Tuesday, April 16, 2019

All those rejected homes 1

I've complained at length over the last several months about how hard it was for me to settle on what to make for the "home" show at PYRO Gallery.  Now that the show has opened, I decided it was time to revisit some of the rejected ideas -- many of which had considerable work put into them before I pulled the plug -- and see if they could be remodeled.

First was a project that I rejected early on, without even writing about it in the blog -- a postage stamp quilt with little houses.  I thought I would whip out this quilt far more efficiently than I have done many postage stamp quilts by choosing a stiffer bottom layer, thus enabling construction without a bothersome middle.  There was some gray felt lying on the work table and I thought that might be a great support. Then I could simply layer a background and a house on top, and get right on to the stitching.

I cut out a bunch of 2-inch squares from the felt and started composing little houses.  It didn't take very long before I realized what a dumb idea the felt was.  It was so squishy that it oozed ahead of the needle as the presser foot squeezed down.  I had all those squares cut out, and a whole lot of bits and pieces to make houses, and didn't want to throw them out, so I sewed them up anyway.  But this turned into a small quilt rather than a much larger one as I had envisioned.

While I was sewing them up anyway I realized that not only was felt a bad choice for the bottom layer, the little houses were turning out way too cutesy.  So after I finished this first (and last) batch of postage stamp pieces, I stuck the quilt in a corner and went on to my next idea.

But now I have gone back to the cutesy little houses and finished the small quilt.

It's still too cutesy and I'm glad I abandoned the idea for the home show, but there is a place in the world for cutesy things and maybe this guy will find an appropriate moment and venue in the future. Maybe a gift for a child?  At least he's finished.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

I treated myself to a pile of pen nibs from a sidewalk sale at the local art supply store, cleaning out merchandise that has obviously been around for a long time.  At 12 for $5, how could I resist buying a dozen different Speedball nibs in different shapes and sizes.  I remember my dad using Speedball pens, back in the day when store signs, diplomas, certificates and other ceremonial documents were almost always hand-lettered.  Speedball labeled its pens A, B, C, D and LC for the different configurations of the nib.  A is square, B is round, C is flat for calligraphy, D is oval and LC is a calligraphy flat beveled for lefties.

Apparently the D nibs aren't even being made any more; on the internet they're called "vintage."  Had I known that, I would have bought a whole box.

I bought one each of different shapes and sizes, and have started testing them out on my daily calligraphy.  Didn't buy any C nibs, because I inherited lots from my dad and besides I don't like that style.  So far I have learned that I don't like the square nib either -- too clunky.

Here's my favorite miniature of the week, a little rock with just enough surface roughness that the wrapped thread doesn't just slide off:

You can check out all my daily art, both calligraphy and miniatures, here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Remembering Enid -- the show!

Last week I got off on a tangent telling you about Enid Yandell, an excellent sculptor from Louisville who had a hard way to go a century ago because of her gender.  Now I'll get back to the show that got me onto this subject in the first place.  Several women sculptors in the region have banded together in a group called "Enid" and to commemorate Enid's 150th birthday, they have a small show at 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville.

My dear friend and art pal Bette Levy had two large pieces in the show, both of them dramatic combinations of ancient farm equipment and new crocheted pieces to complement them.

Bette Levy, Scythe (detail below)

Bette finds doily patterns in old needlework books, executes them huge (this one is probably five feet across) and then stiffens them so they retain their shape when mounted on the wall. 

Bette Levy, Infinity (detail below)

Here the rusty metal pieces are tines from an old hay rake, which would have been pulled behind a tractor.

I sometimes find long curator explanations at museums to be pretentious and artspeaky, but the remarks about Bette's work struck me as worth reading.  The sign said:

"Farm and domestic labor are the focus of Levy's series that combines doilies crocheted in historic patterns with aged farm tools, previously used to reap sustenance from the land, but long since abandoned for larger, mechanized production.  The scale of the crocheted doilies is enlarged to visually challenge the dominance of the tools, subverting the traditional gender division of labor and power, creating a more balanced pairing."

The exhibit continues at 21C Museum Hotel, 700 West Main Street in Louisville, through October.  If you've never visited a 21C, you should -- a combination of hotel, restaurant and world-class gallery, welcoming walk-in visitors as well as paying guests.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

You may have noticed that I'm posting found poetry only once a month instead of once a week as I did in 2018.  I've noticed that after I have been doing a particular form of daily or weekly art it's hard to let go.  For instance, I used to post a "photo suite" -- five or six photos on a single theme -- once a week, for four years.  Finally I decided it was time to stop, but couldn't bring myself to go cold turkey, so I dropped back to once a month for another year before I was able to let go.

After a year of weekly found poetry, following a year of daily text, I didn't want to put in that much time every week -- but I still owned (own) a huge pile of poetry bits, painstakingly searched out and cut out and filed, and the thought of abandoning those dozens of hours of work was more than I could bear.  So I'm doing found poetry once a month.

Sonja left a comment:  "Love the words inspired by your art, or was it the other way?"  Almost always, words first, then a big search for an appropriate image to go along with it.  Fortunately in addition to a huge pile of poetry bits, I have a huge box full of pictures left over from three years of daily collage, so after I have composed the poem I look through my box of pictures to find one that goes with the words.

Here's my favorite miniature of the week:

Whenever I go to the beach I look for shells with holes in them, and this shell had been lying on my counter for a long time.  The iridescent blue beads seemed like sea treasures, nestled in the shell.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Remembering Enid

A small but lovely show opened at 21C Museum Hotel this week, featuring work by members of Enid, a group of Louisville-area female artists who work in sculpture and 3-D.  Enid is named for Enid Yandell, born 150 years ago in Louisville, who studied with Rodin and whose sculptures were highly renowned.  One of her huge statues, of Athena, 25 feet tall, made for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exhibition in Nashville, was the largest statue ever made by a woman (what a back-handed accolade).

Enid Yandell and Pallas Athena (in pieces)

As a fan of Enid, my favorite statue is one that was never made.  In 1894 the Kentucky Woman's Confederate Monument Association held a big design competition to choose the sculptor of a monument in Louisville.  Enid won the contest, but it was just too forward for a woman to be given such a prestigious commission, and the members of the association overruled their selection committee and let a local gravestone company build the statue instead.  In a huge slap in the face to Enid, the monument was topped by a statue of a generic soldier, sculpted by a German artist -- anybody with money could order a cast for their cemetery or street corner.

But in the long run, it was probably better for Enid's reputation to not have gotten the commission.  Louisville's Confederate monument was one of hundreds built around the beginning of the last century in a concerted effort to romanticize the "Lost Cause" of the Civil War and reinforce Jim Crow laws and customs in the U.S. South.  It coincided with the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in many states, even outside the South.  As time passed, many cities decided that their Confederate monuments were nothing to be proud of; in 2016 the Louisville monument was taken down (not without much outrage from those who still refuse to admit that the Confederacy lost the war).

Well, here I've gone on and on about Enid and not even touched on the show.  I'll do that in another post!