STORIES AND DREAMS SHOW at the NOYES MUSEUM 2002
note: some photos on this page are missing. When i switched email providers i lost a lot of photos. i will find them and resurrect this web page. i probably should have backed them up but oh well. it's fun to do my own web page but i make mistakes sometimes! marcia wilson in march 2012.
Here's the entrance to our show. My pieces are in the way back; Susanna Bergtold has the pieces in the front half of the room. Flanking the doorway, the tall narrow piece is a 10' piece of cherry carved by Susanna. My clown is on the right.
This is a closeup of my carved wooden clown hanging on the right of the entrance to the show.
I borrowed this piece from the son of an artist who had bought it in 1978 when he was a young man. (Wish I could remember who the artist was, now that it's 2012 and I'm redoing this web page.) The clown is carved from two pieces of basswood that I think I glued together along the base of the hat. I sawed out the shapes on my bandsaw before carving them. Carving the collar with gouges was quite challenging. The frame was made separately, and I carved out a little "nest" so the clown would seat comfortably. Then I screwed the clown in place.
Back then I wanted my work to look old, so I smeared "mud" on it and
wiped it off, to give a distressed look, kind of like the way people
used to dip fake antique rugs in tea back in the 1920's. The "mud" I
used was a combination of raw umber pigment and a glazing medium.
The paint underneath was japan paint, as I recall.
Now I feel like repainting this piece, but some collectors told me
they wish ALL my woodcarvings looked old like this!
This is Susanna Bergtold's work in the first half of our space. There is
a bronze lizard, and two wooden horses (bought by me), and a bronze
bird along the wall. There is a carved blue wooden coelecanth on the floor.
I collect her work and love it.
This photo shows my daughter Becky on the right, and the curator
Hsiao-ning Tu, on the left, just after the show was installed
in January, 2002. I am very happy with the way Ms Tu hung the show.
Here is one of my favorite pieces, Woman Warrior which I carved in 1993 from pieces of a maple bed that my neighbors had thrown out in the trash. The finish is oil base "paint markers." I carved this piece in 1993 to immortalize the time a friend (unsuccessfully) sued me for a million dollars over a fictional fairy tale I wrote. It would have been the first case of libel by fiction in the state of new jersey had I not allowed her to drop the case after the superior court accepted it for review.
I made the hair and teeth of this statue from copper electrical wire, probably 10 romex, that I melted with a torch so it balled up at the end. The hair was painted black; the teeth were painted white. I drilled holes and epoxied them into the head.
I am not exactly sure why I put the voluptuous young woman in the stomach, behind glass. It could represent the woman's teenaged daughter, or it could represent an aspect of herself that needs defending. The nice thing about art is I can do it and think about why I did it later.
I sold this piece in 1993 or 1994 to a lawyer and his wife who live in Harvey Cedars as well as Philadelphia. They have a collection of folk art, and were kind enough to lend it for the show and I was happy to see it again after almost 10 years.
I carved this lady and her dapple pony in 1978. I forget the kind of wood but I carved the woman from a branch of a tree. It might have been elm that someone in Oradell NJ gave me. The lady is pegged onto the horse but not glued. That's because my woodcarvings remind me of dolls. When I was a little girl, I played with dolls incessantly. If this lady were my doll, I would want her to come off the horse from time to time to sit and have tea with a friend perhaps.
For the same reason, the arms of this lady move. I carved them from twigs of the privot hedge in my yard. They are attached with rubber bands and eye hooks, but since rubber bands deteriorate, I now use elastic pony tail holde instead; they seem to last longer.
I sold this lovely horse and rider to dear friends who live in a big house in Morristown NJ. They were so nice to lend it for the Noyes Museum show.
I painted the lady andher horse in oil base enamel, I think, and when it was dry I smeared on "mud," a combination of raw umber and glazing medium to make it look old. I love folk art and this is in that tradition. Decorating the horse was great fun, a decorative experience. My woodcarvings, like my paintings, are not meant to be realistic, but fun figments of my imagination.
Ricky Boscarino of Luna Park loaned these two jointed dolls to my Noyes Museum show. I carved the Goddess in flowered stretch pants is carved from a log I had. I don't remember what kind of wood it is. A handyman was chopping wood for my fireplace when I said "Stop! That looks like good carving wood!" I made about 3 sculptures out of it.
