Monday, December 9, 2019

New Hanging Art Mobiles from Mark Leary Designs

On telling the truth
“Be careful,” said little bird. “That’s my heart.”

Mobiles: Phoenix Red, Level Change II, Papilionem

I remember the flickering neon glow on their faces. Those bright reds + greens, yellows + blues punctuating the moment.

Imagine yourself in the backseat of your parents’ car. You’re 16. It’s 6pm on a Monday. You’re parked in a strip mall outside a mechanic shop. And your folks are turned around in their seats looking at you, nowhere to hide, and as one say, “Why don’t you tell us what *really* happened.”

I knew what had “really” happened. I was there. I crashed the car, and I didn’t just sorta bump the curb like I’d told them. I knew this. And now – thanks to the mechanic who informed them of the laws of physics – they did, too.

Where does trust have to go off the rails such that we decide the truth isn’t good enough, isn’t safe enough? How is the idea that one mistake will make us unlovable – to ourselves and others – born?

It had been a Friday night. I’d gotten new car speakers. They were duct taped to the floor. LL Cool J along with my friends and I were moving too fast. I hit the brakes going down a steep hill, skidded out, slammed into a guard rail, and folded the better half of Corolla up under itself. I sat there as my parents looked at me and waited. A hundred cars passing in front of me with countless stories I’d never know unfolding in rush hour traffic slowly going everywhere and nowhere.

And I was scared.

I told them (mostly) what had happened. I paid for the repairs, and I didn’t die.

This swirl of mobile colors reminded me of those flashing strip mall signs and that time where I realized that telling the truth is more about loving yourself than anything else.

Do you remember a teenage lie you told to your parents?

#mobile #mcmdesign #hangingsculpture #sculpture #minimalism #kunst #forartssake #popart #mystory #abstractart #abstraction #art #arte #arts #artsy #artist #artwork #artlife #artlover #artnerd #artporn #artoftheday #artofvisuals #modernart #contemporaryart

Sunday, December 1, 2019

New Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

On creating
“But I can’t do that,” mouse said. 
“You already are,” replied fox, “so why not make it great?”

Mobile: Papilionem (27" wide by 12" tall)

Thoughts while making
“But I’m not creative,” she said.

It was the very first day facilitating my very first workshop with @writearoundpdx. For the next 10 weeks, I would be working with a dozen teens. The plan was we’d write together, share together, and build community together. I did not think the plan included this. I was wrong.

“But I’m not an artist.” How many times have you heard someone say this? How many times have you yourself said something similar? I’ve heard it more times than I can remember. “I can’t write to save my life.” “I can’t even draw stick figures.” “I’m not musical.” “I don’t know how to cook.” “I wouldn’t even know where to begin."

Where in life were we first told you couldn’t, shouldn’t, aren’t and will never be? Where in our culture did we box up creativity and artistry as something you either have or don’t, reserving it for anybody except ourselves?

I looked at the teen sitting across from me: Black nails, a vintage jacket, boots without laces, one earbud in. “Who picked out your clothes this morning?” I asked. “Who chose that nail color?” She knew where I was headed, yet she walked right into it: “But clothing isn’t like writing,” she said. “It isn’t creative, like being an artist.”

But isn’t it?

To create: to bring (something) into existence; to cause something to happen as a result of one’s actions. Every choice we make – creation, creativity. Every step we take – art, artistry. Life a canvas. Expression our paints. Each breath bringing something that never was before into being.

Over the course of the next 10 weeks, I got to see this young woman recover, discover, emerge, grow, and own her creative self. The pride, the courage, the confidence, beautiful.

To see life and everyday choices—the way we walk, talk, think, share, and body ourselves into the world—as artistry, can you imagine a world like this? Creativity in the most primary sense.

What is one type of artistry you’ve wanted to try, but – for whatever reason – haven’t yet?

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Medley of Modern Art Mobiles by Mark Leary

On thievery
“Is it still stealing,” asked crow, “if I just want to take away your pain?” 
Red mouse wasn’t sure, so she just hugged the big black bird and cried.

Mobiles: Mint Chip, Daisy, and Red Bubblicious

So, yes, I stole it. I was only seven, but when I put it in my pocket, I knew what I was doing.

When I was a kid, we often piled into the car and headed to Thrifty’s. We went for the ice cream. If we were lucky, it’d be a double scoop. . Butter Pecan, Chocolate Malted Krunch, Coconut Pineapple, Pistachio Nut, Rocky Road, and Mint Chip (namesake of one of the mobiles here).

