S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken image 2

•11/08/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken image 2

I liked this song the first time I heard it on the Ken Burns miniseries.   The Carter family, with Mother Maybelle Carter in 1935, release their version with the titled Can The Circle Be Unbroken:

Maybelle Carter later returned on the 1972 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

An early question I had about this music was the meaning of the title?  It is obvious now.  This music is about keeping the memory and the story of those who have passed from our lives in our hearts.  It is the hope that we pass on those connections to those that will carry on after us, and that when we pass on, our reward will be Heaven.   Here is an interpretation of the music by Herb Bowie:

“This is not a song of religious dogma, it is a song that speaks to a wellspring of religious feeling, to a tragic knowledge of time and what it brings to all of us, and yet an inescapable human desire to transcend death in some way, to feel a part of something larger that will live on after death. This feeling is part of what it means to be human, to know that our parents meant so much to us, to know how much they passed on to us in terms of their knowledge and beliefs and feelings and love, and with that bequest also passed on an obligation for us to keep these gifts alive.”

For this project, I changed my style by using  stretched canvases.   Instead, all the section ends are solid one-inch poplar wood.   That was the original plan shown in this second image.  That plan changed when I looked at the artwork Africa.  I looked back to that work, for it is on display as part of an exhibition of the Vallery Art Association, of which I am an at large board member.  Reading my blog entries for Africa, I wanted to refresh my memories of this artwork for the reception.  At the VAA reception,  each artist is to give a short talk about their artwork so that the other members can learn about each other’s subjects and varied techniques.

It was this remark from an Africa blog post that changed my direction for Circle.  The post read ” Drilling holes and screwing canvases together brought back memories of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Artworks, and the care needed to support and align canvas parts correctly. I had the easier option to attach the top and bottom canvases to the top and bottom edges of the background, but that looked too two-dimensional.”  It is the italicized part of this post about placing the middle canvas behind the artwork that caused me to change direction and to consider adding a canvas to the back of The Circle.  Throughout this year I have been dealing with a lot of space between the art features (the art term is the negative space, I am told).   I added small canvas and photo images to the back of my artworks to fill what I came to think of as too much empty parts of the artwork.   I did this throughout the year until my last project Twinkle Little Star.  For Twinkle I lacked any fresh ideas for filling its space and eventually added nothing else.  Taking the canvas idea from Africa, instead of one horizontal middle canvas, I am looking at adding two large canvases running and running them vertically, to act against this project horizontal look.   I will see if that works.

Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H Will the Circle by Unbroken image 1

•11/03/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Will the Circle by Unbroken image 1

My next major project is the Country song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.   For me, this song stood out in the Ken Burns eight-part miniseries about Country Music.  A version of this music became an early Country Standard of The Carter Family.  Then later in the miniseries the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released the song with the collaboration of early Bluegrass, and Country-Western legends, including Maybelle Carter.   Although, I recall The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band while in college,  because of their 1970 recording of Mr Bojangles;  they are not my earliest connection to country style music.

My earliest remembrance of songs of any kind where the 1958 release of Tom Dooley, by the Kingston Trio,  and Michael, Row the Boat a Shore, released in 1960, by the Highway Men.  Amazingly I have this faint memory of hearing these songs in a large brightly lit restaurant, with chrome chairs, and a high ceiling, on a jukebox in Ashland Wisconsin.  Even earlier my attraction for Folk music began with the radio and the music of Hank Williams. That all changed in 1964 with the Beatles in American and watching them on the Ed Sullivan show.  To this day I still have a lot of interest in Folk, and earlier Country music, that all started in the sixties.

Here is the video of a live performance of the Nitty Gritty Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

One of my second life wishes, in which I defy the odds and not come back as a Chinese laborer but as a young weekend banjo player, would boost my skill as a musician,  and give my Saturday nights out memories a sharper edge along with a better foot tap.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Twinkle Little Star Final Image

•10/24/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Twinkle Little Star Final Image

Twinkle Little Star L44.25″x H65.50″ x D4.25″

I finished Twinkle Little Star, on October 11th.  I delayed this blog entry because my attention quickly pivoted to my next major project, Unbroken, based on the music Will the Circle Be Unbroken.  When I first put together and then started this project, my enthusiasm was high.  That feeling came from my arrangement and from Twinkle Little Star being highly recognizable music.  I felt this artwork would increase awareness and appeal for this art.   Later, after over a month of work, I lost that excitement, except for my arrangement of the music.  You can see those feelings in my final video of Twinkle little star.

What I forgot to mention in the video is my concerned with the dominates of these sculptural artworks by the musical flow while smaller and smaller backgrounds are adding less interest and support to the music.  My direction in 2019 has been to minimize the backgrounds while emphasising the flow of that music.    In Twinkle I have pushed this idea even further with such small backgrounds that add little interest.  Part of why this happened was because of Twinkle’s theme,  Mozart’s piano version number 5, and not today’s version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  I may need to change this direction made obvious by this artwork.  This all became part of my concerned when I found it hard to follow the musical flow while listening to my arrangement of Twinkle Little Star.  Then the question became, why should anyone follow the flow today, if It never mattered before?

