Sunday, October 22, 2017
We visited Italy in the winter of 2003. With the exception of two taxi rides, we did a whole month depending entirely on public transportation and our own two feet. We packed light, washed out our clothes in hotel bathtubs and wore the same sweater every day.
But in Sorrento we strolled through a market street and saw a kitchenware store with a table of sale items on the sidewalk. We spotted some nice pasta bowls for an amazing 1.25 euros apiece -- at the time, about $1.15 -- and couldn't resist. We bought four and shlepped them back to the hotel, a long enough walk that we traded off carrying the bag once or twice along the way.
Before we made it home for good we had carried those bowls about four miles, making our way between hotels and railroad stations and through airports. With every step they got a little bit heavier, and we had to remind ourselves that the bowls were beautiful, a steal, and our only souvenirs of the trip. We had invested not just the five bucks but a heck of a lot of sweat equity to bring them home.
But it was worth it! They have become our default bowl for pasta, not to mention the occasional soup or other juicy entree. I suspect they've been used at least once a week since we returned, and we never fail to think about our wonderful trip when we eat that last bit of food and reveal the red tomato.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Isn't technology wonderful? With the Internet at our fingertips, we can find out anything we ever need to know in milliseconds. Well, sometimes it works that way.
After shipping off a quilt to a show yesterday, I was reminded that I should let our local fiber art organization know so they can post the info in their "see our work" announcement page. But I should also tell them the dates of the show.
The hard copy acceptance letter from the museum was still in my shirt pocket from taking it to Fedex to read off the address. But the acceptance letter did not say the dates of the show. I looked up in my email for the notification message, but that did not say the dates of the show. I typed "Evansville Museum events" in google and found no home page for the museum. Instead I got a page from a trip planner website telling me that the museum's nice new facility will be opening January 2014, I should allow four hours and would I like to build an itinerary. No, I wouldn't. But there was a link to the museum website, which I clicked on.
Oops. Got the dreaded exclamation point in the red triangle: "Your connection is not private. Attackers might be trying to steal your information from www.emuseum.org (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards.)" Well, that's scary but I only want to know the dates of the show. The web is so concerned about my safety that it won't even let me take the risk and see the site anyway -- my only choice is "Back to safety." North Korean hackers can infiltrate the site of any place I do business with, steal my social security number, plant ransomware on my computer, but at least I'm not at risk at the Evansville Museum! What a relief.
I googled Evansville Museum again and found a link to their facebook page. Under the "events" tab it showed several events in October and November, plus one next March and one next August, but not the December 9 opening reception (they did mention that date in the acceptance email). I scrolled through their posts, reading as far back as August, but no mention of the show.
Back to those emails. They show the same website that I'm not allowed to go to, for my own safety. Hmmm. I googled "Mid-States Craft Exhibition" and aha -- toward the bottom of the page, founds a listing for "Art Museum, Movie Theater, Attractions: Evansville, IN" and it's the museum's own website! Not the same URL as the one on their stationery, or the link in the emails, but an actual working SAFE website!
But no listing for my show in the revolving banner on the top of the page. In a sidebar called "upcoming events," no show listed, but up in September was an entry called "Mid-States Call for Entries September 21 - February 16." Clicked on that, and found a brief description, with the eligibility rules and name of the juror, but no show dates, and a link to the full prospectus on CaFE, which finally revealed the dates: December 10 through February 4. (Well, actually December 9, since that's the opening reception.)
And it only took me 35 minutes to find it out (that's slightly less than one millimonth).
But anyhow, if you find yourself in the vicinity of Evansville over the winter, drop in and see my flag.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Last week I went to the Speed Museum in Louisville for the last day of a blockbuster show called "Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art." I wish I had gone earlier in the run so I could have gone back again; there was much to see and think about and I will have more posts, but let me start with one artwork, described as a "sculpture and performance piece."
It's a found Confederate battle flag which the artist is slowly unraveling by hand. She started in 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and has been working on it ever since. For two hours on the last day of the Speed exhibit, visitors were invited to help Clark unravel.
