About Me

There is a Band-Aid called a butterfly that is used to hold a cut in the skin together helping it to fuse. The bandage resembles two attached triangles fused at one corner. A butterfly joint is also used in fine woodworking to attach and give strength and a contrasting aesthetic to a wood joint.

I wanted to create an interesting poster to advertise the Zen book when it was published. I thought about creating a sculpture, photographing it, and using it for the advertisement. I made some flat sculptures using contrasting woods. Some were so beautiful that I decided to work with thicker and more three-dimensional wood. Using different woods of different hardness and colors gave more contrast and warmth to the sculptures. This was the start of the butterfly series that sculpturally tied two and then several forms together. The series then lead to using many different shaped butterflies to hold the wood. Wood throughout history has always been sacred and aesthetic. Aside from the fact that its grain is a natural historic record and can reflect the stresses of life, it also has sympathetic magical qualities that can produce a range of sounds that can resonate universally.

Elaborating the forms, shapes, sizes, materials, connections and details, relentlessly progressed and lead to a variation of the interlocking forms series. The interlocking forms became more elaborate and soon I was using metals as well wood for contrast and interest. Soon I was tying them together with knots using my familiarity with my knot sculptures. Interestingly the butterfly knot is also used in mountaineering and rock climbing, my old hobby. A thin rope is impossible to climb, but by transforming the rope, by Alpine butterfly knotting, a loop every few feet, thereby creating multiple hand and foot holds, a climber converts the rope into a ladder. The series combined and extrapolated forward, blending old and new techniques and ideas, producing a never-ending variation on an old knot and a new butterfly-interlocking theme. Currently, I am living in Jacksonville Beach, FL, and will from time to time post photos of the wonderful hundred mile beach that hugs the Florida shore.

Most artists who are successful keep producing similar works because that is their style, what they are known for, and that is the artwork that sells. I have always thought that I did not want to be a manufacturer of just one style or type of art. So these departures and changes from my knot series are really an evolution of sculptures that are coming full circle and are crystallizing my Zen philosophy and sculptural aesthetic, incorporating a journey into internal reality and the essence of a moment. And as my knot sculpture is a metaphor for life, (its intricacies, complexities and interrelatedness,) hopefully creating these sculptures will have produced an aesthetic and informative platform that influences change and can have a butterfly effect.

A tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. He asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he had found exactly the right spot. “That’s the place,” he said finally. The carpenter, to test the master, marked the spot and then pretended he had forgotten. Was this the place? “Was this the place, perhaps?” the carpenter kept asking, pointing to various places on the column. But so accurate was the tea-master’s sense of proportion that it was not until the carpenter reached the identical spot again that its location was approved.

Satoru was a student of Zen and a sculptor. He worked all his life to create interesting, aesthetically evocative sculpture. His master was kind, liked the artwork, but always encouraged Satoru to write more and do the hard, dirty work of sculpting less.  “Your words will live long after you, but your sculpture; no matter how refined, beautiful or unique will only be used as doorstops when you die.” Satoru answered, “It is not the culmination of the journey, but the road traveled.”

Mel Hantz




5 thoughts on “About Me

  1. The more I study Zen the more motivation and energy I lose to pursue things. Sure it was a crazy need before to create but now after immersing myself in zen I’ve lost myself. My drive. My power. My growing curve of accompl. Zen should come with a warning label.

    • Outcome
      My good friend sends me Emails about Zen and life. He sent me one recently that really made me think. What matters most: the outcome or the intent. It was the writings of an individual that reminded me of the Zen saying, “A person who holds and exposes a lot of wise saying, maxims, and proverbs gives the impression of intelligence.” This individual, upon closer examination of his writing, sandwiches truth between unsubstantiated assertions, unrealistic results, and sloppy thinking. He states, “be ever-present and mindfully diligent throughout all of your endeavours.” And does not even spell check. But when he started to assert his views about art and life, he really fell short and ventured far from practical reality and the real world. “don’t be more concerned with the possible outcomes, than with the intentions themselves. now, treat your life as you would your art.” So, without any skill, preparation, training, planning, conceptualization, and focus on success, make some art. In the first case that would be called art therapy. In the latter, it would allow you to be a free spirt, devoid of responsibility for the finished product, negating deferred gratification, and lost in emotional immaturity without hope of ever becoming an adult. Your focus determines your reality. If you look for bliss in every moment, as this individual asserts, you will be frustrated and stressed out all your lifetime. Yes, you can live in the now, but the outcome of your endeavors is what makes you succeed, not your intent.

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