As part on my monthly blog updates, I'll be profiling one AAG past recipient per month. Since Gary was the first to receive the AAG, at it's conception in 2002, I thought it fitting to start with him.
What was your grant proposal?
I proposed a plan pursing a several pronged adjustment to my life and career. These fell under the following categories: "emotional recharge;" "magnum opus;" and "studio construction." There are aspects of my career as a self supporting artist which are rewarding and very fulfilling, however there are other aspects of creating art that are completely unrelated to market place and having exhibitions. I wanted to pursue a few activities that would not be directly geared toward making art for galleries or shows. There were two specific endeavors that I wanted to pursue to renew my creativity. The first was to renew my drawing. I wanted to establish a daily plan to begin each day with an hour of drawing. I wanted to approach these drawing sessions as a form of meditation where the process of drawing would create it's own trajectory and one work would lead to the next. To rekindle my sense of observation through drawing I felt would be beneficial to me by expanding my visual vocabulary.
The second part of my plan was to concentrate the majority of the money from the grant to create a major piece of sculpture in granite that was not dedicated to a gallery or commissioned piece for a building space. I wanted to create a piece of a scale and intricacy that was previously restrictive due to the cost of the material or more often the resource of time dedicated to accomplish a major piece. I had over the years created the necessary conditions in terms of studio space and equipment to work on a large project like this in stone.
The last aspect to my plan was to plumb water from my house to my studio (seventy feet away) and insulate this studio space so I would be able to use a large diamond wire saw I use in creating my sculpture all year round.
Did you stick with your grant proposal or did you make adjustments to your plan?
Yes, for the most part. I was able to bring water to my new studio and do the insulation making the studio functional year round. I also completed the large granite sculpture. The drawing aspect of my plan started out as proposed, but after a few months I started to utilize my rekindled interest in drawing by creating a new body of two dimensional work. I started this new body of work where I would draw/ carve directly onto slate panels with a high speed pencil grinder with small diamond cutting bits. The speed and cutting ability was similar to as if I was drawing with any regular drawing medium. The process was very gestural and energetic and I do not think I would have made this advancement if I had not committed the time and attention to this part of my plan.
What kind of impact did receiving the AAG have on you and your work?
I think receiving the AAG was very pivotal in the advancement of my career. Perhaps it was serendipitous, but some major career adjustments seem to follow. For example, I had hardly finished the large sculpture that was major part of my plan, when I received a phone call form a dealer who had previously had a very small gallery in NYC and had just moved into a 6,000 sq.' space and was looking for large scale sculpture. I had what she was looking for and ending having an exhibition and in a great place to show sculpture in New York.
How has your work developed in the years since receiving the AAG?
I think my work has developed by continuing to try to pursue the intangible edge of the limits of one's artistic vision.
Do you continue to apply for other grants and have you received any?
Yes. In 2007 I received a Pollock-Krasner Grant and also a grant from the George Sugarman Foundation.
What are you working on now?
My main focus at the moment in sculpture is continuing to create abstract sculptures in granite that incorporates compound curved surfaces. It is a challenge. I am continuing my wall work with digitally manipulated photographs of natural elements where the images are carved onto slate and combined with manipulated lead sheeting.
Do you have any exhibits coming up?
I have an exhibition of large sculptures at the Clark Gallery on "The Green" through May of this year. I will be having an exhibition of outdoor sculptures at the Museum of Art at UNH for the academic year starting next September. There is a one person exhibition scheduled at McGowan Fine Art Concord, NH next fall and various group shows throughout the year.
See more at Gary Haven Smith's website