Monday, July 21, 2014

Now Spinning @ University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art

I'm proud to announce my mobiles have found a fabulous new home at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in the dynamic heart of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The museum houses an impressive 18,000+ artworks from around the world — representing more than 150 years of collecting. Yet, it's their innovative mission that I find particularly exciting. 

UMMA is actively working to reimagine the university art museum as a “'town square' for the 21st century" and are dedicated to creating spaces that "place the arts at the center of public life" rather than having art be something you visit and simply look at:

"Whether you’re here for a moment of quiet contemplation, a lively debate about the meaning of art, a performance, class, or event, or just a little down time, we hope you’ll make UMMA a habit."

Make art a habit! How cool is that?! 

Interactive, engaging, addicting and a place to relax amongst the creative expressions of peoples from near and far, now and long ago. Pretty neat and inspirational indeed! Well done. Well done!

So, if you're in Ann Arbor, I encourage you to stop in and treat yourself to the experience that is the University of Michigan Museum of Art (and check out my five-part mobile series in the museum store while they last, too). 

I promise you're in for a big surprise and new way of thinking about and enjoying the museum experience.

Bubblicious in RedJumbleBlack BeautyAm I BlueThe Original Three-x-3

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mark Leary's Kandinsky-Inspired Mobile Series @ The Milwaukee Museum of Art

 Squircles and Squares with Concentric Circles

I’m honored (and excited) to announce the Milwaukee Museum of Art invited me to create a series of “inspired by” mobiles to celebrate its upcoming Kandinsky retrospective.

Running from June 5 to September 1, the exhibition is a grand tour of Wassily Kandinsky’s lifetime of creativity — showcasing over 130 of his finest pieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley Collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Spanning his time in Der Blaue Reiter, Russia, and the Bauhaus, the works I chose to explore range from oil to watercolor to color lithographs:

Simple (Einfach), 1916
Small Worlds II (Kleine Welten II), 1922
Violet (Violett), 1923
Thirteen Rectangles (13 Rechtecke), 1930
Fragment I for Composition VII (Center), 1913
Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

As you can see in the images below, the depth, dimension, and extraordinary movement found in each of the originals is truly exceptional … naturally inviting a 3D interpretation.

After sitting with each piece of artwork, the mobile designs seemed to emerge one by one from the images … as if they’d been there all along.

Then, using a variety of subtle (and not-so-subtle in the case of Squircles) painting techniques, I was able to transform the flat surfaces of the mobile blades into textured layers reading more like paper or canvas than metal (can't really see this nuance in the small-ish attached images).

If you are in the Milwaukee area this summer, I highly encourage you to check out the exhibition and experience Kandinsky’s genius for yourself. And, if you do, be sure to visit the outstanding Museum Store to see my mobiles for yourself (before they’re gone, of course).

Thanks again to the MAM for this amazing opportunity to celebrate such an important and inspiring artist.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Come To The Bpositiv 10 Charity Art Auction In Bend, OR
Bpositiv 10
When: Saturday, January 25th, 2014
Time: 4pm - 11pm
Where: McMenamins in Bend

It's that time of year again...

The 10th Annual Bpositiv Charity Art Auction kicks off on January 25th at McMenamins in downtown Bend, OR

Artists from all over Central Oregon and beyond have donated their artwork to help this important cause. I've shared a new mobile created just for the auction as well, "Up." I neglected to take a picture of it before it hit the auction highway, so you'll just have to trust me.

Now, it's YOUR turn to show up and bid generously on the fantastic art.

Last year's auction raised nearly $12,000 - all of the net proceeds going directly to help Oregon families who have received a terminal cancer prognosis for their child. Through their commitment and hard work, Bpositiv also offers financial support for "end of life" services and other "needs" to families facing these circumstances and need. 

If you're anywhere in or near Bend on Saturday night, please drop in to McMenamins, have a beer, and donate/buy. The event is free to attend and open to all ages.

