The Independent Artist Podcast

Nature AND Nurture/ Jeffrey Zachmann and Carl Zachmann

June 26, 2023 Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Jeffry Zachmann/ Carl Zachmann Season 3 Episode 12
The Independent Artist Podcast
Nature AND Nurture/ Jeffrey Zachmann and Carl Zachmann
Show Notes Transcript

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It's difficult to say regarding this father/ son pair of kinetic sculptors. Jeffrey Zachmann his son Carl Zachmann on the road with him throughout his career as an independent artist. It is no wonder that Carl eventually followed step with his dad after exploring his interest in engineering and archeology. What seemed like a random collection of interests coalesced around his body of work involving gears and artifacts, encouraging the viewer to go internal. Conversely, Jeffrey's work is a lively experience that allows his collectors to actively engage in the movement within his pieces which disarms them and allows their natural and unfiltered reactions to emerge. These men are extremely creative, and their stories about their experiences on the road are truly entertaining.

In the preamble conversation, Douglas and Will discuss hiding from tornadoes, canceling a show, and mistaken identities.

Visual artists Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong co-host and discuss topics affecting working artists. Each episode is a deep dive into a conversation with a guest artist who shares their unique experiences as an independent professional artist.

PLEASE RATE US AND REVIEW US.......... and SUBSCRIBE to the pod on your favorite streaming app.

VENMO/ username @independentartistpodcast or through PAYPAL.ME by clicking on this link

Email us at with conversation topics, your feedback, or sponsorship inquiries.

Mailing List

The National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA).

Music  "Walking" by Oliver Lear
Business inquiries at

Support the show

[Music] foreign
artist podcast sponsored by the National Association of Independent Artists also
sponsored by zapplication I'm will Armstrong and I'm a mixed media artist I'm Douglas sigworth glassblower join
our conversations with professional working artists hey welcome back to the podcast
everybody it has been a couple of weeks since Douglas and I have recorded together but it's nice to be able to
record during pride month so I just wanted to jump on here and wish everybody uh everybody who's celebrating
and everybody who supported the a happy pride month to our lgbtq uh plus
Community absolutely yeah I second that big time so that's great yeah it's always been a safe place to me as far as
art shows go and uh definitely an ally as far as the community and the
community at large always been proud that we've been been able to to be that way yeah and I mean isn't aren't we
really all part of the community anyway I mean in the sense that if not ourselves people we love people we care
about you know it's it's a time to be proud and to allow people to be who they
are and to embrace it and celebrate it so happy Pride everyone so uh yeah what
else is going on man we've had a couple of shows under our belt since the last time we talked we have been running a
race here haven't we it's been quite crazy I will say that a couple of
conversations I've had recently out on the road that a lot of us artists are going through some so I just want
to you know send out a a big virtual hug to everyone who's just making it through
everyone so uh don't touch me Douglas get out of here I don't like that
I uh heads up I think I think Raco uh accidentally tricked me into agreeing to
record a podcast every week now so get to work oh apparently she tricked it she
wants it every week and I she she talked in circles there and got me to agree to it so that's not happening yeah no no
that's not good no that can't happen I honestly I'm barely able to hang on
with the every two week schedule I love the show uh so don't get me wrong but I'm I'm definitely hitting the uh the
stride of of show fatigue if you will or maybe Panic
show you know definitely organic I mean for me it's like I just can't even keep
up with with what I've committed myself off too I feel bad that I have to give a
last minute cancellation which I had to do this week for Des Moines but then I also feel bad for the collectors that
I've been getting some messages online I've left uh letting people know kind of thing so I
don't have collectors come looking for us and we're not there and I've had a few responses almost like they're my mom
making me feel guilty for not being able to be there and I I already feel bad you
know yeah yeah I get it I get it I actually I've got one on the hook I'm not doing Des Moines this year either
unfortunately and I I always love that show and and it's it's hard not to do it
um I I am on the hook honestly I got an Instagram message I'm on the hook for
for my possible best Des Moines ever oh really I'm not even gonna be there so we'll see how to keep keep your fingers
crossed on that one somebody from Des Moines is toying with you a little bit or presenting an offer for a commissioner they're flirting yeah we're
in the flirting stage we'll see what we'll see if I can close it um I think I can I think I can take him home with me
awesome that's excellent hey so last episode you talked to David Mayhew and
when we had our chance to talk it was actually before his episode was recorded So I I wanted to to share a story I had
about getting stuck in a storm on my way oh yeah you were talking about you know going out to Cherry Creek and how you
were getting calls like pull off man pull up you know pull over to the side um well for me I was coming home from
Oklahoma City one year from doing that show and I wanted to get a couple of a couple of hours in on the road before I
stopped for the night but I drove right into a freaking tornado right around the right around the Border
and it was dark so I didn't really know what was going on but I knew that I was having trouble with steering and I was
blowing back and forth and the rain was coming down pretty heavy so I pulled off and the steering is important we we like
that that's a nice option it's a feature it's a feature right yeah so I pull off the road I stop at a gas station and I
see people running in panicked so they obviously knew something I didn't know and this was before we had weather apps
on our phones I think I had one of those old flip phones where you know if you're gonna text you have to hit the button
five times to get to the right letter three letters per key exactly
so I get in and right as I get into the the gas station an attendant locks the door behind me I'm like whoa like
tornado coming did he think that lock was going to help no they like just like stay out tornado
you're not invited I think it has more to do with like crime you know they wanted to lock us all in and keep anyone
out because was coming across the highway right they told us all to walk into
their walk-in freezer so me and about 20 other people are huddled together shoulder to shoulder in
this dark walk-in freezer no light it was like crazy so they're
asking I'm thinking Renee's not gonna end it's like 15 degrees or whatever it's a deep freeze nutty so I'm thinking
Renee has no idea where I am wait did renate was Renee no I was all by myself she was home with the kids and
the kids were little this like I said it was a long time ago yeah so here I am on my phone with a
little light on my phone trying to text her where I'm at and blah blah blah
storm came and went I was okay but for a good 25 minutes it was a little hairy
and I didn't know what the hell oh my God and I'm sure you're driving you know it's Oklahoma City that's in the you
know late spring um so it's it's you know you're probably wearing shorts or a t-shirts or
something like that you know I don't even remember any of that I just remember being panicked that I was gonna die and nobody would know where I was
amazing here's I got one for you we were driving I was I was it was similar I
might have actually been coming home from OKC um I bet I'm coming home and it's uh you
know it's tornado season and I'm driving across and um I love the Mississippi River and I'm crossing the Mississippi
and I'm just I'm looking behind me though and I'm like good God that storm behind me you know it's like that coke
bottle green you know with the inky clouds and I'm like whoa all right let
me let me pull over so I pulled over at the the first stop and it was the Mississippi rest station okay and I I
stopped in and I'm kind of it's a big big old brick building and sure it's got a bunch of glass but it's got places to
shelter and like okay this seems like a safe spot and uh it's it's close to five o'clock and well Douglas that's when the
Mississippi rest station closes for the day yeah uh or the Welcome Center that's uh you are not welcome at five o'clock
yeah I was not welcome we're like and it was just some pimply kid you know and
he's like sorry we're closing man we gotta get him we close and I'm like uh you're gonna kick us all out into that
storm and we're all like it's a pretty nice welcome center and we're all standing around watching the TVs and of
course they've interrupted it to show all of the tornadoes in the area and it's right
freaking there and he's like he just boots us all out and and uh I was like
no I'm not we're not leaving dude yeah we're not gonna that's not safe so he just didn't and he was he was like I
could call the police I'm like well I think they got it there on that so I think he might be on our our side maybe
I'll call him and that'll be I could I could say hey uh this guy he'll come
check it out after the storm is over and we're all good right oh yeah when uh you know the trees are a little look like
chewed food and um like you you ever run over uh sapling with your lawnmower yes
that's uh that's kind of what the trees look like after the big storms yeah pretty crazy the running into those
storms and just hearing what uh hearing the experiences that David goes through and everything like that so I I I
enjoyed that talk I enjoyed that a lot yeah definitely okay so here's an interesting story we just came from
Milwaukee and Milwaukee is one of my I have really fond memories it's a really important
show to me for one it's our home state it's where we live uh but for two a number of years ago
