For current posts, scroll down past artist's statement.

The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Giant garage sale and health news...

Hi all, I don't know if anyone is still reading or not, but a few weeks ago, I developed jaundice and after the Drs tried to put a stent in, they discovered the liver was pretty much devoured by the spreading cancer.  They told me to go home, get my affairs in order, spend time with my family, and enjoy what time I have left. (weeks to a few months)

I am fortunate I have no pain and am still able to eat, walk, do all my personal stuff...just have severely reduced energy.  So my legal stuff is pretty much in order,  details worked out with my children and grandchildren and husband, and now just to enjoy the time.

Friend Jennifer is still planning a garage sale at her home in Tigard for the 12th of May.  She and another friend came Sunday and we packed up two carloads of stuff (and I had already taken a big load up before.....and Nils will take a load up Friday and Monday). Does this give you any clue how much stuff there is???  And there is still more....

This life has been a very crazy run, with lots of challenges along the way...but I am grateful for all the many and varied experiences I have had, and all the friends I have made along the way, as is especially evident now.  My family has always meant the world to 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren.  What joy...

So dear friends, I don't know how much more often I will post, but if you are in Tigard on the 12th, email me and I'll give you the address.

Hugs to all and thank you for your support!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Huge Garage Sale....

Well, here it is another month gone, and my only excuse is that health issues have been intervening and I haven't had energy to work.  I'm not feeling as good as I was (of course, I have been jaundiced now for nearly 4 weeks...hopefully getting that taken care of this week and regaining some energy).

My dear friend Jennifer in Tigard OR and I are collaborating on a giant studio clean-out sale which should be quite something!  She is a collector/assemblage artist too so it should be an amazingly unique sale.  And it will be huge....

We are having a pre-sale for friends (that includes you) on Friday May 11th from 4-7 or so....and the main sale will be on Saturday May 12th, 8-4.

If you are in the Portland area, stop by.  I can list dozens and dozens of things....piano parts, vintage optical lenses, vintage books, vintage documents, old French documents, croquet and pool balls, bones, tarot cards, lead type, clock parts, rusty stuff, antique photo albums, telescope lenses,  glove molds, charms, collectible cigar bands, vintage Indonesian puppet dolls (handcarved, with articulated arms and legs) you can see it pretty much runs the gamut and this is the very tippy top of the iceberg.

Will keep you posted with further lists...
Hope you are having spring!  Ours has been a long time coming.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beyond Embarrassing....

Yes, it is.  Nearly a month since my last post.  My only excuse is that for most of the past couple months, 5 days of each week have seen grandchildren here (which I love).  But the "leftover" days pretty much are used to just rest up and catch up before starting all over again.  Now it seems the familial calls may be decreasing a bit giving me a bit of time to rest and recuperate.

Nils is off to central Oregon today to attend the memorial for his son-in-law Bill who died of esophageal cancer.  You may recall, my son-in-law (also Bill) died about 20 months ago of stomach cancer.  Too much....

On to better news, we did actually have two days of beautiful sunshine which started to bring out the flowering trees with their clouds of white and pink, and of course the daffodils, crocus and other early bulbs.  Ah spring....

Needless to say, I haven't had much studio time, but did manage to finish up 2 pieces a couple weeks ago which I will show below.
 No Further Comment
This one used an old clock face, a plastic piece of Roman numerals from another clock face, a vintage camera bellows and tool (on the left of the bellows), a cuckoo (above the right corner of the bellows), a vintage image and a rusted steel bar.
I've had this little box sitting around for ages, and kept thinking it was just too trite to put a bunch of little "stuff" in it.  Then I started pulling out small items that inspired me, and I had fun putting together "The Muse's Storage Box".  I love all the weird things....the old typewriter eraser in the upper left, down to things from the forest and the seashore, to a run-over pencil, a broken bird egg, mechanical things and more....all of which inspire me.  Then there are the two little, very old rusty wheels I attached to the bottom (and which were hard to "use up").