Please take a moment to learn more about and its history: 

Bpositiv 10
When: Saturday, January 25th, 2014
Time: 4pm - 11pm
Where: McMenamins in Bend

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow Wild: An Art Exhibit of Wilderness and Imagination
Snow Wild: An Art Exhibit of Wilderness and Imagination
5-9 PM on 12.6.13 @ TBD Advertising (1000 NW Wall St #201 - above Patagonia)
When Matt Ebbing, Art Director at TBD Advertising, pinged me via email to see if I had any mobiles that would play well in his upcoming First Friday Artwalk show here in Bend, my first thought was, "Uh, er, um, not really."

See, Matt conceived the show, Snow Wild, to "instigate a dialogue within our community about the intangible, inspiring ethos of raw wilderness as it collides with creativity and imagination."

Maybe it's just me, but painted metal mobiles don't scream "raw wilderness." And, I actually try my best to keep my mobiles from colliding with anything.

But, I was taken with the spirit behind the show (especially since my thesis in grad school explored the place of nature and the nature of place), so I told him I'd see what I could do. 

Having recently cut a few limbs from a dead tree in my yard, I decided to see if within its rings any promise was to be held. 

After producing (and inhaling) way too much sawdust (note to self: remember to close the windows of your car next time you turn your shop into a sawmill), and LOTS of trial and error, and maybe a little cursing here and there, I created four wood mobile spinners. 
I have to say it was very cool to have to approach something I take for granted - the way my typical mobile-making materials and construction techniques work - in a different way to end up with a workable solution.
If you're around, you can check out my "forest for the" and the works of seven other super cool local artists at First Friday on 12/6 (or any time throughout the month of December). 

Thanks to Matt for reaching out, being such a cool cat (yes, I did just say that), and for inspiring me to see the "natural" world around me in new and creative ways. Much obliged and appreciative.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Getting Loopy - How-To Mobile-Making Video with Mark Leary

I was recently contacted by a Dad who is teaching himself how to make mobiles for his kids, including his soon-to-be-born son. 

He was having a tough time figuring out the loop that connects a lower mobile arm to the arm above it. It can definitely be tricky!

I shot this quick video to see if I could help sort it out for him.

Disclaimer: I'm pretty sure the cameraman was high on paint fumes.

Happy mobiling!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Come To The Amity Creek Annual Fundraiser - March 2, 2013

"black beauty blues"

It's that of year time again...

It's the time when Amity Creek Elementary has their much-anticipated annual auction. 

It's the biggest fundraiser of the year for the school and 100% of the proceeds go to enhancing their children’s amazing educational journey.

Join your fellow Central Oregonians at the Boys & Girls Club (500 NW Wall Street) at 6 pm to join in the silent auction. Amazing arts, goods and services have been donated by many of your favorite establishments and local artists (including the mobile you see above by me). 

A live auction with professional auctioneer, Scott McLean, will take place later in the evening! The live auction will present a full selection of the amazing bowls and artwork created by Amity Creek's own students. 

There are reliable rumors that the Moon Mountain Ramblers will be playing during the silent auction, so be sure to come early and bid often!

This special night is free and open to all ages.

So, if you're downtown with nothing to do, drop in and bid on some cool stuff, chow down on some good grub, and listen to some smokin' good music - all while supporting one of our most unique and supportive schools. 
Amity Creek Annual Auction
When: March 2, 2013 
Where: Boys & Girls Club (500 NW Wall Street) 
Time: 6pm - ?

Monday, February 4, 2013

more than meets the eye: 13 steps to making a mobile

"redblack vanilla"

Recently, I've been asked what goes into making one of my mobiles.

Since the truth - a lil' black magic, a teaspoon of cumin, and three molars from a feral boar - probably wouldn't be too believable, I figured I might as well make up something to appease those inquiring minds.

Actually, despite how simple they may appear, every mobile has no less than 13 unique and time-rich steps.

Shall we take a look at them? 

Step 1: Hand draw blade shapes on sheet metal. I trace out a design on sheets of 4' x 3' thin-gauged sheet metal. 

Step 2: Rough cut blades with 16” metal shearers. This is where I cut out around the shapes to remove them from the larger piece of metal. 

