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I just went to the calendar and counted off the days until December 15 and I think it is 50 days.  Fifty days seems like a lot more time than 7 weeks, therefore, that is why I feel better.  Time is clicking by awfully fast lately.  Taking out the garbage tells me so.  Our garbage goes out once a week, on Tuesday morning.  It is about 100 yards from our front door to the street where I put out the garbage.   It is usually three for four trips down there every Tuesday morning… a couple trash bags, a trip with something odd  like some old carpet, a trip with the recycle and one run from the studio, so it is a weekly workout.  Yes, I could put it in the truck and drive it down there, but  what fun is that.  Yes, there is a point to this and I will tell you later.  Just kidding. . . Garbage day is like a time marker to me.  I make my trips every Tuesday morning and say to myself, “myself, how can it already be Tuesday morning again.  It’s like Groundhog Day (as in the Movie).  It seems like every day is garbage day.  So, time seems to go way to quickly.   But now I have fifty full cool days to finish my year end list.


I am fortunate to have several projects to finish up the year.  Number one is an eighteen foot suspended sculpture for the stairway of the Museum of Florida Art in DeLand.  It will be a long crescent shaped sculpture, swooping down through a fairly complex staircase.  This commission presents some interesting challenges because of the space, but so far it looks like the project is under control.  Next, I am making a 6×6 foot sculpture for a residential client in Central Florida.  It will be installed poolside by mid December.  I will get some photos up as I make progress on that.  I have two mobiles to complete —  one for a Chicago residence and one for a North Florida corporate client.  I am in the middle of making a “Tropical Tree” sculpture for a sculpture show at the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida. This piece is coming along and needs to be delivered by the first week in December.  I am making a series of award “trophies” for a builders association that need to be delivered the first week of November at the same time I am delivering the “Post-Surrealists in Paradise” show (Wilton and Wolfe) to go on display in Jacksonville for November and December.  Then finally, I have a show at the Laughing Dog Gallery in Vero Beach, opening January 20.  So that’s it.  And I have fifty days… a piece of cake.


If you didn’t make it to the show in DeBary, the Gateway Center for the Arts posted some nice photos.  This is the link to view them.  (I don’t know if it will work if you click on it or if you need to copy and paste it)  Also, at the end of this post I will attach a critical review of the show written by Dr. James Murphy.


DeLand "Windvane" installed

14 foot tall "Windvane" installed in front of DeLand City Hall

12 foot Tropical Tree base

This is the base of the 12 foot "Tropical Tree" sculpture that I am making for the McKee Botanical Gardens Show

DeLand Sculpture Walk "Windvane"

DeLand City employees help install 14 foot "Windvane" in front of DeLand City Hall



It is ironic to realize that Surrealism still continues to inspire and inform the work of contemporary artists. In the mixed-media paintings of John Wilton and the mobiles and stabiles of John Wolfe, two DeLand artists, we see the lingering influence of two pioneering American artists of the early Modernist period: Joseph Cornell and Alexander Calder. Both Wilton and Wolfe engage in a discourse with their artistic forebears, while responding to the actualities of 21st-century life in the Sunshine State.

 Like many artists of his generation, John Wilton uncovers the poetry and myth behind the contradictory messages of Florida’s popular culture. His paintings and mixed-media assemblages recycle ordinary images from the mass media, causing us to reconsider their possibly extraordinary status. His work generally layers references to Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, while paying homage to the kinky flora and fauna (human, bovine, and avian) of his home state.

 His current series deals with an image that we all accept as a colorful symbol of our tropical environment: the parrot. We can almost hear the strains of the Parrot Head national anthem Margaritaville in the background, as we live out the vicarious lifestyle of the Parrot Head nation – everyone’s favorite fantasy of Florida. But the fact is that the parrot is no more indigenous to this state than Walt Disney or the Space Shuttle, just another visitor who migrated from somewhere else to take up residence in the Florida popular imagination. Wilton underscores the creature’s seamless transition from seasonal visitor to cultural and commercial commodity, an appropriation that happens every day, all around us.

