June, 2008 Archives


The reception was very pleasant. I got to meet Gerd Koch, for whom the space my installation is in is named. He’s a charming man with as many rings on his fingers as are on mine. It seems that the gallery used to be his studio space, and when he chose to work in a new space the gallery was formed and named after him in his honour.

Rich Brimer said that he liked the soft edged lighting, then was surprised that I had made it hard edged. He didn’t realize that the gravel changed colour, there’s no lighting effect. He’s editing some video of the exhibit, which I’ll post the second it’s done.

After the exhibit I went to dinner with Rich, Kathrin Raab-Questenberg and Terry Spehar-Fahey, so we got to talk art and politics (interesting because there’s a pretty broad range of political opinion amongst us). I can’t get enough of the company of other artists who really mean business. There’s a cameraderie there that isn’t easily found elsewhere. And in addition to good company the Rat and Ferret serves an excellent pint of Fuller’s IPA.




Today’s the day.

The reception is at 4pm, Studio Channel Islands Art Center (SCIART), at California State University Channel Islands.

My installation is in the Gerd Koch gallery.

There’s a large exhibit of contemporary printmaking on too, including two spectacular apocalyptic woodblocks which I’ll photograph and post here later if the artist says its okay.  These things are HUGE!



The show is mostly in place, gravel laid down, everything hung, good to go. I’m really enjoying the change from dark to light gravel in a circle about the “Grails” cairn.

I’ve been enjoying the crunchiness of this installation. I hope that having the gravel won’t discourage people from entering the room altogether, but I’m probably worrying unnecessarily. There’s plenty to look at in there.  

I painted some motifs from British rock art onto the walls around  a new circular piece that is the most symbolic of the show, a simple solar circle hung in the west.


Installing the show takes a lot of time. I picked up gravel from the hardware store this morning, I love the crunchy noise it makes when you walk on it, and the room is so live that the crunch is intensely amplified. People tend to treat galleries as temples which must be respected by silence.  (By the way, if you’re looking for a really excellent art book, try Malraux’s “Voices of Silence” in which he talks about the museum as a temple for art) With amplified gravel they will find themselves forced to confront their response to the work.



I checked the alignment of the space, discovering to my pleasure that the room is right on the solstice line from summer solstice sunrise to Winter solstice sunset. This means that the Geomantic man can be placed centrally in the North-East. 

The big paintings are hung. Most of the sculptures are in place. I need to wire in some lighting, bring in one more piece (horsehair), set up a sound system and lay down some more gravel.

Incidentally, the grails piece is about four times larger than the photo in the previous post suggests. All the grail cups are piled up now,  with the light focussed properly on them.



I began installing the show today, getting a lot done, and getting the motor in the air and working, although not yet properly wired. In the test run it all worked very nicely, with a slow movement of the pendulum describing a perfect circle. Most satisfactory. The photo shows the Grails piece as it stood at the end of the day, almost properly lit, with the rotating pendulum circumscribing the edge of where the cairn will be. (No, that’s not photoshop, it’s really what the lighting looks like!)

I’m pretty happy with the progress so far. I’ll load more of the show in tomorrow when I have a truck.


Here’s a beautiful thing:



My slow moving geared motor with some unusual hardware attached, purchased from the plumbing department at the hardware store. Anyway, I’m satisfied that this part has been done safely and isn’t going to fail. I’m pretty jazzed that I can bring motion into the work now. What an epic. It’s not over yet, either: I have to drill into the concrete ceiling to anchor the thing safely twenty feet above our heads. Next time I do a show like this I’ll introduce another motor for a wall piece. I’m interested in the potential for magnetism, too.

Several years ago I was in a prehistoric chambered passage cairn in Scotland checking the alignment of the passage to the sun to see if it had a solstice arrangement like Newgrange or Maes Howe when I noticed that there was something in the rear wall of the passage that was so powerfully magnetic that it was shifting my compass by as much as twenty degrees. I’ve often wondered if this was something that the Neolithic builders of the space knew about or if it was simply a fortuitous block of haematite in the wall.

