Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kona Coast, Hawaii
April 22, 2009

I am nearing the end of this Hawaii Adventure 2009. My plane ticket has me arriving in Boston a week from today. It looks like I've got to change it. A few days ago I stopped by the Higashihara County Park Playgroundto take a look at the Whale Sculpture there. It turns out that the park is closed for renovations. I got to talking to Clifford Kopp who has taken it upon his shoulders to get the job done. When he found out I was a sculptor he told me he really wanted to have a copper whale weather vane on the top of the kids castle.

Clifford had talked to several local artists, but no one had come through. Part of the problem is the classic: "Show me the money." There simply isn't money available to pay the artist, just the supplies. The Park is scheduled to reopen on May 11, so time is fast running out.

Having make the Swordfish Harpooner I have come to realize what a wonderful thing it can be have your artwork out where the public can see and appreciate it. The Higashihara Park and Playground is right beside the only road heading South from Kailua Kona here on the Big Island. I am at the stage in my life where getting paid some money to make my art isn't what it is all about. Especially when it is something that is primarily for children. As a grandfather (especially one married to Marianne, Ms. Super G herself) I have come to realize that great satisfaction comes from giving to the younger generations.

I told Clifford that I would think about whether I could come up with something. I have never made a weather vane, of course, but I've never let minor details like that stop me before. When I said that I would build the Swordfish Harpooner I had never done anything on that scale, but I was confident that if I worked at it I could figure out how to succeed. In this case, even though I haven't done much work in copper in the last 30 years, I did take a course from Travis Tuck about metalworking back in 1976 and then when he went to Europe for a month he let me use his fully equipped Studio at the Artworkers Guild in Vineyard Haven. That was around the time Travis made a Great White Shark weathervane for Quints's Shack in the blockbuster movie "JAWS". Even though the Shark Weather vane didn't make it beyond the cutting room floor Steven Spielberg kept that weather vane after the filming and Travis Tuck went on the have a wonderfully successful career making Weather vanes. So I should be able to make a weather vane. Why not?

That night at Hookena Beach, where I am camping I was thinking a lot about it. The idea a just making a copper whale (that actually looks like the Humpback Whales that spend the winter months off the Hawaiian coast) seemed both quite pedestrian and difficult; especially since I am camping and don't have a studio here. {Thinking about my studio here is a link to an article in the Martha's Vineyard Times about mine back on Martha's Vineyard} So what should it be? The whale theme is good, but how do kids here relate to whales? The certainly don't see whole whales since no one is killing them and dragging them up onto the shore. What kids do see is whales off the coast - sometimes less than 100 yards away- coming up out of the depths to "blow", sometimes sounding so that their huge powerful tail flukes rise up out of the sea, and most exciting of all when they breach: surging up out of the sea into the air and come crashing down with a huge splash. It seems to me that I have a chance with this weather vane to validate the kids experiences by making something that is a representation of what they see.

Here's s sketch I made. I like the idea. I called home and talked to Marianne. One of my hoped for goals on this Hawaii trip was to get back into making sculpture, what more could I ask for? She agreed. I talked to Clifford yesterday and told him about my idea. He liked the idea. So now I've got a commission to make the damn thing.
How I actualize the weather vane I don't really know yet; but as Allen Whiting claims Picasso said: "If you don't have red, use blue." In other word, just do it. One possibility for the water is to use copper pipe. I could even have Marianne send out a piece of the 3" diameter copper pipe that Todd and I took out of our old family house before I left on this trip. Getting just three or four feet of a large diameter copper pipe is not easy here in Kona. I checked out building supply stores yesterday and the best I could do was to get a twenty foot long piece of 2" copper pipe for $240. The more I think about it, it seems like I should make the blue "Ocean" out of sheet copper (which is available) by pounding it into a long tubular shape. The hammer marks should add to the feeling of it being the ocean since they hopefully will give it a wavelike look.


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