2012 Spring Art Mart
April 27-29, 2012
521 E. Lawther Drive
Dallas, TX 75218
The most concise summary of this rambling missive would be to succinctly inform the reader that, after a scheduled appearance at the Bath House Cultural Center's Spring Art Mart, The Morpheus Company will be taking an extended hiatus from public exhibition.
Mind you, that summation would be akin to describing the Crusades as a church trip to somewhere out East.
One does not simply end a decades-tested pattern of behavior without some amount of explanation. And so, with a tacit presumption of tangent-prone storytelling firmly in place, I feel safe to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of brevity.
With that in mind, let the madness ensue...
To fully comprehend our arrival at this particular juncture, three seemingly impossible facts must be taken as a theatrical conceit:
- Within physical reality exists a spherical object named Lucky.
- Lucky is magical.
- Lucky is purple.*
*It has been pointed out to the author that the third item in this trio of key elements could potentially be considered less than crucial. While potentially a valid concern, it should also be noted that the modus operandi of the storyteller is to provide vivid imagery wherever possible.
I first met my squishy* purple friend in the latter months of 2007.
*I intended to mention Lucky's pleasantly pliable texture previous to now, but it was a point of concern that I might be overstimulating my readers with unnecessary detail. That said, it does provide some context and precedent for referring to Lucky as my squishy purple friend.
After a lifetime of primarily sedentary pursuits, I found myself seeking something to break up my comfortably-seated monotony. Shortly after this out-of-character contemplation began, I had a chance encounter with an old friend who shared with me his life-long love of juggling.
His obsession with object manipulation ran deep enough to be an actual character trait. His enthusiasm was clearly abnormal, and I have since suspected that it was contracted virally.
Specific conjecture as to whether or not he was actually contagious is best left to the medical establishment. Suffice it to say, shortly after our meeting I caught a serious case of the juggling bug.
Not having my own bag of tricks from which to learn the dark arts of chucking things about with style, I ordered in a small collection of props to explore.
Which is how I came to be in possession of Lucky.*
*And possibly vice versa. Which, were I a more talented writer, might be considered foreshadowing its arcane nature.
I bartered a bit of my own artwork for a custom-made leather pouch, and when not dancing about my hands Lucky spent the better part of the following three years literally at my side.
It is here that things begin to take a turn for the dramatically weird. You see, having a magical (and squishy) purple sphere as an adventuring companion will do profoundly bizarre things to (and for) your life.
For those who have not seen me recently, the physical changes are likely the most noticeable. Lucky disguised countless hours of cardio as playing with a ball, and I've successfully misplaced around a hundred pounds of formerly obese artisan.
Transformations have happened on the inside, too.
Either Lucky managed to rewire my brain, or the chip on my shoulder was actually located in my excess flesh. As I lightened up externally, I began to lighten up figuratively too. Years of depression melted away as my skills as a juggler slowly increased.
For nearly twenty years prior, I had developed a reputation for being one of those absurdly-moody artist types.
I used to smoke two packs of clove cigarettes a day, considered myself dietarily a "fast-food-etarian" and considered exercise beyond swinging hammers in my studio a cruel violation of the Geneva Convention.
Dropping a magical purple ball into that vat of angst-colored persona did more than change it. It ultimately shattered my previous identity.*
*Thank you, Lucky.
As being in my vicinity ceased to be such an intolerable burden, I found myself surrounded by new friends. Unsurprisingly, more than a few of them were accompanied by seemingly innocent items. Magical objects that, if you asked them, had profoundly changed their lives in similar ways.
A brief sidebar for the "magic" impaired:
If all of this talk of life-changing magical balls has you skeptical, allow me to take a brief sojourn into the realm of science and psychology. What my prop-wielding pals and I have experienced is, truth be told, not magic.
It's the rediscovery of play and its inextricable connection to a very well documented mental state called Flow.
In simplest terms, when we mere mortals challenge ourselves and succeed it makes us happy. If we raise the bar on those challenges and repeat the cycle, it encourages skill development in staggering ways.
If you apply this iterative process to something like juggling, you lather, rinse and repeat the process until one day years later you find yourself in possession of some rather circus-worthy skills.
Which is exactly where Lucky and I found ourselves two years ago when we decided to grab those circus-worthy flow-filled friends and start our own variety performing troupe called the Circus Freaks.
To suggest that I had lost my mind and ran away to join the circus would be woefully inaccurate. By my own explanation, I technically lost my mind and went about starting my own.
