Sensational Artwork Using Water

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This stunning and creative photographic capture is among a series of wallpaper pictures from this website: FantasyArtDesign. Photography may be the art form which has most enhanced the  appreciation of water in terms of possibility and incredibly exotic representation………  But, then, photography is passive. It needs  subjects to do its work. As a partner in such stuff, you are reading the blog of one of the most satisfied appreciators of photography in history.  😉

But this is only tangentially a photographic blog. Landscaping and the range of possibilities in design and implementation is what this blog and what I am about. And today, I want the whole enchilada – let’s visit water and all the wondrous edifices and constructions which humans have made to celebrate our relationship with this vital and helpful element.

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The work of water is fascinating. We see modern fountains which seem utterly other-worldy and which fascinate us beyond measure. Sometimes even huge, gigantic constructions comprising computer generated pumps and jets which throw coordinated spouts of water into hitherto-unheard of heights such as this monster in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia referred to as the world’s tallest fountain – shooting water 1,024 feet above the Red Sea.

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Or the famous works of kinetic water sculpture such as those made so famous at the Las Vegas Bellagio, of course:

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Barcelona, Spain  finishes second to no one with their miraculous fountain, so appropriately named “The Magic Fountain of Montjuic”.

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Enough Of Fountains

Let’s visit a couple of other water wonders artists have tossed together out of those creative minds over centuries of washing, swimming, boating and drinking the stuff.

The painting below was constructed by a lady with the absolutely appropriate name, April Waters. It can be resourced here, at the Oregon State University Agriculture Art Gallery.

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What’s most unique to me about this particular painting  is its utter realistic depiction of Winter on the American North West – complete with the deluges courtesy of the Pineapple Express’s warm ocean current and the plenty of weather it brings – the (cough, cough)……….AMAZING AND OFTEN DEPRESSING AMOUNT OF RAIN.  😉

Other visual artists have become far more famous than April throughout history for their own representations of the liquid of life. Among my favorites is this gorgeous Chinese painting of a leaping carp, an ancient symbol of wealth. The artist is the contemporary Chinese artist Zhou Wen Xi (周文熙)

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Since running water in Chinese symbolism also represents money in its ephemeral forms, I’m hoping this carp visits my house down the Ohio River and stays a while. I’ve always been a carp fan!

Speaking of which, here is some material art composed of animated substance, muscle and even a modicum of brain power who also enjoys the life afloat as well as beneath the currents and flows:

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We should also take a moment to reflect at the vocal expressions regarding water. We sometimes do indeed acquaint ourselves with what water brings as our borderline single most precious resource. These people celebrate water in song –

 

Abnormally Cool Garden Furniture – Helen Nock

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(click images to enlarge)

She lives 3,900 miles from here on a different continent, but Helen Nock’s inspired craftsmanship just about ripped my heart out. I have rarely had such an avid appreciation of someone’s excellent work – and make no mistake, there sure are plenty of folks who do amazing things – but Helen’s work had me from the get-go.

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The two bird baths – above and 2 below –  give an idea of her material and her general concepts. She – like me – loves mosaics and the crazy imaginings one can get from colored glass. Yes,  it’s a weakness, I admit it. 😉  I thought the Indians got a great deal selling Manhatten for $22 worth of glass baubles, myself. I’da been cheaper! I am moved by the baubles made by the human hand. Just as the stained glass in the great churches moved men and women to forget their meager and hard-fought existences, witnessing God’s glory and the promise of better lives in those Holy Places – be they Mosque or Temple or the Great Cathedrals of Europe – now, from the hands of fabulous craftsmen and women such as Helen Nock, we get yet another near-religious experience. We are now enabled to witness a shameless exposure to radical artistic design – equally powerful in many ways and definitely as mesmerizing.

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Helen – like the architects of those inspirational devices of churches – also loves experimenting with her own version of killer baubles, enjoying the dimensional frames they fool us with and beguile us with so dearly – and with a playful sense of love at the same time. Art with a smile never looked so good. So? It’s A Garden Fer Pete Sakes!!  Get Real! Sue me! What could be cooler? I’m just a gardener!! These handcrafted products bring ferocious and gorgeous new colors into a garden, all season long – no matter the season. Plus, Helen has a hysterical take on symmetry going for her too – balance is structural, by all means, but hardly designed that way above her very substantial steel footings. I find much of her work positively “Antonio Gaudi-like” and love it. In those times of the year when color is so desperately desired, we have this incredible artifact – or many others shown below by way of tables, seats, bird baths or just standard ornamentation – all glitzy, translucent, shimmering and special and all our own. Man, am I ever a fan!

