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Monday, November 14, 2016

"Totems" Project

This collaboration with Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny is a sort-of follow-up on the “Nichos” Project from the last show; in that we will be using the top of the same tree trunk that “Nichos” came from and using it, a very different and more dynamic and sculptural piece, which looks a little like a rustic musical conductor and has branch-arms and a natural top.  The concept is “Totem” and will be based on ‘totems’ of all sorts that will be dynamically projected back onto the trunk and will include, also, figures, such as a woodpecker that pops out in 3D.  There will be other affects that reinforce the dynamic of a totem pole, but will be more modern and include 3D mapping of the tree, digital projection of totemic elements back onto the surface of the actual trunk and also include solid sculptures of ‘totemic’ figures as well as abstract moving design and special lighting and sound effects. It might be nice to have an interactive aspect that allows the viewer to ‘select’ their personal totems and have them arranged on the ‘pole’.  Special care will be taken to not engage in cultural thuggery of any sort and not over-borrow from Native American cultural sensitivities. The piece will take care not to be cutesy and mundane, but meditative, transcendental and modern/abstract, engaging the emotions rather than avoiding them.  The idea comes from the artist’s life-long interest and desire to express their own totem images as serious personal explorations and giving others the permission and challenge to think about their stories and what they mean and this is all designed to have the viewers connect, once again, with the natural world.

"Totems" Project  (an example of the type of digital projecting/mapping proposed for the "Totems" Project).  ( the "Totems" 'tree' being explored by a cat, suggesting the dynamics we are going for)  (tree of Liberty in San Francisco)$g_5eef128e_78e9_4aa6_be14_5eb37a235157;4;6      Sentosa Resort 40th birthday video

curved bill thrasher by Thor on branch

example of projection mapping on a fig tree

Top of "Nichos" trunk from original aspen tree and proposed sculptural base for digital projecting and other features projected and associated with this object for the new 2017 "Totems" Project by Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny.
This is a recently written piece that becomes the mental model that leads to the "Totems" Project:

Totems and Why, Eventually, All Subjects In Our Family Lead to Talk of Okra and/or Rattlesnakes.
              -by Thor Sigstedt  2016
If I were to manifest…. a ‘totem’ pole for me and my family/clan (I have thought about creating since I was a boy, but not clearly incorporating, oddly, my own personal natural symbols), then I am thinking it would include some pretty interesting natural forces, many of which I have sculpted and photographed over the years and which would include…a toad, dancers, an elk, a golden eagle, an indian paintbrush, grapes, currants, meteorites, a raven (of course), a donkey (of course),  a sort-of Quetzalcoatl (which is a feathered serpent)  and/or rattlesnake, a tortoise and….an ent (not an ant, but an e-n-t).

Bull Elk

Golden Eagle by Thor

Thor’s cast glass turtle shell

Tortoise in San Miguel de Allende


Toad and Dancers by Thor

rattler and meteorite by Thor

"EAT" donkey by Thor

Raven by Thor

Thor and Rattlesnake

Donkey by Thor

Base of Nichos

 But first, let me backtrack and tell a little story:  I was on Sibley (road) a year or two ago, Sibley being the basically infamous confederate commander of the Texas Volunteers who lost the ‘Gettysburg of the West’ battle of Glorietta; Sibley himself drinking the time away in ‘Burque and Santa (Fe), then chased all the way back down the Rio Grande to Texas and disgraced; well, it is an unfortunate name for a beautiful road on the east side of a grand chain of red, then whitish rock outcrops forming a sort of ‘hogback’, as my grandmother described such a thing.  I was on Sibley Road building a stone wall for a long-time friend there, working hard and suddenly a small snake leapt out of the cracks of the stones or rubble where I was and I, taken off-guard emotionally, sort-of instinctively and out-of-character for me, really….summarily killed, by shovel, the poor little thing, vaguely suspicious that this was a rattler…. on the spot.  A newly acquired friend, an other neighbor, just happened to drive by, then stop, soon after this and I confessed to him my odd deed, despite my knowledge that this fellow, the man, was a conservationist/naturalist sort of guy and, sure enough, he was ‘not amused’ by what I did and said as much and then, later, with his grandson, ‘planted’ a few little rubber snakes in same-said wall, perhaps as a way of moderating and remembering his condemnation into a sort of prank.                                                                                                                                                                    

The irony is that, having lived in these parts for nearly 40 years, since I was a young whelp of sorts; I had summarily executed quite a few rattlers, as we all did back in those days, what with a culture that dictated it and young children around, etc. (I do, though, remember chastising a young man in Yosemite who had just killed one on the trail…thinking, even back then, that the snakes were entitled to safe passage in wilderness areas).   Then, as the years crawled, perhaps slithered, by, I became aware, somewhere deep inside me, that I did not really want to do this anymore and, with the help of a gentle giant man who was in recovery from ‘Sibley’s disease’ and working for me and living here, I stopped killing them.  We encountered one under my dump truck and I asked if he knew a way to catch them (somehow he looked like he would) and he, on the spot, made a stick and small rope ‘noose’ (drill two holes in the end of the wood and laced the thick twine through them) which we caught it with and perhaps a dozen or two over the years (I did, though, lengthen the stick, as a further precaution!...being basically afraid of snakes, myself) and thus became known for catching them in the neighborhood and got calls to ‘help’ and I would release them when I found the time; to other locations which will remain anonymous, but I did, the first time; call the animal control people up in Espanola, I think, and they said some people let em go at Cochiti Pueblo.  That gave me ‘a good idea’ and I did let a few go near an un-named golf course in a fancy part of town.             

