September 29, 2009

Fun With Squished Up Dinosaurs

An interview with sculptor and designer David Edgar

Part 1 of 2 (link to Part 2)
Click on any picture to enlarge to original size.

One of the things I enjoy most about doing interviews is of course the opportunity to learn so many new aspects about the world of art and really, about the world itself. And my congenial conversation with long-time artist and Arts Administrator
David Edgar was certainly no exception.

The first thing I learned was a new word, one that for the life of me I have yet to find in any dictionary (David did later indicate that it was his invention, although I was free to use it). When I was asking how he had for so many years managed to not only maintain a successful career in Arts Administration but also carry out the almost impossible task of keeping his private ‘studio’ work from falling into obscurity, he commented that it helped to be ‘ambi-hemispheric’!

Now at first I laughed because this reminded me too much of an incident (sadly) that had occurred at my alma mater, where a star basketball player had been somewhat pretentiously bragging about his skills to the press. It seems that this young man was quite sure of his own abilities, in large part because he could indeed shoot the ball with both hands... which he stated meant that he was, amazingly, amphibious. But in the case of ambi-hemispheric, David went on to explain that no, the word indeed meant something very important to him and his career, namely being able to operate in such a way that his right-brain and left-brain functions were well-balanced. This is apparently a key aspect of being a good Arts Administrator, with two capital ‘A’s’ no less!

The second thing I learned a great deal about was the ‘constructivist’ sculptural movement, post-modern or otherwise. Or perhaps better said, I was able to put more of an exact name to an area I had long been quite fond of (having long ago learned that being the offspring of an art history major does not necessarily qualify one for being versed in the different perspectives of this field!). Not only did David and I share an obvious respect for the works of Alberto Giacometti but I was even inspired to brush up on the contributions to this field by Vladmir Tatlin, Naum Gabo, some guy named Picasso and many more through the past century.

And finally, I was able to learn quite a lot about a growing art form that David is essentially helping lead into the public consciousness. Since our discussion about how he turns plastic bottles and other recyclables into colorful sculptures of marine life and more, I have found myself examining our own family-sized portion of post-consumable goods in a new light. There really are so many attractive and attracting colors and shapes out there, and one’s imagination can really run wild! As such, it is our pleasure to bring you more from David Edgar and especially from his fantastic world of the ‘

David, welcome! First of all, let’s start more on the left side of your brain: what got you started on the road of your long journey in Arts Administration?
Well, Ziggy, as with anyone coming out of college or moving on from one assignment to the next, I basically needed a job. And really, it was not an ‘aim’ of mine per se, but instead I came into this through a networking contact.

This was all after I graduated from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with an MFA in sculpture. I then wound up working back ‘home’ in Florida for the Imagineering Division of the Walt Disney World Company for a couple of years for the construction of the Epcot Center and even helping to get Tokyo Disneyland up and started. But of course, all good things must come to an end, and so during the post production lay-off’s at Disney, I realized it was indeed time for me to move on.

As fate would have it, and in large part because I was originally from Gainesville, I had contacts with the
University of Florida. And at the time, the Dean of the College of Fine Arts was evaluating a possible donation of an arts center – the Crealde School of Art – which was in Winter Park right outside of Orlando.

The issue was that the gentleman that owned art center – which he had in fact founded for altruistic reasons – eventually found that the situation was in whatever way not working for him. So he wanted to donate it as a sort of community arts research lab. Still, the University wanted to do a feasibility study about the offer as there were going to be some strings attached to the whole deal. So this is where I took a first shot at Arts Administration, namely an 8-month contract consulting job where I was charged to make a recommendation to the University whether to proceed or not.

Interestingly, I actually recommended against the project – for complicated reasons – and the University eventually declined to proceed with the hand-over. Still, I must have made a good impression as I was then hired to be General Manager for Crealde for the next few years. And that’s really how my life in Arts Administration started!

Has it been difficult for you to find a balance over the years between your day job and your on-going pursuits with your private art?
Well, clearly, if you want to remain an artist, you have to keep a studio going. In fact, I taught a course several times called ‘Senior Seminar’ at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) on this very topic. We used an aptly titled book called ‘Art and Fear’ which was an excellent source because it covered not only some very basic and introductory issues about starting out in a career in art but also points that were essential to ensure future success.

Think of it like this: if 95% of medical school graduates were not practicing medicine 5 years after school, there’d be a massive Congressional investigation into why our nation’s Universities were failing the medical community and the nation as a whole. But those are very common statistics for people that graduate with degrees in the world of art! It’s simply a fact that this proportion of graduates drift away from art after they leave school. It just seems that all too often they’re simply not prepared for going into the outside world – away from the nurturing environment of their friends and fellow students and so forth.

Of course, everyone has to make ends meet and getting started out in the arts is in no way an easy task. One thing leads to another and soon they have to find other jobs to get by... where suddenly they find they don’t work on their art for a year or so. Then boom, the next thing they know they’re raising kids, trying to pay mortgages and so on... and then there’s no time to go and start things up again. Too often they’ll look back and say, ‘oh I should have done that’ but by this stage in their lives, it’s just not feasible.

The same is true for those of us in Arts Administration. I’ve known a lot of people in this field that I’ve asked about their art. And they’ll say “Oh well, I did a lot of that stuff when I was back in school but I haven’t made in any art in years.” Fortunately, I learned very early on that you have to literally force yourself to keep doing it, at some level at least. I like to say, “You have to keep the pilot light lit.” If you quit, you may never get back to it.

I also saw, through my work in Arts Administration, that I could take a sense of reward and accomplishment by making it possible for other people to be involved in the world of the visual arts. Basically just helping creative people create. A lot of people don’t get that chance and I really think that too few institutions provide those opportunities for the general public. And so I have found that doing things like running an arts center including the Crealde and with other similar posts I’ve had have provided me with a very rewarding way to make it possible for others to have that opportunity.

And that’s one way that these ‘other’ worlds work so well together with Arts Administration for me. Sure, when you have a day job, your day job takes priority. Well, that is, if you want to keep that job. But it does allow you a lot of networking opportunities that are valuable for your career as an artist as well.