Each person was greeted with a handshake and introduction, and then set to work unraveling, side by side with the artist. For a couple of minutes each visitor worked, chatting with Clark about the project, then parted with a hug.
Of course I had to be there for this performance, and I said I wanted to work on the white, "to unravel some white privilege." I was surprised at how difficult it was to take the tightly woven threads apart with no tools -- at home I would have grabbed a seam ripper or awl to grab the weft threads and pull them away, but with only fingernails it was hard to get a grip. When I commented on this, Clark responded metaphorically that it's hard it is to deconstruct racist history. I wondered how many times she had made this comment to her visitor/collaborators in the many hours she has spent shoulder-to-shoulder on the project.
I was thrilled with this idea of taking the flag apart. The project hits all my hot buttons: U.S. history, lingering racism in the south, flags, and of course, fabric. During the time I waited in line for my turn at the flag, I couldn't help but think about the art project that I participated in a couple of years ago at a museum across town, where volunteer artists mended people's clothes. In both cases, the time spent in conversation between artist and visitor was intended to be meditative and connective.
I don't think the flag unraveling was conducive to much meditation. It turned into quite the mob scene (which is wonderful in itself, because how frequently do you find mobs in museums, but I wondered how much time many of the visitors spent looking at the art). With a long line of people waiting behind, there was pressure to unravel for a very short bit and then move on.
As you approached the head of the line, museum staff with clipboards took your name. As you worked, photographers came in close.
By contrast, the mending project offered much more intimate time for conversation -- simply because there were so few people who came by. But there were more than 100 hours of artist-on-duty time in that project, compared to only two hours for the flag.
We asked one of the guards who herded us into line whether the crowd was bigger than they had expected; he said nobody had any advance idea what was going to happen. He seemed cheerfully overwhelmed, but I wondered whether he would be equally cheerful at closing time when dozens of people still in line would have to be turned away.
I would have loved more time with my hands in the threads, and more time to talk with the artist, but when the museum presents a "relational" project as merely a two-hour event there isn't much relating that's going to happen. As we waited in line we also talked about Marina Abromovic's massive relational project at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010, where she sat in a chair silently contemplating a visitor sitting across from her -- seven hours a day, six days a week, for 700 hours in total.
I'm sorry Sonya Clark didn't have the chance to spend more time with her art piece and with museum visitors, just as I was unhappy that Lee Mingwei hopped a plane to Tokyo after installing the mending project, delegating the visitor-relating to us volunteer artists. Strikes me that both of these projects, brilliant in concept, suffered for want of boots on the ground.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
As a professor of graphic arts, my father was an inveterate collector of all things related to printing, an enthusiasm that washed down to my own generation. Our favorite method was letterpress -- where the letters or images are raised above the surface of the printing plate to accept ink rolled or pounced over the top, like a rubber stamp. But just to make the collection comprehensive, Dad acquired some lithographic stones.
The printer must have had to do a lot of tricky masking to make sure just the right one got printed! In those days, financial papers typically included a blank space for the date, printed like this: _______________ 190__. Maybe a clever way for the printer to insure that people came back and had new letterheads printed at least once per decade.
I was reminded when I pulled the stones out for photography just how heavy they are!! My brother, who lives in Australia, reminded me the last time he visited that one of the stones actually belongs to him. I told him he was welcome to take it home with him, but since he's always just a nanogram this side of the weight limit, he declined. So I think both stones are going to stay with me forever.
Friday, October 13, 2017
The first amendment installation is finished -- awaiting transport to the banquet site next week.
I hope the people are all firmly enough anchored into the base so they can survive the trip. I'll drive slowly. But if not, I'll take some extra wire along so I can jam the armatures more snugly into the holes on site.
I love the way they're crowded together, peaceably, just like it says in the constitution.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
When I started making daily people in January, I was intrigued by the way limp fabric could become firm simply through wrapping and tying. A few friends to whom I showed the project were surprised to find that the people had no armatures, because they had a lot of structural strength -- that was the whole point of my exploration. But most of the little guys didn't have enough structural strength or balance to stand on their own.
