Alfamega Mobile

Stable Stabile Sits On The Table










Stable stabile sits on the table,
turning it's petals all day.
Quietly it rests, at peace with the world,
until someone walks by it's way.

The petals go round and round,
as huff and a puff blows them turning again.
Finally the stabile sits, heavy holds the bass,
solid and firm the petals soon come to place.

Am I a mobile, am I a stabile?
The wonder of it's being or not.
The stable little stabile sits quietly
on the table pondering all it's thought.

- poem by Julie Frith
©2011


Here are a few one of a kind stabiles I have made, some are sold, some not yet. I really feel modern art as a stabile stands alone, strong with 3 diminutional power. HA! No..... really I just like them.

They may be small in size, but I imagine them large like Calder's big stabiles in Europe.

If you'd like to buy any... let me know. Here is my website: www.frithmobiles.com

Raise the Ceiling! Hang a Mobile!

You know with all this talk about raising the (debt) ceiling, why not! While we are at it, with this new venture (paying bills) ... let's consider the possibilities of what we would do with this new available space (NASA). I suggest... hang a mobile. Lot's of hot air (government talk) makes good movement (peace talks) of air currents (clean air act), which would turn the mobile naturally (gullible warming).

Here are a few photos of inspiration.






To see more "High Flying Art" for empty ceilings.... come to www.frithmobiles.com!



Happy Birthday July 22 to Alexander Calder!

Google doodle goes mobile for Alexander Calder's 113th birthday.


A piece of kinetic art took the place of the usual Google logo to celebrate the 113th birthday of American artist and sculptor Alexander Calder.

Friday's Google doodle shows a mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture that was invented by Alexander Calder. Mobiles take advantage of the principle of equilibrium and have objects hanging from rods. Kinetic art uses motion for an artistic effect.

Mobiles are usually brightly coloured free-moving creations in abstract shapes made from sheet metal.



The mobile Google doodle sways on its own and can also be controlled by mouse gestures.

Calder was born on July 22, 1898 in Lawnton, US to a family of artists. While his father and grandfather were both sculptors, his mother was a painter.

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1919. He then took art lessons. After a brief career in commercial art, Calder moved to Paris and put up an exhibition of a miniature circus with toy-like animals made of wood and wire. In Paris he formed associations with renowned artists and their influence helped him shape his art.

Calder was also a jewellery designer, an interest that developed when he was fashioning a wedding ring for his marriage with Louisa Cushing James. Besides his sculptures, Calder also illustrated a number of books. Besides mobiles, he also earned a name with stabiles, a type of stationary abstract sculptures.

With the years Calder also scaled up the size of his mobile and stabile installations. Calder died at the age of 78 on November 11, 1976. Two months after his death, Calder was honoured with United States' highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Interactive and animated Google doodles have now become a regular feature on the Google home page. The last such doodle was during the total lunar eclipse of June 15-16 when Google put up its first live doodle that refreshed itself every two minutes to reflect the stage of the moon.

For a dozen years, Google has been occasionally swapping its everyday logo for a doodle, a sketch celebrating holidays, inventions, artists and sporting events, and showcasing designs from contest-winning students.

For a look at contemporary mobile designs .... come see modern mobile artist Julie Frith: www.frithmobiles.com

Article from LA TIMES Blogs: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/07/alexander-calders-mobiles-reimagined-in-todays-google-doodle.html

Share this gif animation I made of the Google Calder doodle!!
http://www.frithmobiles.com/gifs/calder_google.gif

Stabile Art for Conversation


A stabile is a form of art that has kinetic features like a mobile but is stationary for the base. The driftwood sculpture above is still called a stabile, but does not move, but can be repositions in different balance points.









This is a new design for me called "Wise Guy" I really like this one, he is fun just to look at! 20" wide by 11" high perfect for a bookshelf or coffee table art piece.




I have many different kinds of stabiles for sale. All are custom colored to your liking. Some come in any size, and if you want smaller or even bigger... just ask, I probably can do it. To see more go to my website: www.frithmobiles.com



Art Mobiles - Connections

Art Mobiles - Connections

Wooden Plywood Mobiles


Wouldn't wood make a nice natural material for a mobile? Yes, so I tried it and it worked well. My main medium of plastic for years is fantastic, the choice of colors endless. But I started thinking, let me try something more earthy and natural. Like the Eames chair done in plywood.

Here are a few new designs I started making using plywood and stainless steel.


Eclipse 19"w x 12" high


Plymobius 13"w x 17" high


Jupiter 25"w x 13" high

Why not, use plywood to make a mobile? The wood I chose is a birch plywood unstained, smooth, blonde, even texture and strong. I can now do any of my mobiles and even the stabiles in wood. Pretty... pretty.... pretty good! As Larry David might say!

