Tag Archives: matthew de genaro

El Jardin Studio

The new studio was finished February. It turned out much better than I expected. “A.” seems mostly happy with it. We’ve named it El Jardin, “The Garden”, and it’s an incarnation of a Tango clubhouse. We’re now set up to host Tango events, art and music shows, house guests, and more. For the past months we’ve been running a twice-monthly practica with our neighborhood tango friends. It is a private space by, so we’ve working on a balanced policy about who’s invited to come there.

These pictures show the progress from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022. First the wood floor is installed then it is covered while the painting takes place. After that the floor is “finished” and then we’re dancing! (without countertops)…


This is the first time since I brought the show home that I’ve been thinking again about new works to make. Meanwhile I’d been dancing tango a lot, and listening closely to people talk about art, & when they warily mention what they themselves are doing creatively. Once you are out as an artist more and more people will say to you what they are doing or aspire to do. There are lots of poets, dancers and photographers out there, and painters & sculptors; and the children of artists or someone in the family who does or would do something. The great stereotype of the Artist in other times was the bohemian starving in the garret in Paris, or hanging out in 50’s Greenwich Village at the bar. Today, the artists I know are the anonymous persons who’re working nine to five, struggling to find a any moment at all to create something beautiful & meaningful to, at least, themselves. Everyone, whatever you’re trying to do – keep doing it, and see what happens.

I didn’t know what I wanted next; something experimental and abstract – printing, carved low relief, or drawing on canvas ; another heavy involving production in wood or metal; something really large, and lightweight (who has enough papier-mache in their life?)? Then I remembered that the whole time I was finishing the last thing, I was already considering the next. So I’m going to go ahead with all of them and see which one compels me the most. I’ve cleared out the shop, collected most of the materials, and I have firewood for the stove. Hello Winter & introspection & creativity.

Opening Night

My opening last week went great! Thanks to everyone who showed up or sent me their good wishes. It meant a lot to me to see or hear from every one of you.

You can commit to do some thing a year or two years in advance, and work hard to do a lot for it, and rush at the end to do some extra things, and so often, just eek by. But I didn’t do that. I was prepared and complete, and I did it in good style. I’m proud of the way I presented myself.

I’ve made sculpture since I was a child. When I was a little skater dude, people thought I was that skater dude who made sculptures. When I was a punk rocker people thought I was that guitar player who made sculptures. When I was a network administrator, people thought I was that network administrator who made sculptures. When I was a rock climber and snowboarder, people thought I was that rock climber/snowboarder who made sculptures. When I do yoga, people think I am a yogi who makes sculptures. At work, people think I’m a computer systems guy who makes sculptures. And now I dance tango, people think I am a tango dancer who makes sculptures. But all along it is a Sculptor that I’ve been. I am a Sculptor, nothing more, those other things are just by-the-way.

It felt good to stand there at the opening, surrounded by the work I’d done, and receive the recognition of the people there that they knew me for what I am.











The show is now set up. I went in on Friday with my trusty helper A., and hauled everything up the legendary flight of stairs to the gallery. Sculpture is heavy. Then we went dancing. Saturday I slept in and later on, I cleaned up my studio. Sunday I took stock of my life and decided I had done my best, I had presented myself well. I feel like my imagery is consistent, the materials are varied, and both are developed to distinction.

On Monday I went back again and took photos before Joyce arrived with her paintings, but really, our work looks so good together that I will shoot new ones.












large tree log

I made this cuteness outside the front door of the gallery.


Chase and patina

When the cast piece is complete, and the sprues are cut-off, there remain scars where the grinder or saw was used. These areas need to be finished to match the look of the rest of the surface. To chase, is a metalworking term, to ornament metal by engraving or embossing. From this:

To this:


Just mess it up with chisels, punches, files, hammers, stones, whatever, it don’t try too hard to make a match of the texture. It’ll look fine when you heat the spot with a propane torch, which darkens the metal by oxidation I guess.

I leave it all outside for several weeks, and I spray it down regularly with a teaspoon of cupric nitrate mixed with 12 oz water.

..and it slowly turns this nice color. This is patina.


When I’m ready to commit to the patina, I give it a light wax to stabilize and protect it. This darkens and warms up the colors, and brings out the shiny highlights both at once. Real nice.




A and Q supply a nice rock for a base, and Eureka! It is finished & ready to show.


