Well, I've only been here a few days, and have done so much it that feels like a week. Met with Tavio del Rio, Ranger extraordinaire, and decided exhibition dates: December 1 though January 13; if you find yourself in San Diego during that time, please stop by the park and take a look at the exhibition in the visitors center.
Ranger Tavio will be just one of the NPS staffers making this journey with me. Although the NPS has Artists in Residence at many of the national parks and monuments, each one is different. Cabrillo just recently developed their AIR program, and the nuances of this new programming are still being worked out. No doubt there will be some bumps and bruises as Tavio and I -- and the rest of their staff and volunteers-- navigate this new journey.
Besides the meeting and orientation day, I've had two site-scheduled days: days I was to be working in the field, working on the art. The second day was instead spent entirely on solving problems discovered in the field the first day. As artists know, problem-solving is an inescapable component of art. Consider it a justified focus rather than a time-suck. If design is the heart of art-making, and creativity and passion are the soul of art-making, then problem-solving is the brain.We couldn't do what we do without spending a big chunk of our work time solving technical, design, logistic, and equipment problems; each new project brings new challenges to solve, and the challenges engage creativity that sparks the work itself. The equivalent of an athlete's warm-up. For a sculptor working in the field (i.e., not in a studio), on location away from home, it's a bit more than a warm-up, and I expect there will be plenty more problems to solve. It'll be fun. Seriously.
The biggest hurdle solved yesterday: I found the right kind of utility cart, at a price that won't demolish my budget. (And because this is an unfunded residency, I truly mean my budget!) Because I'll be working in the field, a cart is a must. Even though I'll be "working small", I still have more than a hundred pounds of gear, water, clay, tools, and work equipment that has to be transported into the field each day. And it has to be the right kind of cart. If this one turns out to have been a bad choice, it'll be a relationship that struggles the whole time I'm here; if it's really the right cart for me, every day the work will be even more of a pleasure.
The time that I have spent on site already has been mostly devoted to visual observation, the collection of visual information for potential sculptures; sculptures that I hope will embody the essence of Cabrillo's ecology. Walking around the park, taking note of form and line in the landscape, of repetition in natural themes, of color and pattern; snapping reference photos, making notes, and considering which clay bodies will best suit the projects I'm planning. Yesterday I spent an hour or more researching different kinds of local clays (southern CA clays) that are available, looking up and scrutinizing all their various properties (shrinkage rates, moisture, firmness measurements, how much and what size grog they contain, color, etc.) Later this afternoon: actual clay shopping.