Larry: I think that’s about it.
Larry: So far.
Mimi: So, you grew up in Corvallis Oregon.
Larry: Actually west of Corvallis, between Newport and Corvallis in the coast range on the other side of Mary’s peak which is a big mountain which looks over Corvallis, it is a little valley that my family settled over a hundred years ago.
Mimi: Do you think that has affected your work growing up in that area?
Larry: Yes, absolutely.
Mimi: In what way do you think?
Larry: Well, it is full of stories for one thing. My grandfather, my great grandfather who was the grandfather we were around when we were growing up, he told stories, amazing stories, so I was definitely influenced by those. A terrific guy, a farmer, he had a cattle ranch, so I learned about farming and all kinds of stuff from him.
Mimi: Did you work in the logging industry?
Larry: I did. I set chokers
Mimi: Which is kind of dangerous, isn’t it?
Larry: It is very dangerous. I got injured twice , I got injured ,hit in the face by a huge cable also run over by a Caterpillar that almost smashed my foot off , that was pretty scary .
Mimi: How many years did you work in the logging industry?
Larry: Not that many years. I guess into my twenties, from eighteen to maybe twenty five. I also planted trees and worked for the forest service, thinning and slashing, working with a chain saw.
Mimi: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? Did you start when you were little?
Larry: I wanted to be an artist right from the start. Photography was the first thing that piqued my interest. I loved cameras and my parents had an old Brownie camera, I used to admire that and I think that the very first picture I took with it was, my sister and I got up early one morning before my parents and I took a picture of our cat trying to get a gold fish out of the gold fish bowl. That was my very first picture, we were not supposed to touch the camera but …………….I did anyway.
Mimi: So, that is interesting, it sounds like you were very observant of things at an early age.
Larry: Yes , that is not unusual for my family , I come from a very astute family , country people I think are really good observers , not surprising .
Mimi: How do you get your ideas for work?
Larry: I sketch and I draw a lot, I dream a lot,
Mimi: When you sketch, does it come out like the sketch or does it come out differently?
Larry: Sometimes both. I have kind of a photographic memory, I don’t know if that is the right description but that is as close as I can get. Where I can visualize and it comes to me as a complete piece and I can actually render from my mind, what I see in my mind almost like a photograph or a movie.
Mimi: Do you see the finished product before it is done? Or is it kind of an evolution?
Larry: generally I do and then I add embellishments but essentially it is done in my mind so there is a lot of dreaming and when I say dreaming , not sleep dreaming sort of mind dreaming .
Mimi: How long do you work on a piece? Well, you do so many different things, so let’s talk about one of the dresses, how long does that take?
Larry: Sometimes it can be a day or two days, it could be weeks, depending on getting it to where I see it in my mind. There are always those steps, those technical steps as part of the labor process, as part of the tedium sometimes, it is important and I don’t mind that either but it depends. Each piece seems to have its own time frame.
Mimi: The dresses have a kind of sentimental quality but kind of a weathered sentimental quality; they evoke an endearing feeling, when I look at them.
Larry: I know. It’s true. Some people have emotional reactions to them , they are almost brought to tears which is interesting to me . Sentimental , I think is good I prefer sentimental to nostalgia , I’m not really a big nostalgia fan , that is like trying to go back and re create something that never existed in the first place . Sentiment is something that makes you feel emotional , that’s not a bad thing .
Mimi: I think they have an edge to them, I think all your work has an edge to it; you have a good balance of the sweet and sour
Larry: Yes! Because I like that , I think that is important ,too much of either is detrimental .
Mimi: Obviously nature inspires you, what else inspires you to work?
Larry: Family ,friends , observations , moments , defiantly animals, my pets , chickens , mules donkeys , dogs , cats any kind of animal , I love animals . The few things that kind of make sense in the world and the people I love are also the people that like animals . People I distrust are the people that don’t like animals .
Mimi: Which is kind of obvious, isn’t it?
Larry: Yes, definitely
Mimi: When I went to look at the studio, it is very frenetic
Mimi: I am a very messy artist, so this is not an insult. Are you calm when you work or are you in frenzy?
