There is something so natural, so organic in the shape and design of a mobile. The balance and proportion, the delicate play of this original kinetic art has a certain timeless quality. That said, it’s hard to believe that this most natural of kinetic delights was first conceived by American sculpture Alexander Calder in the 1930’s. Born into a family of artists, his mother was a painter, both his grandfather and father were sculptors, Calder studied mechanical engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. After which he held several engineering jobs thereafter including working for a time on a passenger ship that sailed between New York and San Francisco, before retreating to the woods of Aberdeen, Washington where he worked as a time keeper at a logging camp. Loving the nature but dissatisfied with the work, Calder returned to New York City to pursue a career in the family vocation, art.
In 1926 Calder moved to Paris where he met fellow artist and lifelong friend Joan Miró, as well as other avant-garde artists including Marcel Duchamp and Jean Arp. His earliest creations were toys made of wood and wire. Known as Cirque Calder, his first major work won him praise from his fellow artists as well as the general public who flocked to see this miniature circus. Calder designed it to fit conveniently in a suitcase. The simple construction of Cirque Calder held the seeds for his what was to be his greatest innovation. He started by working on a kind of sculpture that would be motor driven. It was these initial works of moving leaves, birds and fish that Marcel Duchamp famously named “mobiles.” It was the work of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, and his good friend Miró that led him to embrace the sensibilities of abstract art, thus abandoning both the images from nature and the motor. All this, combined with his engineering background allowed him to break free from the static art of the past.
While Calder went on to create large, even monumental sculptures (the ones that don’t move are known as stabiles) as well as painting and jewelry, this prolific artist is best known for his mobiles.
Fall has arrived and for many of us that means that cooler winds are blowing the wind sculptures in our backyards. For those of us living in New England who are just coming off a cooler than average summer, and still have last years brutal winter fresh in our minds, the big question is just what kind of winter can we expect?
I recently overheard a conversation at a local coffee shop. The subject was, what else, the weather.
“Well you know what they say. A cool summer usually precedes a very cold winter.”
“Who exactly is they,” their friend asked.
“I’m not really sure, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, maybe?”
That’s when I thought I’d see what the revered “Old Farmer” had to say when it comes to what we might all expect this winter. But first, did you know that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in the US? Originally known as The Farmer’s Almanac, It was first published in 1792. According to wikipedia, the founder of the Almanac Robert B. That’s when I thought I’d see what the revered “Old Farmer” had to say when it comes to what we might all expect this winter. But first, did you know that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in the US? Originally known as The Farmer’s Almanac, It was first published in 1792. According to wikipedia, the
founder of the Almanac Robert B. Thomas “studied solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns and used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, which is still in use today.” Thomas “studied solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns and used his research to develop a secret forecasting formula, which is still in use today.”
A quick trip to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website confirmed what I’d overheard to be true. “Brrrrrr!” OFA was predicting a “bitter cold” winter with “heavy” snow for New England. The Forecast Here’s what the OFA’s is saying for winter 2014 - 2015 for the rest of the nation.
Regarding Temperature, the word is that three quarters of the nation should expect colder than normal temps with the Great Lakes and the Northern Plains experiencing the coldest conditions in late January into early February. Temps in these places could go as low as minus 40. Both coasts are expected to be only slightly more temperate, meaning near normal conditions.
As for precipitation, the Pacific Northwest, some of the Southwestern states and the Northern Plains can expect near normal amounts of precipitation. While the upper mid-west and the Great Lakes Region are likely to experience below normal precipitation - most likely due in part to that extreme cold. The central and southern plains should see above normal amounts of precipitation. The OFA tells us that ten days in January along with the first week of February have been “red flagged” for the Atlantic seaboard to experience harsh winter weather. This means heavy snow and strong winds. Another “red flag” has been
planted on mid-March for the nation’s midsection and the east coast to experience more “wintery”
One open question is the return of El Nino, This phenomenon is caused by the warm Pacific air currents. An El Nino could provide great relief to drought ravaged California and other Southern States. It could even mean slightly warmer temperatures resulting in more rain, less snow and cold to the north and east. The El Nino effect is strongest from December to April. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
A couple more fun facts about the OFA.
