Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fabric collage -- out in public

In 2015 I did a collaborative art project with my dear friend Uta Lenk, who lives in Germany.  We each prepared six sets of fabric stuff -- one envelope to me, an identical envelope to her.  The envelopes contained three or four bits and pieces of fabric, lace, cord, maybe a button or bead, and miscellaneous things we found in our respective studios.  We exchanged the envelopes and then each month we made a fabric collage that had to use everything in the envelope plus whatever else we might want to add.  For coherence, I chose to stitch all my collages onto a neutral linen background, which in turn was stitches to the deep gray mat board.

We had fun doing the project, but on my part I would say that only four or five of the twelve rose to the level of art.  As with so many experiments in a new method or procedure, it takes a while to find your way.  But three of them seemed good enough to put in frames for the new show at PYRO Gallery.

Gold Star

Only one hitch -- Uta and I had made our collages to fit onto 8x12" mat board, and I couldn't find frames in that size.  So I got 9x12 frames and eked out the width with strips of colored paper. 

Pig Newton

If I were starting from scratch I'd prefer the mat board the same size as the frame, but the stripes do add a jaunty air, especially when all three collages are hung together.

By the way, I don't like to put fabric under glass, so I put the collages into the frames naked.  I know there are some drawbacks to this approach in that the work can get dusty, but I didn't want to pop for expensive shadowbox frames that would keep the glass forward off the 3-D collages.  I hope it works out well.

Slick Dude

If you'd like to see all our collages from that project, click here.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A happy ending

I wrote on Thursday about my disappointing experience with the new SAQA book, and posted a similar message on the SAQA email list that evening.

So I was pleased to read an email message last night from Martha Sielman, SAQA executive director.  She wrote, "I have just confirmed with Schiffer that they do offer a discount for contributing artists.  If you are one of the artists with work in the book, you can place a one-time order for up to 25 copies at a 40% discount.  You just need to pay standard freight.  SAQA will email the artists on Monday to let them know about this discount offer."

Perhaps not the ideal solution, but definitely a good thing to do now.  I'm glad the SAQA leadership apparently was listening to the opinions of us members and observers who called them out for not giving artists the respect they/we deserve.

I hope the next time a big, important book comes out SAQA will do the right thing from the start.

Update:  An anonymous reader, who identified herself as one of the larger donors to the SAQA book project, left comments on my blog post yesterday suggesting that it was unreasonable for me to suggest that SAQA pay for rights to publish artists' work.  She wrote:  "There are 240 artists in this book.  240 x your suggestion of $50 for rights of usage? $12,000....  If you think everyone is entitled to a copy, either pony up $12,000 or join the SAQA board and start doing the work for the next compendium."

Actually, if we're doing arithmetic, according to Martha's email last night, Schiffer Publishing is willing to forgo $19.60 per copy (40% discount off $49 list price) up to 25 copies per artist!!  That adds up to $19.60 x 25 x 240 = $117,600!!  And this offer seems to have come about within 24 hours, so apparently it didn't require a whole lot of hardball negotiation.  I am amazed at this sum -- clearly there's more profit sloshing around in the publishing business than we had thought.  Or perhaps Schiffer doesn't want to kill the golden goose.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Crabby about SAQA

I feel guilty about being crabby twice in one week, especially when it's Christmas and I'm feeling generally cheerful and happy.

And I feel guilty about being crabby about SAQA, which just a few days ago did me the honor of including my refugee quilt people in its new exhibit, "Forced to Flee."

But I'm going to do it anyway.

Entropy -- in QN'15 and now in a new SAQA book

Almost two years ago I was invited to have a quilt included in a SAQA book "that compiles the significant art quilts and artists from the 1960's to today."  I sent off my images, signed the permission form, and forgot all about it.  This week I happened to search my email inbox for "SAQA" because I needed to confirm the info about the "Forced to Flee" show, and there at the top of the list was this very old email.  Hmmm -- did the book ever get made?

I went to the SAQA website and found that sure enough, it came out six weeks ago under the title "Art Quilts Unfolding" and is available for $49 through the SAQA store.

I was surprised (a) that I had not received an announcement that the book was published, and (b) that I had not been sent a copy.  I've had my work published in many different books and magazines and it is standard practice to send a complimentary copy, especially when the publisher did not pay anything for the rights.

I wrote the SAQA staffer in charge of the project and asked if copies were going to be sent to the artists, and the response was NO.

I don't know if this chintzy decision was made by the publisher, or by SAQA, or both in concert, but I think it was a bad one.

