Redmond Herrity, Letterkenny Stone Sculptor

At our ArtWorks opening in Letterkenny, we saw Redmond and Orla Herrity for the first time in a year. Redmond is a superb stonecarver, and he invited us to come by his studio the next morning.

Damaged stone pieces from Letterkenny Cathedral.

Damaged stonework from Letterkenny Cathedral.

He’s carving some replacements for damaged stones in the spire of Letterkenny Cathedral (more accurately, Saint Eunan’s), and everyone in the region is familiar with the huge stone cross that towers on the other side of the street, incised with Celtic knots & tangles that have roots in pre-Christian Irish culture.  His grandfather worked on the cathedral when it was being built over a century ago, and he and his ancestors’ work is bound up with the fabric of life in this part of County Donegal.

Letterkenny stone artist Redmond Herrity sculpture, indented stone
His personal work delights in the paradoxes of mass and fluidity that are brought about when pliable materials are “turned to stone.” One piece seems to have been indented, impossibly, by the pressure of a finger. Another piece translates a scrap of twisted sheet metal, found on the beach, into unyielding marble. (Image below.)  This material, of course, can’t twist even a micron without cracking or shearing off, and the ambiguities of representing the soft with this hardest of sculptural materials has fascinated sculptors since Bernini and beyond. Read more

Krazy Kat Desert Justice: Is Humor Art, and Art, Humor?

Krazy Kat Desert Justice, monoprint by Eric Waldemar 2010

Maybe it’s the teapot mesa horizon – I’m not sure what else ties this monoprint (mine) to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, one of the oddest and greatest comic strips in history.  It’s what I thought of right away when it came out of the etching press, though, so I’ll let the inexplicable title stand, even though I don’t quite get it myself. I still see it, but I don’t know why I have the association. In any case, a few words on the Kat, and some loosely related thoughts she brings to mind:

Cartoon: Mouse throws brick at cat from picture frame.

(Right: One panel, c.1937) If it weren’t for Herriman’s deft touch with ink and balance, the strip’s humor, erudition, bizarre ethics, and anti-romantic antics would fall flat, I imagine. If Krazy Kat‘s straight-faced wit doesn’t connect with you, there’s no way to explain “what’s so funny.” This is generally true of art that’s worth spending some time with, maybe.  The moment of getting a joke is the whole point – the logic suddenly flips, pivoting on a word with two meanings, or something like that. If it’s explained, it’s ruined. Forever. With pictures, that moment is harder to describe,especially if there’s no joke. The mind is somehow diverted into an unfamiliar route. Read more

Mage’s Boat

When someone is sent to find the old man, all else has already failed. If he’s not out in the boat, he’s out walking, some way off the paths, in-turned, but aware of each sound and scent, and each combination. He’s always just wrapping up as you arrive, tucking bundles in his bag. What do you need then? Cordial, willing he is, and not surprised to see you.

ArtWorks Letterkenny Exhibition Scandal

No scandal just yet, despite the lurid title, but come by the reception this Saturday (July 17th) if you’re in the area, or if you can be. If shocking behavior occurs, this is where it will likely take place. Get yourself to ArtWorks, Port Road, Letterkenny , County Donegal, Ireland (opposite the An Grianan Theatre), from 7 to 9 or so. The exhibition exists on the unheralded fringe of Donegal’s Earagail Arts Festival, which has been helpfully arranging major arts events across the street practically every day for weeks. It’s a great time to be in Letterkenny. Read more

News from Babel, Chris Cutler, and the Legacy of the Cow.

The other evening in the wee hours, I heard News From Babel’s “Letters Home”  (1985) for the first time in a few years. This is music that continually surprises, with melody that takes sudden turns and twists, alternately giddy, melancholy, hysterical, and politically strident. It’s an album I’ve heard dozens of times, and there’s always more to hear.  The style is difficult to describe to someone who’s new to this whole area of music. What area of music, you ask? Again, a difficult question.

This record is one remarkable artifact from a distinct group of like-minded musicians that has assembled and disbanded in various configurations for about 40 years now. Those various groups, like Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Art Bears, Cassiber, Skeleton Crew, Naked City and Massacre, are too diverse to categorize, ranging from giddy, wry pop tunes, to ear-splitting maelstrom, to complex, variously dissonant and delightful orchestrations, laced with some of the most sensitive, intricate group improvisation that has yet occurred on Earth.  Read more

Nibble on the Yellow Wallpaper at RedLine

Detail, Rian Kerrane's Yellow Wallpaper at Redline

I spent yesterday helping to install “Kitchen Wallpaper,” a piece by Rian Kerrane, which Jessica Gross had already been working on for days. This food-encrusted room is part of “Artists’ Footprints” at RedLine in Denver, a show curated by Viviane LeCourtois. The reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman‘s story is no accident.The walls are composed of apples, turmeric, stenciled honey, poppyseeds, pasta, and cumin, and it smells delicious. Rian’s off in Ireland setting up our installation at ArtWorks in Letterkenney, so this piece, and the cast iron handbags in Objectophilia, were installed by her loyal local proxies.  Yesterday, Mike Brohman, who’s also in the show, came to the rescue, helping out for hours, after watching Jessica and I struggle with layers upon layers of layers that were obviously going to take a lot longer than planned. With his help, we were home by 10 pm. Spectacular July 3rd fireworks awaited me in my neighborhood when I got home. The piece is pretty amazing, yes? Try to resist nibbling on the walls.

Rian Kerrane at Redline Read more

Old Tongue Peeled

The version of “Old Tongue” that just opened at ArtWorks is too quick and detailed to come across on the web, but by trying to strip it down for compression, I came up with a very different version, one that leaves recognizable imagery mostly behind for a flattish world of peeling and twisting. If you’re in Ireland, it’s up now, in Letterkenny, but I won’t be there until next week. Hope you like this variation.

(Update: I’ve arrived. If you didn’t arrive here via my home page, click here for more info on this show, Rian Kerrane‘s piece, Velvet Letters, curator Seamus Quinn, and the opening reception, which is coming up in a few days as I write. Here is another link, to my description of Old Tongue, my contribution to the exhibition [with a composite image].)