Category: Art

Heron!!!

Last Thursday 50 or so people gathered to watch the “unveiling” of my sculpture “The Great Blue Heron”. It was a really nice event. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out, we were sheltered from the wind, and the heron sparkled. There were (brief) speeches by Ken Skrzesz, The Executive Director of Maryland State Arts Council, Jack Redmond, Friends of Piney Run Park, Liesel Fenner, Director of Public Art for MSAC, Jeff Diegitz, Director of Carroll County Recreation and Parks and Sandy Oxx, Director of the Carroll County Arts Council.

Oh, yeah, then it was my turn!

Here’s a shortened version of what I said…the longer version is not available as a lot of it was ad-libbed in front of the crowd of 50 or so people.
  1. Many thanks to Ken Skrzesz, Liesel Fenner and the staff at Maryland State Arts Council for all the work they do to promote the arts in MD. As an artist, I have a unique understanding of how hard their job is and it does not go unappreciated.
  2. Thanks to Jeff Diegitz for wanting art in the county parks and being open to all of my suggestions. And thanks to the Friends for helping fund this project.
  3. Thanks to Brad Roger, Wade Blank and the maintenance staff for risking life and limb (literally) to create an amazing place for the heron to perch.
  4. Thanks to the Carroll County Arts Council for being a major partner on this collaboration and…
  5. I’ll get to Sandy and Susan in a minute…
 
It’s not very often an artist gets to do a project like this. To be asked to create a sculpture for one of the local parks was a wonderful gift. Creating by committee can be hazardous to an artist’s health. Fortunately, this committee was all on the same page. Sandy, Susan, Jeff and I talked about a couple of options for sculptures and settled on the great blue heron. Then we walked around and picked this fabulous location. Knowing that I wanted the sculpture to look as if it was part of the landscape, Brad and I worked out how it would be installed in the lake.
 
Then I got to work. For the next couple of months I researched herons, studied hundreds of photos and took a few myself at Blackwater Refuge. I drew a couple of life-sized sketches of the bird that would become my guide while I created the sculpture. Throughout the rest of the year I built the armature then slowly started adding feathers. Working closely with Brad and Wade, I developed the base to fit onto the pilings that were dug in to the lake. Slowly the bird started to come to life. The hardest part of this whole project was making the heron stable. I honestly don’t know why herons don’t break their legs more often. After a trial run (right before the huge windstorm) I brought the heron back to the studio and added a few stabilizing rods.
 
This was a labor of love from beginning to end. The freedom to create what I wanted and to know that it was going to be installed just down the road from my house made this a very special project. I can’t wait for the park staff to use this sculpture as a learning tool. 
 
So now I come to Sandy and Susan. Your commitment to making Carrol County an arts destination is inspiring. The way you champion local artists is breathtaking. And your commitment and trust in me as an artist, well, it kinda leaves me speechless. Thank you.
I did mention at the end that I don’t often name my  sculptures, I title them. But when this one was in the truck on its way to the park, I said “Elvis has left the building”.
Okay, okay…here are some photos…taken by my friend Mike Washington…

Spring is springing…kind of.

I actually went out for a walk in a tank top and flannel shirt today. Yesterday I spent a blissful hour+ in my favorite junkyard. My mental heath has taken a turn for the better.

Yeah, I know, it’s been a long time since my last post. So here is what you don’t know:

The heron is finished and installed and it is fabulous if I do say so myself. The grand unveiling was supposed to happen last week but that wonderful spring snowstorm put the kibosh on the festivities. So they have been postponed to Thursday April 12th at 4 p.m. Why aren’t I posting pictures? Well, I want to keep it a surprise until it’s official viewing. Of course if you happen to be at Piney Run Park in Carroll County, MD in the next few weeks, you could walk down to the main dock…just sayin’. (just don’t post photos until after the 12th). If you can’t make that…here’s a sneak peek during installation.

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In other news, I have been finishing up some things in the studio that got put on hold until the heron left the building. Here’s a woven piece that I have been working on for a while. It is 82″ long and is designed to go on the floor.

And finally, I thought I would share my photos from yesterday. I think the classes I have been taking are helping me to focus my ability to see stuff and to capture it more clearly. I am still working with the theme of aging and decay…

See you in April!!!