I think it would be fantastic to make works that concealed magnets in the pieces to make things look strange, especially if the pieces were made of materials that were not obviously metal or electronic.


Photo by Ethan Pearce 

I feel like Homer Simpson cursing at whatever his latest disaster may be. Apart from a lengthy trip to the doctor with the kids for a checkup, I have spent most of the day trying to drill a hole through the shaft, which appears to have been made of tempered wizard steel in the pits of Mordor. I’ve broken three bits so far, and have made little progress. I’ve been to the hardware store twice to find stronger bits. So far I’m about 1/8th of an inch into the steel. This is not fun at all, in the horrid heat of my little shop.

I’m going to plan B, which is to find some sort of sleeve that can be screwed onto the shaft with no possibility of slipping, probably what I should have done in the first place. Plan C is to take the blasted thing to a machine shop and have them do it for me. What a pain. I did manage to get the ladder, dolly and screw-gun that I’ll need for installing the show tomorrow, so the day isn’t a total loss, but this is hella frustrating. 


I got up pretty early today and straight into my garage workshop to get the motor spindle drilled and avoid the heat, but my drill bits are at the university and I wore out the one I had here, so I guess I’m off to the store and returning to sweat it out later. I’m pretty confident that this motor will do exactly what I need it to do, and I should be able to control the speed of rotation at least somewhat by shortening or lengthening the placement of the line when it’s tied to the arm that I’ll attach to the spindle. The plumb will be very light, made of string and some foam, but even so, I’m slightly worried about the weight of the motor, but I think I can get a good expanding plug anchor and an eye hook coach bolt from the hardware store to sink into the concrete ceiling and take the weight. (Concrete ceiling!)

More later. 


I visited the gallery today in order to nail down exactly where everything was going to go and organize the show in my mind. On the way I stopped at an electric motor workshop to find a motor with a nice slow rpm speed so that I can finally have my rotating pendulum working.



I didn’t realize how many different kinds of motor there are. The one I chose will give me a nice gentle speed for the pendulum. At the gallery I found a power outlet in the middle of the ceiling that will drive the motor whenever the lights are turned on, a perfect way to get people involved in the work right away.



I’ll have to modify the motor a little to make it possible to suspend the pendulum so that it will rotate, a simple matter of drilling a hole through the spindle so I can attach a slender rod to tie the line to. 

I’ll use the grails in their familiar mound beneath the pendulum, and gravel to describe a circle. The room is so acoustically live that I think it echoes if you blink. I’m going to make use of that by putting gravel on the ground for people to walk on, producing nice crunchy noises.

Planning the exhibit

I have an exhibit of “A New Cabinet” at CSUCI’s Channel Islands Art Centre opening this Saturday.
I do hope you will come see the show.

Opening Reception:
Saturday, June 28, 4pm – 6pm

Free Parking!



Gerd Koch Gallery:

“Mr. Pearce’s New Cabinet of Wonders” – by Michael Pearce

This fictional yet intensely well researched archaeological and ritual-based art installation takes the viewer on a contemplative exploration of the correspondences between our culture and a seemingly uncivilized past 6,000 years back in time. The objects in this exhibition are Michael’s eccentric response to his understanding of Neolithic Art and Architecture. They are not meant to be improvements upon the distant past, but revitalizations of it.

Michael Pearce has watched developments in Neolithic Archaeology for twenty-three years. He has experienced stone circles and ancient artificial caves throughout Britain, walking through Neolithic landscapes and exploring the culture of the Stone Age. In 1984 he followed the Druids’ procession at the last Stonehenge Free Festival, and he has slept in the ancient burial chamber of West Kennett Long Barrow, hoping to dream Neolithic dreams. Mr. Pearce is currently an assistant professor in the art department of California Lutheran University and curator of the Kwan Fong Gallery at Cal Lutheran.

There’s a map and directions to the gallery here: http://www.studiochannelislands.org/pages/maps.html