Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First days in Hot Springs

First things first! I’ve hiked over the “mountain”, seen a baby water moccasin, touched the extremely hot water issuing from the display springs, toured the Fordyce Bathhouse Museum, and met a few campers living in RVs and tents all around me.

The Fordyce Building (above) is operated as an exhibition center/museum by the National Park. It showcases the heyday of “taking the waters”. I love all the architectural details …

... like the matching "planters" on both ends of the lobby. I also love the ornamental details ...

… like the Men’s changing room fountain of explorer DeSoto being offered the spring water from an Indian maiden ….

… under a mermaid inhabited stained glass dome …

… near the “ultra modern” baths …

… with their sleek, highly calibrated stainless steel knobs … lots of details! Lots of patterns and decorations!

This is a place that was at the cutting edge of fitness, as is seen in the third floor gymnasium. (Men were even allowed to sunbathe in the nude here!)

(Above: In Box LXXXI. Click on image to enlarge. 14" x 10".)

Setting up my studio here at Hot Springs National Park was a breeze. My car was totally full but the house was virtually empty. Getting to work was easy too … because I brought a piece that was almost finished. I did this intentionally, as a way to “jump right in” with something familiar. Thus, the first work I completed was In Box LXXXI.

(Above: Dearly Departed IV . 11" x 8 1/4". Click on any image to enlarge.)

I also brought a special project with me, one that simply needed enough time to tackle. Everything was ready to go: Victorian photo albums, hundreds of photos of cemetery angels, thousands of clipped, vintage letters, pages of collected epitaphs, matte medium, and a paint brush. Although I’ve got six complete albums, I started with eighteen individual pages from various broken books. I was able to coordinate the colors of the letters to suit the images and the decorate album pages … mostly because I recently clipped an entire stack of old, colorful sheet music. This new set is called “Dearly Departed”.

(Above: Dearly Departed III . 11" x 8 1/4".)

While making these fun pieces, I thought a lot about the work I’m supposed to be making … work reflecting Hot Springs National Park. There’s a bit of pressure on me … to seek inspiration, create quality art, translate something special in fibers … something that can become a suitable part of the permanent art collection. Most of the former artists-in-residence have their work on display in the Fordyce Museum.

(Above: Dearly Departed II . 9" x 7".)

My mentor, oil painter Stephen Chesley, advised me to create at least one "break the mold" piece ... something "out of the box" ... something truly unique, experimental, cutting edge, adventuresome, and honestly "me". This is really good advice ... but it is also not what I'm supposed to be making! There's time enough for my planned projects, Stephen's suggestion, and something that reflects Hot Springs National Park. I know that I should play to my strengths ... create something strong but using a reliable, time-tested, and comfortable technique ... something I'm already good at ... something I can count on since it will be park of a national, permanent collection.

(Above: Dearly Departed I . 9" x 7".)

So, while applying clipped letters, I formulated a workable plan. I’m already hard at work … sketching all the architectural details, ornamentation, decorative patterns, and interesting motifs in the bathhouses. These will be used to create some very special “In Box” and faux-stained glass works … reflecting the park. The bathhouses ARE part of Hot Springs National Park.

(Above: Dearly Departed IX . 11" x 8 1/4".)

For now, please enjoy “Dearly Departed” … all eighteen of them! Each image can be “clicked on” for enlargement.

(Above: Dearly Departed VI . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed V . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed VII . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XII . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XI . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed X . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed VIII . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XIII . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XVII . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XVI . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XV . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XIV . 11" x 8 1/4".)

(Above: Dearly Departed XVIII . 11" x 8 1/4".)


Lynn said...

oh my many dearly departed...what a collection and show this will be!

Love the history telling of bath houses, etc. Can't wait to see what you do with this!

You are having fun!

Keep at it.

Keep us informed.


underatopazsky said...

The baths are incredible and that stained glass mermaid ceiling panel is just breath-taking! Looking forward to seeing how they inspire you.

I love the idea of using old Victorian photo album pages to showcase the angels and they fit in so well with the text as well.

Connie said...

When you posed the question of what you would do that was "Hot Springs" I immediately wanted to shout the answer to you. Lo & behold, you got it! I grew up going to Hots Springs for 9 different summers but was an adult before I went and enjoyed the baths. Have a great time.

Julie said...

Fabulous stained glass window there. I have been clearing out my old friend's house and there are a number of rather old greeting cards there as well as lots of embroidered linens which I am getting more and more inspired to use. I am inclined to put a package together for you for when you get home. How would that be? (There are embroidered cloths and crocheted pieces, and doilies, some of which are on my blog today).

Anonymous said...

thank you so very much for taking the time to share the 'precious time' that you have in Hot Springs.....your excitement and creativity are not only infectious but inspiring.....
missy from the bayou