 This is not a new idea. An ancient theory held that a person’s personality and ailments were determined by his or her predominant humor. In the Renaissance, it was believed that each human possessed all four humors, and various animals symbolized their effects. Thus, a parrot can be found in Albrecht Dürer’s 1504 engraving The Fall of Man, where it represents salvation, the antidote to the nearby serpent in the garden.

In the 1930s Joseph Cornell began his assemblage constructions depicting Surrealist imagery quite unlike that of any other artist here or abroad. Some of his boxes contain cutout references to parrots, especially the flock in Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery (1943) whose glass case is pierced with an actual bullet hole. Compare this with Wilton’s Tony’s Nightmare, which depicts an apocalyptic showdown between the grim reaper on a bulldozer and the parrot’s tropical paradise. In Cornell’s The Hotel Eden, c. 1945, as in similar works, the caged parrot is an emblem of mystery and sublimation, evoking some faraway European locale. Or, like the older Renaissance symbol, it may suggest Paradise after the Fall, an ironically apt reading of Florida itself.

By his own admission, John Wolfe has been “following in the footsteps of Alexander Calder,” whose large-scale kinetic sculptures of the 1930s (dubbed “mobiles” by Marcel Duchamp) were among the earliest modern works to incorporate the elements of time and movement. Constructed of colorful abstract shapes hung on slender strands of wire, they responded to air currents and the movement of viewers.

Calder’s constructions were partly inspired by his artistic colleagues and contemporary trends: Mondrian’s clarity and simplicity, Dada’s fascination with play and chance, and the Surrealist fantasies of Miro. In one sense these mobiles extended the idea of objects in space into a celestial, even cosmic, analogy. We see in Wolfe’s mobiles a carefully balanced planetary system, all units gracefully pivoting around centers of gravity and equilibrium.

Like Calder’s, Wolfe’s mobiles let us reflect on the precise balance of weight versus counterweight, line versus plane, the constantly-changing versus always-implied picture surface. Calder also created works he called “stabiles” – which stood on the ground like everyone else’s – but he often combined the stabile with mobile elements. In a similar way Wolfe’s stabile-mobiles give viewers an experience of walking around (and under) a stationary armature, while glimpsing the erratic and unpredictable angles of pendant forms.

And Wolfe’s forms are as often as not botanical and floral. Some works suggest the presence of a living tree, whose trunk is the stable support and whose leaves sway in the breeze. Like the work of the Art Nouveau designers of a century ago, the structural-symbolic forms emulate a living force in nature, surging up through its roots, and animating the sculpture even more.

Both artists are aware of their common artistic heritage, yet each manages to distinguish himself from earlier antecedents. They have preserved the experimental, the accidental, and the incongruous that once characterized Surrealism. What is new is the cutting edge (literally) technology each has used to generate his work. Wilton’s mastery of digital imaging and inkjet printing technology, combined with traditional painting media, allows him to push the boundaries of collage and assemblage. Wolfe’s technical innovations depend on a computer-guided plasma cutter that allows him to fashion perfectly-detailed replicas of his imagined forms. Each artist thus advances the discourse on, and creates new responses to, the dramatically different imperatives of our Post-Surrealist Paradise.

James Murphy

New Smyrna Beach


It has been great visiting with you this afternoon. Tonight I better get out my calendar and start to schedule the next 50 days.  Talk to you again soon.



I made six new pieces for this show. A writer titled the show “Post-Surrealists in Paradise”. Wilton created thirteen mixed media pieces with a tropical parrot theme. I followed the theme with a series of “tropical tree pieces (two six to seven feet tall and three pedestal pieces) and a 9 foot span banana leaf mobile. I also included a leaf and petal mobile and a kinetic sculpture “passion series 5”. It is a very colorful and fun show.