The goddess is painted oils over casein paint. I got the idea of doing her from a sculpture on the internet by some woman, carved from a tree trunk or tree roots or something, and the sculpture had amazing high heels on. So the shoes were a motivating factor in this image.
The old man next to her ended up with his hairdo when the bandsaw accidentally sliced a big gash in the top of his head. I woodburned strands on either side of the cut and that's how he came from bald into a thin head of hair.
The idea for the man came from me observing that a neck in profile is higher in the back than in the front. Previously I had been carving my sculptures with round collars, the same in front and back. So I enthusiastically carved this one with the big sloping collar and lo and behold it ended up looking like Ed Sullivan.
Once again, these jointed figures are dolls for my inner child. I can imagine myself on the top berth of my bunkbed playing with them, having conversations back and forth. I never had enough boy dolls to court my girl dolls when I was a child, but here's a good candidate. His arms and legs move so he can sit or stand with the assistance of a stand my boyfriend made, similar to the one that holds up our goddess. The stand is a stainless steel rod that fits into a bezel on the back of each figure, just the right height to hold them up. My boyfriend made each base in the shave of a golden rectangle or something which i thought was silly but I did not tell him at the time.
This carving was made about 1978, one year after I started woodcarving "seriously," in 1977. It was carved from a piece of maple from my friend Susanna Bergtold. (Susanna loves relief carving from very hard woods, but I prefer basswood.) I only made two relief carvings from this maple-- this queen (owned by a NYC woman who bought it in the Village art show a long time ago) and a king (that is owned by the same people who bought the sidesaddle lady on a horse.)
This queen shows the effects of the previous 4 years I had spent doing batik and trapunto. I used to stuff figures of queens and embroider them extensively with colored threads and all kinds of beads. This queen has a collar that is studded with pearls from garage sale necklaces. I used a Dremel tool with a round burr to grind holes and epoxied the pearls in.
Maple is not only resistant to carving, it is VERY resistant to woodburning and you can hardly see the detail in this queen's dress. Of course, back then I had a flimsy woodburning tool. Now I have one I can crank up to much hotter temperatures.
I am still fascinated by queens. Of course, I grew up in the 1940's when there was still an
aura of mystery and glamor about the English royals. But queens, like clowns, are kind of
symbols to me, of people and their positions in life. When I think of queens, I think of my
mother because she was the most important and powerful person in the world to me (when I was a
small child). When I think of clowns, I think of my wonderful boyfriend, and everyman
in the sense that we are all so small and powerless in this big big universe.
This is a pug bank, the last of a series of pug banks made over a period of years. My daughter in Hawaii has the first one which is very small. I made it for her about 1977 because I thought she would laugh at a bank that looked just like one of our dogs. (I do a lot of things just to get a laugh out of people.) The second pug bank was really a box because it had no slot, just a sliding head and I have forgotten where that one went. The third one had peg legs and the Sutton Place owners dont answer my emails or phone calls. sigh.
So this is version number four, and I am everlastingly grateful to his owners who live in Hoboken NJ and were generous enough to lend it to the Noyes Museum show.
His tail has been repaired and he has a dent on his forehead and his back because he fell off the window sill one windy day, but he's still adorable. I love the little spiky teeth.
I made the pug banks as long as I had pugs, which was up until August 1984. I lose the sense of a dog when I no longer have it. (note: Now that I am redoing this web page in 2012 and I am no longer doing woodcarvings, I sculpt jindo-chow mixes out of clay, just like the ones I now have.)
I got the idea of making banks from first making boxes. And I got the idea of making boxes from Whit Kent, a woman (alas, since deceased) born in 1913 who was a neighbor of mine in Leonia, NJ.
Whit made georgeous wooden boxes that opened up-- a woman on the back of a tiger and a tattooed lady were particularly fetching-- but none were for sale at a price I could afford. As a result, I decided to make my own. Whit and I were great friends and to her dying day she said I should stick to etchings and forget about woodcarving.
Whit had told me she made the box first and added things to it, so I purchased an old tackle box from an antique store and glued boards to it. Then I carved it. After a few broken tools I realized I should have removed the nails first.
This pug bank was I think the last one I ever made. It was modelled after my dog Odette, but I turned her into a boy because to get the money out you twist off the naughty bits. The "cork" part is wood, but there is a groove around it and a rubber band serves as an o ring to make a tight fit.
The finish is a combination of woodburned lines and oil base enamel in cans from the hardware store. Back in 1983 I think I was using expensive oil paint from Laura Ashley.
