Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Art is the Proper Task of Life," Friederich Nietzsche

Home of Artist Rick Phelps

Contact:   Email me!                                              Art Web Site:   TEXT

As I peruse through my thought processes about how I have lived my life after 50+
years, I have realized that every decision I have made was based upon my ability to
make my work and live near an art centerMoving often through the years, my
first priority was having a studio space and living near other artists.  All my
decisions were based on my life as an artist first and foremost.  Nietzsche's quote
really sums up my and other artist's actions stating "art is the proper task of life".
During the last few weeks I had the great pleasure of visiting two artist friends in
their homes and studios who have also lived life through their art.

Artists Rick Phelps and Christy Hengst are not acquainted, but both live their lives
creating work that helps inform how they think, develop ideas, and interact with their
world.  Both Rick and Christy's homes are spaces where art resides and breathes as
part of life. I fully appreciate how both artists have a similar outlook on living a good
life through art that was exhibited by their environments and thought processes.
I received permission to write a bit about each artist for this weeks post. 

Christy's Home with daughter, Eliza, and Puppy

Christy Hengst is a sculptor who works with clay and mixed mediums.  I was fortunate
to be able to take a private "Silkscreening on Clay Workshop" with Christy last week that
was great fun, informative, and exciting.  Her studio in Santa Fe is filled with her art
and tools for working with clay, screening, wax and other mediums.  She has developed
her screening on clay through much trial and error and has become a master of the
Inside Christy's Studio

For the last two years Christy has created a large series of porcelain silkscreened birds
with personal imagery that have traveled to more than 60 sites around the world.
Words, letters, and images adorn each individual bird and no two are alike.  The instal-
lations were set up to allow interaction with people and other creatures.  Christy's web site,, has a video and many images of the birds "roosting" in
parks, harbors, underwater, and along the sea coast, to name a few locations.  The birds on
site are stunning and surprising to the unsuspecting visitor.  I enjoyed seeing the birds up-
close and personal in Chrisity's studio.  The variations of information and writings were
intriguing and kept me investigating each non-feathered friend.

Christy's Birds Gather Outside her Studio

Bill and I were invited to Christy's house to meet her husband, Helmut, a blacksmith,
and children, Eliza and Oliver.  I had a wonderful time exploring the old adobe/frame
home with Christy as my guide.  The house is a labyrinth of rooms ornamented with
Christy's screened tiles and Helmut's blacksmithing skills.  It is a wonderfully
warm and inviting home created with loving care by two artists who have used
their skill and talent to surround themselves with art.

Large Hot Tub with Christy's Design
Bathroom Floor of Christy's Home
Rick Phelps lives in an Earthship home just outside of Santa Fe with his partner, Alex.
His studio, just inside the entry door, is filled with magical creatures that depart from
doll, animal, and shaped forms (that create the inner structures) into winged, stacked or
hybrid beings. His main medium is paper mache which reinforces his belief in recycling
Rick's World
Rick's creatures and ornamental shapes fill the Earthship from top to bottom.  One of
my favorite rooms was the bathroom.  Peeking in the doorway was an incredible
experience as I discovered a large pod shape hanging from the ceiling and all
kinds of greenery in pots giving the space a hot house feel along with the plastic
back wall. Walking through the Earthship gives one a feeling of Marti Gras, ancient
dwelling, and ceremony . At this time, Rick is working hard to finish work for his show
at Cafe Pasqual's Gallery in the Fall.    The link to Rick's web site at Cafe Pasquals is:

Bathroom Space                                   Rick Working in his Studio Area

Rick and Alex are both gardeners and Rick has designed various gardens in Santa Fe.
Surrounding the Earthship is wonderful vegetation and many of Rick's outdoor sculptures.
They also have an indoor greenhouse in the Earthship.  Every corner of Rick and
Alex's house is filled with the surprise of "recycler meets magician".
Outside the Earthship

Indoor Greenhouse and Horse Sculpture Outside
As I ponder the world of art and beyond, I am comforted by the fact that artists
such as Christy and Rick are working from a sense of honesty, heart, and the rigor
of creation. Their lives reflect their art and their art reflects their lives.  Living as
an artist is a necessary life to many of us who must work from our creative minds.
One of my favorite quotes is from Duchamp who said:  "I'm nothing else but an
artist, I'm sure, and delighted to be"

Christy's web site is:
Rick's web site is:
Also: my interview with the Art Book Guy for August is on
And visit new blogger friend, Valerie Story: