Monday, December 9, 2019

New Hanging Art Mobiles from Mark Leary Designs

Mobiles: Phoenix Red, Level Change II, Papilionem

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

Thoughts while making
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

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

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

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

Mobiles: Mint Chip, Daisy, and Red Bubblicious

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.

Thoughts while making
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

Mobile: Blue Moon Rising, Dronfield Edition (Approx. 16" wide x 20" tall)

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

Thoughts while making
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

Mobile: The Wham (42” wide x 22” tall)

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

Thoughts while making
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

Mobile: Level Change II, in situ 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.” 

Thoughts while making
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

Mobiles: Blue Moon Rising x 2 (unpainted)

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

Thoughts while making
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

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

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.”

Thoughts while making
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

Mobile: Blue Fireleaf

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.

Thoughts while making
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

Mobiles: Bl(ink), Am I Blue (in white)

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

Thoughts while making
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

Mobile: The Original BS

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

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. 

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?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Redblack Vanilla | New Modern Hanging Art Mobile Headed to Los Angeles

On Patience
“But I don’t want to wait,” explained sparrow. “I want it now.” 
Fox twitched his tail, “Perhaps,” he suggested, “It’s less about waiting than getting excited about the right moment arriving?” 

Thoughts while making
I think of myself as a patient person. But that hasn’t always been the case. 

As a kid, birthdays, summer, and the end of the school day could never come fast enough. Christmas Eve was torture. Waiting for dessert was painful.

Somewhere along the way – maybe because I was tired of getting frustrated by tangled electrical cords – I found patience. Or it found me.

So you can imagine how discouraged I was the other day when it resurfaced. I was running late the gym. Wanted to make sure I got a spot in my cycle class. Sitting at the stoplight at NE Sandy and 57th Avenue, I felt like I might make it in time. Then, just as the light turned green, two police choppers zoomed into the intersection and stopped traffic. Even though I knew why they were doing it, I felt my chest constrict. My jaw tense.

The first car in the funeral procession was a deep black. The man behind the wheel was wearing a white headband, traditional for Vietnamese mourners. The last car to slowly pass through that intersection was red, and the gray-haired woman behind the wheel appeared to be crying. I was embarrassed at my impatience. Here in the face of death. A reminder that everybody – including you – is going through something, always; and that taking a moment before reacting to listen, to wait, to ask, to open, to soften, to invite, and to allow is worthwhile and important.

Where’s one place where you feel impatient?

#mobile #kunst #forartssake #artnerd #hangingart #kineticart #artwork #abstract #modernart #moderndesign #artofvisuals #artlover #artlife #interiordesign #popdesign #mcmdesign #art #hangingsculpture #alexandercalder #contemporaryart #abstractart #arte #artoftheday  #scandanaviandesign #danishdesign #sculpture

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Caldairemeiro Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

On Opening Your Eyes
“My weather app tells me it’s raining outside,” said sparrow into her phone.
“Um, it is and it’s amazing. Put your phone down and get out here,” laughed gray mouse as she splashed puddles in front of sparrow’s house.

Thoughts while making
The rain came hard today. A soft gray sky turning dark and thunderous. The downpour was throaty and ominous—in that don’t f with me kind of way that nature sometimes has.

Caldairemeiro was oblivious to the weather outside—she was in my sauna of a studio enjoying a high-heat bake to make fast her colorful goodness. It’s only about 100 feet from the side door to my studio, but dang it sure looked wet out there.

I thought to myself, “Do I make run for it? Do I wait it out? This mobile needs to ship today.” So, decision made, I opened the door, and – with every intention to hightail it the studio – I nearly froze in place.

The tea roses caught me unexpected. Jeweled with a thousand tiny droplets.

Then the blackberry leaves. Little rivers streaking across a deep green.

Ferns and hostas and crocosmia. All dancing under the unrelenting rain.

And even my industrious squirrel friend raising his fist—whether in triumph for finding shelter under the lilac or giving Mother Nature the whatfor, I’m not sure.

I made it to the studio just as the rain stopped. A burst of sun breaking through, and the warmth washing over me as I slide the door open.

Caldairemeiro got packed and is now on her sweet way to Seattle. It was a small decision to take that first step, but wow: how grateful am I?

What decision did you make today that had an unexpected outcome?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Red Rover Modern Mobile | Bon Voyage and Merci

On enough
“Can you do this?” blue bird asked as she struck a fierce warrior III pose.
“Um no,” replied turtle. “But I can do this.” 
“You’re just standing there,” said blue bird. 
“Yes, and smiling” turtle added.
Thoughts while making
All I did was hold the door open for her, but you’d have thought I’d just paid off her mortgage. “Aren’t you the sweetest young man,” she said, wobbling toward the post office with a cane in one hand and one of the largest crocheted purses I’ve ever seen in the other. 

“That is just the nicest thing anyone has done for me all day.” I just smiled as she finally made it to the door, “I don’t move as fast as I used to, but I still get where I want to go. Everybody’s always in a hurry. Arthritis slows me down, lets me smell the flowers. And you held the door open for me. Just the nicest thing. People don’t say thank you enough.”

She was still talking as she made her way to her mailbox, key around her neck, cane balanced against the row of little metal doors below.

I was still smiling as I covered the 20 feet between the outside door and inner door where I was greeted with a “Hi Mark, how are you?” from my favorite clerk.

Sometimes the little things are more than enough. Thank you.

What made you smile today?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Details Matter | Midcentury Modern Mobiles from Mark Leary

On Details
“But I can’t make a difference,” said gray mouse. “I’m far too small.” 
“But your heart is big,” replied owl, “And that’s all that matters.”

