Tying the knot…or six degrees of separation in Saugerties?

I love to share oddities that can be tied to a holiday-themed post. So back in September when I spied a heart-shaped sculpture sitting atop a hill in Saugerties, I decided to file it away as a future contribution to Cupid's internet feed come February. Nonetheless, no matter when I share an oddity it's always a thrill to happen upon one, and I carried that good feeling with me as I made my way down the road to the annual Garlic Festival. Thanks to the interconnectedness of social media, my friend Andrew realized we were both attending the same garlicky-good venue. We arranged to meet up for dinner at the nearby New World restaurant - he with his charming friend Holly, and me with my sweetheart and a few friends in tow. Over appetizers, Andrew asked if I had found any oddities while in Saugerties. At that moment, a vintage bottle of coincidence was uncorked when I showed him this photo:

Cue the string section of serendipity! It so happened that Andrew knew the artist - in fact, he knew him rather well! Ze'ev Willy Neumann, the Israeli-born sculptor of the aptly-named Love Knot, is the father-in-law of Andrew's sister, and on this particular weekend, Andrew and his friend Holly were guests at his home and studio.

Willy Neumann's original concept was to construct a heart-shaped apple for the iconic  
I Love NY slogan. This idea evolved into an expression of his love for the town of Saugerties, where he makes his home and art, and nearby Woodstock, with its tie-dyed immersion of groovy art and culture. My snapshot of the heart is actually a prototype for the finished Love Knot - an installation of two hearts, one to be placed in Saugerties and the other in Woodstock, with accompanying directions on each guiding the viewer to the other, in effect tying the conceptual knot. Here are the finished pieces. Aren't they lovely?

With the infinity symbol as a grounding element, each heart speaks of the eternal love between two mountain towns that are united through their cultural connections. Once placed in their respective homes, these harmonious hearts will create a bridge to this link and Neumann's vision will be realized. I love this photo of Willy with his daughter-in-law Tracee and darling granddaughter all framed within the heart. The repeated curvatures of the piece beckon the viewer to sit or recline within its enveloping shape.

While symbolizing enduring love of place and connection, the Love Knot also represents the infinite circle of life that binds us all together. Cupid may hoard his arrows for that one day in February, but that cheeky cherub known as Coincidence and his sister, Serendipity, seem to strike when least expected and never fail to make my heart skip. Many thanks to my friend Andrew for leading me to the story and artist behind these heavenly hearts.  More about the infinitely interesting Ze've Willy Neumann can be found at his website by clicking this link. And here he is in action!

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? If you can grab a date and hop on up to Saugerties, drop by Willy's studio. He'll be hosting a party celebrating the completion of the Love Knot. Seriously, don't you want to sit in this thing?

Additional photos courtesy of Willy, Adam & Tracee Neumann. Thanks for your help, guys!

A Made Man

When life gives you an old washing machine drum...

...make a Washing Machine Drum Man!

This chipper chap was found standing sentry in front of a shed. Just look at that funny face...Ooooooo!

I really dig found-object art. It's green and doesn't take the mastery of a Michelangelo to make. All you need is an eye for seeing the creative possibilities in the prosaic; to imagine an object beyond its utility and infuse it with new life. Whimsical found-object sculptures dot the landscape of the Catskills, bringing a bit of humor to a yard or gaiety to a gallery. Who hasn't seen a smile in the grille of a car or a nose in a doorknob?

Take Mighty Joe Young here:

He was found in a funky Phoenician art gallery. Who would think that a couple of wrenches, horseshoes and a faucet handle could pack so much personality? It just took an inspired shift in perception. So before you take those old tools to the dump or leave those spare parts to languish in a shed, why not turn those figurative lemons into a cool glass of artistic lemonade?