Monday, October 30, 2006


I am back. I have been to Santa Fe for a workshop with EcoNest. I became part of a house building team. During a four day workshop, we built light clay/straw walls, walls that breathe. It was an amazing adventure to mix clay and straw, pack temporary wall forms with the mixture, then stomp the mixture down. As we did our two step stomping dance, the walls climbed higher. When I arrived at the building site, three coyotes crossed my path. I am sure this was a good sign. All the team members were wonderful, the scenery was great and Robert Laporte was generous with information on this amazing and ecological way to build a house.

In the mid 90’s I read Robert’s small 1993 booklet, Mooseprints. After reading about clay plasters, I began mixing papermaking fibers (in lieu of straw) with clay slips and pressing this into molds to make my sculptures. Finally, I have experienced building large scale with this technique. I am sure it will change my sculpture in intangible ways. Mooseprints is no longer available, but see the new book, EcoNest, Creating Sustainable Sanctuaries of Clay, Straw, and Timber by Paula Baker-Laporte, architect specializing in healthy and ecological design, and Robert Laporte.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Family Day at Willow River State Park

Today is the Family Day Activity from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Artists in the Into/Out of Nature Exhibit will lead nature walks and art making for families. Alis Olsen's group will use natural materials to make fairy houses. Doug Westendorp who stacks rocks in enigmatic and fragile towers will work with children and families to construct similar totems. My group will use natural materials to construct a labyrinth. park passes are necessary for entrance to the park. Reservations are requested.

Alis Olsen curated the exhibit and worked diligently with the Phipps and Willow River Rangers to make this project possible. Alis Olsen is also part of Project Art for Nature.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This was a rainy day!

Taken September 23rd during the Artist Led Tour of environmental sculptures in Willow River State Park. Thank you, Vera, for sending the photo. There was a very loyal group who finished the walk despite the pouring rain. Little did we know, there was a tornado warning or watch for the area. Posted by Picasa

Stonehenge In The Environmental News

What about this story? Click to see an unusual photographer's perspective on Stonehenge. Traffic has become an issue. Rather than change the roads, an expert has proposed that they encourage walking and biking.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Wild About Prairie Birds and Gallery Talk

Tonight’s special event at the Phipps Center for the Arts was part of What We Need is Here, a year-long project encouraging sustainable communities. Before the Gallery Talk, Harvey Halvorsen of the DNR presented a talk about prairies and prairie birds. Prairie and oak savannah lands in the St. Croix county area have diminished over the years. This has lead to a corresponding decrease in prairie birds. Groups are working to maintain and expand prairie lands in the area. Funding is a challenge as the public tends to fund higher profile forest projects.

My project, Whispering Wall, lead me to a controversy that included prairies. I intended the sculpture to be a reminder to listen carefully to nature. Instead, I discovered that who you listen to matters. When planning the piece, I asked park personnel about any issues in the park. No one mentioned any. I proposed this piece and started to collect buckthorn branches and pile them near the site. On the second weekend in September, I returned to start construction and found stakes adorned with pink tape flags at my site. Spotting an engineer with metal stakes, I learned about the plan for a road and a new campground in this area of the park. After much debate and thought, I moved my piece off to the side, trying to keep it in the prairie-like area, but away from pink flags and future asphalt. As I constructed the wall, several residents walked through and told me about the special nature of the proposed campground area. They complained that the project would decimate an indigenous prairie and some wetlands. On October 5, the Hudson Star-Observer reported that the campground project was delayed. A new study could be completed by the end of November.

Jim Proctor, one of the other artists in the exhibit, and I talked with Harvey Halvorsen who was not aware of an indigenous prairie in the park. Shown the site on the map, he realized that he had never investigated this particular area. In the pictures of my piece, there was no evidence of prairie. The residents, however, pointed to an area beyond my piece. I am sure that Harvey will be checking out this area soon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here is a second view

 Posted by Picasa

Winter LandsCape

I always envy sculptors who work with a photographer's eye. With my interest in space, reducing my work to two dimensions is always a challenge. This piece juts out 11 inches from the wall, like a shelf. It also floats away from the wall at the two ends. It is 50 inches long. Posted by Picasa

Installation at the Textile Center

This is part of a group show, Vision and Focus, at the Textile Center in Minneapolis. The show highlights the work of protégées and mentors in the Mentorship program. These sculptures are made from a mixture of papermaking fibers and clay. My method is a cross between papermaking and clay straw construction. Posted by Picasa

Whispering Wall

Whispering Wall is part of Into/Out of Nature. It is in Willow River State Park near Hudson, Wisconsin. The companion exhibit of indoor work is at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. Posted by Picasa

Working Small

Today I started a quick small piece. I took a 12 inch square of wire screening and altered its shape with several darts. It is now covered with plaster and will be a cast for several new forms. I intend to continue my investigation of landscapes or LandsCapes. This small format will also allow me to extend my vocabulary of textures and other qualities of my clay plaster medium. Some will be delicate, others thick and rough.