Work samples

  • The Decade of Pey
    The Decade of Pey
    The Decade of Pey (the Mouth): 2021- 66" x 60" x 12"d- The shield is the top of the bow of a 19th century sailing skiff destroyed in my garden by a runaway car. Acrylic. Wood canoe paddle painted with stars. The central ring is composed of carved, laminated hardwoods. The blue center is linticular foil symbolizing water.
  • Troubadour.jpg
    Troubadour: 2022, Acrylic on canvas on plywood. Wood Dutch shoe.
  • Walking Back Home
    Walking Back Home
    Walking Back Home 2021- 108"h, acrylic on wood with lenticular (3-D) underwater images inside the cells.
  • The Tree of Life
    The Tree of Life
    The Tree of Life: 30"h x 22"w, Watercolor and archival ink on Arches paper. Note the round medallion.

About A

Baltimore City

AZ was raised on the island of Guam from 1952 to 1963. In 1966 his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where he began painting and exhibiting before graduating from high school. His initial influences were Chinese and Pre Colombian art, as well as his many explorations in Central American jungles. His original dream was to become an archeologist.

After graduation in 1990, he moved to MICA in Baltimore for his MFA. In that first semester he was hired to be the… more

Abstractions and Metaphors

Among our global challenges I'm often inspired by the intersections of science and culture, where so called 'facts' and the deeper mysteries within us collide. Hence my 'non-liniar' output. My aim is to create works which raise questions from the invisible through abstractions and metaphors. Being intuitive, I play with hints, suppositions and the margins of being as I go after the mystery. Can truth become a formula or does it die when placed upon a forced march by external demands?

For example, due to recent discoveries, scientists are speculating that it might be possible for something to be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Aspects of popular culture has long promoted this concept, such as Dr Who's Targis, Mary Poppin's bag, Felix the Cat's magic bag of tricks and many others. Jules Verne's and George MacDonald's books fortold these days. We are all really children pretending to be adults.

Scientists are saying that some 'regions' of spacetime have that property. Indeed, the concept of redeeming your timeline is beginning to emerge. Is the space time continuum flexible, even fluid to change? 

Since my youth I've been a stranger on a strangely beautiful world. The deeper mysteries of creation  pose far more questions than proven facts. That drove me into books, such as Buckminster Fuller's Ideas and Intengrities and George Steiner's Language and Silence.

Contradictions are important, as they can lead us to greater truths. For example, decades ago I worked in military intelligence in the midst of the Vietnamese refugee crisis in the Philippines.  My hidden work led to being selected for the Blue Angels flight team for four very public years. What a shift in my identity and ideas! As a consequence, my work was exposed to a global audience.  I got a fat head for a time...ho ho ho.

Yet all of that fell away after leaving the military. Then, 32 years ago, I entered another radical shift when I was in NYC on the art scene's fast track, where I found the scene to be more prediatory than Panama's jungles. After a year,  I bypassed a budding international career and returned to Baltimore. My collectors thought I'd lost my mind. Yet, more and more I needed the space and peace and serenity of my half acre of gardens to regather my wits and my integrity.

At that time I was facing many self-contradictions. Gradually I softened my relentless self promotion and the toil of shows in order to be free and push into a deepening exploration. After a few testy years, I began to connect those contradictions and realized there was an arc building towards a coherent understanding. In creating unique bodies of work, I gained a freedom moving between 2-D to 3-D to performances and videos and back. A more authentic confidence emerged.
Now I'm on the move again,  seasoned to deal with new horizons.

  • Song of the Dove
    Song of the Dove
    Song of the Dove: 7/2021- 4' x 6'- acrylic on mounted wood.
  • Joy, Joy, Joy
    Joy, Joy, Joy
    Joy, Joy, Joy: 24" x 32", Acrylic on wood
  • His Love Endures Forever
    His Love Endures Forever
    7/2021: 24" x 32": Acrylic on canvas with glitter
  • Up From the Field
    Up From the Field
    8 feet wide. Oil on canvas, w/24k and linticular images. Based on the Book of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones.
  • Turnaround
    2010- Oil on canvas, 24k, linticular images, mixed media seven feet high. What does it matter how an artist comes to such an image? To me, painting is a deeply spiritual journey that is also like a child's sandbox- where the voyage of discovery provides moments of revelation.
  • Plunge
    2010- 30" x 22", acrylic on canvas, with lenticular fragments, 24k
  • Dal Profundo: 35 Portals
    Dal Profundo: 35 Portals
    2007- 45"h x 66"w x 3"d, Oil on tar on canvas with 24k gold leaf. Burned wood, crushed metal.
  • Tower
    2012- Acrylic on canvas, optical plastics, 24k, turtle shell. Private collection- Hawaii

Recent Works

2018-19 was a wildly challenging period of personal extremes, regardless of covid, etc. To set the stage, after three decades of teaching at MICA, I retired and went to live for six wonderfully adventurous months in the turbulent Middle East.
Then at the end of June, I underwent a near death experience and was flown back to a Baltimore hospital. On August 8th, I underwent an unexpected heart attack. The extensive recovery time transformed and reset my creative vison, which inspired an unexpected dive into new series of figurative paintings that erupted in January of 2019. Many are not on this site.