Isn’t there though something inherently contradictory about working in Administration (says the man who has worked years in Data Management) and trying to keep a creative career moving forwards?
Again, the older you get, the more difficult it is to balance both. When you’re full of that youthful energy – and maybe even still single (laughs) – then there’s a lot more opportunity to burn the candle at both ends so to speak. Then like what I said before: life takes off, there come all kinds of family obligations, you start thinking even about your longevity and how you’re going to make it financially after a certain age. So it becomes much more difficult to handle both at the same time.

That’s what I talk about when I mention the importance of maintaining ‘consistent activity’. You can see, for example, in my exhibitions history that there are some years where only one or two activities are listed. Therein lies a truth about the inherent difficulty of keeping everything consistently balanced and consistently running. Somehow I’ve managed to keep doing it, but it takes an enormous amount of effort and you have to stick at it. And it takes both so-called left- and right-brained efforts.

Clearly, if you want to thrive at being an artist, you have to do more than just make art – which in most cases you do because you enjoy it and it’s self-satisfying. But if you’re going to succeed at an artistic career, you’ve got to work at it using a lot of left brain activities, too. You’ve got to keep up your ‘administrative work’ including applying for grants or other opportunities, taking care of the photography of your portfolio. You’ve got to keep your résumé up-to-date, you have to constantly write proposals, you name it. I mean, there’s a lot of work involved that doesn’t necessarily feel like ‘art-making’ that is needed and that is essential in order to succeed.

How did you get interested specifically in sculpture as an art form?
I think it started for me when I was child, probably some time between when I was 9 – 11 years old. My father worked back then with a mining company in Florida. Since he quite often couldn’t focus on his own tasks during the week, he’d go in on weekends where he’d have the whole office to himself. You know, he could get a lot done without distractions and all. But my mother would always insist: “Take... this ... kid... with... you!” But as you can imagine, for a 10-year old boy just hanging around the mining offices was not interesting at all.

What was cool though is that typical of a mining operation, there was a kind of graveyard with old and broken machines and parts, you know a big field filled with metal stuff. It was called the ‘bone yard’ where all the worn out equipment got put. Plus, there were lots of great ‘characters’ that worked in the shop with the different equipment, repairing it and salvaging it for use one day. And within all that, I saw all these great sculptural shapes everywhere I looked. I think this sort of set me initially on the course of being a welder. It was just always so fascinating to me.

Did you have any particular main influences in terms of artists or art movements?
You’ve mentioned Alberto Giacometti. Certainly, Giacometti had a stylized work that in particular with my ‘
Witness’ series of sculptures does resonate with many people as being like his work. Still, my own personal heroes in terms of ‘constructivist’ sculpture were more along the lines of David Smith or Marc di Suvero.

Still, I was fortunate to have exposure to a very broad range of artistic disciplines, including even ‘folk art’. For example, the sculptor in residence at Cranbrook when I was there –
Michael Hall – he and his wife, Julie, had a huge collection of American folk art, which now belongs to the Milwaukee Museum. In addition, I’ve always been interested in pop culture and certainly artists including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and particularly Joseph Cornell were all inspirations to me. Even after working on the ‘Plastiquarium’ series for some time now, I can still very much sense these influences in the forms I am making.

How did your journeys take you from Sunny Florida to Minneapolis, Michigan and eventually North Carolina (not that these other places are not sunny, too! Well, sometimes...)?
One can never anticipate what networking is going to do for you. A lot of this ‘travel’ had to do then with networking.

In the first case, this happened when my folks went up to visit some friends in Minneapolis. And as you’d expect, the guys did ‘guy things’ and the gals went and did ‘gal things’. Well, my mother was commiserating with one of her friends about me, you know: “Oh, he’s dropped out of school and he’s flopping around a bit. He wants to be an artist but...” And her friend said “Well, the
Minneapolis College of Art and Design is just down the road and they’ve just done some major renovations. And they’re looking for students to help grow enrollment!”

To be honest, I certainly wouldn’t have gone looking for a school in the Twin Cities, but it was a great experience. While I was there, I got to help Michael Hall do an installation of his work at the Walker Art Center for an exhibition called ‘Scale and Environment’. So having met Michael got me interested in where he was teaching at the time. And that’s what led me to study in Michigan at Cranbrook.

Either that or I was pre-destined to study in places that begin with an ‘M’. I mean, I went to prep school in Massachusetts as well. (laughs)

Well, I guess that having lived in ‘N’ for North Carolina so long is a bit out of the trend?
It’s good here for my wife and me. The environment is very nurturing and professionally, there is definitely a very healthy appreciation for craft in North Carolina. Living here gives us a good balance of all the seasons and it’s close enough to where family members are that we can be there relatively quickly, you know, in a day’s drive or so. My wife and I enjoy it here a great deal.

You’ve mentioned ‘craft’ a number of times. Is there a big difference in your eyes between what is referred to as ‘craft’ versus ‘art’, or perhaps better said, ‘fine art’?
You’re touching on what I’ve called my ‘mid-life catharsis’: moving from metal sculpture to working on ‘Plastiquarium’.

When I did my master degree in sculpture, I steeped myself in the academic world. Then I went on to coordinate a graduate program in the visual arts and so forth and so on. But I’ve always been sort of baffled by aspects of the fine art movement that are not intellectually accessible to the general public. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.

What I mean is that if you get a masters degree in art, you understand fine arts: where it’s coming from and what the artists are trying to express. But if you don’t have that experience, you can look at an awful lot of post-modernist fine art and have no clue what’s going on. There’s frequently very little aesthetic, some of the work is even based on a type of anti-engineering, and it can appear to be (or it is) not well crafted at all. And for quite a number of years, I really wrestled with this problem, simply because my own work was very formalist and very much about it’s content and it’s message.

For example, when I showed my work to non-artist folks that I grew up with, they would look at me like I was out of my mind. So that work was obviously not ‘intellectually accessible’ to these people I cared about, who were not trained in the world of art. It’s just that, for many of those that have not been trained in this area, some artwork simply cannot be understood.

But as a result of this, it became increasingly clear to me that if I wanted to make art for a larger audience, I had to make work that didn’t switch them off at first impression. Still, this wasn’t some conscience choice; I never thought, “Oh, I’m going to cut detergent bottles to achieve this end.” But you know, when you’re an artist, you’re always sort of scanning the horizon and listening to what the muses are saying to you. It’s like networking: you can’t predict what that message is going to be or how it’s going to come to you. But hopefully, you can recognize it when it does.

