The Naked & the Nude...

The Naked & the Nude...

I realize now that “Table Slaves” is now quite politically incorrect. But that was the rather too-colorful name I originally used, some forty years ago, to describe my concept. The idea was to design figural sculptures functioning as napkin rings. At first, they were to be Roman Centurions, hauling, dragging or lifting the napery around a tabletop as part of the place-settings.

As I began carving the first studies, the improbability of the idea presented itself. The necessity of an opening large enough to accommodate such large pieces of cloth made them too large & heavy. Still, I have long persisted in my desire to sculpt the human figure at small scale.

Other early explorations were these figural pendants, which I designed for Central City Micro-foundry when I first began working with wax models for their pewter casting processes shortly after college… c.1969.

As I write, I begin to feel a curious tickle to make some sort of “trigger warning” for male nudity. I can only chuckle as I celebrate my long history of loving the human body, both as internal & external fact: as artistic study & as an openly honest personal pleasure. It is even more curious that I feel any need to explain anything !

This sculpture in sterling which I named DRAGON-FAERIE EGG was made & sold while I was still living in Denver… I am wanting to know who bought it through the shop of Ron Pingenot. Which, of the many dealers circling that venue, acquired it? More importantly, who ultimately collected it? I’m curious about its reverse provenance

What might the mythology of this DRAGON-FAERIE EGG be? Eggs were an important symbol, even then, but I really don’t know any story to the figures, which are a separate piece, held into position by her hair. My fantasy can run pretty wild sometimes!

My first studio in Sedona had belonged to a jeweler named Thane Riggs, who worked in a loose “drip & dab” style which I had already practiced into a surpassing skill. His work fascinated me for its forms made of nude figures, often with sexual innuendo. Orgies wrapped around fingers as rings or clustered to hold a stone. But what turned me on about these was their audacity. They were naked… naughty… & quite fun! I felt given some permission I wasn’t certain I’d find in “cowboy country”. So I found some liberation…

Another sterling piece is this SATYR GOBLET, which became a centerpiece of the gallery we named Tavernier, after a 17th century gem trader. I became the too innocent custodian of this shop in Sedona’s upscale mall, Tlacquepaque, while being enticed with a fascinating situation which I’d accepted as only a sojourn of a few years, a short stop along my way to my long-term dream toward the Bay Area.

I came to love the Red Rock country & didn’t leave until fourteen years later…

The SATYR GOBLET held court in a suspended display case around which visitors in TAVERNIER could view it, brimming to overflowing with hundreds of subtly glittering garnets. There are stories to be told elsewhere about the adventures around how this shop was opened…
This is the only chess set I’ve made, though I’ve dreamed numerous others over the years. It was designed during that same experimental period. I gave it to my father, who’d taught me to play the game when I was too young to stick with it. The set exemplifies a quite formal version of classic erotic tension… a useful stretch?

I was invited & encouraged to make the pendents below with playful insouciance of gesture & notions of story: the free swinging ring man & another (not pictured) who was caught in the sling of a parachute; a female figure bound & hanging from her wrists; another as a mermaid; plus the winged guy at the beginning of this post. Regrettably, I no longer have a complete set of the 5 or 6 designs.

Another requested idea was the suggestion for a naked crucifix. Remember, this was in the 60s…

Somewhere in those Sedona years, I cleaned up my act a bit too much. Perhaps, that was in deference to my budding career as a more upscale jeweler & enlarging my explorations as a sexual being to include relationships with women, before ultimately choosing celibacy for a decade.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the psycological growth inside those several healthy & loving heterosexual experiences & the further growth in retreating from sexual relationship… I retain a preference for men. That becomes obvious in these guys, freed of the repression of “usual propriety”…

The pewter “RING MAN” certainly leapt freely.
Here I connected two copies to imply gymnastic cooperation, but perhaps implying more intimacy as well.

So, I abandoned the complications, semantic & technical, of that original “table slave” concept & allowed it to evolve past the constraints of function into more free expression as art. Still, there were the perpetual hurdles of how to create a balanced eroticism. What delightful and muscular conundrums!

Recently re-photographing the two pieces below is what brought me to begin this post. They have been quietly lurking on this website since its inception, but I have not actually put them forward.

Indeed, they are technically so difficult to accomplish that I have rarely reproduced them. Each step of production, including having to make such large, unwieldy molds, presents challenges. It’s difficult to inject & touch-up the waxes of such forms containing heavier masses of bodies and limbs connected to delicate parts like fingers & toes. The castings don’t always work, and then there are variations of shape caused by contractions and shrinkages in both the wax and metal.

KNEELING TABLE SLAVE: This pose offers its own creative potential, as several of these viewpoints demonstrate.

The figure Might be “functional” inside his fun! He can lift quite a load!
He can lift with his legs while standing on his head as well… Thus suggesting, in this pose, that his erection is actually due to gravity!

FLYING FAERIE: My original concept was that wings of several varieties might be added… but none have ever evolved into reality… at least, not yet!

However, I love continuing to invite all these challenges & explorations as this project into the future…

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