As my concepts are born out of living among and exploring diverse cultural and social influences, I foster a free-ranging, intuitive approach to making work that doesn't  follow a set of rules, let alone the  politics of the art world. So, my work is notible for distinct series, shifting from sculpture to painting or a combination of diverse media. Yet, there are interconnecting themes that drive my work. The great Russian film director, Andrei Tarkovsky tagged it as "the dilemma of the human condition".

I'm often surprised amid my process, which is fermented by many internalized questions, such as "What am I seeing or not seeing? Is this authentic or lazy flatulence?"  Yet, it is never to mount a soap box, but rather to offer visual encounters which transcend preaching or social propaganda.

My asthetic often filters through a colorful, abstracted tactility based upon my teenage jungle experiences in Panama, and much later, two years  scuba diving in the Philippines while working in military intelligence.  Even now, I tend to cycle through periods of stripping down to essentials to returning to overloaded layering. Some works are singular while others become prototypes, possibly for further work. Some series number as low as three, yet others have resulted in as many as 66.

 I love reworking pieces when i see a greater potential. In turn, I make use of the resulting fragments. This continues to teach me the power of resurrection, where something that was solid or even good, gains more than what it had before.

  • Warrior
    1-2020: 58"h x 46"w Acrylic painting on paper on canvas
  • Whisper
    Begun 5-2020- Acrylic on torn giclee print on canvas. Currently in process as of May 2023
  • Ascent
    1-2020 73"h x 43"w Acrylic on giclee print on canvas.
  • Through a Glass Darkly
    Through a Glass Darkly
    Begun 1-2020- unfinished 55"h x 42"w Acrylic on paper on canvas
  • Transition
    1-2020 48"h x 36"w, Acrylic on giclee print on canvas, with 24k gold leaf and mica flakes.
  • One Track
    One Track
    28" h x 22"d, Acrylic, paper and cast resin on weathered wood
  • American Pioneer
    American Pioneer
    30"h x 24"w, 2-2020, Acrylic on gilcee print on acrylic paste on wood panel. (Private collection)
  • Stardust
    Stardust- not resolved yet- 48"h, acrylic on wood. Crystals

The Floating Axe series

Names often reflect key aspects of our character. My last name, Zaruba is an old Czech name that loosely translates as 'he who splits wood with an ax'. As Allen means harmonious, then I am the happy woodcutter. Yet, years before I discovered this, I was intuitively drawn to wood as a creative expression, even during the 20 years when painting was my principle medium.

As a consequence, the symbolism of the ax has periodically appeared in my sculptural work. This began with acquiring an eroded ax head in 1991 that had lay buried in a 200 year old apple tree. I gilded it's lace-like form in 24k to translate the way I perceive it's context and resonance. The hollow of the handle suggests a house in miniature, such as the spirit houses of Asian cultures or the sky burials of others. Later this concept inspired two series of cage-like sculptures on legs during the 1990's based on human rights abuses.

During a 2015 residency in West Cork, Ireland, I participated in a fascinating annual bronze casting symposium, Umha Aois, which attracts artists and archeologists who utilized the basic techniques, raw materials and processes of the bronze age to produce new works, some of which were replications of historic artifacts, such as the ax. This was the catalyst that prompted the series.

This series began with Awakening , which, in turn, followed the series-A Tent of Stars. Based upon the ax as metaphor and symbol, this initial 'ax' surface is covered in stars with a 3D form as flame that passes through a small canoe covered in lenticular image fragments of various works of art and cultures.  The upper hollow is lined with slices of lenticular images and reflective surfaces.

Why the ax?
Considering the increasing cultural violence as well as our tendency to isolate ourselves through social media, I was initially at a loss as to why I would focus on what most Americans would peg as a weapon of violence, such as the Lizzie Borden murders.  The research helped me to see that the ax symbolizes much that is positive and constructive, especially in regards to the building of civilization. Yet, the symbol, like a mirror, confronts us with what is buried in our own make-up.

The ax is an ancient universal symbol of authority and power rooted in many cultures, from the First Nations to Asian, European and African cultures. For example, in ancient China, the ax symbol was often woven into the silk robes of the emperors to signify the decisiveness of their absolute imperial authority. From there, I began to explore other cultural myths which led to the foundation that  the first axes were stone. These created sparks and  consequently became associated with lightning, thunder, rain, rebirth and...creation! They were often  termed 'thunderstones' and held as highly sacred. It is interesting to note that both the Chinese and Pre Colombian cultures periodically created elaborate, non-functional ceremonial axes out of prized jadite and flint.