we met some collectors and you know sometimes we don't always know who's out
in the crowd and who could really impact changes in our career that sort of thing
you know and so in 2008 we met a couple who very wealthy man biophysicist did
research for MRIs and all that kind of stuff so he sold these patents and blah
blah blah so they wanted to start a glass collection
for Wisconsin the Museum of Wisconsin art because the Contemporary glass
movement started in Madison and in the state of Wisconsin and so they wanted to build a substantial collection here at
you know in West Bend North Milwaukee sure yeah hey I I know a perfect place to start
so anyway he bought a piece from us that started the collection which was a huge honor and all that kind of stuff so we
we did this installation which I've talked about on the show before and the
the thing that's strange about it is people think it's a Chihuly and it was
made by us it doesn't look like anything chihuly's ever done but because it's hanging glass people just think it's a
Chihuly that's yeah I mean that's the Benchmark right like that's the that's that's people's like standard uh point
of reference for glass exactly right I mean he's the most famous uh his his studio is the most famous holy got it so
this this lady and her daughter walks in our booth and they see one of our sculptures that we that is very
reminiscent of this installation that we have and they looked at it and the one woman said oh look that's the chaluly I
she mispronounced it of course that's the chaluly that's at the Museum of Wisconsin art and I said to her oh are
you talking about West Bend and she said yeah oh I love that piece from choluli I said well that wasn't made by choluli
and she said well how do you know I said because we made it
right yeah that that lady right there and I did that we did that yeah so it's
not you know and it's Cholula hot sauce so we had a few of those moments because
it's it's so close to Milwaukee that uh you know it's it's recognizable so that was kind of interesting talking to
people about it it is I always think it's weird when people come by and they they see you I've got a gallery that
represents me in Chicago and they'll see me at Old Town and they'll be like um and they're a media go-to is that I'm
ripping off the artist that is you know that they saw in the gallery when I am like no that's that's me like that's
isn't that funny they never even consider that they're meeting the artist of the work that they the first go-to is
that it's a rip-off right you're an outdoor artist and this
was indoors this was fancy and you're not you know this is you're bad this is
yeah it's funny which way uh you know the direction that folks go to yeah I think it's I don't know that that's
their first instinct anyway so hey I feel like I need to bring something up
will I I feel like you know you have been such an incredible sport for the
last few years that we've been doing this because I recognize that being a glassblower there are plenty of words we
use news that have like this this kind of like double meaning and it's just
such a natural thing for me to say and you have never well you've given me the
look like oh come on Douglas so like when I say I'm gonna go out and blow you give me that look like uh
I honestly I don't like repetition and I feel like uh it's such an easy
low-hanging fruit um but I will admit to the fact that uh
like my wife will ask me are you recording and I'll I'll just say uh no Douglas is blowing and then she'll just
then then we have a laugh about it but it's not I imagine that like you know like Gregory stories balls and your uh
constant blowing um it's just such low hanging fruit that I can't imagine that that's something
that you're not it's just sick to freaking death I try not to actually use
the name of the reheating chamber in our studio that is called a glory hole just
because of that same reason people look at us and go the what did what did you
just call that thing let's see yeah hey this is an interesting story uh years and years ago and Friends of uh yes I
have a glory hole Segway okay speaking of glory holes speaking of low-hanging
fruit um we've got uh so I years and years ago I was was honored enough to have been
invited to go to Chris Bruno's wedding and uh he uh there it was in a in a
state park and in the state park and and everybody's getting you know people were getting changed and and whatnot in in
the restroom I was like that's the first time I've seen a a real live glory hole look like a squirrel nod through the
wall but uh I was like well that's that's not anything I want to put anything in that's not no that's not
nice anyway that's that's a it's a leap of faith that isn't it isn't that something anyway anyway uh you're right
there are so many moments in this podcast where I I get into my um that's what she said and I don't hit it but
thank you for for uh acknowledging me because it is a it is a it's hard it's a Temptation it's it's a
low-hanging fruit as you said and you are very intellectual in your humor
oh yeah definitely I just I keep it super high bro everybody knows that
oh man that's hilarious well you know what speaking of uh hilarious and and uh
good conversation I always enjoy talking to you sir but I think it's time to let the folks hear the zachmans we've got
Jeff and CJ zachman here on the show this week and couldn't be more happy to to sit down and get the uh the ins and
outs of a father-son relationship that are on the road it's it's pretty fascinating to to hear the the
friendship that those two guys have I I probably don't even need to say this up front but listen for those moments where
they finish each other's sentences or they like they like try and jump to the punch line so it's kind of a little
competitive who wants to be the one to finish the story so Not only was this just like to hear their experiences but
it was so fun to see their relationship through what they didn't say or how they acted you know great Point yeah great
Point really really fun show all right here we go hope you all enjoy the talk this episode of The Independent artist
podcast is brought to you by zap the digital application service where artists and art festivals connect well
sometimes I'm in a real hurry and I just love that I have things that are saved in Zapped to streamline my process to
that end Douglas one of my tricks with zap is to favorite all the shows that I'm even remotely considering that way I
can filter them all and then look at all the deadlines at once but then there's other times when I have a little more
time on my hands and I'm looking into other shows and I want to get to know about the show and all the information
is right there in the prospectus with links to the website I can see who the artists are that have participated in
the past you know that's a great idea Douglas because one of the ways that I was finding shows at the very beginning
was to go online and see who I felt my work looked good with it's just great
that all that information is organized and easy to look over when planning our
next show season all right thanks you guys here I am I'm with uh the zachmans I'm with Father
Jeff zachman and his son Carl zachman straight out of Fergus Falls Minnesota
both kinetic sculpture artist thanks you guys for joining me today well thanks for having me thanks for having us yeah
look at that in Stereo the two of you this is probably going to be a challenge
for you to edit with two people coming at you I haven't had a three-way conversation in a while my first one
that I did was our first season with Mickey Cunningham and her daughter Reiko oh that's right Reiko you could tell and
Mickey had the absolute worst Wi-Fi connection of all time and she kept
getting kicked off of the the call so I had to piece together all these sections
to make it into a coherent conversation so anyway how are you guys doing what have you been up to these days oh we're
um kind of gearing up for Cherry Creek right now just trying to Cherry Creek and the fall beyond that I've got a
heavy season coming up I got a bit of a lighter season I I had a really heavy spring I ended up going from Fort Worth
to Jazz Fest to Reston with a week in between every single trip so those are
biggies yeah they were I typically see you at the same events but do you always
travel together go to the same shows or do you have completely separate schedules we have separate schedules but
we end up overlapping a lot just because there are only so many of the A-list
shows that we both want to do when we're both in then it cuts our expenses because we can usually all fit in one
vehicle take a trailer if need be and share hotels and it's always nice to have somebody to drive with otherwise
been a Brand by ourselves and that gets boring it really does so it isn't like
you rely on having the same schedule if one of you gets into a show it's not
like you guys say off we're not both in it we're not doing it you're very independent on your own kind of career
path yeah yeah like this year he got into Fort Worth and and I decided I'm
not going to do that show again until they change their policy and let me in yeah that's it every once in a while we
get juried out right right I think you've had quite the run there Jeff at Fort Worth yeah yeah last year it really
has absolutely over the top record show for me and this year I didn't get in it was like ah it's the way this business
Works isn't it is wow I am in more often than not I get in more than my share so
I'm not going to Grumble about it well Carl you've been working on a project you were telling me about can you can
you tell us about that well yeah so I in my off time with my
um influences and all the historic type of stuff I put in my art I spend a lot of time at uh steam threshing shows and
things like that where they're running old construction equipment and vintage steam engines and stuff and uh family
reached out to me a couple years ago and wanted a scale model working water tender wagon to go behind
their scale model steam engine about half scale so I've spent two years in
planning and sourcing and last year I built the thing and now I am in the with
the gap between show is able to work in the Wood Finishing and all the powder coating and lettering and graphics and
everything wow and is it like to scale sort of thing or is it yeah yep it's fully working I found Originals out in
