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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.

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....