The metaphor of the ax can operate on many levels, such as splitting apart issues to reveal 'facts' or the truth. The ax is judgment in action, splitting truth from lies, clarity from confusion. It is both tool and weapon. My hope is that the abstraction of the symbol would offer a way of considering how each of us might see authority (vs. the current focus on abuse and fear.), possibly as a way to reflect more deeply upon what our culture is contending with. Above all the mud slinging, what is true? What are the facts?  What vital aspects may be missing? Do we believe everything we are fed by the media?  Are we selective in the building of our own 'false news' campaign? What do we not want to consider or see?

Gilding the blade edges with 24k gold questions what is eternal against the brevity of life. The moment of now is now past. Getting into the river now is not the same river tomorrow. Gold's stability is a fascinating medium, especially as it is the only metal that visible light can pass through and yet filter out those rays that can harm our eyes. It has been used in the visors of pilots and astronauts to protect their vision.
  • Awakening
    96"h, Based on studies of bronze age Chinese ax heads. Acrylic, carborundum, lenticular image fragments and mixed media collage on wood with 24k gilding, swarovski crystals. The upper chamber (behind the orange facade) contains vertical slices of lenticular image fragments, acrylic mirror and treated Mylar.
  • Life Raft
    Life Raft
    24"h x 13"w x 3"d, wood, synthetic ink, 24k gold leaf, lenticular fragment of Earth and the moon.
  • Skin Scraper
    Skin Scraper
    24"h x 13"w x 2.5"d- Synthetic ink on acrylic on wood, lenticular image of Venus, 24k. In ancient China, anything that was yellow automatically became property of the Emperor. Yet the emotional play of yellow in contemporary culture has very different associations.
  • Est ad Astra
    Est ad Astra
    23"h x 12"w x 4"d Acrylic on burned wood, pen shell fragments, titanium exhaust port, lenticular fragment of stars.
  • The One True Key
    The One True Key
    23"h 11"w x 2"d, acrylic, antique keys, slag crystals. Lenticular image of Israel and the Middle East (from space), 24k gold leaf
  • Out of Time
    Out of Time
    22"h x 11"w x 3"d, burned wood, photo collage, 24k gold leaf, antique women's watches, auto glass, mother of pearl, magnifying lens, lenticular fragment, operculeum.
  • Cry: Out of the Fire
    Cry: Out of the Fire
    30"h x 23"w x 2"d: Acrylic and mixed media on wood with 24k leaf
  • The Sacrifice
    The Sacrifice
    26"h x 12"w x 3"d, acrylic on wood, copper, zippers, stones, 24k gold leaf, lenticular fragment of Jupitar's moons.
  • Angel
    35"h x 32"w x 8"d Silver ink on burned wood, acrylic on wood, 24k gold leaf, lenticular image of the sun and moon (inset behind the eye), fragments of mother of pearl, car glass and tail lights, lenticular fragments, synthetic gold flakes, mica flakes.

Sculptural Forms and Concepts

My sculptural concepts were initially forged by earlier periods of my life outside of mainland America, such as my high school years in the Panama Canal Zone. (1966-71) Slashing through the often dense jungle offered colorful adventures, yet also set a perservering attitude that many years later helped me through the most challenging fifteen years of my life in which I underwent seven near-death health experiences. I discovered how to cast out the spirit of fear or the need for recognition and turned towards the pursuit of the deeper mysteries of life.  I am a warrior. (See the painting of that title) As Churchill famously declared-"Never, NEVER give up!"

Other primary influences include 18 months I served in military intelligence in the Philippines- 1978-80, during the height of the Vietnamese refugee crisis- a horrific time that turned my heart towards the dilemma of the human condition from a universal perspective rather than a cultural or political one. Then in 1988, a critical year in Paris, France and other European cultures.  Then beginning in 1990, a radical decade working as the assistant to the Arte Povera sculptor, Salvatore Scarpitta. Sal initially told me- "Allen, you have too many ports of call in your work. Go to the North Pole where nothing is left but the sky above and the snow below." 