There were those cones that melted in your mouth, flat-topped scoops, wax paper “napkins,” and lots of smiles.

I’m not sure why I was wandering the aisles, nor why I decided a house plant hydrometer was worth pilfering. But there it was, and it was so easy to slip into my pocket. . Less easy was explaining to my mom why I had stolen it when my older brother ratted me out at home. Minutes later, I was in the front seat of our Ford Fairmont station wagon, headed back to Thrifty’s.

The manager was wearing a plaid shirt and a blue vest with a plastic nametag. He had kind eyes. He took me back to the scene of the crime, got down on one knee, and started gently talking about the importance of making good choices and the consequences of our actions.

I’ve often thought about this man. He didn’t go to work that day thinking he was going to have counsel a 7-year-old shoplifter. But there he was, no anger, no threats; taking the time to get down on my level, literally + figuratively, to offer guidance, kindness, and wisdom.

It took all of five minutes of his day, but it’s stuck with me for decades how present he was. Such a lesson to remember the opportunities we have every day to offer those we meet our attention, a safe place, a supportive word.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

#mobile #mcmdesign #hangingsculpture #sculpture #minimalism #kunst #forartssake #popart #mystory #abstractart #abstraction #art #arte #arts #artsy #artist #artwork #artlife #artlover #artnerd #artoftheday #artofvisuals #modernart

Monday, October 7, 2019

Blue Moon Rising | Modern Kinetic Mobile Headed to the UK Gets A Color Makeover

On heart
“Should I follow it?” asked bear. 
“Only you can know,” said wolf as she howled at the moon. “But I say yes.”

Mobile: Blue Moon Rising, Dronfield Edition
Colors: Belton Molotow paints in Nature White, Tornado Red, Quince, Petrol Blue, Calypso, and Grapefruit. 
Size: Approx. 16" wide x 20" tall

The street was not well lit, and there was no sign, but I finally found the place. It was literally a hole-in-the-wall. A metal door with a window and a ripped screen. I checked the address again, took a deep breath, and then turned the knob.

Inside the dimly lit room was a beat-up butcher’s table, a bottle of whiskey, and a burly guy holding a couple of big knives.

Standing there, hands on hips, he looked at me in a way that made me feel like I wanted to be anywhere else. . Then he cracked a smile and said, “You ready to make some bacon?”

That was four years ago today. Working with two 20 pound slabs of sub-primal pork, I learned how to make bacon on that night with one of those very sharp knives … while drinking whiskey. For the record, I would suggest that the two do not go together.

When I first moved to Portland, I committed myself to doing one new thing every day. It was my way of trying to stay #accountable to the decision I’d made when I left Bend. A decision to break patterns that weren’t serving me and face fears. It was a decision to act as if I understood life is not forever, to follow my heart, and to show up.

I did not, however, expect that a bacon-making session was going to turn into an existential experience, that we would talk late into the night about what we really wanted in life, more than anything else, that passion, and the willingness to turn left and left again and left again to make it a reality.

As I left with a sack of bacon slung over my shoulder, I remember looking up at the night sky. Right there, low and white between two trees, sat a crescent moon. And I felt lucky to be alive.

Knowing we will not be forever, what’s one new thing you want to try today?

#mobile #mcmdesign #hangingsculpture #sculpture #minimalism #kunst #forartssake #popart #stories #abstractart #abstraction #art #arte #arts #artsy #artist #artwork #artlife #artlover #artnerd #artporn #artoftheday #artofvisuals #modernarts

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Wham | New Modern Hanging Art Mobile by Mark Leary

On dreams
“I dreamt it,” explained rabbit. “So I know it’s real.”

Mobile: The Wham (42” wide x 22” tall)
In a 40-year study that surveyed 50,000 college kids, researcher Calvin S. Hall determined that the most common feeling people report having in their dreams is anxiety, followed closely by anger, sadness, and fear.

I came across this study this morning as I was reading about Dmitri Mendeleev, the guy who invented the periodic table. He says, “I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required.”

Did you know that, over the course of your life, you’ll likely have over a hundred thousand dreams? If anxiety is the key theme, think about how many times that means you’ll dream about waking up late, being naked in public, and trying to scream but having no voice. And much harder things.

Think about your little brain during sleep, and how hard it’s working to process all the information it’s a received over the course of the day: Stress, doubt, hurt, fear, loneliness. All just so we can wake up to more of it.