South Dakota that I measured and photographed and documented one of the
gentlemen that I helped with he has I think 12 working steam engines and six
water wagons and wow his son reconstructed the largest working steam
engine tractor ever made resurrected it so I was able to go out to the family and they let me take measurements and
carte blanche of everything and documented other ones I found around it and
vintage catalogs and have recreated everything to about 95 percent accurate I I didn't put in the like 600 rivets in
the water tank okay I opted for one made out of a Freightliner diesel tank that I
cut up and remanufactured okay and this is all from your own own design I mean
this isn't uh this isn't like a refurbishing of something this is you creating it from you know from scratch
totally from scratch because it's a a working model so it's it's 61 percent of
full and the size is based off the size of the the tank I had and the wheels that I got and salvaged and then
um just to prove I could I decided to make the cast iron water pump that goes on it from scratch scratch built from
all the parts uh pretty much laying around the studio I just had all the materials and and re-cut up stuff and
welded it all together and I uh became part owner of a small Foundry set up a
couple years ago so I'll be casting all the brass ends with the logo in it and everything so how did this project come
to you the family just reached out and said hey you're a welder you do metal work you do
you know you've helped operate this engine at the the shows and things like
that and we need this water wagon this tender to go behind it the the scale models burn through water a lot faster
than the bigger ones so when you're in a parade and stuff you need to have the extra water and the extra wood
so I they they just wanted a working wagon that was close but I jumped all in
because I could yeah well that's that's really interesting when those kinds of things come our way I mean a lot of
times we we get them from the shows you know people have these very unique projects that they present us with
um I mean Jeff you've had that that experience with all your years on the road right yeah talk about some of your
projects that you've done but then on the other side you do get like I was in Portland one guy at one time and a guy
came on to say you're just the guy I'm looking for I invented a left-handed back scratcher because all the back
scratchers are right-handed you're the guy that could make them for me and then you have to find somehow to get out of
that conversation and find something to do on the other side of the booth so you get all kinds of that stuff believe me I
have plenty of folks who are bringing their light fixture Penance at the art show walking in the booth asking if we
could somehow make them a replacement you know like we're Home Depot or something like that or a lighting store
and we're like uh next right right and and I'll I'm willing to
pay up to 25 for that oh my God that is a tempting offer yeah
the project that had the longest recap for custom was that was that 22 foot
piece we did for that Las Vegas candy store oh they needed this giant gumball machine for the entrance and Vegas has
is the second hardest City to build an after New York because of the regulations you only can have so many a
percentage of your facade can be plastic so they couldn't make the globe of the gumball machine in plastic so this
architect remembered seeing dad at Fort Worth years before and he went through all of his cell phone photos until he
found the business card wow so that was a custom thing that because typically
your pieces are flat you're the kinetic sculptor who does the balls the balls
that go through the maze up and down but it's vertical this was more in a spherical shape three-dimensional right
right yeah and it also had a lot of problems and it was outdoors in Las Vegas yeah it was a collaboration too
yeah okay I usually do pretty thin solid gears but for this I ended up doing four foot six inches deep Hollow tins that
all spun in Hydraulics and everything cool yeah it was a real mind-bending
project and because the permitting kept getting delayed but the deadline didn't
we actually end up building this massive sculpture in just a month and a half something like that really just lived
and it was yeah well it was really frustrating it's really fun to look back on it oh I had a blast that we did this
yeah I had a blast it wasn't that frustrating but the weird thing was is that they would come up we would just
we'd think and be like well we can't do this we don't know how we're going to make it work and just as we were going to back out we would go hey we can do
this like the Hydraulics for making it run slow and being you know sealed from
dirt and stuff yeah and then the next day they would be like well we need to know this specific and it was the one we
had figured out the day before that happened like three or four times Yeah Carl it really seems like from getting to know you that that you're that
problem solver you're that kind of the engineer you know like you can solve those problems and you make those things
happen Yeah Yeah Carl is a really good engineer I'm a
pretty good engineer but Carl's a really good engineer and I don't think he even realizes how good of an engineer he is
he doesn't have the engineering background I mean he went to school for a little while for engineering and then
went off into other things but he just thinks that archeology art and Archeology okay yep I have a master's
degree that influences my art well Jeff I know from watching something that you
had a video that you have online you were talking about how you can change and adapt your sculptures either from
the engineer point of view where you can measure the velocity of the of the drop and the slope and this and that for the
distance of the ball or you can just do the trial and error thing and you can move this you know I mean you can move
the basket to where it needs to be I didn't realize that one was online but
it's usually a line I give customers I get the same few questions over and over
and over again one of of the questions I get all the time is a lot of times my sculptures will have a jump in it and
people are like how in the world do you get to go in that same spot all the time so the the line that they give them and
then do it all the time it just depends on the right person because sure I want to make sure they're having a good time and I'm not like making fun of them or
something right right right but I'll tell them well there's two ways to do it one way is you can figure out the mass
of the ball the slope of the track the distance of the track that matters the speed of the track and then graphing all
those together it can tell you the trajectory on where it's going to be and then you know figure it out that way or
you can just make the jump roll the ball down wherever it lands it goes in make the battery you know and that's what I
and you make adjustments and modifications yeah and then I do it that way oh oh oh and I probably get that
question oh I better get it 50 times a day when a mess I I get like I said I
get the same questions over and over the question I get the most and it's it's funny because it's the question most
artists hate how long does it take you to make these right and I'll tell you
they aren't asking a role in his eyes they're not asking what you think they're asking oh they're not asking
could do our hourly wage they're not trying to calculate that no not at all okay I mean I literally will get this
questions and this is no kidding a hundred times a day okay people will ask me that and the first couple of years I
was being Coy with it and things like that and then I thought what the hell so I tell them you know it's anything from
a few days to a few weeks to get these done and again two answers to that one
of them is that quick and the other one is oh I can imagine
because they're focusing on one end or the other and they're actually
trying to build that story about you in their head to make you even better so
when they figure out I'm doing it really fast they're not saying oh he's ripping me off they're thinking oh he's really
good that's an interesting take I've never even considered yeah it's about you know the faster you do your craft
you know the better you get at it and the better you get the faster you get practice makes perfect true well glass
blowers are notorious they'll say how long did it take to make that piece an hour like an hour and they look at you
like like you said they're you're ripping them off or at least that's my interpretation of ripping them off but
you know standing an hour to an hour and a half in front of those hot ovens you can't set it down you can't answer the
phone you can't it's not like painting where you're building up layers over time it's it's a totally different Beast
a different animal and if they don't understand your medium it does kind of feel like you have to give the well it
took me 30 years to get to this point and that's what I was gonna say it's it doesn't include the years of perfecting
the craft I mean I've seen your work Doug it's gorgeous I've also seen my dad's College glass work it's not
you did you did glass work Jeff oh not very long at all okay I went to Moorhead
State University in Minnesota here and the ceramic Professor set up a glass studio okay and I still think he didn't
really know what he was doing because it was it was rough and nobody was turning out anything rustic is what they thought
it was it was like a year of a brand new glass furnace and equipment that we
built and it was everybody making Birds it was pretty pitiful yeah okay yeah
well uh one thing I have to say Jeff about your sculptures and the way the
balls moved through the course and through the tracks it's like an add person's dream come true because they
can they can completely shut out the whole world and just follow the track of
what's happening and it's like everything else just gets filtered away doesn't it yeah that's exactly it and he
actually had an ADHD pharmaceutical company commission a trade show piece that Illustrated that exact point really
yeah tell me about that um This was oh probably 15 years ago
um this company called me up and said we're making this piece for this pharmaceutical we wanted to demonstrate
