The Story of our Collaboration

“Collaboration Process – Gold and Gray”Collaboration (1)

There is always so much that goes into creating a work of art, especially a collaborative piece like “Searching the Horizon”, that I often wonder how much of this “background information” is apparent to a viewer of a finished piece.  Does a collaborative sculpture of this nature provide insight into the emotional and spiritual commitment of artists?  There is such joy in creating something different but there are also frustrations due to the limitations of materials and time and also concerns about working with other artists and how their decisions will affect the project.  Since several people have asked me about my working relationship with the Gold Brothers and, since I find all of this fascinating, I would like to share our collaborative process with you.  The photos here are in chronological order to the best of my recollection.    (All text, photos and drawings are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without written permission.)

Collaboration (1)

Collaboration (2)
I was first introduced to Bryan and Eric at Nellie Bly in Jerome, AZ by owner, Mary Wills.  She asked if we could collaborate on a piece that would include a kaleidoscope.  I was intrigued by the Gold brothers’ sculptures and unique mechanical imagination so I was curious to know if we could work together.  But, my previous collaborative ventures with other artists have not worked out for various reasons, so I only allowed myself to be reluctantly excited.

Collaboration (3)At our initial meeting we shared our interests and what we believed we could contribute creatively to this project and we all agreed that there was interest in continuing the process.  As a starting point I picked out a mirror system that was rather simplistic but the image it provided had a lot of possibilities.

Collaboration (4)We met next in Eric’s workshop which held all manner of mechanical things that were intriguing and fascinating.  I brought the mirror system, some other gadgets, optics and LED lights and we discussed various things to consider when assembling a kaleidoscope.


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Now was the time to come up with a concrete idea for our sculpture and plan for its creation.  The process started with lots of input and suggestions that went in many different directions.  Then there would be a spark of insight here and there which would lead to something workable but things were still very nebulous and it was difficult to keep our focus.

Eric wanted some measurements and started writing down information which then led to either Eric or Brian creating an initial sketch.   For me, Collaboration (6)that sketch was the starting point, the spark that worked.  The drawing contained a broken rim and I thought that I could work with that.  Once we had our illustration, we spent the rest of this meeting working up some rough details and measurements, deciding on parts and the order of assembly, and assigning ourselves different tasks.  We were all tired but energized at this point and left for our respective homes to mull over the ideas we had shared.

Collaboration (8)At this point we all spent time checking out designs and testing the waters to determine if this project was indeed feasible.  We were also checking each other out to see if we could work well together, but after considerable time and energy was invested, we decided there was no turning back and we all committed to its completion.

Collaboration (9)At various times during the course of the project we had conversations about artistic expression and honoring ourselves and each other.  We wanted to be able to express ourselves in an authentic way and let our creative talents come forth but not overpower or monopolize the project.  We also wanted this project to be a combination of our individual expression, a combination that was truly intertwined with intention and not something that looked like we just stuck two or three different things together and called it a day.

Collaboration (10)Our next step involved creating some three dimensional full-size mockups of the piece with materials we had on hand such as cardboard, scrap wood and miscellaneous parts.  These helped give us an idea of space, proportion and size for the sculpture.  We shared sketches and drawings to help each of us understand what the others were thinking and to show what materials we would be using.
Eric and Brian began working on an armature that would provide support for the sculpture and would hold the mechanical devices in place.  I turned a finished rim and cut it into quarters, made up corner blocks and made the sides of the barrel that would hold the mirror system.  All of these were made to the final shape and to the correct size.  The wood parts were used to help with measurements and to position the wood to the metal.

Collaboration (12)At this point I left Eric and Brian to work on their part of the sculpture while I attended to other business.  We communicated regularly via email, text and phone, sharing photographs and drawings.  This process was very helpful and when there were questions I could answer them in a logical order, attaching other drawings when needed.  It’s a good thing that we had a deadline because we could have probably worked on this piece forever and I don’t think extra time would have helped with the end result.  I believe that the limitations of time helped to keep us focused on our goal.

Collaboration (11)About three weeks prior to the deadline, Eric and Brian completed their portion of the project and delivered it to me so I could start the woodworking and optics part of the sculpture.  At this point they had both put a lot of work and energy into the sculpture and I’ve wondered what it was like for them to deliver their part and then let go of it.  I’m guessing that for them, it took a good deal of trust in me and I wasn’t going to let them down so I got to work on the woodwork and proceeded to work out details on other parts of the venture, as well.

With the deadline looming, my time and energy had limitations, but I was able to work within my own constraints.  There are a lot of things that happen creatively when there is a deadline.  In some ways it is good because there isn’t time to overwork and totally mess something up.  It can also be frustrating because it seems like every single minute of every day is consumed by the project.  I always try to keep a healthy perspective even when I’m tired and this time it paid off, for in the final few days before the deadline everything pulled together very nicely.  There were a few setbacks but nothing major and I was very pleased with the entire project.  It was hard to believe that it had been less than a year from my initial introduction to Eric and Bryan.

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Collaboration (17)A friend asked me who I would credit for the artistic creation of the sculpture.  With this piece it felt as though we were all working on it as one.  There were lots of ideas and those ideas generated more ideas.  One thing led to another and as this project fed its self, more excitement was generated and that was the fuel that led to the creation.  I believe it was created by all of us together.

The mystery of creation has always seemed to me to be a very spiritual and personal experience so to open this process up to include three artists was a step outside of my comfort zone.  I am here to say, however, that working on this sculpture and doing it in combination with other artists has been one of my most rewarding experiences in a long Collaboration (18)time.  I’m amazed and grateful to have had this opportunity and I have decided to continue working in collaboration with Eric and Brian if at all possible.  In talking with the Gold brothers, they seem to be interested in continuing with more projects, as well.  This has been a great experience and I’m looking forward to continuing in the collaborative spirit.

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One Comment

  1. Wow, That is amazing. Totally unique. Steampunk rules. Let’s see more in the future.

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