Well, we’re already three weeks into the New Year and a lot is happening at Ron Cook Studios. Some of it is a continuation of the crazy-busy end of 2009, and some of it is new or in the planning stages. Crafts shows and arts festivals are over until Spring, but exhibits are still going on in window displays and art galleries. In my workshop, older projects are getting close to wrapping up, and newer projects are beginning to obsess me.
I’m one of the founding members of the Santa Cruz Woodworkers, a group started a little over a year ago with the plan to pool our resources and get our work on display at a museum or other venue, and we succeeded in getting ourselves accepted and scheduled for a four-month exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, July, 2011. In the meantime, in December, 2009, we were fortunate to have been able to set up window displays of our work in a large brand-new downtown building that is still vacant. Our work is still on display and will probably be there into February. If you’re in downtown Santa Cruz, stop by to see my work. The “Rittenhouse” building is just down the street from Cinema 9.
The Santa Cruz Art League is holding the first of their two-part members’ show. For January and February, it’s for members whose names begin with A-L. February and March, it’s for the rest of the alphabet. I’m exhibiting there now with my little Medieval Harp “Mercury, The Winged Messenger”. The reception was last Saturday, and it was a splendid, well-attended affair—a place to see and be seen. Everyone wanted to hear my harp, so I spent a lot of time by the display pedestal plucking the strings.
Meanwhile, Back in the Workshop…
Back in my studio, I’m finally getting one of my older projects close to completion. The Mountain dulcimer, “The White Lady”, has been in process for several months. The edge binding has held me up for some time, but I’ve now got the back binding on and I’m ready to put on the top binding. What’s taken so long is that all the binding is very small 1 inch long pieces of ebony that I salvaged and cut out of keys from an old broken, thrown-away piano. Each little piece has to be sanded into a slightly curved shape and glued into place. The back binding took me over six hours to complete.
Several months ago I decided to re-evaluate my artistic direction and change the ways I express myself. I’ve been a craftsman and luthier since I built my first stringed instrument in 1972, and after a few hundred instruments, I feel a little—how should I say—burned out. My new artistic direction still includes building some of the instruments I love, but I’ll be very selective about what I make and not in the number and diverse nature of those I’ve made in the past. The main change is in studying and crafting medieval-style furniture and sculptures that are heavily carved with the old-style characters/caricatures I’m known for. Here’s a couple of “sneak peeks”. Stay tuned.
Other than that, I do have the ongoing harp and portative pipe organ projects going, albeit slowly, but the late breaking news is that I got a commission the other day to make a custom cherry and redwood mountain dulcimer. Again, stay tuned for updates.
For now, that’s about it. No craft shows or art festivals until mid-March when I’ll take my annual pilgrimage to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the Scottsdale Arts Festival. Until next time, onward through the fog.