Florida Keys Special | Art Loft 808 Episode

Florida Keys Special | Art Loft 808 Episode


[Narrator] “Art Loft” is brought to you by. [Narrator] Where there is freedom there is
expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Narrator] The Miami-Dade County Tourist Development
Council. The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural
Affairs, and the Cultural Affairs Council. The Miami-Dade County mayor, and the Board
of County Commissioners, and the Friends of South Florida PBS. [Narrator] “Art Loft” it’s the pulse of what’s
happening in our own backyard as well as a taste of the arts across the United States. [Andreas] The sea life become a part of my
artwork. [Narrator] In this episode travel to the Florida
Keys where nature has a way of sparking these artist’s creativity. [Ruth] The Keys are unique in their light. The light is very different here. It’s very ultraviolet light, and that’s an
inspiration. [Narrator] And while the road to the Keys
seems straightforward when it comes to art there are tons of twists, and turns you can
make. We’ll travel to an underwater art gallery,
create puns on the potter’s wheel, hand shaped leather masks and more. My name is Caroline Guyer, and I’m a leather
worker who specializes in making theatrical costume leather masks. I live in beautiful Key Largo, Florida in
the Florida Keys. It was clear from the beginning that whatever
kind of creative artistic aesthetic is in my head translates well into a leather mask. I love studying the animal faces. I like looking at animals, so I’m happy to
study them and see if I can make a mask. And at the same time that is what people seem
to want more and more of. I’ll never forget a customer asking me to
do a rabbit. I was struggling with it at first trying to
figure out how to do these animal faces, and I did the rabbit, and people loved it. There seems to be like a creepy rabbit mask
thing that’s almost like a modern, or type of collective unconscious kind of thing where
people really respond to creepy white rabbit masks. Over and over again regardless of what movie
they’ve been in they’re in movies again and again and again. So I find that is something that kind of persists
year after year. And then, of course, wolves are always popular. And then I’ll have people that will be like,
can you do one of my dog? I have people who wear them, people who hang
them on the walls, and then people who do both, will just leave them on the wall until
they have a masquerade event to go to, but I certainly sell to people who are only gonna
wear them, and people who are only gonna hang them on the wall. I create the masks entirely by hand. If I have an idea of a mask that I want to
make, and I don’t have a pattern yet for it in over 20 years I’ve got hundreds of patterns. I’ll research the design and create a pattern. And then I trace that onto the piece of leather,
cut it out with a blade, and then I wet that piece leather, blot it dry, and then I wait
until the leather gets to just the right point for it to be molded, and that varies from
piece of leather to piece of leather, and, also, depending on the humidity in the air,
stuff like that. When the leather is at the right point to
be molded I sit there and I mold it all by hand, and then I set that on the floor, or
on a towel, or something, let it dry overnight. Most masks I’ll do an airbrush base, so I
go outside and I airbrush the base on, and then after that’s dry I buff it up a little
bit, and I add some detailed hand painting with acrylic paints. And then when that’s dry I brush on an acrylic
sealer, and when that’s dry I sand the back so it’s comfortable. I add some felt padding if that’s needed. Some masks need it, some don’t. And then I’ll put on ribbon ties, or sew on
elastic straps, and it’s ready to go. I work very hard to make them comfortable,
and that is one of the hallmarks of my masks. And that is why a lot of the groups, theater
groups, dance companies come back again and again for my masks because you could put them
and almost forget about them is my goal anyway. And that is one of the nice things about the
leather is they tend to just breathe a little bit more than a synthetic mask. I could just make masks all day long, and
I have a dream project that I need to do eventually where I want to do all the different breeds
of goats because there are so many different kinds of goats, and I would love to do a beautiful
mask representational of each one. People who buy masks seem to enjoy goat masks. And then it’s always fun to do something like
a leopard, or a mountain lion. If it comes out good that’s the kind of mask
where I’m like, ooh, look what I made that’s kind of pretty, you know, just like the animal
is. [Narrator] To see more of Caroline’s handcrafted
masks visit her online at etsy.com/shop/teonova I love color, it seems to talk to me when
I work. My name is Ruth Gilmore Langs, I’m an abstract
painter, and my studio gallery is in Islamorada, Florida. I think that the Keys are unique in their
light. The light is very different here. It’s very ultraviolet light, and that’s an
inspiration. As an abstract expressionist I love painting
large scale. I love thick paint all the way, the thicker
the better. I use a lot of texture, definitely. I used to be a weaver when I was younger,
and I loved the texture and fibers. I think it’s translated into the painting. It’s not unnatural for an artist to burst
out into abstract painting because what you’re doing is you’re losing an image, and it becomes
all about shapes and colors, and for me I see it as a very high form of expression,
and extremely challenging because you’re losing the trees and the ocean, and you’re trying
to emote and communicate through brushstroke, color, paint, energy. In my heart and in my soul I’m a storyteller,
and whatever medium you land on as an artist it’s storytelling. If we’re lucky we get to show, and showing
is a completely different thing than painting and working. So suddenly you’ve been working alone, and
working alone, and focusing on your topic, and then you’ve moved into a studio, and hopefully