how the add Med works so the top of the sculpture the sculpture was
12 or 13 feet high it was pretty big and kind of an hourglass shape and the top
of it was just wild things going Every Which Way chaotic chaotic and the bottom part was just a smooth track that just
went round and round and round and actually when I when they asked about it I said yeah I can I can do that for you
and I was building I thought man this is the bottom is actually going to look really boring but when the thing was
running with a lot of balls it worked really good the bottom just the the smooth running just calmed you down from
looking at the top that was chaotic it worked better than I thought it would it was kind of amazing it's interesting how
sometimes those commissions or those those requests can send us in a direction we would have never thought to
go oh yeah yeah but all the time so like the biggest piece that Carl was talking
about we had to um do so many things out of our comfort zone that we had to figure it out and it
was structural steel so the way it was done is um because of the globe shape of the
sculpture dad's tracks were the shape and I had to mount all the gears in this
sphere inside so it took weeks and months of figuring how to do it and
drawing and sketching and what I ended up coming up with is that we had giant
angle iron pillars and then zigzagged it like you know old uh steel work is riveted together which gave us a support
to Branch all the supports off of that we needed and we were originally going to weld the whole thing but Vegas said
we couldn't because we didn't have welding certificates to prove that we were structural welders so we ended up
bolting everything together and that worked out better in the long run because we could disassemble it for Powder Coating and reassemble it and we
could you know tweak a little piece rather than cutting parts off and re-welding whole components well Carl I
I think about that aspect with you is you are like a problem solver you mean
part of part of your artwork is also like how can I solve that problem yeah yep I love kind of deconstructing things
I still take stuff apart in the studio and perpetually for um and just to see how things work yeah
I I have a son like that too every I mean
would you like me to adopt you Carl come to the studio and see the piles of
things taken apart Michael wait wait a minute yeah yeah but it's really really nice working with
Carl in the studio because we do think a lot alike you know previously you know
I'd make something you know I'd have a the new motor mount that it came up with a self-tensioning I could take home to
my wife oh look I made this new motor mount the self tensions and my wife would go oh that's nice
but Carl you know he looks at and goes oh cool but maybe if you did this it might work a little better with that and
it's it's so cool to be able to bounce ideas off him like that we kind of have this this David Letterman game of cooler
lame we find that the the barrier between cool and lame is like a Razor's Edge so you explain something and you
have this idea and the spark and you're like is this cool or is this lame and sometimes it's right on the edge and you
kind of have to make it to figure out well who's the Arbiter of of if it's cool or lame is it does it bounce back
and forth between the two of you or I mean is there ever usually when the question is asked we're questioning
ourselves so the other person is kind of the the judge or suggests you know
tweaks to throw it over the fence into cool okay Carl you grew up in this
business you you went to shows with your dad I mean this this oh yeah this business is like it's in you not just
DNA wise but actual like nature and nurturer I mean talk about that
experience I I remember going to um Park point in Duluth and camping
overnight because we didn't have hotels I remember staying in 50 motel sixes
forty dollars no no no no Carl no there was a long time I wouldn't pay 50 for a
hotel yeah that's right um and you know land of the Loon uh I
think I as a as a was how old was I when I almost got killed by a bus in uptown oh yeah you were probably about six yeah
yeah are you guys on Hannah pin and it rounded the corner well actually it wasn't he remembers this Uptown it was
actually the aquatennial show which oh because as a Potter I would take on any show I could get and he stepped off the
curb and my booth was on the curb and a bus just narrowing missed him it was like
yeah that's scary I I remember uh going to uh was it Powderhorn Park and like
you know sleeping under the blue tent with the bungee cords you know yeah under the Target because it was all the
Overstock so rustic was your upbringing yep I was a feral child I was I was I
was told it's like all right we're here you know yeah check back like there wasn't I didn't have a watch it's just
checked back and you know all the artists around like you can spot an art
show kid yeah a mile away you know yeah and they're just kind of doing their own thing and you just know that he belongs
to that Booth or over there you don't know his name or maybe even his parents name and the weird irony here is that
the very first show I did was um you're saying that you exhibited your
workout yep the very first show I did was uh Howard Allen in the Kansas City Light and Power District okay and just
across from me in a couple boots down was a younger artist and his wife and
his son was the the quintessential age I remember of like four to six at an art
show and he was he was just me he was you know everything he was doing and how he was running around the art show it
was exactly like I remember growing up and so that is it a weird experience to
to see yourself in that you know what I mean from a different vantage point just to kind of know what that kid is going
through it really is it actually took me into college to realize
or you know maybe started in high school but definitely cemented in college just how different my life was yeah um you
know I grew up as an Art Carney and not the guy from The Honeymooners um in that I got taken out of school a
lot to travel my teachers were very supportive of you know as long as I got the homework done yeah go to DC go to
Florida go to Phoenix go to you know there's an aspect of learning that
happens on the road that you just can't get in a classroom so I mean it is cool that when schools allow that for their
kids we would hit up museums and things like that while we were out and was in
high school and college I started realizing just how truly unique my upbringing was our daughter has has
recently communicated that back to us uh she's 26 and she's Masters in Psychology
and you know she's done a lot of introspection on her life and she's like I really didn't really lies exactly what
you're saying I really didn't realize in the moment that people didn't experience
the kind of upbringing that she did that yeah you know she expected her friends to kind of you know to kind of have the
same reality but they just didn't there's a type of introspection that's needed and you know as growing up your
world is your world you think everybody's like that you think everybody thinks like you you know Dad
and I thinking alike is something that I've only found one or two other people than him that has even remotely come
close to thinking like me and you know growing up I thought everybody did was
that always a smooth kind of interaction or if you guys thought alike was there budding of heads in those informative
years well the way I think of it is uh Carl is very opinionated and I'm right so okay
kind of like the Orange County Choppers guys okay but our arguments aren't as bad and we don't throw chairs yeah
[Laughter] so if you're always uh right Jeff I mean
how does that present itself I mean are there usually with him being wrong
I mean do you just throw your arms up Carl and kind of say okay I mean whatever I'm not gonna win this fight or that's what happened over covet I
finally learned that okay well it's working in the same Studio it's there's
kind of lines that I have to try and follow in my head whether I'm being a dad or a teacher
yeah a know-it-all and sometimes the dad thing gets in the way of the teacher
uh so yeah I have to sometimes I just have to back off and say okay he's doing it his way
let it go it's it's a lesson for me as well trying to figure out how to do that
I'm 53 and I'm in that that spot in life where you know for a number of years my
dad and I have been on this kind of level where we're kind of more peers
than father son you know what I mean and my son is in his 20s and I'm kind of seeing myself kind of shift into that
role too I still feel like I'm the dad of course but there does come that
leveling off period where okay Carl is you said you're 41 right you're an adult
you've had life experiences and there can be things that you bring to the conversation where you might be right
over what maybe your dad might think well and the thing is is it doesn't matter how old I am I will always be
blamed as the son for misplacing the drill bit or not putting the screwdriver away even though he has gotten
progressively older over the years and his memory isn't as sharp I've noticed that we've switched and who's not
putting stuff away and now here's the kicker my son who is eight and my nephew who's five come and visit and they just
move everything and are they as creative as you guys I mean are they kind of are they playing with things making things
without materials they've discovered the miracle of hot glue yeah we have things hot glued together that you cannot
imagine zombie weapons and sculptures and so
this inner generation additional thing it sounds like it's gonna it's gonna keep on going for a while it's not just
gonna end with the two of you yeah Carl's son James he's a very creative kid he lives outside of town you're not
in town here he's about an hour away so he doesn't get as much studio time Evander the um my daughter's son she's
actually adopted he's not actually a genetic kid but he is incredibly
talented artistic wife and he spends a lot of time in the studio and they're just goofing around and I was kind of
raised that way my dad was actually a diesel mechanic and he let us use tools and stuff and for the life of me I'm not