Just had the opening for the “Post-Surrealists in Paradise” show at the Gateway Center for the Arts in DeBary.  It was a two artist show with fellow DeLand artist, John Wilton. The opening was last Sunday afternoon, September 11.

I wanted to post a few photos of the show. I realize that Sunday, September 11th was not a great day for an opening, but we were obligated to the schedule. The exhibit will be up for about a month, so if you get a chance to go see it i think you will enjoy it.

Here are a few photos…




















John Wilton and I collaborated on a September 11th memorial piece last year. We never showed it, but since our opening was on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy we displayed it at the opening.  This is a photo and the description of the piece.





Artists, John Wilton and John Wolfe created “nine/eleven” as a memorial to the innocent victims and the brave public servants who lost their lives in the events of that day.  The mission of the artists in the creation of this of this piece is to help keep the memories of that day in the forefront of your thoughts as you dream of a more peaceful world without these tragedies.


and while I am at it, here are two photos of pieces I finished this week. On is following the “Tropical Tree” theme that we used for the show and the other is a wall piece, just for fun.











Talk to you again soon.



It was a hot and steamy day in DeLand. Ninety seven degrees and the  humidity was giving 110 percent. I find that inspiring.  I am sporting boots, welding jacket, helmet and gloves.  Beads of sweat sizzle as they drip from my glistening brow onto a fresh weld. The flames on my welding helmet aren’t stickers… they are actual fire.  The steam fogs my helmet.  I can’t see. That is why my welds are so ugly.  
As many of you know, but for those of you who don’t, I installed the eighteen foot kinetic sculpture at the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando a few weeks ago. Everything went according to plan and it was exciting and a relief to get out of my studio, have everything fit and balance and see it installed in its final site. The sculpture is titled “L’ homme”, as it is an abstract representation of the museum founder Michael Mennello.  Here is a photo…John and Michael Mennello on installation day.

John and Michael Mennello on installation day

they let me on the ladder with a hammer


I will be having a show at the Gateway Center for the Arts in DeBary, Florida.  The exhibit will be a “two person show”, John Wilton, from DeLand and myself. The show is titled: “Post-Surrealists in Paradise”. The opening reception will be Sunday, September 11, 2011, 2 – 4:00 in the afternoon. Hope you can join us. It will be a fun show, full of color and great art. (just my opinion). Here is the poster…

If you want to actually read this it should be on the Gateway Center website

AND NOW A PREVIEW – Rated G  (groovy)
Here are a couple of photos of two of the pieces that I am working on for the Wilton/Wolfe show and also a couple of the sculptures I am doing for the 2011 DeLand Sculpture Walk. If you haven’t been to DeLand to see the sculpture, you should come for a visit. For more info, go to the Museum of Florida Art website.

close up of a tropical tree for the WW show

DeLand sculpture close up in primer. It will be 14 feet tall.

Geri is great and keeps me on track. The Yorkies (Bogie and Sophie), the Koi (Jimmy, Spot, Checkers, Red Head, Goldie and Creamsicle) and the Chickens (Lucy, Geegers, Marilyn and Monroe, Little Red Hen and Paige) keep us busy.  The chickens are just now giving us eggs.

this is Paige (foreground), Geegers (background)

Talk to you again soon,


Days like today are rare.  I spent the full day in the studio working on a sculpture for the 2011 DeLand Sculpture Walk.  Sort of a play day.  This will be the second year of the DeLand Sculpture Walk.  Last year twelve sculptures by twelve different Florida sculptors were displayed.  For 2011 there will be a minimum of twelve and hopefully more.  The piece I am making will be a colorful 14 foot tall  kinetic “Windvane”.   This photo shows the base of the sculpture as it starts to take shape.  I will post more photos of this as it progresses. 

