“Conventional Apparatus,” a wood sculpture by Pittsburg artist Karl Lipscomb, has been accepted for the 21st annual Outdoor Towndown Sculpture Exhibition in Lawrence.

“Conventional Apparatus,” a wood sculpture by Pittsburg artist Karl Lipscomb, has been accepted for the 21st annual Outdoor Towndown Sculpture Exhibition in Lawrence.
The street exhibit will open with a reception June 7 at the Lawrence Art Center.
“They’ve had entries from all over the United States, and I’m one of eight they picked for the exhibit,” Lipscomb said. “This is the biggest exhibit for me so far — and the nice honorarium doesn’t hurt either.”
He said that the sculpture, of laminated oak, is basically about aggression. “I wanted to make it without literal reference to aggressive things — no guns or obvious weapons, less literal interpretation and more subjective,” Lipscomb said.
He said that he started the sculpture several years ago. “Then I took it apart and stored it outside for at least two years,” he said. “It was designed to be outside, and the weathering is part of the process. As a weapon of aggression, the more worn-out it gets, the more it’s an outdated kind of thing.”
Lipscomb sent a disk of photos in for the competition and, after the sculpture was accepted, began getting it back into shape. “I’ve spent two days sanding it down, filling in some cracks and oiling it,” he said.
The oiling is very important, Lipscomb added, to prevent the wood from rotting. “There are not a lot of wood outdoor sculptures I’ve seen, because wood will rot if it’s not taken care of,” he said.
He uses linseed oil, and warms it so it will be better absorbed by the wood. “It was my wife, Janet, who came up with the idea of using a crockpot to keep the oil warm,” Lipscomb said.
He and his wife, who’s also a gifted artist, are working on an exciting joint project — they are expecting a baby in a few weeks.
The couple planned to take the disassembled sculpture up to Lawrence in their van. It will be on public view there for an entire year.
“I’ll really miss it,” Lipscomb said. “It’s hard to let go of it — the more I did on it, the more I wanted to do.”
The sculpture will be on the street, bolted down so it can’t be stolen. “People ask me what I’ll do if somebody vandalizes it,” Lipscomb said. “I think the most likely thing that might happen is that somebody may try to carve his initials into it. Oak is so hard that they’d have a hard time of it, but if they do scratch it, I’ll just sand it out.”
He doesn’t mind at all if people want to run their hands over the smooth wooden pieces. “Everybody wants to touch sculptures, and I think you should be able to do it,” Lipscomb said.
“Conventional Apparatus” is probably his second largest art piece.
“The biggest thing I did was when I was doing my undergraduate work at Drury University in Springfield, Mo.,” said Lipscomb, who also earned a master’s degree from Pittsburg State University. “I made a spider’s web with 4,000 feet of rope stretching over the tops of buildings on campus. It was about the size of half a football field. The rope got wet and froze, and it was gorgeous. I’d really like to do something like that over the buildings in downtown Pittsburg.”