Larry: I am actually very calm; it is when I am the most still I think. Like a meditation, I’m actually in an even good place while I am working.
Mimi: Do you take lots of breaks or do you just go?
Larry: I take lots of breaks
Mimi: What do you do?
Larry: I will go and check emails, listen to music, I just sit. one of my favorite things to do is to sit on my studio steps and watch the bird feeder , especially in the winter , I don’t have them out in the summer so much because they can get their own food but in the winter I for about an hour and watch the birds . That is one of my favorite things to do. Funnily enough there is that saying a new saying, have you heard it? “Put a bird on it “ the show called “Portlandia “ there is a segment , it is a bunch of comedy sketches , their always talking about “oh , put a bird on it “ like they go into a shop and this person is not selling anything so they say “put a bird on it “ and then everything will sell . Kinda funny ,it has made me think about putting birds on things .
Mimi: How does the public respond to your work?
Larry: I think often times it is positive, I mean, I would hope they would respond by buying a piece now and then. I get good reviews in newspapers and magazines and I’m in a few galleries around the country so I think people like them, people are very fond of the dresses in some places they are quite fond of the paintings that I do. The jewelry is something new.
Mimi: Yes! Let’s talk about the jewelry. So you’re selling the jewelry on Etsy now. How long ago did you start?
Larry: A couple months, I guess, but Etsy is a good idea unfortunately it is difficult to actually sell on Etsy. I would prefer to sell my work, jewelry work in the galleries because I think of it as an extension of what I do normally. I always think of what I do , my work as one big piece with variations , I never really think of the jewelry as being any different as say the dresses , the paintings or metal sculpture .
Mimi: Are galleries interested in showing the work?
Larry: I think not so much because they actually haven’t seen it in real life , I think maybe if they saw it in a group or something , there might be some more interest , probably because there is so much connotation with jewelry that they don’t think of it as art in the traditional sense .
Mimi: it is very unusual, it is very bold, modern and edgy at the same time, and I think it is really exciting!
Larry: Thank you, I’m excited by it, I feel like I am right where I need to be in my work place, it is not just a whim
Mimi: I think you are really good at it.
Larry: Thank you, You can still express ideas and stories, it is still a vehicle that might evoke something more, more than just adornment for example and I like the way it looks when people wear it, that is a another whole dimension that adds to it, so when you see it moving around it is like having an installation that moves in different places, I find that really fascinating
Mimi: So, you wake up in the morning and how do you decide which one of these projects you want to work on?
Larry: Sometimes Sabine tells me because I have something that might be outstanding, like I have an auction project or something. It just kind of pops into my head or it doesn’t and I just sit and I think for awhile . Today I woke up thinking about rings ,so I thought ,I am going to work on a ring and I gathered up some little pebbles yesterday that I thought were cool , so I was out on my hands and knees in the back where there is a lot of glacial movement , all these sweet little round pebbles and I was carefully choosing pebbles to make rings out of . So that was today.
Mimi: Do you use mostly found objects?
Larry: I try to, I try to use materials that have some history or some energy that, I like to think of it at physic energy. That is why for the dresses I use bed sheets because of the intimacy of a bed sheet, to me it is fascinating because people , they sleep on them , they make love on them , and they die on them . I get them at thrift store so I don’t know their history , but something has happened on those bed sheets, so they have that kind of energy and l like to think that it effects the viewer in some way .
Mimi: I found that interesting, you showed me a couple of the jewelry pieces, like the scissors things that were yours, when were those scissors from?
Larry: they are about fifty years old; I found them with a metal detector. When I go down to see my parents ,my sister has a metal detector , a wonderful metal detector , a very high end metal detector , I use it way more than she does because I love it . So I go out and make jewelry pieces out of those pieces because for the same reason they have some history
Mimi: a connection
Larry: A connection to me and my family and to the valley
Mimi: I would find it hard to give them away and sell them when you have a connection like that, so it will be interesting to see who buys that particular piece.
Larry: I would love to see that too, hopefully somebody will, there is always the option that nobody will but I think they are kind of cool and combined it with the whole idea of there is a little piece of paper with a story about scissors on it and there is a rock, so I liked playing with the idea of rock paper scissors, a historical timepiece.
