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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, November 23, 2011

The bins shall provide...

During a two-day stay this week in Portland, I took some time Tuesday to go to the bins.  Pickings have not been that good on Mondays recently, so I decided to try going on Tuesday.  Much least this Tuesday was much better.
 Above is part of my stash...hard to see in such a tiny photo, I know, but there are the little white cherubs, eight of them, the weird glass bottle shape, the scary skull, the metal curlique, the elephant, Dutch shoe, interesting frame (for needlework, I think, but I can certainly envision something in there), the little Chinese pot, and a couple other things.
And here, the dark, tall carved Indonesian box, a rain stick, the 3 cats, a decorative box, a toy cash register (just like one I had as a child...very broken but with good pieces inside as you will see), and the ray shape at the top.
 After about an hour of trying to disassemble the toy cash register (they definitely made toys to last long ago...everything out of metal, securely riveted together), I got the nice little pile of keys which you can barely see lower left), and those great pop-up metal numbers...and the red metal pieces.  I often use a little red in my pieces in my mostly dark art, so I am sure these will get used at some point.

As I was leaving the bins, one of the "regulars" that I see
there all the time came over to me and offered me this.
He said it was an Indonesian egg box, but actually I
think it is that game that I can't remember the name of
(see interior photo).  Obviously, it is all hand carved.

Then there was the elephant....   The "regular" who gave me the box above said he had had this in his cart but then put it back, which explained me finding it on a return visit to a bin I had already been through.  He/she needs a little work, but I find it quite appealing in its own right.  The elephant will hang from the crossbar, and there is a little wooden "clanger" which will fit inside the elephant to make a wooden bell.
As I was putting things away, I couldn't resist playing with a few of my new pieces.  No matter what I come across, I always find new inspiration in all the disparate pieces of detritus I bring home.  I loved the 3-cat base this is sitting on as well as the broken but very interesting glass shape (broken off top and bottom from whatever it used to be) as well as the scary skull.  They are all just sitting together to pose for the photo.

I'm going to add a photo of tonight's sunset for you. The photo doesn't really show how brilliant the colors were though...
Happy Thanksgiving!


rebeca trevino said...

the egg box / game box is stunning! i absolutely love it!
you always find kool stuff

Diane Lou said...

It was definitely a good day at the bins. Not bad for $25 in all.

Happy Thanksgiving, Rebeca!

Pam McKnight said...

Happy Thanksgiving Diane and Rebeca! Yes, lot's of cool stuff! I'll have to get to the bin's in Portland one of these years...have never been but heard it's great.

Diane Lou said...

I hope your Thanksgiving day was lovely, Pam. You just never know with the bins, but I would definitely avoid Monday! Not enough miscellaneous and about 80% clothing. I think they sort through the weekend's donations while they are putting out bins and bins full of clothes on Monday. Just a theory of course ;-)

Pam McKnight said...

thanks for the tip!

rebeca trevino said...

Diane - i just sent you some blog love...I've given you the Liebster Blog Award - congrats! i hope you love it.
here is the link:

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane! I am following up on Rebeca's good idea and I also gave you the Liebster Blog Award on my blog. She gave it to me as well. Enjoy it twice! You can find it here at

Diane Lou said...

Well, thank you!! I am doubly honored today. You are such sweeties!!