The Menagerie

 

Menagerie:

1. a collection of wild or unusual sculptures, especially for exhibition
2. a place where they are kept or exhibited
3. an unusual and varied selection of art

 
 

Braque’s Mandota, Circa 1917

George’s Braque was a major 20th-century French painter, collagist, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor. His most important contributions to the history of art were in his alliance with Fauvism from 1905, and the role he played in the development of Cubism. Using instruments that would have been played in France in the early 19th century, mounted on an 1850’s German spruce piano soundboard, this collage comes alive with music form that era. Placed throughout are mechanical devices also from that time that in essence could have helped the instruments sing their song as entire new art forms were being explored. This piece is around 3’ wide x 2’ tall!

 

CIRCLE OF FIFTHS

Piano keys, 'ivories & ebonies', the golden 88's, are the magical part of a piano where the mechanics of the instrument lay in wait for the digits of human hands to connect with and make music. We cannot see music, cannot touch music itself yet it brings forth emotions high and low, stirring within anything that can hear a deep well of reactions and emotions. It is really magic. 

The Circle of Fifths are mathematical components of the language of music which seamlessly weave melodies in and out of our experiences of music. In over 40 years of working on 20,000+ pianos, my love and appreciation for the art and mechanics of the instrument knows no bounds. This sculpture speaks to the mandala of the piano which is the mantra of my life.

 

THE CHURCH OF BOOGIE WOOGIE

On a country road outside of Ukiah, CA there is an old, small country church that Boogie Woogie Queen Wendy DeWitt and her husband drummer Kirk Harwood call their home, The Church of Boogie Woogie. It was only fitting that the entry way steeple to this musical mecca had musical instruments welcoming all guests. We incorporated 19 - 1890’s solid lead pipe organ pipes as the main attraction, with a 29” symphony kettle drum and two French horns lighting the door way. Vintage wind mill blades brought the piece all together. It was fun to envision and an excercise in math and engineering to erect.

 

Concerto Grosso Nuovo

 

A concerto literally means, “little ensemble” in which musical material is passed between a small group of soloists and/or full symphony. The musical form was developed in the late seventh century. Nuovo (new) concerto grosso’s enjoyed a resurgence in the 20th century inspiring composers Stravinsky, Bloch, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Villa-Lobos, Phillip Glass and many others. This sculpture was inspired by the many amazing compositions created by ‘nouvo’ 19th century artists. What composition would this instrument have inspired? 

 

Herschel's Galaxy

Caroline Herschel was born on March 16, 1750 in Hanover, Germany. In 1783 Caroline Herschel discovered three new nebulae ( hazy clouds where stars form). Between 1786 and 1797 she discovered eight comets. In later years, Caroline catalogued every discovery she and her husband William had made. Two of the astronomical catalogues published by Caroline Herschel are still in use today. On her ninety sixth birthday, Caroline Herschel was awarded the King of Prussia's Gold Medal of Science for her life long achievements. This piece was created in honor of an extraordinary person who defied women’s roles of that era and was one of the first true astronomical scientists.

 

TOOT SUITE

 

In the late 19th century John Phillip Souza was THE MAN who started and championed an entire new genre of music and instrumentation called American military and patriotic marches. Because he was a master of ‘march’ composition and composed some of the most lasting songs in history like Stars and Stripes Forever, Semper Fidelis, The Liberty Bell and many others, I decided to celebrate him in ‘Toot Suite’ which features the bells from 19 wind instruments on a large gong then framed by a 19th century Art Nouveau hall tree.

 

SHOEFLY & SOX MANDALA

When Shannon opened up Shoefly & Sox (which specializes in shoes, socks and misc clothing items), the wall behind the main counter called out for a large sculpture (12’ x 15’) centered around vintage mechanical items, ephemera from the shoe industry and fun musical materials. First we laid out the footprint on the ground at the shop with everyone involved contributing creatively to the process. After photos and measurements were documented, installation at her shop went up in one day. A fun time was had by all with ensuing customers gazing at checkout with awe, smiles and ‘what is this?’