In Hawaiian, the word for dream can be translated as "soul sleep.” Imagine that for a moment. Fluffing the pillows, pulling up the covers, tucking in the deepest part of you; kissing it on the forehead and giving it a safe, warm, quiet place to retreat.

This mobile is about to be on its way to soon-to-be new parents. It’ll spin overhead as their baby sleeps, wakes, poops, cries, laughs, grows, clings to, and – yes – dreams. It will be a pop of color, a bright background to the deep, resonant comfort and protection that is a parents’ love.

As I put the finishing touches on it this morning, I’m thinking about what we can do for each other – in the waking world – to create opportunities for such comfort and love, a place “where all the elements fall into place,” so our dreams don’t have to do so much heavy lifting, where we can protect, support, and lift up the dreams of the newest members of our human tribe, as well as each others’.

What’s one thing you can do today that will help ease the stress of or brighten a moment for another?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Level Change II | Now Spinning in Switzerland

On awe

“You’ll believe it,” explained squirrel, “when you see it.” 
“No,” sparrow replied, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” 

Mobile: Level Change II, in situ in Switzerland 

How many times, as an adult, have you heard the line, “You won’t believe this,” and yet you do. You see the thing, you hear the thing, you experience the thing, and it’s believable. Totally believable. No magic. No zing. No neural fireworks.

How’s that happen? Where does that child-like wonder go?

I heard a talk once on the topic of awe. The speaker described the common facial expressions we as humans make in the presence of the truly awe-some. And how if we want to invite awe in, we only need to begin by making those expressions.

I found myself walking around the next day trying this idea on. Coming upon a tall tree or big cloud, I’d open my eyes and mouth wide, take a step back, do that double-take thing, and inhale deeply. Waiting for it … waiting for it … still waiting for it. Nothing.

One of my customers sent me this picture today to show me where they’d hung their mobile. They live in Switzerland.

Those ridiculously high mountain trails that cling to impossible heights under even taller peaks soaring beyond even the highest high clouds. This is the stuff of awe, right? Yes-and.

Yes-and because, while Switzerland happens to be one of my favorite places on earth, today I was reacting to light in shadow, music in movement, an adjustable stool, a duster, sheet music – all the many stories layered into this one photo.

I’m reminded of a quote by Ralph Hodgson, “Some things have to be believed to be seen.” What occurs to me is that perhaps awe is a way of believing—in possibility, in beauty, in love—that allows for the stories to emerge. The magic to return. The fireworks to ignite. And this makes me smile because this way of being is available to us every single day.

What’s the one thing you need to believe about yourself this week to be reminded of what an awe-inspiring individual you are?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Blue Moon Rising | Modern Art Mobile | Kinetic Sculpture from Mark Leary

on dreaming

“But how do I know if it’s real?” asked crow. 
“Perhaps a better question,” replied mouse, “is why does it matter?”

Mobiles: Blue Moon Rising x 2 (unpainted)

Thoughts while making these mobiles
He never told me his name. In fact, he never said a word. I’m not sure I would’ve understood him if he did. He just stood there looking at me. It’s been decades now, but to this day I wonder about him, about that moment.

I’d picked a spot high up on a sandstone cliff in a box canyon in the Anza Borrego desert. The ledge I’d climbed to wasn’t big enough for my tent, so I’d rolled out my mat and sleeping bag on the sand and fell asleep.

Have you ever woken up because it’s too quiet, too still? I did. Opening my eyes, it took me a moment to figure out where I was. A snowglobe of stars arching over me, lighting the rounded edges of a distant horizon. . And that’s when I saw him. . He was standing there just beyond my head, and he was looking down at me.

To this day, I can describe his every feature. A face creased with time and earth brown. Those dark eyes. His presence large.

I remember feeling calm as he leaned down, placed his palms on either side of my head, and held me there. The entire time his eyes never left mine, even as he took a step backward and vanished into the night.

I lay there for a while before I moved. Turning in the direction he’d gone, I saw no sign of him; only a full moon rising above the canyon walls. . For years, I wondered whether he was real or just a dream. I came to realize he was both, as are many of the things we see and believe. For we are made of stories and stardust, and the more we dream, the more real we become.

Do you remember what you thought the first time you saw the full moon?

