Ace and Queen

“Ace of Spades” (48” tall, 24” wide, 18” deep) dancing with
“Queen of Diamonds” (48” x 54” x 24”) 1992, Enameled Aluminum

Even though the Ace of Spades and Queen of Diamonds are stand-alone pieces, it’s not until they are viewed together that interesting spacial dynamics develop. To be a versatile sculptor, I find it  necessary to shift seamlessly between working figuratively, symbolically, and metaphorically at any given time and sometimes even all at once. If you peel back the conceptual layers of these pieces, you observe much more in the arrangement than just the literal. Besides the obvious playing card shapes of the spades and diamonds,  this composition has more to do with the passion of an Argentine Tango than abstracted figurative sculpture. In ballroom dancing, the man is the structure and the woman is the ornament. The implied motion as these objects interact with each other creates tension just as imporant as the space around them.  They could never be fixed to a pedestal.

 Symbolically the Ace can have multiple meanings from a hotshot fighter pilot to a rock star guitar god, or even an ominous omen of misfortune. The Queen also has tremendous depth and range from the literal to the spiritual. She’s just as comfortable playing the role of a ruthless leader as she is a paramour. The Ace is a little more formal in that he has two main sides, while the Queen is much more flexible in that she can pose in two different positions; seated and upright.   This is important because she breaks free from 360 degree viewing range into the omnidirectional where there is no top, bottom, or sides.

 The high gloss paint of the sculpture pair comes from techniques I learned under the careful hand of Master John Adduci.  When I worked with him at the Sedgwick Sculpture Studio in Chicago, I assisted him in spraying pigment on some of the largest sculptural surfaces imaginable. They key to a beautiful high gloss finish is all in the preparation. A perfectly smooth surface is required and when achieved will make the paint look like glass. We used expensive aircraft polyurethane over epoxy primers and auto body shop technology to get the job done but we never used fillers. Our metalwork was that good. Adduci also taught me the lost art of “Cherry” where you build up multiple coats of transparent lacquer to achieve color fades in super high gloss and still see the metal underneath.

 The first time the Master had me spray a large topcoat surface by myself, I almost nailed it.  On the very last pass, I applied a tiny bit too much, too fast and the entire surface sagged into one huge drip! I was devastated, but my Master mixed me a drink and had a chuckle at my expense because he knew it was going to take me the entire next day to sand it smooth and spray it all over again. The good news is that it’s never wrong to have a good second coat. It’s how you learn fearlessness.