Mimi: like a treasure. Tell me a little about encaustics , I don’t know how that works
Larry: Encaustic is a really ancient painting recipe; it is beeswax, ground up mineral pigment and dammar resin. Dammar as you know is a vehicle for varnish and oil paintings , the wax , beeswax is readily available and then I us e dammar resin which is a pitch from a conifer tree ,it comes from the middle east ,I believe , that will harden the wax . You mix those three together , invented by the Greeks , the most famous examples are the Fayum portraits , there was a Greek community living in Egypt that painted mummy portraits . When somebody died they would be an artisan in the community that would paint this likeness of the person who died , usually stylized a little bit and they would nail that onto the sarcophagus and bury them in it. They dug these things out of the ground about three thousand plus years ago , they had been in the ground that long and they are as bright as when they were painted , in some cases painted often times on really thin cedar, often times the cedar is rotted away and sometimes the layer of wax is left behind but the wax is completely unaffected by the elements .
Mimi: So it protects the image
Larry: Yes, so it protects, and actually the very beginning of encaustic was ships that the Greeks would water proof with beeswax and resin and they started to decorate their ships with war symbols and what have you. The Romans have used it the Egyptians it is very old and in modern times Jasper Johns comes to mind maybe one of the most famous artists that used encaustic
Mimi: Isn’t that the through line for all your work it all has kind of a weathered feel to it , the sculpture , the jewelry , what about the photography ?
Larry: Even the photography I am fascinated by vintage cameras often times, negatives made out of photo paper which is an old technique which was used in the eighteen hundreds which is called platinotypes I believe. in those days they would paint silver salts on thin paper and expose it in a camera and I liked the way that looked but even my printing techniques when I was doing black and white photography tended toward a more vintage look , a nineteenth century look which is to me still to this day , the heyday of photography . It is when all this experimentation was being done , Cyanotype ,Daguerreotype , Ambrotype , there is like a whole list of things that people were experimenting with in Victorian times .
Mimi: Black and white photography really has a lot of depth
Larry: It does because it takes color out of the equation which can be kind of extraneous.
Mimi: So then there is the shadow and light
Larry: It is all about shadow, light and emotion. I mean, I like color photography, I don’t completely discount it but there is something quite beautiful about black and white. It is interesting, for example if you look at war footage from world war two, you always think of world war two in terms of black and white. When I think of world war two, I think of it as happening in black and white. Recently they have discovered a lot of color film that was shot , color movies and a lot of those have come to the surface recently and if you look at them it doesn’t seem quite right , it doesn’t seem real in some ways , it seems made up .
Mimi: That is interesting, Like Technicolor!
Larry: Exactly, pretty fascinating.
Mimi: I would like to know about the classes that you teach? And when did you start doing this ?
Larry: I think my first class was in 2001, or shortly afterwards. I lost my job, I was working in a place called Ivey Seright in Seattle, and it was a photographic lab. I created for advertising mostly. Because of the digital revolution and 911, it just decimated that industry and we just became obsolete basically. Most of us got laid off . So I was invited to teach at the glass museum in Tacoma doing residencies. I seemed to have some talent for it . So that was my first teaching gigs, then I started teaching at a place called Pratt fine arts in Seattle. My very first class was a dress form class. So the whole idea was based on dresses and the form, the shape. It was a combination of wielding and sewing and creating a dress form using wax and that parlayed into encaustic painting and that is what I really became known for . I have been doing that ever since. In that day’s I took over for a guy named Jef Gunn who lives in Portland now who was the encaustic teacher at Pratt. I started teaching and got quite a following and in those days hardly anybody was doing it. It was kind of the beginning of that movement, so it swept the Northwest. Now a lot of people teach it, a lot of my students teach it now, a lot of people are doing it now. The person who was my assistant at the time opened a little encaustics studio in West Seattle, called Northwest Encaustics. I teach for him sometimes.
Mimi: Are you doing jewelry? Are you teaching jewelry ?
Larry: I do, I call it rustic adornment and I teach it here in my studio and that is something somewhat new. I’ve been teaching more and more out here, small classes, more intimate, it is my favorite thing to do. I am in my own environment, people who are brave enough to come out and take a class enjoy it because they are kind of in the environment of a working artist.
