Places to Visit

Vollis Simpson • Whirligigs and Whatnots

At age 93, Vollis Simpson has a few years on me but we've both been creating kinetic art for over thirty years. His style, materials and approach are very different from mine but I am fairly sure we'd have a lot of common interests to discuss if we ever meet.

Photo Credit Jeremy Lange for New York Times

Mr. Simpson was a machinist and, after he retired, he put his skills to use creating a farm full of whimsical whirligigs. His acrege in Lucama, NC has become an unofficial tourist attraction as people travel to experience the crop of kinetic sculptures growing in his yard. 

Photo Credit Jeremy Lange for New York Times 

The New York Times did a special article about him in 2010. In it, they refer to him as a "self-taught practitioner, now known by the dressed up names of outsider art or visionary art." Hmmm. Is that how they'd catagorize me?

The nearby town of Wilson, NC is working to create an in-town sculpture park for Mr. Simpson's sculptures.  An organization has been set-up to maintain the work and park for others to enjoy. 

Marji and I plan to go on a USA roadtrip sometime in the next year. Together we bicycled across the country back in 1972 and have wanted to revisit so much of it. We are researching sculpture parks and other sites of kinetic interest for us to explore. I expect we'll swing through Wilson and Lacama, NC and try to meet up with Mr. Simpson for a conversation.


Photo Credit: Big Bang Studio

Cognition Kinetic Sculpture in NYC


Yesterday, David and I delivered his large, mesmerizing, free-standing sculpture, Cognition to An American Craftsman Gallery in New York City.

An American Craftsman has been displaying David's work in NYC for 20 years but recently landed some additional gallery space right next door to the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue.

If you live in the NYC area and missed the open house at David's studio you can visit the gallery to see this unique one-of-a-kind sculpture in motion. The gallery is located at 940 Madsion Ave. just above 74th Street.  Cognition is on display in the front window and because it operates for 24 hours on a single winding, will be moving through the night. That is important in the city that never sleeps!

The gallery had a great selection of fine American crafts in wood, ceramic, glass and metal in addition to David's work.


If you decide to visit NYC and the gallery, stop back here and let us know about your visit.  Just a heads up though - there is on street packing on the opposite side- 2 hours and empty on Saturday AM.  It is regulated with those charge card meter boxes on the corner and if you don't get back to your car quickly with your receipt in hand, you will get a ticket- voice of experience here!

Move Me • Kinetic Art at Axiom Gallery


It isn't often that you can see the work of five kinetic artists in one place at one time but for the next month you can at the Axiom Gallery in Boston, MA. Last Thursday evening David and I traveled to Boston to attend the opening of Move Me, a show curated by Heidi Kayser.

The artists represented were Chris Fitch, Arthur Ganson, Tom Haney, Steve Hollinger and Erica von Schilgen. I blogged previously about the earlier contact by Chris Fitch and our unbeknownst shared roots.  The work was all very individual and different from David's but all of it did indeed move.  Power sources were varied but as always the joy of a kinetic show is watching people interact with the art work. Here is a sampling of some of the different sculptures shown.

Chris Fitch had two pieces in the show. Falling uses beaded chain flowing smoothly over cams to create an experience not unlike a rain shower. It is enclosed in a box and you peer into it and become entranced by an inner world reflected back through mirrors.


I was also intrigued by the motion of the loops dangling below the enclosed theater.

Arthur Ganson had two works on display.  If you haven't seen his work before consider visiting the MIT Museum in Cambridge. They have a fascinating display of Ganson's pieces on display. At the Axiom show the piece "The First Nobel Truth" is on display.


Below is a detail from Ganson's piece Machine for Softening Hardened Hearts.


Steve Holliger's work was solar powered. This piece is titled after Kwajalein, one of the Pacific Islands used for nuclear testing.


Erica von Schilgen's collection is very much a series of fantasy escape world's combining hand-cranked music box technology and sound with dream-like painted images.


The last artist in this show is Tom Haney. He had one piece in the show and  I haven't found a video of it yet but you should visit Tom's site to see an incredible collection of Automata.  He also writes a blog about his work. 

In addition to getting to see the work of these artists, David also got to meet and talk with them.  And what do kinetic artists discuss? Things like double action pendulums, wear and tear, repairs, power sources, etc. Certainly a fascinating group of characters!

Show Details:

The Axiom Gallery is located at the corner of Green and Armory Streets in Jamaica Plain. It is on the ground floor level of the Green Street train stop on the Orange line. 141 Green Street. Jamaica Plain, MA. The show is open through May 28th.

Small World....even in Kinetic Sculpture


The Internet and social media regularly remind us how small our world has become.  I received an interesting email this past week which circled it all back home.  It came from another kinetic sculptor, Chris Fitch from the Boston, MA area. He first found out about my work from Idea Factory in New Orleans and recently discovered that we are in neighboring states. We also learned that we come from the same home town and attended the same high school although at different times. Yes, it is a small, small world. 

Here are some examples of some of Chris' kinetic sculptures and, (because what is a kinetic piece without motion), a YouTube video of one of them.   

Spring • 2010


Sometimes Cube • 2007



Chris also shared that he, along with Arthur Ganson and Tom Haney, both noted kinetic sculptors, are part of a group show "Moves Me" opening April 28th at the Axiom Gallery in Boston. The gallery has limited hours so check the website before planning a visit. Below is the announcement for the show from their website.  Should be a great show and an opening worth attending. Marji and I are looking forward to seeing what is new in kinetic sculpture in New England.

The Axiom Gallery is located at the corner of Green and Armory Streets in Jamaica Plain. It is on the ground floor level of the Green Street train stop on the Orange line. 141 Green Street. Jamaica Plain, MA.

Technology Extremes


David and I make extensive use of current technologies in both the sculpture world and our everyday lives. Sometimes we are taken by surprise when we discover not everyone is following. Case in point - Lick Log Mill Store.

 Lick Log Mill Store, located in Highland, North Carolina has been selling David's sculptures since 1987. We are always on the look out for mentions of David and his work on the Internet and were amazed when we stumbled on this blog post about Lick Log Mill Store.  We have never visited most of the galleries that have shown David's work so it's often fun to put a photo with a place. Karen and Chris Waldron at Lick Log pride themselves in not having a computer or using the Internet. Yet there is an enchanting write up about their store online at Karen and Chris have been delightful to work with over the years even though we've never exchanged an email. We remember when all our communication was that way.  Certainly a place worth visiting in the mountains up outside of Atlanta - but don't plan to order online.

You can see David's Quandary mounted on the back wall of the fascinating shop located at 4321 Dillard Road, Highlands, NC.