So when I got the opportunity to put them all into an installation, I needed to retrofit some skeletons into practically everybody, extending into a peg that could be fit into a drilled hole on the base.
Some of the people were constructed so I could easily run a support wire up under their skirts or thread it up inside their legs. Others had been wrapped so tightly, and perhaps had some internal folds and creases, that I couldn't force wire through the center of a leg, so I had to snake an external wire up the back of the body, secured by their original wrappings.
That's how I spent my weekend, with wires and wirecutters. I could have saved a lot of time by putting the wire inside in the first place, but would that have been any fun? Heck no!
I'm almost done with the installation -- I'll show it to you soon.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
My mother gave me a crystal ball -- not for fortune-telling, but to hang in my kitchen window. It's about the size of a golf ball. When the sun is at the right angle, and if I have wiped the ball clean of grease and dust, and put a little spin on it, brilliant little rainbows dance throughout the room.
It varies with the season, of course, but this week rainbow time starts about 8:30 a.m. and lasts maybe 20 minutes, 20 minutes of pure magic.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
There's nothing more gratifying, if you have written an article or a book, given a speech or taught a class, than to have somebody tell you they used what you said to make something nice. So it was great to find an email from Diane Lewis with a picture of a quilt she made from the ideas in my book, Pattern-Free Quilts.
I like the three different ways Diane has arranged her striped blocks. In the center, the mountains are made with a regular pattern to make peaks and valleys. In the sky, the diagonals all slope gently in one direction or another, but two down-slopes might be adjacent, giving the impression of clouds and breezes. In the lake, the diagonals go every which way to make waves and currents.
Subtle, and very effective! And thanks to Diane for reading the book, and making such a nice quilt, and sharing the photo!
Monday, October 2, 2017
We're now starting the fifth week of construction work on two projects: rebuilding two decks and combining two small bathrooms into one glorious big one. I think we're past the midpoint on both projects, but who knows? I can still access my studio, but guys are sawing and pounding right outside the window, and more important, I need peace and quiet to decide what to work on next.
So I've been going through piles of old newspapers, some of them dating back years, reading all the art reviews that I had set aside, clipping as needed, throwing away what's left. Reading books. Spending time with the new grandchild.
Most of the time, I'm not really needed here, but every so often there's a decision to be made. Who knew it would take a half hour to determine how to install the lights and switches in the bathroom? Should the light over the sink go on when you turn on the room lights or be on a separate switch? Should the fan come on automatically with the room lights, or automatically with the shower light, or on its own switch? Should the light be directly over the tub, or centered over the floor area between tub and shower?
Meanwhile, I'm reading about projects that many of my blogging friends are working on, and feeling guilty that I'm not doing anything useful. I can't even concentrate enough to decide what my next project is going to be, let alone start staging up for it. And the year-end tasks -- photo calendars, 55 Christmas ornaments, Christmas stockings for the new baby and maybe others -- are looming.
Maybe I won't do anything important till next year, and would that be so horrible? Well no, except for the guilt....
Sunday, October 1, 2017
When I was a senior in high school I saved up my babysitting money and bought a record player, which meant I needed to acquire records. For some reason, I decided that what I wanted to hear was classical music, and having joined the Columbia Record Club, with its infamous negative option membership setup, I soon amassed lots of music. Despite flirtations with Motown and Broadway, I remained a classical girl at heart, and was delighted to learn that my husband-to-be also loved classical music and had his own bazillion records.
Records, of course, are hard to integrate into your daily life, because they require tending, even if you have a turntable with a changer to drop a new one into place when the old one is finished. You can only reliably hear the music from the same room, which doesn't work if you're doing housework or tending children or making dinner (whoever would have put their record player in the kitchen???).