Step 3: Fine cut blades with 14” Wiss snub-nosed drop-forged shearers. This is where I actually cut them as close the final shape as possible by hand. 

Step 4: Drill dual arm holes in blades (where the arms attach). 

Step 5: Shape sand blades on belt sander (to smooth out any edge imperfections). Using a standard belt sander, I work to create the most eye-pleasing shapes as possible. Whatever the shape is that emerges from here is the final one, so it's got to be the best I can make it. 

Step 6: Hand sand blade surfaces (to create appropriate surface for paint to adhere). I use an orbital sander with 150-grit sandpaper to get the right surface and to sand out any burrs that were created during Step 5. 

Step 7: Make it!!! No two mobiles are the same. Then, I create the mobile. The blades have been made, but now it's time to actualize the design. I create each mobile using a set of six pliers - each having a different, vital role in how the mobile comes together, including three needlenose (straight small, straight large, and a 45 degree), a flat head, and a tongue-and-groove

Then, I also use a rasping file to grind the edges of the metal wire (for the arms), wire snips, and a Phillips screwdriver (to make my connector rings). The wire I use is between 14- and 20-gauge. Everything is done by eye, trial and error and experience. There are no templates, pre-cut wires, or guides to show me the way. 

That's why each mobile is unique. The time it takes to make the mobile ranges based on the complexity of the design. 

Step 8: Disassemble, wash and dry blades (to remove any metal dust and hand oils). Once the mobile has been created, I take it apart to wash it. I use a degreaser and water and basic no-lint paper towels to dry. 

Step 9: Tape blades (to prevent overspray of the paint). Then, I use painters tape to cover the place where the arm of the mobile meets the blade. This allows me to paint over the edges of the blades without worrying that I'll have to clean up a ton of overspray. 

Step 10: Prime blades. I apply one coat of a durable double-strength primer in either gray or white depending on the color palette of the mobile. I use a 3M full face ventilator mask and a homemade paint booth that is powered by a massive tumbler fan which draws the excess paint spray into a heavy-duty filtration pad.  

Step 11: Paint blades with Belton MolotowPremium paints (two coats) and dry in heated curing room. This paint is the BOMB. It's made in Germany and is designed for graffiti artists. This means extraordinary durability, color fastness and precision. It's a low-pressure paint that applies like butter and is just so uber-juicy and rich. The colors are phenomenal ( In my curing room, I use radiant heat to bake the paint on. In the winter, it's the warmest room in the house! 

Step 12: Detail blades (sandpaper and razor blade to remove any overspray). After the blades have cured for approximately 48 hours, I remove the tape and use a razor blade and low-grit sandpaper to remove any excess paint and to make sure the edge where the blade and the arm meet are pristine and exact. Okay, "pristine" might be a bit of a stretch. 

Step 13: Reassemble and final balance. Then comes my favorite part: putting 'em back together! I reassemble the mobile, hang it, and fine-tune to make sure it "sits" pretty and spins right.
Then, of course, there's packaging which is about 13 more steps and takes almost as long as the whole mobile process (not really, but it sure feels like it). 

Each step of every mobile offers me a chance to hone and perfect my craft. I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to be wholly self taught (although my Dad is a raucously cool and extremely talented woodworker and my Mom is almighty fine with her weaving, pottery, painting and poetry, and I have four super-gifted and creative brothers and sisters, so I don't think I came about this on my own by any means).

For those of you who have asked, I hope this gives you a better understanding of how this seemingly simple piece of art comes into being. There is most definitely much more than meets the eye ... and that's exactly what I dig about them: deceptively simple. 


PS - Oh, and thanks to my best friend and brother-from-another-mother Devin for revamping the logo! Awesome!  

PPS - The Bpositiv 9 Charity Art Auction was a huge success. Together, we raised thousands for the organization's super important work. You can donate to the cause any time at: As for me, in addition to my donated mobile (which has gone to a fantastic new home), I also won "Hello Lover ... I Mean Lumberjack" by Sarah McMurray ( He's the suave chap hanging out to the left of the window in the photo below)!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best Hanging Mobile Testimonial ... EVER!

