Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The meeting went very well with the Museum. Yay! They really do love my work and in the end I will make 9 pieces for the garden for a two year loan and then they will keep three for their permanent collection. So far that is what we have worked out and I am pretty happy with outcome. In addition they were very happy with my model and graphics and in the end the model stayed with them. Drawing of water garden area of sight. Image copyright by Madge Bemmis Architect.

I did get an email yesterday about possibly changing locations. The landscape architect is worried about the young trees blocking views of my work in the original location and wondered if a spot right in the water garden beds might be more appropriate and visible. I kind of like the idea. I love gardening and to see them with in that context would be super. In the end they are leaving the decision to me, so that I, "...feel that the setting honors the concept of your art". Pretty cool I think. I am waiting for some images to be emailed so that I can look at the whole picture and make an informed decision.

In the mean time I an working on layouts for the bench that I am fabricating for artist Martha Ferris for the same art garden. Soon I should have funds in hand to order the stainless for that project and get it going.

Today and over the next few days I will be practicing my tig welding on some other projects as I work out some possible designs for my the pieces in my commission.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still Working

The museum project is moving along, at least I am pretty sure... I have received digital renderings from the architect, Madge Bemiss, and have a spot designated for my work. I was asked to take my preliminary drawings and merge them into the renderings so we all could begin to get a sense of the scale and space and what the sculpture will look like installed. I am not savvy on the fancy 3D computer programs (yet another skill to learn...) so I did some drawings in Corel and imported the renderings as a background. A little tough to do much manipulation but I was still pretty happy with them. After looking at them for a while I decided the drawings were not giving me enough information so I made a real 3D model and after placing a standard 6' (actually 6") figure next to the works I decided the sculptures in the model were too tall. So I did a few additional quick sketches, scanned them and sent them off to Madge and the museum this morning.

The model is proving to be challenging and fun. The scale images of the sculptures were done out of steel, very small pieces, and tig welded together, not so fun when the studio is only 34F. I then made the background/landscape out of MDF. I only made three steel maquettes and then a handful of simple shapes out of rods and wood that are to be used for placement and height arrangement. The base of the model has a number of holes so the pieces can be moved around and the rods and top pieces can be interchanged so that I can look at every conceivable possibility for arrangements. It has come out pretty well and after taking another look at it Sunday evening I cut down the pieces some so they are a bit lower.
I have another meeting at the museum today and I guess I'll find out more about it then. Maybe I am jumping the gun with making the model so early, but then again it is a working model and I have learned a ton from making it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Been a While

But, I have not been idle. This time of year is always busy at the university studios, with our major annual iron pour and travel back to NC to pick up my show and participate in the ECU iron pour and before that a trip to Tally to help out with their iron pour at FSU, students joining me both times. At school there has been no lack of drama with my students, in fact this year was a stellar year in the annals of "As the Studio Turns" we could win an Emmy for this past semester.

Phew, I'll be happy when this is over. But all in all I am looking forward to next semester, there have been some strong lessons learned this fall and I am hoping that they will work themselves out into some excellent pieces for the spring.

As for myself, not much rest, yet. I had a visit with the Mississippi Museum of Art to talk about a commission for a piece for the Art Garden. One of the first for the new space that will be built, with ground breaking happening in December. I still have some fabrication work I am doing for another part of the park and will soon learn about the specifics of the commission. They have my proposal and budget and they love my work (they called me!) and liked all three of my drawings. This is very exciting for me and I can't wait to get on with it. But as all of you who deal with public money know, you can't count your pennies until you have the check in hand.

This sketch shows a meager image of the piece I proposed, this is the one (of three) they most liked as it can move and will cover the most ground. I really want to build this.

In the mean time I will be working on the pieces for my new show in Florida in late April. I have much work to do as I plan on a new body of work. Of course it's all related to my ships and villages but these will be new, well most of then anyway. I am very excited but will need to kick my ass into gear to make sure I am making good use of my time. Easier said then done.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Installation Complete

Here are a few images of my work installed at the gallery at the student center at East Carolina in Greenville, NC. It's an awkward space in that it is a three-sided "U" shaped space, but it gets lots of people coming through it, which is what I liked the best. A few last minute adjustments to my plans and the show went up very well. My friend Ed, who came down from NJ to be my art slave for the day, and Andy, the grad student gallery director, were a huge help in getting everything done in a timely manner.