I think it was
Tom Wolfe who said something to the effect that “Post-modernist art is post-audience art.” That’s kind of saying it’s simply art for other artists. And I guess, if you can make it in that world and survive just in that arena, well, hey, that’s great! But I think that in general there’s a lot of opportunity in the art world for involving the larger public. Therefore, as I see it, the world of ‘craft’ is a point of access for the general public. They can appreciate and relate to good ceramic work, they can appreciate intricate fiber work and quality metal working and so on. And so I embrace craft as being the kind of art that does have this level of accessibility.

Continued in Part 2


All pictures used by exclusive written permission by David Edgar. All images and the use of titles, including references to ‘Plastiquarium’ are strictly for use in this article and may not be copied or otherwise utilized without express permission by the artist or the respective agencies depicted.

Picture descriptions Part 1
1. ‘Birthday Fish’, 24" x 44" x 6"
2. David Edgar
3. ‘Rainbow Snuggeel’, 8" x 84" x 9"
4. ‘Plastiquarium’ - Overall View of exhibit at Hickory Museum of Art, Jan - July 2007
5. ‘Big Lobster’, 10" x 18" x 33"
6. ‘Goggle-Eyed Swallowtail’, 19" x 29" x 2"
7. ‘Witness Waiting in the Wings’, 20" x 11" x 12"
8. ‘Witness Considering A Quest’, 19" x 23" x 14"
9. ‘Royal Clockhead’, 15" x 14" x 4"
10. ‘Snub-Nosed Green Feeder’, 21" x 36" x 4"
11. ‘Raggedtailed Dragon Fish’, 30" x 64" x 9"

For more information about all images, please refer to for more!

Fun With Squished Up Dinosaurs

An interview with sculptor and designer David Edgar

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to enlarge to original size.

David, what was your main objective in terms of moving to working with plastics and away from working with steel?
It wasn’t really an objective; it was an acceptance. When I say that I “interrupted 30 years of working in steel” – well, that’s not something that I just did with a snap of my fingers. For example, when we moved to Charlotte for the job at UNCC, I spent something like $1,500 just to upgrade the electrical wiring so I could move my welding equipment into our two-car garage. That’s just not something you do on a whim and then set off to the side.

It was during this same period when we had just moved to North Carolina that I had a totally unanticipated experience. The story goes that our neighbors’ in Charlotte were extremely friendly and very welcoming, so they invited us to watch a
Carolina Panther’s game on television. In fact, it was a Super Bowl party, where the Panthers had made it all the way to the ‘big game’ (ZN: which they lost on a last second field goal, sob!!). But my wife and I didn’t have as yet any appropriate team logo tee-shirts or hats to show our team-spirit, so we were wondering what to do.

However, I did notice that I had this blue plastic bottle that was the color of the Panthers’ uniforms. So using that – and a plastic rotisserie chicken tray, you know like you get from the cooked chicken in grocery stores or at the deli – along with other miscellaneous stuff, including from a white bleach bottle, I made this Carolina Panthers’ mascot mask. It wasn’t very much – but it was a huge hit at the party! And somehow the whole experience really resonated with me. (ZN: sorry about not showing the picture of same, but the NFL gets really fussy about their teams’ trademarks! Fortunately, though, we were able to find a Super Hero willing to loan us his headgear...)

Afterwards, I began looking for other things I could make. In fact, I even found myself creating while my wife and I were taking our two-mile walk every morning, weather permitting. You see, in our neighborhood in Charlotte, the people are pretty conscientious recyclers. So on Tuesday mornings while we’re out on our walk, we always see these red recycling bins sitting out on the curb waiting to be picked up by the city collection service. And I’d find myself saying, “Wow, that’s an interesting color” or “look at this neat shape.” I started with the mask without any plan – I had done it on a lark, you know, just sort of having fun – but yet I was really inspired to do more.

I’ll admit though that at first, I figured I was in denial. I thought I was trying to hide from my ‘formal’ studio work in welding, like somehow I wasn’t doing or confronting what I really needed to be doing. Still, I decided that I would just keep doing this for a while. And really then the fish thing just sort of emerged from the shapes and the colors of the pieces I was finding, as well as from my experiences growing up in Florida.

After a little while working on this, I saw an advertisement for an exhibition at the Fuller Crafts Museum called ‘Trashformations’. This was being curated by Lloyd E. Herman – who has in fact generously provided us with an essay that is included in our new book (which is due for release in November 2009). Lloyd is the founding director of the Renwick Gallery, which is the American Craft Museum and part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was therefore an attractive exhibition to be involved with and I thought what the heck do I have to lose? So I sent in my five slides. About four months later I got this letter back that said: “We like your work, we want to put all 5 pieces in the show. But can you do 2 more, because we want to do an installation of seven of your pieces for the exhibit?’

That’s when I thought, “Okay, there must really be something to this.” It was a matter then for me to accept that my work didn’t always have to be about angst and intensity and be deep and academic and always about intellectual issues. Don’t get me wrong: I think my work with the ‘Plastiquarium’ has some of that stuff, in part because of the environmental aspects of it. But initially, what’s important to me is that it just makes people smile! And I love artwork that just makes people smile!

You know, Ziggy, when I was at the
Southern Highland Craft Guild show where we met, it was just a great experience. People would come around the corner where I was and they’d look back at my display and do a double-take. They’d say, “You’re doing that with detergent bottles! What a neat thing!” I’d get all these big smiles and whole families would stop and look.

Also, I really think that my efforts with metal have ultimately come to support what I’m doing now. It’s surprising to me how similar both materials can be. They both have a sort of malleable quality: you can shear them, you can fasten them with mechanical fasteners. You can actually weld plastic if you want to, with hot-air welding equipment. And there’s so much to explore, I haven’t even had a chance to try all my ideas.

What kind of other ideas do you think you want to explore? For example, do you look to include such effects as could be achieved with glass or even including other parts, even electrical additions?
Thus far, I have limited my ‘welding’ and shaping of the plastic to the use of a heat gun. It's just a matter of time before I get around to experimenting with alternative heat sources like an oven. In terms of attachments right now, almost exclusively I make my attachments with machine screws, pop rivets or staples. Other attachments are achieved with a locking tab-and-slot technique. I avoid glue as much as possible as it is unreliable with most plastics.

In terms of effects as you might get with glass, well I do use scrap bits of different plastic as filler for bubble belly elements in some larger fish and larger scrap as filler for clear bodied projects like ‘Rainbow Snuggeel’ (see Part 1) or as with ‘Freddy’, shown here. I haven’t tried to heat fuse these elements as yet, as you might do with glass ‘frit’. On the other hand, I have made pieces that include electrical parts. For example, if you look through the ‘Plastiquarium’ gallery, you see that my jellyfish lamps do have lights in them. Some projects also have moving parts like mouths that open and close as well as moveable, segmented body parts, again like with the serpent.

If you’re interested, I recently added a
FAQ section to my web-site that addresses some of these sorts of questions.

I did see firsthand how the public was very attracted and even drawn to your work. Has the acceptance been equally as good in either the academic world or other artistic circles in which you are involved?
One thing I do notice is that a lot of people have a pretty basic attitude towards plastic, namely, that it’s 100% artificial. It’s fake stuff. Well, sorry, but I look at it as plastic is made from oil, a naturally occurring earth element. It’s a refined resource, just as much as steel is. These are discussions I have more perhaps with the ‘craft world’. Craft people will often see craft as only being made from one of five elements: metal, ceramic, glass, fiber or wood.

But with the exception of fiber and wood, these are all refined earth elements! So sometimes I say, “What?” Because people will say craft shouldn’t include a refining process or be made with refined materials but there’s still a contradiction. I think that’s another target I have with the book, namely to increase the acceptance of working with plastic and making this art form somewhat more mainstream.

David, again looking at your statement about having ‘interrupted’ your work in steel. Does this imply a plan to go back to this medium in the future?
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on steel. I can’t bring myself to sell my
TIG-welder. Again, my studio is in our two-car garage. And in a space like this, it’s just fact: you can’t do both. Well, I guess you could do 6 months of one, clear the whole place out and clean like crazy, then do 6 months of the other. (laughs)

Over the years what I’ve found is that – well, obviously steel work is to some degree dangerous. It’s very noisy, dirty and even a bit hazardous. It’s very time-consuming compared to the work I’m doing now and shipping is a nightmare. Plus, it’s also pretty easy to see that there’s a lot of people out there doing very good constructivist metal work. One thing I’ve found in my career is that it is hard to differentiate myself in this field among so many other talented artists.

But this work in plastic, well there’s no problem differentiating myself from anybody else. At least for a person who’s doing it like I am. I mean, we actually have a gallery of other people working with recycled plastic featured in our book. And I think we had 300 submissions from artists working in recycled plastics. That’s a pretty broad discipline then. But if I was looking for artists working in detergent bottles, you know, post-consumer product containers – well, the field would be even much smaller.

Why have you worked so much with fish designs? And what came first: the designs or the focus on environmental issues?
Well, to your first question, I’ve worked with fish designs mostly because I think if you’re wise, you’re going to play to your strengths. And getting back to influences, certainly my interest in marine life comes from growing up in Florida, where I did my share of snorkeling and scuba diving. Living close to the ocean, you know, in a marine environment has really helped shape how a lot of these forms have crept into my consciousness.

But really, with ‘Plastiquarium’ and especially the fish, that just kind of happened. The first things I made were the masks; the next things were the fish, which came initially from the shapes of the bottles and the colors. It was just a kind of natural progression. What I also found as I went along was that I could make all kinds of ‘fantasy’ fish – which would still look like fish to people. Sure, I’ve had people say ‘could you make a grouper or make a trout’ but I’ve said, no, I’m not going to do that. The ‘Plastiquarium’ pieces are for me purely fantasy concepts. But again because fish are not from our everyday world, people don’t have a problem with that.

The content part – that is, the message about the impact these materials have on our environment – really started to become a very strong context in my mind a little later on. I mean have you heard about the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone? This is literally a massive, floating island of garbage out in the Pacific that people think could be twice the size of Texas! What a catastrophe!

I mean, it really hit me when I read I think in Sierra magazine about a dead albatross they had found, whose stomach was completely filled with all kinds of plastic materials – including lighters, pieces of toothbrushes and more. But the problem was, it couldn’t digest any of this and pass it through it’s system. So this bird had literally starved to death with a full stomach! And there’s all kinds of examples like this, where they’ve found even sick, dying or deceased whales with hundreds of pounds of plastic in their stomachs. So I find myself returning to the environmental aspects time and time again. I just think this is a very important issue that we can’t continue to ignore. We also include information about this in our book.

Where do you think man’s often careless use of plastics is leading us?
I have sort of this concept, if you will: if oil is really squashed up dinosaurs, would it not be possible for this material to reanimate itself somehow? I have some works that I call ‘Plastizoic’: they’re designs that are coming from a future fossil epoch. I mean, imagine if we jump 10 million years in the future from now, what would 5 million year old fossils look like at that point? I think that it’s entirely possible that the pollutants that are being spread by these containers and these materials are giving rise to a new evolution, owing to genetic mutations and so forth.

My theory is based on the fact that we mimic our parents genetically. Is it therefore feasible to think that there will be mutated creatures that eventually mimic the containers that spread pollution? That life-forms will emerge because they have essentially ‘learned’ through evolution to survive and even thrive in this polluted environment? Weird thoughts, yes, but look: we’re taking oil from sedimentary layers deep in the Earth and bringing it up to the surface. We’re turn it into all these other ‘refined’ things for other purposes. And then we’re creating new sedimentary layers when we in turn discard these items. So in the future, who knows what’s going to happen with that stuff?

David, why you are so willing to go public with workshops and even a pending book about how you make your art. Aren’t you the least bit afraid of being ‘knocked off’ by others?
When I first started doing this, I wondered if it would be possible to protect it. You know, protect my intellectual property and somehow keep other people from imitating it. And I thought about that and I wrestled with it as a concept for a while. Ultimately, though, it boiled down to the fact that you can’t protect it. If somebody wants to pick up detergent bottles and make art out of it, I can’t say, “Oh no, sorry! Stop that, I did that first! That’s my construct!” That just wouldn’t go anywhere.

Instead – and as maybe is the case with other artists – I realized that I am interested in having a small footnote in the continuum of art history in some way. So by doing the book and by doing workshops in this art form, I’m trying to solidify my position in the ‘genesis’ of the discipline. I want to assure my role as being a person in the forefront of this type of art. Because I do think it’s going to become more and more prolific.

