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.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Dyad | New Modern Tabletop Mobile from Mark Leary Designs

“If we lean into each other,” squirrel said, “neither of us will fall over.” 

Mobile: Dyad 

Size: 18” tall x 20” wide 

Colors: Belton @molotowheadquarters Premium paints in Petrol Blue, Tar Black, Cashmere Yellow, Vermillion, Caramel, Reed, Hemp, Black Red, Walnut

Thoughts while making: In my cycle class, there’s this avid rider. He’s tall, probably six foot three or four. He rides in the front row, on the far left bike, and he rides hard. Often he wears a white headband to match his white hair. He’s 73 years old.

In this past year, he’s pretty much had every medical procedure you could imagine, including quadruple bypass heart surgery. . I try to talk with him before each class. He saves his old Bicycle magazines for me, and lends me books (currently Death without Company by Craig Johnson). 

He had, as you can imagine, a tough year. We talked a fair amount about sadness. And we laughed a lot, too. He’s a really good guy. 

On Tuesday, he came up to me and said, “You know, we need five hugs a day for survival, and 10 for growth?” As I started to tell him that I did know this, he leaned in and gave me a huge hug. Not a guy hug – where men seemingly can’t allow their faces touch – and not a polite pat-pat hug; but a big, big bear hug. 

And that was it. No additional explanation. I’ve known him for a couple years now, and not a single hug. I suspect he knew I needed it or maybe he did, or both: a counterbalance in a topsy-turvy world; a hit of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin; a way to connect. And we can all use that, right?

I was thinking these thoughts as I made this tabletop. Remove either of the two individual mobiles and the whole thing will tip over. Together, however, they balance each other. Here’s to balance and virtual hugs to any, every, and all

Friday, April 12, 2019

Trust Me | All-Metal Modern Hanging Art Mobile by Mark Leary

On trust

“I gave everything,” sparrow cried.
“And now I have nothing.”
Fox waited a moment, then spoke:
“Trust me, child. You have your voice, and your song is strong and true.”

Mobile: Trust Me

Size: Approx. 22" wide x 36" tall

Materials: Galvanized steel and stainless wire

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Fornever | New Metal + Wood Modern Hanging Art Mobile from Mark Leary

“This time will be forever,” she said. 
“There will be no next time,” she promised. 
“You are the one,” she swore. 
Yet spring would end once again, pink petals dusting sidewalks with magic. 

Mobile: Fornever 

Size: Approx. 25” tall x 25” wide 

Materials: Sheet metal and backyard harvested live-edge laurel wood, gently shaped + dry finished 

Thoughts while making: I live in Portland now, but there’s a small canal that runs behind my house in Bend. Every evening just before sunset, the light reflects up off the water onto the undersides of the leaves of the maples, aspens, and a gentle mountain ash that line that canal. 

 I called it the Light Show, and I would come out just to sit with it. Dazzling. The golden shine cascading. A warm glow filling. 

And the ducks. Oh, the ducks. They flew low along the canal, speeding home from wherever the day held them; sometimes splashing down in a rainbow of light and color and sound. 

Taking it all in from my big ol’ papasan chair, I would dream and drift, and often cut out random shapes for future yet-to-be mobiles. I made each of these three recent wood + metal mobiles from the last of a box of shapes I cut out while living in Bend. 

Nothing lasts, necessarily. But neither does it end.

Friday, April 5, 2019

On Conjuring | New Wooden + Metal Midcentury Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

“Are you sure you’re doing it right?” she asked.
“I have no idea,” I responded.
And we both laughed then,
because we knew it really didn’t matter.

Mobile: The Conjuring
Size: Approx. 16” wide x 23” tall
Material: Sheet metal + backyard harvested live-edge laurel wood, gently shaped + dry finished

Thoughts while making: I lit some Nag Champa as I made this mobile. Partly to get rid of the lingering smell of burnt brussel sprouts. Mostly because this mobile is headed to #Virginia

 I was still a kid, really. Living on the ocean in Seal Beach, CA. She rolled in like a wave. Changed everything. Packed up my ‘86 Honda Civic hatchback, and moved to Harrisonburg, VA, where I proceeded to eat a lot of #Velveeta and write truly awful poetry. 

Incense seemed ever present. And while the universe had different ideas for what that relationship would become, the smell of #NagChampa will always conjure up a rich feeling of possibility … and fabulously smelly hippies.

Wood and Metal Modern Mobile | Mark Leary Designs

“This alphabet,” explained gray wolf, “does not contain letters or numbers.
It holds the space for you and me.
So please be careful with the words you choose.”

Mobile: Untitled
Size: Approx. 21” tall x 27” wide
Material: Metal + backyard harvested live-edge laurel wood, gently shaped and dry finished

Thoughts while making: I was quiet as a kid. “Why don’t you say anything?” my mom’s mom would ask at the dinner table. “You’re such a #doof,” she would say … which didn’t help, especially since I was scared of her. 
Many years later, I came to learn Gramma was a writer, among many other things. We started corresponding when I was in college. I don’t recall why. But the small stack of handwritten and dot matrix letters are among my greatest treasures. 

Although wracked with pain, she would write about gambling at the casino, kids wearing baggy pants, @TacoBell (the only thing she would eat at 83), and to tell me something she never said in person. 

In one of her last letters written in April many years ago, she closed with “I have a feeling this is not going to be a long letter because I am shaking and I can’t type very well. You don’t have to answer this because it is more of a note than a letter. I just want you to know that I love you and I miss you.” 

Today, I’d encourage you to use your words, and use them care-fully and well.

Monday, April 1, 2019

On living with pride: New Colorful Mobile Teaches Me a Lesson

“It’s simple,” they said. 
“Be biased toward those who treat you with respect and care. 
Be prejudiced in favor of kindness and honesty. 
Be discriminating in the thoughts you hold and company you keep. 
And most importantly, love with your whole heart, and let others do the same.”

Mobile: Pride

Size: Approx. 31” tall x 21” wide 

Colors: Belton Moltow Premium paints in Signal Yellow, Light Orange, Lobster, Traffic Red, Burgundy, Indigo, Night SEEN Blue, BOOGIE Viola, Shock Blue, Jeans Blue, Menthol, and Clover Green 

Thoughts: What happens when a client asks you to take a two-color mobile and light it up like a rainbow? Fear and doubt, that’s what. I was concerned the end result would look like a clown barfed up confetti. 

I was fearful it wasn’t going to look good. Because it was different. Because it wasn’t how it was “supposed” to be. Because it was “too much.” 

But I believe art is collaborative. And taste is personal. And helping other realize their vision is critical. And exploring new ideas is essential. 

So I did it, and – wow – l love it. 

Such a great reminder of, well, so many things