Why Birds?

I was asked why birds?

As a sculptor/author and creator of a realm of creatures who have come to earth to help preserve the environment, raise awareness to issues facing the planet and its inhabitants and open a dialogue for hope, I was recently asked, why did I choose birds to carry my message? 

So given the incentive to ponder the question I thought to share my answer.

I’ve always been fascinated by creatures that could fly. Flying squirrels, bats, birds, butterflies, dragons and such. Though I tend to avoid whenever possible, flying bugs and winged critters that sting and bite. 

Thinking back, my interaction with birds as a child growing up in Chicago didn’t seem extraordinary. My mother’s mother had pet parakeets, beautiful creatures that lived in a shinny birdcage hanging from an ornate iron stand, whose chirps and warbles welcomed my visits. My father’s father raised homing pigeons in coops on the rooftop of his south side apartment building.  That was cool. I would watch in amazement as they took to the air and fly out over the cityscape. It was thrilling to enter the coop, have them tassel my hair and roost on my outstretched arms. 

I grew up in a home on the edge of the city, with an apple tree, a rose garden and a large vacant lot next door where tall weeds and wildflowers, garden snakes, field mice and wild things roamed; where small flocks of migrating birds would set down and yard birds were welcome. I would jump for joy at the first sighting of Robins. Visits to nearby Lake Michigan were a constant delight, running through the sand chasing shore birds as they scavenged for fish. I remember fondly summer camp in Wisconsin when I first spied raptors and eagles soaring high above the pine forests. I would always marvel at birds ability to fly, to move at will across the country, to navigate unburdened by gravity, to function summer and winter without adding layers of protective coverings, I would run around with my arms spread wide, fly a kite or throw handmade paper airplanes in the air but they could truly capture the wind and soar off to lands unknown.

Fascinating creatures birds. So many varieties exist on earth yet we still know so little about them and their relationship with humans throughout history except through myth and legend. Their beauty never fails to excite me however I was never driven to study them in depth or to become an avid birder. I was happy to simply accept them as one of those true wonders of nature, mysterious creatures whose evolution inspired awe.

For the past 7 years I’ve lived up at 8,000 ft. in Colorado, in what some have described as a contemporary glass enclosed tree house that perches on the side of a mountain looking out over peaks and valleys of lush pine forests, aspen groves and wandering creeks - a place where seasons are marked by the arrival and departure of hummingbirds - a place where Blue Stellar Jays and dozens of other types of birds are my nearest neighbors. I watch them at our bird feeders as they flit in and out of sight and speak in a language I do not understand. I turn my eyes to the sky and glimpse giant winged shapes crossing the valley and I wonder where their journey will take them.

But my art is not truly about birds. Unbound to the realities of bird anatomy, physiology and intellect, as an artist I am free to let my imagination soar and just draw my inspiration from these marvelous creatures. Doing so has allowed for the evolution of an entirely new species, the Amazar Avians. Their basic shape, form and physical attributes of my sculptures do indeed have similarities to the birds of earth and it is that commonality that often attracts my audience. From there we can embark on a magical journey.

As a child I can remember the excitement I felt when finding a fallen feather, I would treasure that connection with a creature that could soar the sky and conjure stories in my head about the adventures of the bird that left it behind. It was a gift from above. 

So now I create feathered creatures bearing gifts for all. Is there some connection here with what I’ve just shared? Perhaps.  I invite you to invite your friends to discover more about my Amazar Tales at www.amazaravians.world

The Concept of Creative Reuse

Creative ReUse

I’ve been asked to share with other artists and art patrons, segments from a talk I recently presented at the Center for the Arts Evergreen on the concept of Creative ReUse, which in the context of the green movement is a form of Upcycling – 

Take a few minutes and read on…it just might expand your thinking about the role of art in society.

If you’re not up to date on green jargon – upcycling is a greener version of recycling that adds value to otherwise disposable items by transforming them into something of greater value. 

