I have an art show coming up exactly 4 weeks from today. Which is fine. I’m not even anxious about it. I’m hardly ever sullen or despairing about deadlines, planning, reception, or anything. It’s totally fine. We artist types are all generally very positive, self-confident, outgoing, thick skinned, devil-may-care kinda’ people. I’m totally cool about the whole thing. “I can do this.” […is what I’m supposed to be thinking.] I don’t often get to work in the “fine art” space these days but I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s freeing to leave behind practicality and to forget about how the object I’m creating can be mass-produced for manufacturing.


This piece will be finished for the opening night of that show. It’s called Whitewood which is an allusion to a stage in the process of how real pinball machines are designed. A preliminary, unadorned version of the pinball machine’s playfield is called a “whitewood” during the design process. Here I’ve made a full-scale pinball playfield completely out of paper to be hung vertically on the wall. Blinking lights made it much more fun and I added a wooden outer frame so that it would survive installation better, but it is otherwise all paper. Except for the steel pinball. OK, OK, so it’s a 95% paper pinball piece! I don’t have better pictures or video yet but I’m sure I’ll have more of this to show at some point.


I started thinking about how the pinball’s path was influenced but not completely controlled by a player’s decisions through the action of the flippers. Chance plays a big part in the ball’s fate. There are all of these different options – represented by little doors and ramps an tunnels and ominous apertures scattered about the composition. Some of the obstacles have been informed by archetypal pinball structures and others are more fanciful and wouldn’t be able to convey the rolling steel ball anywhere at all. I am incorporating everything in the paper arsenal from the thickest board stock to an almost transparent tracing paper in order to play with the light here. My original concept was not to stay with white papers but I found that the presence of color distracted me from appreciating the form. I’m liking the way this piece has been progressing so maybe I’ll experiment with other versions in a series using some limited color palettes in the future.


So if you are able to come to the opening reception of my paper-based art show in Wilmington, Delaware at The Delaware Division of the Arts Mezzanine Gallery on July 10th, please do so. I’m probably not even going to have a complete stress-induced mental breakdown before then.

Come for the art, stay for the wine and the 3,000 Italian cookies that my mom will probably bake.


Whitewood – pinball art piece
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4 thoughts on “Whitewood – pinball art piece

  • June 3, 2015 at 2:43 am

    If I lived remotely in the area, I would have been the first in line. If I were to meet you, I would have been frank in my admiration and engaging with witty papery banter. I would not be visibly salivating over your ingenious contraptions, nor tongue-tied with wonder, only to re-live what I could have said at a later date. No, I would have been cool and collected – absolutely. Sure.

    Congrats on your upcoming show Rob and let your inner fine artist simply soak it up! It’s a high that will keep you smiling for months.

    • June 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      HA! Thanks so much for the kind and funny words, Cecelia. Witty papery banter is always welcome. Wish you could see the work in person but I’ll do my best to post some of it. It’s very different for me to be doing work like this again without answering to direction from outside or any production parameters. I’m sure it will turn out ok but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my comfort zone.

  • June 3, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    How wonderful is this! I’ll be there with bells on. Well, no bells, but a camera for sure to send a pic or two to my pal Cecelia. I look forward to meeting you and your family, and seeing your work in person!

    • June 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Great to hear that you’ll be able to make it, Ann! A lot of my work doesn’t fit well in a gallery scenario due to scale etc. but I’m making some of this larger scale work and trying to sort out what I think will display best from my prior work. I’m looking forward to meeting with you. Thanks so much for your support.


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