And because that didn't sound enough like a midlife crisis, my friends and I came to this decision in the midst of an economy so downturned that bringing back vaudeville entertainment seemed more like a thematic addition than anything else.
Ready for the punchline? It worked.
For the last year and a half, I've been working almost exclusively as a variety entertainer. The Circus Freaks have become something of a local phenomenon, and our weekly variety show (the Open Stage) has pushed us to polish our skills for even bigger challenges.
What little time I have spent in the artist's studio has felt like the winding down of an era. One day I realized I was rushing through things in order to get back to my job of running a circus, and that's when I knew it was time to make some big changes around here.
On a personal level, I view this as a natural progression of my creativity. The original goal of The Morpheus Company was to produce quality art irrespective of medium. Jewelry didn't become the studio's primary form of expression until a year or two into that journey.
I've been itching to work on something "bigger" for years. By habit, I had assumed this meant moving ultimately into larger-scale sculpture.
Truth be told, I can't think of anything bigger than a circus...and there's nothing else in the world I'd rather be doing than clowning around with my friends.
As a victory dance for nearly twenty years in the sculptural arts, I'll be a participating artist in one of my favorite shows. The Bath House Cultural Center has been an incredible supporter of my work over the years, and I can think of no better place to show my final collection of Mitsuro jewelry.
Answers to questions I've already been asked:
Ok, cute story. What "really" happened?
I'm pretty sure I covered it. The man behind the curtain changed enough that he wanted to come out onto the stage.
So, what happens to The Morpheus Company now?
For the moment, it will sleep like an old Lovecraftian god.
What about the studio/website/your clients?
I've already downsized the studio considerably, and the 2012 Spring Art Mart will be my last public showing for a while.
The website will remain online, and I won't discount the possibility of other artistic undertakings bearing The Morpheus Company name in the future.
I am keeping a set of core tools necessary to take on commissions that interest me, as well as any molds or client design files I need to take care of my patrons.
I've also partnered up with a couple of local studios, to provide me space should I need it in order to work on anything down the road.
A circus, seriously?
worn but still beautiful
Best wedding ring testimonial, ever.
05 / 16 / 2011
dumb luck and the going postal olympics
Right around this time of year, I can usually be found gearing up for the annual Winter Art Mart at the Bath House Cultural Center. The show is one of my favorites of the year, and I always look forward to reconnecting with my Dallas friends after a long summer of being locked in the studio.
While I've put in the long summer sessions, and the show is right around the corner, I'm sorry to report that you won't find The Morpheus Company in attendance this season.
Each year, when The Bath House sends out its call for applications, I have it mailed back to them inside of forty-eight hours. It's become something of a running joke between us, as they know that my "big black envelope" is always at the top of the stack.
This year, the United States Postal Service decided to throw a monkey wrench into our historically smooth routine. Rather than delivering my application as expected, they routed it through a thirty-day long time warp before unceremoniously and inexplicably returning my envelope as undeliverable.
At the moment I received this schedule-blasting news, I was standing in a mailing center. Not one to miss an opportunity to react in theme, I went briefly but thoroughly postal.*
*It's been a good and long while since I last seriously lost my cool. Had someone had the foresight to create an Olympic event out of correspondence-related emotional meltdowns, I would have easily brought the gold home for America. Go team.
After my adrenal tsunami died down, I shifted to damage control mode. I called, texted and emailed each member of the Bath House staff. When I finally got a hold of one of them the following morning, it was no surprise that every single highly-sought after space in the event had been booked.
To their credit, my friends at the Bath House felt terrible. They even offered to inconvenience a number of artists by rearranging the show's floor plan to wedge me into a corner.
I strongly considered taking their kind offer. However, it occurred to me that I was one of the original champions of the Art Mart's decision not to overcrowd the space or their artists. It seemed hypocritical to backpedal on what I consider a good decision just because I've suffered a streak of dumb luck.
On that point, I want to clarify a few things before the rumor mill gets chugging up to full speed on this announcement:
First and foremost, there's no animosity here. Except possibly towards the morons at the US Mail. Me and my friends by the lake still are artsy BFF's, and plans are already in place for my return to the Spring Art Mart.*
*I'll be hand-delivering my application to that one.
Secondly, despite my accidental non-involvement, I think that everyone should go and support the event. I believe in what the Bath House does, and I think they put on a terrific show. Some of my favorite artists will be there, and I suspect my absence will provide a spot for at least one or two new faces.
