31 July 2013

A Clipper Sails West

Aye, she was a bonny lass and when she set off, sails unfurled and wind-filled, a sigh escaped my lips; I would see her perhaps nevermore.

Which is a fanciful and literary-sounding way of saying, one of my typewriters moved on to another home.  Even better, however, in this transfer, a new Typospherian was born!

Friend and Colleague in all things mad and wonderful, Hoja, visited this weekend.  We call these get-togethers our Art Days. Some days art is made; some days we look at formal art; some days we talk story making and world building; and some days we simply play.  This weekend we did it all! 

A visit to see the 30 Americans exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was rich, complex, sobering, and deeply moving. 

 Milwaukee Art Museum, Quadracci Pavilion, 2002. Credit: John Hursley.

(Left) Nick Cave, Soundsuit 
(Right) Iona Rozeal Brown, Sacrifice #2: it has to last
(after Yoshitoshi's 'Drowsy: the appearance of a harlot of the Meiji era')

[from the MAM 30 Americans Exhibition Gallery]

We also drove North to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center; located in Sheboygan, WI. There were two large installation pieces that had the both of us laughing, sighing, and looking so very interested that the museum guard kept a very close eye. We signaled that we would not touch by keeping our hands in our pockets or behind our backs (but, ooooh, we so wanted to touch the works!).

One exhibit, titled Emery Blagdon: The Healing Machine, filled a large room. 

 Installation view of Emery Blagdon: The Healing Machine at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
(All images courtesy John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin)

Emery Blagdon, “The Healing Machine”
(installation view John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2012) (detail),
(c.1955 – 1986), dimensions variable. John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection.

[From the exhibition website]

"Emery Oliver Blagdon (1907-1986) grew up on the Sandhills of Nebraska. The intense lightning storms of the Great Plains were a source of wonder for Blagdon, who pondered the immense power of lightning and other natural energies.

In 1955, Blagdon inherited an uncle’s farm and found he had a place to explore his interests as he chose. Having watched both his parents suffer terminal cancer, he hoped he might discover a way to heal pain and illness. Blagdon believed that the earth’s energies might be put to just such a use. He believed they held the inherent power to heal, and he set about making a “machine” to properly channel these powerful forces.

A pastime of bending hay-baling wire into geometric forms grew into a consuming passion for making increasingly complex constructions that incorporated salvaged copper wire, metal foil, magnets, vials of earth, waxed paper, and myriad other substances and materials to collectively charge and heighten the machine’s power. In the early 1960s, Blagdon began installing his fabrications in a barn on the property, later building a workshop with an adjoining shed designed to permanently house the entire machine.

Blagdon ultimately created a complex art environment in which paintings and mixed-media sculptures comingled with mineral elements and electrical conductors. Sufferers of pain or illness were invited in to let the unseen forces work magic. Blagdon called his project The Healing Machine, a work in constant progress wherein he fashioned, arranged, adjusted, and added to the complex installation every day for the next thirty years.

Blagdon’s Healing Machine, comprised of roughly 400 individual elements, is part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center collection. This exhibition presents individual components as well as an installation evoking the original shed environment."

(John Yau has written an expressive review of the exhibit. You can read it here.)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The second piece -- Rush to Rest, by New York artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen -- was massive and filled the two largest gallery rooms of the museum.  

A near life-long resident of Wisconsin, one of my keenest pleasures has been to see the wintertime ice formations along the Lake Michigan coastline.  Kavanaugh & Nguyen captured not just the vibrancy of the shapes but the deep emotional qualities of frozen movement.  The image above simply cannot capture the grandeur of the work.

[From the exhibition website] Artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen (NY) discuss their new work, Rush to Rest, part of the Uncommon Ground exhibition series at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, April 12–September 22, 2013. Video produced by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

[From the exhibition website] "Rush to Rest, by New York artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen, is a response to the colossal seasonal ice sheets that take shape on the Sheboygan lakefront in winter. This immersive installation is not a literal rendering of the accumulated ice pack but rather an aggregate of its physical characteristics. Rush to Rest exaggerates the mass and color of the frozen expanse as well as the tangible manifestations of wind and water that generate it."

NOTE: When "Rush to Rest" closes Sept. 23, the exhibit will be dismantled and recycled.

In the evening, back at home, there was talk of typewriters.  Several times over the past few years I have offered a machine to Hoja.  This time she took me up on the offer and asked if she could try out several to get a feeling for their "personalities."  So I laid out several on the dining room table for her to test drive.



The Skyriter (bottom, lower right) was not part of the offer, but I wanted her to try that one as most of my friends who spend most of their time on computer keyboards find it the easiest to type on initially.

In the end, she decided on the Smith Corona Clipper.  I was able to locate a near-era user's manual for it in my typewriterly stash, and also threw in a learn-to-type book and new ribbon.  

As you can see, Hoja was delighted!

 We welcome her to The Typosphere!


  1. Welcome, new Typospherian! (:

  2. What a fine gift! I am sure Hoja will find many years of enjoyable typing from the Clipper.

    The Clipper ship and Art Museum are very striking pictures. We have an old sail ship near-by and when she sails she is fantastically sleek and beautiful (El Galeon is presently at home in St. Augustine Galeon)

  3. Something I over-looked: Welcome to the Typosphere Hoja.
    I look forward to your first typecast.

  4. What impressed me when Hoja was testing the machines was that she actually was typing with all fingers - including using the little pinky to press the shift key (something I don't always manage and I type several times a week!). It took her a bit to regain the needed snap for a manual keyboard, but by the last machine, her key strikes were making good, consistent impressions on the paper.


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