In terms of the workshops: one of the beauties of this aspect is that at least a third of the registrants for my workshops are public school teachers. I think they all see this as a perfect solution for them in large part because it uses free materials. Furthermore, it gets as it were the ‘future generation’ interested as well.

I’ve also lectured at Universities about my work. Like at
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I taught a section of the 3D Design class about my work because it does teach a lot of constructive-ness and engineering, you know, ‘learning by doing’. And in addition for the participants like the elementary school teachers, it’s got the secondary content about learning about plastics, the environment, the importance of recycling and much more. There’s lots of ways this can be used.

As for the future, who knows what’s going to happen? The book is coming out and I’d like to do a lot more workshops. We might be getting into some licensing, I’m not sure. I’ve found that my work is very popular with children’s’ hospitals and children’s’ museums. For example, I’m currently working on my second commission for the
Boston Children’s Hospital. Last year, I did a piece for the Creative Discovery museum in Chattanooga, which is a great place where kids can get hands-on learning about science and more. We did a giant piece that we called the ‘Handmade World’. We traced the kids’ hands, then cut the shapes out and made a network out of these which covered a 5-foot diameter ‘globe’. This was well-received because then the kids that visited got to feel like they were directly involved and able to actively participate, that there was a little bit of themselves in the final piece.

And that’s great in my eyes, because it’s about letting everyone participate in art making, which goes back to my earlier discussion about the fine art world. There’s just so much about this field that’s not welcoming to people. So I find a good deal of satisfaction in that I think of myself as being somewhat of a revolutionary in that way.

Why have you referred then to your work with ‘Plastiquarium’ as a kind of ‘mid-life catharsis’?
I refer it to this way because it was changing the track of my artistic pursuits in a major way. For example, people who had known me for 20 years – that knew me as a welder – would just say, ‘What happened, Dave? You did what? You went from doing constructivist steel work to cutting up plastic bottles?” So it was a bit of a catharsis to do that.

But catharsis is not a bad word. It’s perhaps a bad sounding word, but it’s meaning is actually quite positive for me.

That’s what I was going to say, because for me, ‘catharsis’ sounds like some kind of explosion.
Sure, it’s a bit of an explosion of the standards that I’ve been operating under for 25 years. But I accepted this and said to myself: “Hey, I can do this and there’s nothing to be ashamed of!” In fact, it’s very much something to celebrate!

For example, I had this great experience at the
McColl Center for the Visual Arts in Charlotte. The center is in an old gothic-style church and I got to do a residency there. One part I really enjoyed about my time there was the fact that you left the door open and the general public could just wander into your studio and have a conversation. And when I was wrapping up there I had one of their marketing people approach me and say, “We’ve had stronger positive comments about your studio work than practically anyone else we’ve had do this!” And I think that means that I’m making work that people find approachable. They find it like I mentioned intellectually acceptable. They can look at it – and this includes kids, too – and say, “This is fun, look at that cool thing!” And for the audience that includes people that are more educated in the field of fine art, well, they can also look at it and think “Oh, this highlights what is going on with that environmental disaster, with the re-sedimentation of oil deposits”, etc. There are lot’s of levels of contact and appreciation that offer reward for everyone.

Why then was it a catharsis? It was a change for me. A big change!

With that in mind, do you think that in part that the acceptance of your current work is perhaps due to the fact that someone can safely stand there and discuss what you’re doing whilst you put together a new piece for the ‘Plastiquarium’? Especially if you compare this to a situation where you’re working with steel and there would be somewhat more of an inherent danger in standing too close to watch you work?
Therein is one of the unfortunate aspects of visual arts in the broad sense in that visual artists tend to work in isolation. They are loners. They don’t get a whole lot of feedback and public involvement. In comparison, performing artists HAVE to work in ensemble relationships. They are used to collaborating and performing publicly. So you’re seeing their art as they do it. Whereas with visual artists, usually you see the results, you see the ‘after’, the end-product.

You know, one of the great things for me about being invited by the Southern Highland Craft Guild to participate in their shows is that I’m asked to participate as a demonstrator, not just as an exhibitor. I think that’s extremely generous of them and I will always jump whenever they call! I find it a real privilege to support them in any way possible. But I receive so much in return. I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of showing people how to do it and I like spreading the word!

That’s me: I want to be an evangelist for recycled plastic art!

I see that your wife has helped you write the book you have coming out. How has she contributed to your success with ‘Plastiquarium’?
My wife,
Robin, is actually a very successful writer and published author (plus much more!).

We were discussing it one day and I told her that I’d really like to publish a book about my art form, similar to something like
Bobby Hansson’s ‘The Fine Art of the Tin Can’, which also has to do with working with packaging and other post consumer goods. But you know, a book doesn’t just happen like that! You have to do a book proposal, you have to find a publisher and more! It involves a lot more than just writing the darn thing!

And as it happens, while I had a residency at the
Wildacres Retreat Center in Little Switzerland, North Carolina (ZN: which is very close in fact to Gooch Gap!), Robin came along with me. And while I was doing my residency work, she developed the book proposal from A to Z. So we took it afterwards to Lark Books which is part of Sterling Publishing and they jumped on the idea. But Robin is so very good at this process and she knows about all the documentation’s you have to put together! She just knows how to make it happen!

Obviously, using recycled plastics gives you a nice big supply of materials to work with. But I’m curious if you ever rush out to buy something just because you have to have a certain color or shape?
I’ve never done it that way, that is go out and get something specifically for my work. And I have rarely – very very rarely – been out shopping and seen something that I liked where I’ve wound up buying it to get the unique colors or forms. I did do that recently at one store, where they were selling a new brand of bottled water. The plastic bottles had this lovely deep, almost opaque sapphire blue that was really hard to find. So, in this case, I did buy a two-liter bottle of the stuff so I could have the plastic!

On the other hand, for the Boston Children’s Hospital project, I need a lot of a certain type of plastic bottle to help illustrate a good deal of seaweed I’m including in the design. So I’ve been kind of scouring our neighbors’ bins trying to find the right green bottles from a particular brand of Ginger Ale so I can make enough of my seaweed! But actually, when you’ve been picking up bottles in the neighborhood as long as we have, you tend to learn where you can count on certain ‘supplies’. Don’t worry: I’m not counting liquor bottles or anything and getting all the ‘dirt’ on the people around me! But I’ll admit, you do gain insight on where to find what. Like in this case, we have one neighbor that has this total penchant for the exact brand of Diet Ginger Ale that comes in the green bottles that give me my seaweed. So I know I can count reliably on finding several pieces from her collection bin every week to help me finish my design!