I had noticed that, in all the times that I caught them (prairie rattlers); I was never struck at by them even once.  I learned that they were not mean (but very scary) in any way that I could see and they were mostly anxious to be at peace, despite the rattling, which I took as a warning that this was not a situation to be toyed with; danger rang out!...a boundary was on the verge of being crossed.   I have since paid attention to who gets injured by them in this country and the statistics show that many of bite incidents are in the company of drunk men mussing around with them!  (approximately 40 percent of all snakebites occur in people who are handling or playing with snakes, and 40 percent of all people bitten had a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.1 percent).
Being loosely associated with a serpent is a way of saying, “Don’t Tread On Me”, ‘keep good boundaries’ and ‘do not belittle what I am or think you can get wasted and toy with me or pretend I am not powerful or think you can hurt or ‘kill’ me because you think I am lowly’; because I am a beautiful, impressive, valuable, sober, surviving, indigenous, sometimes frightened, important creature that is well suited to the area.  I can bite and look ferocious; I am nobody’s ‘pet coon’; maybe not the best friend to a casual observer, but pretty interesting to be around.  In a way, let’s say, my warning creates, paradoxically….safety for all of us. 
I want to add that I think we all can have our personal totems and thus we find a way to let others know who we are or how we want to be considered, lest others mistake them for something they are not. Please let me know yours….

As a footnote, I will add that I no longer make a point of catching and relocating rattlers, but will simply walk around them and enjoy them from a suitable distance and try to teach others to do the same………and more on Okra…..later..(don’t get her started)!

 Ent by Thor    
Thor's Grizzly in Yellowstone
Quetzalcoatl: means beautiful (feathered) serpent/snake

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thor Sigstedt and Nate Metheny in Pasatiempo!

Great press!.... "Several pieces stood out. One, Nichos, is a knotted, branchless tree with small portals resembling holes poked out by woodpeckers that you can peer into. Inside are little scenes that seem like memories of things the tree has witnessed in its long life — a combination of miniature work, video, and holograms. A fiery red light illuminates the tree from within, as though it was burning inside. Nichos was created by Santa Fe-based artists Nate Metheny and Thor Sigstedt." -Michael Abatemarco (reviewer for Pasatiempo)     (spelling for Nate is Metheny, typo problem)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

this link should take you to a slide show showcasing Adventure Trails Ranch landscapes (mostly)For Movie Set Link

and.....lots more....and ....lots more...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Raku Rukus III Come make raku objects with Dean Howell and Thor Sigstedt
When? Starts Saturday April 9th at 10:00 am 2016 at Dean Howell Art Studio and then follow-up glazing and burning at Adventure Trails Ranch along the creek on April 16th.
$75 including materials!
Dean's Art Studio address: 1575 Center Court 87507
Dean's phone number: 466-2838 or Thor 466-4403 or facebook message works for Thor Sigstedt

In the Japanese language, the word RAKU means “beautiful”, and has been used for        centuries to describe the ritual, the process, & the clay cups associated with the        Japanese, sake and tea-drinking ceremonies.  Contemporary artists and craftspeople all      over the world have adopted and adapted the process to their own cultures, and       personal methods of self expression.  The RAKU process of firing clay—by sudden         immersion/removal from red-hot firing chambers—offers beautiful visual effects on         glazes & clay objects…as well as providing unusual & stimulating, visual experiences        for the maker of the objects, and for all who witness the dynamic process!     

The RAKU process lends itself immediately to contemporary forms of expression, while maintaining its original capacity of representing ritual, and ethnic expression.  Given its adaptive nature & relatively low budget & overhead—as a three dimensional and sculptural experience—it has become a very popular choice of students of all ages & skill levels.  Though not yet a basic, required medium/process in most programs, it still has all the educational advantages for the developing art student or novice.   The process helps develop sensibilities in depth perception, skills in a plastic medium, vision & tolerance for the unknown, and opportunities to integrate “art & science”.  Educationally, RAKU has come to be synonymous with “successful experience”.

This RUKUS provides a comprehensive study of the RAKU process for SCULPTURE—its tools, creative/technical processes, and materials.  Specifically, the participants learn: 1.) …the nature of RAKU clay bodies & glazes; 2.) …how to design & build RAKU kilns; 3.)  …how to create a rukus... SCULPTURAL OBJECTS for the RAKU process; 4.) …how to conduct a RAKU firing; 5.) …the safety & environmental concerns of the RAKU process; 6.)…most importantly…the “spontaneous & deliberate” character of  the RAKU RUKUS!!;

Wednesday, March 9, 2016