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Here’s a close up of the picture above – and, yes, please ask about materials…………

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This isn’t some small time girl.This is a serious pursuit and we gain from these gorgeous artworks.

I have no problem whatsoever in comparing what she does with the great artisans of our – or any – era. Art is a trick – we take standard average elements and make them something far, far more than they began with. At my most presumptuous, I think that about my best work. Helen Nock, as many others of us, works hard at her chosen craft. Her products are often commissioned by individuals with very particular wants. Take this Sunflower Table for example:

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A stunning fact of her work is not just in its artistic sensibility alone, either. These items are not your everyday flimsy, department store items. They are made with the connivance and aid from her local blacksmith, as Helen’s demands go to such materials as Stainless Steel, bronze, copper and the slates and stone sets which need a firm footing, attached for super permanence. These are, after all, outdoor products for the most part. They need to accomplish sturdiness and stability facing the greatest conniving for failure devised by man or Diety – children, for one thing, rain and wind and the elements in general, for others – including freezing and thawing. Outside of the Sun, Nature’s most  universal killer of man made things is the alternating temperature during a day’s passage.

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Her “smithy”, Nathan Bennett, is a busy man, and thorough. Not only do they conspire to build these edifices extremely well, they build them to last. And not only do they build them to last, but Helen does these series’ of acid washes of the metals themselves, bringing colors out with each application, fastidiously producing her desired product. She works until she gets it right. I think I like this aspect best, but then I would. The thrill of producing permanent things is a wonderful accomplishment.

Here are her own words as to how she arrived at this craft: (from her website profile)

“I was formally trained in fine art and design with a special interest in painting but a series of unnexpected turns led to my current practice. My professional carreer began working with teenagers and young adults disaffected by mainstream education shortly after gaining my B A Hons as a mature student. A fantastic six years of lecturing and teaching both professionally and personally stretching, but by September 2006, I felt the need to focus my own practice. I assumed a return to painting on a full-time basis but working in a disused stone quarry surrounded by wildlife, some training on the resident blacksmith’s forge and a strong interest in nature and natural materials strongly influenced my decision to make beautiful and unusual things that live outside. The metal working opportunity led to developing work where I could integrate wrought iron, and commission the blacksmith to manufacture from my designs.  Exploring mosaic method seemed a natural progression to combine with wrought iron furniture.  Latterly, I explored the potential of mosaic method for individual sculptural work. I will use a range of methods and material as work and inspiration suggest, not all exclusively mosaic but my abiding interest in mosaic method is fired by it’s flexibility and hardy utility, and diverse possibilities it offers in combinations of media and technique.” Works for me!!  😉 87082_mosaic-and-metal-detail-of-metalwork-surface-finish Here is Helen herself, decked out in her most decadent and oh-so-fashionable working attire and doing those lady-like things we all expect our wimmins to do.  Yes, she is grinding away with a Super Industrial strength grinder. Oh still my heart!!! 😉 That grinder, by the way, is like what we use for shaving cement blocks and bricks. It is about as safe as a loaded gun and needs that much care to avoid accidental disaster – they are, in fact, so powerful, they can also ruin some work in a split second, too. (She’ll kill me for this, I am sure, lol) Hey. I’m in love, don’t listen to those other guys!  😉 4858200074_1a3cce5777_b What we get, from the developer of this art’s perspective, is this – the elemental series of constructions I found incredibly fascinating, to say nothing of the end product: Raw stuff: 4821762119_b1d36ea1b5_b 4821767675_528bbca777_b A forged stainless steel detail: 4832142374_00c716dc84_b The Home Stretch – almost there! 4834696775_780dd45da7_b Still some buffing necessary yet: 4860317729_61ce96bec9_b Final Product: 4864266353_20763149bb_b Pretty amazing stuff. Here is her website:  http://www.helen-nock.co.uk/sculpture–and-wall-art This is where she exhibits just some of her stuff. A word – she also does sculpture and she also does – get this – lighting for gardens, which I show here. This one is entitled “Wall Urchin”: 4287061743_f925380384_o Here it is, lit up: 4287796014_90a45b760b 4287803860_49eeb90a0e_o Helen Nock. My current most favorite artist in the world and also a great gal, I hasten to add. I’ve only spoken with her by mail, asking her permission to spread the Great Word and we definitely made one another laugh. There can be no higher praise. Thanks, Helen and keep it up!! She does a great Pig, by the way!! And in a shirt, no less, for the more modest of us.