Thanks to my handy system – I carry an old shoelace with me and tie a loop in one end and cart home the bottles like a string of fish - I’ve got a good amount of different supplies hanging in my basement. But sometimes I do have issues with discontinued packaging colors. I’ve actually been really surprised in the five years I’ve been doing this to see how often the designs and the colors change for packaging! I mean, it’s all based on focus group research and all the different brands are trying to be the first to catch the latest wave of ‘in’ colors and forms. Which in some way then reflects positively I guess on my work as well!

What’s next for ‘Plastiquarium’? Are you looking, for example, at new promotions or even taking it overseas?
We’d love to go international with it. We have had a little bit of international exposure with a traveling exhibit that made it’s way to Beirut. The book is already starting to make some in-roads and is getting noticed just about everywhere. It’s already being pre-ordered and a lot of people are writing me even by e-mail to tell me how much they are looking forward to it’s release. We’ve even received requests to publish it in other languages, like Spanish or even Portuguese for South America. The publisher seems to be okay with global promotion as well because they took it with them to the London Book Fair and they’ve included a clause in our contract for international production rights. No matter what happens though, I’ll be happy to take it as far as it goes.

In terms of making more ‘volume’ of my pieces in order to try and get more commercial exposure: well, I like the fact that right now it’s all individually hand-made by me. But how long I’m going to be able to make sure I make every aspect of it is hard to say. There’s always the kind of internal argument about moving work to more of a ‘mass production’ scale. This is because it’s an uphill battle sometimes in terms of taking work to a commercial level.

As any artist or designer will tell you, there’s an intrinsic issue of maintaining the value-added part of your work vs. dealing with people’s perceptions – which they are fully within their rights to have. In my case, people do quite often ask themselves about whether or not they want to spend their hard-earned money on something I’ve made from recycled plastic? With commissions or other works, it’s a little different, sure; there the artistic value is viewed in a different light. But let’s say if someone is looking at one of the brooches I make – and perhaps they’ve even stood there at the show and watched me cut one out of different bottles and put it all together (it takes me about an hour to finish one of these pieces). When they see that maybe the price is very similar to a pair of silver earrings or something similar they’ve seen down at the local department store, then again, it can be a struggle.

Still, the important thing for me right now is that I’m having a lot of fun with it. I really enjoy it and that’s what counts!


As mentioned, David Edgar pries his craft from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina where he is retired from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as an Associate Professor of Art. David also served in the past as the chair of the Art Department and was Associate Professor of Sculpture at Ashland University in Ohio. In addition, for twelve years he held the position of Executive Director for The Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida and he did indeed work as a ‘Imagineer’ for the Disney Corporation.

While earning his MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Edgar worked as a preservation technician in the conservation department of the Henry Ford Museum. He also holds a BFA in Sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has also served as an officer on various community service committees and boards on serving city, county and state issues.

Although he continues to enjoy life in North Carolina, and has appreciated all of the various ‘M’ places he has studied and worked over the years, David would like to point out that he is indeed a faithful third generation Floridian. In keeping with his studio work in a wide range of materials, his history as an exhibiting studio sculptor since 1975 reflects the wide range of his described ‘consistent activity’ with his artwork. Examples of David’s work can be found nationally in corporate, institutional, and private collections. For more, please feel free to browse through his well-maintained


All pictures used by exclusive written permission by David Edgar. All images and the use of titles, including references to ‘Plastiquarium’ are strictly for use in this article and may not be copied or otherwise utilized without express permission by the artist or the respective agencies depicted.

Picture descriptions Part 2
1. front cover of
‘Fantastic Recycled Plastic’, by David Edgar & Robin A. Edgar from Lark Books, a division of Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. (release Nov.’09)
2. ‘Super Hero Helmet’, 11" x 14" x 14"
3. ‘Googler’, 15" x 11" x 4"
4. logo of the
Southern Highland Craft Guild
5. ‘Freddy’, 14" x 9" x 24"
6. ‘Green Fiesta Jellyfish Lamp’, 15" x 5" x 7"
7. back cover of ‘Fantastic Recycled Plastic’ (see above)
8. ‘Plastizoic Genesis Creature’, 48" x 16" x 11"
9. table of contents from ‘Fantastic Recycled Plastic’ (see above)
10. ‘A Handmade World’, 66" x 66", as part of artist residency at the
Creative Discovery museum in Chattanooga
11. mock up design for display in production for Boston Children’s Hospital
McColl Center for the Visual Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina (picture in public domain from various sources)
13. ‘Fantasy Crab’, 8" x 11" x 10"
14. ‘Reef Floral Details’
15. David Edgar and Robin Edgar
16. Assorted Fish Pins, 2 to 4" long
17. David Allen Edgar

For more information about all images, please refer to for more!

September 28, 2009

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

From the song ‘Signs’, by the Five Man Electrical Band

I have a new theory about mankind, sorry, I mean, person-kind namely that we / you / me and even ‘them’ (as in ‘they’) are signophobic. Signs. We’re terrified of them.

No, this does not mean that we, quote ‘fear or dislike China, it’s people, or it’s culture’, which is the synonym ‘sinophobic’, depending on the accent of your choice. Of course not! I have a lot of friends and loved ones from China and I would never besmirch them in any way (now those bloody New Zealanders, that’s another story, otter-loving jerks...!). Besides anybody out there clever enough to invent Kung Pao chicken is okay in my book.

Nor do I mean either the kind of people that seem to delight in their wanton disregard for authority as they speed through your neighborhood – despite the signs indicating that children are at play. And I am not including even the majority of us that seem to think that speed limits are ‘subjective’ measurements to be obeyed by anyone else but ourselves (after all, WE are in a hurry, so YOU should move aside, thankyouverymuch!). Please, give me at least this much as a sign of your respect.

Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.
David Letterman

No, surprisingly enough I got to thinking about this during a recent discussion on religion. I had caught up with a good friend of mine that I’ve known for the better part of 60% of my life, give or take a month here and there for sulking purposes. But as the fates would have it, somewhere there in our catching-up discussion, she had indicated that she considered herself a ‘jubu’ (pronounced ‘jew-boo’) – which apparently means ‘technically Jewish, but with a strong disposition towards Buddhism.’

