Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day #9

We had another AWESOME day! Sunny and bright -- but SO COLD! Sculptors who wore shorts were chilly all day. Even midday when it warmed up the chill was present, and returned as soon as the sun angle lowered.

Saturday saw a bump in curious visitors. People came from as far away as Geneva to see what they had read about in the paper.

Donna was up on her scaffolding all day carving huge chunks from the beak and freeing her wings almost to the waist. Proportions and shape are fully evident as she works to rough the huge pillar of polystyrene foam. She is a curiosity that has the crowds talking. I welded and fiddled with ambition. HUGE progress, but my welds remain fragile and sloppy. I am NOT a welder...

Paul Goodwin, a curator from Tate Britain in London came in at 4 for high tea and conversation. He talked with us each individually to familiarize himself with the work and our ideas. Tomorrow we will each have a deeper individual conversation with him. He is here now and then will return when the work is done. His role is one of added ideas, providing curatorial context and writing about the entire residency. It was exciting to meet him and we all found him to be an accessible and generous thinker.

For dinner we had an exceptional gathering of the most generous of Verbier community leaders at the home of Madeleine Paternot, one of the Residency founders. What a spread, what fine company, what an exceptional home we all enjoyed. The fireplace was aflame and a much needed barrier to the MAY! chill. The languages were aswirl.

Madeleine's father and best friend proved to be college buddies of Peter Haines, one of Donna's (and now my) good friends. Peter is a member of Boston Sculptor's Gallery with Donna and I. It was one of many amazing coincidences of this residency. Verbier is a focal point in the world. Small in population, but hugely influential people accumulate in the chalets and ski slopes. We are so lucky to be here.

Our crisp walk home as the night ended was alight with stars. We chatted about ALL the people we are meeting and remarked that all these friendships will be with us for a lifetime.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day # 8

We had rain today and so I spent the day doing details and drawings and lists and stuff. Donna was on the ladder cutting and carving lovely things all day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day # 7



We went to the mountain for a second visit. The 30 minute drive up to the top of the first level of the ski lifts was as exhilarating today as it was on Sunday. This is a marvelous event! Visionary! Skiers will enjoy an outdoor sculpture gallery as the descend one of Europe's most developed ski mountains.

Donna chose an especially remarkable site that has a vivid mountain background - right in front of the newly constructed 5 star restaurant. My site has a crisp horizon line to ski, plus several great views as one approaches the restaurant or descends the slopes. Organizer Kiki Thompson has encouraged me to do a sapling sculpture as well as the ferro-cement piece I have planned. It is an exciting addition to my plans here, but will add a lot to the already full schedule. Donna and I have been invited to do a burning sculpture on the closing night party, so we will be WELL featured in all this excitement. We are so happy and proud to be here!

The languages are marvelous to experience. People shift from perfect English to beautifully accented French, or Italian, or German or Swedish with such ease, and no one seems frustrated with my very limited French. Many say No English with no embarrassment at all! Donna has been a hit! Her french has been well exercised, and although the vocabulary is still slow to return (when it began to rains she said it was crying outside...) she has no problem being understood and even very much communicative! THEY ALL LOVE HER here!

Curious thing is all the timers on lights. If you take too long in the bathroom - you get shut up in the dark. (But an observant person will note there is a switch in the stall for

I got in a short day of welding due to our morning mountain visit and then this evening an exciting collector and friends hosted a lovely wine cocktail before dinner... I am making solid progress, but am DYING for a normal 12 hour day of work.. Oh well residencies are as much about the networking as the work produced?!

Donna cut and sheered the foam! She too put in a short day but had GREAT results.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day # 6 - Drew's 25th Birthday!!!

Today we have a GUEST commentary contribution from Donna Dodson. (Be sure to check out her facebook entries for more details and images!)

"Day #6: The glue arrived and the styrofoam blocks are in place. I will begin carving tomorrow. We wandered out side today before lunch to find the cows and fell in love with them up close. They have giant leather collars painted with hearts and huge tin bells that you can hear from a distance. We both made alot of progress today in the studio and it is exciting to see our pieces taking shape."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 5! Work day for real!.

We got up before the sun broke over the mountains and were on site to unlock. I worked on my model and Donna laid out plans for her foam carving. In no time the deliveries began. Foam and plywood were unloaded and the other artists began to work. I got the welder out and started melting steel together. The structure is taking shape. FINALLY! Donna piled up her foam pieces but the glue was not here, she will stick it together tomorrow. What a pile of foam she has ahead of her.