Sculpture base, hanging, waiting for sculptural bracing

Here is a brief update of what I’ve been doing, artwise. 
I have three new gallery opportunities in Florida.  As a sculptor, I never have a huge inventory or work on hand, so representation in a new gallery takes some planning and time and preparing for a gallery or museum show takes even more.  Segway…
I will be having a show in the fall at the Gateway Center for the Arts, in Debary, Florida.  This will be a two person show with fellow DeLand artist, John Wilton.  I will give you the dates for the show and the opening reception next post.  I have been working with John Wilton on a series of collaborative designs for public and corporate spaces.  Going well.
Speaking of public and corporate work, I have been creating designs for wall sculpture and mobiles for several proposals.  This is always a good exercise for new design ideas and the opportunity to make some samples for photos and galleries.
I had a big installation last week– a two-part mobile in a collector’s home in the Orlando area.  The mobile has a 16+ foot span in the main living room, with a smaller section over a spiral staircase, with an element over the living room bridge, leading to the main mobile.  Try to figure that out without a picture.  Here are some photos…

part #1 - just getting started


Mobile installed, scaffold will go away lateryellow element in background is what comes over bridge


This is the view where you can see the yellow element over the bridge

Going back to shoot better photos without the scaffold.  Will post them soon.
Tomorrow will be a design day.  Working on suspended sculpture for the Museum of Florida Art.  Design phase begins tomorrow.  I will keep you up to date. 
 Check out my website now and then: Send me  messages on facebook (John R. Wolfe) or email me at


Excuses (always very important)

I have delayed in my blogging responsibilities because I feel that I have been working on the same projects forever and the excitement factor is a tad low.  I do appreciate the prompting from those of you whom have done so.  It’s nice to know that you are reading.


The two previous projects that I refered to in my last post are finished and waiting for concrete pads to be poured for installation.  One project, the three-part piece collaboration, will be installed at a private residence in Winter Park this weekend.  I have moved it out of the studio to regain some space.  The sculpture for the Mennello Museum of American Art is receiving a little touch-up here and there and I am still dodging parts of it in the studio as they hang from the ceiling.  The main base component is covered with a tarp in front of my studio, looking like a circus tent, as it awaits the crane to load it up for delivery, hopefully within a week or two.

And now

Busy with two hospital proposals for wall pieces.  Putting a maquette together for a three-piece suspended sculpture/mobile for a home in Windermere. This project is exciting. I am developing a new fabrication/design style for kinetic suspended work.  Always trying to break away from the Calder syndrome.  I have a couple more major commissions on the not too distant horizon.  Looking forward to those projects as well.

I did something art related that was a bit different, this weekend.  After a wonderful visit with the renowned artist, Harold Garde (google him), I did a couple of experiments with his “Strappo” technique. It is a reverse painting on glass that is then transferred to paper or canvas.  These were my first two attempts.  here they are (above).  

I am just finishing up the computer work to cut the parts for my mobile maquette, so it’s time to go make some sparks.

Now get out there and buy some art and if not, buy some beer.

Ah yes.  The life of a sculptor is a busy one.  At least lately.  Now in 2011 I want to see a correlation between busy and dollars.  As an artist, money means nothing to me so long as I can buy steel, paint and supplies (new welders, plasma cutters, a new truck, a pole barn, a crane, a couple employees,  etc.)  On the other hand, others may think different. 

The Mennello Project Continues

Here is the update.  I have been continuing to work on the Mennello Museum commission.  I will be installed in January.  My only hold up with this is that the Florida weather has turned cold and causes problems with painting.  Most of my primers and paints have to be applied above 50 or 60 degrees while the temperatures are rising, so I watch the forecasts and schedule my time accordingly.  I had a crane at the studio yesterday because at the last-minute we decided to assemble the two components of the base and weld them up here and finish them and then deliver it in one piece.  The original plan was to weld it on site and then touch up.  This is all fine, but now I need to figure out how to fit it on a trailer for delivery.  I think some midnight driving will be in order.  Here are a couple of photos of yesterday.   The base will now stay outside for painting and wait for delivery.

