Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tina's Home

Hey people.  Today we installed one of the biggest, most complicated, & coolest sculptures of my career so far.  It's also one I have a lot of feelings for, and it went to a place that's very important to me, so I thought I'd recap the story of Tina here, just to sort of close it out and tie it up with a bow.

It began before I even really knew what mountain biking was.  I'd just moved to the town we now live in, and found this sort of hidden away park that was a big cool woods with trails winding through it.  Frankly, I didn't believe people actually rode bikes on parts of this trail that were tricky to even hike, but it was gorgeous over there and I began spending a lot of time walking and running the trail.

Part of the trail goes though this kind of junky area and is even made of old bus pistons.

As a metal artist, rusty old junk is kind of irresistible to me.  Sure enough, a little ways off the trail I found the remains of an old stock car.  ~Score!~  

There is a bit of a time compression here.  I hung out at the park so often that I soon began running into mountain bikers.  I was fascinated by their-- to me at the time-- ~crazy antics~, and dodging them on my runs added a thrill factor I rather enjoyed.  Eventually, I got to know a few of them, the guy in charge of the place in particular-- Cool-Trail-Boss-Rich, and wound-up getting my own bike (*Penny*), and joining the ranks of the trailwork crew.  (I now am one of the crazy riders I used to live vicariously through and spy on.)

This all led to me being asked if I felt like adding a piece of my art to the trail, by another dedicated rider/volunteer who was donating a bridge before moving out of state, just to show his appreciation of the place.  I was super happy to oblige and knew immediately I wanted that old race car to be part of the project.  Rich okay'd the removal of the parts, and even helped me haul it all out.  So here's what Tina started out looking like.

This was the original installation site.  I was checking out possible positions etc, still figuring out how my idea would work.

 As usual, there was also a little goofing around.  Heh heh.
 My original idea was to create a sort of trail faerie, like a magical wood nymph, who would preside over the park.  Another volunteer gave me some concrete antlers from an old deer statue over there, and my idea began to evolve into a little more formidable presence.  I liked the idea of a mystical trail guardian, but wanted her to be more bad-ass than a faerie.  I could see her in my mind.
When I make people I start with the face first because if that's off, it doesn't matter how awesome the body is, it's still a fail.

It starts with a chalk sketch on my bench, then I frame it in.  Here I'm checking for symmetry etc.  If I'd been paying attention, I'd have seen the jawline & proportions of the lower part of the face were way off, but I didn't notice at the time.

Framing is like seeing what you're making before it really exists.  You're caging the invisible form only you can see.

A new twist with this project was completely covering the frame with steel-- cutting and forming it all cold.  I'd never tried this before, but wanted to raise the bar.

It all seemed to be going really well.  It was tons of work, but it was definitely coming out as a human face.  One problem.  When I stepped back to look at the very end of this process, somehow, Tina came out looking like a dude.

It took a bit of figuring out to determine what went wrong-- what I needed to fix.  I wound-up having to cut apart and rebuild the whole lower half of her face and her nose.  In the end I was happy with her.  She looked smart, and confident, but decidedly female.

It took me a while to decide on her pose, but once I settled on a ready-for-action observant squat, I started framing in her body, checking bio mechanics (hip & shoulder angles etc) as I went.  I like my sculptures to balance, just like they would in real life.  It's a good double-check you've got things lined-up correctly. 

Some projects you do for $, some for love.  Tina was definitely a labor of love, and had to be done in between paying jobs, so she took me about 2 years to complete.  When she was done I was really happy with how she turned-out.

She hung out at my place for a while because I was super busy with work, and Rich was super busy directing races and we had no time to work-out an installation.  That was cool because lots of people got to see her at an art show at my place over the summer.  Many said she looked like me, which was flattering, but I was never too sure about this myself.

A good friend recently said she thought Tina did look like me, but it was more her vibe.  "She looks calm, but you can tell there's this wildness radiating out from just beneath the surface."  I kind of liked that, because I do feel like that a lot-- like the wild part is trying to claw its way out, and I feel I put a lot of *me* in this sculpture.

