Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grand Opening Art Lab

by Drew Martin
I have good memories of playing in my father's laboratory when he went in on the weekends to "change samples." This was during the 1970s and was prior to the personal computer revolution. So my brother and I had access to the first computer games (before Atari), as well as cool things you find in labs, such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen, in which we would fast freeze rubber tubes and flowers, and then smash them on the floor.

After a fifteen-year quest to make a studio space for myself in my small house crowded with five people, I spent several weekends/countless hours making a corner of my dungeon-like basement into a usable space. The result: Art Lab.

It is far from perfect: I can only stand up between the 140-year old floor beams, it will occasionally flood when the groundwater rises after storms, and it is crawling with centipedes and a new creature I recently discovered down here, which looks something like a cross between a cricket and a spider - it's big and gross but after a good dose of sci-fi and Kafka's Metamorphosis, I am trying to develop a relationship with it.

The good part is that it is warm in the winter, and will be cool in the summer. I even have a nice little window that allows me to look up into the sky.

So Art Lab is a combination study-lab-studio for experimenting with various media. This is my first time blogging from the space, while I am listening to a Steve Reich station on Pandora.

The three pictures here are, at top, a view through a peep hole placed on the Art Lab door so people can look in and capture the small (6' x12') space in one fish eye glance.

In the middle is a picture of the door from the general dungeon basement area into Art Lab. It is actually my middle kid's bedroom door, which I used to cover with different images. It was looking kind of junky so I recently hung a new proper door outside his room and then cut this one down to size. Aside from the reverse peephole, another key feature is the top left hinge, shown here, which is an adjustable spring-loaded hinge. The door is at a 45 degree angle from the partition wall I made from scrap materials and this special hinge allows the door to snap closed against the foundation wall, which is not aligned with partition wall. It works great; just squeaks a little so I need to oil it.

The bottom image is a detail of a table I made with two, old vinyl insert windows from my house. They are screwed onto a 2x4 wood frame and stand on four pipe legs, which were cut down from jacks that held up an old tin ceiling that used to cover the low beams in this space.

Signing off from Art Lab...more to come!