Well, that's it for today.  Think I'll head for the studio and do more cleaning in prep for more creativity.  I donated away 7 boxes of stuff recently and it really didn't even make a dent in my stash.  But cleaning and going through things always inspires new work....and I hope it does that again.

Happy spring!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The piano part 3...

I promise (I think) that this will be the last day I post about the piano disassembly, but it has been fascinating (to me, at least)...and the potential for all those parts, well, that has a lot to do with it.
 I believe I counted 13 different little wooden bits, plus a little ribbon, some metal, several felts and some leather just in the lower piece. And there are 88 of those, and each "hammer" (the bulb-shaped piece) is a slightly different size!   There are also 88 of the upper piece, also wood, felt, leather, metal and wire.  Can you imagine imagining and then creating these little hinged and movable bits and all of them working?
 This is the harp where all the strings reside.  If you look only at the right side, you can easily envision a harp....and one can pluck the strings and make lovely sounds.  The strings jutting across from the left are the bass strings.   When  a key is struck, the hammer (first photo) hits the appropriate string.
This section is part of where the hammers were connected, and so there are 88 little screw eyes and 88 of the little padded cushions.
These were what were under the keys when we lifted them up.

I suppose this all brings back fond memories of when my mother had her piano tuned. The tuner would arrive with his bags of tools and spend what seemed like hours getting everything perfectly tuned.  I am amazed that my father  allowed Mom this one luxury in the house.  As a child, I did not realize what a talented pianist she was (nor of course how frustrated she must have felt that I showed little interest in it).

Monday, February 13, 2012

The piano continued....

Grandson Jake was here this weekend and first thing Saturday a.m., since it was still too chilly to work outside on the zipline (another story for another day), we decided to dive into the piano disassembly.  I had indeed found a 24 minute YouTube video of a guy doing the same which helped with a few of the tricker points, but all in all, it was far easier than unloading it!

I must say I was awestruck in the same way I was when I first disassembled a vintage typewriter.  How did someone design and make all these varied pieces (and then actually make it work)?  They really are little miracles we take for granted.

Here are a few photos.

 For every note, this part has 3 separate screws that need to be removed from this section to free up the various pieces, so do the math.  Still working on this part.

The top of a big Rubbermaid full of keys.

We are still left with the cabinet and the "harp", the wires strung under incredibly high tension that make the notes. (That was the scary part of the YouTube video....watching that guy cut through those high-tension wires.  One piano tuner commented that the wires have a combined tension of something like 130,000 pounds of watch out!)  Wish I could keep the harp as it is lovely to make music on...but it has to remain on the "sounding board" on the back of the piano which is the other very heavy, very large part of the piano (besides the harp which is cast iron).  Don't know yet what we will do with it.

But a job well done, Jake and Nils!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The piano...

Arrrghhh!  Where did almost a month go?  Seems the house has been full of grandkids (Jake on weekends and Gigi 2 other days of the week) and now Nils is back to teaching 3 days a week, and two daughters are in the middle of a move, just seems life keeps getting in the way of studio time!

But today Nils is off to school all day, and no one else is here and I don't have to go anywhere (until tomorrow), so hopefully between laundry and all rest I will indeed get some studio time.  It's time to photo some art for jurying into Local 14 (I hope....jurying is now, show not till Sept/Oct) for one thing....and then this weekend, Jake and I will start disassembling the piano.

What piano, you ask?  The college where Nils teaching was having a big sale of excess furniture, etc, and in the mix were about 6 or 8 old upright pianos.  We offered $10 for one, and got it.  That was the easy part.  Well, the other easy part was having 4 strong men to load it into the trailer to bring home.  The not-so-easy part was what followed!

Jake, Nils and I were the unloading crew.  An older man, an older woman and an almost 12-year-old do not equal 4 strong men, not matter how you look at it.

Fortunately we were able to back the trailer right up to the big doors on the studio.  Check.  Then the hard part.  The piano has to weigh 300# at least.  Just sliding it off the trailer onto the concrete floor of the studio took nearly 1/2 an hour and a couple near tragic incidents.  Then the problem was the piano was in the trailer on its side, not upright, and it seemed to be very happy to remain in that position.

