Man’s head with Raven © 2002 David Staton
Two houses on a field © 2002 David Staton
Two cows in a field © 2002 David Staton
A house on a field © 2002 David Staton
A green field of houses © 2002 David Staton
David and I have been friends for many years. We’ve made artwork cooperatively on a number of occasions, exhibited together… both our own work and the cooperatively made work. We worked on a number of other projects together: David assisted me in doing some of the lighting at the Corcoran in the early 1970’s, we built a seawall and a couple of docks on the Rehobeth Bay, in the evenings my wife, kids, David & I would go into town to the boardwalk, David and I would play volleyball while the rest went to Funland. We became known as the “Smith Brothers” and began passing out cough drops !
We both exhibited at Jefferson Place Gallery, Jack Rasmussen Gallery & Ruth Robertson’s gallery, District West.
David & I on the Invitation to my show at Rebecca Cooper’s Gallery, DC
David’s work has become quite distilled… reducing the forms, the symbols to a rather tight solution. His work has matured gracefully and he seems to be comfortable with the work. I always look forward to seeing his new work.
David in his studio.
Raft, David Staton & Ed Zerne at Jack Rasmussen Gallery
NOTES ABOUT CURRENT MATERIALS AND IDEAS
by David Staton
Now I am engaged in works where almost exclusively I’m using oak beams of various sizes and flagstones. Although I feel as if I will be a ‘wood man’ for years to come, I can’t say just what will grow out of wood, I don’t know (where ed.) or when it will occur if it will occur.
I like to play with wood and flagstones together. Also earth and stone, and earth and wood. You could say that I also work with earth too, which I do. The work is sort of play like. I like to play with pieces differently. I will use a previous piece and set them up differently and use more things if I feel I need to at the time. Not only do I play with the actual object, but with the idea of the objects and play with the way the thoughts sound. (Sometimes works are sort of visual poems.)
An example of this sound thing is the way I got started using flagstones. I started using them at the end of the summer in 1970. Previously I had been working in stained canvas sails, I call them. Air like pieces. They were concerned with the sky and light. Before the sails my stuff was concerned with the earth say ceramics and stuff of earth ideas like geology, archeology, etc.
Anyway, I was thinking how great it would be to put these sails up all over the place. In the country; in conjunction with the earth all over the city! Everywhere! Thinking of sails and flags and banners everywhere (I was also thinking of the earth again). The word flag changed in my head to flagstone and wow I thought; why not use real flagstones! It was beautiful!
Well, I started using flagstones. I thought it would be neat at first to just hang a flagstone on the wall. I was talking to Ed Zerne and he said, “Why don’t you?” I didn’t know how to hold it up and Ed had a masonry bit on a drill with him. Well we drilled a hole in that stone and screwed it right to the wall. As you passed it in the hall it looked normal – then you would stop and say, “There’s a stone on that wall! Stones don’t belong on clean white walls!” Every once and a while I would turn the stone so it would hang differently. I thought of filling rooms and places with flagstones but I couldn’t afford to so I did a few things with them, and just thought a lot about them.
After a trip to Georgia I got turned on to the earth again and not marks on paper or canvas excited me, but marks on the earth. When I got back to Washington I made marks or notches in the ground and stuck stones in them. I also thought it would be neat to be able to move what the marks were in around; as long as the marks were in some material of the earth. So I thought, why not use big planks of wood and that’s what I did. That way I could move the marks around. I also use concrete sometimes. That way I could move part of my earth around and still keep the mark without loosing it. Placing of the marks was important. That’s why I started using wood.
Artifacts then became important to me again. To make my own artifacts again. The beam pieces were sort of like that (and so were the marks in the clay slabs I made the year before) But it also became important to place these artifacts and not just make them. Some could be and were hidden in places, like real artifacts but others needed more. I then thought about finding artifacts and about excatvations. Why not. Make my own excavations. That’s what I did. Made some excavations with painted canvas and boards around them like shoring the earth up and some outside with real dug dirt and shoring up the earth with wooden walls. I used small beams of oak for the shoring up of the earth.
Pieces outside I don’t mind weathering or inside I don’t mind if they fall over. It is all about natural change that happens in the earth. Progression. Earth movements and the like are important to me. This is evident to me in earth movements and the relation of that to me playing and changing my pieces. As the life of the earth, its appearance and structure changes with time, so do my pieces.
A piece will change with time. I may establish a piece and say, “This is resolved,” but still play with its parts later on. Maybe I’ll change it or let it evolve back to its original form and use the information I got from my play for other pieces.
I can do this because my sculptures (if you want to call them that) come apart, in units. Units are good for playing and for thinking with.
OAK BEAM AND NOTCH PIECE, a description
Oak beam with notch burned out. (this beam was the one used once for pine trees filling the notch.)
The beam was outside the studio and the notch that was empty filled with rain water. Became a new piece:
A notch in oak beam-filled with water.
Sort of a visual poem. (And deals with the properties of time and change that I like.)
The oak beam
with a notch or mark burned out
lies around, outside
and fills with
Fire to burn out. Water to fill back.