Positioning part one of the base - Crane in background

The parts of the base welded together

The Wolfe/Peace Collaboration
I have been working with landscape architect and artist, Fred Peace, on a sculpture for a residential client in Winter Park. It is a three-part sculpture.  It is about seven feet tall and the whole
thing will be installed on a six-foot circular pad.  We took it to the installation site last week for a test fit so the pad could be prepared.  It should be finished and installed within a couple of weeks.

Wolfe/Peace sculpture test installation

A Few Small Things
Here are a couple of photos of a few things I have finished lately.  Arts on Douglas Gallery in New Smyrna Beach has a miniature show this time each year.  All items have to be no larger than eight inches.  This year I made four candle holders.  Five layers of steel…  look at the pictures.  Here are photos of two of them.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are two thousand words worth of photos.  Oh, what the heck, I will make it four thousand words worth.  Here are two more photos of a couple of thing I have made for the Arts on Douglas gallery lately.  The Four caged ravens, aka: Nevermore, is a bit of a departure, but sometimes when an idea hits you must act on it.  The other is a mobile, entitled cut paper, inspired by a Matisse cut paper collage, (at least the colors).

Five layer tree candleholder

Boomerangs with ball candleholder 8x8Five layer tree candleholder 8x8x4 inches

Now, It’s Retro time!
I was at my children’s grandparent’s house for a wonderful family reunion this summer and in their home was a mobile that I made for their “new” house in what I am guessing was in about 1985 or 86.  The mobile was looking good.  It’s easy to say, I ought to do something like that again.  But, I guess I must keep moving forward.  Here is a photo. 
An Overseas Commission
And now this one is only semi-retro, but here is the story.  Sometime last year I received an email from a gentleman in London that found my website and liked the looks of a small sculpture I made about 15 years ago.  I re-created it with some changes and sent it off to him in England.  Here is a pic.

Painted steel kinetic sculpture/ about 36 inches tall

You too can check out my website if you like.
It has been a my pleasure talking at you this evening.
Happy Holidays.
Hey there.  It’s good to be back.  Not that I have been anywhere, just not typing number four as I should have been doing sooner. (the grammer teacher would be haveing a heyday with the red pen with that sentence).  What the hell.  Not there anymore.  Just in my nightmares.
Ok, back to me.
I am going to try to insert some photos of projects that I have mentioned in my previous entries. 
Number one is a photo of the wall sculpture that I did as a commission for the R. Roberts Gallery in Jacksonville, Florida.  These pieces are about four feet tall, made of textured and painted aluminum and kiln fired glass.  Visit R. Roberts in Jax (Avondale) next time you are in that part of Florida.

Wall sculptures, Baptist Hospital, Jax

Now, shall we move on.  Did I tell you the story about the sculpture that was installed for the DeLand sculpture walk and then stolen within 24 hours.  Then a HUGE media blitz (in my mind) (google, stolen deland sculpture), anyway, here is a photo of the sculpture when it was displayed in Boca Raton, last year.  Just so you know, it was recovered after a major DeLand style CSI, investigation, an anomymous tip … a bit of damage, but I touched it up and everything is fine.  The morning it was re-installed after the DPD recovered the sculpture in question, it rained and as it was being installed, a double rainbow appeared above the sculpture.  I will try to find the photo, next time.

Night Flight

This is part of the base for the sculpture that I am working on for the Mennello Museum for American Art in Orlando.  Today I finished the fabrication on this part and it goes to DeLand Metalcraft tomorrow for sandblasting and then as soon as I get it back, tomorrow afternoon, it will get the first coat of epoxy primer.  The rest of this scuplture will go in for sandblasting the first of next week.  Many thanks to Jim, who has been helping me with the fabrication and endless grinding the last couple weeks.

