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03:42 pm: U N D E R G R O U N D A R T

scola first antena, a spherical, buried here scola first antena, a spherical, buried here

The wind-blown Southeast corner of the SCOLA acreage is on the fringe of the yearly alternate planting of corn/beans where, buried, repose all the junked tech toys that in 1981 made it happen.

My favorite corner of the SCOLA world is here where only vestiges of pristine prairie and pioneer interloping stand. Here is the place where in a symbolic way we buried our original inspirations for love of the future. Now we look forward to ever more challenging missions to the large part of the world our motto claims to be "ours:" "THE WHOLE WORLD CAN'T BE WRONG." I think maybe the tornado demolition cleanup and disappearance of some of my favorite tech toys, the stuff representing what at their time and discovery flattered my so-so daring and creativity, has explained for me now why I've gotten in the habit, for example, of throwing notes and texts for talks, classes, homilies, away, right after the it's done that once.

I guess I wouldn't even be mentioning this in a BLOG, except, first of all, it is a blog thing to do, and secondly just yesterday, Brother Jim Heidrick who assists me like a deacon does for me at Holy Family masses each week, returned my homily notes to me from the podium, as he has regularly done, and this time he mentioned for the first time ever that he saw me always throw them away; I said "Yeah!" So I got the body lingo message that he'd like to grab them--I presumed to muse/meditate more liesurely on something there. A gesture that could have trigered a little spurt of hybris/pride that anyone wanted MY notes--so I had to remind Brother Jim that these were crazy scribbles with this 'n that from things I read to prep the Mass, etc., and got most of those thoughts from my reading of Hans Urs (von Balthasar) so without quotes, footnotes, academia poop.

That "carelessness" was almost a policy for me (pardon my #7 character) in the earliest days of SCOLA when peers would come visiting our outbreaks of learning novelties; We told them how to get it done, all the tricks if there were any--because that's what I thought a "non-profit" was supposed to be and do. And we still do. However, fortunately, maybe, Francis, whom I nominated at a correct time to take over, when at my insistance, he sent a complete printout of the BASIC language program that operated the famous scola Russian Molniya Elliptical Orbiting Tracking System to be published in COOP'S SATELLITE DIGEST--I think now in my dreams I see him then retaining, holding back some key line or so; as though the originator of the software might be tempted to see it as "eternally" viable, irreplaceable, the only infallible routing in the whole universe absolutely forever and aye," When, for Pete's Sake, did our corporate lives ever depend on an APPLE-II Computer? Recently I made the mistake (again) of venturing with a young friend if he rememered then? And he exploded,"Even my parents weren't born yet then."

Is it safe now, in the inevitable retrospect of time and loosening of one's marbles, to formulate the answers to what seemed in days of yore quite pedestrian? I've got a ton of these, but begin with a keynote one: After some time doing the things that would gradually bring together some art classes, essential infrastructures for acreative environment (art department). 1963-65, a good Art History 2-semester survey, some advanced classes for significant Art Movements (likr DADA), studios for painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, for very basic starter,--one day the President of the University at that time, a good, kind friend of mine, by the way, Father Carl Reinert, S.J., credited for bringing the University into the big modern world and the century, invited me to meet with him and key executives in the (old) Board Room. There, sat in the middle of a circle of them, they essentially asked me. "What have you done? What are you doing now? and What are you planning to do?

I saw the clouds bursting open and btight light exploding into the dingy board room, and all I heard was the voice of Saint Ignatius Loyola giving me another of his EXCERSISES. Was this a carte blanche to create curriculums?

But seriously these queries at that moment started me working thence every single moment and particle of my life night and day formulating and elaborating responses to them: Where and how should Art be in the best University in the world?

Back in the spotlit chair, taking a breath to remain balanced enough to dialog a bit to find out really what they wanted here and now as opposed to a virtual Last Judgment. It turns out, I think, that some nervous nelsons perhaps had some complaints; remember, we were, in their minds, in the pits of the 60's. After a little friendly banter, turns out the clue was I had hired an artist with a beard, or, the one with the beard was . . . Bill Farmer, one of the most well-known, talented and admired artists in the area.

We branched for a time into super-8 and 16 mm. filming; art students filming anywhere on campus sparked phone calls to me
"What are they doing?" And on and on. We sponsored a film festival. Stan Brakhage et al. Otto Preminger, yet, for the establishment. We showed his film "Hurry Sundown," but in those days , since it was condemned by the Legion of Decency, we had to envelope the showing in a virtual debate with "both sides" represented. That requirement was a sorry affair, did no good, except was often since credited with hastening the sudden demise of the "Legion...."