Assisted by a large jack, several blocks, 3 struggling people of various ages and strengths, we FINALLY got it upright...1 1/2 hours total to get that thing unloaded.  At one point the support underneath collapsed and just missed falling on Nils!

Jake and I plan to start disassembling it this weekend (it does not work) for all those cool keys and hammers and bits and pieces.  We'll see how challenging all of that is.  Think I'll look online to see if anyone has any tips....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

From Hawaii to snow....

On January 5th, my husband's birthday, we left for a week in Hawaii.  The "excuse" for the trip, if one needs an excuse to go to Hawaii in January, was that he had an academic paper accepted for a creativity conference sponsored by the University of Hawaii.

We were blessed with glorious 80 degree weather the entire week (even though the weeks before were not nearly so pleasant).  Heavenly....all those open air rooms, flowers in bloom, the beach, warmth, friends, and wonderful food.   Following are a few shots from the trip:

                                            The banyon trees that never cease to entrance me.
              The giant "rope" above a Shinto (I think) shrine.  Each strand about 20" in diameter.
                                                              Foo dog outside shrine.
                                                    Wedding couple in downtown Honolulu.
                                                                Tassels in Chinatown.
Some kind of bread balls that were dropped into boiling oil and continually stirred by women standing over the hot, hot burner until the balls were all evenly puffed.  Fascinating to watch their rhythm, but mostly all I could think of was how tired their arms and shoulders must be at the end of the day.

Now to the second part of the subject line....snow.  We awoke to snow this a.m. with 2 or 3 more days predicted before returning to rain.  Have to get out in the a.m. to bring Kolya and little granddaughter Gigi here for a couple days.  Hope the snow doesn't intefere.

Finally got back into the studio this afternoon for a couple hours and decided how to put together a piece that has been "resting" for a while.  Felt great after not doing much for the last month or so.  Time to get back at it again.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A new year steps in...

                                                         (Offering to the Oracle...just sold)
The march of time is inevitable, of course, but at no time am I more aware of that than at the beginning of a new year.  I can scroll through my past year's blog posts for a reminder if I need one.  Watching bins finds being brought home and then used, watching pieces being created bit by bit, seeing the list of shows participated in, seeing building projects evolve and gardens grow, then die and be put to bed for winter.

This year will see my oldest granddaughter Abbie, who will soon be 18, graduate from high school then move away to college.  It's going to be a toughie for her mom...and for me as I had her with me part of nearly every day during at least the first 10 or 12 years of her life.  Grandson Jake will be 12 and is already thinking he'll ask a girl to the middle school's semi-formal dance (whoa, how did that happen so quickly!).  And then Gigi (Geneva) is still a toddler, learning words, figuring out her world, tasting it all, learning about gravity and all the other great laws of life while we watch entranced.

Looking back at my goals for last year, I had hoped to sell more art (which I did....21 pieces in all which I consider to be a lot since my art only appeals to certain people)...and to get into Local 14, a large women-only Portland show (which I did).  I'm sure there were more goals in there, like solving all the world's problems, doing away with corruption in government and business, ending war, figuring how to feed all the world's starving and hungry people, curing cancer and a hundred other diseases and more...but I didn't get it all accomplished.  Worthy goals to move on to 2012.

After a few more days' break, I'll be fully back into the studio to make new work for the new year as the time to submit to new shows is just around the corner.

We are blessed to be warm, safe, sheltered and well fed, and know that such should be the case for everyone.  Our wish for this year.    Love to all of you....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Daffodils already popping up....

Oh, dear readers, I fear I have left you in the lurch!  Last post on the first???  How can that be?

It seems December is always a blur, not only with holiday preparations, but with birthdays in our family.  My sister's was Thanksgiving, my oldest daughter's Dec 1st, and my twin daughters' Dec 10th...and then we are left basically with 2 weeks until Christmas.

