What great fun I had this weekend at a three-day welding course at Snow Farm in Williamsburg. More than fun. It was an adventure. I had the opportunity to explore the nature of the universe and my own identity as an artist.
The course took me out of my comfort zone into new uncharted quadrants of the brain, developing new skills– not just welding, but drawing and designing and grinding and cutting and bending. The project I had had in mind, a running cub scout made out of rebar, took a lot of time and effort and came out just ok. I’m going to paint it blue and put it in the yard.
I also cut out a Kokopelli figure from sheet metal on the plasma cutter. That came out terribly, but it’s kind of funny. The problem is you can’t see a damn thing with the protective eyewear you have to use. Next time I’ll use a lot of jigs to guide the cutter.
I had the most fun collecting other people’s scrap pieces and welding them together in little Dr. Seuss universes. I made four works that I’m very happy with — Prairie Schooner, House and Home, Money Tree and Whoville — and they’re all worth between twenty and thirty thousand dollars apiece. Why? Because that’s what it would take to get me to part with them. Prairie Schooner, for example, is priced at $21,048.00, while Money Tree is priced at $33,006.54.
There’s an old saying in Karate: “There’s the easy way and the right way.” And that’s true for young people. You should always do things the hard way, and not take shortcuts.
But for older people it’s different. We kind of have to go with what we’ve got. If it doesn’t come easily to you and you’re 59 years old… You could keep trying, but I think you might be better off going with something that comes naturally.
As my brother Shady says, “Do what you love and you’ll come to hate it.” Just kidding, but there’s a splinter of truth in there, too. I had the damn cub scout almost completely assembled, and I welded the torso on backwards and had to cut it and grind it and weld it again, but that’s the kind of stuff that builds character.
I commuted to Snow Farm because I live nearby, but next time I’m going to get a room and stay there. That’s got to be really cool. The food is great, the people are really nice, the setting is idyllic — you could tune out everything in the world and just focus on art.