Stephen Hicks visits Peter Schipperheyn’s “Zarathustra” Sculpture

Schipperheyn-Zarathusra-Hicks

My friend, philosopher, Stephen Hicks is in Australia now lecturing and debating. On a break, he visited sculptor Peter Schipperheyn. I am envious. : ) Below is his post about the visit:

In Melbourne, I met Peter Schipperheyn, creator of the magnificent Thus Spake Zarathustra. The monumental piece is at the McClelland Sculpture Park near Mornington. The tension running through Zarathustra’s bowed body as he reaches and affirms his decision is powerful.

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Book Idea: Psychological Aesthetics and the Exciting Fight to Evolve by Michael Newberry

Willendorf Venus c. 28,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE Discovere 1908 near Willendorf, by Josef Szombathy, Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

Beyond Obstacles, Malevolence, and Ignorance 

Willendorf Venus c. 28,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE Discovere 1908 near Willendorf, by Josef Szombathy, Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Willendorf Venus c. 28,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE Discovere 1908 near Willendorf, by Josef Szombathy, Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

I have been thinking about writing an art book filled with stories, anecdotes, speculation on prehistorical art, real life experiences, and the knowledge of what is it is like to strive for the sublime. Today I started with the title and listing chapter headings.

Psychological Aesthetics and the Exciting Fight to Evolve: Beyond Obstacles, Malevolence, and Ignorance

Chapters

  1. Leaving One’s Mark: Taming Powerful Animals Through Capturing Them In Art
  2. Imagining the Next Step: Willendorf Venus or I Will See You Later Tonight
  3. Safety in Group Think, Their Fear of the Unknown and the Extent They Will Go Eradicate Evolutionary Nudges
  4. Wisdom, Truth, and Courage Within: Calibrating Perception, Evaluation, and Emotion
  5. To Be or Not To Be? To Break Free or to Conform?
  6. Tears, Love, and Visibility: The Alternate Universe
  7. The Art Instinct: What Makes Humans Unique Animals?
  8. Art is the Power That Religion Wants: Control the Artists you Control the Mass Psyche
  9. Art Transcends Agendas By Touching Individual Souls
  10. Power Without Wisdom Corrupts Completely: Michelangelo in the Quarry; Postmodernist Malevolence 
  11. Life or Death: Consequences of Integrity
  12. Freedom of the Sublime
Newberry, Where No One Has Gone Before, 2018, oil on linen, 64x46"
Newberry, Where No One Has Gone Before, 2018, oil on linen, 64×46″

Icarus: How Visual Artists Such as Myself and Bryan Larsen Steal, Borrow, and Originate

Larsen, Triumph of Icarus Study, 2008

Myths, legends, and stories infiltrate our collective and individual consciousness, and the same holds true for the visual arts. The myth of Icarus, who flew too high then crashed and burned, was mentioned by Apollodorus around 150 BC and has since shown up countless times in visual art.

Icarus Landing, Phaethon, and Ayn Rand

An interesting twist in the legend comes with my 2000 version. The concept was inspired by Ayn Rand, who rewrote the myth of Phaethon in Atlas Shrugged. In the ancient myth, Apollo gives the reins of the sun chariot to his son Phaethon, who is unable to control the flying horses or escape his destiny. Phaethon and the chariot threaten to crash and annihilate Earth. Zeus, watching, kills Phaethon with a bolt of lightning, forcing Apollo to retake the reins and right the sun chariot’s course.

In Rand’s version, her character, Richard Halley, composes an opera in which Phaethon brilliantly succeeds to steer the sun chariot to a glorious course. I loved the concept of taking a tragic myth and changing the outcome to reflect my absolute inner belief that magnificent experiences are the stuff of living. The chariot thing was too archaic for my modern sensibility, but with some thought I landed on the concept of Icarus. After flying wildly high, I thought, Icarus would return to Earth with gentle gratitude, lit by the orange glow of the day’s setting sun. I opted for no wings, just the outstretched arms. Appropriately I painted this while I lived in Greece, and I won’t lie, I loved scaling the rock cliffs in the buff, jumping from rock to rock, as my friend philosopher David Kelley can attest to.

Newberry, Icarus Landing, 2000, acrylic on linen, 55x36"
Newberry, Icarus Landing, 2000, acrylic on linen, 55×36″
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Schipperheyn’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Shipperheyn-Zarathustra

The nude in art is one of the greatest means of expressing individuality. It bypasses the status of clothes and symbols and drives the focus towards character through body and facial expression. The nude asks the viewer to share their deeper, more personal thoughts about how they feel about who they are, their dreams, and their deepest beliefs.

Looking at Peter Schipperheyn’s Zarathustra we see a larger-than-life-sized man, arching back, and his head thrown back at an intense angle – the chin raised above the forehead. The body’s tone is taut, yet there is relaxed fluidity from limb to limb. He has the body of a world-class athlete, such as the current tennis great, Roger Federer. The most prominent gesture is the back of the closed fist meeting the open, extended hand.

Schipperhyne-face

An abstract aspect of this sculpture is the arc of the entire body – from the heel to the tip of the head. It conjures up the form of a bow, or of a tree limb a limb pulled back. This, combined with the smack of the hand, creates the sense of a springing force. The raised heel is understated, yet very challenging for the artist – it would be much easier to sculpt the feet flat-footed. The raised heel shifts the lower body forward, balancing the backwards arc, and enhancing the athletic litheness. This curve gently pushes the crotch forward, giving the sense of unselfconscious ease.

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Future of Art by Rick Barker, featuring the work of Michael Newberry

newberry-arabesque-female-couple-oiloncanvas-60x36

This was lecture by Rick hosted through the ICC Speaker Series on the Future of Art as he saw it and featured the work of Artist Michael Newberry. This was taped at the beautiful Creekstone Inn in Idyllwild, California, January 14th, 2016
Video 90-min

My dear friend Rick Barker gave this talk one year from passing away due to complications with Parkinson’s Disease. The talk is about my art and its context but from Rick’s perspective, a life long interest in human evolution. He wrote Transcending Evolution: A Christian Guide to Understanding, Accepting, and Transcending Evolution available at Amazon. I met him in the Idyllwild dog park when I first moved there. It was rewarding to be surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells of playful dogs, pines, and mountains, earthy dirt, and talk with him of philosophy and aesthetics. I lent him one of my paintings, Arabesque Series: Female Couple. He was terribly ill in the hospital in his last week and wanted to die at home, the next day he died; he was found on the floor with his head uplifted towards my painting.