Thoughts while making
His name was Yander. I met him on a desert road. The day was hot. I was tired. And my truck had a flat.

I’d spent the previous 5 days in search of shadows and meaning in the Anza Borrego badlands. An ill-advised trip. I’d left Long Beach packed with 2 cans of tuna fish, a handful of beef jerky, a few oranges, and a ziplock bag of Vitamin C. I had a couple gallons of slightly milk-ish water in plastic jugs, too. Oh and a journal, a dog-eared copy of The Upanishads, and a sleeping bag that smelled of barf from an unfortunate high Sierra’s backpacking trip with my dad, older brother, and a hallucinogenic marmot.  

I’d gone to the desert looking for something. Yet I’d paid little attention to the details that seemingly mattered: Water. Food. Shelter. Good sense. Not to mention a working jack or a fully-inflated spare tire.

So how is it that this ended up being one of the best little adventures of my life? I smoked a cigarillo and talked to a fly about Plato one afternoon. Watched a hill come alive with mica reflected under the rising full moon. Meditated and felt the earth thump beneath me (likely just the effects of heat exhaustion + dehydration). I emerged sunburnt, chapped, slightly frazzled—and so happy. In the end, it was these details, not the pragmatic ones, that mattered, endured.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s all details, everything. And there aren’t right or wrong ones, just those we choose to focus our attention upon and those we don’t. That focus and those synergies paint the picture, write the story, make the meaning – as much about what we include as exclude.

So, I’m curious what detail you saw today – focused upon – and how it impacted you? For me, it was the loops + lines that connect the colorful bits of my mobiles, they often take a backseat but today I felt appreciation for them, as part and whole. You?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Bubblicious Modern Mobile | New Color scheme

On the feeling
But how will I know?” she asked. 
“You’ll feel it,” explained squirrel. “Like sunshine, sweet and warm, soft upon your heart.” 
“It sounds wonderful,” said red fox. 
“It is,” squirrel smiled. “It truly is.” 

Thoughts while making
 Hi, my name is Mark Leary, and I am a recovering trash picker. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I was incurable as a kid. The 7-year-old towheaded me would slip out of the house the night before trash day and get to work. My route was pretty simple – circling the block I’d lift lids, pick and poke, and always – always – come home with treasures.

There was the one-footed Sacred Heart Jesus statue. A five-year collection of TV guides (*whoa* that box was heavy), and a stack of “This books belongs to _____” labels. There was a puppet theater fa├žade, a high chair, and assorted odds and ends that I would either ferret away in my bedroom or – when it was too big – stash it along the side of our suburban house. No, this did not go over well with my folks, and more than once I had to hang my head and return my treasures to the very trash cans from which they came. #mortified

I can’t quite describe the sense of wonder I had when I would find something new; well “new” to me. There was something so exciting about the moment before I would open the lid – like all things were possible. My heart would beat fast, pure adrenaline racing through my little body – always an absolute amazement at what I’d find.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we always could see the world through these kinds of eyes – looking at things anew, with anticipation, with excitement for what was to come, and valuing that which we found? It’s a bit overblown, I suppose. But why? Wonder has a place in our everyday, doesn’t it?

The client who ordered this mobile asked for this particular palette. It’s a new one for Bubblicious, and it offered me a chance think these thoughts and to re-see the first production mobile “design” I ever made. I’m grateful for the reminder and the lesson.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Partsnpieces | New MCM Hanging Art Mobile from Mark Leary

On transformation

“Sometimes,” red fox explained, “standing still is the best way to move forward.”
Blue sparrow wasn’t sure she understood, but she nodded her head anyway.

Mobile: Partsnpieces. I had too many tabletop experiments from the past few days staring at me, so I decided to think about The Bobs differently, making a mobile using the same parts and pieces.

Size: Approx. 16" wide x 38" tall

Colors: Montana water-based spray paints in Burnt Umber, Deep Black, Yellow Ochre, Azo Orange, Cobalt Blue, and Titanium White

Thoughts when making: I’ve been researching air filtration systems. My studio doubles as a drying room. And the VOCs are BAD. Since I have a decent relationship with my brain, I figure I should keep it as safe as I CAN.

You probably already know this, but many air purifiers have carbon at the core. The unit I’m looking at has 30 pounds of carbon. All meant to adsorb (and, yes, I learned that word, too) gasses. The bad stuff.

It occurred to me that here’s this element that’s sole purpose – in this capacity – is to adsorb bad stuff so that my body doesn’t have to. Yet in other forms, say carbon dioxide, it’s lethal to humans, but life giving to plants. In its purest form, it has “extremely low toxicity,” yet simply grind that lump of coal and the dust will kill.

Context. Composition. Application. Approach. Intention. As I was re-purposing these four little stabiles into one new mobile, these words kept popping into my head. How the definition of a thing – the very thing itself – changes based on the fundamental questions: who, how, what, where, why, and when.

When thinking about carbon, those changes in definition could be the difference between life and death. Made me think of how often I can lock a moment, or a person, or an experience in time – and leave it there. Inert. What it is. Defined.

Rethinking how these parts and pieces could come together in new ways invited a different way of seeing, an acceptance that other configurations were possible. Allowed me to re-member how important context and intention are as I think about how I come to the world, and what I see when I ask and re-ask those essential questions, especially in situation that – on the surface – seem like I’ve experienced them again and again.

In this instance, sure, it allowed me to transform a stabile into a mobile; not getting hung up on one way of seeing possibility, one definition of what is. But more so, it made grateful to you for sharing your unique perspectives – art forms, words, fashion, viewpoints, ideas, and more. All these parts and pieces helping to expand our worlds, creating this ever-shifting and much greater whole. Thank you.