Mimi: Is it a whole day?
Larry: It is a whole day; sometimes two days and people really seem to enjoy it. I like it because I am at home and I don’t have to pack my stuff up and drive to god knows where, so it’s nice. I also teach a doll making class, you’ve seen some of my doll pieces in the studio.
Mimi: Dark dolls!
Larry: Yes, dark dolls, dark for dark business.
Mimi: So, if you could invent anything to make you life easier and you had any kind of tool, what would it be?
Larry: I would invent a car that doesn’t break down, that is one of my biggest problems. I never seem to have a car that works. On a real practical level you know, I would defiantly do that over the last years my car had broken down about twenty times .I always buy these old clunkers.
Mimi: So you don’t know what you are getting.
Larry: I never know. It is really frustrating.
Mimi: Well, that would be very useful to you then. So, are you productive more in a specific season?
Larry: I use to think that I was more productive in the winter when I was younger, now I am more productive in the summer because I like to be warm.
Mimi: The studio seems to b a little bit cold
Larry: yes, only recently, my sister gave me a beautiful little pot belly stove, my sister Debbie. It is a nicer environment if it is warm in there, it makes it a little easier, but I really like to work in the sun.
Mimi: If you could live anywhere else in the world where would that be?
Larry: It is the first place out of the country that I went to. My family is from there, from Scotland and in England. I felt a real sense of homecoming the first time I went there, I can’t even explain, almost genetic. That was a great place and I lived there for a year once . My first wife and I went there and lived there and that is where she still lives to this day.
Mimi: I lived there
Larry: It is a great place
Mimi: a little short on space
Larry: Pretty expensive, but I lived in London and I lived in the south, Dorset. That is where my first wife is from .
Larry: really beautiful. One of my best friends to this day still lives there. We all lived together over there
Mimi: Culturally it is an incredible place
Larry: It was a pretty great experience for me because I was young at the time, it was in the seventy’s during the punk revolution, we were living in squats, we would just move into abandoned houses.
Mimi: What do you have up and coming now?
Larry: At this point I haven’t shown for a little while, next year I will be showing in Provincetown at the Rice/Polak gallery, I have been with them for several years.
Mimi: Do you go to the shows?
Larry: No not often. I’ve gone to an opening in New York at American Primitive where I have been showing. I go to the ones in Seattle at G.Gibson gallery, I go to all those. When I showed at Mia gallery, I don’t know if you remember Mia gallery that was a long time ago, maybe 13 years ago.
Mimi: I think you should have an exhibition with your jewelry
Larry: Thank you
Mimi: Ok, here is the obtuse question. If you were in the forest and you had to build a structure for shelter and you had ten days of sunshine and the rest of the winter rain and snow what would this home look like?
Larry: I would find a tree that has fallen over which creates a big hole because the root ball pulls out and then I would dig that out and I would build a roof over that which would have kind of a slope, like a round house and then I would carve little shelves in there and that is where I would live. I have actually done that. When I was working for the forest service , Ally my first wife and I dug that out and that’s how we lived while we did this job ,it was great , it worked out really well . The earth acts like insulation, it was quite warm in there .
Mimi: No hesitation on that question
Larry: No, it was easy .Where I grew up we used to love making lien to and shelters it was fun thing to do when we were kids
Mimi: Well, I think we are done
Mimi: Thank you very much for the interview
Larry: Thank you
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups melted butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla ( I prefer the flavor of Mexican vanilla )
4 large eggs
Heat oven to 350 degrees, coat two nine inch rounds with butter and wax paper
Mix cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and set aside
Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Beat in flour mixture, milk, eggs and vanilla (do not over mix at this point)
Spread batter into pans
Cool and frost
Maple Butter Cream
Whip butter until soft and fluffy
Add powdered sugar ,milk , vanilla , maple syrup and fresh lemon
I poked holes in the cake and poured in maple syrup and lemon in the middle layer and the top
Spread frosting onto the center of the cake
Frost the top with chocolate frosting and top with caramelized walnuts and hazelnuts