I've been so behind, I didn't even get the November giveaway posted (after promising at the beginning of the month).  Deb, my dear, you are the winner of a little tidbit of art, and I think I do have your address somewhere here, so will pop this in the mail to you.

Can you tell I am I am just trying to wade through through all the odds and ends of things that need taken care of here on the table?

Our weather continues mild, and we've had an inordinate amount of sun...and here we are nearly at solstice...."the watershed of the year" as Vita Sackville-West called it.  Always a mental load-lifting time for me as I can look forward to spring and longer days, and yes...those daffodils, the early ones of which are already popping through the ground!  One of the many reasons I love, love, love where I live.

A snowy photo from last year...just to get you in the holiday spirit.

Where I grew up, the first blizzard is predicted now, with months of possible snow and storms ahead. For 13 years I lived in MT where we basically had 9 months of snow and 3 months of bad skiing. Here, there is really only about one month where almost nothing is in bloom

Grandson Jake cut our holiday tree for us again and helped me decorate.  It is a bit of a Charlie Brown tree, a wild tree cut from the forest, but it is the fun of going out and getting it and dragging it up to the house that makes it special.  We've already spotted a new stand of moderate-sized trees for next year.

Granddaughter Gigi will be here with mom Kolya for our early Xmas on the 22nd, as will be the rest of the family.  I'll get to enjoy 13-month-old Gigi for 2 whole days!

Have a blessed, healthy, contented, friend-filled holiday everyone.  Back to art soon....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clocks and looms....

We've been blessed with glorious sunshine for much of the past few weeks, very unusual for us this time of year when the rain, clouds and darkness normally descend for weeks on end.  It has made my usual seasonal depression lift and for me to face the days with energy and excitement.  Scrubbing decks, moving firewood, working in the studio, cleaning out more of the garden, cleaning off the driveway...all have seemed doable and have been done.

One thing I have noticed is that when the low winter sun is shining directly in the windows, every piece of dust, every fingerprint, every cat hair shows up on the furniture, on the tables and counters and floor.  Housecleaning has seldom risen above the lower rungs of my priorities list (although I love a clean house, I don't want to be the one doing it all), so the newly visible neglect has made me do more cleaning than normal too.

December 1st marks my oldest daughter's birthday as well as letting me know that solstice is just 3 short weeks away!  Then the days begin to get longer....Such a relief.  At times, I feel like a primitive person must have felt who perhaps did not understand the cycle of the seasons and did not know that spring would return.

Anyway, I have made some time in the studio and here's what's new.
Oops, I should have rotated this I guess, but you get the picture (no pun intended).  Remember the large clock face I picked up at the bins a month or so ago...about 15" across.  It is replica, a paper face mounted on wood, but with all the appropriate crackling and scratching one might expect on a really old clock face.  The dark part is part of resin clock with Roman numerals on it.  I used the other part of it in a work that I sold...and I cannot now remember the title.  At this point, I have just fastened the rusty metal bar to the clock with bolts.
 Here it is, right side up.  I still haven't decided how to attach the dark, Roman numeral part of it.  On top of the rusty metal piece, you will see a wooden part from a cuckoo clock that also came from the bins, and on the left, an old camera bellows I purchased from friend Tabor (and which is very hard to use because I like it so much!).
 In this detail shot, you can see a tiny cuckoo (from the same clock) that I attached to the bellows.  Now to figure out how to put it all together and what to put inside that inviting space inside the bellows.
 Months ago, I picked up this very old, hand carved loom piece (just the wooden parts without all the other stuff) at the bins.  This is the start I am finally making.  Oh my, there are those little black plastic finials (thanks, Su...again) fastened on, and that metal curlique I got at my last bins trip seemed just perfect to attach to the bottom (I drilled holes in the wood and wired it on from the back), which I realized the second I got it home and in the studio.  Now what?
I found the old wooden oval while rummaging around in the old studio one day.  Finally, it seems like this is the place for it.  And then we'll see where this all goes....

Oh my, giveaway time again too.  Will pick a name and a prize and post that tomorrow, I hope.