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  Gordon was born in Chapel Hill North Carolina in 1949. His family has owned and operated the oldest law firm in Fort Myers Florida since they moved there in 1892 which was also the first law firm there. He was the only sibling to go into law so he stood to inherit the business which was extremely successful. Gordon achieved a degree in junior college and then was accepted to Florida State for Pre-Law. While attending there he dated a women that was the second runner up in the Miss Florida Pageant, and he thought his life was all planned out for him. Then one mysterious night a good friend of his turned him on to psychadelics in a night of pure Frank Zappa, he said he laughed so hard he was in pain. He woke up the next day and wanted to live out of his car , not bath and totally give up his current lifestyle and do a 180 degree turn , which he did for the next 40 years, trading wealth for love. Not long after that he got a call from his mom who told him that she had seen his name in the arrest report and she was concerned. Lucky for him he hadnt been arrested yet. He went home cleaned his house a little then went to school the next day. On his way home he came around the corner in his honda and saw that his home was surrounded by police, at that point he kept driving and driving and left everything he knew there and ended up in maine. He then started working in a leather shop in Kennebunkport, Maine. It was then he met a man named Paul Gilardi ( a moulding injection multimillionare) in a restaurant. Paul at the time was a hippie building houses in the woods. Gordon was living and camping out in a VW bus in the middle of the winter. Paul offered gordon a job doing carpentry. He then introduced Gordon to his wife and gave him his first hammer. Paul Gilardi was a huge influence in Gordon's life. It was then Gordon began to find his love for carpentry and went to school for industrial arts. After that he worked in a cabinet shop for about 6 months until he was layed of during christmas. January 1, 1976 Gordon decided to go into business for himself. Gordon is a self taught woodworker he never had a teacher that he learned his art from. Gordon states that the three main reasons he is who he is are because, 1. His wife 2. psychadelics 3. Margeret Seeler (whom was his mentor for 20 years) Margeret Seeler was a master artist that created intricate enamel work. Although she was his mentor for all those years she did not teach him his art but taught him taoism and philosophy and that god created everything that is done, if you create art you are just borrowing from this higher power. Every line that you form, everything that you do nature has produced. Even the greatest masters of any artwork in any medium are and is only borrowed from a higher power, whatever you might want to call "it."

  In 1984 in a Grateful Dead show at the Richmond Collesium Gordon was having a visual experience involving a reproductive image which was reproducing itself over and over again in a radiant fashion creating a radiant series of reproductive imagery focused around the Grateful Dead. Later during the show his good friend's appendix burst, and he had to bring him to the hospital and unfortunately leave him there. Gordon then drove down to naples florida where he was living at the time and hopped on a flight to Newark airport and then found his way to the meadowlands. He talked to Dan Healy and told him of his vision and Dan very much liked the idea. The next night he gave gordon a backstage pass and brought him backstage to share his idea with the band , needless to say they were totally into it and discussed the trade for tickets and such. Then Gordon was very excited and went home and worked on the piece for about 6 months ( this was to be the very first Radiant Mandala ever made). The stealy was inlayed by hand. When it was finished he and his friends had some really cool parties involving the mandala and at one point when he was building this elaborate spiral staircase for another client they placed the piece at the bottom and played visual games with it while looking down the staircase to the end where they placed the mandala. When they were done playing with it he shipped the piece to the dead. At the same time there was a 1942 Bentley that he did 200 hours of intense woodwork on that was being shipped. A friend had shipped both of the pieces while gordon was on vacation and did not insure either. The Bentley got completely destroyed all the woodwork shattered into a million pieces. The mandala survived and made it there intact. The piece arrived before the show but the band only got to see a picture of it before they went on stage. After the show the band unpacked it and totally freaked out, called gordon up and told him that it was totally amazing. In return they gave him a pluthera of backstage passes and tickets for the rest of his life. From then on he always had access to the soundboard area and backstage area. On the chinese new year at the oakland collesium the next year the piece wa hung backstage for people to enjoy. Gordon the night before had given a slide of the piece to the light show guy and he used it during the show. It was blown up to about 16 feet in diameter at the center top of the stage. There where fine white lines from the piece to the right and the left which led to a skull and roses on the right and a terrapin skull on the left , it was huge. At the time it was happening Gordon was backstage hanging with Ken Kesey, and his freind came back and told him he had just missed the coolest thing man they were sitting there and ship of fools was playing when they put the mandala and this huge projection up it was incredible. After that the band wanted to get the piece off the road and brought it back to Club Front the Dead's official recording studio where they recorded Go To Heaven, In The Dark and Built to Last. The mandala was there for all of those recordings.