sure why he did because he lost a lot of duels over the years just in the backyard somewhere not me
yeah yeah but um so I try and just let him go I mean I keep an eye on them so
they're not using you know radial arm saws and things like that yeah yeah you know give him a hot glue gun and be like
oh my gosh they could get burned well yeah you could and he did and he won't anymore so the irony is is that he lets
them get away with things I would have been murdered for okay well that is kind of the nature of the Beast the
grandchild does get away with things that the kid doesn't I mean yeah is always fully stocked yeah so in fact
artists if the snacks are for the studio they are a business expense true story
um I mean do you guys remember the muns uh Vicki and Lance Munn from years ago furniture makers from Indiana because
Lance made wine shelves Vicky was adamant about the fact that
she was the the business side of their their business that the wine could be a tax write-off deduction because they
made wine shelves and they needed the wine right in the booth to show the wine shelf so perfect I mean you can't have
old crusty labels so you got to get new ones that's right yeah you'd have to dispose of the wine somehow yeah I think
I could see that yeah yeah hey Dad we should start making wine racks yeah I know
you could make something Carl that really cool to pour a shot of whiskey maybe that'd be better have you seen
that there is one of those that does a bottle of wine like you you pull a lever and it uncorks
pores and puts back in one go oh cool really uh a sculpture artist does this
is this what you're talking about or just just a YouTube I don't know if it was an engineer or an artist but it was
beautifully done in like stainless steel and Brass well let's talk a little bit about like the different generation I
mean you guys have acknowledged that you have these similarities about how you think and that sort of thing but how is
it kind of a a different flare in the sense of you know being at different times in history different things in our
lives that influence our upbringing and that sort of thing well it's been
interesting watching it from when I was a kid because as you know I've only been doing shows
now for 12 years which isn't that long not compared to Dad but I still remember
you know emptying the dining room and taking art off the wall so that we could project slides on the white wall so he
could figure out slides for shows and things like that right um the old process like that and
um things I've noticed about as far as time going on is just how the weather and climate change have affected shows
more and I don't know if that's necessarily in my head or it's social media with things like the independent
artist podcasts and Facebook and all that kind of stuff because as a kid growing up I remember one show
that was a catastrophic storm that just left Easy Ups like in the wake after
everybody was done you have a poor memory Carl I just remember that that one show in
particular but what I mean though is that I remember big storms but the kind that just destroy tents and booths I
only remember one or two but now with social media I see them a lot more true
but I also seems like I'm getting more rain you know and more high heat than when I was a kid right I mean does this
this model of doing shows you know this has been like kind of your your dad's
sole way of meeting collectors and having his work go into people's homes
but now with the internet and social media and all that kind of stuff do you feel like you have other options Carl
for how you can connect with collectors to do your to sell your work no actually
I I don't shows I think are still kind of the best venue for that
um I have you know talking to patrons at art shows and things I explain it in
that you know an Arts Festival is kind of like a museum but ever everybody's
still alive it's all for sale right whereas a gallery you get to buy the art but you don't get to take a piece of the
artist home I mean when I look at my walls and see the artwork I've purchased at Arts festivals or from friends or
traded for you know I'm bringing a piece of that artist home with me and the story and their personality and talking
to them and I think that's a substantial part of of the art experience you know whereas you go to a gallery you're
interacting with somebody who third person who's explaining what you mean Carl and I also are very fortunate in
that we don't have a much competition for what we do um I mean there's not someone else on
the art for circuit at all that does things with rolling balls or making gears and things like that
um so when people need to buy it they come to us I mean there's kinetic work out there
but it's of a different completely different and it's a handful it's definitely not like right you're
competing against uh 150 or 200 other painters right for without one of 12
spots in a show yeah and and we everything we make generally sells it
shows um so we haven't needed to follow galleries I've done a couple of galleries over the years for short
periods of time and it always has to be more of a headache than anything trying
to supply a gallery while their show busy show season was my busy show season and I couldn't keep them supplied when
they needed it and even if I could I'd be getting 50 percent of what I could at the show so it's like you're cutting
yourself off at the knees at that point yeah wow and just growing up in this business has been really interesting
because you know dad started doing functional Pottery it was place settings and coffee mugs so you know I've seen
both ends of the spectrum from small local shows up to the the A-list shows
and production stuff where you're competing against everybody else with a coffee mug you know Dad's way of giving
him a raise wasn't that he could raise the prices for a coffee mug is that he had to make more coffee mugs per hour
that's a grind that is impossible to to feel fulfilled it's like being on that
treadmill that we all complain about yeah well do you even timed it how long did it take you to make a mug or a bowl
what was it down to well from manufacturing to out of the Kiln um three minutes for each mug it came down
to it you just kept finding ways to do it quicker but like I said it eventually sucks your soul out and I wasn't able to
throw a different shaped mug not without a lot of work and it's one of the reasons that I made the jump and when I
started doing the sculptures I thought I could go two different ways with this I could make something and get really good
at it and make it faster again with these sculptures or I can make everyone one of a kind and I chose the latter
just because it wasn't sucking my soul out it's been a lot more fun and your wife told you to do it that way remember
I mean yeah yeah she said look uh you're making all these pieces for fun there's
a market for this why don't you get out there and sell it yeah he did that with Pottery too though okay is there was a
time period when I was in junior high I think it was early Junior High where he
was doing Raku pottery and everything was one of a kind yeah I mean in the my
short Raku life actually went really well it sold really well but people
would order a piece and it was fragile and it was really fragile and it'd break and they'd say
Okay I want one just like it and it's like can't do that that ain't happening yeah and I finally I'm so tired of
shipping things out and sitting with a lump in my stomach until I heard it made it but I can't do this anymore so I gave
that up Jeff your booth it's a spectacle do you ever run into the challenge that
your neighbor at the show looks at you and says oh I'm next to this guy yeah and it's it's something that I'm I'm
trying to be very conscious of I try and be the best neighbor I can be I I set up
my booth so people aren't standing in front of other people's booths you try to always ask for a corner if possible
that way you have one neighbor instead of wedging between you know two booths yeah and that way I can direct people
into the opening rather than because it is it's kind of a mad house one time I was at Fort Worth and Chris
dahlquist photographer was sitting up next to me and and she she told me this the next day that she said she saw me
unpacking like oh my gosh I'm next to that marble guy oh and she came over to
me after the first D and said you know I was really worried about this but this has been great you suck up all the
children and the stupid people stupid people yeah and and I do it it's
just one of the services I provide she said that weekend was really packed and
her friends were in other booths were having people knock things over and that she couldn't talk to people because you
get the oh gosh you make these pictures kind of people in and she said I got to
talk to real customers and I didn't have any damage because the stupid people and
the kids would just see your booth and go over there and then it would lead me to be really nice but as kind of like a
side benefit for you I know that you're really intrigued by people I mean you
like to study people and their personality quirks kind of they Delight
you I mean you tell plenty of stories about you encounter with people in your booth I mean it true is your work is is
a good segue for that people watching oh it's it's amazing uh and it's one of the
reasons I will always do shows um when people see my booth they think oh my gosh how can you take this and
it's a blast if you let it be a blast I have to sit in my chair at the booth
because people can't find me because I will generally have 10 to 20 people in my booth all the time so they don't know
who the artist is in fact I've been working on a sculpture with the players and some guy behind me says are you supposed to be doing that
because he just assumed I was some guy in the crowd look like you're damaging the artist or something
yeah yeah but it's um I love seeing how people's minds work
and it took me a while in making what I do to actually realize why I do what I
do I'm really interested in systems and it's not just mechanical systems it's
the systems and how people think and how they act and my sculptures have a way of
disarming people and the real them come out and things just fall out of their mouths sometimes
which is I find absolutely hilarious because a lot of times it's not until after they've walked away that I