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180417_andamento-flow Absolutely wonderful work. 65570_cluster 3894054799_b3ae17dda3_b 87286_garden-table-spira-top-view-scroll-down-for-more-views 139860_garden-table-shingle-dreaming 3894835854_3d8d64e1c6_o 3894048341_e75921d290_o

My Most Influential Music

Quick, dirty and shameless, this ends up being partially autobiographical with the additional opportunity afforded by technology to share art with others. It’s pretty simple in the end.

As a child of the 60’s, having grown up just as Rock and Roll emerged as the social force and general motivator that it did, my musical his-story is studded with some fairly predictable icons. I fully admit that and am delighted, the truth is, that I got to share the experience of this art with so many wonderful friends. The experience of art seems altogether useless at times without including the many shared experiences of appreciating  my many wonderful soul mates who took the journey of these deepest forms of Love beside me, from my family to my friends.

Naturally, I have a few of my very own unique aspects which I tend to view as eccentric enough to present as a sort of rating system with indulgent explanation which might or might not inspire others to continue reading and even to listen, all credit going to Youtube Technology as the greatest enabler of all.

Around the age of 8, I learned to operate the family stereophonic record player which I found allowed me to choose my own music at those times I found myself alone enough, or included enough, to give it a whirl. The large tunes at that time – 1956 – ranged from Bill Haley and the Comets to the birth of that amazing phenomenon of Elvis. To say my sister thought a lot of Elvis would be a gross understatement. Which is another factor in my exposure to all music – I had older siblings.

Nevertheless, I had some tasty favorites among which was this which I would turn up loud as possible when alone – hardly rock and roll, but available at home which made it officially “The World” and still moving to me to this day:

Yes, Sibelius. Later, I moved on, quite farther afield. At the ripe old age of 14, I discovered Bo Diddly. This was not as great a departure as one might think, because I and millions of others have always thought Bo Diddly was one hell of a musician. Somehow, he affected me at the deepest levels, all equal parts hormonal, experimental and eager for life itself. I suspect I only sensed rather dwelt on his innovative playing – I just know I thrived on his sound and the simplicity of his spirit.

I got marginally more sophisticated as time went by. Not a lot. But some. In the 60’s one’s choices of music ranged wider than ever, nearing a critical mass in a resounding explosion of genres and styles at the tail end of the 60’s. Leading up to that period was my own deep love affair with Motown, Stax Records, and the moving and so utterly danceable African American tunes of the day. No song moved me more than this one – it was my Monster:

Then the world changed……………whap!

A monstrously deep drink of all music during such heady times as the 60’s – when anything seemed possible – led to what I perceived as a bizarre “flattening out” of modern pop music, probably beginning with the death of Jimi Hendrix, a complete favorite of mine and an innovator whose death implied a redirection of rock and roll, at least to me.

What it did to me was redirect my interest to an interest in almost strictly experimental music. Having relocated to Vancouver, I found myself in basement Jazz Clubs watching Jazz guys like Ornette Coleman, over at LeChat Noir with Gavin Walker and searching for the “still-newer” music. It became rather rewarding in spades as I nearly completely turned my back on rock and roll and pop and thence found my interest exploding with an entire field of experimentation and novel artists. Sonny Sharrock, Weather Report, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis with the electric and controversial fusion creations. blending wild rock and roll principles with Jazz in a movement back toward bass beats, syncopation and outright psychedelic inspiration.

Here is a perfect illustration of my own and other’s fascination with new forms of music:


I also discovered the Lunatic Fringe – at this time Karlheinz Stockhausen, Eric Satie, Philip Glass, John Cage, Edgar Varase – near anti-musical futuristical musicians who redefined everything musical from cadence to melody to a near obscene repitition. I sat listening for hours to these strange compositions. This then led to an abiding interest in some very campy sort of performances, such as Frank Zappa’s or Captain Beefheart’s many surprises on tour, or, eventually, the fascinating Laurie Anderson. 😉


So my musical search for the fresh and new wild caught many successful experiences which rewarded me greatly. I had the wonderful experience of attempting madly to stay on my generation – and even others’ – “cutting edge”. I led myself to believe I actually encountered the monstrous entirety of music – and then found how wildly small my thinking was as I more fully discovered the entire International realm of stuff. No, I hardly got lost – I got inspired.