These are a few cell phone shots taken after the installation but prior to lighting. Sorry for the crappy images. There are a number of pieces not represented here but you get the feel for it. I'll take my pro shots when I visit for my lecture and closing reception on November 5th. The show is called, "Ghost Ships and Villages".

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Work

Check out new work on my web site,

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Work

Getting closer to installation day. Some new works finished and painted, rust on the new swamp shacks, and some new paint on one of the large boat frames. A few things are in the kiln now for a cone 10 reduction firing and that is it for new stuff. Now comes the work of cleaning, oiling and taking inventory and then packing all the works for the installation. Phew.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Repairs, Re-fits, and Some Remodeling

Working with epoxy resin to do some repairs and alterations of older boat, light areas will be dyed darker when complete. Also wire added in for support and for emphasis on different areas. Also re-figuring some components on smaller new boat, it will be painted red when done. Lots of small things like that to be completed in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More New Stuff

New Swamp Shacks, had to get in pre-dawn in order to beat the heat. Still have lots more work to do and need to consider what kind of finish I want to use.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More Stuff In-Progress

Parts of new Ghost Ship sculpture pieces as I am working on them in the shop.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ahhh, classes are finally over. With summer classes being every day of the week the work load is pretty amazing with little or no time to do my own work. I now get a two week break to do as much relaxing as I can and try and get some sculpture made. I have two ghost ships in the works in the school shop right now (it has AC!) but my work has been punctuated by many other little tasks that have come up and need to be taken care off. So I get a few hours and then I have to run off, come back for an hour and then I am off again. Oh well at least I am getting something done. I would really like to get some metal work done , but with the 100+ heat indexes we have been having I am simply not going out to work in the shop.

I finally got my contract for the North Carolina show and after studying the images and layout of the space I think I have come up with a good idea for the installation. I am excited! Physical help will be minimal so I am thinking about something that does not have a lot of hanging from the ceiling involved. I will probably do a wave effect; boats coming off the floor, in a tightly knit grouping that waves up onto the wall and back down again and so on and so forth. Of course their will be houses in their as well, of course.

In the fall my teaching schedule goes back to two killer studio days a week, Tuesday and Thursday all day with Wednesday being my office day. Friday many times ends up as a meeting day. I have a lot of work to do this fall, the early part devoted to this big installation in North Carolina and the later part of the winter and early spring devoted to the show in Florida. And somewhere in there will be the museum commission for up in Jackson. Whew! I am tired just thinking about it. It was interesting when I was talking to my students about my job and was explaining to them about how making work and having exhibitions was actually part of my job and that if I did not keep up with it I could lose my position. Most people don't understand that. They think that us faculty members have some cush life, teaching a few classes, making some "fun" art. Most people have no idea of the pressure we are under to perform, so to speak. Luckily I love what I do, even if the pressure is substantial, my love of my work and making that work outweighs all the negatives.
Here is a PR image from the Majestic National exhibition, you can see my work on the bases in the background.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Show

I just found I got into another show in California (yay!), this one at the Haggin Museum in Stockton. It's the Stockton Art League 56th National Juried Exhibition. It's just one sculpture, Kickstand, but that's OK, that's probably all I can afford to ship right now anyway.

Been pushing myself to get into the studio as much as possible. Class will be over at the end of this week (July 30th) and that will help. Right now the heat is a killer and that makes it hard to want to put on jeans and work boots. I was actually welding in long shorts the other day! In addition right now I am having a squirrel infestation. Although I don't mind the critters they have just trashed the insulation, which is now hanging down all tattered and such. I have to do something soon before the cold weather gets here in a few months.

The commission at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, that I am working on with Martha Ferris had been rescheduled for later in the fall, of course that's exactly when I will be the busiest. But no matter, I am sure it will all work out in the end. My students and friends ask how do I make plans for using funds when projects get delayed or temporarily tabled all the time, I tell them, I don't make plans until I have an actual check deposited in my back account; until then it's all just neat ideas on paper!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Been Busy

Oops, it's been a while since I had a chance to post. Been busy with summer teaching duties and trying to get some studio time in. Since I work in steel and wood and my studios have no AC it's been difficult to convince myself to put on jeans and work boots to go out side in 100F temps to weld. I digress! I have been working on some ceramics projects, as that is inside and it's what has my interest right now. I do need to force my self back into the wood shop for a bit as I do have that big show coming in October in NC and want to have new work for it. I guess I will use the shop at school, it's cool there!

