Nature Circle: Artist Michael Grab Stuns Onlookers
I learned about the fascinating concept of “gravity glue” from a Facebook post made by Reena Kazman from Eco-Artware. I saw a picture of rocks being balanced precariously and just had to follow the link to learn more.
The link “Gravity Glue” went directly to the website of Michael Grab. Michael is a Colorado-based artist who spends a great amount of personal time performing installations of his unique public art by balancing rocks in moving bodies of water, inspiring gasps of awe from onlookers who can’t believe such an art is even possible.
Public Art Defined
What are installations? What is meant by public art? How exactly is it performed?
Let’s start with the basics. First of all, understand that every artist is a performer in one way or another. We already know that those involved in performance arts, such as actors, musicians, and dancers, perform their art in front of an audience. However, what we may not know is that those involved in fine arts, who work with fiber, clay, metal, or rocks, like artist Michael Grab, also perform for the public, in slightly different ways.
Artists who create with fine art media may perform their art in a studio, as in a glass blower who requires the use of a hot oven to fire his work, or they may perform their art in other venues. The bottom line is always the same, though – - to create beautiful fine art that will be appreciated by the public.
That is the part where the aspect of public art comes in. After artists “perform,” their art is complete and it is time to share it with people from the public who will appreciate it. In most cases, the appreciation comes in the form of cold hard cash, a personal check, or a credit card receipt, indicating that the art has been sold, as in a clay pot, a glass vase, a ceramic bowl, or the like.
In other cases, public art becomes “installed,” inferring that it will become a permanent fixture in a public place. The benefit of public art that is installed is that it will be enjoyed by every single person who happens to see it. Public art transcends notions of age, race, religion, or other categorizations that separate us. Public art is that joining force that makes everything kumbaya.
The Art of Balancing Rocks
And that is where Michael Garb comes in, as an artist who “performs” his art and “installs” it in a “public” place, displaying his unique art of balancing rocks as a permanent fixture within moving waters.
Michael’s description of what he does and his process are fascinating and complex. Michael studies the natural surfaces of rocks, looking for little indentations or tripods, as he calls them, in order to find ways to connect the tripods in such a way so that the rocks will connect permanently and be balanced either upright or curved into large, visual squiggles.
That permanent connection is what Michael describes as “gravity glue,” which I think is a brilliantly clever way of describing the forces of nature in his art. This is the point where I think scientists could better explain the process of how it is possible to balance rocks precariously, as if they were on their tippy toes, because even I don’t know how to properly explain it.
My feeling is that when the rocks receive waves of water and the continuous flow of the current, it is the movement of the water, like friction, that works with gravity to help the rocks stay in place, in the same way that the composition of air allows us to stand on the earth and not float away in space. I’m quite sure a more educated explanation exists for how it is possible for very large rocks to stay in place the way they do in moving water, but that is just my humble guess.
All technical stuff aside, it is the beauty of Michael Garb’s art that matters the most. His displays are just stunning to look at. And that, as simple as it is, is the main goal of public art – - to produce something that is like chocolate for our eyes. I invite you to visit Michael’s site to see his magnificent nature art in action.
Michael’s website contains a great deal of information dedicated to his art, the process behind his art, and quite surprisingly, the meditative and calming qualities of performing his art. Among the other surprises I found on his website was information relating to an international conference of a group of people from all over the world who practice this same form of art.
Gravity Glue is definitely worth a look. What types of public art are installed in your home state? Let me know in the comments.