• The Farmers Almanac became the Old Farmers Almanac in 1832, when Robert B. Thomas, who served as it’s first editor for fifty years, added “Old” to the name to celebrate the fact his publication had beat out all other competitors.
• Ever wonder why there’s a whole in upper left hand corner of every copy of the OFA? Thomas decided to drill a hole in the corner of each copy to make it easier for the user to hang it on a nail or thread a string through it.
• While the OFA has been published steadily from it’s birthplace in Dublin, NH from it’s beginning there was nearly an unexpected hiatus during World War II. Apparently a German spy who had been arrested in New York was found to have a copy of the OFA in his pocket. According to the US Office of Censorship’s voluntary code of Wartime Practices, Weather was listed as one of several subjects which may be of value to the enemy. To ensure that their long history of publication went unbroken the OFA substituted weather indicators for their in-depth forecasts from 1943 through the end of the war in 1945.
The cool breezes that gently spin our “Spinning Leaves” is a mystery to most of us. The way our kinetic sculptures capture the wind is almost magical. Of course most of us have also seen the extraordinary power of the wind from a Hurricane, or the devastation caused by a Tornado. What causes the wind to blow?
First and foremost is the difference in air temperature. We all know heat rises. When the sun heats the earth it warms the air above it causing it to rise. Cool air replaces the rising hot air and we have wind. You can observe this in the ripples that form on a lake as the rising sunwarms the early morning air.
Looking at the wind on a global scale we see this hot air rising from the equator and moving north. As it cools it falls back to the earth’s surface. This atmospheric circulation pattern known as a Hadley Cell - low pressure and converging winds, plus something known as the Coriolis effect - produces what are known as tropical easterlies or “trade winds.”
The Coriolis effect - stay with me - is the deflection of winds moving along the surface of the Earth to the right of the direction of the earth’s rotation in the Northern hemisphere, and to the left of the Earth’s rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. This can be seen in those satellite pictures of a large cyclones where winds around the center will appear to move counter clockwise in the North, and clockwise in the south.
This combination of temperature and barometric pressure - air bumping into air and the earths surface - generates winds of different speeds. High barometric pressure produces calm weather, whereas low barometric pressure results in unsettled weather and higher wind speeds. So next time you’re enjoying the simple play of your Hypnartic Artworks wind sculpture, think of the complexity blowing in that wind.
Yes, it’s Autumn and nothings says fall like Mum’s. Chrysanthemums, that is. You needn’t look
far. With nearly 40 species and a wide range of shapes and colors, they are everywhere. These lively flowers originally from East Asia are a hardy happy sign that cooler weather doesn’t have to shorten the life of your garden. Gardeners will frequently tell you that if you want to make a big statement, there’s no better way than with mums.
While mums appear later in the year the best time to plant them is in the spring. You’ll find them available as annuals or perennials. Note that annual fall plantings leave the longevity of your blooms tentative at best. While spring planted annuals will guarantee you marvelous colors each fall. Another distinction to be aware of when it comes to mums is the difference between Florist mums and Hardy mums. Florist mums are a hybrid and are less likely to do well in the garden. Lastly, while mums flourish in a cooler weather, they still require a good six hours of sunlight each day.
Growing and Pinching Mums
Young spring mums will require some pinching to encourage branching and more blooms. Learn more about how to make the most of these fall favorites here.
We hear many words used to describe the experience of observing our Hypnartic Artwork sculptures. These “wind spinners” as some call them create or evoke a sense of calm, an almost meditative state. In this crazy busy world we find ourselves living in today, a state of calm repose, a retreat from the hustle and bustle of this digital age is not just a welcome treat, it is a necessity. ! Finding a peaceful moment to gather ones’ thoughts, reflect on the days events, even make important decisions, shouldn’t be a luxury even if it may feel like one. Maybe your favorite spot to meditate is your backyard in the twirling shade cast by “Spinning Leaves” or our “Wind Weaver?” Perhaps it’s in your cubical at lunchtime, or on the couch before dinner? The goal of meditation is to calm and refocus the mind.