I have a few ceramic sculptures about to get high fired and glazed this weekend so I'll post pictures of those when they come out. I am experimenting with some new glaze colors so they might be just disasters but hey, that's they way it works.

Since I last posted I was excited to find out I got into a very sweet national juried show in Berkeley CA at the ACCI Gallery. It was a fast turn around; they contacted me one day then I built my crate and shipped off the work, Swamp Shack I, a day later. I like to have a little more turn around time but when dealing with commercial galleries you sometimes have to jump through a few hoops. I have been trying to get some work onto the west coast and with this show I can tag that one. I am now hoping I can do more in that area.

Well that's all for now, hopefully I'll have some pictures soon of those new ceramics works. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Have I Been Up to?

It's been a while since I posted. As usual the job gets in the way in the late spring as we get busy with end of the semester activities. I am also teaching classes this summer and due to the compressed nature of the summer schedule it is a crazy time that keeps me in the studio with my students for long hours. But that is actually OK as I love the summer semester exactly because it gives the students a real view of what an artists life is like, especially the 4-5 hour studio session, every single day! It's hard to keep your mind on the same thing day after day, so I encourage my students to work on multiple projects to keep their minds fresh and open. Something I always have to keep reminding myself of as well.

As far as my work is concerned, I haven't been making much right now. Mostly I am doing the office stuff; entering shows, taking images, doing some website updating, etc. I am starting to get some materials and sketches done for new work, as soon I will get back into the 'making' mode again.

Good news has been coming way however-
  • As mentioned before I am doing a solo exhibition at East Carolina University in October and will give a lecture as well.
  • I was also formally awarded a fabrication and design job by artist Martha Ferris to work with her on a major commission at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson MS. We are hoping that will take place starting right in July when I will have additional studio space and free time for nearly two months to work on it. Right now we are waiting to hear back about exactly when the money that has been awarded will become available.
  • I have a signed contract with The Ormond Memorial Art Museum in Ormond Beach, FL, for a three person show in April of 2011. It's a beautiful location with a very active arts community; I am very excited about this one.
  • Right now I have work in a national juried show at the Majestic Galleries in Ohio. This show is from June 35 to July 18. Unfortunately I don't think I will get up there to see the exhibition. I got two works accepted into the show, Ghost Shop 0903 and another vessel, Kickstand.
  • And the best news is that I have been contacted by a museum of art that interested in putting up an outdoor work of mine in their gardens. I will not mention any names at this time until all the details are worked out. I am very excited about this as I received a really nice email from them and they seem to really like my work. As soon as I have details I will be sure to share them!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More New Work

Here are some images of my last larger "home" or I like to call it the Swamp Shack. It's four feet tall and made from sheet metal. In all actuality is more like the shacks you see down in coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, often lived in by fisherman or trappers. Made on stilts to combat high tides and storm surges. It seems that these days they are keeping high from oil leaks. I have seen whole villages that are on stilts, for some reason the images are stuck in my head. Disasters like the Gulf oil spill and hurricane Katrina keep imprinting them even deeper. I have a feeling they will be a part of my work for a while in some form or another.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New Sculpture

It's been a busy few weeks! Here are some updates on what's going on.

Jackson Museum of Art Project- It's been a while since I up dated this one. As you recall I am working with an other artist who is designing a fountain/splash pool for the new garden project and I am the head contractor and fabricator. The project keeps changing. A lot. I initially got paid for working on a model and driving up to the artist studio where we worked on the project for two days. Since then the model, which came to rave reviews, has seen numerous changes. All requiring new budgets and materials research. And the size of the project keeps getting smaller. It went from something big enough that I could employ a few folks with some summer work to now me maybe getting enough work out if it to survive, maybe. I have probably about an additional $1000 in additional billable hours and travel expenses but I can not invoice for any of it. It is also possible that the all the sculptural objects could get cut and then I am totally out in the cold. Which is why I am still working on it, in hopes it will come to fruition. Keep your fingers crossed! I am still loving the project and that is an even better reason to work on it.

My Business Plan- I have not mentioned this before, but I have been working on the many details to make my studio a real business. Most likely it will end up being Jen Torres Sculpture LLC. Sounds cool, right? But it is much work. Luckily for me the Mississippi SBDC (Small Business Development Center) is very active here and I have access to some great people (for free) who will work one-on-one with me to learn the ropes and get every thing set up. I went to my first class and am all jazzed, I know this is something I can do. My basic goal is simple- I eventually want to get out of teaching (love the students, hate the administrative BS) so that I may design, fabricate and sell my own work. This part, setting up a real business, is just the start; I have no intentions of quitting my job for many years. Writing up a business plan is hard work but very rewarding, I look forward to the rest of the journey.

