Friday, January 20, 2017

Think about this...

Lyndon Johnson once said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket.  Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

-- referenced in "White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America" by Nancy Isenberg (a great read, although long and a bit scholarly) 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An art experiment

My art book club (in which we don't actually read books) had an assignment this week to bring in a report on an artist that nobody else had ever heard of.  I have been consumed with activities surrounding my gallery show and left it till the last minute to prepare, so I had to go with an artist that I own a whole book about, H. N. Werkman.

Werkman was from the Netherlands, born in 1882 and died in 1945, executed by the Nazis just two days before Canadian troops liberated his town of Groningen.  He owned a printing business and used type to print artwork that looked quite avant garde and sometimes painterly, but it wasn't produced that way.  Here are two of his pieces:

I love his work and after I re-read the book I decided to try my hand at some Werkman-style art.  I found two capital Ls, two capital Os, a hyphen and an exclamation point in my type case and set to playing.  I inked the type with a foam brush and printed each character individually onto the paper, unlike Werkman's typical process of setting up his type face up on a flatbed press.  So my characters weren't as neatly lined up as his.  Also my hand-inking left blobs of paint around the edges of some of the characters.  But after the paint dried I decided both these irregularities added something to the effect.  Werkman often used the bottom of his type to produce plain rectangles rather than letterforms.  I did a little bit of that too in my experiments and liked it.

I think I'll try more of this technique in the future.  I might even decide that this qualifies as "text" and thus can count as my daily art.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What is this stuff?

Cleaning out my studio I'm finding a lot of mystery stuff.  A lot of it I realize that I don't want or need, and put it in the grab bag bag.  At least I know what it is.  But I am totally in the dark about this big bag.

Think dozens and dozens of absorbent sheets, kind of like disposable diapers, maybe a half-inch thick, of a shape and size that must be suited for something but I can't imagine it.  Somebody must have given them to me thinking that they would be useful for some phase of fiber art, and I must have agreed, but ??????

Does anybody out there know what these things are?  How would one use them in fiber art?  How would one use them in non-fiber art?  If I wanted to give them away, who would use them?

All suggestions gratefully accepted.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My favorite things 3

Starting in the late 1950s my father went to Canada frequently on business, and he liked to bring home souvenirs.  Not tacky refrigerator magnets, but Inuit soapstone sculptures, an art form that he discovered early on.

At the time I thought this was a traditional folk art, but have learned more recently that the first peoples hardly ever carved in stone until 1949.  At that time the Canadian government decided to encourage the production of artwork among natives who no longer followed the old subsistence lifestyle.  While they had traditionally carved ivory, bone and antlers, now they were steered toward soapstone, which was found in the Arctic.  (Interestingly, some of the Inuit artists are importing their soapstone from Brazil.)

Dad bought sculptures of varying sizes, the largest being about the size of a shoebox, but mostly little things that would happily sit in your palm. Three of the pieces that I was given at the time or subsequently inherited are faces or masks, but most are animals of one sort or another.

Carvings done before 1990 are now called "vintage," so I guess my little trove might even be valuable if I ever needed to part with it.  Meanwhile, they live on a little glass shelf within reach of my place at the dining room table.  Isaac likes to rearrange and play with them and I like to think of them keeping me company while I sit and eat or read.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

All my flags flying

Here are the "installation views" of my flags on display at Pyro Gallery through February 18.

We'll be having a gallery talk at 12:30 on Saturday, January 14.  If you're in the vicinity, drop in and visit!

Memorial Day 
at left, More Equal Than Others; at right, Fading


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Amy's quilt

I wrote yesterday about Amy Pabst, who has been corresponding with me for some time about her fine-line quilt in progress.  Shortly before Christmas she wrote to say she had made a bunch of modules, and to ask for advice about how to join them.  I gave her a couple of hints, and decided that it might be a good idea to write a more extensive tutorial to share with everybody.

I mainly thought this might be a help to Amy, but I moved too slowly.  Once this woman decides to sew, stand back!

Here's what her design wall looked like on December 3:

On December 16:

And here's her quilt top, finished on December 22:

Although it's not apparent in the full view, all of her white fabrics are striped (some are white-on-white).  The full quilt measures 63 x 70 inches.

I think this is a beautiful quilt!  It reminds me of a couple of my own quilts, which isn't surprising because Amy used them as models.  And I think I own and have used several of the same red stripe fabrics.

After she finished, Amy wrote:  "I was very surprised at how well everything fit together. I had to do a little fiddling, adding and trimming here and there, but for the most part everything ended up a good fit by what seemed like pure chance.....  I love working with small pieces, but normally I paper piece and plan and calculate everything to exact measurements. The free style construction of this quilt was brand new to me and very refreshing after all the rigid perfection of paper piecing."

Amy, I'm so glad that you made this quilt, and that you like the improvisational approach. Yes, it is a very different way to work, with very little advance planning and certainly no exact measurements, and yes, it is refreshing!  Thanks so much for sharing your photos, and I hope we'll get another look when it's all quilted.