Art inculcates obvious virtues like sensitivity, discernment and empathy. Certain of its more practical yields are less tangible.
For three years I have been trying to get to the uppermost tier of this house’s roof. The side “ramps” are too steep to climb and have no handholds, and the tilt of the roof’s second tier makes ladders unstable. First I wanted to clean the loftiest gutters, periodically clogged with pine needles—once a year I attach an air gun to a pole with a long hose to my compressor and blast it clean. (That’s another invention.) Then I hoped to trim the same leaning pine tree that pulled shingles off with every gust of wind—but it was cut down.
The third reason to reach the top tier couldn’t be fobbed off quite so. Recently we had some crazy spin-off gales from the tornadoes that ravaged the South. They tore a strip of siding loose near the roof’s peak, and my neighbor called my attention to it because it’s directly over his driveway, which is fully loaded with cars too nice to be hit by a falling scimitar of siding—to say nothing of their passengers. The siding swayed and creaked, and I noticed later was gradually tearing from both ends as the wind torqued it.
Shortly after I noticed there was less than an inch of intact metal between the two opposing tears. I probably had less than 24 hours. It fluttered insouciantly and I got so angry I tried to drag myself up the 75° roof for the third time…my hands are still sore and the shingle burn on my right tricep has nearly healed. My neighbors may have uploaded the video tagged “Jackass 4(Ever).”
Sculpture initially attracted me with its three-dimensional problem solving. Years of this has disposed me towards frank, prosaic solutions, like mounting toilet paper on a rented apartment’s tiled bathroom wall using a bungee cord and s-hooked window suction cups. Despite my bleeding rage I saw the solution in the studio: A SAND BAG.
I’ve only had sand around lately for building blast furnaces. A bag of it is heavy and malleable with a lot of rough surface area. I shaped it into a wedge on the roof, stood some plywood parallel to the ground on it, and climbed the ladder to the peak.