Before I forget about it, let me tell you about ART DAY. The sculpture and whatever it was called of mine continued, I think, nicely along a constant majestic move through inspirations of different materials--all of course for the mutual edufication of art students. Enumerating in chronological order: a) Large welded automated motorized welded JUNK, b) classic hammered decorative blacksmithing IRONWORK, c) foundry WORK, First in bronze, then ALUMINUM. and IRON. d) INVESTMENT CASTING for foundry work. This inclrded doing large aluminum structures to be used as reverberators in a collaboration with a famous Electronic Composer for performances in Bufalo, N.Y. for the centenial celebration of Canisius College, New York University eisner-Lubin auditorium/student center.

The opening of a sculpture LAB in Burt Street at 21st St. gave us nice quarters for mixing up studio with documentation of living artists at work in their studios. It was enviable to see how many prominent artists that we spotted in art news features were willing to visit with our small upper level art "history" seminars via the CONFERENCE PHONE.

An advanced approach was TEAM ART with a small group of students, collaborating around the table to brainstorm an approach to an ESTHETIC NEED or PROBLEM. NO RULES; allowing eventual abandonment of the task for legitimate reasons, such as "It would just make matters worse to put more junk there." Or perhaps the esthetic solution might require calling in a consultant from Sociology or City Planning to deal with movement of people or neighborhood representatives to determine beautification needs.

Apparently I and my Team Art Students fell into disrepute one year when the Student Board of Governors mandated an ART DAY. Each Art Professor was to have students that day DO ART, IN PUBLIC, OUT OF DOORS, on the MAIN PEDESTRIAN routes of the campus, so that each and every Creighton student WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE ART, i.e. couldn't avoid seeing . . . ..

So the sculpture students went into brain storm. The parameters included budget allotted (TEENSY) and materials available (none provided). However the materials stockpile of the sculpture LAB had a pile of long, rusty, old streetcar rails, the track where the streetcar turned the corner around smack-dab in front of St. John's church. Presto! Brainstorming proclaimed celebrating the CONE SHAPE--what else could you do with iron tipi poles? That had been a problem, unsolvable, for some time; that's why they were in "storage" so far away. I got really saddled with them because Father Carl Reinert, then President of the University got embroiled with the United Worker Unions in Omaha, apparently wanting to "do something" with a plaza thing, fountain to boot, maybe, so that they volunteered to construct a nice bricked centerpiece for fountain or something in front of St. John's Church, The sculpture students contributed the bronze-caste memorial "brick" placed there to identiffy the happening. To the point, appaarently Carl Reinert got hooked to do some of the work himself personally, because he called me out there one weekend day where I found him mounted on a big Fork Lift, digging the rails out of the street to facikitate the quicker initiation of the plaza work by the unions (who did this to celebrate their centennial, I think). Carl ordered me to get a truck and haul them away, or more truthfully what he said, more or less, was "Lubbers get these things out of here and , the're iron, so you can make art out of them?" So that's when I rented the flatbed semi trailer, baced it up so caarl could load the rails with his fork.

So the results of brainsstorming settled on a far-fetched analogy of life from a kooky author--we must have been desperate

; Make a TEEPEE AND DIG A CONE-SHAPED HOLE DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH. In order to get it done we used all the money to ret a flatbed semi to haul the rails from the storage yard of the foundry in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the grassy site we picked right ouside and West of the Fine Arts Building. Then we rented a crane to erect the rails into the conical shape and bind them at the top. Dig the hole. Done. ART DAY, explain the art. Turns out the brainstorming depended on some author's poetic and mystical symbolism that none of the Hoi Polloi students bought. The students protested the following year, and were going to deny any budget for my sculpture classes to DO ANY MORE ART EVER AGAIN. Brainstorm again; this time the esthetic solution was REPENTANCE. We all promised never to not do non-art that would fail to do real art on ART DAY right before their very eyes ever again; just give us a chance. They relented.

This time we were determined not to offend. We rented a very high tech and expensive electronic distance finder. We would MEASURE THE CAMPUS, a veritable way to learn about, assess the XYZ of, any thing or place, highly documented and statistics published, sent to the Student Board, of course, and hopefully prominently publicized in the Creightonian. So we located Finder and Target crew at major distance points East-West on the roof of St. Joe's, North-South from the Sculpture Lab to the Highrise Dorm. Full contact and reportage of distances metric and English, photographs of crews and operations. Beautiful documentation and booklet printouts delivered to the Student Board, framed, you name it. And having been well advertised, all students knew, finally, that ART WAS GOING ON all day long BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES, overhead, electronically, digitally, INVISIBLY BUT REALLY,and it could be admired and understood any time FROM THE DOCUMENTATION of the "historical" reality. P.S. The streetcar tracks are NOT buried here in the site pictured.

Answers to the questions still coming--next blog. Lee

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Date:October 30th, 2005 09:50 pm (UTC)
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