The bridge location wound-up not being right.  We decided on another spot, using a dead tree as a perch right next to the trail.  (Near the end of section 3 for you riders.)  ;)

We had to cut it shorter and flatten out the stump.

And when I say we, I mean Rich.  I *supervised* this portion of the install.  

Then *we* had to drill a bunch of holes.

Then there was a whole BUNCH of ratcheting that had to be done to tighten down the numerous giant lag bolts (which we glued the heads of after so they can basically never be removed).  Some of this was accomplished with psychotic hair and a goofy expression.

And some was done using the world's tiniest wrench just to show off torquing power.  (I did a lot of the bolting down stuff too btw.  I know I look purely ornamental, or perhaps just mental, but am actually kind of handy at times.)

Tah-dahhhhh!  Tina in her brand new home!  

Lawd help anyone who tries to mess with her, because she was made for everyone who enjoys this park and trail, and I'm pretty sure anyone caught trying to fool with her will have the hurt put on them by the entire mountain biking community of the state, or at least the Twin Cities.

In reality, I'd be pretty surprised if anyone if anyone did.  I think people will just think she's cool and appreciate that she's adding something to the park.  She's for everyone, and everyone will help look out for her I bet.

After all, me and Tina are all about spreading good vibes.  :)


Anonymous said...

You rock. Heath

Linda G. said...

Man, I love Tina. And now she looks like she's where she was always meant to be. :)

I hope you'll take more pictures of her throughout the changing seasons--that would be awesome.

strugglingwriter said...

Just the coolest sculpture ever. I'm smitten by Tina :)

I'm sure all the bikers will appreciate her for sure. Great post :)

pseudosu said...

Thanks Squirrel! :D

Thanks. she really does look at home there. Sprung from the ground there essentially.

Thanks! I have sort of a girl-crush on her myself. :)

Jessica said...

Very,very cool, Sue! Looks like she is where she was meant to be. (Btw, the original"dude" version of her face is a dead ringer for Ru Paul!!)

irishk said...

"Remember Tina, thou art of the hillside and to the hillside you shall return!" Or something like that. What an accomplishment Sue. You must feel so proud to give a gift such as that to all those who love the place as you do. She will be duly appreciated and valued as the labor of love that she is. Undeniably, she does bear your resemblance:-) It will be great fun to visit her in the years to come. Job well done girl...you DO rock! Kathleen

LadyGenette said...

Wow, she looks absolutely amazing. Since I'm rather fond of stack cars, she looks doubly amazing.

Lynn Fisher said...

Amazing, she looks great there! I love her all over again.
That last photo of the both of you is especially stunning by the way!

Susan Adrian said...

Aw, she's beautiful!! I love the pic of the two of you!

b_elliott said...

Wow, Sue! Tina looks wonderful and so at home in her woods. Great job and thank you for sharing her/your journey!

Maery Rose said...

Everyone else has already said it but I'll repeat -- way cool! I agree that she carries your spirit and you both inspire some me. I can't wait to figure out where zone 3 is. Well, if it ever stops raining...

pseudosu said...

I thought he kind of looked like some Disney genie or something. :)

Awe shucks! :) Yep-- Hillside born and bred she is.

"She was a fast machine." ;)

Yeah, Rich snapped that one laying on the ground. Pretty awesome-- for a pic of me. ;)

Thanks hon!

Thanks! You saw different parts of the process. Now you'll have to check her out in her new home.

If you walk down the road, and look into the woods to your left you can see her (look for her orange back). -Just a bit before the back lot, right before you get to a little atv access path also on the left. There's a little trail we made while installing her off the avt trail (to the left again) that goes right to her. :)

Jill said...

Tina looks fantastic in her new atmosphere.

mary said...


Griff Wigley said...

I just discovered Tina, Sue. What a delight to discover her on the trail last week.

I blogged about it here.


Brian Pottorff said...

Love Her!

Anonymous said...

Make art, not annoying posts on morc!

pseudosu said...

Whatever, "Anonymous." At least I sign anything I post anywhere.