Steel Sculptures for Sale
Minimalist Tree by Paul Horesby
This sculpture is made of mild steel.
Paul Horesby sure was an interesting guy.
He used to live out there off'a Bear Creek Road in Orinda, somewhere before Briones Park and somewhere after Tilden Park. He used to come in to Berkeley all the time to hang out and to drink at Brennan's Bar. One night he had too much to drink, or so the story goes, and he got into a motorcycle wreck on the way home and died.
Here, let me weave the fascinating facets of his life into a tapestry of .... naaaah, fuck all that. See, what I was working on there was a whole literary trip, replete with a lot of metaphorical and synecdochic gewgaws that nobody needs. Paul was a minimalist and a Norwegian. All he wanted was a farm and some steel shapes to weld, and a horse maybe. He had a nice Harley and a Chevrolet El Camino, marking him as a man of taste, with macho.
I think things went a little sour for Paul at some point, a combination of stuff going bad all at once, or rather one after another. You name it, it fucked up: Girlfriend, work, the farm deal, traffic tickets et seq. So maybe he piled up that Harley all by himself; maybe he did get run off the road after drinking a lot at Brennan's; what the hell's the difference? When things were going good for Paul, he could have drunk you all under the table, stopped at Yusan's for sushi, and then hopped on the Harley and rode home with his eyes half closed. Quite a guy.
But enough about him. Let's bullshit about his art.
He made leaves. You go to the Casinos, in Vegas or Atlantic City, you see these leaves and trellis things made out of metal, real nice, all over the place. Or used to, maybe they're all gone now. Been a while. Paul made those. He used to hire a dozen people, make a bunch of that stuff, ship it out, get paid, get drunk, make some art. He made some good money, real good considering it was for making art.
For himself, he made a sculpture out of just different size pipe and rod, welded together to look like a tree. One big pipe was the trunk; time you got out to the end, you had little quarter inch rods, a little bent, like twigs. You get the idea, it was a sculpture of a tree, with NO LEAVES. When he died, his friends carted that tree over to my sculpture garden in Berkeley, along with any other pieces lying about "his" ranch. One of the other pieces lying about was the one pictured on this page, Minimalist Tree. (There was, by the way, a companion piece, very similar but smaller; it got stolen.)
So that's the story, art imitating life. Those leaf things for the casinos, they were bullshit. Fake, all the way. The No Leaves tree , which I 've got on a pedestal, it's pretty cool, but it's kind of bullshit too. Paul hadn't quite figured it out yet, but he was working on it. When he made this thing, which didn't even have a name, I just call it Minimalist Tree, he graduated. It's perfect.
Couple weeks ago, a woman had a pretty amazing (from my perspective) experience with this piece, while I watched and listen'd. She was visiting; dragged there, in fact, by a friend of hers who thought she'd like the sculptures or maybe the town they're in, but she wasn't so thrilled by the town, or the sculptures, or who knows, she couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. Or so it appeared. But she stood around where the sculptures are, and they started talking to her, and through her. She stood there, looking at the steel sculptures by the road, amongst the boulders, and nailed the essence of abstract minimalist art like a prophet. She was looking right at this piece, the Minimalist Tree, and speaking in the most general terms, she said that a sculpture should be "... very real but not look like something." Now she had no idea that Paul had painstakingly and painfully worked that idea out with hammer and tongs, making endless very nice sculptural leaves, and leafless trees, and later numerous other ornamentals in which he worked out his visual vocabulary. She just got the message and told it to me, a statement about just what is so perfect, so masterful, so magnum opus about this work.
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