Gran Canaria Topo – 15.5” x 14.5” x 2“, 2022
Marble, limestone, travertine, onyx
In The Studio and The Field
When I realized the Canary Islands have more calderas than you can shake a stick at, I was on a mission to see every one of them (just kidding!). But we did see a lot. Especially scenic was the Caldera de Bandama on Gran Canaria. From Bandama peak there is a stunning view of the caldera with its signature shape and lush green hills. When we were there early one morning, the fog was lifting over the coast and the capital city of Las Palmas came miraculously into view. The complete solitude of the moment was surreal until it was interrupted by two, count ‘em, two full-sized tour buses arriving out of nowhere. How the buses even fit up there is an entirely other story – the roads are unimaginably narrrrrrrrow – but I am thankful for the short time we had there to enjoy one of the iconic panoramas of the Canary Islands!
View from Caldera de Bandama
All the calderas got me thinking more deeply about circular shapes. I have always loved the symbolism of circles and over the years it is a theme that keeps returning to me. It occurred to me that the shapes of things in the Canary Islands is predicated on their volcanic origin – liquid flowing out of a vent puddles into circles. The islands are circular (roughly), calderas are circular (roughly), hotspots are circular (roughly), pillow lava can be circular, pebbles can be circular, and even the economy can be circular. So it was a natural outcome that I would use circles to represent hotspots in Hotspot Evolution and the shape of Gran Canaria in The Weight of Tourism.
In geology a hotspot is a location on the Earth’s crust where volcanoes are fed by underlying mantle plumes. As the tectonic plates move over the hot spots the volcanism moves. In the Canaries it has moved from east to west with the eastern islands being ~25 million years old and the western islands as young as 10 months. The colors represent the relative thermal activity of the islands.
But I realized that the phrase “hot spot” is more than geological. It can mean a popular place of entertainment. The Canary Islands certainly have their share of tourist hot spots! Hence, the rings represent both the geologic origin of the islands and the tourist hotspots on the periphery of every island. The interiors, on the other hand, are represented by lapilli that looks like rugged individuals who live there.
Hotspot Evolution – 6” x 13.75” x 1.5”, 2022, $800
Aruca bluestone (traquifonolitic ignimbrite) strips; circles of slate, onyx, travertine, limestone; pahoehoe; colored mortar
The Weight of Tourism is a piece that symbolizes an island economy. In the center are rough volcanic rocks that signify the island’s origins. The island was created by lava spewing from its center which continued to grow higher and higher from layer upon layer of rock. Here it is represented by vesicular basalt from Pico Viejo on Tenerife. Downhill from the center are characteristic ridges and valleys. The ridges represent the rugged locals who are the spokes in the wheel who keep the tourist economy going. They were created with lapilli from northwest Gran Canaria and are separated with blood red mortar. Eventually the rough lava eroded to create smooth pebbles and sand that is loved by the tourists. The outer ring of pebbles represents the tourists who are superficial to the island. They are overlapping and on top of each other. The tourists are eroding the island like the pebbles that represent them.
The Weight of Tourism – 6“diameter, 2.0” height, 2022, $350
Beach pebbles from Dunas de Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; pahoehoe, red vesicular basalt; colored mortar
It is always a surprise when you find yourself doing something for the “first time” when you actually learned how to do it as a kid. In my case it is painting numbers on rocks. The summer after my freshman year as a geology student, I had a work-study job in a big old warehouse painting numbers on rocks. Yep, as if being housed in a big old warehouse never to see the light of day again was not indignity enough for these rocks! But I dutifully used my artistic skills to first paint a little itty bitty white square on each rock, and when that dried I wrote a number with a little itty bitty pen. Then the same number was written on a pad of paper with the rock type never to see the light of day again…. But I digress.
Over the years I have collected a few rocks on trips and labeled them with, you guessed it, little white squares. Rocks from the Canary Islands were no exception. We collected rocks on four islands and now I have a pile of “Rock Memories.” I thought it might be fun to house these rocks in a caldera sculpture in remembrance of the Canaries, so we have made a cardboard prototype.
Caldera prototype with labeled rocks
One of the best birthday gifts I have ever received was a trip to the Cumbre Viejo volcanic field on La Palma. As you may recall, Cumbre Viejo erupted from October through December 2021. When we got there a year later, the highway department was only just completing a new road across the flows. Although I had planned to walk around and collect some of these brand new rocks, they did not make it easy. There were signs everywhere, “Do not stop your car,” “Do not get out of your vehicle,” “Poisonous gas..,” but I had not come all that way for nothing. So when we had an opportunity to get out of sight of the construction crew, we pulled over and I ran between two rock walls and grabbed a handful of “hot” rocks. “Hot” really had two meanings there: stolen, yes, but “hot” as in burning my hands, “hot?” At first I thought, well, I guess it is a sunny day and these rocks have absorbed some of the sun’s heat, but no, they were really really hot and stayed hot for over an hour! The heat below the surface was greater than I had imagined.
Did you notice I mentioned that the road construction crew had already built rock walls along the edge of the new road? I mean the road itself was just bulldozed broken volcanic rock, but they already had built beautiful masonry walls bordering the sides! The Canary Islands have a long history of exquisite stonework and it continues today. Many of the building exteriors and rock walls were a constant inspiration to me. And when I saw some pillow lava at the bottom of the Barranco (ravine) de las Angustias in La Palma, it occurred to me that geology has influenced some of this masonry. So just for fun, I tried to recreate this pillow lava and its captivating alteration colors.
Pillow lava Canarian rock walls
The Influence of Geology on Architecture – 6” x 6” x 1”, 2022, $175
Beach pebbles from Maspalomas, Gran Canaria and Tazacorte, La Palma; colored mortar
I am very thankful for having had the opportunity to attend the Guiniguada Artist in Residency in Gran Canaria. The luxury of having unstructured time helped me reflect more deeply on my art. It gave me the opportunity to write more about what I was thinking before I started building the work. Coupled with seeing the intriguing landscapes and unique formations, inspiration was everywhere and a source of unending insights.
Tucson! – 2nd Annual Private Trunk Show
We are going to be back in Tucson for another private showing of my artwork at a collector’s home February 2nd – 5th. Art work will be available for viewing and purchase from 10am to 6pm and there will be an evening reception with food and drink on Friday the 3rd.
This year I’m going to be joined by fellow stone artist Bill Peterson who will be bringing his sandstone and gemstone accent tables. If you want more information about Bill, please visit his site.
Because of the planning required for a catered reception I would love to know how many of you will be able to attend? If you plan to come to the reception, just reply with a Y . Also, please email me if you want to see a list of our work in stock before the event. Invitations and more locational details will be forthcoming. If you cannot come to Tucson, consider stopping by the studio before we pack the trailer on Friday, January 27th.
Sculpture V: From the Deep – 8.25” x 18” x 9.75”, 2022, $2,500
Marble, travertine, sodalite syenite; spheres of moonstone with quartz, chrysocolla, blue quartz
In The Gallery
I am very grateful to have Beneath The Glacial Terrain accepted at the Foothills Art Center’s annual members show for 2023. It runs from January 27th – March 26th. The opening reception is Friday January 27th from 5 – 7pm. Please stop by if you can!