This walking cat was carved about January 1984 just in time to be in a show for NJ craft fellowship winners. It was lent to the Noyes Museum by an architect and his wife from Roosevelt, NJ.
I made this piece in my basement out of laminated pine boards. I was so honored to know that the NJ fellowship winners would be exhibited in a show at the montclair nj museum that I decided to use that energy to make a new piece for the occasion. I worked as hard as I could but it still took about a month to finish this cat. The show was hung already but they put my cat on top of a showcase, so it made it into the show, sort of.
This cat has a hole in his mouth and a hole under his tail and if you look in there you can see light from the mouth. I always like my sculptures to do something and that may not be much, but it was all I could think of at the time.
The cat is modelled after my late cat Red. He was a great cat. It's funny the way I can remember personalities just from a sculpture. The sculpture is finished with oil base enamel paint from cans and some gold leaf, especially on the eyes.
If you look at the photo of this cat woodcarving, you can see way back in the distance two little carvings of women that I think of as sisters. They remind me of clay figures I carved in 2012, two ladies I call "the Bunner Sisters" after a story by Edith Wharton. Odd how themes keep recurring with me. I wonder who the spinster sisters remind me of. Certainly it's not my sister and me because we both married. Perhaps it is the spinster sisters named Paula and Lydia Weber who used to live across the street from me in Leonia, NJ. I find old ladies quite fascinating now that I am one myself.
In the far corner of that same photograph you can see a set of about 50 etchings that I made and framed for the NOYES museum show. They are all autobiographical in one way or another. Some day I'll have to update my etching page on this website, since I no longer do etchings either, in 2012, when I am 75 years old.
I carved my Self Portrait as Olympia about 1995, from basswood. It is painted in casein paints. I carved this because Salute to Women in the Arts announced a call for entries for art around the theme of Manet's Olympia.
I looked at a reproduction of Manet's painting and sketched it on a scrap of paper and did not look again because I did not want to be very much influenced by it. Then I imagined myself as Olympia and gave myself a big smile. Most people say I look more like the handmaiden bringing the flowers.
This carving was done to remember my late uncle Karl H. Sandmeyer who became an artist after
he retired as chemical engineer for the Carburundum company. Uncle Karl had done a watercolor of his wife's antique
doll wearing only a black ribbon around its neck. He had a show in the local library
and told the ladies to be prepared for a "nude" but not to worry, he did not think it
would offend. Uncle Karl was a wonderful artist, like his father, my grandfather, the Rev. John H. Sandmeyer who would have been a great artist had he not chosen the God business instead. My great grandparents, Johan Heinrich Sandmeyer and his bride nee Anna Straumann came over here from Switzerland, and she at least had a great deal of artistic talent. Of course, art is almost all motivation, so that came from an abundance of things in my case. The key word is relaxing. I find art relaxing, so I do it every day. I also find talking and eating relaxing. sigh. As a result, I'm a very large woman who can't keep a secret.
My boyfriend Paul Binner did the engineering and I did the carving of this whirligig, finished in 2000. It all started when I entered a whirligig show at the Noyes Museum a few years earlier, entering two or three figures, engineered by the boyfriend, but quite simple. After my boyfriend saw the complicated pieces that Janet Fenimore's husband John had engineered Paul decided to try something more difficult himself.
He has since regretted that decision since it took at least six months of trial and error to get this thing going. There are a lot of neat details in this carving. For example, I asked the boyfriend to make a little window on each side of the carving so people could see the mechanism. The flag moves up and down. The dancer on top jumps three times for each rotation. The Noyes Museum bought this piece. I would not mind making more whirligigs but I think the boyfriend has had enough of engineering them. For one thing, the humidity of the show was only 10% and I worried that my woodcarvings would crack. Mid show, the museum installed a humidifier that remedied that problem, but not every institution knows how to care for wood.
All in all, however, having a show of my woodcarvings and etchings at the Noyes Museum was a rare thrill. The curator told me to only do woodcarvings hereafter, but being a rebel, I inwardly decided that I would stop right then and there, and I pretty much did. I went on to devote myself to painting after 2002, and now in 2012 I am devoting myself to clay. The clay, of course, brings my woodcarvings to mind,
Whoops, here in April 2012 one of my three dogs has just placed a dead sparrow at my feet. How sad. I guess the bird house won't be inhabited very soon. I'll have to sign off now and have a moment of silence.
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