When I Grow Up

This past winter, I had the opportunity to design a touch tour and write verbal descriptions for an exhibit featuring the work of Ohio artist James Mellick.  Here is one of his more lighthearted dog sculptures.

Wooden sculpture of a little dog with very tall skinny legs.
When I Grow Up                     James Mellick jamesmellick.com

When I Grow Up, 2007

 Maple

 This abstract sculpture of a very small dog on very tall legs stands about 4’ high. The body looks like a breadbox on stilts. The four legs rise up as four separate elements and are joined by a rectangular mid-section of two pieces with a wide gap running horizontally along its side. The legs are slender and elongated with knees and elbows about a third of the way up from the floor. The muscles, tendons and joints in the legs are subtly indicated by the gentle swelling of the stick-like limbs that then flare out at the thighs and shoulders. They appear to have been stretched as if they were elastic. The four pad-like paws with their carved front toes standing squarely on the ground seem large given the thinness of the legs.  Behind each of the front legs, the dewclaws are represented by teardrop form attached at to the limb at its upper tapered neck and the globule hanging in high relief.

Two large bat-like ears resembling large pasta shells growing up from the back edges of the head mounted at the front end of the boxy body. The brow sits well below the ears. The muzzle tapers toward the blunt rectangular nose. The mouth is a narrow downward slit toward the bottom of the muzzle.

Rear view of a wooden sculpture of a very small dog on very tall skinny legs.
When I Grow Up  (rear view)  James  Mellick

At the other end, a long thin tail curls down and around the rump, between the hind legs, where it then arcs downward beneath the middle of the torso.

The shapes are very simplified and there is minimal detail. The surface is smooth and polished with a soft sheen.

 

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A Piece Of History

Close up color photograph of a tall narrow vase on display in a gallery.
Wood-fired stoneware vase by Dick Cooter of Cooter Pottery.

 

This tall narrow vase stands 16” high and is 5” wide.  The body or lower portion is a little over half the height of the vase.  At the shoulder of the vase, just below the slightly tapered base of the neck, is a strip of clay that joins the neck to the cylindrical body.  It protrudes from the body like an uneven collar.  The bottom of this strip has a rough edge that appears to have been torn.   lug or knob has been pulled from this strip on either side. They stick out like little fingertips.  The tops of these lugs have a small depression as if made by a thumb pressing down while the clay was wet.  Two more lugs with holes in them are also on either side near the top of the neck, below the rim of the mouth. Uneven in size, the one on the right is a little bit longer than the one on the left.  They stick out like two small rectangular ears.

This vase is like a recording.  The depressions on the tops of the lugs at the shoulders, the rings banding the body and the neck, the splitting and cracking where the upper lugs and shoulder collar are attached, and the unevenness of the walls – they way they bow in and bulge outward – are all a record of the artist’s hands and the nature of clay.  The color of the vase is smoky and streaky with flares of lustrous coppery reds, greys and blacks as well as the surface textures that range from glossy to matte, smooth to rough are all reflective of the wood-firing process.

This vase is part of the audio described touch tour for the exhibit “For the Table” at the Ohio Crafts Museum.