The Power of Three

The best things come in threes. Or was that just celebrity deaths? –Either way, three is a powerful number.
There is something oddly satisfying about a group of three: Three objects can create symmetry, three links can form a circle, and three phrases can make a list lyrical.
In Kevin Robb’s latest sculpture in his Calypso series, Calypso #62, three red and curving panels connected by stainless fastenings, each with different designs etched into the surface, hang together to create a shape pleasing to the eye and yet still evocative to the viewer.
The middle panel swerves in directions opposite to its brothers and has markings like that of cursive letters; the left hand panel has circles like red blood cells patterned into it; the right, swirls to remind one of roses. Each unique and yet all having the same sheen that create the illusion of movement to the viewer. A sea of floating scripts, a shower of roses, a microscopic stream of blood. What do they have in common?
I think we’ve all been a part of a group of three at some point in our lives.
Sometimes we’re on the end of a threesome, the almost-third-wheel that’s a little bit more different than the other two. Always a little awkward but trying so hard, we never really fit into this lop-sided friendship, but instead find ourselves standing on the edge and peering in.
Or maybe we’re the connecting piece — the emotional translator in a friendship between two extreme personalities, the child between two divorced parents, the one that makes the other two make sense. We are the common denominator and we are good at pulling people together to show them their similarities, not their differences.
But the best kind of three is when we find the right three, all just similar enough and different enough to form a perfect bond. It means that we perfectly round each other out and create something greater and more beautiful through our connection.
You’ve seen it. There’s something of a mystery about it. How could three be so unique yet incomplete without the other two? Together they are stronger. Take just even one away and an empty space is left that changes the other two and makes them somehow lesser than they were.
Three is powerful!

Guest blogger Sarah Ampleman

2015-03-20 13.54.55 Calypso #62 Red

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The Language of Lingo

Words connect us. They fill the space that’s left between us and pull us closer together.  Words are all around us, on the tip of your tongue, and the edge of my ear. We speak and hear them every day.
But imagine if you couldn’t speak, if you couldn’t use words to convey your thoughts and emotions to others. How frustrating it must be to get others to understand you!
After his stroke, Kevin Robb was left with the ability to pronounce only certain vowel sounds and letters. So conversations with this artist are kept to a minimum.
But that doesn’t stop Kevin from expressing himself in his art! He may not be able to give speeches about his technique or explain what went into creating his sculptures, but he does communicate his ideas through his art.
Take the Lingo sculptures –both made of stainless steel, 34 and 50 inches in height respectively. They feature two ribbons of solid steel surrounded and connected by other ribbons of steel with letters cut out of them. The letter ribbons playfully dance around them and create a world for just those two.
Because lingo, after all, are usually foreign words spoken by a specific group of people. It is something that is unique to one place or community, and even to one relationship. We all have words or phrases that mean something different with the ones that we love, our own special jargon that we wouldn’t share with anyone else.
The Lingo sculptures capture this sense of intimacy and familiarity and communicate that even though Kevin may not be able to pronounce every letter of the alphabet, he still has a language and dialect to speak that is understood by those who know his lingo.

Guest blogger Sarah Ampleman

Lingo #1 Kevin Robb Lingo #2

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Drawing Inspiration from Sculpture

It is an artist’s work to inspire the world. Nothing can quite soothe and uplift the soul like a thing of beauty. It speaks a word of understanding and hope that sometimes no one could quite communicate to the grieving or sorrowful. And Kevin’s sculpture Fountain Spirit II does just that. This 12 foot stainless steel structure lifts its own arms to the sky in praise.

Fountain Spirit II e
With its beams designed to raise the eye to new heights, Fountain Spirit II naturally allows its viewer to relax his shoulders as he gazes upwards. Whether in a personal garden, office park, or public grounds, this work of art draws the weary to its feet and renews their spirits.
Because, as humans, we forget to look up, to look for hope, to revel in the abundance of life that is ours. We need those who are always pointing to a better way. And it’s no surprise that Kevin is one of those people.
His favorite sculpture, after all, is, “the sculpture that is about to become a reality,” to quote the January 2014 Kevin Robb Studios Newsletter. What speaks more of a hope than the constant turning towards a new creation? Or of joy than the ever appreciative eye, taking in all the world and transforming it into beautiful things?

2014-02-10 13.16.09

Sarah Ampleman

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Joining Forces: The Artist and His Art

If you ask any type of artist, they will tell you that the finished product is never exactly what they envisioned when they started creating. They will tell you that you can’t force anything, that you will completely ruin the art if you do. Creativity is not just making something from nothing, but being flexible enough to adapt your plans to unforeseen problems that arise. Sometimes the greatest works of art are created when things take an unexpected twist.

It’s all about listening.

Artists are known for telling their stories through their canvasses, whether oil, marble, or metal, but lesser known for listening to their blank pages before they even lift a pen. Kevin would tell you that the metal will tell him what to do. If he is fighting with the material to do something that it doesn’t want to do, he’ll take a step back to reevaluate and let the metal speak for itself.

There’s a certain amount of giving up of control in creating art. You can’t always do what you want; it doesn’t always fit with what the work of art was meant to be. And most of the time, what is meant to be is greater than what the artist first imagined anyway.

Creating art requires a kind of humility and courage to be able to let go of set plans and be open to what can be. And beautiful things come about when true collaboration takes place. Perhaps Kevin’s stainless steel sculpture Joining Forces best exhibits this perfect partnership between the artist and his art.

The viewer’s eye is first drawn to the center point of this sculpture, a star shaped piece

touching the base. Two streams of waving steel connect with the middle piece on opposite ends. Though the sculpture could be interpreted as a shooting star with two tails, I think it shows the great explosion of light and creativity that occurs when two people or things join forces and use their energies toward the same goal, when one person gives way to another for the sake of a better union. Or, when an artist gives up his dream and instead listens to and works with his art, creating something greater than just the sheet of metal by itself or the idea in his head.

- Sarah Ampleman

“Joining Forces”  17 inch stainless steel sculpture

2013-06-26 11.48.51 Joining Forces e

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How Do You Capture The Moon? With Sculpture, Of Course!

We’re all familiar with the popular musical The Sound of Music. Who can forget such endearing songs as “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “My Favorite Things,” and [How Do You Solve a Problem Like] “Maria.” It’s this last song that comes to mind when viewing Kevin Robb’s sculpture Capturing the Moon. This fabricated bronze sculpture brings the last lines of “Maria” to life.

“How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”

In Kevin’s sculpture three swaths of grey flecked bronze, two floating and one anchored, capture the moon. They could be clouds closing in on this orb of reflecting light to hide its magnificence or firmer bars clamping down on this moving ball to hold it in place. But these jailers seem to have a movement of their own, their sculpted shapes reminiscent of undulating waves.

Either way, the sculpture itself represents achieving the impossible. Hold a moonbeam in your hand? It can’t be done!

But art reminds us to dream, to try what we think can’t be done. Whether placed outside an office building to inspire and drive a company vision or within the alcoves of a home to encourage creativity and wonder, this sculpture prompts the viewer to ponder the question: How do you hold a moonbeam in our hand? How do you solve a problem like….? And what would you do with ‘the moon,’ whatever your moon is, once you have it?

Capturing the Moon motivates us to capture the treasures of our lives and hold them in our hands.

-Sarah Ampleman

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette-Rick McFarland Capturing The Moon F Capturing The Moon in snow

 

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The Perchability of Sculptures

Things look different from a bird’s eye view, don’t they? People look smaller from up in the air when jet streams catch feathered wings and carry them aloft to new perches. We, as humans, are always out to find the next best thing to make our lives better, but I have a feeling, so are our feathered friends. Hopping from branch to branch, cocking heads, and calling out notes to one another, these birds are always on the move, always testing out new places.
So it was only natural that they should try out Kevin Robb’s sculpture “Chop Sticks,” on display as part of the Unbound: Sculpture in the Field exhibit at the Arvada Center. And, apparently they spent quite some time on this strange stainless steel tree, as evidenced by the large amount of droppings coating the creation. Thanks are in order to a personal friend that lives close by for taking it upon herself to clean off such additions to Kevin’s art.
But then, don’t we stop to think and enjoy the view when we find a good perch, ourselves? The adventurous young climber tests out limbs until he makes it to the top and enjoys a victorious surveillance of his new realm, and the unhurried hiker looks for a place to rest and listen to the wind in the leaves, or, the whispers of the heart.
Good art moves our minds to leave our bodies behind in flights of imagination and intellect. They provide places to perch while our thoughts are elsewhere, roaming the world in search of truth, the best home for our souls.
But, thankfully, we don’t need to leave behind fecal matter to show our appreciation for such wonders.
Guest blogger Sarah Ampleman

"Chop Sticks" / 7’4” in height / Stainless Steel

“Chop Sticks” /
7’4” in height /
Stainless Steel

 

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Contemporary Sculpture Vs. Vectors

I’m a friend of the Robb”s and decided that I wanted to move to Colorado after finishing grad school. The Robb’s have graciously opened their home so I have a place to stay while job searching.

