March 11, 2010

"Mardi Gras Beads and Corks"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 5" x 7"

This is my submission to the 2nd challenge of the Calypso Moon Artist Movement. The challenge was to "take only two things that you collect and make an interesting painting that reflects your personality and/or history." This was not an easy task, as I collect lots of things. To the uninitiated I might even be considered a hoarder, which is neither true nor fair. Being an artist, I see the potential in things as possible grist for the creative mill. Corks, wine foils, beer caps, wishbones, cigar bands, hats, fortune cookie fortunes and Mardi Gras beads are but a small sampling of what is in the hundreds of boxes in the basement. I have been saving wishbones since I was 11 and have thousands. I have bushel baskets of wine corks which make great bulletin boards. With the advent of the Stelvin closure, a.k.a. the screw cap, corks are fast becoming a thing of the past (insert Boones Farm Strawberry Hill reference/joke here). I know screw caps are better at preserving wine but the theatrics and pageantry of the sommelier is diminished by a mere quick twist of the wrist. I wonder - if a bad bottle of wine is "corked" is a bad Stelvin capped bottle "screwed"?

The bead collection started years ago when I was down in New Orleans (duh!) for Mardi Gras. My wife and I were walking back to our hotel after the Orpheus Ball, dressed in black tie and gown and we happened on the tail end of a Mardi Gras parade. We later found out that you must get rid of all your throws before the end of the parade, so timing is everything. You want to have enough to last the whole parade but since they reuse the floats, you have to jettison everything in the last two blocks, which is where we were. The revelers were lobbing beads by the gross, still wrapped in their plastic bags. Armfuls of beads came raining down on us. I could barely carry my treasure back to the room. Needless to say I was hooked!

Alice wanted us to demonstrate our creative process, so here are some work in progress pics:


Here is a rare photo of one the larger cork boards I have made. Rare because it is not completely covered with stuff push pinned to it as it will be is a few months time, since we just moved in and I took the old detritus off during the move. Empty vertical surfaces are almost as much a clutter magnet to an artist (at least to this artist) as a horizontal one. Note the wishbone drying in the upper left corner.


30 comments:

Calypso Moon Artist Movement said...

Mark, you sure can write a good story. The Irish fellow and his spirits. I also appreciate you giving us a personal glimpse into your "creative process". That is very revealing and no doubt will be helpful for many. I'm sure people will be lining up to buy a bottle of that ADAMS 2010 wine.
I'd like to see one of those cork bulletin boards that you've made. Wishbones-real ones?

Mitzi Easley said...

Great painting, great story. My favorite combo. And I love collecting as well. Isn't life just more fun when little things mean a lot? Thanks for a great start to my day, Mark!

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Alice. I'll post a pic of the cork board as an addendum to the post. Since we just moved in, it is not so cluttered with stuff that you can't still see the cork pattern.

Yes, real wishbones - note the one in the upper left of the cork board pic from last weeks bird. Aside from the bones from dinners past, my minions pay tribute to me in wine corks and wish bones. Also, as an avid cook, I make my own stock and carefully bone out the wishbone beforehand.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Mitzi. I suppose I should be glad that it is not Capo Di Monte porcelain or rare antiquities that I collect. I cringe at Thanksgiving when I can't convince my host to give me the wishbone and they insist on breaking it in front of me.

BTW - You sure paint a nice lemon. Your "Lemonade" and "Lemonade stand" paintings are outstanding.

Dean Grey said...

Mark!

You did a great job on all the different fonts on all of those corks!

What unique subject matter!

-Dean

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Dean. Calligraphy is not my strong suit. Indeed, only pharmacists can read my hand writing. The wonderful thing about lettering on wine corks is their wobbly nature is so forgiving.

dominique eichi said...

Great post......... I would love to see a painting of your pile of Wishbones. I don't know if I would be shocked, bewildered or just wanting them to make all my wishes. (could be an interesting still life)

Mark Adams said...

Dominique - My friend had a dinner party once and forced us all to make wishes at the same time on old wishbones that she had saved over the years. My appeal to stay this madness fell on deaf ears. I tried not to gloat when each and every wishbone shattered into tiny pieces with no one getting a wish as wishbones only work when they are fresh. They become extremely brittle with age.