Fortunately we've been blessed in Louisville with great classical radio. For several years in the 1970s, we even had two classical stations! If you didn't want to listen to Hindemith, you could flip the dial and see if you could get Tchaikovsky on the other station! We're down to one station now, but it's 24/7, so we turn on the radio when we get up in the morning and turn it off when we go to bed.
|#2 of 5|
Meanwhile our radios in the other rooms were getting old. The radio/stereo system in the living room was getting increasingly unreliable. We own more than 1,000 CDs, and I realized that CDs are an almost-obsolete technology. I worried that one day the system would refuse to play a CD, and this would occur two weeks after every manufacturer of CDs in the entire world had decided to stop manufacturing CD players.
A Bose outlet store had just opened less than an hour from us, and as Christmas approached one year I announced that I was going to buy a Bose radio with a CD changer, in the hopes that it would outlast both us and our CDs. When I got there, I decided to buy not only the radio plus CD player for our living room, but one for our bedroom and one for the kitchen, a total of five.
Ken accused me of over-splurging, but I pointed out that if you listen to the radio during every waking moment, why not have great quality? All the radios are equipped with remote controls, and the three new ones also turn off and on if you simply touch them -- a great boon when you're walking through the kitchen with greasy hands and can do the honors with your elbow. I'm not sure whether this works through temperature, pressure or ESP, but it's pretty neat. As is the ability to have music throughout the house throughout the day -- wouldn't Bach be jealous?
Friday, September 29, 2017
I was crabby last week trying to do entries where the system seemed eager to block me at every turn. But I'm happy to report that one of the shows has already done its jurying -- perhaps the fastest jurying in modern history -- and one of my flags has gotten in.
The show is the 45th Mid-States Craft Exhibition at the Evansville Museum in Evansville IN. I'm always thrilled to have fiber art accepted into an all-medium show, although this one, being a "craft" show, is more accurately described as almost-all-mediums -- ceramics, metal, textiles, wood, enamel, glass and mixed media, but not painting.
I've been in this show once before and was sadly prevented from attending the opening festivities because I was awaiting emergency surgery the next morning. I've not even been inside the museum, despite having both dropped off and picked up my quilt for that show, because the place was under renovation and I arrived at an off hour and I think some other obstacle as well.
I'm hoping for better luck this time around!
My big question now is whether the museum will let me display the quilt the way I did at Pyro Gallery earlier this year, simply nailed to the wall, or whether I'll have to add a sleeve and supply a rod. I loved it nailed to the wall -- so flat, so smooth -- but we'll see whether the museum staff is up for the challenge.
The show opens December 10.
Monday, September 25, 2017
I've written before about my "daily people," little sculptures made from leftover fabric bits. I started making them as a 30-day project for my art book club, but when the month was over they kept coming. I've tapered off since then, and haven't made any in several weeks, but a new challenge has brought them out of their shoeboxes and on their way to public display.
The occasion is a fundraising dinner honoring Jon Fleischaker, a local attorney who has specialized in First Amendment cases. Artists have been invited to decorate the tables with something related to the First Amendment, and when I was asked to participate last week I thought of my little people. I've thought all along that I wanted to eventually display them in a crowd, and since the First Amendment guarantees the right of the people peaceably to assemble, there you go!
Now to find the appropriate base, and construct some kind of supports so they can stand up. Maybe some of them will carry signs. Maybe I'll need more of them, especially men (since so many of the ones I've already made seem to have skirts -- not that I've deliberately tried to make women, but that it's easier to construct skirts then legs). I'll probably want to hold a casting call and reject some of them who don't seem to play well with the others.
here's a new guy made from the strips I cut off the bottom of Isaac's Cub Scout pants
I'll keep you posted on what happens next! The art has to be installed on October 17 so I have to get going.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
In 1979, I guess, because that's the copyright date, I bought a set of World Book encyclopedias.
Son #1 was seven years old and it seemed like this was a good time to get set up for the inevitable school routine of looking things up for reports. Strangely, I don't remember that we ever used the books all that much. The boys weren't old enough for the Internet to become the school routine of choice, but maybe the style in pedagogy was to downplay looking things up. Or maybe they did it in the school library. Or maybe they just blew off their homework.
