As a collector of objects as varied as old rubber stamp sets, middle school-produced coiled clay pots and vintage snack food tins, I have to count my collection of heads as one of my favorite. The human face and head has been depicted so many times and in so many ways that you’d think there’d be no surprises left. But, you ‘d be wrong, as these examples from the Rancho’s bedroom library show.
Starting at the center and moving clockwise is a tall, heavy, carved wooden head by a local Riverside artist, Cornelius, who not only produced an amazing array of sculptural items, but drew, painted and self-published some amazing books on any number of subjects. I found this glass-eyed example at Old Glory Antiques on Market — don’t you find his gaze hard to look away from? The jug-eared white ceramic head is from dfc casa; I’m hoping to snag his huge-eyed sister someday soon. Cutesy, elfin grotesquerie at its finest. Less refined, is a gourd with faces scratched in a repeating pattern; the emotions on the faces changing as you turn it in your hand. Next, sitting on matching wooden bookends, is a distinguished carved wood head found at a flea market. The intense look and refined carving style really spoke to me from a table loaded with less-intelligent looking mugs, and I loved the black hair. The polka-dotted scalped ceramic head of a women next to him was a birthday present from Paul this year. We think it’s a self-portrait by the artist, and I’d love to track her down to find out. Her expression makes me think she’s very aware, and sees things quite clearly. The loopy-haired ceramic figure next to her was said to be a Czech piece and its colors are really bold, with the black areas being matte in contrast to the brightly glazed areas. Very fashionable, this one. Lastly, is a side-view — again wood — that I like to imagine was made by woodshop-fixated high schooler who found a way to combine his love of the smell of sawdust with a biology project. And, it’s kinetic! With a firm tug you can see parts of the throat anatomy move. None of these pieces was expensive or created by a master, yet each is precious to me. I’ve got so many, though, that I have to rotate them and there’re boxes of more of them in the garage waiting to reemerge. Next time, maybe I’ll show you my collection of vintage radio tubes, they’re really something to see!