So typical of Sal to offer such a contradiction that set me on fire- refining down to conceptual abstrations, away from found objects and  into complex layers of texture. In turn my own authentic identity began to emerge, free of chasing after a major career or needing to be recognized or shown. Instead I slowed down and drew ever deeper into a spiritual growth , towards a great hope that cannot be denied.
  • Tophat
    Painted wood assemblage- burned and wire brushed barn wood frame, linticular insets, 24k gilding, cast child's hand, walnut shell, etc. The last piece in the Floating Ax series.
  • Fire Sled.jpg
    Fire Sled.jpg
    3-2022- 66"h Weathered copper sheeting over a wood framework. (Salvaged from the hull of the historic USS Constellation in the Baltimore Harbor, during its overhaul several years ago). Acrylic on the sealed, oxidized copper. Inset is lenticular foil. Stairs are wood with acrylic.
  • Broken Moon
    Broken Moon
    Broken Moon-2004. Acrylic on wood, with Korean Chosen Dynasy celadon bowl fragments excavated around Seoul, Korea while serving as a senior Fulbright Scholar to Sung Kyun Kwan University. Private Collection
  • A Question of Balance: Five of Nine
    A Question of Balance: Five of Nine
    1991-7-2020. Wood, mixed media. Five remaining of nine original works. Adjustable positions from the wall to the floor. They also can be suspended on the wall.
  • The Source
    The Source
    1990-2020: 72" x 52" x 3"- Wood, leather belts, tar, acrylic, linticular foil.
  • Threshold
    1990- 50" x 90"w x 9"d Acrylic on fabric on wood, lenticular foil This piece won the first of four Maryland Artist Grants and into the Sharpe Foundation's Space Program's residency in Tribeca, NY for one year The opening is the circumference of my head.
  • Hunting Sins
    Hunting Sins
    1998- Nine of twelve wrapped wood multiples, variable positions. Acrylic, watch lens. 98"high All are in private collections.
  • The Desperation of Hope
    The Desperation of Hope
    1991, New York City- Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program Residency 93"h x 24"w x 12"d Acrylic on wood, with cotton string, sawdust and one black piano key Multiple positions
  • Our Father's House
    Our Father's House
    54" x 33" x 12"- 2018: Crushed ceiling tin on wood, acrylic, shredded Korean rope, linticular foil.
  • Ascention
    8/2020, Made of a salvaged fragment of the bow of a 19th century sailing skiff. The wings and hand are wood.

Sculptural Forms: Part Two

This samples an array of works that are indicitive of my core concepts.
  • From the Water to the Stars
    From the Water to the Stars
    2016-42"h x 48"w x 10"d Two parts- Acrylic on wood, mixed media. Private collection
  • Wird, Wird
    Wird, Wird
    Wird, Wird: 2014. 8' tall- Acrylic on wood, laminated texts, 24k. Private collection
  • La Perla
    La Perla
    2003-2020 43"h x 14"w x 4"d A heat treated transluscent fabric mounted over plexiglas mirror on a wood framework. The result offers diffraction grids as the background or field.
  • Breakthrough
    49"h x 27"w x 2"d Acrylic on wood on plexi mirror covered in fabric. Wood covered in silk soaked in acrylic. mixed media
  • Memory's Pursuit
    Memory's Pursuit
    2016- 88" x 87" x 34"- Wood, sawdust, acrylic, cotton belting, eggshell.
  • Cistern
    40" x 40" x 16"- 1998, Wood, sawdust, cotton belting, mixed media
  • Ax Tail Slugger
    Ax Tail Slugger
    22"h x 25"w x 6"d Waxed Ace bandages on wood, cotton straps, velvet #66- the last in my most extensive series. Collection of the artist
  • Mercy
    1994- 64"h, Acrylic on cotton on wood
  • Tumpa
    1994- 67"h, two parts. Acrylic on cotton on wood.
  • Arc Welder (With A Question of Balance)
    Arc Welder (With A Question of Balance)
    1994- 86"h- acrylic on silk on wood, with cotton cords. The base is a slab of mahogany.

A Tent of Stars

Within the Tents
In 1966, when I first saw the epic,  Lawrence of Arabia, it impacted and inspired my fledgling sense of identity in inexplicable ways that was to later bear fruit, from studio to performance work.

In 2013, when this series began, to my mind's eye there first appeared a nomad's tent suspended in space and  covered in stars, as if in camouflage. I did not think of the movie's impact at first. However, I had first encountered nomadic tents during a 2007 visit to the Middle East. As my installation concepts are based upon creating enveloping environments, the attraction was natural.

Bedouin tents often appear  as black, or dark brown or gray, looking as if they are of humble means. Yet, they often cover a profound heritage, including layers of opulent rugs and other treasures. Some families are very wealthy, yet prefer to continue living as they do. Again I encountered this during a Fulbright conference in Morocco, especially among the blue clad Touareg.

What became clear during the development of this series was that outward appearances, such as culture, race and gender, are often deceptive identifiers. For example, why do so many of us treat others the way that we do, if not by appearance, actions and gender? Yet, such externals often mask or hide the greater truth, value and meaning of our inner beings. Can we find a way to encounter each other in deeper ways?