You must realize that I was raised to worship books. I thought it was a venial sin to set a book open on the table face down or crack its spine. It was a mortal sin to write in a book, or cut it up. The thought of defacing a whole set of encyclopedias was terrifying.
But I told myself that (A) we hadn't opened the books in decades. (B) this was not a valuable artifact; probably there are 3 million unused sets of World Books lying around in offices, basements, attics and landfills. (C) nobody else could possibly use them; even if paper encyclopedias themselves aren't obsolete, the 1979 version surely is. And (D) if I used them for art it would be better than not using them at all. So I cut out pictures and articles for a series of daily postcards I was sending to various family members.
Since then I've gone into the encyclopedias with gusto. I've cut out pages to use for found haiku; I've cut out pictures for collage; I've cut out words and phrases for my daily text project. Never a week goes by without me consulting the books; surely a lot more than we ever used the books in their first career.
I still haven't reached the point where I'm willing to tear the covers off the books, although I have made art with covers from other people's discarded World Books. I still need mine for "reference" -- if you need a picture of Harry Truman or a fish, it's so easy to just grab the right volume off the shelf, look it up and cut it out.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Having gotten seriously crabby on Thursday doing an entry on CaFE, I am compelled in fairness to report that on Friday I did another entry on CaFE and sailed through it in about five minutes. I am therefore revising my opinion of that system. Namely, it works well if you are extremely familiar with how it works. It works even better if you want to submit an image that you have already used for another show.
That's what happened to me yesterday. I submitted two of the three quilts that I had submitted on Thursday, so there they were, already uploaded and their thumbnails right there for me to click on. The titles, dimensions and materials had been typed in on Thursday so I didn't have to do it again. I remembered what happens under each of the tabs in the website, and with only one misstep got through the process with only a few clicks.
It worked because I had spent an hour wrestling with the system the day before, and because I was entering the same pieces. (That was possible because Thursday's show is an exhibition in print, where you don't have to actually send the work, so double-dipping wasn't going to create conflicts.)
But how long will it take for me to forget the quirks of the process, thus making my next encounter just as painful as it has always been in the past? I guess if you're a compulsive enterer, responding to many different calls, you could get comfortable. I still wonder why the system has to be so difficult for the casual or first-time user.
And despite being not so crabby, I can't help but note the strange schedule of this show. The juror is going to have results announced four days after the entry deadline, which I think is fabulous. I hate it when shows keep you in suspense for weeks or even months. But the delivery date is only ten days later -- after which the artworks will sit in a back room for two whole months before the show opens! (This is clearly a museum with a lot of storage space.)
I wonder why they need the work so far in advance. If you have a good piece of art that you would like to send out to several juried shows, this is a long time for it to be out of commission while the clock ticks on its shelf life.
Friday, September 22, 2017
... if you weren't crabby already, just do a show entry using CaFE.
You are asked to submit images "1200 pixels or larger on longest side," and then the call goes on to say "Please note that uploaded images are scaled by the system and two monitor versions are created: a small 100-pixel thumbnail and a large 700-pixel image. These images are available for you to preview in your portfolio after you upload."
What image do you suppose the jurors will see? If they're going to see 700 pixels, why don't they just tell us to upload a 700-pixel image? If they're going to see 1200+ pixels, why tell us about the 700-pixel image? Why do I need to know this?
They tell you to submit "A brief artist statement (50-100 words, maximum)." Does this mean somewhere between 50 and 100 words, or does it mean 100 words maximum? Scratch your head all you want to (is my 45-word statement going to be disqualified for being too short?) but never mind, because when you get to the place to type in the statement, it now says "1000 characters maximum."
I got to the website by clicking a link in a message from Surface Design Association, which is sponsoring this Exhibition in Print (no actual show, just a catalog). After that, I clicked my way into the CaFE website and started filling out the application. Despite confusing directions, I managed to upload my images. I was not distracted by ominous remarks like "If Modify or Remove options are not available, click to archive past entries, then return here to modify or remove media." or "If you need to add artwork samples, save first before returning to MY PORTFOLIO. You may come back to your saved application from MY CAFE ENTRIES to complete or review the application prior to checkout."
