Thursday, April 4, 2013


"If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."

-Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), was the Croatian-born inventor and researcher who discovered the rotating magnetic field, the basis of most alternating-current machinery, the first of which he developed and built in 1883. He emigrated to the US in 1884, where he sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse. This collaboration precipitated the titanic power struggle between the direct-current systems developed by Edison and the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating-current approach, which eventually won out.

In 1891, he invented the Tesla Coil, an induction coil widely used in radio technology. 

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he stayed from May 1899 until early 1900, Tesla made what he regarded as his most important discovery-- terrestrial stationary waves,  proving that the Earth could be used as a conductor and would be as responsive as a tuning fork to electrical vibrations of a certain frequency. He also lighted 200 lamps without wires from a distance of 25 miles and created man-made lightning, producing flashes measuring 135 feet.

 At one time he was certain he had received signals from another planet in his Colorado laboratory, a claim that was met with derision in some scientific journals.

Above is a proposal image for the 120 ft. long suspended sculpture Tesla which I recently completed at the Spokane Community College's new Technical Education Building.

I worked with the faculty, College representatives, and project managers to develop a unique artwork that responded to the activities inside the building (welding, electrical instruction etc), worked well architecturally, and engaged the curiosity and creativity of students, faculty, and visitors. The form of jumping electrical currents in forged aluminum was derived after many site visits, meetings, and a lot of daydreaming.

I was able to realize this enormous piece with the help and collaboration of my brilliant fabricator Dylan Anderson.

TESLA. 2011. Spokane Community College Vocational Technical Building; Spokane,  WA.  Aluminum (forged and anodized), copper.  22.5 ft x 119 ft x 10 ft. Commissioned by Washington State Arts Commission.  

*Thank you to Encyclopaedia Britannica for the historical information regarding Nikola Tesla.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Hoyt Avenue Light Sculptures


I've just installed a new series of 11 light sculptures on Hoyt Avenue in downtown Everett. The commission was designed with the intention of helping to create a vibrant new arts district on 5 City blocks. The Schack Arts Center and Children's Museum are on this street and a beautiful new plaza, designed by artist Linda Beaumont, is nearby. Inspired by festival lanterns and seedpods, my sculptures arch over the sidewalks, making for a festive and iconic visitor experience. At night the sculptures will be lit and will each have a different Gobo light projection on the sidewalk below.

The pieces are reminiscent of Lily of the Valley and mistletoe....

Some photos of our installation on a cold Saturday morning a few weeks ago. Bart Turner of Flying Anvil Studio and Silas Maddox were the ringleaders of the installation. We met at their Ballard shop before sunrise, and checked the straps on the trucks at Dicks before we hit the highway.


With a team of 6 (including the world's best crane operator) we assembled the lights and globes onto the steel part of the sculptures before we started to lift them off the trucks and into place. The folks at the City of Everett (Carol Thomas, Steve Sawyer, Ryan Sass, and Sue Strickland) had everything ready for us and were a great support team on the day of the installation and the weeks prior. 

In that our "days" are often lowlight at this time of year, the photo sensors on the poles keep them lit for much of the morning and late afternoon. Here they cheer up the street on one of our gray days.

There are 11 sculptures spanning 5 City blocks from the Library to the Children's Museum. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Immortal Jellyfish

“Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again. . . .” Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche 

In a recent article by Nathaniel Rich for The New York Times, I was inspired by beautiful images of immortal jellyfish.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New commission installed at Kent Courthouse

A new artwork, entitled "Grove", welcomes visitors to the Kent Municipal Courthouse, as well as acting as a barrier between those entering and exiting, by guiding them through the metal detector. There are two separate sheets of glass here - one with a copper leafed image and one with aluminum leaf - they are held apart by the steel framework. 

"Grove". 2012 Kent Municipal Courthouse, Kent WA. Steel, sandblasted tempered glass, copper and aluminum leaf. 3.5'-4' high, 14 feet long, 3" wide.

This view is seen in the waiting room and by those leaving the courthouse. I felt that bringing natural imagery into a sometimes stressful environment would be pleasing for visitors as well as those working here everyday. I worked with representatives from the City in the development of the piece. Cheryl dos Remedios was an excellent project manager.

Detail as seen from silver/exit side

Detail from copper/entrance side.
These details show the dimensionality resulting from sandblasting the images into the glass prior to leafing. 

View of the  copper side seen by those entering and by the police behind the counter. By using a translucent material like glass, I was able to bring a long artwall into a compressed space without making it feel smaller - actually opening it up with interest & depth of the materials.

Shadows made by the branches

All photos above: Spike Mafford Photography