Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THE ITALIAN MYSTIQUE PROVIDES A BUMP - BUT DOES LOCAL STONE SPEAK TO YOU?


"Speak to me"

It seems to me Arts are local, and are based on local history and local knowledge, not in itself a bad thing, however, Local-ism does not serve the world of art all that well. If there is a lack of local history of stone sculpture, I believe the void is filled by romancing common knowledge about the subject. Common knowledge about stone carving is Irving Stone's version of Michelangelo. So milking Michelangelo's Renaissance stone carving, fills the gap. Savvy stone purveyors, stone workers and stone sculptors work this angle to there advantage to get what I call the Italian bump Marketing at its finest. I too love Italian culture, food, wine, fashion, autos, and art, but like my own history, culture, food, wine, fashion, autos, and art as well. I come from a rich heritage of stone workers, my father and his three brothers were all stone-carvers my three brothers, two brothers-in-law, uncle and nephews. All worked for the largest stone company in the world. None of us Italian. I feel no need to use the Italian bump to promote myself, and refuse to roll my R'S to dazzle the locals. Of course this behavior has be costly, but its a matter of self pride. There must be a better way to generate interest in local stone sculpture, after all the local wine growers found a way to self pride. Remember Duke Ellington: “If it sounds good, it is good.” I say as a stone sculpture, if looks good it is good. Good sculpture doesn’t require a signature of authenticity, or European heritage, it only needs to evoke a emotional response from the viewer to have value.

Idaho travertine
SE Alaska marble

SE Alaska marble
Montana sandstone


FOUR PHOTOS OF MY SCULPTURE


It seems Northwest wine makers found the local climate and soil for grapes equal to Italy, unfortunately our northwest basalt isn’t like European marble for carving, however we to have wonderful carving stone. Its not the stone, but what you do with the stone that makes great art. I am sure you could have the greatest soil and climate in the world but not have good wine if your not a good winemaker. Good stone sculpture is made by good artists. And we have lots of good artists in the Northwest. Personally I take great pride in reading local stone I source myself, even if it is not as romantic as tying myself to Italian Mystique. There is nothing more satisfying to me then taking a raw stone fragment, and creating a beautiful enduring piece of art. To me the expression reading the stone is often expressed as the stone speaks to me.

Early traveler

Natural cleavage

READING THE STONE
The natural shape of the found local stone defined both their destinies
Early Traveler from SE Alaska. Natural cleavage from New Mexico. 



It seems to me the local stereotype which am calling The Italian Bump in stone carving is a mixture of Michelangelo's genius and savvy Italian business men promoting white Carrara marble. The two elements become indistinguishable and interchangeable. The end result is that Italian marble then becomes the object of desire in itself and is indistinguishable from the quality of the art. So rolling your rs and playing the game becomes as important as knowing your art. All stone sculptors enjoy working on a piece of white marble but there is little reading the stone in white marble, there is nothing to read. Its a matter of removing the material to revel the form in your mind. Not a bad thing, but certainly a different exercise then reading the stone. Its a matter of geometry and knowing your tools. The quality of the sculpture is equal to the quality of the form in your mind. It seems to me that stone sculpture cut from a white Italian marble, accrues the added value of the Italian mystique. Carving Italian white marble has its challenges and creating a art form that is in your mind is not easy and I certainly enjoy that personal challenge but I think carving indigenous marbles truly requires me to read the stone. The stone defines the limits as well as the possibility of the sculpture. This is rarely understood by by non stone carvers and of course gets none of the Italian mystique benefit. In fact it often is viewed as inferior product not measuring up to the Italian myth held by locals. I have often observed that eyes light up and you get the approving look when I tell someone in a low voice, this is a piece of Italian or Greek marble, THE ITALIAN BUMP of importance. The little German village I grew up in, was and still is the home of the largest stone company in the world, also had a fine little German Pilsner brewery but we as locals, rarely drank it, its strange how often local people think something from someplace else must be better. Best to milk the Italian mystique if sales is your goal, in many parts of this country.

My David carved from local marble
An image conceived in the mind, and brought to life by removing material to fit mental image.


So even though Northwest wine makers seem to have had some success at overcoming the Italian promotion machine, I don’t think local stone, or modern day sculptors sculptors, will ever be fully accepted as equals to Italian stone or modern day Italian artists. Its to hard to overcome Italian marketing, after all, we all understand they make the best food, the best wine, the best cars, the best fashion, and due to there Mediterranean dark skin, the men seem to get better looking as the age, just the opposite as my ruddy German complexion, it seems so unfair. But I do what I can. Growing up in a Lake Wobegon environment has made me humble and accepting of my place in the wonderful world of Art.

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