Don Quixote's Horse
oak, 10" tall, 1972. private collection I must've carved this little horse while studying with Gordon Newell at the Sculpture Center. When I showed the sculpture to my great aunt Edith Trusdell, she exclaimed "what's Gordon teaching you? Don't you realize that the head is on backwards?" Rather than explain to her that sculptures have to live within the limits of their medium, I said that the horse's head was turned backwards in order to keep an eye on Don Quixote who had fallen on the ground.
She Who Watches
koa wood on mahogany base, 10" by 11" by 5", 1998. private collection Koa wood is from Hawaii and although it is not especially hard, it has a beautiful and opalescent grain. I was experimenting with finding the figure across the grain rather than with the grain, and I'm pleased with the result, which reminds me of how water cuts through the geologic strata of a canyon.
Ash on walnut base, 26 inches tall, 2006. Private collection. The loud figure in the grain of ash wood helps create the illusion of depth when in reality the piece is less than an inch thick.
Marble, 10" x 8" x 6", 2002. Private collection Sculptures have to relate to the substance out of which which they are created. Any sculpture that comes from stone is going to have to relate to the density and compaction of stone, hence the idea of compression. Compression also expresses a mood, a sense of interior space in the mind, body, and spirit.
Lignum vitae, 6 inches tall, 1990. Private collection Lignum vitae, which is Latin for living wood, is one of the densest woods in the world. It won't float; it's full of natural oils, and it was used by the Navy for ball bearings and chocks, and by sculptors for their carving mallets. Needless to say it's very hard to carve and the chips fly off like missiles. Nevertheless it takes the most incredible satiny polish. The wood version of this sculpture came before the marble version of 2002.
Calling Down the Moon
ash wood, 22" by 12" by 1", 1997. private collection Ash wood, like oak, has what's called a "loud" figure, meaning the striations between dark and light in the wood's growth rings are pronounced. This feature comes in handy when attempting to give the illusion that the sculpture has much more depth than a 1 inch board. I have identified strongly with horses my entire life, and although I've never actually taken this exact pose or had a horse that allowed me to do so, this sculpture expresses the feeling of unity and ecstasy I have with horses
Mountain mahogany and dolomite, 44 inches long, 1983. Donated to Children's Hospital of San Francisco. inspired by the view south from Darwin to how clouds coiled upon Maturango Peak. Like Desert Flame, this piece of mountain mahogany already had intriguing spirals and undulations which I endeavored to amplify. The challenge was to nestle the wooden serpent/cloud form onto the stone mountain form, and to pin the forms together at their balance point. Talk about having to eyeball what’s vertical and level when no true vertical or level exist. With patience and exactitude, I got the job done
Black walnut on Maple base, 12 inches tall, 1986. private collection. Black walnut has the perfect density to carve because it has a lot of structural integrity and it takes a beautiful polish. I enjoyed playing with varying textures in this piece and with trying to capture the feeling of collection in the horse
Caning and sisal, 41 inches tall, 1990. Private collection. Learning how to make baskets out of foraged material such as willow and cattail got me interested in making sculptures out of weaving material. I was intrigued by the light and porous nature of wicker and sisal, as well as the transparency of the process; you can see the "bones" of the horse. It was also a challenge to figure out how to get the sculpture to balance. (The secret is in the tail.)
Pegasus and the Goddess
Seagrass and caning, 46 inches long, 1989. Private collection. I was told the story of Pegasus many times when I was a child, but never with a naked goddess riding on Pegasus's back, which seems befitting to such a magical horse, so I had to make the image myself. i made this piece so it can hang suspended.
Mask with Grazing Horse
Honduras mahogany, 29 inches tall by 15 inches wide, 2000. Private collection. In 1999, Henry and I took a trip to Benin in West Africa. That trip shook up my notion of art in the best way possible, and when we came back home our artwork exploded into new directions. Africa helped me break some rules I didn't even know I was abiding by, such as the idea of a horse grazing on grass growing out of a human head
Mountain mahogany and fieldstone, 36 inches tall, circa 1977. Private collection. While I lived in Oregon, I started to make pilgrimages to visit Gordon Newell in Darwin where he had relocated after the Sculpture Center was torn down. I would drive my VW camper over the Sierras to camp outside of Gordon and Eleanor’s simple wood house at the edge of Darwin with a spectacular view of the Argus Range and the Coso Mountains. I learned to love the desert, its clarity, light, simplicity, silence. I would also raid Gordon’s wood pile for pieces of wood to carve such as this piece of mountain mahogany. This one had grown in an intriguing twist with natural concavities which I attempted to accentuate. The heartwood is a deep reddish brown and sapwood is yellow/tawny; although brittle, the wood is so dense that it takes an incredible satiny polish.
Cinnamon Leads the Way
padouk wood on black walnut, 28" long, 2016. FOR SALE, $6500 Henry and I were surprised to learn that my mare, Esperanza, was pregnant. In 2012 she delivered a healthy filly who we named Cinnamon, who was brave and curious, and always led the way. Padouk is another very dense wood from the rainforest. When freshly carved the wood is bright red; this fades to a deep brown over time.
Piñon wood, 36 inches tall, 1984. Private collection. Piñon wood is incredibly fragrant and soft to carve, but it’s also pretty gnarly and knotty. Although by the time I carved this piece I had met and married Henry, I still recalled the anguish and yearning I felt when I was living alone in Darwin. I have always been more interested in carving figures not as anatomically correct portraits, but as “felt-from-within” portraits. This approach allows for distortions, exaggerations, and the poetic license to convey emotions, as well as the necessity to fit the figure within the confines of the original material.