While in the United States the concept of upcycling is only recently becoming part of any serious discussion dealing with recycling trash and unwanted materials, it’s something that some of you may have direct connection with. 

Anyone have family stories about grandmothers fashioning dresses from old curtains or flower sacks? Making rugs from old rags? Anyone quilt bedspreads from segments of old fabric?

Anyone turn leftover dinners into tomorrow’s lunch or compost it into garden fertilizer?

That’s Recycling

The term Upcycling was thrown around in the 70’s & 80’s but didn’t really became part of recycling conversations until the mid 90’s as people started advocating for ways to extend a products life by creating things from stuff that would typically be discarded.

• In the world of architecture- civilizations have been upcycling materials to use as building components for centuries and in past decades Green Architects have been doing things like upcycling plastic bottles and old tires for use as framing for exterior walls. 

• Third world and developing cultures upcycle discarded objects as a way to develop economic growth.

• In the future worlds depicted in science fiction film and novels, post apocalyptic civilization upcycling leftovers from our century are also necessary for survival.

• In the art & fashion world, the Steam Punk movement has developed by incorporating upcycled materials

So where does Creative Reuse enter the conversation?

For me it was part of growing up. 

My grandfather on my father’s side was a junk dealer who salvaged parts from discarding plumbing fixtures, rebuilt and resold them. Ultimately opening a large wholesale plumbing supply business on Chicago’s’ south side that my father became part owner of.

My mother’s father had been a tailor - creating high fashion fur and leathers goods in New York and Chicago. He was also an inventor, cobbling together an amazing assortment of strange but useful things. 

Though long retired from being a tailor, he retained a big old industrial sewing machine and boxes full of scrapes old fur and leather in his workshop.

Image how lucky I was as a creative soul. I had weekly access to explore and play in a junkyard full of odd and interesting stuff …and when on vacation to visit my grandfather in Florida I had access to a trove of exotic leather & fur, a monster sewing machine to use and a wizard to mentor me.

Back then I never thought about it as recycling 

As a young artist it was second nature to use everyday found objects, assembling components to make stuff. A good scissors, my Swiss Army Knife and a bottle of glue were my tools of choice. I carved bits of found wood, nuts & fruit. I actually carved and sold dried apple head sculptures at an art fair when I was 15.

Then, when my mother got called into to see the high school principle because I carved a landscape into my desktop during biology class. I think she understood that creating art was going to be part of my life.

My life took a turn in the mid 60’s when I found myself in Berkley CA. during the summer of Love. – Anyone remember the Summer of Love? There l repurposed a small closet under a winding staircase in an old Victorian home into my sleeping quarters and took to the streets and discovered that I could make a few dollars by manipulating leather to create things like hippy headbands, fringed bags and other new age stuff. 

Coming back to Chicago, home to the stock yards and a lot of leather processing tanneries, I made a deal with two of the largest tanneries to come in and sweep their floors a few nights a week for free. 

In exchange I was allowed keep the trash on the floor. That trash consisted of leather remnants blemished and discarded scrap leather. With a constant source of free leather, I set up shop at home making an array of leather goods and sold my creations to 5 of the major head shops in Old Town Chicago for a few years. That in turn helped finance my going to art school. (I’ve made more Jimmy Hendrix white leather fringed vests than you can imagine)

While my initial area of arts concentration in art school was clay, at some point I decided I want to try my hand at carving stone so I again turned to recycled materials. I soon found that chunks of large corner stones from derelict/demolished Chicago buildings were great materials to practice on. 

From there the urge to carve in blocks of marble was too great to ignore. Where do you find large pieces of free Marble? 

Again I turned to recycling. I got to know the caretakers at Chicago cemeteries’ who let me rummage back behind crematoriums and out buildings through centuries of discarded broken tome stones and cart away segments of marble to practice my skills.

In the early 70’s I looked to creating more sculptural artforms and I learned to weld and forge iron, steel, bass, copper and stainless steel. But those materials were too expensive for an art students budget so I researched the world of industrial waste and became a certified dumpster diver. I actually made up some business cards that said “artist/dumpster diver.”