Each tent's  golden threshold symbolizes this deeper search for identity, meaning and connection. Each of us contains a mystery, be it darkness, shrouding light or as light manifested in the fruit of one's love walk and talk. I believe each person, no matter how disturbed, disenfranchised or even manifesting acts of evil, contains a core of light and truth.
Looking up to the night stars offers the open mind and heart endless awe and wonder and confronts us with our fragile lives on this tiny jewel called Earth. What do we hope for? What are we looking at? What is the condition of our own hearts in the ways we treat all others, regardless of their external signifiers?

  • A Tent of Stars
    A Tent of Stars
    2014 36"h x 48"w x 4"d, (a private DC collection), Wood, acrylic, stainless steel nails, crystals, gold foil
  • Abraham's Promise
    Abraham's Promise
    12/2013 15"h x 26"w x 5"d Wood, stainless brads, crystals, carborundum,mother of pearl, acrylic #1 in the series. (A private collection)
  • The Fall
    The Fall
    2014 79"h x 43"w x 9"d Third in the set, driftwood, body putty, screws, stainless brads, crystals on acrylic, optical plastic.
  • Dalet (The Door)
    Dalet (The Door)
    2014 80"h x 28"w x 4"d First of three. Wood door, wood, stainless brads, optical plastic, acrylic, crystals
  • Deep unto Deep
    Deep unto Deep
    2014 35"h x 28"w x 10"d One of three 'Star Shields', each topped by a differing horse. Each convex shield has a leather encased, rope hand grip grometted to the concave side, which hangs on a wood wall mount and can be easily lifted and carried. Fiberglass, acrylic, crystals
  • Released
    2014 40"h x 32"w x 3"d Wood, acrylic, Mother of Pearl nut pickers, sterling, steel, optical plastics, crystals a self portrait
  • A Book of Stars (Set of 4 completed)
    A Book of Stars (Set of 4 completed)
    2014 12"h x 8.5"h x 2"d Private collection One of three books. Wood, fabric, acrylic, crystals, carborundum, optical plastic. (All finished works are in private collections) New books can be ordered.
  • Measuring Hope
    Measuring Hope
    1/2015 53"h x 13"w x 3"d Wood, acrylic, crystals
  • Eye of the Needle
    Eye of the Needle
    2014 15"h x 22"w x 3"d Acrylic on wood, stainless brads, crushed mother of pearl, crystals. (A private collection)

Ship Installations

My identity as a sailor and global nomad flows from a colorful upbringing amid certain cultural crossroads, from the Asia Pacific islands to Central America.

At nine months old, I learned to walk aboard an ocean liner crossing the Pacific Ocean. Since then I've been aboard supertankers, WWII military landing crafts, yachts, trimarans, speedboats,  dug out canoes and outriggers.  So, it was only natural that my work often cycles through the ship as an metaphor of life's journey, from the womb to the cradle to the coffin. 

In 2000, I began a new series of large-scale, ship-shaped installations built around on-site trees as the sails. Each was intended to serve their local communities as a gathering place or informal social practice. They also served as crucibles for experimental photography, video and performance.

