© 2018 Rod Lathim. 

“Of Light and Legacy” 

The Sculpture Series

This series is my first in an exploration of larger sculptures with found objects. After the commission I received in May of 2017 to create two 40” x 40” assemblage pieces (the largest pieces I had created to date) which now hang in the lobby of the Quincy Marriott Hotel near Boston, my imagination took me to places of possibility and ‘going big.”  

 

I am attracted to vintage objects which have a patina of history, hinting at the lives of the people who used them to work, manufacture, create and sustain life.  The diverse pieces I find all over the USA speak to me and often inform the addition of neon light, which brings them back to reincarnated life. The inspiration for this series also came to me at a pivotal time in my life – during the last weeks of life for my Father, Reg Lathim. During the time I was with him in his final days on the planet, the images for these pieces were delivered to me from the ancestors and muses from that magical, creative wonderland around us. I felt Da’s presence in these images and he continues to inspire my work.

 

Although I had very little knowledge of neon light, I was drawn to it - or more accurately lead to it on a spiritual path. Neon light is created by combusting gas with electrical charge inside glass tubing, The light created is unique to simply observing a flat ‘color.’ The colors created by neon are alive - they are energy and light created by elements of nature. The radiant light from neon is the closest thing I have found in our physical world to the light of life and love that radiates from our bodies (some call this our aura). 

 

I dedicate this series of new works to my Dad, whose abundant love and support was instrumental in making me the man I am today. My tribute to my Mom’s life was my autobiographical play UNFINISHED BUSINESS. My tribute to my Dad is “Of Light and Legacy.”  Dad honored legacy and he and my Mom created a family legacy that is rich in traditions, compassion, authenticity and love.

Mystere de la Lumiere

(78” H x 20” D x 40” W)

This Oeil de Beouf – or French dormer is made of zink, and is a classic example of the ornate architectural elements of buildings in Paris. La Ville Lumiere– The City of Light oozes with history, art and design. I enjoyed mixing traditional and abstract neon and diverse colors in this piece. I hope to capture some of the essence of Paris and its lively, artistic energy. This is my first use of beading neon (achieved by using Krypton gas and the use of a special transformer).I love the animation it creates – pearls of light and energy flowing like white blood cells, waking the muses that once resided beneath this dormer. 

Begin

(29 W x 15” T x 6” D)

Though we are often poised to start a project, a journey, a relationship - - sometimes we need to be reminded to just… begin. Take the first step, take a risk, even if it is daunting. Your soul will thank you. (vintage tin tiles and neon on custom wooden box)

Calescent Cadenza 

(20” H x 12” D x 12" W)

My love of music and its ability to transport and transform us through its magical and mystical properties is celebrated in this piece. (vintage ceramic glove mold, violin and bow, custom wooden base)

My Little “Noop Scoop”

(19” T x 50” W x 14” D)

An homage to the cars of the 50s and my Dad, who loved and took great care of his cars. I have photos of him when he was a teenager in Santa Barbara and the cars he drove and pampered. The lines and styling of the cars of that era were amazing. The Beach Boys song “Little Deuce Coupe” always sounded like “Noop Scoop” to me. So that’s what I’m stickin’ with!  (vintage chrome car grill, neon)

This Way to ___________

(28” H x 6” D x 28” H)

Though we are often poised to start a project, a journey, a relationship - - sometimes we need to be reminded to just… begin. Take the first step, take a risk, even if it is daunting. Your soul will thank you. (vintage traffic sign from Belgium, neon)

Time Flies

(20 ¼” T x 26” W x 8” D)

A nod to turning 60… how did that happen?  And it goes faster every day. This is a mantle clock given to me by my Great Aunt, Grace Eilers, who lived in San Francisco. It has been in the family for nearly 100 years. I love wings. I have always dreamed of flying since I was kid. I tried jumping off the garage roof with a cape – with no success of flight. I just proved gravity existed. I also would try to catch a strong breeze and jump off a large rock in our front yard imitating Sister Bertrill (The Flying Nun). I asked my Mom to make me a coronet like the one Sally Field wore that made her fly. I never got my coronet. The older I get, the more I cherish the special moments every day… moments of simplicity, grace, joy, love and beauty. We have to make every moment count, because the older we get time really does fly!

The Milkman’s Spirit

(74” H x 20” D x 51” H)

My Father was always on the lookout for interesting vintage pieces for my assemblage work. He was a man who loved his family, loved Santa Barbara history and loved his neighbors and neighborhood on Eucalyptus Hill. Dad learned that the hill where our family house is located was once a dairy around the turn of the century.  When the hill was developed, parts of the dairy were simply discarded down Sycamore canyon – a steep drop at the back of the property across the street from our home. 

 

He shared information about the defunct dairy with the current residents of the home across the street, Dave and Gaby Breuer, who had found many broken milk bottles down the side of the canyon. Upon further exploration, Dave found the rusted-out door to what we believe was a milk truck. Dave dragged the door up the face of the canyon and brought it to Dad’s house for me. I knew when I saw it that it would become a piece of sculpture. This door is a survivor. It withstood two wild fires – the Sycamore Canyon Fire and the Coyote Fire.