Now it's time to attach the images to the entry form. I had misread the ominous remark about coming back to my saved application, and mistakenly went to the page where you would select what call you are responding to. The form told me to select the organization sponsoring the call. I typed in Surface Design Association and it said "showing 0 events." I typed in Exhibition in Print and it came up with a show in New Mexico sponsored by somebody else. Hmmm. I started clicking around on all the many tabs on the website and eventually came back to the page I started from, which indeed had the right show listed. Sigh of relief.
I had uploaded three full images and three detail shots. But the system told me to attach two or three images to my entry. Hmmm. I went back and read the call and sure enough, it had said "up to 3 images total may be submitted; artists are encouraged to submit at least 2 pieces and no more than 1 detail. Submission of a detail is not required." So I uploaded just the three full images.
Why do you suppose the system is set up to discourage detail shots? I've rarely encountered fiber art shows that didn't want details -- as in any materials-based art, how it's made is always a big viewer magnet. I've made art where the full view is almost meaningless without a detail shot, so if I want to enter such a piece, and have to submit the detail, then in effect I can only enter two pieces instead of three. What's that supposed to accomplish? Do you think this was a deliberate decision made by SDA, or an unintended consequence of the program?
The only other show I've entered recently was a relatively small regional show, and the entry process couldn't have been easier: send an email with your images, put your info and list of the pieces you're submitting into the body of the email, call them the next morning and tell them your credit card number. I know you can't reasonably offer this kind of service if you expect hundreds of entries (or can you??) but all the bureaucratic complexity of the automated programs has to be a turn-off to potential entrants. It wouldn't be so bad if the directions weren't apparently written by the same people who write user manuals; maybe geeks can follow along, but those of us who just speak English have serious problems.
That's why I'm crabby today. But if you're willing to put up with the hassles, you can still enter SDA's Exhibition in Print until midnight tonight. Click here to get to the call; after that you're on your own.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Thoreau warned us to beware of enterprises requiring new clothes; I might revise that advice to cover new clothes requiring alterations, since I'm the one in the family who has to make the alterations. While I adore mending, I'm not so hot on alterations. Nevertheless I do them.
Yesterday I got to step up to the plate for Isaac's new Cub Scout uniform, which set his mom back more than $100 (!?!?!?!?!?!?) at the Scout store on Tuesday. Cubs Scout pants have to be the only kids' pants still sold in the United States that come without hems; they're made six inches too long and somebody has to take them up. I wonder how families without sewing grandmas deal with this challenge.
But I rose to the challenge, not only with hemming the pants but also sewing the troop number on the sleeve. I was happy that the other patches, indicating the local Boy Scout Council as well as the American flag, came pre-sewed. After years of mending only for big men, I had forgotten how small little boys' sleeves are and how hard it is to get your sewing machine in on those little numbers without inadvertently catching some other part of the garment in the seam.
I guess the Scouts still value those old traditional survival skills like sewing. I wonder if they will instill them in the boys as well as demanding them of the moms and grandmas!
Monday, September 18, 2017
I've been trying for the last several months to get rid of things that I no longer need, but keep coming across boxes of stuff stowed away in closets and under worktables. Sometimes it's straight to the grab bag pile, but other times I find work in progress, often things that I started in workshops years ago but never finished. And often those things aren't half bad, just not exciting enough to have made me work on them once I came home.
I've thought, seriously, that perhaps my next body of work should be using up all those partially pieced expanses. Because my fine-line piecing is so complicated and labor intensive, there's an awful lot of work invested in those little bits, and I hate to flush it down the drain. Uncut yardage can always be donated for charity quilts, but who wants to inherit a bunch of little modules of varying shapes and sizes that cry for more intricate piecing to match?
Last month I found a box with leftovers from an experiment in piecing with stripes. It happened at the Crow Barn in 2007 or 2008. I was struck by this array of batiks in the fabric store, variations on brown and chartreuse. I was just starting to experiment with striped fabric as the very fine lines separating my small shapes, so the striped fabric was also appealing. I also bought a chartreuse fabric marker so some of the white dots in the brown-and-white fabric could become green.