have a really big fun party. I pick themes and then I follow them, and
that’s true for the USA series I’ve been following it for 20 years. And one of the things about following a story
is it started with 9/11 and the shock of that, the shock the whole country had, the whole
world had with that. And then to follow that series into what America
is today there’s a story there, and I’m telling it through shapes and color. And what it’s saying is gonna be everybody’s
eyes and ears to figure that out. For me that painting is a victory because
I was trying really hard to express the beauty of America, the rivers, the sunshine, the
land, the expansiveness, all the while with the limitation, which isn’t that big of a
limitation, but I was on a 101/2 foot canvas trying to express our huge nation. The second piece to the USA series, which
I started after 9/11 is probably the darkest piece in the series, mostly because it’s black
and white. It’s a repetition of USA and the numbers 11,
and as I began repeating the numbers 11 it became obvious to me that that represented
the Twin Towers. I myself have come to see the paintings as
mirrors, and they’re a reflection, and I think they’ll offer whatever needs to be offered
to each individual person because we bring ourselves as much as anything to these paintings. They will give out, but you bring yourself,
and everybody’s gonna bring their own history, and their own story, and their own feelings
about America no matter where you’re from in the world. And I think these paintings are an attempt
to express it through abstract expressionism. How lucky is that that that’s my tool. [Narrator] Living in the Florida Keys has
been a big influence on Ruth Gilmore Langs’ art. She’s also a scuba diver and has a series
called Motion, which is inspired by her underwater adventures. Painting the colors she sees, the feelings
of floating, and her observations of the changing sea. Follow Ruth and her different collections
on Instagram @RuthGilmoreLangs_studio. I love the whimsical sculptures that I work
on. I love teapot forms. I like taking play on words, and making them
into an object that has some humor to it, makes you think, makes you enjoy it. I’m Lynn Loftus, and I’m a professional potter. I’ve been working in clay for 45 years. I’m here in Marathon, Florida in the beautiful
Florida Keys. I do a lot of things that are Keys oriented. I do make a Cheeseburger in PairODice, which
is sitting in between two big wheel thrown dice. And I’m very technically oriented in my work. I do laugh, though, and say I haven’t been
considered seriously as an artist for years since people come in and look at my stuff,
and start laughing, but I am very technically involved in what I do as well. Life is just a Bowl of charies, which is a
thrown bowl and little clay furniture, little chairs inside, Bowl of charies. I make a One Night Stand, which is a little
wicker night table with a lamp and ashtray, and cocktails on it. Just One Night Stand, very whimsical. I do primarily throwing on the potter’s wheel. I like a combination of the round pieces with
hand built. I do teach a lot more hand building, and people
on the potter’s wheel. After so many years it’s really a joy to be
able to share it with other people, and see them get the passion for it as well. If you’re gonna throw on the potter’s wheel
you definitely need a wheel, you need your kiln. You can make a lot of the tools that you’re
using. I sometimes use a potato peeler to get a surface
on a particular pot. Then as you go on you’re gonna need your glazes
to do the firing of the pieces, too, so that they’re complete. Basically, you’re placing the clay on a wheel,
either a kick wheel, or an electric wheel. We use electric wheels here, and then actually
start with a little bit of speed, and muscle to get the clay perfectly centered, and then
slow down and then the finesse, and just bringing up the walls of the pot. The beauty of it is once you start the clay
is reusable, so if you aren’t doing good pieces you can reuse the clay and do it again. So it is good to learn because it’s not real
expensive to get started. When you’re starting with the clay you’re
starting with the wet clay. When you make something whether it’s on the
wheel, or hand building then you allow it to dry. It can sometimes be a week or so. It depends on the dampness of the clay. Once it dries then you’re gonna put it in
the kiln for the first firing which is called the bisque firing. When it comes out it will be fired. Our clay is white when it comes out of the
bisque firing. Then it’s absorbent, and that’s when you start
doing your glazing, applying your colors, and then after that it’s fired a second time,
and everything comes out with all the pizazz and the magic. The day you’re on the wheel you’re basically
creating your canvas for whatever it’s going to be, so I do, I cover them in plastic ’til
they’re what we call leather hard because when you’re throwing any movements you’re
going to move it off. So the next day when it’s like leather, like
shoe leather or belt leather hard that’s when you’re going to add your embellishments, or
handles or designs. I define myself as a potter, so it’s part
of who I am at this point in my life. It’s just a joyful medium to work in. Also, I love playing in the mud, I have never
outgrown that. This is like Confucius said, “Pick a job you
love, “and you never have to work a day in your life.” I’ve been very blessed to pursue a career
as a potter. [Narrator] If you want to start creating pottery,
Lynn and the art studio can help. Just call or email to make a reservation. Info on their website. My name is Taimur Khan. I’m the director of the Winter Star Party
here at Big Pine Key. An astrophotographer is basically somebody
who points a camera to the sky, and tracks the sky, and takes long exposures, and sometimes
these exposures can last over several days, so we might start and take 10 minute exposures,
and take 100 10minute exposures in one night, and then continue in another night, and even
a third night. And we’ll take all these images and put them
together to get a photograph. And the photograph will reveal things that