Meditations on meditating
Depending on the type of practice you choose - five to ten minutes twice a day or up to 20 minutes in the early morning and again in the evening - meditation itself may seem like a luxury. After all, who can find forty extra minutes in the day to sit and, at least, appear to be doing nothing? Historically meditation has been associated with one of many religious faiths. In the East, meditation has historically been the pursuit of religious men, Buddhist Monks and Zen Masters. While in the west, at least up until the 20th century, it has been studied and it’s effectiveness debated by intellectuals and philosophers. The Eastern goal of spiritual growth, while still a vital part of the meditation practice for most Buddhists, Hindus, Taoist’s and others, has been supplanted in the West by the need for stress reduction and relaxation for those seeking peaceful repose through meditation. Over the last 60 years or so the teaching and practice of meditation has become truly secularized. What was at first a key to serenity espoused by certain academics and the “beats” in the 1950’s, became a path toward enlightenment popularized by the Beatles and adopted by the hippies in the 1960’s has become in the 21st century a way to de- stress, refocus and refresh for soccer moms and techies. Meditation, along with Yoga ,has broken free of its religious connotations to offer an ancient answer to a modern question. There are of course many ways to practice meditation. There is also no end to the number of books, videos, classes, retreats, workshops, websites and yoga studios where one can gain insight into the healing power of meditation. So where to start?
Two Kinds of Meditation
Two major types of secular mediation have surfaced in the public consciousness overthe past 60 years. Transcendental Mediation (TM) developed and propagated byMaharishi Mahesh Yogi and more recently Mindfulness Meditation a product of the “Mindfulness Movement” initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970’s.
TM, a form of “mantra mediation” is one of the most widely practiced in the world, was introduced in India in the mid 1950’s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Using simple instructional techniques, a person practicing TM is expected to meditate twice a day for 15 - 20 minutes each time. The practice is simple, and intended to tap into natural processes already available to the mind. Sitting comfortably with eyes closed the student uses a mantra - comprised of a single sanskrit word chosen for them by their teacher based on their vocation and temperament. The mantra serves as a sort of placeholder which surfaces in the mind along with other random thoughts that may occur during a meditation session. A great deal of scientific research has been done on TM that indicates a transformation of brain wave patterns during meditation. Such transformations appear to have benefits to mental health and even physical well being outside of the meditation session, provided TM is practiced regularly. Proponents of TM speak of a deep relaxation and an inner joy, as well as renewed vitality and creativity.
Mindfulness Meditation makes similar claims for it meditation practice. Made popular through the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a student of Buddhism. Kabat-Zinn adapted the Buddhist techniques and teachings on mindfulness and founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program incorporatted the practice of mediation into an overall way of being mindful. Mindfulness is the act of being truly present. Mindfulness Meditation helps in achieving this state by the simple practice of focusing on the breath. A student of Mindfulness Meditation would sit quietly with eyes closed, on a cushion on the floor or seated in a chair. Sessions are initially short (5 to 10 minutes) until the participant gains becomes more confident in their focus on the breath. Returning to the breath when the mind wanders is said to increase the power of concentration while at the same time relieving the mind of it’s tendency to focus on either the past or the future.
As in the case of TM, there is much ongoing research to see if the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation might be incorporated along with exercise and diet into a new health regimen for the 21st century.
So as you contemplate the shimmer of our “Solar Reflections,” it’s light moving always upward. Consider the power of meditation. It may a quiet answer to this increasingly noisy world.
The banks of the Charles River in Cambridge near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provided an ideal stage for the Solar Reflections wind sculpture to pirouette like a graceful Boston Ballet ballerina during a public debut of the Hypnartic Artwork product line in June.
As Solar Reflections easily captured natural breezes, the stainless steel sculpture continuously rotated while effortlessly harnessing kinetic energy produced from the wind. The sculpture’s meticulous engineering and innovative design was tested in real time while set alongside the fitting location encompassing the renowned physical science and research university and iconic river landmark.
The unexpected presence of the towering yet stable sculpture attracted the interest of curious passersby including tourists visiting from India, Taiwan and neighboring Vermont.