 

FREEING THE MUSE

The muse lives inside an old, hand made box built eons ago under the Musical Mountain. I found the box many years ago and throughout my lifetime have been trying to keep the box open and free for the muse to come out and play. This is that box and all the music that wants to be set free!

 

FORTISSIMO

Framed by an 1880’s pump organ pedal assembly & mounted on top of a 1912 Brambach grand piano lid, these deliciously designed grand piano action parts create a multi-century mandala paying homage to the hundreds of inventors and craftsman who passionately endeavored to make the piano a better instrument at every turn, every note. Working with piano hammers from the early 20th century to the late 19th century to the 1830’s, the curve of invention and access to better technology helped propel the mother of all instruments to wonderous heights sound wise.

DIANE'S MANDALA

Using parts from an 1860's British piano, this piece was created specifically for Diane. Even the center piece came from the front of the piano and is all wood carving.

 

Ulla's Wings

Inspired by music, her husband's love of stringed instruments in the music room...this piece holds a place of honor above the family piano. It has symbolism throughout that speaks to this family's history, heritage and love of music.


SQUEEZE ME

Through the ages ‘Button’ accordions have been the life of a party with European gypsy caravans, Irish jigs and events, at the center of French music and American old folk music. This rare vintage Hohner button accordion has made thousands of people dance, laugh, even cry throughout its life as the players pushed and pulled the ‘Squeeze Box’ generating memories of old and creating new memories for future generations to look back and say, ‘remember that great evening at….’. the mind wanders at the possibilities of what this ancient instrument has done and where it has been.

 

PATHETIQUE

Pathetique means ’passionate’ / ‘emotional’ and that is what I feel about pianos. Old piano actions intrigue me. Over the centuries and hundreds of inventions we now have a fairly stable invention- the piano. In the 1850/60’s when this piano action was made, it was still a no man’s land of experimentation and invention. Some companies did not have brass hinges yet, so they used leather. Here, 150+ years later the leather still works and is intact. What is fascinating to ponder is how did the workmen that made this get to work, where only candles were used for light, what was their life like. Steam powered machinery in many cases was still a decade or so off. The stories these parts could tell and the music it made across the oceans!

 

See Flat Trumpet

 

As a child, I always wondered what a ‘See Flat’ instrument was when I heard people talk of ‘Be Flat’ this and ‘Gee Flat’ that, thus I created a ‘See Flat’ Trumpet, from the eyes of a 4-year-olds musings. What better way to achieve this effect that having it run over like cartoon characters were in 1950’s, with an old steam roller. Incorporating all the air mechanisms only enhanced my childlike fantasies what really made a ‘See Flat’ Trumpet work. Cue black & white cartoon chase scene music.

 

CELLO DREAMS

Cello's are one of the most elegant, sensual, graceful and attractive instruments ever created. What dreams may come from an old cello? The ancient brass portal here possibly gives us a glimpse into just one tale that music would have captured and described. Rich patinas like on this old girl holds tales of foreign lands, forgotten adventures, lost & found loves, triumphs and sorrows. Who held it, who yearned on it, who cried and became ecstatic while it's muse was being released?

The child above signifies the innocence an instrument holds deep within the millions of notes that have been coaxed out of it. Can you hear it? It's ancient siren is sweetly singing while this Cello Dreams.

 

Vaughan Williams Lost Measure

 

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was a celebrated English composer who wrote operas, ballets, chamber music and beautiful works for violin. Taking a measure from one of his violin solos and interweaving it on top of a vintage British piano front using the hammers and parts from the piano brought his work to life while paying homage to piano manufacturers from this era. Many piano inventions were born out of England over the centuries as well as accomplished players and composers, Williams being one of the best. Listen, look and one can almost see the music emanating from this sculpture. What music was played across these bows and piano over the decades….makes the mind wander.

 

PLAY WHAT?!!