I am still struggling with my imagery. The design is feeling very decorative. It WILL be lovely, but I am not convinced the content will survive. Oh well, I MUST go on. I seriously hope to complete a series of THREE of these structure. The medium is steel rod structure covered by a dense layer of chicken wire (three per side minimum) then finished with glass reinforce cement as thinly as possible to about 1-3 inches thick. At this point the plan is to build the structure here in town and then trailer it up the steep winding roads to the mountaintop sculpture park then apply the cement on site. Cementing will be three or four challenging days doing all the work by hand with very limited access. Donna's piece will likely be flown to site fully finished via helicopter. The final location for all the work is accessible only by foot, bikes, skis and dogsled. A five star mountaintop restaurant shares the road with our sculptures, but access to the working site will be a daily challenge as we finish up our work.

The weather continues to be stunning. Chilly in the morning, hot midday, cools off fast like all high alpine environments. It has been clearer each day and Donna insists on photos constantly. We have a growing collection of portraits with STUNNING landscapes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day #4

This has been a day full of conceptual ruminations. I came to the residency with an image of a wind downed tree and the resulting cavity beneath. There is a lively impression that freshly toppled trees leave that I find evocative. The uplifted boulder, snugly wrapped by roots leaves a shape in soil. Similarly, some stones stay soil bound and leave their imprint on the risen root mass. No windblown tree goes down cleanly, there are always roots that resist the collapse and show an evident tension - connection - to the original tree location. I love the energy revealed, the spaces created, the perforations that happen when trees fall over.
How does this relate to my mark making in the alpine vista? How does the distinct edge of mountains and sky reflect the edge of a windblown stump? How can I include the impressed shapes?

Wind beaten to the extremes of uprooting is a trauma that leaves a scar beyond the individual that is toppled. When a forest titan is blown over and the earth is torn asunder by the tenacity of roots. Even boulders can be hoisted aloft. These vacated stones leave an impression, the uplifted roots draw a shape, the remnant hollow becomes shelter.
Man has marked this earth deeply. We are well rooted. Our presence is seen in the very extremes of our planet.
I am unsure how as an artist, I can respond to the extremes of the Alps. My work is not a triumph over adversity. It is a personal story. I am recording my presence. In the fragile state of today's world I am determined to draw with a mark that lasts. In this Residency I aim to leave a significant trace.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 3

Sundays are a day of rest. We slept in and met at 10am for a drive up the mountain. We are installing our work most of the way up the mountain. It is HUGE up there.

Vernissage Listing information

Who: Verbier 3-D Foundation Sculpture Park and Residency

Where: Verbier, Switzerland. Place de L'Hermitage - Parking at Place Centrale - 1936 Verbier, Switzerland

When: June 25, 2011 from 6 - 8pm

What: Vernissage for Verbier 3-D Foundation Sculpture Park and Residency entitled, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" with the curatorial premise set by Paul Goodwin, Curator of Contemporary Art at Tate Britain (London).

Why: The sculptures created in Verbier, will be exhibited 12 months, braving the four seasons at a highaltitude of 2,100 meters (6,800 feet), between Ruinettes and La Chaux. Featuring a roster of emerging and critically acclaimed Swiss, British and New York-based artists to include André Raboud, Will Ryman, Zak Ove, Andy Moerlein, Kiki Thompson, Josette Taramarcaz, Edouard Faro, Etienne Krähenbühl, Musa Hixson, Timothy Holmes, Nathalie Delhaye, Donna Dodson, Gregory Coates and Sam Bassett

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day #2

Today we woke up to the most amazing views. It is still hard to imagine this place. The Alaskan boy is seeing slopes extreme! Houses and roads stuck on sheer vertical. Hang gliders leapt from the cliffs above and sailed for hours on the thermals.This was the official start of the residency. We all met up for breakfast. What a fine team has assembled. We viewed the huge work tent and proportioned work areas, then drove down the mountain to Martigny to buy a few more tools. An afternoon walk got us out to see cows, sheep, eagles, donkeys. We all meet up in an hour for dinner. We have groceries in the fridge, tolls assembled. tomorrow will be a trip up the mountain to see possible sites, then we begin in earnest Monday.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Donna and I flew all Thursday night and arrived in Milan via London just in time to decide to let the noon train go and take the 5:25 train to Switzerland where we will each be making monumental art on the Verbier ski mountain in the heart of the Alps. We frolicked in Milan for a few hours, enjoying our pre-packed bagels and oranges then strolled about the city. We thoroughly explored the Duomo. The church inside is stunning - MASSIVE - both delicate and overwhelming art details everywhere. Then we took the narrow inside stairs up to the roof. WOW! What a view. Milan all below us and spires full of individually carved animals, plants, gladiators, saints, sinners, and satans. WOW!

It cost $1.50 to pee. I am holding it more...

Just got to our chalet. 5 bedrooms, 3 bath, a 12' long table for parties!

Please visit!