Now, let’s just ignore the obvious question for a moment – namely, how can you be technically involved in a certain religion (it apparently involves something to do with having ‘Intel Inside’ and having enough RAM... but I’m not real clear on that, as we had by then commenced on the ceremonial second six pack of the Rites of Reacquaintance)? My question was instead on wondering how had she come to that kind of end decision, particularly as I knew as well that her parents were pretty much by-the-book Southern Baptists... which I’ll give you is an argument in itself for her rather unique but respected change-over.

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.
Woody Allen

So we talked for a while more and found that she had indeed found a fulfilling and well-grounded way of leading her life. It seemed really to be more of a wholesome and welcoming religious set-up – complete with a strong group of friends – coupled with some good old-fashioned, down-to-earth (or was it up-to-heaven?), ‘I’m happy, you’re happy, let’s go hug a tree for good measure’ philosophy.

In fact, as has happened to many people of my generation that decided they didn't want the whole thing to stop with us, she had even become a loving mother of one angelic little creature. So, despite the rather interesting title and teasing references to what religions actually let you do what on any given day of the week, my friend had most certainly created a wholesome and healthy environment for raising a child in as well. It was good to see the signs that not everything in life has to change as we were quickly aware that great friendships stand the tests of time and all the other crap that happens during it’s passing.

As we talked further about our lives since we were last together (switching words such as parties, beer and wacky with such timely phrases as liver spots, hemorrhoid remedies and cholesterol count), I asked innocently enough I thought had she received a ‘sign’ about the whole thing. Well, you would have thought I’d asked ‘did a third eye suddenly appear on your forehead?’ (I did in fact lean forwards at one point to check and can confirm, that no, it was not a third eye... more of an extra ear really... hardly noticed it if truth be told...)

But seriously, how would any of us react today if someone were to say with full conviction that they had in whatever-way ‘seen a sign’ about whatever-thing? Note that this does NOT count the number of LEGITIMATE claims world-wide that (insert deity or deities of your choice here, not including Elvis) quite regularly appear(s) to us in the remains of breakfast cereal bowls, cheese sandwiches and even the finer kind of mould that grows on kitchen appliances! Or these very real examples of a farmer ‘training’ his pear trees to bear Buddha shaped fruit (I kid you not! Aren't they adorable and all buddhaey?)!

After all, just imagine if Moses had come down from the Mount in modern times with essentially his sign-like tablets in hand. Our first thoughts after wondering where he could have gotten such quality stone-work done so quickly (answer: his Uncle Murray from the South Side). In addition, our reactions would be most likely along the lines of ‘hm, I hadn’t really thought about coveting my neighbor’s wife, she is kind of cute. Come to think of it, his goat ain’t bad either...’

My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed.
Christopher Morley (1890 - 1957)

Honestly, wasn’t the whole handing down of the Ten Commandments sort of like putting a ‘Do Not Push’ sign next to a large button labelled ‘Warning: If You Do Push, You WILL Destroy The Universe’ in a ‘Three Stooges’ movie? And by Stooges, no, I do not mean the Executive, Congressional and Judicial branches. I think of it as sort of the same thing as the garden of Eden. And ye, the Good Lord did rappeth: ‘Hey kids, look, just one rule: whatever you do don’t eat that tasty red apple over there that you probably hadn’t seen yet because you’re wondering why you have different looking genitalia!’

Sigh, poor Eve. Could there be any doubt what was going to happen next? Of course: eventually, that big ol’ red button got itself proverbially pushed, it all went boom and we wound up with the celestial pie getting splatted in our faces! A heavenly sign from above of progress if there ever was one, no?

Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when he does not wish to sign his work.
Anatole France (1844 - 1924)

After all, are we not a people that routinely ignore signs? For example, it was just over a year ago that Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending the world’s economy into it’s current on-going tail-spin. Now, yes friends, NOW we see all the talk-shows doing what they do best, which is talk about the signs that led up to that event. But don’t you think someone could have reacted a little more strongly BEFORE all this actually happened?

Isn’t all of this kind of like putting up a sign saying ‘Beware of Falling Rocks’ just after the avalanche has occurred and taken out the towns in the valley below? I mean, hey, thanks for that, Prime Minister Chamberlain! Any other things that swell fellow Hitler signed off on for you? Maybe a kleine Christmas card wishing all the best for the troops and dem Koenig, too, hm?

If I could get my membership fee back, I'd resign from the human race.
Fred Allen (1894 - 1956)

I do find that there is more than enough contradiction in these arguments. After all, we speak all the time about ‘what sign are you’ (oh, sorry, I forgot to add the requisite ‘hey baby’ in front of that ... it’s been a while since I was single ... or let out alone for that matter). It’s also clear that many have a deep and sincere belief in their astrological denominations. For example, my wife and I were told repeatedly during the months leading up to our wedding that our mutual signs were indeed a good, er, sign for a long life of happiness together. Okay, so we were both born under signs of fairly common crustaceans ... and that means what exactly? That our strong, star-driven exoskeletons would protect us from harm? That we’d have a fulfilling life of clicking our claws together in joy and the hopeful reproduction into thousands of little side-winding babies? (What? Oh sorry, make that one predatory anthropod and one decapod crustacean... man, I’m always getting those confused, a sure sign of senility, eh?)

I myself even once befriended an extremely devout albeit often conflicted Catholic who would not even step outside of the house should her horoscope say something bad was going to happen to her that day. No false idols here, just silly little signs I guess, huh? But gods forbid should she have ignored them! When we wound up travelling for a while together through Europe, we had to detour to every Cathedral in the region just to dip our fingers in the ‘magic’ water. But damned if we could catch our next train on time if we weren’t able to find the translated horoscopes for Virgo’s for the coming week.

Warning signs that lover is bored: 1. Passionless kisses; 2. Frequent sighing; 3. Moved, left no forwarding address.
Matt Groening, creator of ‘The Simpsons’

In addition, we all have seen recently that Asiatic cultures put a great deal of weight on both the Year Signs they are born under (phew, I am SO glad I’m a Dragon, and not something icky like a Rat), as well as ‘good luck signs’ of marrying on certain dates or even avoiding that their businesses have various combinations of numbers in them. I even read somewhere that a Chinese businessman paid something like a half-million dollars for a lucky-numbered license plate for his car! Did you read as well about all the people world-wide that got married on the 9th of September (hint: 9th month of the year) in 2009? Except Japan, where 9 is a bad sign.