Buh-Bye to 2017

HoHoHoHoHo…Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all that jazz…

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This has been an incredible year for the studio and next year looks to be just as fun…
LOOKING BACK:
2017 was simply amazing at Virginia Sperry Studio. First, I had two very successful open studios. I was glad to see new faces and some faces that I have been missing. It seems that my sculpture gardens are starting to really make an impact in the community which makes me super happy. I hosted Winters Mill High School students as well as a church group (sadly, my memory was not so successful and I have forgotten the name of the church.) The open studio in December was great, not just because of all the people who came here, but because of all the people who came out to all the different studios. We artists appreciate when you show up and buy our work more than you can possibly know. It can mean food on the table, shoes for the kiddies, not to mention a  HUGE boost to our ego. So THANK YOU for coming out to see me!!!
In February I installed my paper rocks at the Horowitz Center at Howard Community College for a day. It was a great experience, trying out different installations and meeting some awesome people. I hope to do more of this next year. (More on that later.)
From April to June I exhibited at “Buickster Hall” in Taneytown MD. The gallery name is in quotes on purpose because, weirdly, it didn’t really exist. It was physically there but it did not exist on paper. Evidently the guy who started it was a scam artist. So I had a somewhat successful show but the gallery is now closed. It was one of the odder stories in my career.
In October I showed a few of my pieces in Salisbury CT at my dad’s retirement home. It was a nice show but for me it was one more chance to connect with my 96 year old dad who grasp of reality is steadily declining.
In the spring I started the commission for the Great Blue Heron. The Carroll County Arts Council and the Parks and Recreation Department got together and received a grant for a sculpture for Piney Run Park. I have been busy working on it throughout the year and it will be “planted” next spring. Right now, the heron is wishing for a few more wing feathers for Christmas.
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As you may know, this is the year that my photography has finally stepped across the line from hobby to serious artistic pursuit. I took two amazing online classes through the International Center for Photography in NYC. I learned so much and I feel like I am ready to start putting my photos out there along with my sculptures. In addition, I applied to take a photography retreat in the south of France next year…and I was accepted! (More on that later). Here’s one of the more recent photos I took.
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LOOKING FORWARD:
Soooooo….2018? It’s already filling up with wonderful things.
The heron will be finished and installed on March 22 (more details next month).
I am going to France in July for the photography retreat. I will be with 13 other students and 3 mentors to discuss what I’ve been working on and where I want to go in the future. (I am SUPER excited about this opportunity.)
I will be hosting two open studios again. It is possible I will be moving the date of the spring one but check back with me next month and I will know for sure.
I am planning to do another rock installation at the Eldersburg Library on June 20th…it will be open to the public and I will do a talk at the end of the installation…more on that in future newsletters.
I am planning a photography and personal history tour through Pittsburgh next spring.
And the studio will be filled with new, wonderful sculptures…
See you next year!!!

Studio Tour

Yes, it’s time for another studio tour. Next weekend (the 2nd and 3rd of December) I and a bunch of my fellow artists in Carroll County MD will be opening up our studios to the public from 10 to 5. There are several ways to get information about this event.

First, you can go to facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/719878114869519/ and RSVP to our event.

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For more information on the event itself and a map of all the participants on the tour, go to our website:

http://www.ccartists.com

And as always, you can contact me at virginiasperry@comcast.net to get more info…

I hope that you will come out and see me, it is supposed to be a lovely weekend (although the weather may change, one never knows). If I am on your list of places to go, you might want to get here before 4, it starts to get dark then and will be more difficult to see the outdoor sculptures.

Here’s the latest picture of the heron… I have done even more on it (it has wings!) so now is a good time to see it before it is finished and installed at Piney Run Park! these pix were taken as Wade drilled the hole in the piling where the heron will be bolted in. His boss Brad is watching…they have been real troopers on this project.

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See you this weekend!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Abstractions

I realize that my animal sculptures are the most popular of my works. They bring smiles to peoples faces which is my main goal. But quite honestly, my abstract work is my favorite stuff to make. I can really dig down inside of me and create feelings and stories that resonate in a purely non-verbal way.

It is difficult, though, to be an abstract artist these days without having an ulterior motive for creating something. It seems there has to be a deeper meaning, an underlying reason for making something. Environmentalism, sexual identity, politics, family values…the list is endless. I get so frustrated because, while I have subjects that are close to my heart, I don’t always think about them when I am creating. My focus tends to be more simple, a shape, a color, a pattern, a texture, an emotion, a story. I sometimes feel that the art world has forgotten about these words, has declared them too easy, too “surfacey” to talk about.

I ran across this quote in a book called “Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists” by Donna Seaman. The first chapter is about Louise Nevelson, a Grand Dame of Abstract Collage. One paragraph caught my eye and caused an “AHA!” moment for me. I felt vindicated, that perhaps there is, after all, an ulterior motive for what I do. It just doesn’t always have to be put into words.

“Abstract art is an invitation to imagine, to interpret, to reflect. Abstract art induces reverie. It liberates us from the literal and the everyday, and provides a bridge to the realm of the collective unconscious. Like jazz musicians–who begin with a deep knowledge of song and traditional composition, then venture out into new territory, making fresh connections and creating unforeseen variations on a theme–abstract artists improvise on line and form, light and dark, emptiness and presence. Abstract art is about mass and energy, being and nothingness, moods and correspondences. We absorb its emotional valence, its action or stillness, cacophony or silence. Our busy minds instinctively seek patterns and images in abstract art, just as we do when we gaze at clouds fire, rain, and falling, whirling snow.”

EXACTLY!!!

Photos taken at two different junkyards in the past couple of weeks. I am still having so much fun with this photography stuff!!!

Junkyard

I don’t have a lot of time to write but I have been having so much fun photographing stuff at the local junkyards and I wanted to share some of them with you. After taking the class at ICP this summer, I think I have found my new oeuvre: abstract photos of metal, rust and other stuff. I am in love with the colors, textures and stories that I find hiding in the rows and rows of dead cars. I will be putting more of them on my website within the next few days, but here is a sample of what I have been finding!

Photography class part 2

Here is the final project that I submitted for my online photography class at the International Center for Photography. I was unable to “attend” the last two classes as I was traveling, but the teacher taped them, so I learned everything I needed to.

All of these pictures were taken in or around the bottom floor of my barn. There is an old horse stable and a milking parlor that have not been used for decades. I spent some time, at different parts of the day, peering through windows and getting down on the ground to see this barn from different views. I am interested in recording images of objects that are past their sell by date. In other words, I look for objects and scenes that are no longer used for their original purpose.

Enjoy!!!

 

I also ran across this house one day last month. It was not part of my final project, but it is definitely part of my extended project. I can only surmise what happened to it.

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