you just cannot see with your naked eye looking through a telescope. The light is so dim that it takes hours, or
even perhaps days to gather all that light to make the image, so you cannot just see
it instantly with your eye. When I first got into the hobby I used to
be let me see how many I can do in one night. It’s the other way around now. I will try to do three images in one night,
but you don’t get a good image. You get very grainy, noisy images when you
do that. The trick is to do one object over three nights. A favorite is the Orion Constellation where
Bellatrix is. It also is the head of Alfred Hitchcock, and
you’ll see an arc which is called Bernard’s Loop that is the stomach, and then you have
an arm a very faint reddish arm, and Betelgeuse is like the cigar that he typically smokes. So that’s why we call it the Alfred Hitchcock. This is Omega Centauri, and this entire constellation
this is one of the largest globular clusters with millions of stars in it. Don’t know exactly how many millions, but
there are several million stars in this cluster all orbiting each other. The neat thing about it they say, scientists
say, is if our solar system was inside that cluster it would never be dark. There would always be light. It’s a very interesting cluster. Everybody loves to come down and see it because
it’s so big and large. It’s the largest one that we get to see. This is a great place to have a Star Party. We have a lot of people that come down about
600 astronomers that set up telescopes on the beaches because it’s one of the southern
most places where you can see objects that are below 67 degrees declination, which basically
means we can see certain objects that you just cannot see anywhere else in the continent
of the United States. So because of that it draws a lot of people
down to point their telescopes low in the horizon, and see objects such as Eta Carinae,
which is one of the largest nebulas that are out there. So here at the Winter Star Party you’ll notice
that we don’t use regular flashlights. We use a red flashlight, and the reason why
we use a red flashlight is because your eyes get dark adapted, and it takes roughly 25
minutes for your eyes to be truly adapted to the dark. You’re at the mercy of the weather. You’re at the mercy of the equipment. There’s things go wrongs. Even the wires hanging off the scope can cause
trailing in the stars because you’re following the stars, so the motion of the stars going
across the night sky is so smooth and so precise that there’s really not much manmade mechanical
equipment that can accurately move in the same way. It is a form of art in its own right, in its
own way because different people have different ways of manipulating the data, and showing
the photograph how they do it, or how they image it. And each one is a little bit different. [Narrator] If you’d like to see more of these
celestial photographs, and learn more about the Winter Star Party head to Facebook. The super cool thing with artwork underwater
is that at first it’s just photography, but after this the sea helps me to make these
images unique, and I have no influence during these three months. My name is Andreas Franke. I’m a photographer and I love diving. I’m very concerned about plastic in the ocean. For my plastic ocean images I collected real
plastic trash from the ocean from the Mediterranean Sea very close to Venice, Italy. So four of us went down there, collected only
one hour on the beach, and we had more than enough plastic to do all these 24 images. Then I had a pool like a tank. I placed girls as well as kids in this plastic,
and made like a still life, like an old classic still life, and surround it in the water in
the tank the plastic pieces we collected around the talents. So the reason why I came to Key West, and
hang the artwork in Key West on the Vandenberg is, of course, it’s an outstanding shipwreck,
and, also, a wonderful dive destination. For me I really see it as a gallery. All right, let’s bring you down, we’re almost
done. We brought them down all the 24 images, and
hang them with magnets on the side of the shipwreck. So during these three months while this exhibition
was underwater on the Vandenberg more than 10,000 divers had the possibility to seed
this project. After three months I came back, and we brought
this artwork up. We brought them on land, we clear coat them
that all the sea life gets stable and will not crumble. Now after these images are clear coated we
will show it again, and we will show it in a gallery. During these three months these images had
changed because the good thing of the sea, the sea life become a part of my artwork,
and converted them. So I do 50% and the other 50% is in the sea. After these three months when I bring them
up there is a lot of growth of microorganism, and it changed these images and make them
unique. Also, if I would do it a second time it never
ever would look similar, and that is fantastic. And here you can see how the artwork looks
before, and here you can see the difference. So what you see here and why I love this so
much to hang the artwork underwater it’s like the water drips in in these images, and changed
the colors, and creates frames like in the old times when we had Polaroids. I call it awareness campaign. And the reason why I came up with this it’s
really such one of our biggest problems, and I love the ocean, and I had really the feeling
I have to do something. You could cry you see every year how the sea
gets worse and worse. The nature dies and you find plastic everywhere,
but I feel the more often that people hear about this, and see this I feel, I hope, it
will help. [Narrator] To see more of the The Sinking
World of Andreas Franke, and to check out his Plastic Ocean photography project visit
his website. There you can also check out his past underwater
galleries on the Vandenberg. Continue the conversation online. “Art Loft” is on Facebook, Instagram, and
Twitter @artloftsfl Find full episodes and segments on a brand new website artloftsfl.org.
and on YouTube at South Florida PBS.

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