realized what they said and it's like what like maybe it might be something that could be taken offensively or taken
the wrong way but they just they just almost like a kid they are filterless it just whatever they see comes out of
their mouth exactly exactly yeah that that is that is it and I never really have any negative things
that people mean every now and then but you know that's not my buyer I don't
care and they've got other problems if they can't just come to a show and just have fun well I had the pleasure of
being Carl's neighbor Carl at that jazz fest we were next to each other and your collector has I think almost a different
kind of intent or reaction to your work it's a little more thought-provoking would you say it's yeah yeah dance is
more active mine's more passive the one problem we have I have had is that with his being so active I have a harder time
getting customers over the threshold to open their wallets dads is more active
and engaging so there's more adrenaline more excitement in the purchasing where
mine you know you have to get closer and study the movement and how things are laid out and done so I have a harder
time making sales your work has an intellectual quality to it I'm thinking
like the piece of where it was and this might have been from a long time ago this wasn't at the last show but it was
the the speed sign that has a cut out and it has tears moving and then you've
got the car and the houses there it's like basically like you're on this treadmill traveling around across
country and you watch the motion and you can really feel the repetitiveness and it makes you go internal and then like
with Jeff the ball goes down you're like is it going to make the jump oh it made the jump and it's spinning here and it's
down and it's up and oh and it's doing that you know what I mean there's like this element of surprise with with what
you're doing Jeff yeah and then that that's really in a nutshell of the difference in our work once we did
um the sculpture show in Loveland Colorado okay and the way the tent was
done is um you know it's a sculpture show so everybody has pedestals except for Dad and I we have walls wall
sculpture yeah so the way the tent was done is it had 10 foot booths in the
middle and 10 foot booze on the the walls so you know we had to fill us both
directions so we each got a 10 by 10 and then we split it and made it into a five
by Twenty so he faced one aisle and I faced the other and there was one 10 by
10 on the end of the row next to us so they would go down the entire length of the show see my dad's marble work go to
the booth next to us around the corner and see my work and they thought mine
was the back side of his sculpture making them work oh my week it's like looking inside the brain the inner Gears
of the brain yeah and then for the life of me I don't know how they figured I was gonna get in their walls and put
Carl's thing inside the wall or make myself the fact that the wall was a one pro panel thick
you know because we had a whole store room in there yeah those those are the kind of goofy things we run into all the time yeah but do you do you I mean other
other than that do you have any other experiences maybe like well people will confuse you know they'd see the last
name they see kinetic sculpture but then they expect all the time it to be one or the other and it's yeah that happens all
the time I get people who come to my booth and say oh I saw your work last year Well I wasn't there last year or
you know oh your work's changed um or I get a lot of people looking at a
business card and looking at my sign and looking at a business card and looking at my sign like all kinds of that stuff
we find that we can't be next to each other at a show because they think we're the same artist we have to have
distance as the patrons go so like Fort Worth we can be back to back but we
can't be next to each other you know they have to be able to go down one block and up the other or around the
corner or something just enough so they can get a lot of oh I was just down at your brother's Booth I'm like whoa
thanks for that although a jazz fest one person did come up and say I was just at your grandson's Booth it's like oh
ouch oh I'm never gonna let you forget that one yeah
um so we've talked about how you know you guys find yourself having a lot of things in common what are some of the
major differences between Father and Son that you know that are are quite
different in your personality well I'm better looking [Laughter]
it doesn't really matter to me anymore it never mattered to you you're past a certain point and you're like who cares
I've heard the expression um Beauty Fades but stupid is forever is
that right yeah yeah I'm not saying in your case Carol that's
that there's no stupidity there but no [Laughter]
no for is mine is more intuitive each piece is individual and I just build it
it would actually be harder to duplicate them and his are much more thought out each
part has to be figured out with gear ratios clearances
um it's harder to build it organically yeah you know that's one thing I Renee
and I were talking about this after the show Carl you know we spent a long weekend with you and admiring your work
and my first impression was that your pieces were organic that the gears were
found objects that you pieced together and Renee said to me no no no no those
those are all designed and he laser Cuts them and and different sizes and this
and that so yeah talk on that the amount of planning and the construction that goes into your piece I got my first
truck at 16 and that was about the time that dad started incorporating some of
the found metal colored panels into his art and stuff so we frequented the scrap yard and I started bringing stuff home
pulleys and gears and things like that and I'll be honest he yelled at me for bringing a lot of stuff home but he
never yelled at me for bringing those things home and the line is retaining all in the in the garden outside our old
Studio by his house yeah and it's a lot of the influence for the patterns and things like that and the steam shows I
go to and the problem is is that anything I find you know it's going to be two inches of
cast iron it's gonna be really heavy and something coming out of a transmission of a combine isn't going to work with
something out of a printing press they all have different teeth and different sizes and they're you know as far as I'm
concerned one of a kind you know a 1920 printing press That's being scrapped at
our scrap yard I'm never going to see that part again and to get into something like a tractor
or a combine that's a lot of work to pull apart transmissions and differentials and you know big Rusty
heavy stuff so with my master's degree in historical archeology I knew my way
around uh archives and libraries in digital uh documents so I followed the
train of thought and Manufacturing backwards so a company that has a gear
or a pulley or something with that with the design you know they're getting it from a machinist who is getting it from
a Foundry who gets it from a pattern maker who gets it from a draftsman so I
followed the train back until I found all the old drafting manuals for how this equipment was drawn and that's how
I learned to do the the teeth shapes and I learned how to do the spoke patterns
and all the spokes are shaped for different reasons it took older in the old times it took better foundries to
make straight spokes than curved Spokes and some were decorative because they were on things that were seen like
coffee grinders at General stores and that kind of stuff so then you could
adjust the scale so you can go off the design of what was actual and and real
and model it after that but then adjust the scale to what you want it to be in your pieces exactly by making them
myself I'm able to do the size I can do the spoke pattern I can do the number of
spokes I can scale it up or down I can flip patterns left and right I'm not
solely limited by what I have it takes a fair amount of time to lay out a new
gear design or pattern but then it's like having a photograph negative you know I can I can make another copy and
early on my sculptures all the gears were one one piece it was a layer and then I realized that if I stack two
layers I could make the relief that they saw in the casting process so everybody
thinks that they're all old and it's actually one of the things I fight is because I think a lot of people just write off that I'm just throwing old
things together right like it's kind of accidental or random that physical there
is a lot of design and planning involved in in executing up the work yeah and
when I first started I was using a lot of found metal um in my backgrounds like Dad does and
my first my first year or two out like they looked a lot like his as far as the
the structure and the shapes and the colors in the backgrounds with his backgrounds and I kept getting more
solid and it was harder to get bigger pieces and I had a couple pieces that kind of came out like a patchwork quilt
with all these colors you know riveted and fastened together and it was really
chaotic and I saw I had been toying around with another idea of adding vintage Graphics so that's when I
started doing um my new work that's the the newer style that has the graphics and the
patinas and things like that and finding the graphics to go with the sculpture is actually the hardest part for me because
I can't just throw in any old picture or any old drawing it has to be something
that ties into the piece something you said back a little bit there that sparked something in me is how did you
develop both your personality and your direction as an artist out from under
this big presence of your father yeah um it's something I still actually struggle with I mean the way I came up
with my art is I was accepted to a PhD program and the downturn of 08 had happened and
I didn't want to go take on seven more years of debt to not know what was going to happen or what I would have for an
academic job and things like that and so I chose to go into the family business of being an artist
um when I switched from art to anthropology and Archeology it was actually my dad who you know I couldn't
decide between the two I loved both of them and he said do the archeology you can always do the art so
he was right and I came back to that but I didn't know what my body of work would look like you know I I chose not to go