So many times in a musician's life, the band leader, the bride, the drunk or the wealthy patron asks, 'Can you play xxx?' Already rehearsed, the set list is down, there are no requests or in a live concert...we, the musicians, tip our head sideways and ask 'you want me to play what!?' This cat signifies that moment. Interestingly, the upside down instrument this sculpture is based on was a reject attempt at a new type of instrument, a Marxolin from the Marx Instrument company in the 20's. And they wanted us to play what on this?

 


Trompet-o-phone

 

A Trompet-o-phone was a musical experiment created in the late 19th century for especially tall, or long-armed people. The issue was that if anyone was too short or wanted to walk with it, it would either hit the ground or knock up against your legs as you walked. If the player tried to play it sideways, they would invariably jab the next player’s torso and throw them off kilter. Having found this in an all but abandoned musical shop under way too many derelict instruments, I brought this relic from a deranged inventors decrepit mind back to life mounted on a bevy of 1880’s musical ephemera. There are more tales to be told here if these musical denizens of lore could reach and ‘play it again Sam’.

 

TAKING THE A TRAIN

What would it have been like to see Ellington at The Cotton Club in his prime? Now that would have been an experience to cherish. Duke on the keys, leading his amazing band, riding the rails up and down the scales, all perfectly timed in uncharted waters of composition. Using this Violin-Uke, a now defunct experiment of an instrument, as a background we ride the rails of Duke's A Train to parts unknown.

 

MONDO BASSO

What instrument would Andre the Giant play? We discovered it, a Mondo Basso. With the deep, deep tone of a gong as the sound box, brass rods as strings and a solid copper bridge, anyone with the breadth of being could 'get down' and lay a groove not to be messed with!

 
 

Bally 1952 Showtime

 

In 1952 Bally made four hand painted ‘Table Top’ pinball machines…none with side flippers. This is one of the four made entitled Showtime. Each one in the series was restored, new instructional graphics were created, bumpers were restored, side springs & NOS caps and covers were found. We then wired it with alternating LED’s and capped it all off with 38mm glass balls from China. To see it live is to know, you ‘hit the jackpot!’

 

Liszt’s Lyre

 

Franz Liszt was the premiere pianist and composer of the 19th century traveling throughout Europe wowing audiences with his technical skills, mane of long hair, good looks and overpowering presence in a room. During his wildly successful reign, he was renown for tearing up the pianos he played because of the strength he attacked his pianos with. Liszt’s Lyre is made up of 1850’s-1870’s Steinway Square Grand parts. What music was played with these parts will never be known, but most assuredly, Liszt’s music was performed over the 150+ years these parts were ‘in play’.

 

Illuminatium

 

In the early 20th Century Art Deco era, there were sculptures awarded to uniquely gifted and wondrously special artisans who brought the movement to new heights. Found and resurrected from an old attic, this is one of those awards and she is known as Illuminatium. No two awards were the same, no two were ever to be replicated - like every work of art from that era, they all were unique pieces unto themselves.

 

Multivac’s Cipher

 

In Isaac Asimov's 'The Last Question', Humans in the future asked the super computer Multivac how the net amount of entropy of the universe can be massively decreased. Multivac, an old soul computer and all-knowing, could not answer The Question yet predicted how the universe would die. Multivac eventually drew all of humanity into hyperspace to preserve them until it could finally answer the Last Question. Ultimately, Multivac did decipher the answer, announcing "Let there be light!". This is Multivac and his ciphers at the end of days.

 

Court of the Crimson King

 

Far forgotten in the recesses of ancient lore, The Crimson King is a powerfully mysterious ruler who telepathically makes others to do his bidding. In this rare sculpture found in a forgotten cave, we see him on his ancient throne holding court.

 

ComplexdAnt

 

A Complexdant is an legendary instrument for measuring the atmospheric complexities of Time, Space and Music. This is a very rare piece as most were destroyed in the 30's by subversive A-tonal forces in an effort to stop society from measuring the barometric pressure of musical notes.

 

Cutting Edge of Time

 

Time can cut like a knife and can also be round and smooth at others. The gears of time are always turning while the hourglass of time is forever ticking away. Time is always listening via it's omnipotent head, but in the end, the hammer of time will come down on us all.