 

The heart-shaped grave plate came from France via an antique shop in Sonoma, California. So this became the Milkman’s door and a piece of history that oozed with the spirit of this man who I imagined was a loving and devoted family man (my Dad was the perfect embodiment of this) who delivered milk to neighborhoods and was long remembered and revered after his death. As with many of the pieces in this series, this sculpture incorporates light – in the form of neon. The aura-like glow of neon is very appealing to me, and thus it represents the Milkman’s light and spirit emanating from the remnants of his milk truck.

 

I am indebted to Dave Breuer for salvaging the door and my Father Reg Lathim for securing the door from Dave, researching the history of the dairy and modeling the Milk Man’s spirit of love.

Peaceful Planet

(36” T x 29” Circumference)

This is the largest of three metal globes with which I have created planet sculptures. All the spheres in this series are from a garden in Santa Rosa that was ravaged by fire. They were originally mirror globes. The fire gave them their multi-layered planet surface patina. This planet, guided by its purple, blue and green glow is one of peace and respite.

Ghost

(64.5” T x 12 3/8” D x 36 ¼ W)

I ventured to Lawrence, Kansas right out of graduating from Santa Barbara High School, to pursue my education as a Music Therapy major. What awaited me in Kansas was so much more than an academic education! I had been selling antiques at the Wine Cellar in the Big Yellow House in Summerland and the Midwest opened up a whole new world to me in the antique department. In 1978 I found a set of twisted wrought iron posts. They are sculptures in their own right. They date back to the Civil War and are hand-wrought, portable fence posts that were carried by the troupes to create horse corrals. The corkscrew end was screwed into the ground and ropes were threaded through the rings. These posts were dug out of the Caw River, which runs through Lawrence. I imagine some low ranking infantryman grew weary of lugging these heavy items day after day and dumped them in the river. 

 

This series of three posts represents the blood, sweat and tears of those who fought in the Civil War. My family lineage traces back to Robert E. Lee. (Thank God the North was victorious.) The light on the center post is the ghost of the soldier who carted these heavy posts from camp to camp. It is a tribute to those who gave their lives in that awful battle. 

Kneading Faith

(22” T x 10” W x 9 1/8 D)

Fashioned from two industrial mixing blades, this piece a celebration of spirit and light, Art Deco design, and is a sort of alter for those who find a spiritual calling emanating from the blades. This is one of only three places to date that I have incorporated white light. This piece called for the purity and simplicity of white light, coupled with the soothing cobalt blue and purple. In these very challenging times, faith is sometimes all we have to hold on to.

Wheels of Change

(59” T x 47” W x17.5” D)

This collection of wheels has their own intrinsic movement – they each turn independently, but even when still, they sing of perpetual motion. They reflect the innovations of machinery and technology that built the world into what it is today. The large wheel is from Hungary and the front wheel is from New York.

Lady Liberty: Me Too

(24.5” T x 18.5” W x 7 3/8” D)

This assemblage is a collection of vintage pieces from New York City, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Arroyo Grande. The glove mold holding the tin torch in the tapestry of Americana is my nod to the Statue of Liberty, who, sadly is has been a victim of horrible abuse. Framed in a clear plexiglass box.

Pablo’s Piano

(69” T x 51 1/8 W x 23” D)

The genesis of this piece is one of great serendipity and was due to the generosity and great timing of good friends. The story begins in New York City in September of 2016. I stay with my dear friends Jeannie, Pimm and Lila Fox in their apartment across the street from MoMa. I became an avid fan of the art in MoMa and that Fall there was a wonderful exhibit titled Picasso 3D – a fantastic collection of Picasso’s many stages of sculpture works. I was so inspired by these works I visited them many times. Picasso’s influence soaked deep into my head and upon returning to Santa Barbara, I created a Picasso inspired assemblage titled “Music Deconstructed.”  (First image on Assemblage Art Page)

 

Earlier this year, my friend and uber talented composer Michael Mortilla called and said he found an abandoned upright piano on the street waiting to go to the dump. He asked if I wanted any pieces and of course I said yes! He removed all of the ivory-topped keys –and the hammer board for me. Then my friend and Associate Artistic Director at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, Brian McDonald, posted a photo of the harp from their grand piano that had been dismantled and was also heading for the dump. I jumped at this opportunity and the final piece began to take shape in my head. I have directed and acted onstage at The Rubicon and it is special to have this piece of the Theatre’s history. (I met Jack Lemmon leaning on that piano!) The owner of my gym was carrying out a set of thick glass shelves to dump in October of 2017 while I was sweating on the Elliptical machine. I saved them from the dumpster. They became the glass sculpture windows in the harp. All of the elements (other than the lights and custom metal stands) are recycled and happily re-purposed.  

 

And with these gifts from friends and the Universe, Pablo’s Piano was born. The way Picasso deconstructed his objects fascinates me. The visual metaphors for music are endless. The way sound radiates from a piano and impacts our sense of sound, our emotions and touches our soul is what this piece embodies for me.  Music has played an integral role in my life and I know it to be as crucial as air and water. It does indeed soothe the soul; it powers our light and energy that ripples into the Universe. This is the first in a series of five piano sculptures currently in process. I dedicate this piece to Marcos Garcia Lecuona whose gift of music and timeless kindred soul has deeply touched my life.