Their interiors welcomed visitors as participants and dreamers, which many claimed as their own.  For example, a small girl in Annapolis learned from her parents that she was the captain of her own ship. 
  • The Scent of Light
    The Scent of Light
    2000-2006, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, Casenovia, New York. 16'h at the light pole. 81 'long and 24 feet wide. Eleven tons of wood set on 24 cement footers. Constructed around four hickory trees as the sails. The interior had a viewing deck, stairs and multiple seating options. An antique door with watered glass opened to the interior, which walls contained an array of quotes from world literature, both from the artist and visitors. The light pole was held in place by five tons of stacked slate and is topped by a three foot tall egg shape covered in reflective elements. Named after a poem by the Sufi mystic Hafez.
  • Cantus
    This photo was shot as a 35mm time exposure inside The Scent of Light, which was located at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in upper New York. (2000-2006) The red color comes from car flares set inside frying pans set behind the trees. Alone, I pushed the camera trigger, ran into the exposure and then hand held a 1 million watt flash light up to the reflective sculpture on top of the pole.The 'glory' effect resulted from clouds blowing in that night. Edition of 3 artists proofs 66"h x 44"w Each print is formatted uniquely. The first proof was shown in the Ace Gallery, NY and in London at Virgin headquarters and is now in the collection of the Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY.
  • Hunting Light
    Hunting Light
    2001/06 The second ship in the series and perhaps my favorite project ever. Formerly located at Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD. 72ft l x 22ftw x 12ft h. 14 tons of wood, 22 cement footers. Four interior chambers with seating, world literature quotes, sculpture. It served as a basis for performance, photography and video. More important, lots of fun events happened in it with a great many children of all ages. The most powerful was when 3 young boys left a hand made American flag on 9/11. I came that afternoon, in pouring rain. The flag is still with me.
  • untitled
    Central image for a planned tryptych. White light is from my auto headlights. Red is a car flare in a frying pan.
  • Hunting Light
    Hunting Light
    Night performance.
  • Earthsong
    11/2002-The front lawn of the Korean Cultural Service of the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. Part of a proposal for a senior Fulbright to Seoul (2003-2004) The ship is split by a sidewalk (North and South) and is made of bamboo, wood, plastic and 38 bamboo wind chimes representing the 38th parallel by which Korea remains divided. An interior exhibition showed related sculpture and photography.
  • Grotto (The Scent of Light)
    Grotto (The Scent of Light)
    This is the second part of the Scent of Light installation, as a symbolic safe harbor for the ship. It is located in a thicket about 50 yards directly off the bow site of the ship. A path was cut through the tall grass that ran alongside the ship to the Grotto. inside, 5 tons of large stones formed a circle around a recessed circle of black slag sand. The exposure was at twilight- a 35mm one minute exposure using a car flare. My moving body blocked out segments of the flair's trail.
  • Hand in Hand
    Hand in Hand
    2004- 2008 Constructed in front of the Ministry of Arts and Culture in Seoul, Korea. Specially treated cedar, stainless steel rice bowls, interior has two one million watt street lambs that come on at twlight-shedding light upon the sidewalk and up into the gingko-(a tree sacred to Koreans) 1200 x 330 x 336 cm The bow pointed towards Pyeongyang, the capital of North Korea. The hull was designed as two halves not yet aligned. A catalogue and DVD are available. Project grant- $7500, from Sung Kyun Kwan University.
  • Hand in Hand
    Hand in Hand
    The stern showing the split hull design and entry door. Due to high volume and safety concerns on University Blvd, the interior is closed to the public.
  • Dancing Light
    Dancing Light
    Located on the corner of the Baltimore Convention Center (06/2006-07) as part of Artscape- Milled wood, driftwood, stainless steel bowls, plastic, epoxy paint, cement footers. 30'lx12'wx9'd- $1500 stipend. Based upon the Korean prototype, this installation had more widely spaced slats and is the first not built around a tree (or of natural tree branches), but rather between 4 small trees (the cardinal directions) around a light post and two additional street lamps that came on in the evening. These illuminated the world literature quotes written on the inside. Due to high traffic and safety concerns, the interior was closed to the public. No DVD available. Currently i plan to reuse the reclaimed triangular panels in a more abstracted installation in my garden.

Ocean @ the Creative Alliance-

Eight years ahead of the Excessivism Movement that started in 2015, Ocean was a sensory overload of a critique on our consumerist culture gone wild. Constructed in March 2007 for one month in the main gallery of the Creative Alliance, it's ship-shaped installation sat on a diagonal across the 2000 sq ft space and contained eight rooms, each with a unique theme. It was a 360 degree shift in materials and concept from the preceding public sited ship installations, each of which  were constructed primarily of slab wood around or near existing trees.

Both the exterior and interior surfaces incorporated an eclectic range of diverse materials and found objects. Eight performance costumes hung on stands outside the entrances, which were available for the public to don while exploring the rooms.Inside, five videos of prior performances were shown in various locations.  Slide projections of my travels were also projected onto various surfaces.  Oscillating fans were located in each space and transition point and softly blew hanging materials back and forth. An inverted antique sailing skiff served as the roof of the Drowning Room, while various rooms included sofas and chairs buried under layers of materials, among other seating options. 