#mobile #mcmdesign #hangingsculpture #alexandercalder #calder #sculpture #minimalism #kunst #forartssake #popart #abstract #abstractart #abstraction #art #arte #artsy #artist #artwork #artlife #artlover #artnerd #artporn #artoftheday #artofvisuals #instaart #instagood #instadaily #modernart #contemporaryart #fullmoon

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ikebana + Modern Mobile | A Happy Accident

On truth
“It’s delicious,” fox stammered, lips puckering at the taste of an unripe berry. 
“You don’t have to pretend,” said crow. “I’ll like you even more.”

Mobile: Evergreen (unpainted), hanging from a Brew Dr. Superberry bottle.

Thoughts while making this mobile
Have you heard the story of the devil and the blackberry? For millennia, animals and insects, walking and winged, have delighted upon this sweet treat. Rising from the earth come early spring, this daughter of the genus Rubus tempts and teases. First with tiny fragile flowers seducing bees. Then as she stretches her serpentine limbs, fruit filling out, ripe and full.

Every time I walk to my studio, I pass a thornless blackberry. Cut back to the ground in winter, she emerges. And the transformation is inspiring. In June and July, great clusters of fruit appear, green-to-pinkish then to red and – eventually – to that deep, translucent purple.

This week, after some lip-puckering miscues, the squirrels and the birds told me the time had come. . I was making this mobile (pictured) today, and every time I went out to the studio, I spent a few moments head buried in this beautifully-overgrown thornless blackberry bush. Searching for those ripened gems hiding, yet inviting. Listening to bees, feeling the soil under my bare feet. And remembering to breathe deeply as my lips were kissed with childhood memories.

Legend has it that the devil, upon being cast into hell by the archangel Michael, fell upon a tangle of thorny blackberries. Clearly unhappy about this (and the general direction his poor life choices had taken him), he decided to do the reasonable thing: kick, spit, breathe fire, urinate on, and forever curse the blackberry bush. Michaelmas, as the feast day is known, falls on Sept. 29 and lore has it that it’s bad luck to eat the berries after this day. I have plenty to share for all!

What’s your favorite summer treat?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Fireleaf Blue Modern Organic Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

On the beautiful audacity of hope
“F*&@!” yelled little blue bird. 
“What’s wrong?!” asked red fox. 
“Oops,” replied bird, embarrassed. 
“I was trying to tell people to ‘HOPE!’ but I had something stuck in my beak.

Mobile: Blue Fireleaf 
Colors: Petrol Blue, Deep Sea Blue, Prussian Blue, Shock Blue, and Alga

Thoughts while packing up this mobile
Rain or shine, she laughs. Every morning. Every afternoon. And, I’d imagine, many times in between. Despite having been confined to a wheelchair for just about her entire life. Despite not being able to speak. Despite having been told more than two decades ago she wouldn’t make it another year.

I hear her laugh when she’s loading up into the bus on dark winter mornings. I hear her laugh when arrives home on the hot July afternoons. Despite countless surgeries. Despite a culture that has trouble with persons living with disabilities. Despite not having so many of “things” that so many of us take for granted.

Today, as I was packing up this mobile – one that reminds me of the sky, of birds taking flight, of unlimited possibilities and a million different futures – her bus pulled up to drop her off. And there it was: that tell-tale joyous laugh.

I can’t know what she’s really feeling. But the family who has cared for her since she was given up as a baby talk about her happiness, about the fire within her, about how loved she is. And this gives me hope: that in that blue sky where birds fly, we really do have such possibility available to us no matter where our bus drops us off each day.

What’s your favorite four-letter word and why?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Constellation Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Fine Art Mobile

On shooting stars

“They feel like magic,” whispered little bird. 
“That’s because they are,” replied fox. “As are you.”

Mobile: Constellation II 
Colors: Tar Black, Black Red
Size: 12" x 12"

Thoughts while making this mobile
I grew up not far from the ocean in San Diego. When I was little, my folks would regularly pack up the family and haul us east. Over the Cuyamaca Mountains, deep into the Anza-Borrego desert.

Most of my memories of those early trips come from stories told years later, cast in the warm glow of my family’s 35mm slide projector. But not all them. One memory could never have been caught on film.

You know that feeling when you wake up in the middle night and you have to go to the bathroom? You lay there, not sleeping, not really awake, in this state of struggle? When you finally do get up isn’t that feeling of tucking back under the covers kind of amazing?

I rarely got out of bed at night. I was really scared of the dark. So you can imagine that – in a desert where howling coyotes lulled me to sleep – the idea of getting up to pee was wildly unappealing. . One night, however, I didn’t have a choice. I literally couldn’t hold it any longer. I slowly unzipped the tent, imagining what awfulness was waiting for me as I poked my head through the tent flap.