Alice Thompson said...

oh! That looks awesome. It's a nice size and the larger cork frame is just as cool. This is probably the best wine cork bulletin board ever made. I know you carefully arranged every single one. You should try selling them at arts & crafts shows if you can bear to let them go. I'd buy one even though I'm a nondrinker. I'll never look at a wishbone the same again. If I find a good one, I'll save it for you.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

When do you paint the preparation H piece? LOL

D

Mark Adams said...

If memory serves, you gave that collection to the goodwill.

Mark Adams said...

,,,along with all my broken answering machines!

Sheila said...

Wow!! Thank you for sharing your in progress shots. I always learn so much from gifted artists like you.

Eugenia Wadsworth Martin said...

I admit I save everything and find the corks make great cat toys. Wishbones are a new one for me.Right now I have a rino beatle (dead) lost in the house but I know its under something here in the house and It will turn up one day. Maybe in my box of old albums or comics.

Diane said...

You... a hoarder???? never! just a collector of objects.
Looks like my talented friend has been busy while I've been gone.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Diane. Do you recognize a few of these corks?

Barbara said...

I like the contrast of textures, and of course I like corks and mardi gras beads, which are reminders of celebrations past. I have a couple of wishbones stashed in a trinket box. I painted on one once.

Earthula said...

How many wishbones?! Amazing. And when they are found in a hundred years from now some archeologist is going to construct some fantastic theory or creature!
The progress of the painting is a wonder to watch. I love the lilac colored cork and all of the calligraphic renderings.

And the stories add another dimension to the details of this picture.

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Wonderful painting, Mark, and the glimpse into the process was fun.

I confess I'm a collector of all kinds of stuff too (including wine corks). I like Picasso's philosophy about hanging onto tings that might have a use someday: just buy a new chateau when the old one is full.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Sheila *blush* I appreciate the compliment.

btw - I love what you did for the challenge.

Mark Adams said...

Eugenia, I'm glad you clarified that the rino beetle was dead! I'd hate to wake up with one of those crawling on me. My four cats have also know the joys of playing with corks - and pens and pencils and chalk and lipstick and just about any other some object that is left on a table.

Mark Adams said...

Barbara,
That is how I started collecting wishbones. A local radio station held a contest around thanksgiving for the best painted wishbone. That was 45 years ago and I haven't (intentionally) broken one since.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Elaine, or should I say Imelda, "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty", Marcos? I love the shoe painting and the story behind them. Talk about adding a new dimension. Brava!

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Diana. Picasso and I share the same philosophy but sadly not the same bank account. I was obliged to take all my old "stuff" to the new chateau. Broom clean indeed - HA!

Kaylyn said...

Hey Mark, this is a great take on the hoar...I mean collecting! Actually, this piece gave me the thought of using repeating primary objects as a background. Thanks. Needed that nudge!

I love the richness of the colors...all the same with variations creates the tension and a gentle path around the composition. I'm thinking a lot about eyemovement around paintings these days. Cassat was a master of this, the edge of a dress leading to and intersection of a stripe which leads to the face...great stuff.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Kaylyn. It never occurred to me until I read your comment that I had veered from the parameters set up for the challenge. I agree that odd numbers make for a stronger composition and I view corks as units, much like the yard sticks in your challenge painting, which was gorgeous by the way.

Kaylyn said...

HaHa! You've already started drinking the Adams Studio 2010? Or just had the corks made ahead of the season???

Mark Adams said...

"We will sell no wine before it's time." - Orson Wells

Margaret Bednar said...

I am devastated thinking about all the wine corks we have thrown away ... I just love your cork board and I am saving right now - I even went through the garbage and pulled out yesterdays cork. Do you glue them onto a board?(brand of glue?) Cheers!

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Margaret. I use a hot glue gun to apply the corks to 1/4" plywood. Having a boarder around it helps to keep it neat. I get my lush minions to pay tribute with their corks. Ask your favorite watering hole or restaurant to save them for you, too. Do it fast - the Stelvin closure (aka the screw cap) is fast becoming the stopper of choice for many winemakers, even high-end ones.