I sewed up a bunch of samples and was unimpressed. I have never been a fan of brown, and though I love chartreuse, there was too much just-kinda-plain-wishy-washy-green in this bunch of fabric. But I carefully folded and bagged up everything and took it home with me, to languish for a decade.
Halfway through I realized that I needed to make a quilt for my International Threads challenge, on the theme of "integration," and this could be it. So I made the piecing fit the IT size, quilted it up, and sent it back to Europe with Uta Lenk, who was visiting.
Not a masterpiece, but finished. Actually, not half bad -- I like the graphic contrast of the light and dark, and the many different variations on the simple three-color palette. And I love how all that long-ago sewing paid off in the end. There's plenty more unfinished piecing where that came from, and maybe I'll start working with those UFOs. I have enough square footage already sewed to occupy me for the rest of my life.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
In 2013 I had a solo show at the beautiful art gallery at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary, a monastic institution in St. Meinrad IN, an hour or so west of us. It was founded in the 1850s by Benedictine monks sent from Switzerland to the frontier; their presence generated a large and thriving Catholic community that still exists in southern Indiana.
My husband and I drove over to deliver the quilts, and as we went through the closed gallery we saw that the artwork from the previous show was still there, leaning against walls and stacked near the door. It was sculpture by Brother Martin Erspamer, a monk at St. Meinrad with an MFA who paints, designs worship spaces, and makes furniture, ceramics and stained glass.
Ken fell in love with a ceramic Jesus and we bought Him and took Him home with us. It's a ceramic bas relief, about an inch thick and amazingly heavy. After we got it home I went to hang it on the wall and realized to my dismay that there was no hanging apparatus -- no holes so you could slot the piece over nails in the wall, no wire loop embedded in the clay. Hmmmm.
Jesus leaned against the wall in Ken's office for several months until my wonderfully practical son figured out how to put Him securely on the wall. The solution was two wooden railings, long enough to be screwed into the studs, rabbeted to make lips that keep the ceramic slab from coming loose.
I particularly love this piece of art because it was Ken's choice. For 47 years he has been graciously welcoming art of my choice into our home, with only a few pointed comments about how so few of my paintings have any people in them. (Yes, I'm a landscape junkie....) This time he got what he wanted.
Friday, September 15, 2017
I always look forward to Friday's New York Times because it has a whole section on art, with reviews of several current shows. And this morning's paper started out well, with a review of a fiber art show in Boston that wasn't the least bit condescending, didn't refer to anybody's grandma, and talked about "the timeless, haptic allure of fiber art." Bravo!
But farther down the page, by the same reviewer, came a description of a show by Sanford Biggers, an African-American artist who makes paintings, collages, sculptures and videos. One of the pieces that the reviewer described is a large sculpture made from antique quilt fragments.
|Marianne Boesky Gallery|
The reviewer explains that antique quilts "are central to the art of the African diaspora" (true) and "were signposts used on the Underground Railroad" (FALSE!!!!!!!).
I am so sick of hearing this fake news, which has been debunked so many times, such as here by the scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. Just as disappointing as hearing that these are or aren't like your grandma's quilts.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
What a great week I just had!
First, I took a carload of fabrics to my friend Ann, whose quilt guild likes to make charity quilts. I've given them four carloads in the last several months, and maybe this is even the last of the bunch. I've saved out the Kona solids, and all the commercial striped fabrics, and the batiks, and the African fabrics, and some other stuff to precious to give away, but now I think all the other quilting fabric is gone.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
A couple of months ago I got the idea to buy wood painting panels as supports for collage. I thought they would give substance to the work, and avoid the necessity and expense of framing. So I bought a five-pack of 9 by 12 panels and set to work.
I decided to work on all of them at once, and that all of them would have the same general elements. At a workshop last year I made several pages worth of calligraphy, just writing in black india ink, sometimes overlaying the first page of writing with more writing in a different scale and a different direction. I used those pages as the bottom layer.