From this art’s beginnings I have portrayed a small flow of a particular piece of music, that only a trained musician had any chance of understanding.  I thought nothing of it.  I was creating artworks that contain much more canvas so I could add lots of visual interest and colors to enhance the flow of the music.  That began to change when I took the flow of the music of the canvas and made it three dimensional.  That resulted in a reduction in the background’s value.  I then discovered sound when I added it to a small artwork of the first four notes from Beethoven’s fifth symphony.  Pressing the play button brought smiles.  That caused me to add sound to my artworks thinking this helped the viewer better connect to the artwork.  I then made improvements to the sound and the quality of my arrangements to where I have found it hard to follow the flow and the sound of the music.  It looks like I am back where I started in 2006.

That tells me to succeed, I need to go “Back to the Future.”  I look at it in this way using my mentor Vincent Van Gogh and two of his images, courtesy of Wikipedia  The first is Van Gogh’s masterpiece The Potato Eaters done early in his career:



On my art path, The Potato Eaters may be where I am today with this art.

This other image is of Van Gogh’s popular Sun Flower artworks.   The big change is his lightening of his palette.   That is where this art needs to end up.  I thought my “big change” was adding sound.  That may be only part of this story.  There remains some extra volumes to write if I want to reach the “lightening” of this art.


Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H The Blue Danube – Awards Night at the Pablo

•10/06/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H The Blue Danube – Awards Night at the Pablo

Photo - Barb Von Holzen

This smiling face means that this Art has finally received recognition.  This last Friday night at the Pablo Center artist’s reception for the Homecoming exhibit I received the third prize winner for the artwork The Blue Danube (2001 Space Odyssey).   It surprised both Barb and me.  This is the fourth reception this year we attended, and at each event, there was always hope that the artwork would receive at less an honorable mention.  In the lead up to the prizes being announced Rose Dolan-Neill the Visual and Literary Arts Manager mentioned that they received four-hundred applications from thirty states and that they had a difficult time choosing the fifty-three that were apart from this show.  She considers us all winners and I believe her.  In the audience, there was not one artist that did not think they deserved the Grand prize. The juror for the Pablo show was Yoonshin Park.

I remember telling Barb that I wanted to talk to the juror and approached Yoonshin Park in the awards room, even though there were others standing by her.  I was on a mission and eager to ask for feedback.  Because I was on an emotional victory high, I recall only parts of the conversation between Yoonshin Park, her friend, and me.

To describe the overall exchange I would say it was, enthusiastic, exciting and fast-paced, and confusing.  To my disappointment, I had difficulty in understanding Yoonshin Park’s English accent.  She was born in Seoul Korean.  Here is the Pablo’s information about the juror:  “Yoonshin Park is working with sculptural papers, artist books, and installation. Her main media concentration is pulp, paper and books. Her interest in comprehensive process of paper making and book binding caters her work to en-compass various elements woven into complete objects. She received her M.A. and M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She was born in Seoul, Korea and currently resides in Chicago, IL.”


There was one moment when Yoonshin Part spoke and I repeated the words in my mind so to try to not forget.  She said these specific words about this art “…different direction…”  To my great disappointment, I cannot remember what she said right before or after.  I remember her saying she had a hard decision choosing between The Blue Danube and another entry, Mozart Serenade No. 13.  With the mention of Mozart during our conversation, I bought up my current artwork, Twinkle Little Star, and told her about the connection with Mozart.  She said she knew the music adding no further details.  She asked about the size of the work, and I said about five feet by four feet, and she and her friend both had a reaction, but I did follow up to know what they meant.  I remember her praising how the features,  structure, or makeup of The Blue Danube, worked so well together.  I remember her talking about her understanding of the artwork, and as I listen I became lost.  I pointed to the picture of The Blue Danube on my award to make sure she had not mistaken my artwork for another winner at the show.  She said yes she was talking about the Danube and I said something about I never looked at the artwork that way.  I don’t remember her description.  I remember praising her as an artist and may have asked her something about the moment that she thought she had made it as an artist?  To my surprise, she looked away from me and mentioned that for four years she struggled and did little or no work on her art.  I remember no more other details about her art, but I recall being surprised by her honestly.  I think she asked how did I come up with the description of my art, which is Interactive Constructed Sculpture.  I told Yoonshin that I never like the term, mixed media.  I mentioned that I had 200 art books, maybe to tell her how I came across the term.  Then I described Pablo Picasso’s cardboard wall sculpture of a violin (actually it was a guitar) he did in 1911, which was the first Constructed Sculpture.  I asked her about getting my art out so more could see it.   I said something like I didn’t want this art to die in Eau Claire.  Although, I quickly defended Eau Claire for being good for my art.   That is when she and her friend both perked up and after a short search, Yoonshin pulled out her calling card and pen and wrote Chicago Sculpture International.  She is a member and spoke about an upcoming exhibition at the Bridgeport Museum if I did not mind traveling. Then her friend mentioned, and Yoonshin wrote the web address callforentry.org that she thought would be helpful.  I do not know why it came up, but I told her one of my goals was to walk into the museum of Modern Art and look across the gallery and see my name on an artwork.  I then said somewhat awkwardly that I would then look for my next goal.   For reasoning beyond me, I said to her not everyone can be a child prodigy.  That statement seemed to light both of them up in agreement.  I continued that some of us have to take the moment whenever it comes. For me, at seventy I wanted to take the next twenty years to see how far this art could go.  Yoonshin Park was kind, thoughtful, open and helpful. Talking and listening to her was as important to me as the award.  I have never had a conversation with a successful contemporary Artist.  It thrilled me.  I lastly remember asking her if it would be okay to email her and she was fine with that.  A few other remembrances are that I slouch down so I could have more eye to eye contact with Yoonshin.  I remember her standing there with her coat wrapped over her arm.   I reached out a few times and lightly touching her coat when we were talking.  I guess to add emphasis to a point I was making, but wish I had not.  Finally, when they were ready to move on, I gently shook their hands and remembered saying to her friend, who was much taller than Yoonshin and dress in all black with a hat, that it was nice meeting her even though no one had mentioned her name.

Awards Ceremony clip of me receiving third-place at the Pablo Center for the Artwork The Blue Danube.  I never thought of the video and did not realize that Barb had captured this important moment.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Twinkle Little Star image 3

•10/06/2019 • 1 Comment

Twinkle Little Star.  Again, I have laid out the pattern of this four-part artwork on a slanted canvas. I have finished all the major parts of this artwork.  Up next I will connect the sections.

I have been working on this artwork over a month which lately seems to be my current pace.  That includes most of those days in the studio, morning, afternoon and evenings.  Like other images of this artwork, it is disappointing to not see the effects of the reflections of the added mica flakes.  The reflections of the metal flakes add to the “twinkle”  of this musical theme and add to the night sky look in the darker areas.   I also used mica flake on other parts of this artwork.   I did so to add interest and to avoid the use of unnecessary added, in-your-face colors, that are nothing more than fillers.

I can see looking at all four sections of this artwork spread around my tables that it may be time to move in a new direction.  I do not want to abandon how I got to this point, but I would like to see what other ways I can design the look and incorporate the improvements I have made in sound.

Here is the latest version, using the new software, of my arrangement of this artwork’s music.


Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Mozart K265 Var 5, Twinkle Little Star Image 2

•09/28/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Mozart K265 Var 5, Twinkle Little Star Image 2

Here are the four sections of this artwork, laid down on a 4 foot by six-foot canvas.  Not seen in the photograph,  the blue stems have an iridescent look when the light and viewing angle changes.  Also, the music is white with a pearl iridescent glossy glaze that adds depth but again, does not show in the image.

I recognize, before even starting this project,  the importance of the music to define the quality of the artwork.  I created the score, with Mozart’s guidance, using the free notation software Musescore 3.  As a first, in the previous blog entry, I uploaded the audio, with the thought it was too good not to show off.  Since then I purchased another notation software, Notion 6.  The advantage of this paid software is the sound library is huge.  I will use both for I have more to learn.  The one goal for the audio is to create a natural and realistic sound equal to the quality of the artwork.

For this artwork’s color choices I will continue to control the use of multiple bright colors. This artwork is a children’s song with a classical musical twist, so the logical range of colors would be bright multiple pure colors to black and deep browns.  For Twinkle, I am using a few pure colors to add and not distract from a general overall soft look of the artwork.  That sounds like a line of art speak found in countless artist’s bios. The next sentences are practical and not art speak.

Next up is to add features to these four panels to fill up space and add interest.  From its earliest days that has always been a necessary step.  So it continues.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Mozart KV 265 Version 5, Twinkle Little Star

•09/16/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Mozart KV 265 Version 5, Twinkle Little Star

On my studio floor are musical pieces for the new art project, Twinkle Little Star.  This artwork’s music comes from Version 5 of Mozart’s piano composition KV 265.  This music comprises twelve variations of a French Folk song and the music for the children’s song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Here is a YouTube video of  Mozart: “Dodici variazioni per pianoforte su Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman, KV 265” Version five starts at the 04:25 timeline:

For this musical version, I have added Strings and changed the ending.  This is the audio, so far:

I dated the start time on my work sheet as September 3rd, two weeks ago.  In the past my earlier work was spend planning and then creating the wood pieces that would make up the flow of the music in the artwork.  This year, once I have chosen the music, I start the project knowing the artwork will have active music.  Because of adding sound I then need to create an arrangement with a good start and finish.   Having that I then can design the look and flow of the artwork.

Scott Von Holzen