Across the street from me is a steak knife stuck in a tree. While not super menacing, it’s definitely noteworthy. Who put it there? And why has no one removed it? I’ve passed it by 100 times, first noticing it early in the year.
Right away I wondered how I could make it into a face. The only thing that came to mind was to hang something off of it but I didn’t see anything around that fit the bill. Maybe a few weeks later I came upon some rusted wire in a distinctly head like shape. Perfect. I would just need to fashion some facial features. I put it in a ceramic plant pot that sits under a chair outside our door and promptly did nothing for months.
I would see the knife and think, oh, I need to make that face. But the task wasn’t as streamlined as my usual process. Almost always, I just get to it and use what is nearby as fast as I can put it together. Part of the joy is getting it done. Very Nike-esque Just Do It activity! Making this face was going to be a rule breaker. I would have to make it at home and bring it back to the location. I don’t have a problem with that per se but it was enough outside the scope of what usually happens to create a situation of paralysis. My dog walks are my studio time. When I am back inside, I resume the life of a documentary editor, or a mother or whatever.
Fast forward to late spring and our building was getting a new coat of paint including the inner stairwell and foyer so the ceramic pot ended up in our living room for a few days and I was like, oh yeah, I remember that rusted wire. And since I had no choice but to see it, I finally got around to making the face.
The knife is in a tree that sits between the narrow passage of two buildings, there is a lot going on visually. I settled on letting the gray building be the backdrop and it just so happens that behind the face are some wires running down and along the wall. I played with different compositions but it seemed necessary to incorporate them into the face. This is the best I could do, lining my little sideways mouth up with the horizontal wire. At the time I felt I would study my efforts and re-jigger. Maybe take the mouth off or re-fashion it.
But of course time does not stand still while we hesitate, tinker and procrastinate. The next day the knife was gone.
I am not satisfied with the Sidewalk Face above. There was one image I took that felt better, a more expressive face, but I would have needed to remove the wire mouth so I photoshopped it out.
All this is to say yet once again, Art Made is Better Than Art Unmade. I have learned over and over that there is a limited amount of time to act. The more the impulse and the act can go together, the better.
While I wish I had had a second chance I do really like the wire face and now it’s hanging on my wall reminding me to doodle but not to dawdle.