Thirdly, this is lousy but not catastrophic news. Mostly I'm bummed out about not getting a chance to reconnect with my Dallas art-world friends.
Of course, my artist's ego would also love a chance to show off my work this season. If you're reading this, and you've got an idea for a place to host a trunk show, I'm all ears. If you're interested in doing some shopping without the formality of an event, make an appointment to drop by the studio and see my work.
Just give me a call the studio. Seriously, call. You can't trust the mail for this sort of thing.
11 / 10 / 2010
a word from our galactic overlord
Being a galactic overlord isn't the easiest of jobs. There's rebellions to quell, planets to subjugate and hell, even stars to make go super-nova. The worst thing is - you've got to be "on" all the time. Can't afford any slip-ups with the cutthroats and brigands I call my crew. That also includes looking my best all the time.
My beard was getting a little long and unruly so when my fleet entered the Sol system, I decided to give you a break. If I could find someone who could make my goatee look presentable, I'd permit your little blue-and-green planet a chance to join the Empire on their own.
I tracked down this Terran named "Russ Sharek" and I was mightily impressed by the fact that he didn't faint dead away when I teleported into his studio. I told him what I wanted and the stakes that were involved.
He got to work right away - and I *am* a happy conqueror. Beautiful, simple, elegant and quickly and skillfully done.
You've got Russ Sharek here to thank for your continued existence. And you'd better be nice to him ... OR ELSE.
Commander and Overlord
Galactic Third Fleet
My friend Kevin's passion for costuming and comedy really paid off, as he pulled together the work of several artisans to create his Praxis character. As a thank you for my efforts towards the goal, he staged this photo and wrote me an in-character threat...er, testimonial.
I do love a good sight gag.
For the full story, check out Kevin's costuming blog.
08 / 02 / 2010
smells like dying
Fellow makers, do be careful when playing with noxious chemicals. Two days after using some polyurethane sealer, my reasonably well-ventilated shop still smells like molten plastic*.
*To be clear, it's nasty. It reeks like a mashup of Toy Story and Apocalypse Now in there.
I'm the second person I know who has managed to choke themselves on chemical fumes in the last week. I was fortunate, my friend managed to give herself a nasty case of chemical pneumonia.
I got a sore throat for my trouble, and the urge to remind people to be careful. Even when using allegedly "safe" products, wear a respirator. Work outside if at all possible.
Better yet, do both and seek out products that don't actively try to kill you while you make art. Your lungs will thank me for it.
07 / 07 / 2010
I just uploaded something new to the portfolio. Here's a link to some cuff links.
06 / 24 / 2010
stragglers in the studio
Whenever I create Mitsuro designs with any sort of exacting specifications, it's a trial and error process. I end up making several iterations of an idea, and each attempt gets me a little closer to the final design.
I liked these quite a bit. I plan on casting them in bronze later this month, and they'll eventually find their way into my fall collection.*
*Assuming, of course, that some enterprising patron of the arts doesn't see this as an opportunity to call "dibs" on as-yet unreleased work. That would be unthinkable. And shocking. And greatly appreciated. And stuff.
P.S. - More images of these waxes here.
06 / 10 / 2010
doing our part to keep austin weird
Maybe it's your karma.
The eating of this knish should undertaken with great reverence. This is a deli, which is essentially Jewish holy ground.
She wants my hot gravy...recipe.
But, I'm too awesome for a jury of my peers.
When I am king, William Shatner will be forced cover the best of Queen.
"Buddy, you're...a boy. Make a big noise. Playing? in the street? You're going to be a big man. Someday."
I have been bested. That man is now my eyebrow mentor.
Droid is my sherpa.
I have a new goal this evening: to be as hammered as my ego.
Artist. Carny. Adventurer. And now, bicycle valet. I may have suffered a little focus creep here.
The officer's last name is Schatte. I call dibs on writing his biography.
The title? "I, Schatte...The Sheriff."
Random quotes from Austin, Texas
05 / 05 / 2010
2010 Spring Art Mart
This year's Spring Art Mart will also be the debut weekend for my newest collection of Mitsuro jewelry in silicon bronze.
Since you've been reading along, you know I've been working towards this event since the beginning of the year. Documenting the process has been an interesting experience, and I really appreciate all the feedback I've been getting about my work.