  One night after he had shipped the piece to the band he was at a show and just had started to go backstage when Dennis Macnally stopped him and said ,who are you ? Gordon replied, " i made this wooden thing," then Dennis stopped him and said " wait a second you mean the big wooden thing with the laughing jap in the middle?" And Gordon Replied, " yes." Dennis then proceeded to ask gordon if he knew where it was and Gordon replied, " i have been trying to figure that out." Dennis then told him, " that whenever they record it is the biggest thing in the room and that it hangs right between the two main monitor speakers and that it has the biggest place of honor in the entire studio.

  It was then he started to make more mandalas for friends and others that he appreciated . Amongst those ppl where Jerry Garcia himself (which was inlayed with the cats under the stars logo and given to him personally at NYE 1986) Phil Lesh, Dan Healy (which was a redwood burl with a white inlay and a black rose) , Fred drasner (Co-owner of the Washington Redskins coincidentaly he changed his mind about the kind of wood he wanted it made out of after gordon had made the piece), John Popper and Gina of Blues Traveler (John's was given to him in 1996 and Gina's was given to her during the sold out MSG show on New Years Eve. There are about 60 mandalas out in the world that where made for people appreciated and close friends and family. But Gordon always had the concept that this would be something he could sell someday.

Process of the Mandala:

  First the purchasing and finding the right burls. Then there is the playing with mirrors to find the pattern of the perfect fractal like effect , then marking the pattern and cutting the pattern. It is very difficult working with an imperfect medium such as rare hardwoods because the wood changes so much. He then creates repetitive imagery which is also very difficult. After that process comes the work part which is laying it out pressing, and glueing it to the base. Then the sanding of the product to smooth out the imperfections of a medium that is 42nd of an inch thick, a very small margin of error. With the veneer pieces the thinner the veneer the more consistant the pattern is between the pieces. The pieces are sliced rather than sawed so there is no image loss between slices. The thicker the pieces the more inconsistent the imagery is and the harder it is to pick out the patter. The thinner the burl the better the reproduction of imagery that exists, and the more probability that there will be no breaks in the symmetry down to the finest detail. By focusing on every fine detail while creating the piece, when it is finally finished creates this ultimate symmetry and the end image experience and that is what moves and becomes the meditative impulse of the piece. People have been doing Veneering for many years from tye-dye to petiquing, but to do this with a medium that was actually naturally alive like wood and be able to reproduce even finer detail than tye-dye or petiques, is very cool and so much fun as Gordon says. Veneering makes the most use out of a rare product such as wood. Gordon takes pieces that are 32nd of and inch thick rather than an inch thick, so for every inch he gets 32 sq feet, it is a very efficient use of exotic wood. So it is real very thinly sliced wood applied to a substrength. This is special because he finds the patter and cuts the patterns and assembles each piece individually. In regular veneering you take a piece(s) about and inch thick glue it together and cut the egdes which makes it so there is no attempt at symmetry. Just to cut 10 veneers for a pentagon piece takes about 3 hours. There is a significant amount of time spent on each piece, from organizing the burls from the tree and then finding the pattern to finding the perfect pattern with no flaws and then cutting. The mother of pearl is created similarly by laser cutting veneers of the mother of pearl and laminating them with epoxy and sanding flat. Then the sheets created from those are sold. Some of the woods that the pieces can be made of are, ash burl, redwood burl, camphor burl, ambonia burl(most expensive), rosewood burl, walnut burl and murtle burl. All mandalas can be made with any type of wood. All of the woods are obtained from there indiginous places. Gordon gets the burls from veneeer suppliers.

  In 1985 at a show in florida Gordon walked into a dressing room where the band was and Dan healy introduced him as the guy who made the mandala to the rest of the people in the room. It was then Mickey made a coment that it was such beautiful piece of art , why did you have to ruin it with the skull, they laughed and mickey said he was kidding.

 

Contact: mike@strangeremain.com