World music combinations led to an even greater mystery and even more hilarious adventures, bringing me to this very day. I can’t wait now until we hear from the Planets!

My Lily Haydn in space

The World’s Fountains

In a parallel Universe, I once wrote a blog for a local Louisville company: Pond And Fountain World. (link included). In so doing, it has allowed me to study and roam around, looking at an absolutely fascinating subject. Not only does the blog feature what they sell – currently-retailed pond and fountain accouterments, including an excellent selection of pre-made fountains, ready to deliver and install – but it also gives me the right and reason to explore the entirety of the world of fountains, internationally.

Wow! What a treat. Below from The University of Connecticut’s Waterbury Campus:

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The designs of those who build these things come from a creativity one can only guess at in its artistic purity, apparent freedom and in their sometimes overal simple immensity. “Mind-boggling” comes to mind as we tour the most outlandish and absolutely breath-taking water-art sculptures, sitting as so many do in the public squares of our major cities. From the work of Lawrence Halprin in Portland, Oregon –

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My great good friend, Steve, gets to sit at the bottom of Halprin’s Ira Keller Fountain in the face of the seeming vastness of the fountain while it crashes down, so nearby:

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These gorgeous civic fountains are now becoming less formal and more amenable to “audience participation” these days – a welcome respite from an overly-litigious society in general, which I welcome wholeheartedly:

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Here is Halprin’s stunning blend of  “The Natural” and “The Modern” work at the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC, shown here at night –

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Fountains were initially creations which were fed from aqueducts – the original plumbing apparatus, dating back at least 2,500 years. Often, these aqueducts would send water downwards, creating the pressure which allowed the newly-minted fountains in Greece, for initial historical example, to spurt water out for public and private consumption. Fountains and public water sources, fed by the rivers, lakes and streams in the mountains, began appearing around 260 BC in Ancient Greece. The notion of “siphoning” became pioneered and created works which could allow water to run or not run, depending on opening and closing a valve.

In the end, aqueducts would literally terminate in city centers or plaza’s where the resulting pressure and large quantities of water supplied could be more fully appreciated by attaching art work and form to the terminus.

The Trevi Fountain, in fact, Rome’s famous “Fountain Of Love” featured by Hollywood so many times, was just this sort of product.

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(Picture credit here to Tour Of Rome, along with the quote below, capsulizing better than I could, a brief history of its construction.)

“There had been a source of water at this site for over a thousand years, although it was not until 1485 that Pope Nicholas V commissioned Gianlorenzo Bernini to create the fountain, but the project had to be abandoned when Pope Urban VIII died in 1644. Then in 1732, Niccolò Salvi was employed by Pope Clement XII to continue with the work, with the result being the Baroque masterpiece that completely dominates the little square today.”

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For me, it is the mixture of “chthonic” elements – fit for the Gods alone – which assemble in the primordial primitive juxtaposition of the  jagged rocks which also seem  to be emitted by and to be so “at one” with the building behind. Like our own consciousness, we see a remarkable blend of the absolutely most Elemental mixed with the modern human and more mundane elements of muscle, posture and expressions. A fountain like this hits our perceptions in mental regions usually reserved for art. But then, who said fountains are not art?

Another personality who found the Lunatic Fringe of Modern Fountains is a Japanese designer named Isamu Noguchi. Below is his what is arguably his most famous work – his famous “Nine Floating Fountains”, constructed for the Osaka World’s Fair in 1970.

Here it is in daylight, obviously on a windy day –

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And below is the night-time look for which it has become so famous:

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But Mr. Noguchi was not done. He obviously loved the impractical and the utterly whimsical – and he was a master at it:

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He also had a definite sense of humor!

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We owe debts of gratitude on an unimaginable scale to the artists who have taken our technologies and our appreciation for Water Art to absolutely absurd but-always-interesting lengths.

Some of them have driven cities and countries to drink! Take Mr. Vaillancourt’s concrete irritation to the city of San Fransisco’s more “proper” sensibilities as an example. “Please”, many said, “take it!”. 😉

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Some folks just need a sense of humor!

Can’t we all be friends?

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Fountains are very nearly a “First Love” for me. It would not take much to get me all the way there, either.

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Can I get some Love for the Paris Stravinsky Fountain???

No???

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