In 1970, with Dartmouth and UCLA close behind, I tilted my dual pursuits of film and sculpture toward the latter. After a solo bicycle trip across Canada to clarify my thinking, I returned East and bought an old, 200 acre farm in Northern Vermont. My earliest sculptures there were made of welded, unfinished steel. Each was organized around a central core, drawing on the Russian Constructivists and the Bauhaus Schools. I admired the striking work, self resolve, and independent spirit of artists such as David Smith and Mark Di Suvero. Like them, I found steel a powerful, directly expressive material able to range from humble and organic to bold and spirited.
In the mid 70's, I installed a second overhead crane system in my new studio. My newfound ability to safely support the elements in space allowed me to break away from a structural dependency on a central supporting core. The center exploded sending the elements flying. This begged the question: What happens when a viewer approaches a sculpture and parts of it fill his vision?
Instead of reading the work solely as an object at a distance, now the viewer was invited in. What is the perceptual moment when the outside gives way to the inside? While we all know how it feels to be inside a room, how are we affected if the walls bend in, if the ceiling opens up?
I had to create openings which were comfortably sized, non-threatening, and intriguing. The size of these openings then uniquely determined the work's overall scale. I found the impact of a piece was strongest when I kept the components within the viewer's perceived or actual reach. Even though humans stand vertically, they move primarily in horizontal patterns. Consequently, I decided that my sculptures would have increased resonance if they developed in broad, horizontal configurations. To evaluate these new spatial relationships I moved in, around, and through a developing piece, going beyond the visual, trusting my kinesthetic responses to tell me what "worked".
My interest during this period was to use steel to bring to life a purity of form and to relate spaces to one another with a dynamic yet simple elegance.
In 1978 I took an extensive trip through South America encountering fascinating remains of past cultures, as well as unfamiliar plant, animal, and land forms. I was repeatedly struck by the narrative content that could be contained in something as common as a wall, revealing multiple stories of the people who designed, built, rebuilt, painted, and plastered over it. I wanted my sculptures to imply a narrative content, but could not wait for people, time, and the elements to act. Upon returning home, I hoisted a three ton boulder thirty feet, and literally shot it out of the air, dropping it on a pre-positioned steel plate. The results brought an immediate history to the plate by encapsulating the energy of the moment.
To combine these more complex, telling components into an integrated, harmonious whole required that I stop thinking of steel as hard, linear, and "masculine". Steel could be plastic and fluid. I could push it to greater extremes both structurally and visually: cutting, bending, twisting, folding, pulling, and deforming it, asking that it imply motion or appear to float like tissue paper in the wind.
I spent the winter of 1982 in New York City, where I painted and thought about color in relation to the sculptural surface. On returning to Vermont (with my new wife, Sarah), I started applying paint to my new sculptures. Color helped establish a unique mood and unify the elements. As I gained experience, I introduced two, three, and four colors to these surfaces to bring out dimensionality and evoke a mood.
Throughout the eighties, I was invited to create pieces for public, corporate, and university spaces, where I endeavored to transform utilitarian sites into meaningful places. Working with developers, architects, museum staff, and city and state government officials proved to be invaluable learning experience.
For twenty years Vermont provided a perfect place to develop ideas and work without distractions. I drew inspiration from the landscape, vivid in all its seasons, and from the oscillations of the hills; their intersections with the horizon and with one another. Trips to the American Southwest, Europe, and Africa filled me with new images, and informed my understanding of space. But by the early nineties Sarah and I felt limited by the isolation of living in Vermont year round. We sought the rich cultural and intellectual offerings of an urban university town and eventually settled on Austin, Texas.
My sculpture during this period increasingly explored many of the concerns of architecture, becoming more shelter-like. I next had to actually design and realize a house. We bought a property in Austin and collaborated with local architect, Patrick Ousey. Together, Patrick and I developed plans. I built a playful, sculptural house, a separate studio, furniture, and landscape related elements. We then bought the adjacent lot to create a neighborhood "sculpture park", built a steel and concrete pavilion, and executed two cast-in-place concrete sculptures. I use my time in Austin to research and experiment with less familiar materials ranging from wood to plastics, resins to concrete. As well, I develop scale models as proposals for public projects and pieces to be fabricated in Vermont. Also I pursue my studies of the violin.
Sarah and I now migrate between the natural beauty of Vermont and the richness of Austin's community spending roughly half the year in each. Pursuing my interest in architecture has taken me on recent sojourns to northern Europe and Japan.