For more information about mobiles go to: www.frithmobiles.com

A True Balancing Act

http://wimp.com/balancingart/

For more acts of balance, come see my website!!

Mobiles: Heavenly Hang-Ups


ART IN THE AIR


Hovering in harmony with modern homes, today's mobiles energize and calm living spaces with ever-changing viewsmobile maker brian schmidt with mobile

From the pages of the CA-Modern magazine
By Dave Weinstein

Brad Howe went to Brazil to study international affairs. Instead, he began churning out mobiles.

"I didn't even know who Calder was," he says, referring to Alexander Calder, the art form's chief inventor. But the Malibu-based artist learned about mobiles -- abstract, kinetic art, generally suspended from the ceiling -- from young Brazilian architects who loved their country's wealth of mid-century modern architecture and realized how beautifully the style meshed with these hovering webs of art.


"There was a huge interest in Brazil because mobiles fit wonderfully in modern architecture," Howe says. "Many architects designed spaces for mobiles -- but not many were making them."

He also discovered an affinity for the art form. "I could look at a mobile and build it the next day from memory," Howe recalls.

"I made seven for a Rio architect who sold them all in a week. I made 200 mobiles in a row, and I sold every one. I was sort of sucked into a vacuum."

Howe's story, surprisingly enough, is not surprising -- not to people who know mobiles. They are an art form, after all, based largely on serendipity -- how the parts move in relation to other parts, to the spaces they inhabit and the people who walk by.


two of brian schmidt mobiles
Equally serendipitous are the careers of many of their makers. "Serendipity was the word" for the past year, Howe says, and many mobile makers could say the same about their entire careers.

Several, including Brian Schmitt of Sacramento, fell into the field simply by tinkering with mobiles -- then finding a demand for them. A student of industrial design at Arizona State, and a woodworker since childhood when he constructed an immense skateboard ramp, Schmitt began sculpting mobiles out of wood in his spare time.

"What are you wasting your time on?" an incredulous instructor asked.

Matt Richards of Portland, like many mobile artists, including Calder, began as an engineer. "The technical part of me really likes the idea of mobiles," says Richards, whose firm is Ekko Mobiles. "You're using logic to figure out how to get things to move right."


mobile maker and three of his mobiles

Heather Frazier, looking for a new gig after closing a boutique in San Francisco, indulged her love of garlands by cutting up her old fashion magazines and turning them into mobiles.

The result? Frazier, also of Portland, discovered a major market for mobiles among a particular sub-set of the mid-century market -- parents.

"I wasn't thinking of designing for the children's market. It naturally happened, because decoration for babies and children today, it's huge!" Frazier says.


mobile in  streng home

What is it about a mobile that appeals to people?

"There's a lightness to it, which is nice," says Tom Graham, who has two mobiles in the Sacramento Eichler home he shares with his wife Lisa Foster. "It introduces movement into the room."

"As sculpture it shapes and defines its space," he says. "And the mobile's space is constantly shifting, its shapes and relationships constantly changing."

In their front living area, Graham and Foster have a Calderesque mobile. In their rear, they have a Schmitt 'Camber' mobile floating in front of a clerestory window.

Clearly, motion is key to the appeal of a mobile. "It has a kind of motion, quite often, that will remind you of the same emotion you feel when looking into the flames of a fireplace, waves in the sea, or clouds in the sky," Howe says.

"As a mobile maker, you can vary movement through different linkages, swivels, or no swivels. Whole sections can move together."

"Each mobile," Howe says, "has its own choreography."

Julie Frith, who produces mobiles in Eureka, says, "They're relaxing. They actually move. Buyers are flabbergasted. They lie in bed and watch it move."

"People turn off the TV to watch mobiles," she adds.


mobile maker and two of her mobiles
"Mobiles add a dimension to the space that wouldn't be there otherwise," says architect Zoltan Pali, whose Culver City firm SPF:architects put a Howe mobile into a medical office. A successful mobile, he says, is more than decorative; it becomes "part of the architecture and part of the space itself."
Mobiles may also appeal, Schmitt suggests, because they are not as intellectually demanding as much modern art. "A lot of art tries to express ideas or requires interpretation," he says. "What I strive for in the mobile, it's an object you want to have in your home. It enriches your environment. You don't have to analyze it."

calder and one his mobilesNot that there isn't plenty to analyze. Alexander Calder (1898-1976), the Philadelphia artist-engineer who gave mobiles to the world in the 1930s, spent time with the French Surrealists and was equally fascinated with chance procedures and the unconscious.

A mobile, Howe suggests, "is almost like a structure that references a dream activity. They are bodies floating in space, they are planetary, they are like cloudscapes or thought bubbles floating above your head."