And isn’t it just a bit silly in Western ‘culture’ that so many modern buildings still to this day avoid ‘putting in’ a 13th floor? Honestly, if you’re standing there and counting, doesn’t it dawn on you that the so-called 14th floor is really number 13? Plus, just look at lotteries: what do you think the statistics say about people writing in the number 13 on their choices, even though this number has the opportunity to come up as often as the rest? That isn’t – as ‘they’ say – a worrisome sign then to anyone?

Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world.
J. K. Rowling, author and extremely rich person, from ‘Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets’, 1999

But at the same time, aren’t we a people that respond to the ‘signage’ around us? We love watching the leaves fall, a sure sign of the fact that autumn is here and soon, yes, very soon we will all be complaining bitterly (pun intended) about the winter’s cold. In terms of economics and our infatuation with same, we are slaves to advertising, logos and brand imaging. Our exposure to such beasties is said to number in the thousands every day. Another worrisome sign that we do – or more likely don’t – even notice it anymore? Have these then led us to abandon our beliefs in signs that speak to our souls and instead to our inner mantra of ‘whoever dies with the most toys, wins?’ Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m drinking Coke instead of Pepsi just to make sure I’m included in the right type of generation. Or is it the other way around? Whatever, I just want the one that makes all the pensioners want to go dancing, that’s for me.

When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), ‘Thoughts on Various Subjects’

So, are we indeed signaphobic and if so, why? Well, would you argue with the fact that we seem to be the only species on earth that ignores certain signs around us until it is too late? Heck, ever try to get rid of ants or cockroaches around the house? The first sign they see of a few dozen of their brethren and sis- , uh, -thren dropping dead and they rush to pick up the whole nest and head for safer ground (read: somewhere even closer to something you’ll find even grosser once you find them there... like your underwear drawer). And viola, the next morning there they are downstairs in even greater numbers, drinking your fresh brewed coffee and marching across the counter with your bagels and creme cheese in tow. Whoa, that’s a pharoically bad sign for sure.

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
Bill Watterson, creator of ‘Calvin and Hobbes’

Honestly, what if gorillas had little more intelligence and could influence things around them? Don’t you think one of them would have stood up well before Dian Fossey came along and sad ‘oh crap, we need to get the fudge out of here.’ Or that if dolphins could just jimmy that last bit of DNA into the right order, they’d be out there screaming ‘hey enough of the friggin’ tuna nets already, we’re trying to swim out here!’ I doubt man would even blink an eye at such signs.

But how many people do you think are really taking the last days images from either the East Coast of the US or even Australia as a ‘sign’ that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better? And if you’re like me and believe that this is all a case of ‘Global Correction’ which is going to be a hell of a lot worse than anyone talking about Global Warming could imagine, you just wonder how there can be any doubters out there left. Seriously folks, it’s time to admit: Mother Nature is somewhat of a real bee-yatch... and she’s really pissed off at us.

Oh Cat in the Hat, Would it be / Could it be better if someone were to put a large sign on the moon that read just bluntly ‘U R Screwed!’? Sure, then every man, woman and other being on Earth could look up every night and ‘get it’. But who am I kidding? We’d most likely just shrug and say, ‘oh it’s just a sign of summer coming to an end.’ Indeed.

In fact, isn’t one of the best methods to go around ‘hidden’ in public to carry a sign with you? I just watched a great film the other day where one of the ‘anti-heroes’ (not a villain, but not quite a hero either) hid his secret identity in plain daylight by walking around with a sign that read ‘The End Is Nigh’. No one would look at him, in fact, he accomplished his target of having people avoid ANY contact with him. Just carry a sign with you and smell really bad was his motto.

I knew I'd been living in Berkeley too long when I saw a sign that said 'Free firewood" and my first thought was "Who was Firewood and what did he do?'
John Berger

Heck, if I were to walk around with a randomly worded sign anywhere near here, someone would either steal the sign and try to re-sell the nails, or a dozen people would stop me within ten minutes to point out I’d misspelled ‘night’. What a signature move, eh?

Just go on-line as well (well, duh, I guess you're already there if you're reading this). In one dictionary search, I found that there were 221 listed ‘English’ words that contained the ‘word’ sign in them. Resignation, signature, signals, you name it (it’s all Latin to me somehow, which is even more hard to understand than Greek ... and the food is worse, too). Heck, even this site is dedicated in one way or another (hint: another) to design. And in terms of phrases, well, we talk about signs of weakness and signs of strength. We sign up, sign in and sign out every day of the year. In searching for others ‘out there’, we talk about ‘signs of intelligent life’ or as many would argue about our own local status, the lack thereof. But heck, if they start landing in our corn fields and leave all these cool markings everywhere, then some dude is bound to make a movie about such signs, that’s for sure.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs

Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.
Paul Rand

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Douglas Adams, Writer and Philosopher-extremus, from the book ‘Mostly Harmless’

And again, we are indeed apt to wax nostalgic about the ‘signs of the times’ (question: can you actually buy nostalgic wax somewhere?)! Yet we almost never adhere to the sound advice of ‘those that do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.’ Nothing is valid until we sign on the dotted line and who hasn’t been teased about ‘signing away their life’ for better or worse (was that a pun on marriage?). All we can say after that is ‘there seems to have at least been a sign of struggle.’

Drink nothing without seeing it; sign nothing without reading it.
Spanish Proverb

So what is it: are we afraid of signs? Do they control us too much? Do we feel like they run our lives and block us somehow from reaching true fulfilment? Do we feel too out of control when we see signs? And what happens if the ones we see aren’t correct? What if it happens like so often here in the area that we are sent on a detour that connects only to, yes you guessed it, another detour. If you can’t believe the signs, what can you believe?

I am left therefore to wonder, ponder and even sign a bit with my hands (universally understood words only) to try and make sense of it all. Does the word itself speak to some hidden fear within us, going back to the days huddled in some cold cave with only the light of the neon Budweiser sign to keep us company against the vastness of the night? Or is it in man’s nature, to boldly go where no sign has been before?

Please, I really want to know. All I need is just a little sign...

Thank you and best regards for now from the continually cluttered desk of Ziggy Nixon.

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, just what does an empty desk mean?
Author Unknown

I swear I did not make this sign up...