The green, silk-lined and padded Sex Cage proved the most memorable with certain visitors falling asleep... until after closing, which then set off the alarm and brought the police.
  • Ocean
    The main entrance showing a few of the wearable costumes. The yellow is on its stand. The blue in on the floor.
  • Ocean- the main entrance
    Ocean- the main entrance
    Located on the port side, this was also the main performance area. The seven elements, or costumes, as in the case of this yellow one, could be taken off their armatures and worn by the general public. This proved numerous opportunities for people to dance for the first time in and out of a work of art. Parents often followed their children. Every visit was a constant surprise of people and engaging conversations. I spent most weekends on site.
  • Ocean's bow
    Ocean's bow
    This shows the installation as first viewed by visitors. The construction was set on a diagonal across the 2000 sq ft gallery, which was mostly filled by the 8 interactive rooms. The hull surface was covered by a diverse array of materials as a critique of our run-away consumer culture. On top of the bow sat a stuffed rooster wearing a large fake blue gem (ala the Titanic) Quotes from world literature were written into sections of this exterior surface and inside each room.
  • The Gullet of the Whale
    The Gullet of the Whale
    This was the wind blown passage that led to the Belly of the Whale video room. The plastics are all bio-hazard bags. Their warning signs, although often stretched, would on occasion appear right at visitor eye level.
  • Belly of the Whale
    Belly of the Whale
    This contained two videos, X-ray windows, texts, a couch, seating and the entrance to the Drowning Room. Half way through the month, I opened a third door to the left of this view, allowing a greater flow for the increasing crowds.
  • The Drowning Room
    The Drowning Room
    The most controversial room in the ship. The view is looking from the floor to the ceiling, which was capped by an inverted 20 ft antique sailing skiff- from which hung a series of oxygen breathing apparatus. The backlit blue plastic created a strong blue light inside the space. Contrasting that effect, a special light inside the boat overhead created an underwater effect reflected upon the silver Mylar floor, and back upon the walls. This room frightened more people than the rest of the ship combined.
  • The Apocalypse Room
    The Apocalypse Room
    The most hidden and smallest room containing several burned doors, a partially hidden illuminated resin skull and an overhead 32"diameter illuminated fiberglass globe questioning the future of our planet. In essence, this was the underlying critique of the installation. On it's bottom was a single phrase- 'Our future?' Below it was a small stool you could sit upon. on one side it said- 'Think' and on the other side- 'Act'
  • Cry
    The central interior hall that connected the three main branches of the ship. This centered upon this wood figure recycled from the Forest House project. Three hidden oscillating fans constantly blew about the suspended plastic tendrils and rustled the torn plastics, giving the interior a constant rustling sound, almost like a forest.
  • Ocean- the starboard door
    Ocean- the starboard door
    This led directly into the windblown 'Gullet of the Whale'. Assorted found objects mixed with art works.
  • Ocean: Sex Cage
    Ocean: Sex Cage
    An elevated and padded platform enclosed in bars and wrapped in green parachute silk.

The Sky Below, Earth Above: Forest House

Created at Quiet Waters Park in 9/2006, this four room interactive multi-level installation was constructed upon the cement ruins of a hunting lodge that predated the park. Made of driftwood and found objects collected from the bay, it was intended as a place of contemplation in order to question humanity's relationship with our collapsing environment. This came about because of a beach I'd been going to since 1989. For the first several years, I would collect and carry out trash I'd find along that mile of cliffs. Then it began to overwhelm the beach to where 20 feet provided more garbage than I could carry.

So, I determined to make a work that would critique this- by using some of this garbage to create a challenging context. What resulted was a surprise in many ways, both positive and unfortunately, negative.

First of all, it's remote location was originally rarely frequented outside of joggers and hikers, even though the site was among the tallest stands of original trees in the park, on a hill overlooking a sheltered cove. As the installation drew near to completion, it  began to draw people in increasing numbers. Each time I returned, I found more and more repeat visitors. People brought picnics. Children played. Music happened. The word spread. I was most amazed when I was introduced to a European couple who flew in because their friend said it was worth the trip! An informal festival like air took over. That autumn was one of wonders upon wonders as I almost lived in it, refining details and happily talking with people who often helped with difficult parts. Many spoke that it brought a profound sense of peace and wonder.

However, it proved to be the most controversial project of my career. Within three months, it was condemned by two small groups of wealthy Annapolis people. I met with one of them on site- a most amazing experience of being absolutely hated as if I was the devil. He refused my handshake. Nothing I said was heard. His hatred was so far off the charts as to not touch me. Rather than being offended, I was astonished that this well meaning work of art could provoke such a completely different response from the others I had been experiencing.

They saw it as either an illegal religious Christian chapel on government land- or as a Satanist sacrifice center. It rapidly became the center of a public storm that resulted in coverage by the Associated Press and an article in Sculpture Magazine. Despite hundreds of local people supporting it and a professional offer to take the case to court (for free), those wealthy people bypassed the director of Maryland's state park system (who had visited it and delightfully approved the project)... and managed to get it torn down prematurely- condemned by the State as a building without a building permit!
A DVD is available.
  • Forest House- the main entrance
    Forest House- the main entrance
    9am Sept 23, 2006- a brief period of time in which the morning sun would illuminate the outer entrance wall.
  • Forest House
    Forest House
    During September into October, in the morning light the entrance would be highlighted around 8 to 9am
  • Forest House corner
    Forest House corner
    Shot in winter, giving the appearance of a ship's bow and a cage.
  • The entrance
    The entrance
    Looking through the first room, up the two steps to the main room and the altar.
  • Inside the entrance
    Inside the entrance
    This shows one of the benches that was mistaken as Christ crucified. Titled 'Cry'
  • The main room
    The main room
    The most controversial part of the installation was the table. Made from an old slate slab from a sink excavated while cleaning up the site. It was seen as an altar. The water wheel that supported the wood arms was from the original farm and also excavated. The orange plastic was a bonanza find- they had unknown function, but I cut them into fragments and wired them into place.
  • Forest House performance
    Forest House performance
    A simple 15 min performance to drums.
  • Forest House: The upper platform
    Forest House: The upper platform
    On top of two intersecting walls, I constructed this platform, accessed by a stairs.
  • Forest House: view of the cove
    Forest House: view of the cove
    A donated cement bust was incorporated into the southwest corner of the installation overlooking the slope down to the cove, where waterfowl were often gathered.
  • Forest House
    Forest House
    Detail next to the main entrance.