Frazier says the appeal is simple. "They make people happy."

Schmitt enjoys the unpredictable way they move. "They're almost like a goldfish you don't have to feed," he says.

"Because it's dynamic," he suggests, "it adds a personality to a space you don't get with a static object. In a corner of an atrium, it really sets off the space."

Mobiles work well in modern houses, Frith says, because high, open-beamed ceilings benefit from the energy of mobile art. "Eichlers have angled roofs, so they're perfect to hang a mobile," she says.


wire basket mobileMatt Richards, who began his mobile-making ten years ago, building ten-inch table models he hawked over eBay, still sells some production mobiles through Design Within Reach, but focuses instead on large scale, individually designed commissions -- many for hospitals.

Mobiles succeed in hospitals for the same reason they succeed above cribs -- they're relaxing. Many of his mobiles hang in hospital lobbies and atriums. "Patients or family members sit and look out," he says. "It's slowly moving, just a little movement. In the end it gets mesmerizing. You spend ten minutes gazing at it. That's something other art doesn't do, it doesn't allow you to get lost in it."

About half of Brad Howe's mobiles go into people's homes, often to mobile collectors, who number maybe a thousand worldwide, he estimates, with up to 200 in Los Angeles. "Some people love their mobiles like pets," Howe says. "They're very, very fond of them."

While there is general agreement that a 'mobile' has to move and has to hang, and that its movement must be generated by wind or a breeze generated by passersby and not by a motor, definitions vary.

Many say a 'mobile' must involve interconnected pieces, one hanging from another.

"A suspended interconnected, balanced sculpture," is Howe's definition, "with elements that are cantilevered, with linkages that allow for more or less rotation before the next link can move."


Others use the term in a broader sense to mean art using "anything that might move," Richards says, interconnected or not.

Richards uses a broader term 'hanging kinetic art,' within which 'mobiles' are a subset.

Whatever you call them, mobiles have a natural affinity with mid-century modern design.

Calder and other pioneers of kinetic art -- the Russian Constructivist Naum Gabo in the 1920s and the American-born Scotsman George Rickey in the 1950s -- produced one-of-a-kind, avant-garde artworks.

During the 1950s, mobiles went mass market, with production by several European and American firms, including the Danish company Flensted, which remains in business.

Many sculptors from the early 1940s through the 1960s produced a wide variety of mobile sculptures, including the San Franciscan Robert B. Howard, the Frenchman Jean Tinguely, and Otto Piene, who focused on inflatables. French artist Jackie Matisse worked with kites.

mobile maker and three mobiles
Later mobile artists of note include Timothy Rose of Sausalito and Jerome Kirk, who settled in Healdsburg.

Meanwhile, many advances were made in the much broader field, 'kinetic art,' which ranges from mechanically controlled robots to electronics and sound sculptures.

One of the world's most unique creators of mobile sculptures is San Franciscan Ruth Asawa, whose freeform, basket-like wire designs, which she began in the 1950s, have become iconic. Asawa was married to architect Albert Lanier, who designed mid-century modern homes.

The connection between mobiles and mid-century modern design is acknowledged by many current mobile makers. "A lot of my clients come from that mid-century modern mindset," Matt Richards says.

When Schmitt heard a tour of modern homes was planned for Sacramento last year, he scurried to sign on as a sponsor and 'gifted' a mobile to Graham and Foster, whose home was on the tour.

"The style is timeless, clean design," Schmitt says of mid-century modern. "That's how I'm trying to approach my own aesthetic."

If anything haunts the otherwise joyful world of the contemporary mobile maker, it's the ghost of Calder.

Too many people, Julie Frith says, "they think, if it's a mobile, somebody has copied Calder. No, that's not what it is."

Frith, a "100-percent mobile maker" who's been turning them out for 12 years since being floored at a Calder exhibit, insists she's no copyist. "I want to be different from Calder and from everybody else."

Richards too acknowledges the influence. "I cut my teeth on pieces reminiscent of Calder," he says. "When I get the opportunity I like to try something new."

"To me," Howe says, "mobiles don't belong to Calder. Calder was just a virtuoso in the mobile world. Calder didn't invent them and he didn't own them. He pushed the science of mobiles in a lot of different directions."

Science?

"There a quasi-physics to it," architect Zoltan Pali says with a laugh. "A crazy physics."


mobilemaker and three mobiles

Ever since Calder, who would often build several models for each sculpture to get the movement just right, artists have twisted, tied, weighted, and otherwise manipulated their works' hanging elements to get the balance and movement just right.

It is how a mobile moves, as much as its appearance, that defines its style.

That's why so many mobile artists began as engineers -- and why Matt Richards collaborates with Ben Cogdill, his in-house industrial designer.