into the rolling ball stuff because I didn't want to split the kitty if you will that was his thing yeah but just to
see like well what's me and uh just a side comment he's like you know you can
make art out of gears and it was like bam that was it so I still struggle with
that I still think that like if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have a clue what my artwork would be well I think about being a dad to kids and being an
artist one of the things I've always wanted to give them is the space to be
creative the space to be who they are as artists we are such a unique group that
we're not so rigid about societal Norms or like what is expected of people and
so I felt like that was something I had an intention on on my kids did you feel like that you got that also from your
dad that he gave you this space to be creative the space to be yourself I always had room to be creative I mean I
never thought about being creative it just happened I just I drew I just did this I just thought about that it was
nice not to have any of those kind of limits but with that it's also you know
how do you express that how do you hone it how do you focus it and that sort of thing that's something I still struggle
with is I still try figuring out like you know what direction to take things you know when my early work looked a lot
like his in some of the compositions and colors it's because we liked the same shapes we liked the
same colors it wasn't until you know my work was changing into what you see now
that I was able to look back and go oh I definitely see those influences and and Jeff how about you from that other
vantage point of you know watching your son step into this field step into this
role and now you kind of have this this pure relationship talk about that whole
experience yeah I mean it's it's been really interesting to watch over the
years you know like Carl started out like when he was just a little kid our pottery that we had was in the basement
of our house so I just really remarkable castles and dragons and yeah it was
really remarkable having a studio in the house and then he could just go downstairs and make something out of
clay and he did you know the downside is most parents have a little portfolio of
pictures their kid took we got boxes of stuffers that's made because it was three three-dimensional right but as a
adult and having your son working in it being an art fair artist has amazing
advantages it really does yeah it does have down times and tough times because
it's just an unpredictability and all that kind of stuff right right and you never know if that next show is going to
be fabulous or it's going to be rained out we were just at both of our just at Reston a
couple weeks ago and it was awful the show was awful for everybody that I talked to and it was mainly because of
the debt ceiling it was coming up and nobody knew where that was going to go
and um yeah artists are held hostage to that stuff and you don't always know ahead of time what's going to happen
we're kind of the front lines in that regard right what I always thought is you know people have to be feeling good
to buy art yeah and if they're nervous they're not going to buy art so Jeff when you encouraged him to to pursue the
anthropology when he was kind of like should I do art should I do anthropology was part of you kind of feeling like
well I'd be really a proud dad if he followed in my footsteps but maybe I should push him to the other love to see
if he comes back to it if that's really where he he naturally gravitates well I think you know I didn't even
think about it that way I thought it more about him finding his his way
period um archeology was him oh my gosh that he yeah doing
digs and examining artifacts and all it still happens all the time with
him even unofficially I mean he's always looking at the ground and if there's a
square nail someplace he's he's got it and it's in a box at home now it's like he found a treasure or something yeah
because they're artifacts of some kind um and unfortunately it doesn't pay very
well and you know after he had his Masters and he had accepted the PHD
program you know he just really looked at it analytically which I was quite proud of
him to do and say you know this is seven more years and
if I get out if I can even find a job it's not going to pay anything so that's when he you know he said oh I'm going to
try the art thing for a while I can always go back to the PHD thing so it was it was nice that he could do that I
think that is one of the biggest gifts that being an artist has done for me is
that that feeling of we can evolve we can change courses we have what's in
here up up in our brains the ability to adapt and to create and that's the skill
not necessarily the what are we going to sell but the you know how are we going to navigate through this crazy life you
know right a big part for me was that you know I started as a mechanical engineering student I went on to become
an art student where I got a minor and I went into archeology and for a while I
was like well what connects all those things it seems really random and it and I realized it was creative problem
solving and out of the box thinking that as an engineer you're given a problem and you have to figure out how to to
solve it as an artist you have an idea and you have to figure out how to create it and bring it into this world and as
an archaeologist you're given pieces of a puzzle and not even a whole picture and you have to say what does this mean
and you have to put together the puzzle and I see you know all three of those
really mesh in my artwork and influence all of that the engineering the history
and the anthropology you know my artwork is filled with artifacts you know whether it's badges off of Old Motors or
the bits and Bobs of vintage Hardware I squirrel away because the old stuff
looks different than anything I can buy now and as the archaeologist I have to say it's really hard for him to put
those in the artwork so it goes away no spice it those are the things he
wants to hold on to they have to be worthy it has to be really worthy for the piece for that old motor badge to go
in there because it hurts [Music] well hopefully a few extra zeros go on
to the piece to make it a little easier to ease the pain yeah my dad and I have this thing where ice I'm I'm a bit of a
a saver and a hoarder whereas that's how he started in his artwork back you know
when we were doing this you know 30 years ago but he has honed his craft to
know what he needs and what he has so he's getting rid of all this extra stuff
that he doesn't need and I'm kind of like no no I might need that still the case in point is like all of the the
switches on my artwork they're all Korean War Surplus we found uh a salvage
uh Surplus a surplus store in Colorado and they had an entire bin the guy's
father or grand father had started it the original contents came from Surplus auctions from the military so this
entire bin was full of like Vietnam Korean War Surplus toggle switches
and I bought all of them I I just plunked the whole bin down and said how much for all of them you were like
selling like a big roller walking well when they were marked 50 cents a piece and I buy all like 400 of them or a
thousand or whatever it was because they'll never find them again yeah but the weird thing is is that about two
weeks before this happened my father decided that you know he had this bin of
the labels for toggle switches that say on off that he had founded a surplus
store probably when I was in elementary school Maybe Junior High and he had never used one ever in a sculpture so he
dumped them out into the recycling and I went through and says no we can't get rid of these and I picked every last one
out to then two weeks later get an entire bin of switches that need those but don't have them so all of the on off
switches on my sculptures are from that Surplus scrap and the thing things my
Dad tried throwing away it's the synchronicity of these puzzle pieces all coming together at different times it's
like it's like the Holy Grail or something that Jeff you had the power all along yeah it's Carl to have them
but yeah it also has developed into kind of this game where he'll come to be and be like do we still have x y z and I'll
be you mean XYZ the thing you tried throwing away six months ago that I went and hid over in that corner when you
weren't looking it's over there behind that stuff and he never lets me forget it's a balancing act he's he's in the
getting rid of phase of his life and I'm still in the I don't know what I need yet phase so hold on to everything
absolutely so you know it's gonna come in handy someday it does balance well yeah
okay so well before we wrap up this talk anybody who knows you knows that you
guys have got the best stories from the road so Jeff can you start off and tell us some of your favorite stories I've
had a number of really amazing people I've met and experiences early on in my
career I I sold a rather large piece probably five feet square uh to a guy so
can you bring to my office he invented the Happy Meal yeah yeah he's the guy who invented the Happy Wheel by the way
it was kind of yeah that wasn't Ronald McDonald who did that no it was not no it was his advertising company yeah so I
brought it up to his office where he was going to put it okay and he's looking and the office was just filled with
really expensive art and he's talking to a secretary where are we going to put it he said well we could take the war Hall
down so I actually got to take down a four foot wide Andy Warhol and hang my sculpture there instead that's when you
know you've arrived right yeah luckily my wife was there at the time to see it because she wouldn't believe it yeah
she'd be like yeah right Jeff you're making up stories again yeah another time well this happened last fall Carl
and I were at Plaza and this guy who liked both of our work bought one of my
pieces and we had to install it you know had to install it because it was a large piece so we brought it to his house had
it going through his garage to get his house and there was a 56 pink T-bird in his garage and kind of a car elevator
thing okay and Carl mentioned that Carl that's a nice car and the guy said that used to be Marilyn Monroe's car it's
