For those of you who knew I was in Arkansas visiting my daughter this last weekend (because you never miss any of my posts and read the last two about Hot Springs. Click HERE if you missed them), you can stop worrying about me and that “super cell” storm that swept through the south while we were there. Super Cell is code for killer tornadoes. Our flights home were a mess, but even with those “little bumps” on our plane ride leaving Chicago directly through the hail and high winds at the center of the “super cell,” I managed to keep my cool. I will make one small change the next time we visit Arkansas: We are driving.
We were only in Arkansas for about four days. While heading out from Conway, Arkansas, where my daughter goes to college, to visit a nearby state park, we passed the sign (the first photo). My daughter, an art major who’s currently taking welding, urged us to pull over and visit Finton Shaw’s sculpture garden. She had visited several times and thought we would enjoy it. Finton, the artist, was not home, but she said visitors are always welcome to stop and wander the grounds.
I love outdoor art and sculpture gardens. Raw iron work, however, often isn’t my favorite medium, but Shaw has created beautifully conceived and executed art pieces. Next time, since I will be driving, I might scoop up one for my own yard. (Come to think of it, I’m only assuming it’s for sale. Could just be his personal collection.) I didn’t have my nice camera, so I tried out my phone camera, which I don’t use very often. Since it was high noon, normally a rotten time to take photos, I tried out some of the special effects filters. Most of these photos I took using the “solarize” filter. They have all types, “sepia,” “negative,” and other effects that can give a vintage look. I’m sure you already know, but Instagram is the most popoular App for these types of effects. This bike-inspired sculpture was the only one I shot on “normal.”
I thought the solarize effect complemented Finton’s art, as well as my overall state of mind while roaming around “The Natural State.”
This is his welding studio. Despite the ominous clouds in the background, it was a bright, sunny day. That sky, however, does recall the weather the day we flew home.
An oversized sculpure of the local home-state hero, President Bill Clinton (apparently, after he stopped eating all that BBQ) . My daughter thought the other guy is Nelson Mandela. (Looks more like Gandhi to me.) Finton has most of his pieces titled and labeled, but I will have to read them next time. It was a large garden, nearly an acre or so filled with his work.
Another artsy phone shot of some of the honeysuckle. It grows in California, but I will always equate that perfumy scent with the Midwest and South. I love the way the solarize effect highlights the shapes of the flowers. Warning: I feel an entire post coming up of all my favorite California flowers captured by my magical phone camera.
Back to Finton. According to his Web site–click HERE to visit it and see a much larger selection of his work without my interpretation–Finton grew up in England, Arkansas. There’s not a lot about his background, other than he always loved art and making things, but it wasn’t until recent years that he focused on his sculpture work. Besides these iron found art pieces, he also works in stone, ceramic and even bronze.
My post on Finton’s art is G-rated compared to many of his pieces, which celebrate all types of universal themes. One of the dominant topics is Eros.
Sorry to be such a prude, but you can check out his gallery and you can see for yourself. Click Here.
I’m not sure Finton likes it, but visitors like to climb up to the top of this assemblage of ladder forms.
People like Finton have helped change my thinking about Arkansas. Maybe you don’t hold assumptions and preconceptions about this beautiful state, but I sure did. But the more I see of it, and especially when I use my open-minded filters to adjust how I see it, the more I am looking forward to future trips here.
UPDATE: Finton Shaw passed away May 20, 2012, at age 65. Here’s his obituary.