And that’s when I came eye to eye with something I will never forget.

Stars, so many stars. Big and little. Near and far. Everywhere I looked. Laying on the ground beside me. Resting on distant mountain tops. Like I could reach out and run my fingers through them, like phosphorescence, like fireflies, like love.

I stood there then. The world utterly still. The night holding me in this sea of light. In that moment, feeling both small and infinite. And vulnerable. And brave.

That desert is one of my favorite places in the world. As an adult, I’ve returned there many times, camping alone under those same stars; always remembering that feeling.

Where’s your magical place?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Modern Mobile in Throwback Colors | Mark Leary Mobiles + Stabiles

On the past
“Do you miss it?” squeaked grey mouse. 
“Always,” smiled squirrel. “Always and never.” 

Mobile: The Original BS in @molotowheadquarters Petrol Blue, Tar Black, Vermillion, Caramel, Reed, Hemp, Black Red, Walnut

Thoughts while making
He laughed so hard, he began to cry. And the tears did not stop. 

A crack emerging, a lifetime focused in a moment. Magnified and intensified. First times and lasts. Heartbreaks and joy. Fear and wonder.

Memories of people long-since forgotten surfacing. Smells of places once lived. Recalling a thousand wakings and a thousand sleeps. Emotions a sea, heart beating fast and slow.

Tonight, I’m having dinner with a friend I’ve known since I was seven. Today, I pulled out a big box of letters I’ve saved over the years. They’ve traveled with me across the country and back again. Letters that date back to the early 80s. Among them are a number from her. From when we were in high school and beyond. Notes of encouragement and gratitude, support, and silliness.

The letters cracked a gateway between here and now, then and when. I found myself doing that thing where you look off into space, head cocked to the side, losing sense of where you are – or, perhaps, finding a better sense.

Perspective, that’s what it is. “To give the right impression of height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.” In this case, that particular point is a lifetime of connection. I’m filled with gratitude as I think about the course of our friendship, and happy for the unexpected cracking open to find the whole within.

We were born a day apart in the same hospital, so this mobile is her early birthday present. It’s a re-imagined version of a stabile I created a couple-few months back, and it reminds me of the shapes and colors our friendship has taken o’ these many years.

Who offers you that kind of perspective? Perhaps reach out to them today or just hold them in your thoughts for a moment or two

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Scraps + Scrapings | Musing on Modern Hanging Art Mobiles

On Scraps + Scrapings
“I think they’re beautiful,” squirrel exclaimed. 
“I guess that proves,” fox snarled sarcastically, “that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.” 
“And isn’t that just the most wonderful thing?!” replied squirrel. 

Photo: Giving a metal curly-cue scrap from one of my mobiles her 1.5 seconds of fame.

Thoughts while making a Level Change II mobile:

Have you heard the story of Curcu the Forgotten?

Curcu lived a happy life. She had a place of her own. Likeminded friends. And things were just as she wanted. . That is, until that fateful day when I entered her world. 

When we met, Curcu was flat and shiny and proud of her rectilinear 36” x 48” dimensions. Sure she had a few dents, but who didn’t, right?

See Curcu identified as a sheet of galvanized metal. She lived at the local big box. And although wedged between 25 other identical 3’ x 4’ sheets, she dreamed of the day she’d be atop the stack. That’s where I found her.

When I brought her home, she beamed. “I’ve made it,” she thought. When I traced those curvy shapes on her, she was a little irritated—“Why would he want to mark up my beautiful shiny, flat surface?”—yet she rolled with it. When the shearers bit into her sides, irritation turned to pain, and pain to fear. 

“What are you d-o-i-n-g?!” she cried. “I’m cutting out shapes for my mobiles,” I replied, as metal curly cues fell away from my blade.

I’d never made metal cry before, and I don’t advise you try it. “But, but,” she sobbed, “I’m flat and I’m shiny and I’m rectangular. That’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been. Can’t you understand?”

I thought for a moment. I *did* understand, but I also knew that—with imagination, hard work, and – yes – a bit of cutting—she’d experience a total transformation; her parts wholly bringing joy to many.

“Dearest Curcu,” I said, “I don’t know what the path ahead holds for you. Perhaps you’ll be scrapped and come back as a spoon or part of a rocket. But I do know you were never just one thing. You were always possibility, waiting. You were always opportunity, ready to be expressed. Change is hard, but when you open and allow, a new world of wonder awaits.”

Where’s one place you’d like to experience transformation?