like you're a kid what really he said can we get a picture of so yeah so he backs it out and we take pictures with
it and then he hands me the keys really take it first one take it for a drive
we got to drive Marilyn Monroe's car that's amazing I love it yeah the one
that sticks out for me is right when my work changed from the very colorful stuff that was more reminiscent of my
dad's work to the style I have now just as I had transitioned we did a tour
for a group yeah one of those Service Groups you know uh rotary and lions and
those kind of groups and I had just finished this piece I had only made a few in this style it was the first one
of this model so the tour went through it was at like seven in the morning it was the the
sunrise group before you know everybody had to be at work and the one guy he he
showed up about five minutes late after everybody else had been starting on the tour and everybody left and he just said
I'd like to buy that piece and dad and I were just shocked because we don't ever expect anybody to buy our stuff locally
okay we know we have an expensive price point and he came back the next week to
pay for it and he has this envelope and he says like I was thinking this is kind
of an old timey artwork so I'd pay you in an old-timey way and he starts
unwrapping this envelope and I'm like is this cash like like I've seen cash cash is old timing it's not that old-timey
but yeah and what he had was four one ounce gold coins
okay that were within this the spot price at gold at that time was within
about fifty dollars of the price of the sculpture okay so he he in front of my
father he paid for his sculpture with these four one ounce South African
cougarons and did you bite the coin to see if it was authentic how did you know he wasn't like pulling you alive I
should have but it was just amazing to hold these four coins in my hand that were so heavy and they like you know
they were worth more than my truck it was just so surreal I mean that that
next spring I made a a sign for my booth that was Visa Mastercard Discover cougaron
I ended up you know I ended up cashing them in because I was just like you know if these were if this was a credit card
slip my bills would be paid so I ended up doing all that but the story is just amazing I don't know you know yeah I
remember as soon as he left dad just looked at me I went nobody's ever paid me in Gold yeah right it's like that
MasterCard commercial from years ago where they say you know the experience Priceless or what I remember when they
were talking about Priceless it's like getting the gold coins was priceless yep so yeah so you mentioned that um
that local tour you guys have something coming up here some project from Fergus Falls that you wanted to talk about Dad
and I just found out that we each got one of the two major projects for our
local city of Fergus Falls Riverfront development really is it a collaboration or two separate no we each we each
pitched an idea for one of the two locations I took one location he took the other the funding is all done
through the McKnight foundation and other things no no no no no the funding is all done through the National
Institute of Nea and then a local uh the Dell trust matched it so it was a nice
size sculptures two big ones and it has to be uh the local Minnesota artists so
awesome mine's going to be about like 20 feet tall kinetic with butterflies
spinning unstained glass that with the trails spinning and then dads are going to be life-size bison that the wind make
rock back and forth like they're running did you have to present a design that they chose or did they choose you and
then you were able to design what you wanted it was a request for qualifications but it was worded like it
was a request for proposals as well so we kind of mashed them in together okay so you did present them with what your
idea would be and they were selecting based on what you were going to design for them right we and we did some small
maquettes working podcasts because in order to pitch something like this we
had to make sure it worked since it was actually a moving piece so we did some small mockettes and that way we were
able to video it and show them what it would look like and I think that helped what does Fergus Falls like actually
I've I've been wondering I hear a lot about Fergus Falls I know there's a number of artists up that way is it a
real small community is it Progressive it's about just over 14 000 people okay but what makes it really amazing is it
has a legacy of the Arts that date back to a local artist uh named Charlie Beck they're celebrating the anniversary of
his 100th birthday this year and he was a local sign painter that did carving
and wood block prints and everything and is fairly well represented in the
midwest in museums and Galleries and things like that and he taught at the community college
and really instilled his passion for art and a lot of locals so we have some
amazing painters and the art has just kind of been growing around that over and over and over so now we have the
Lake Region Arts Council which does Gallery shows and grant funding for
people in this part of the state and we have a branch of springboard for the
Arts which is a non-profit out of Saint Paul that brings in residency and does
funding and helps with that kind of stuff we have the cadets Gallery we have a playhouse so there's a lot of Art and
it just keeps getting condensed here I'd say we probably have one of the better art scenes outside of Minneapolis and
Duluth in the state I mean that Community is so small to have such a a huge Arts representation and yeah and um
they've done funding to find out how much money the Arts contribute to the state and to the region both through
organizations like the theaters and the Galleries and also the private artists it was about a two-year study and even
prior to those studies I had found that I had heard a study come out must have been probably about eight years ago that
Minnesota is the second best state in the country to be an artist in after New
York interesting and there's also things like the McKnight foundation and the
Minnesota also has the Legacy Amendment and percent for the Arts so like any
state or federal project in the state of Minnesota a certain percentage of the budget has to go to the Arts so there is
artwork at rest stops and all kinds of things like that Jeff is this stuff that you've known about over the years or is
Carl like bringing this information to you you know what I mean is this something no it and it wasn't always
that way in Fergus I mean a lot of it had to do with uh Charlie back of course
or Charles Beck I guess anyway I knew him and we talk and we were friends I
was at a show in Kansas City and someone asked oh my gosh you're from Fergus Falls Network Charles Beck is from do
you know Charles Charlie yeah I know Charlie oh my gosh you call him Charlie yeah
but but anyway it it a lot of Arts have spun off due to him and also some other
people who moved to Fergus probably 30 years ago 30 years ago kind of thing and
it's just uh it's it's a beautiful County Minnesota has over um 11 000 but over 11 000 lakes and
otterfield county has 1053 oh we have more lakes in our County than any other
County in the continuous 48 states and the whole Western fifth of our county
has zero Lakes because of the glaciers okay so Minnesota was always called the land of ten thousand lakes how did they
get an extra thousand because they never counted very well okay it was just rough
somebody counted and the exact number just doesn't roll off the tongue very well and it was already on the license plate and that was back in the analog
days where someone had to drive around and count a lake did we count that one oh I think so don't count that one actually that was 1 000 experts like CMS
yeah yeah yeah yeah well that's why will is out on the lake right now probably
either that or um he's sweating his pants off trying to get one more painting ready to go to Old Town so uh
oh that's right so yeah anyway that's such a great
neighborhood you guys are amazing this has been a great talk and I really enjoy finding out the nuances the differences
between the two of you but then also kind of the similarities and it's just been a really great conversation thank
you so thanks been fun thank you thank you yeah all right well we'll see you in Cherry Creek I got the call and I'm off
the waitlist awesome congrats I'll see you there yeah see you there guys yes hopefully that'd be awesome yeah see
you there luck in Old Town great talk with the zachmans there Douglas uh really interesting to hear
the dichotomy between that father and son and um man in a couple of weeks we've got
another talk that you and I are just going to sit down and Hammer out together and Douglas and I are going to
be answering some questions as far as uh from some emerging artists and and get
into some other things as well uh next time so if you have questions you want to ask if you are kind of coming up or
an old hand and you have something jump on our Facebook page and ask a question or say something you want us to address
and if it's uh it's appropriate we'll give it a shot right yeah yeah that sounds great you could do uh private
messages or you could do email or just write as a post on our on our Facebook page so feel free to send us your
comments or some questions that you'd like us to address hey folks if you have any interest in uh t-shirts or stickers
or anything like that we are toying around with the idea of merch for the show to kind of keep the expenses down
one that we have addressed as app has been kind enough to sponsor us and and we definitely use every penny of that to
keep this program going but if you guys have any interest in that we're kind of kicking tires on that so let us know on
uh Facebook or what have you and we'll talk again soon definitely all right bye
this podcast is brought to you by the National Association of Independent Artists the website is
1:26:39 also sponsored by zapplication that's and
while you're at it find us on social media and engage in these conversations be sure to subscribe to this podcast and
be notified when we release new episodes oh and if you like the show we'd love it if you would give us your five star
rating and offer up your most creative review on your podcast streaming service see you next time
foreign [Music]