[Borsheim Arts Studio]

Borsheim Art Newsletter:

27 September 2004

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 2004

[torso art]

Arch (detail)
4' x 2' painting
by Kelly Borsheim

  1. October Events
  2. A Visit to Carrara, Italy
  3. A Quote from Einstein
  4. Subscription Info.

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Dear Reader,

October is National Arts Month and I will be exhibiting my work in 3 different events (in order by date). Won't you join me?

This Friday night, October 1, from 5 - 8 p.m., for a chance to own some of my photographs from Italy. Exhibit runs to October 30. Details:
International Inspirations
Bastrop Gallery, 1009 Main Street o Bastrop, Texas USA
Normal Hours: Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

One Night Only - Saturday, October 2; Hours: 5 - 9 p.m.
Artists Interruptus anti-censorship art show
The Old School, 1604 E. 11th St., Austin, Texas USA
Note from the organizers: The show features works from Texas artists that have been banned by galleries, cafes, and other public places, as well as pieces that deal with frequently censored themes such as sexuality and the mystical. The show will also feature prints of a 30-panel anti-censorship exhibit organized by the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship; this is the exhibit's first showing in Texas. Music by Tyler of Sound Audiks; sound by System Surround Sound!
Post-exhibit party at the Longbranch Inn
Saturday, Oct. 2 from 9:30 pm --???
1133 E. 11th St., Austin

Note from Kelly: One of the two pieces I will be exhibiting was "not really" censored. I was told by the gallery director, "We are not censoring your art, for that would be illegal for us to do. But my boss wants you to consider that children will be present." Two of those "not censored" works were paintings and have since sold. The third "not censored" work is a small edition bronze, which will be in this exhibit.

Saturday and Sunday, October 9 - 10, 2004; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Both days
FACET - FINE ART CREATIVE EXPRESSIONS of TEXAS (38th Annual Artists' Harvest 2004)
Booth # 300 (right near the front door); Juried show
Palmer Event Center, 900 Barton Springs Road; Austin, Texas
Admission is $7.00, Seniors $5.00 and children under 12 free.

Making its debut are new stone carvings, as well as paintings and photography inspired by my travels in Italy.

A Visit to Carrara, Italy

I never cease to be amazed by the art of stone carving - including the process of extracting the stone from its mountain home. This summer I took my dream trip to Italy and naturally I visited the stone quarries of Carrara, which Michelangelo made famous. As I flew into Pisa, the white tops of the Apuan Alps to the north were clearly visible from my window seat on the plane. I overheard someone say that many people are surprised to see snow on the mountains in the summertime, until they learn that it is not snow, but marble they see. Marble is so abundant in this region that it is even used for curbs on the sides of streets!

[Italian marble] [Carrara, Italia, Italy]

I had contacted Cave Michelangelo before arriving in Italy and we set up a tour time once I arrived in the area. My host that morning was geologist Fabio Massimo Biselli. The owner of the quarry is Franco Barattini. Fabio introduced me to Mr. Barattini up in the mountains while we were viewing the beautiful stone. Before visiting the Cave Michelangelo Quarry in Carrara, I had only been in the Yule marble quarry in Colorado (see "The Third Dimension" February-March 2002 issue or more with images on my site). In Colorado, the marble is harvested from the inside of the mountain, working around very large square columns of stone that support the external surface of the mountain above the quarry. The Carrara mountainsides were a whole other look with completely open excavation by all of the quarries over the centuries. Cave Michelangelo not only has a huge quarry, but also a factory which keeps busy with commissions of classical reproductions as well as enlargements of today's artists' works. (I was a bit shocked, however, that none of the workers I saw wore any protection for ears, lungs, or hands.)

[Italian marble] [marble enlargement Vatican City Commission, Italy]

[Cave Michelangelo] [cutting Carrara marmo, Italy]

After my visit with Fabio at Cave Michelangelo, I walked a short distance to The Museo del Marmo (Marble Museum). The museum was very thorough in teaching the history of our noble craft. It also contained an impressive collection of many different samples of types of marble, granite, and ornamental stone; the tools to excavate and shape it; and some art that has been carved from it.

The Carrara-region of quarries in the Apuan Alps was once called Luna, after the Goddess of the Moon. The Luni quarries were first explored by the Romans around 48 BC when Caesar needed marble to build the Forum in Roma. Historically, una officina (a workshop) was operated by each quarry, supervised by a vilicus who managed skilled laborers, some free and some enslaved. Stone workers were specialized, such as caesores (cutters), machinarii (those who moved blocks), probatores (those who selected the marble to be cut), quadratarii (who rough-cut the blocks), and serrarii (block sawers). Tagliata is the word to describe cuts made into the face of the stone with a hammer and chisel.

Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, stone was carried down the mountains to the sea by a method called lizzatura. Lizza is Italian for 'wooden slide'. The procedure involved using wooden rollers (logs) under the stone and pairs of oxen to pull it along (and perhaps in some places, to keep the stone from sliding downhill too fast). The following quote came directly from the translated portion of an exhibit in The Museo del Marmo in Carrara:

The Largest Block in the World

In 1929 the largest block of white marble in the world was extracted, using helicoidal wire, from the quarry known as "Carbonera" in the Miseglia basin. The block, which was perfectly whole and without the least defect, weighed an incredible 300 tonnes and was 19 metres long with a height and width of 2.35 metres. The altitude of the quarry of 800 metres above sea-level, necessitated the construction of a special case so that the block could be transported down the mountain side without damage. Thus a giant sledge was constructed using 50 tonnes of wooden beams, 14 iron poles and 25 large iron ropes, whereby the block was guided down the mountainside, overcoming descents of over 60%. It is said that 70,000 litres of soap were used to oil the iron ropes. In the valley the 'monolith', still on its sledge, was pulled along by over 35 pairs of oxen to the docks, where it was loaded on board a specially constructed ferry destined for Fiumicino: the transport of the block from the quarry to the docks had taken eight months. The monolith is still visible to this day in Rome, where it forms the obelisk of the Foro Italico.

At the end of the eighteenth century, marble was extracted by using explosives. You can imagine the great reduction in waste when in 1895 the helicoidal wire was introduced to cut the marble. Two years later, an Italian engineer named Monticolo invented the penetrating pulley, increasing the efficiency of the wire. This system was used until it was replaced in 1978 by the diamond wire used today.

I am not sure, but I believe an annual re-enactment of la lizzatura occurs on the first Sunday in August. In sum, for those of us who love stone and process in general, a trip to a quarry is a must. It is similar to (but even more fun than) looking at a loved ones' baby pictures. And that is a great thing.

Note added 5 February 2006:
An awesome page about marble quarrying: http://graphics.stanford.edu/projects/mich/pietrasanta-20nov98/pietrasanta-20nov98.html

Going to Carrara, Italy?
Check out Cave Michelangelo at www.cavemichelangelo.it
(Le cave means the quarries in Italian. La cava is singular - and feminine.)

Also, you might contact Paolo Pitanti at the Carrara Tourist Office. She sent me a wonderful thank you note after I sent her a copy of the article I had published about Carrara in the Sculptural Pursuit magazine (Spring 2005 issue). www.comune.carrara.ms.it
(Please tell her I - Kelly Borsheim - sent you. Thank you.)

A Quote from Einstein

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead . . . his eyes are closed.
::: Albert Einstein :::


If you enjoy Borsheim Art News, please forward it to friends and colleagues. It comes to you about 6 times a year from Cedar Creek, Texas-based artist Kelly Borsheim.

Thank you for reading,
Kelly Borsheim
27 September 2004

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