I had no idea of what would be your response to my recent book proposal. You have been very generous with me and the many contributed words and images are helping me to focus and develop a book that will be a lot of fun and hopefully of interest to you. I thank you for the energy you are adding to this idea. I have also received a few requests to include some writings, so this really is becoming a collaborative project.
This book will take a little time to produce since I still have a lot of research to do regarding printing, publishing, and distributing -- and I still expect to keep creating art during this process, so if you would like to add your thoughts, you may still do so online at:
There is a new store opening this Thursday night in downtown Austin, Texas. It is called "The Home Retreat" and is located at 249 W. 2nd Street, right next to the new City Hall building at 2nd Street and Lavaca.
The owners, Wini and Michael Graziano, thought my sculptures would fit well in the environment they have created and invited me to exhibit there. The Home Retreat offers quality linens, pillows, throws, carpets, and more from around the world. I received some of their Peppermint Tea Tree Dead Sea Bath Salts when I delivered my art there recently. They smell invigorating and Wini assures me that the salts will help soothe aching joints.
This Thursday night from 6 to 9 p.m. you are invited to help us celebrate the grand opening of this lovely store downtown. There is free parking in the City Hall garage (enter via Lavaca Street) and even valet parking service. I hope to see you there!
New Art Space:
If you find yourself up near the Windy City around this coming 4th of July holiday, I hope you will stay long enough to visit the Ferencak Gallery on Thursday, July 7th. I will be at the gallery that evening from 3 to 7 p.m. and am bringing up some brand new works. Won't you join Dawn Ferencak and me (and some of my family members, too)?
Ferencak Gallery, inside Edward Jones,
316 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois (Chicago area)
Telephone Dawn Ferencak for more information: 773.622.0324 or 708.524.6009
Preview new works debuting in Chicago:
Three other new paintings:
"Lei" and "Lui":
The book I am currently reading is Sculpture -- Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream. This is Jason Gaiger's translation of the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder's 1778 essay Plastik.
It opens with a wonderful observation by Diderot regarding a person blind from birth. J. Herder writes: "He held his keen and accurate sense of touch to be a fully adequate replacement for the sense of sight. He could distinguish the hardness or smoothness of a body no less subtly than a voice by its tone, or than we who can see distinguish colors. He did not therefore envy us our sense of sight, which he could not imagine to himself. If he wished for an increase of his senses, then it would be for longer arms to be able to feel the moon's surface with greater clarity and certainty, and not for eyes to be able to look upon it."
Mr. Herder felt that we have an optical bias in the way we interact with our world and with the art of sculpture in particular. Classifying sculpture as part of the visual arts ignores the spatial and physical qualities that define it and forgets the importance of our sense of touch in the development of our sense of vision and our human experiences in general. He states (p. 40): A theory of beautiful forms derived from a theory of optics is like a theory of music derived from our sense of taste.
Mr. Gaiger writes that Mr. Herder "does not ask: What can the blind perceive without the use of sight? but rather: What could the sighted perceive without the use of touch? . . . Sight on its own can give us access only to surfaces, that is, images arranged on a plane. . . . For Herder, sight is dependent upon touch but naturally forgetful of its more fundamental role."
J. Herder continues: "For what are properties of bodies if not relations to our own body, to our sense of touch? The light that strikes my eye can no more give me access to concepts such as solidity, hardness, softness, smoothness, form, shape, or volume than my mind can generate embodied, living concepts by independent thinking. . . . The more we are able to take hold of a body as a body, rather than staring at it and dreaming of it, the more vital is our feeling for the object, or, as it is expressed in the word itself, our concept of the thing.
Go into a nursery and see how the young child who is constantly gathering experience reaches out, grasping, lifting, weighing, touching, and measuring things with both hand and foot, thereby acquiring securely and confidently the most difficult but also the most primary and necessary concepts, such as body, shape, size, space, and distance. These concepts cannot be acquired by teaching or explanation, but only through experience, through exploring and trying things out for oneself.
In a few moments the child learns more, and learns it more vividly, more truly and more powerfully, than ten thousand years of mere gaping and verbal explanations could provide. By continually combining his sense of sight with his sense of touch, allowing each to test, extend, enhance, and strengthen the other, he forms his first judgments. Mistakes and false conclusions allow him to arrive at the truth, and the more solidly he thinks, and learns to think, at this stage, the better foundation he will lay for what perhaps will be the most complex judgments of his life. Here, truly, we have the first school of the mathematical and physical sciences."
(This is one of the two best arguments I have ever heard against the video and TV baby-sitters of our children today. I would be happy to share the other one with you -- just ask me.)
In the Introduction, Jason Gaiger writes (pp. 18-20):
Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803):
Herder himself speaks of returning to the sense of touch its "ancient rights": although touch has traditionally been categorized as belonging to the lower senses, it offers us our securest and most reliable knowledge of the external world. Sight, by contrast, is the "coldest" and most "philosophical" of the senses: it allows us to perceive things at a distance and to take everything in at a single glance. The slowness of touch possesses a thoroughness and intimacy that is sacrificed by the independence and immediacy of sight.
While Herder appreciates the value of vision, he does not see it as the superior sense, merely a different one. As Gaiger writes, Herder wants us to acknowledge "that sculpture obeys quite different laws and principles" than paintings and is its own distinctive medium which needs to be engaged by the viewer in a manner that considers "features such as volume, mass, solidity, and extension. . . . We still look, but we look in a different way. Herder expresses this in highly figurative language: 'The eye that gathers impressions is no longer the eye that sees a depiction on a surface; it becomes a hand, the ray of light becomes a finger and the imagination becomes a form of immediate touching.' . . . We fail to see a sculpture as a sculpture if we regard it merely as a series of views."
In sum, we gain the most when we learn to combine our sensory experiences -- learning to use our eyes to feel what we see before us.
I am going to enjoy reading this book. If you think you will too, check it out at:
In closing, I wish you a sense-ful summer and hope to meet you at an art event soon.
You may always check my Web site for the gallery nearest you:
Thank you for reading.
28 June 2005
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