Each collage would include a map, most would include an old photo, and I found four old books that I would tear up as collage elements for each of the pieces. Then I added bits and pieces of this and that until the collages seemed finished.
The advantage of working on several pieces at once was that it gave me time for the various paints, inks, glues and mediums to dry; by the time I had worked on all five panels the first one was ready for another step. I used plenty of matte medium as the top coat, or I should really say top coats, because I kept slathering that stuff on until some of the the surface resembled encaustic. Toward the end I added some mystery junk for 3-D interest.
The five panels that I started with eventually grew to about ten, and I kept working on them bit by bit through the summer, not sure whether they were done yet. The first one to be declared finished was a birthday gift, on a smaller but deeper panel that allowed me to add stuff on the sides and a roof on the top.
This week I declared two more finished so I could put them in the sales room at Pyro Gallery.
Messages: Eschenbach (detail below)
Messages: Allouez (detail below)
Good thing, too, because there are at least a half dozen more of these in the studio waiting for something before they too can be finished.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
One of the nice things about being a member of a co-op gallery is that you get to spend time hanging out with the art while you do your shifts of gallery-tending. After I joined Pyro Gallery last fall, we had a pre-holiday show in which all the 22 member artists displayed work. During my shifts I noticed that some of the art was definitely priced to sell -- perhaps it had been sitting in the studio so long that the artist didn't want to bring it home again.
I was drawn to a limestone sculpture by Mike McCarthy which looked vaguely pre-Columbian, and when we held a 10 percent off sale the week before Christmas, I pounced! I wanted a sculpture for our front yard, something that would hold up to the weather, too small to be noticed from the street and too big to be easily stolen if a miscreant did spot it. This one filled the bill.
We sited the statue so it gave the big eye to people walking up the path, but also to those coming down off the porch.
As the spring wore on, daffodils came and went, sometimes crowding the statue on one side while leaving it empty on another; obviously no professional landscaping had occurred in the testing of this product. But in August all of that changed -- brilliant zinnias came up to the left, scarlet sage came up to the right, framing my pre-Columbian guy in color. He guards my front walk with a stern, all-seeing eye (and peeks into the guest room window with his back eye if you open the curtains).
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Here's a long story about a small quilt. If you've been reading my blog for years you've heard parts of it before. It started out in 2010 as the leftover bits from a group project organized by Terry Jarrard-Dimond, in which a bunch of people collaborated on a quilt design. After Terry sewed the final version together, I asked if I could have the scraps, and made two small quilts.
Or more accurately, two small quilt tops. Only one of them got finished at the time because I wasn't pleased with the design. I carried the other one around with me for years as a workshop sample, and at one workshop I had it pinned up on the design wall. I was talking about how you should always evaluate your work, and that it's often more important to understand why certain things didn't work than to understand your successes. I pointed to the quilt top on the wall and said I never felt that the top half played well with the bottom half. And then I heard these words come out of my mouth: "What I really should do is cut it in half, right about here..."
So I went home and did just that, separating the Siamese twins. And they have been much happier as companions than they were together.
And now the latest chapter in the story. I entered one of the quilts in the 24th Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the Krempp Gallery in Jasper IN. I've been in that show several times before and try to enter every year; it's a beautiful space, the show attracts a wide variety of entries in all mediums, and best of all, the jurors seem to be very happy with fiber art. In fact, two years ago another of my quilts won best in show.
Turns out that Left Coast, one of the Siamese twins, won best in show this year. I am so proud of her! If you're anywhere in southwest Indiana in the next month, drop by Jasper and check out the show -- there's plenty more fiber art besides mine.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Yesterday was the first day that Pyro Gallery's new space was open for business, and after it closed for the day we gathered for champagne to celebrate. We took possession of the new space 12 days ago and it's been a flurry of moving, painting, and hanging the new show. Although there's plenty left to be done -- almost half the space is still under construction, and we don't expect that finished until early next month -- it's great to see the place clean, sparkling white, extremely well lit, and with art on the walls!