Sep 27, 2010 - arts and crafts    Comments Off

The Stolen Bench Part 3: Pain can be taken to the next level

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table

After Sam’s Mondrian bench was stolen, the Mondiran bulletin board felt a little hollow. Time to put some funk on it.

In the first and second parts of this story I showed how pain can create art. Today we see how simple pain can be transcended by art.

Ok, my pseudo-Piet-Modrian bench was stolen. I recreated the motif with a cheap bulletin board. Good enough, I guess, but the next time I encountered a need for art in my life, the motif expanded and became something other.

The table

table

“I went from homeless to “living with my parents” I sold most of what I had in New Jersey, and hauled the rest to Wisconsin. Whatever I brought with me, It was too much for Mombo and Dad. So when the (borrowed) desk/table in my room collapsed and died, I felt like a bag lady whose shopping cart had lost a wheel eight blocks from the nearest Pathmark.

Mombo had a table she’d bought for $1 atGoodwill way back in the 1950′s. Mombo said, How about this table? I said do you mind if I paint it? She said, Just the top, not the body. Hunky-Dory with me. It’s an antique Shaker “Company” slide-out leaf table, painted a heinous brown on top, with perfect hand-crafted wood legs and pull-out leaves. Yeah!

table So I sanded, primed (x2), taped off squares, 5 by 3, laid out the colors so there was no overlap, and painted each square to reflect a different element (Red=Flowers; Yellow
=Sun, Blue=Sky, Green=Grass, Orange=Fire—Honestly, the last part is a little hokey and doesn’t show in the finished product, but what the heck, It’s my table, and that’s what I was thinking.)

tableThe basic idea came from Piet Mondrian–geometric shapes telling a story—Which cycles back to the stolen bench and my separation from Sam.

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Sep 27, 2010 - arts and crafts, Blue Dog, parents    Comments Off

The Stolen Bench Part 2: How Art affects our lives long-term

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A painted bench was stolen in 2006. Four years layer, the motif was revived and recreated

mondrian bulletin board
In the first part of this story, I told how a painted bench had been stolen. Four years later, I am still sucking the sore tooth of that indignity, crying to the Gods for the loss of the the bench that got away.

Today, I’ve left the homeless life. I packed my ego away with my out-of-season clothes and moved in with my 80+ parents in Milwaukee. Mom and I were in a Goodwill and she suggested I buy a cork bulletin board for 99 cents. Truly, Mom doesn’t really suggest things—she made it clear that she didn’t like the cork squares I had glued to the wall of my office, and wanted me to replace them with a less wall-intensive substitute. So I did.

At home I saw I had bought a cheap pine-framed cork bulletin board, which was OK, but lacked any kick-ass. I started thinking about the stolen bench—It began to tease and squeeze, knocked me to my knees—and I got another idea.

mondrian bulletin boardPaint the damn thing. I looked up my old Photoshop designs for the unfortunate Piet Mondrian Bench. Two coasts of primer, which soaked into the cork, three coats of acrylic color, electrician’s tape for the black lines, and a final coat of polyurethane. It took a week, because the paint had to dry in between, but it came out nice—And I am strangely vindicated. Mondrian

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Sep 27, 2010 - arts and crafts, Blue Dog    Comments Off

The Stolen Bench: A story about art and confusion

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“Who took my bench?!? Bring it back!” —handwritten sign nailed to telephone pole in Kenilworth, NJ, Summer 2006

bench

2006 I was squatting in a store front in Kenilworth, New Jersey after a particularly bad patch of luck. My mental health was not good, my physical health was not good, and my financial health was not good. I cried, slept, went to AA meetings and worked at my failing book business. So one day I got an idea.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and he was seriously mad at me for leaving his father. I missed him and thought about him, and remembered the bench.

Sam had made a pine bench for me in 8th grade woodshop. It was probably the best thing he had ever created, and I put it outside my door. It was unpainted and was starting to go grey, so I thought, “Well, I’ll paint it.”

piet mondrianI planned a pseudo-Modrian design using Photoshop and worked on it for weeks. It’s typical of me to over-process this kind of thing—First I learned how to download a bootleg version of Photoshop, then I taught myself how to use Photoshop, then I researched Piet Modrian’s work, and, finally, how to get carpenter bees out of wood—but that’s how I work. piet mondrian bench

Two coats of primer, three coats of color, many coats of polyurathane (more work than the project deserved, but Sam and I were connected, so who cares) were done on my front porch. The final coat was left out to dry at 2 am. At 6 am my bench was there, but by 8 am it was gone. I suspect it was one of the Mexican guys who worked for the landscaper next door, but I am unbowed by pity. Who the hell would be so low as to steal an art bench from someone’s stoop?

My neighbors snickered a bit when I put up handwritten signs demanding my bench back. It’s a rough neighborhood. Nobody leaves nice things outside. It’s like the Law of the Jungle.

The bench never came back, of course, and I didn’t get to take picture of the final product. All I have left are pictures of the original bench, my research and mockups, and a crazy Photoshopped print called “The Stolen Bench”.  Dutifully added to my portfolio. stolen bench

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Sep 27, 2010 - Blue Dog    Comments Off

My New Milwaukee Point 08 blog

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If anyone actually read Un Chien Bleu, they would see that my blog is not really useful.

I committed one of the Mosaic sins of blogging which goes something like “Thou Shalt Pick a Topic and Stick With It”. Having recognized that, I’ve started a new blog dedicated to observations and commentary on my home town of Milwaukee called Milwaukee Point 08

I moved all relevant posts there. Please come visit!

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