Mennello Museum sculpture base, part one in progress

Geri was taking photos of me loading this piece into my trailer this evening.  I have a chain hoist hanging from a tree limb from about 30 feet up.  Racing the rain. (rain and freshly preped steel doesn’t mix well, you know, rust)  The base weights about 600 pounds.  She wanted a photo of my last act on this earth, in case something went wrong.

Loading sculpture base into trailer as Geri looks on in horror

Well, folks… It’s late and I’m all tuckered out, so, good night and I will give you more exciting updates soon. 
Peace to all.

My goal today was to weld up about 60 feet of seams on a sculpture so that it will be ready for grinding tomorrow.  And I am happy to say that the welding went fine, other than a couple interuptions, a trip to Fedex and another trip to Daytona (the world’s most famous beach) and a trip to the auto mechanic. In Daytona I had to buy cardboard and 10 pound barbell weights.  The cardboard is for making patterns and the weights are to work on my upper body strength and manly physique.  Actually, the weights are to weld into the inside of a sculpture to add weight for balance, but don’t tell anybody, it’s our secret.

Ok, the welding went great… then I stood back to take a look at the thing I had welded… (by the way, this piece is twelve feet long and eight feet wide and weighs about 600 pounds) … and it looked a tad askew.  Well, the reason it is a bit out of  allignment is that I “fixed”  it prior to welding it up when it wasn’t really “broken” even though I thought it was and now it really is “broken”.  Why the quotes, you ask.  Well, I have been told a time or two in my life that if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.  Nonsense, I say.   I now have created a new opportunity (see title) to figure out how to move about six feet of welded steel with about twelve internal, welded braces 3/4 inches into alignment.  Tomorrow I will be unwelding with my unwelder tool and I will fix it.  And at the end of the day I will have learned one more time not to fix what’s not broken.  Until next time.

My neighbor Charlie, metal working guru, just stopped by and told me that no one but me would ever notice this 3/4 inch error.  That being said, I will try to fix it tomorrow.

Next blog entry will include photos to illustrate the fascinating entries to date or photos of my dog, Bogie or his cousin Sophie.  Bogie  still thinks or wishes that she is just visiting.

Until next time…

Hello again.

What a great day! Visited a home of a client and now friends. A beautiful home in Windermere, Florida.  An amazing art collection that I look forward to and am honored to be included.  We are talking, from emerging artists to Picasso, Calder, Max, John Lennon and soon Wolfe. It is always an honor to be included in these collections, and this is at the top of the list.

I look forward to a weekend in the studio, doing some of the zen, grunt work. I will elaborate on this at another time. My son Brian has been educated in the zen work with power tools.  I am currently working on welding and grinding about 200 feet of welds on an outdoor steel sculpture.  Thanks to guitarist, Jim, who is graciously helping me with this task that can seem endless.  The better welder you are, the easier the grinding. So I have been told. Needless to say my grinding takes for ever.  I have also been told that I am a perfectionist…  that’s another story.

Geri accompanied me to my appointment today.  We got to drive the dirty van.  The other car goes to the mechanic on Monday because the check engine light soon followed by running badly occurred.  Can’t work on cars anymore.  I can open the hood and look at real pretty black plastic.  Looking at it doesn’t seem to fix much.  I did take the van to Walmart for an oil change for an oil change.  The oil change guy was kind of hurt that the previous oil change sticker was from DeLand quick oil change and not Walmart.  A few words and he was feeling better.  I need to read and adhere to my oil change loyalty oath.

I am getting off track. Sorry.

Tonight is the event in Jax for the Patrons of the Hearts.  I hope they get big bids on the mobiles and some raise some big bucks.  What a great organization. Thanks Hilda and Jose.

Have a good weekend and I will try not to catch anything on fire.  (Speaking of which,we  made our annual contribution to the Glenwood Fire Department last night.  We live in the woods and it hasn’t rained much all summer, so we need to support these guys in case someone tries to set the neighborhood on fire.)

Peace and talk to you soon.