, he invited me to touch the stones and rotate them on their pedestals, a decidedly un-museum-like experience. I love the smooth, cool feel of stone sculptures. They are definitely enjoyable by touch as well as visually. Using more senses to experience sculpture makes for a richer experience and connection. Dammeyer’s pieces are small enough so they can sit comfortably on a table top or shelf which makes them accessible to enjoyment by all.