"It has to work. It has to turn," Julie Frith says. "It has to move nicely, to be graceful."

Mobiles, originally mostly metal, today come in plastic, paper, and in a few cases, wood. Schmitt, who uses bamboo and various woods, plans a new line in metal -- and perhaps one in felt.

Metals used range from stainless steel to aluminum, to various combinations. Connections vary too.

"Some mobiles by artists are more Calder-style, using bent wire with paddles," Schmitt says. "Others are connected with rings that limit the motion, so you know the pieces will stay in relation to others in a certain way.

"I strive for every piece to have full 360-degree rotation. I think it makes a more interesting piece."

Getting the right balance isn't easy, Schmitt says. "That's a little bit of a trade secret. It's part of the mystery."

"I can only approach it knowing the elements look good together," he says, "and as they spin it's going to be a fun effect."

At the end, science gives way to art -- which is another serendipitous thing about the art of mobiles.

"You may start with the basic idea," Howe says, "but once in process, a lot of unexpected things occur. The original idea morphs."

"When working on a piece," he adds, "you end up having all these spontaneous new ideas burst out in front of you. So when you're done, you have ten new directions to work in. And each one of them inspires ten more directions.

"It's a self-propelling experience. You end up with more ideas than you could possibly accomplish in a lifetime."

Photos: David Toerge, Carl Van Vechten, Dave Weinstein, Paulo Tavares Pereira, Chris Schroeer-Heiermann, David Zuttermeister; and courtesy Brian Schmitt of Schmitt Design, Heather Frazier of Frazier & Wing, Julie Frith, Brad Howe, Matt Richards of Ekko Mobiles

mobilemaker and one of her crane mobiles

Origami cranes take flight


Are you seeking a long and prosperous marriage? One thousand cranes may be the answer.


The cranes, cut from paper using the Japanese technique of origami (ori means 'to fold,' and gami means 'paper'), are often festive d├ęcor for weddings.


Although origami creations are commonly displayed as static objects, they take to the air very well, says Linda Tomoko Mihara, a leading San Francisco origami artist. One thousand cranes are suspended from trees during a wedding so they can be viewed by the bridal party, she says.


Mihara is best known for an amazing ability to create multiple three-dimensional images from a single sheet of paper.


Mihara herself has created a number of mobile-like origami projects, including an American flag made of origami cranes that's hanging at the Smithsonian Institution, and a curtain of origami butterflies installed at Lear Automotive in Detroit.

"Origami lends itself to the idea of a mobile or structure of mobiles," Mihara says. She enjoyed a photo taken by Ernie Braun [our cover this issue] of a child who seems enraptured by a flock of 1,000 suspended cranes. "The cranes are in flight," she said, "the wings are open."

Recent Mihara projects have included origami crane mobiles for the rooms of newborn babies, and an origami crane installation for a private home in San Francisco.

Mihara has done other hanging origami installations -- including one in which the origami forms the image of an American flag draped in front of Executive Order 9066 -- which ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It was shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

But when it comes to origami in general, she says, "it seems like the cranes are the number-one thing to do for mobiles."


Looking for a mobile?

Type 'mobile' into your favorite search engine and the siege begins. As mobile maker Julie Frith notes, "There are a lot of mobiles out there."

They range from cute -- teddy bears floating above cribs -- to cheesy, to high art. Many resemble Calder. "A small portion of it is inventive," mobile maker Brian Schmitt says, "and a huge portion is reinventing a style that's been done for decades."

If you're looking for a mobile, bear this distinction in mind: Some are made by people like Schmitt, who considers himself both an artist and a product designer and aims his work at 'normal people.'

That means mobiles produced as multiples in the $100-$200 range. Many mobile makers provide their artworks for less.

Other artists produce only one-of-a-kind works, often for specific sites. Brad Howe sells his residential mobiles for roughly $5,000 to $10,000.

Mobiles can be bought in galleries and museum shops, at crafts shows, or online.

For artists featured in this article:

• Brian Schmitt - Schmitt Design schmittdesign.com/mobiles

• Heather Frazier - Frazier & Wing: frazierandwing.com

• Julie Frith: frithmobiles.com

• Brad Howe: bradhowe.com

• Matt Richards - Ekko Mobiles: ekkomobiles.com

• Linda Tomoko Mihara: origamihara.com



CA-Modern magazine is the full-color publication of the Eichler Network. Its content is aimed at mid-century modern homeowners and enthusiasts throughout California, with an emphasis on Eichler homes, Streng homes, Cliff May Ranchos, and Palmer & Krisel homes. Its content focuses on home maintenance features, solutions, and furnishings for modern homes; profiles on special California neighborhoods; breaking news; and much more.

http://www.eichlernetwork.com/camodern.html



 

Modern Art Mobiles