If you haven't heard about all this "behind the scenes" stuff, you may want to visit a few of these handy resources:
- the ever reliable news blog: http://www.dare2dream.com/news
- the much improved events calendar: http://www.dare2dream.com/calendar
- the shiny new facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/TheMorpheusCompany
More handy tools for connecting to both me personally and my artwork are available on The Morpheus Company's contact page...or you can just ask me this weekend at the Art Mart.
2010 Spring Art Mart
April 23rd - 25th, 2010
The Bath House Cultural Center
521 E Lawther Drive
Dallas, TX 75218
Friday, April 23rd: 7-9 PM
Saturday, April 24th: 12-7 PM
Sunday, April 25th: 11 AM-6 PM
Art lovers once again get a great opportunity to support local artists (and acquire some wonderful art in the process) during the Bath House Cultural Center's Spring Art Mart, April 23-25, 2010. The Art Mart has always been the place to find a special piece of art for yourself, family, and friends: paintings, sculpture, photography, pottery, ceramics, jewelry, cards and other unique creations.
The Bath House Winter Art Mart benefits the Bath House Cultural Center's year-round visual and performing arts programs. Purchases benefit everyone: The lucky owner will take home one-of-a-kind artwork, while local artists and arts lovers will be able to continue enjoying the arts at the neighborhood cultural center on White Rock Lake.
An Art Preview Reception is scheduled for Friday, April 23, from 7:00 - 9:00 pm, and will be open to the public. Art Mart visitors are invited to raise a glass of cheer to celebrate the kick off of the Art Mart weekend, have a chance to become a Friend of the Bath House, and take a first look at the artistic creations and auction items being showcased in the Art Mart.
In addition to the art sale, which continues during the weekend, Friends of the Bath House will host a silent auction. All participating artists have generously donated art for the auction. This year's auctioneer will be Artistic Eye; proceeds will go to the Bath House Cultural Center Advisory Council to support visual and performing arts at the Bath House.
04 / 19 / 2010
studio al fresco
Yesterday the confluence of an absolutely gorgeous day and the need to work with some particularly noxious chemicals had me packing some of my studio gear and working out on the back porch of the studio.
The big project of the afternoon? Patination.
When silicon bronze is initially cast, the raw metal is kind of a bland color. Over time, the surfaces will darken via oxidation. Of course, the warm color isn't just for show; that tiny layer of oxide build-up also protects the surfaces of the castings from corrosion.
Without patination, it's kind of bland.
As handy a natural phenomenon as this might be, Mother Nature isn't likely to finish the job before my next opening. In order to speed up the process, metalworkers apply a variety of chemical oxidizers to forcibly create patinas on metal. Each chemical has a different effect, which will vary based on the metal it is applied to and the method by which it is applied.*
*If you're interested in a ridiculous amount of metallurgical nerdity on this topic, check out The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals Richard Hughes and Michael Rowe.
Silicon bronze's innate resistance to corrosion is an excellent attribute, but it also makes this entire process even harder. My first collection of bronzes narrowly avoided failure, simply because I couldn't find anything strong enough to cut into the surfaces.
Which brings me to yet another note to the metallurgically nerdy: Seriously, be really careful about searching up a random recipe for a bronze patina and experimenting. While it's possible fortune might smile upon you and darken your metal, some of these mixes are really dangerous.
Even worse, they may kill you while not working at all.
Most of the classic recipes in the public domain were formulated for use on the older style zinc-based bronzes. These alloys went out of common use back in the Eighties, replaced by more durable and workable silicon-based alloys.
These modern metals will laugh off most of the classic methods of coloration. Usually at four in the morning, two days before your show's opening. Trust me, I'm wise only from experience.
Fortunately, that same "wisdom" led me to discovering a mix that worked pretty well. Unfortunately it's also caustic, flammable and toxic.
Around here, we call it The Soup.
This lovely concoction is slowly raised to near-boiling temperatures, at which point the fumes alone are strong enough to rust lesser metals. It also can do a number on your lungs, which is why I was so thankful for the pleasant weather.
Three rounds of dip, wipe, dry and repeat gives you something...disgusting, but dark.
No really, this is a good thing.
From this stage, the pieces are left to rust for a day, and then I start the slow process of polishing the uppermost surfaces back towards a shine. This will leave the lowest areas the most darkened, and the patina that got into the pores of the metal will (hopefully) color the entire piece beautifully.
You can see the results of this mad science in about two weeks, at the Spring Art Mart.
04 / 09 / 2010