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Robert Cole, Confessions from an Assistant

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"Thought" was finished, and it has taken me awhile to get the slides up on the site, but now they're done. I made a slideshow that jumps time a lot, but when we were as busy as we were, it was hard to take time out to shoot pictures. I will have to warn everyone however that the show will take quite awhile to load because I was too lazy to thumbnail the images. I thought you should see it as clear as possible.



After this project, we have become more aware of safety issues after much of what we have been through lately. I mentioned before in one of my other journals that the gantry that we use outdoors to hoist up the sculpture came tumbling over. This was a huge wakeup call to be more careful and take our time before moving things or doing anything at all. We had thought more about wearing our masks around the studio.







More about the gaintry...


Ok, so the story goes like this... We are moving the sculpture outside to patina it and pull over the gantry which probably weighs just as much if not more than the sculpture. As it was supporting the weight in the front of the sculpture, the back wheels that were mounted to the sculpture were still on the ground which was at a very slight incline. An 800 + pound sculpture cares nothing about "slight" and took advantage of the weight being off the front and took off slightly down the hill. When the hook passed the fulcrum point (I believe that's what it's called), it pulled the whole thing over and came to a mocking rest as the 18 foot gantry came tumbling over smacking into the second half of the sculpture. Thankfully it witheld the blow with only minor scratches and a small dent in its nose, but we were left with a yard that had to be sorted out, a pinned sculpture, and figuring out a way to lift the damn gantry back up. Needless to say it took us about 5 hours to get the thing back up and finish cleaning our mess, and now I had to go to work again the next day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

We've been extremely busy the past few months working on "Thought."  While I am in the process of updating my website, I will compile the pictures of the progression of this piece.  Robert's website is also undergoing reworking and will include a similar log of the progression that this massive piece has undergone.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Open Studio April 16-18

The Open Studio did not go as well as previous shows that the Coles had put on there. Previously they had enough of a turnout t sell out most all the art, but this time the weather might just have been too good it hurt. You rarely hear such an excuse, but I will agree that if I didn't have the obligation of the show I would have been at a park lounging around doing nothing. The weather was gorgeous after our long winter.

The opening on Friday night for VIP guests went slow with very few sales. I was excited however when I sold my painting "Embrace" which I had had for awhile now trying to get rid of. My mother wasn't very happy about that sale as she had grown to love that painting.

There were many great patrons and friends of Cole that did arrive and I was able to meet. Robert was also very good about talking to every person who walked into the space. He gladly explained his methods, spiritualism, and other aspects of his work to the guests.

The show was a blast, not to mention the party Saturday night. We got a quarter keg, people brought beer and wine, and we drank and sang the night away. The evening was filled with intense conversations and some not as intense, but it was all in good taste (especially the food).

There was one thing I overheard at the show on Sunday which I would like to impart. I noticed a four year old boy walking around with his dad who was trying to get his son to "see" art. His son stopped at the old fashioned fire extinguisher on the staircase and mentioned that it was a beautiful piece of art. His father tried to explain that it was an old fire extinguisher. Now I pose the question: Who was more fluent in the description of "art"? The boy brings up the most important Duchampian aspect of 20th century art; that everything is art given the right context. The father seems to reject that or refuesed to encourage his son to understand such aesthetics at an early age. I have been thinking about this little scene for awhile and maybe I will do a painting or cartoon about the event.

And here are the pictures....







Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The time for the big show is quickly approaching and I can hardly wait. We have been busy getting things ready and I have been busy re-injuring my knee which I sprained a few weeks ago. Oh well. I hope it is worth it.

It is interesting though watching Robert pull the extra weight. I have been more than willing to try and do everything, but that is just my stubborn nature. He seems more than capable however for someone in his Sixties. It seems whenever he dismisses me from work I come back the next day and twice as much is done.

I will provide pictures of the show and preparation in my next entry.

The time for the big show is quickly approaching and I can hardly wait. We have been busy getting things ready and I have been busy reinjuring my knee which I sprained a few weeks ago. Oh well. I hope it is worth it.

It is interesting though watching Robert pull the extra weight. I have been more than willing to try and do everything, but that is just my stuborn nature. He seems more than capable however for someone in his Sixties. It seems whenever hedsmisses me from work I come back the next day and twice as much is done.

I will provide pictures of the show and preparation in my next entry

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Working with Robert Cole... Where to start.

This is, as I always say, the hardest spot in writing, the beginning. You never know where to start, so maybe it should be how we met, and I will go from there. I met Robert in Florence. He was the featured artist at the Biennale Firenze Del' Arte Contemporanea of which I was also a part. He had created a large female figure which he titled "Madre" which stands sixteen feet tall and is quite elegant in form. Anyway, he was featured prominently, but that was not how I met the man.

My mother and her sister had used my participation in this show as an excuse to get overseas and visit lovely Italy. They shacked up in a wonderful hotel a block from the Ponte Vecchio, in the heart of Florence. We had finished dinner, and before I was going to go back to my little hotel (which was pretty far from that location), My mother and I decided to go to the bar close by and check our e-mail. I should mention at this point that I was carrying around with me the extra large book of the Biennale which featured one work from every artist (around 900 in all) along with a brief bio and mentions of other aspects of the show. Basically the book weighs around twenty pounds which I had been carrying all day and over to this lounge.

We are checking our e-mail and chatting with some young American girl and her mom when this lady sees the book and asks if we had been to the show and enjoyed it because her husband, sitting beside her, is an artist in the show. I mention at that point that I am in the show as well, and we all get to talking.

Awhile later Robert mentions that he has just had an opening for an assistant position and that his studio is in Washington DC, where I was planning on moving in the next few months. It was perfect and my mother still doesn't know how I get jobs as randomly as I do with such little effort.


...Skip ahead a few months to the present...

I have now been working for Robert for a month. It is weird how time starts to really move when you are busy. He is currently working on a few projects of note:

1. His show on the 16-18 of April at his studio.
2. Getting pieces ready to be installed at Merriweather Post Pavilion in MD.
3. Random inspirations.

For random inspirations to make sense, I should explain it a bit more. Robert's process is unique and very artistic. He spends very little time planning his sculptures and more time creating. His process of direct metal sculpture allows him to take an idea, usually from a shape lying around the studio, and fly with it. He will experiment by making pieces, tacking them together, and then tearing it apart again if it isn't working right. Unlike sculpting in other materials, he has found metal to be the most forgiving and flexible a medium which has allowed him to truly present a passion which I believe is seldom found in artists. He has told me that he believes in the spiritual in art and that may inspirations come from visions or dreams which come from a subliminal aesthetic which is very pure. In the end, his works seem to embody such purity of form that seems to envelop Roberts unique personality.

Merriweather has also been an interesting project. The whole concept has been a touch and feel process. We were asked to carve a tree to begin with which turned out to be a disaster. The tree was rotten through, hollow, and was needing more and more work as we started into it. What we wanted to be a few days was turning into a project that would have taken weeks. So we abandoned it to focus on Robert's large scale sculptures which are to be installed around the concert park on a temporary loan. This will become more of a problem to work through after the show he has planned on the 16th through 18th of this month.

The show has proven to be our biggest project at the moment. The challenge, as with any show, has been to get enough works together and in show quality condition to present to the public. On top of that, Robert uses his carriage house / studio as the gallery space. It is a wonderful space, but if you know anything about the process of working with metal, you can imagine the mess it is in with metal dust and tools. So, we will take on the daunting task this week of cleaning it for the viewers so that it no longer looks like a studio space.

I believe that would be a good brief start to this journal, and I will do my best to keep this one going as an artistic look into another artist's world.

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