My Sculpture- I finally got my last wax cast in Georgia. It came out OK, but the casting has a lot of burn in and I will have to do a lot of work to grind off the sand embedded in the surface. On another front I finally got time to photograph all of my other 'houses' for my web page, which I will up date in a week or so. So above I post for you a few of the many "houses" that are fast becoming a major part of my portfolio. It's important to remember that these range in size from 6" tall to over 17" tall, some are wood and some are iron and generally are shown in a grouping of 3 to 10 pieces or what I like to call a Village.

My Shows- I am waiting for my contract from East Carolina University for my solo show in October, all the details have been pretty much ironed out so things are set and that will act as a good goal date to work towards. I also just received an invitation from the Ormond Memorial Art Museum in Ormond Beach, Florida. It is a three person show in April of 2011. This is a tough one, as it is a very cool place to show, but they offer no compensation for travel or shipping. My work requires that I be present for installation so there could be some real expenses for a show that is a ten hour drive away. However, there is a good possibility for sales with this show and that might be the deciding factor for me as I forge ahead with my business plans. There are always risks, I just have to decide if I can afford this one. Anyway it might be a cool excuse to go visit the beach!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heading to Georgia for Some Iron Casting

Can you believe the show is almost over?! This Friday Taylor, James and I head back up to Tennessee to take down the installation. From there we immediately head south down 75 into Georgia where we make our way to Athens and UGA for their Iron Pour. It will be a crazy day with close to 14 hours of driving, but between three of us driving it should be OK.

To take advantage of the weekend activities I have made another wax for a cast iron house. The images above show the house all gated and ready for investment. That was a few days ago and since then I have made the resin sand mold and am just waiting for a few students to get theirs done so we can melt out the wax and then I can get my truck loaded for the trip.

About four of my students will be meeting us there, not only to partake in the pour but also to see the facilities. UGA is good graduate program for sculpture and a number of our students have gone there over the years and had successful experiences.

It is also my birthday on Sunday; I'm turning 45. OMG! Oh well, there really is nothing I can do about it. I am sort of hoping with all the excitement of the pour and the road trip no one will remember.

Recently I have gone into 'submit mode'. A period of time where I get into sending out show applications and portfolios. I have a few to do today and did three the other day. They take so much work. I really wish galleries and juried shows would pick a standard for their submission. It is real pain in the ass to have to re-format every single image on each CD because these guys want 4x6 images and those guys want 5x7 images. I'll probably be doing this for the next week of so and it should get me some good exhibitions for the next year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Final Show Images

The show is up and done! The gallery talk and reception were perfect. Here are some images of the final installation. My next solo exhibition will be in October at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. I am looking forward to it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Installation In Progress

Images from early on in the installation, lots of art still on the floor and Taylor up on the ladder as we begin to hang stuff. Cell phone images are poor quality, better images of final set-up to come!

Still up in Tennessee, the installation went well. Tonight is the opening reception and gallery talk. Taylor has been a huge help with getting things done and a good hotel roommate for the past few days. One more night and then we are back home. Yay! Can't wait to sleep in my own bed again and get back to my students and my art work.
I also wanted to thank Steph King- Ten Sewing Machines and a Surger for a beautiful Sunshine Award!! (See sidebar.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In the Studio Today

Images of tagged sculpture ready for packing and Red Boats, just out of their bath.

After going for a much needed and very nice run this morning I ran a few errands and took care of some laundry and dishes, I then finished making additional hanging brackets and they are now painted. I then drug out eight of the Red Boats, a very popular show item, and gave them all a bath.

After that I felt good about what was done and spent a few hours working on the train engine for the next show. It still needs a ton of work but I did get some stuff done and I feel the final solutions to some of the formal issues are beginning to peak through.

Now I will start wrapping stuff for travel. I feel as if I am ahead of schedule and that's good, but there are still many details to take care of. For example, I need to get all the installation tools and supplies together, including but not limited to, fishing line, bolts, screws, drill bits, sand paper, cleaning tools, a knife, portable drill and saw, paint for touch ups, brushes, etc... Rain is on the horizon for tomorrow so I will probably go and wrap some of the outside stuff first...