 

The Music Box

 

Many years ago while rummaging through my great uncle’s attic in Lubbock I came across an advertisement championing the ultimate music machine….The Music Box, the common man’s instrument for those who love music. “Can’t play an instrument, but you can play a mean radio….The Music Box is your key to home entertainment.” Using 1880 pump organ stops on the front of an interactive workman's tool box, it plays 78 records through an early Victor reproducer running through 1920’s player piano tubing into a 1923 Atwater-Kent metal radio horn. All sound is through air, no electronic schematics.

 

 

Pacifica Hydrolab Station #8

In the 60’s the University of Texas at Austin had a robust aquatic research department that was commissioned to go and explore the phenomena of missing people in The Bermuda Triangle. This was a scale model of the research station that was built and delivered to the ocean floor at The Triangle. The terrible catastrophe that happened was when it was sunk to the bottom of the ocean, the first researchers on the Hydrolab were never heard from again….Atlantis was whispered in private rooms behind closed doors and this scale model was locked away in secrecy....until now.

 

Steppin Out

 

What is the story behind an old shoe? It was envisioned, the leather cut, molded, shaped on the cobblers block with his tools. His hands crafted slowly as he worked at his creation and in the end a stylish harbinger of transportation was born....only to return back to nature after it's cycle of function was complete.

 

Siri

 

Siri is the IPhone's gal about town. She answers questions on any subject or decade, has quick repartee’s back and is the smartest cyber babe in the digital domain. This intellectual wit is completely exposed in this sculpture so we can view her  hard at work, serving the wireless world. She see's all, hears all, knows all!

 

The Lux Rocket

 

The Lux Rocket is an Atomic Age ship which transports kids to the stars. Dreaming of distant civilizations it was the ultimate ride to far off planets. Using the controls, it blows fog out the end on take-off, flashes lights from the rear end engine while the siren blasts on takeoff! Watch out, it is loud and proud!

 

Ranny's Bellows

 

Lifetimes ago my great grandmother Ranny stoked the fires on her kitchen stove in the 1890's around her Texas home while taking care of her three kids. Ranny's Bellows honors my family from those times, using her bellows and other items from that era.

 

Sustainable

 

Pianos have been my life’s passion in all aspects. Buying, selling, restoring, playing, tuning, collecting, recording, composing, lecturing.... if it is a piano, it has my attention. This Steinway pedal lyre coupled with the keys, tuning forks and 19th century upright pedal guard speak to my love and sometimes ‘offbeat’ relationship with this fabulous instrument.

 

Panic Attack

 

This is what a Panic Attack looks and feels like. Your head is being squeezed in a clamp while your brain and focus feels shocked and electrified.  Your voice is muzzled, your face feels like it is coming off and you know you are being strangled by the tube coming out of your head filled with all the marbles you have lost. Basically feeling screwed.

 

Peterbuilt DuJour

Diving deep in our friend Tam’s junk pile down a 40 mile one lane dirt road, this front grill to an old Peterbilt Diesel presented itself and beckoned Take Me Home! As we have 100’s of birds around our rural property, a love old things, music and horses, we built this as the entrance to our home. It incorporates the many elements of who we are together at Harmony Gaits.

 

 

Patent Pending

 

In the 1800's there were all kinds of new instruments being invented that the creator dreamed of taking off and making him rich & famous. This is one of those pieces. It was called a Keyboardzadium and even to this day is still Patent Pending. Wonder why this never became the rage and took off?

 

My Musical Legacy

 

Everyone has a story and mine is within these walls. My legacy is held in this diorama model of what my musical journey has been.

 

Musical ChairS

 

In my backyards growing up in Texas, family's had a number of ‘Shell Lawn Furniture’ like the back to this sculpture. We would sit for hours and listen to the birds, the crickets, the cicadas at night and watch the fireflies dance around us. Music drifted in and out as nature’s symphony played around us in full force in the jungles of rural Texas.  Musical Chairs is the birthplace of his muse.