By training and education I’m an analytical chemist. I like to know how and why things work; math, equations, laws, and principles are my best friends. This is the reason the Robb’s sculpture gardens is my worst enemy. I look out there and I see these magnificent sculptures that have no business standing upright, yet they are standing tall without being secured to the ground. My friend “vectors” are telling me all the reasons that these sculptures should be falling over, yet they stand so proudly and grand. It’s incredibly aggravating.

On a recent evening after Kevin came in from the studio I asked him what kind of calculations he did to ensure that a sculpture would stand. He looked at me and grinned and said, “No” while shaking his head. He looked back at me and was able to decipher the utter disbelief/amazement/confusion on my face. He pointed out the window to a sculpture containing three pieces and then said, “1, 2, 3” while counting on his fingers as if to show me it was just that easy.

I hope I find a job quickly because looking out in that sculpture garden gives me a headache. But I am so incredibly thankful that there are people in the world like Kevin who are able to balance out the people like me, because that balance is what makes the world a more beautiful place.

Guest Author Caroline Esch

"Discovering the Stars" • Height: 17' • (on a 3 foot base – total height 20 feet) • Stainless Steel

“Discovering the Stars” •
Height: 17′ • (on a 3 foot base – total height 20 feet) • Stainless Steel

 

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Art and Healthcare = Positive Results

There was a great article in the WSJ on August 18, 2014  (http://online.wsj.com/articles/more-hospitals-use-the-healing-powers-of-public-art-1408404629?KEYWORDS=art+and+healthcare+facilities) touting the benefits of the healing powers of art in healthcare facilities.  For years the thinking was that art work in a healthcare facility should just be soothing, nature based, and possibly loosely figurative.  Today the trend is moving towards more contemporary and diverse works of art.  This article sites studies that show the aim “is to take your mind away from the disease and replace the time you are losing inside hospital with some beauty”.

This last fall we had the opportunity to install a 12 foot stainless steel contemporary sculpture in the center courtyard of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.  The patients and visitors can view it from walking around it in the courtyard or from their rooms looking down upon it.  It is our hope that, if only for a moment, this sculpture takes their minds off the horrors of cancer.

"Inspirations"

“Inspirations”

"Inspirations"

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Should I Buy This Sculpture?

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Oscar Wilde

Once in a while a quote will jump out and speak directly to you, and this is the case with this quote. And let’s take it the next step, not in the creating of art but in collecting art. We have always encouraged collectors to buy what they love, not necessarily buy what the designer says, what color the couch is, nor to buy because the artist is up and coming and might prove profitable in the future.

There are some basic questions that need to be asked before a person should purchase a piece of art that will be a part of their lives:
1. Does the piece of art work speak to you?
2. Do you feel an emotional attachment to it?
3. Do you think about it? In a positive way?
4. When you walk by it does it stir some feelings within you? Sometimes these feelings can be explained by the subject matter or by understanding what the artist is trying to say, sometimes not.  Just because the artist sees something in it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to see the same thing.
5. Do you like it? How’s that for plain and simple, yet so very powerful!

The joy of collecting art is the joy of surrounding yourself with items that you feel an emotional attachment to and that bring you pleasure. That is the reason for collecting art.

"Visiting Orion"

“Visiting Orion”

 

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Metal Wall Sculptures Enhance Patio Areas

In homes and offices we just assume there will be art on the walls and expect to see it when we walk into a room, but why limit it to just the indoors? Metal wall sculpture can be a true enhancement to any patio area! Many times those outdoor walls are cold and stark and we tend to just accept them as utilitarian but they certainly don’t need to be so. A splash of color, an interesting design, attention grabbing assemblage – this creates total interest to an otherwise predictable wall. Patios are generally designed as relaxation areas as is evidenced in the lounging furniture that is so prevalent and when the walls are ignored there is a missed opportunity for tying in design to the total area, making the area a completed designed space. Utilizing metal in a sculpture on an outdoor wall assures that the sculpture will withstand the test of weather and a person can place it and forget it. This alone can decrease stress in our otherwise busy lives!

1013back-installed

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