Recycled Ocean: Performance Work

My performance work began in 1995, during Artscape's memorable complex of installations- The Ecstatic Garden of Sublime Delerium, which was located in the former Decker Gallery of MICA's Station Building. After creating a multi chambered installation in a 20' x 20' x 20' square space, I realized that I wanted to integrate my presence into the installation. So, I covered myself in the same stressed and torn plastics used in the installation and in effect, became part of the experience.

This continued for a few years before I began doing solo performances independent of an installation.  This was also the first time that I opened the work and invited other artists friends to participate. This led to an increasing interest in collaborations.

The majority of those performances took place in two venues. The first was during the initial seven years of the American Museum of Visionary Art, where I worked on staff. In addition to installing the exhibitions, I led off the museum's parades at their yearly festivals. The other venue was during successive Artscape festivals. Over time, I've traveled as far as Southeast Asia, performing at locations along the Mekong River, up on the Plain of Jars and at Anghor Wat.

During the year that I was a senior Fulbright scholar to Korea, (2003-04), I was invited to a series of festivals, including sold out performances at Theatre Zero, at that time a cutting edge space. I also began to develop an interest in Japanese Butoh, which led to several impromptu performances around Seoul, on the streets and in the subways. One of my primary projects was to have my performances filmed in different locations around Korea and compiled into a DVD- Inbetween.

In 2004, having returned to MICA, I organized Recycled Ocean- a performance at MICA's Falvey Hall with 16 of my students and the world fusion band, Telesma, then just beginning to be recognized. It was well received.

There are ten DVDs of various performances, from dancing among Christo's Gates in Central Park to an appearance on Maryland Public Television.
These performances have since inspired several print series. In addition the costumes have been used as suspended additions to my installations.
  • Turtleship, South Korea
    Turtleship, South Korea
    A still from a performance on board a reproduction of one of Korea's historic armor-plated turtle ships, located in a naval history park on the very southern tip of the peninsula. My two assistants are wearing Naval Officer costumes from the Chosin Dynasty. The video, Inbetween, is a series of short performances and was shot in various locations around Korea, from Seoul, to the mountains and southern coasts. This image is in the catalogue.
  • The American Museum of Visionary Art
    The American Museum of Visionary Art
    The gold Mylar costume used in the finale of Recycled Ocean- and shown here as a welcome to the 2006 International Fulbright Conference lunch hosted by the museum.
  • Maryland Public Television
    Maryland Public Television
    Artworks this Week- #545 An impromptu performance with friends, to the sound of Telesma
  • Ocean (a still)
    Ocean (a still)
    Ocean was shot amid Cristo's Gates in Central Park. The video is 30 min, with, at times, as many as seven overlapping layers. There are two versions on each DVD- words and without words.
  • Angkhor
    The Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia- 2001. I performed in a number of locations, also in Laos and along the Mekong River. A very wild time full of adventures.
  • Ghost
    2015- Performance at Maryland Art Place. Photo by Ariston Jacks
  • Orouri-The Scent of Light series
    Orouri-The Scent of Light series
    The first ship inspired many photographic experiments, most done during the evening hours and during the various seasons during it's six years of existence. This image was shot in 2004. George Maris was dancing in minus 40 degrees. 2 editions- Cybachrome- 30" x 24" edition of 3 permanent pigment gyclee 11 x 7 edition of 5
  • Corehands
    A solo performance on the roof garden of Corehands- a cutting edge design firm in Seoul, Korea= as part of the Seoul international Performance Festival. It was a wild night- windy and a packed crowd. the edges of the rails were lined with my materials. A high point during my Fulbright in 2003.
  • The Arbor of Unfulfilled Desire
    The Arbor of Unfulfilled Desire
    Artscape,1994- Laure Drugal's The Garden of Sublime Delerium. A 20'x20'x20' interactive installation of 8 rooms-three overhead platforms, three stairs, a black room, a white room and the rest in red, cinnamon scented shredded plastic bags being blown about by oscillating fans. Lights faded in and out on electronic relays. This inspired the creation of my first costume and performance. So, I also invited several other artists and a dance troupe to experiment with their own performance work- this was my first collaborative experience.
  • Overcome by a Hairy Doubt!
    Overcome by a Hairy Doubt!
    The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland, June/July 2014. An informal skit during the residency that began at the dinner table.