Less is More 6x9 75

October 4 – November 1, 2013

Main Gallery: Joyce Brienza & Matt De Genaro
Opening Reception: Friday, October 4 – 7pm – 9pm

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine Street
Rochester, MI 48307

Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm


The big day, again. The scene at H’s foundry studio

Bronze melting in the furnace, tools waiting on the line, mold preheating in the kiln. No action pictures, sorry, too busy. (video of another pour here)

The ceramic shell molds just filled:


As the metal cools, it shrinks, and begins to fracture the mold apart.


After lunch, we return, anxious to roughly smash up the shell and see what we have.





What I’m looking for is; the casting is complete, no voids or freeze-out of metal in any part, a generally smooth consistency of metal and good surface details faithful to the original. There is the customary small amount of pitting or scaring caused impurities in the bronze, which gives character to the material, and nothing much in terms of flaws from/in the shell molds which would require much repair or patching, there is a nice fire scale  and color to the casting.



I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction well-earned. I grateful to be working on a team with guys who can produce such things as this. I feel it is a rare thing to be working at this level of excellence in anything, and I’m glad it is happening to me.

Next day, back at my shop, I take apart the second piece more thoroughly.




The shell mostly flakes away easily, and the deeper crevices are cleaned out using a chisel and hammer.





I have two fine castings.


Next, I cut off the sprue system.


Now I can see the completed piece, the complete general idea. It is excellent, what I hoped for.


Inevitably there is still much to do to detail or “chase” the casting; more cleaning, maybe sandblasting in places and patching\repairing some areas, and choosing whether or not to patina the piece and how. I’m leaning towards keeping the natural fire-scale finish, rather raw now, but it improves after a year or so naturally. Otherwise I’d considered that classic black with green haze patina we all know from museum pieces. Think about it. Another weekend and this will be ready for my show in October.

October 4 – November 1, 2013

Main Gallery: Joyce Brienza & Matt De Genaro
Opening Reception: Friday, October 4 – 7pm – 9pm

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine Street
Rochester, MI 48307

Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm



The accretion of shell continues for 15 layers.




The finished shells have their cups cut open to release the wax when it goes into the kiln.



They’re placed in the kiln, and fired up to 1500 degrees for 30 minutes to completely burn-out the wax and and any small wood pins used to support the structure sometimes. Now this is the true test to know that the shells are strong enough.


The wax doesn’t just melt out, it actually burns, which assures the mold is completely empty and dry, when the hot bronze is poured in later.  Any combustible material remaining in the mold during the metal pour could cause a dangerous explosion.


After the kiln has cooled, it is opened and the molds removed.


Everything looks great. No hairline cracks or flaws in the molds’ integrity. I had been worried up to this point, that the molds would be strong and sound.


H. and I are ready to setup for the pour next. The kiln stays nearby; we’ll preheat the shells again later when we pour metal, which is required to prevent a shock from hot metal hitting the relatively colder shell.  We move some fixtures around, and then, while digging a hole in the sand pit to place the molds into, I strain my back, which happens to me from time to time when I am not careful, unfortunately. So we must wait another week before we do the actual pour event.

What’s another week? My show’s still  six weeks off, so, why, uh, worry?

Sprue II & shell

And so, I’ve arrived at the final sprued and vented wax, complete, ready to encase in ceramic slurry and sand, the next step of preparation for the pouring of bronze.


These are the materials which make the shell. Colloidal silica slurry mix, and refractory silica sand. You dip the piece into the slurry, and sieve the sand onto the wet surface. Repeat up to eight or twelve layers. This work is taking place at “H”’s studio foundry, a place well-equipped for this. I’d not be able to do any of this without his generosity in sharing with me his superb facility, and his supportive help and advice. (Thanks)


I’m doing half the piece at a time since it is large enough to not fit in the bucket of slurry at once. It has been very warm here this past week, 90+ degrees, and as strong as I’ve tried to make the sprue system, the piece is moving and settling a bit. I want to get this solid shell going on it as fast as possible. There is a lot of difference in the way the wax behaves between 70 and 95 degrees. The first and later layers – green when wet and orange when dry. I’d rather be doing this in Winter, but I’m committed.


This is maybe three layers. many more to go, until it is solid enough to support the weight of the bronze eventually going into it.


Something else I’m doing also, unfinished from a while back. beach Stone people


Is this taking a long time? (I did go to the beach for 10 days). It was a year ago tomorrow since I completed the model for this sculpture, but for details.

A year.