The single day public installation marked the Boston debut of the company’s product line. The Bay State showcase is part of the company’s ongoing Wind Sculpture Across America Tour which to date has traveled west to scenic Sedona, AZ and back east to the coastal destinations of Kennubunkport, ME and Jamestown, RI.
Hypnartic Artwork’s collection of kinetic wind sculptures spans four eclectic artful designs including Solar Reflections cast from stainless steel, Spinning Leaves, Concord Swan and Wind Weaver cast from copper. Each sculpture seamlessly compliments, enhances and blends with virtually all outdoor settings. An ideal way to add decorative yet functional design to private suburban and city landscapes. Standing between eight and twelve feet, each Hypnartic Artwork design secures to the earth with an easy to install anchoring system consisting of durable cast iron poles and bases featuring a protective marine powder coating which ensures longevity against exposure to harsh weather and other natural elements.
Founded in Rhode Island, the Hypnartic Artwork offers exceptionally crafted wind sculptures at affordable rates. Prices range from $595.00 to $795.00. You can order directly from this web site.
Also in Boston - The Spinning Leaves Copper Wind Sculpture
We all know that one thing leads to another on the internet. It is after all the ultimate rabbit hole. Perhaps curiosity led you to google kinetic art, wind art or copper wind sculptures? Maybe you saw one of our videos on Youtube or perhaps you witnessed first hand the interleaving dance of one of our wind sculptures? How you got here is not important. But, If you’ve had a chance to look at our site and watch the video for “Spinning Leaves,” “Wind Weaver,” or any of our other art pieces we hope you know that high quality, machine crafted kinetic wind sculpture is available to you at a reasonable price.
What you may not know, is the history and background of kinetic art itself, or, what the difference is between kinetic art and sculpture? Who was it who thought to free art from the frame, to literally use the wind to breath life and beauty into an exotic but inanimate object?
Of course kinetic art itself is just one of many topics you’ll find covered here. Others, more close to home - no pun intended - will deal with landscaping, gardening, and backyard birds among other things. In other words the setting in which we place these sturdy yet ethereal moving sculptures.
Our goal is to inform and entertain, so we’ll link to stories and information that we hope will enhance your appreciation for our passion. We invite you to chime in. Your comments, pictures and video are welcome in our conversation.
Let’s start with a single question and a not so simple answer.
What is Kinetic Art?
Wikipedia tells us that “kinetic art is art from any medium that contains movement perceivable by the viewer or depends on motion for its effect. More specifically speaking, kinetic art is a term that today most often refers to three-dimensional sculptures and figures such as mobiles that move naturally or are machine operated. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor, or the observer. Kinetic art encompasses a wide variety of overlapping techniques and styles.”
For centuries, leading up to the 20th, many artists had longed to escape the frame and the two dimensionality of painting. Sculpture had a long history of course. From ancient Greece to the far east, artists carved lifelike sculptures from jade, marble and other stone. It could even be said that some of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings and designs for fabulous flying machines were concepts that held within them the spirit of kinetic art.
But it wasn’t until the 19th century, following the invention of the camera that the claustrophobia artist were experiencing on the canvass began to manifest itself in new and unusual ways. The realism of photography had negated the realist painting. The impressionists, were drawn to new techniques and products in an attempt to recreate the effects of natural light through the suggestions of brush strokes.
The cubism of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, which often incorporated collage to add dimension to the already multilayered paint, could be described as another attempt to free the art itself from the confines of the picture.
But it was a Russian born man of Jewish descent named Naum Gabo who would put the kineticin “Kinetic Art.“ Originally a medical student studying in Munich, Gabo transferred to engineering. At this same time he became interested in the abstract art of Wassily Kandinsky. He returned to Russia to teach and develop his theory of art. Dissatisfied with what Picasso and other were doing with Cubism - Gabo felt the work was neither free enough or abstract enough. He began to experiment with three enough. He began to experiment with three dimensional geometric shapes and what he ultimately came to call kinetic sculpture.
A technique called pointillism employed by Georges Seurat and others who painted with small distinct dots of pure color applied in patterns - resulted in works that literally vibrate on the canvas.