After getting caught knee deep pulling discarded metals from industrial dumpsters a few times to many, I meet with various managers at manufacturing plants and fabricators of architectural components and got permission to regularly scrounge behind the locked factory gates for metal cutoffs and waste materials.

By that time I understood the concept of recycling and used when describing my artforms. My metal sculptures using repurposed/recycled materials were well received by the public and collectors at art fairs. 

My Art degree gave rise to a teaching certificate and the opening my own art school and an art gallery. 

I then repurposed a vacant flower shop in Evanston Ill and became the founder and owner of Mindscape Gallery which over the course of 30 years was considered one of the top 10 Contemporary American Fine Craft Galleries in the United States, representing a lot of nationally acclaimed artists who incorporated found/ recycled/repurposed materials into their art.

As some of you know, in 2010 I stopped doing large-scale metal sculptures out of recycled materials. I moved from Chicago and am now living in the mountains of Colorado on 14 acres of forest land. The risk associate with working hot metals with an open flame is too much of a risk so I’ve gone back to working leather and now create sculptures using recycled vintage leathers and found objects. ( visit www.amazaravians.world to see my current creations.)

With what I’ve shared about my background – you can understand that the concept of Creative-Reuse has been a major part of my artistic process.

In recent years art shows across the country have sprung up featuring the concept of Creative ReUse, which holds that that by converting refuse into artwork, the discarded trash can acquire a new aesthetic. And in turn, open the conversation that the resulting artwork can take on moral and conceptual dimensions.

My story is not all that unique. Artists have always been incorporating and adapting found objects to create their art. Carving in wood, stone, clay, drawing with carbon based materials, using natural dyes and stains to bring forth their artistic vision are just a few examples. Yet, as those materials and mediums have became more refined, they have also become more expensive. The alternative, for the creative spirit on a budget, is to adapt discarded manufactured materials into components to make their art. 

What’s taking place now is that the art world is leaping to the forefront of a movement that intertwines aspects of invention, innovation and imagination with the need for recycling manufactured materials. 

This in turn has also opened the door to new opportunities in the area of arts education by encouraging the creation of unique and original artforms by recycling/upcycling/repurposing-discarded objects.

We are learning that the concept of Creative Re-use introduced across environmental and educational sectors through the arts can actually encourage an insightful aspect of sustainable thinking and in offering extended life to materials that might otherwise end up in landfills.

To encourage those efforts I would like you consider the role you might be able to play in helping your community explore, develop or promote the concept of Creative ReUse.

Here are just a few possibilities I support that have been put forth by organizations committed to the concept of upcycling and Creative Reuse

Upcycling – Existing recycling and sustainability programs should be encouraged to add a category of “Upcycling” in order to redistribute a variety of discarded materials for use as possible art components to artists, crafters, educators and others.

Reimagining Art – Arts festivals and arts organizations should be encouraged to expand traditional art/sculpture categories to include a found object/ recycled art category and host exhibitions that feature art using recycled materials.

Environmental Education and the Arts – Schools and communities should develop activities and programs that encourage artistic innovation using upcycled materials and creative reuse. 

Creative Materials Exchange – Develop a way to access used, reclaimed, salvaged and donated art materials as free, low cost or bartered supplies for artists

As artists and arts patrons you can make a difference.

Thanks,

Ron Isaacson
ronisaacson@me.com

Amazar Avian Exhibition Proposal

My Amazar Avian series of leather sculptures has been evolving, getting larger, more complex and receiving great reviews from collectors. Visitors to www.amazaravian.world are discovering tales told of legions of Amazar Avians who flew to earth from a realm deep within the multi-fold dimensions of time and space.

As the legend continues to unfold in an evolving series of amazing leather sculptures, 3D landscapes and a series of stories and fables known as Amazar Tales. it’s time to take the next step to enable my fans to fully experience the magical world of Amazar Avians and help spread it’s message.