Need I say more?!
(click image for a larger view of this sweet note from a seven-year-old soul)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Come To The Bpositiv Charity Art Auction - January 26, 2013

'hope warrior" mobile for hannah
Bpositiv 9 Charity Art Auction
January 26, 2013

For nine amazing years, our very own Bpositiv Foundation for Children with Cancer has collaborated with the artists of Central Oregon for a single unifying purpose: to benefit Oregon families who are facing a terminal cancer prognosis for their child.

Now, you have an opportunity to participate in one of our community's most important nights. 

Join your fellow Central Oregonians at McMenamins from 5pm to 10pm on January 26th as we come together to help support this local charity ... and enjoy a silent auction, raffle, music, prizes and much more. 

Artists from across the region have generously donated their finest creations for the auction. I have created a one-of-a-kind mobile especially for the event. "hope warrior" celebrates Hannah's sweet and mighty spirit surrounded by great, great love. 

All net proceeds from the auction will go directly to support the life-changing programs Bpositiv sponsors. So, please get ready to bid on your favorites and let's raise a ton of money for Bpositiv.

This special night is free and open to all ages. 

Please take a moment to learn more about and its inspiring history: 

Bpositiv 9 Charity Art Auction
When: January 26, 2013
Where: McMenamins (Old St. Francis)
Time: 5pm - 10pm
'hope warrior" for hannah'hope warrior" for hannah

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bend Festival Noel Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Bend Festival Noel Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Hey, I invite you to join me and host of 75 other tasty artists, talented food and dirty cellos for fun, wine and wonder at the Bend Noel Holiday Pop-Up Shop

This year, the C3 Events-engineered shop is popping up on Saturday, December 15 (11am-8:30 pm) and Sunday, December 16 (10 am - 8pm) at the Athletic Club of Bend. Swimsuits are optional. 

There will be all kinds of gourmet Oregonian eats, overflowing cheer in a glass, super swell performers like Pink Martini and the Portland Cello Project, and - of course - local artists and shops, including my firecracker of a neighbor, Jen, and her Just a Little Charm juggernaut.

I can't promise anything, but that jolly guy who  seems to likes to wear red fur coats and black satin boots is rumored to be hanging out all weekend long. 

And, if that weren't enough to get you all hopped up on holiday fumes, I'll be offering a 10% discount on all my mobiles (from my listed Etsy prices) AND donating 10% of the proceeds from all my sales to Neighbor Impact.

So, jumpstart your reindeer, fire up your sleigh, stuff your pockets with some of that green stuff and come on down (or up, or over, or around) and make an awesome day of it - all while supporting your local community.

Happy goodness to you and yours!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mark Leary Mobiles Featured On Herman Miller

eames molded plastic chair in my garden with beat-up mobile
My "studio" and I are honored to be featured on Herman Miller's Lifework blog this week.

Many thanks to the incomparable Amy Feezor for writing the piece. In addition to being the blog editor at Herman Miller and the copy director at Real Simple magazine and a contributing writer for and the owner of a smashing blog of her own (, Ms. Feezor is also just pretty dang cool. 

Thanks again!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

red rover featured in babytalk magazine

"red rover red rover" featured in babytalk magazine"

baby talk:

1) n. A style of speech used by adults in addressing children, pets, or sweethearts, and formed in imitation of the voice and pronunciation of children learning to talk.

... AND ...

2) The magazine that just featured one of my mobiles in its May 2012 print edition!

I'm honored that one of my favorite mobiles, "red rover, red rover," is showcased in their "sweet spots" section ... right next to a big blue egg-shaped nightlight!

Published for over 75 years by Bonnier Corporation (home to such fine magazines as Saveur (yum), Popular Photography (yo snap), Parenting (oooh), and Popular Science (ahhh)), babytalk is the nation's oldest baby magazine.

Thanks so much to the folks at babytalk magazine and Hanging Mobile Gallery for your awesome and ongoing support. Very cool!