I am now looking for galleries in the greater Denver area to host an installation/exhibition sometime the second half of 2019 or early 2020 where visitors can view, interact with, hear and discover stories about the amazing world of Amazar Avians and adopt an Amazar Avian of their choice. The exhibit will be populated by dozens of different Amazar Avian Species, Forever Gardens, multi-dimensional landscapes and other sculptural creatures that have been brought to life using repurposed/recycled vintage leathers, found objects and sacred crystals while Avian bird sounds chirp and vibrate through the exhibition space. 

As an award winning artist/sculptor, arts educator and author I have exhibited professionally in juried exhibitions and galleries for more than 50 years focusing on creating residential sculptures and art for public spaces that incorporate recycled and repurposed materials. This current series of leather sculptures is something I’ve been developing over the past 5 years and has been evolving nicely in concept and scale. The response to the concept and current work has been wonderful.

I’m now seeking opportunities to meet with gallery owners and exhibit curators to show them pieces from my Amazar Avian series and discuss the possibilities.

Help spread the message and encourage others to discover the world of Amazar Avians. 

Thanks

Ron

The Origin & Mission of the Amazar Avians

Origin & Mission: 

From another dimension in the universe, a place known as Amazar, there lives a species of Avians that have existed for eons. Having the ability to shift in and out of time, space and dimensional planes. families of these Avians have roam the universe and discreetly visited Earth to help those in need, bringing healing energy, love, peace, goodwill and positive energy wherever they appear. 

Among these families, a flock of Avians have now chosen to make themselves known on planet earth in response to desperate cries for help from the earth itself. They felt a surge in the frequency of meditative energies sent forth by those looking to bring about a more harmonious balance to the planet and to ending the pain and suffering threatening to destroy it.

Heeding the call, the Amazar Avian Earth Alliance (AAVEA) has flown through the Amazar portal to offer their assistance and offer us hope. Some even speculate that this legion of Avians carries the spark of souls that once inhabited earth and have vowed to return and help all creatures that dwell upon it.

The Dream

Many years ago on a winter’s day that began like many others on our mountain, the Colorado sun rose along the Front Range with a butterscotch glow piercing the clouds in a spectacular array of crimson shards against a rich blue velvet sky.  A slight frost glistened on the pines while a fine layer of opal snowpack lingered in patches along the road that meandered up to my home. 

Remnants of a strange dream lingered as I warmed my hands around a cup of spiced Chai. Skipping breakfast, I made my way down to my art studio to clear scraps and remnants of recycled leather off my workbench and think about the form and context of my next creations. 

My most recent Leather Landscapes and sculptural Forever Gardens were evolving nicely, flowing forth from my imagination as if guided by some sixth sense while I cut, deconstructed and sorted segments of discarded vintage leather clothing I had rescued. As I gazed about my “Unbound Leathers” studio at piles of old leather jackets, bundles of wires and bins of strange found objects that had caught my fancy, my hands were drawn to an odd assortment of components demanding to be plucked from their hiding places and deposited on the workbench I had yet to clear off.

I’m blessed that my workbench allows a view out floor to ceiling windows, across a small garden and our narrow gravel driveway to the mountains beyond, the valley below and acres of pine forest. As the morning mist gives way and the sun travels across the valley delightful patterns, mysterious shadows, sights and sounds emerge from the ever-changing landscape. To my delight, I often find myself face to face with Deer and Elk who roam around up here at 8,000 ft., stopping by daily to munch at our gardens, nibble at the Aspen leaves and seasonal berries. Occasionally a grey, black, brown or grey fox will stop to stare at me while I’m working and stay a while, allowing me to slip outside, say hello and engage in a bit of conversation before he or she continues their travels. Throughout the day birds of all sizes, shapes and colors roost in the pines, soar across the valley, call out their songs and scavenge the forest floor for tasty treats. But somehow this day there seemed to be something more going on.

As I sat savoring my Chai and the view beyond, I let my thoughts drift back to that dream and a story began to evolve that would shape the direction of my artwork and set me on path to a grand adventure.