SAQA makes a LOT of money off its publications, which are made possible by the cooperation of us artists who graciously provide images, sit for interviews, lend our quilts to tour for years, and in the case of juried shows, pay entry fees.  Yes, it's a nice ego trip to see our quilts in a book, but since we've done our part for free, the least they could do is send us a copy.

There's always a lot of chatter and angst on the SAQA email list over copyright, with people in a flutter over how much they should be paid if their quilt is reproduced on a CD album cover or a fundraising brochure or the side of a barn.  Usually the consensus is "we deserve to be paid!!!"  "we are professional artists!!!"  "we shouldn't give our work away!!!"  "people should take art quilters seriously!!!!!"

Seems like the shoemaker's children when SAQA avails itself of free publication rights to its own artist/members' work and can't even send us a copy of the publication.

What do you think?

UPDATE:  After I complained to Martha Sielman, executive director of SAQA, I got this response:

Maybe when SAQA negotiated the deal with Schiffer Publishing they should have put free books into the agreement.  Just my two cents worth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The refugees have a place to go

Good news for my refugee quilt people -- they have somewhere to go next spring!  They have been accepted into the SAQA "Forced to Flee" exhibit that will be shown at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts in Melbourne FL in May, and with any luck will travel to other places.

My husband was sorry to hear that the show wouldn't be up during the winter, since he would love an excuse to go south in the cold weather.  Me too, since I hate going south in the warm weather.  Such first-world problems!  But refugees are happy to go anywhere, any time, if people will welcome them.

Monday, December 3, 2018

My new dumb smartphone

Lo these many years, I have put it off getting a smartphone.  Always figured I could get along just fine with my landline at home, my Kindle on the road and my dumbphone ready to provide voice service as needed.  But my dumbphone contract expired and rather than re-up for two years I decided to bite the bullet.

My children enabled me through this process and the day after Thanksgiving my new phone arrived in the mail, part of a bundled deal with Google Fi, a relatively new concept advertised as "seamless wireless."  My guys use this service and love it -- cheap and good.

I always thought getting a smartphone was going to be expensive, and the last ten days have done nothing to disabuse me, except it has been expensive in time rather than money.  Seems that when we sat down to activate the phone I made a terrible error -- I asked it to transfer over my old dumbphone  number, because many of my family members know it.  But apparently when I tried to look up what my account number was, I found and entered the wrong number.  Bad move.

The system wouldn't allow me to transfer.  After trying again a few times I gave up and called Google to tell them to give me a new number.  This required 90 minutes on the phone, one hour in queue, a half-hour talking to Christian, who gave me a guilt trip for not knowing my account number, but he would graciously do what it took to back that info out of the system and generate a new number.  And so he did, or so he said. When will I learn what it is?  It may even happen while we're still on the phone, but if not, then very soon.

Good thing I did not hold my breath, and 30 hours later I got back on the phone.  This time it took one hour in queue and more than an hour with Cheryl, who again did the guilt trip and chewed me out for being crabby "before I have even had a chance to start to help you!!!"  She told me that Christian shouldn't have promised me a new number because the bad vibes were still there.  She went to three higher levels of management approval before getting the system to generate a new number (she knew it did, because she saw it flash by, but too fast for her to write it down).  But because it was late in the day it would take 24 hours for me to get activated.

Good thing I did not hold my breath, and 43 hours later I got back on the phone.  This time only a half hour in queue, but well over an hour with Sean, who at least spared me the guilt trip.  He put me on hold several times while he went to confer with higher levels.  He informed me several times that the intervention had begun!!  Finally he told me they were about to get me set up, and I would be notified by email "sometime before midnight."

An hour later, my phone made strange noises at me and I tried to make a phone call.  It worked!!!  I called my landline and it rang!!!  But I still didn't know what my phone number is, since my landline is just as dumb as my old dumbphone.  And I'm still waiting for the notification email that I was promised, not to mention a response to the email I sent them three days ago to complain.

Later I called my son and he read off my phone number from his phone, so now I know it.

It only took seven hours of my life to get it activated.  During my many hours on hold I have discovered that Google is apparently saving money on background music as well as on adequate staffing for the help lines.  While you're in queue you get several different tracks, but after you've been "helped" and get put on hold, it's the same damn three minutes of music over and over and over.  I calculate I have heard those three minutes about 50 times in the last four days.  And it's not even particularly good music.

If you're contemplating signing up with Google Fi you may want to avoid transferring your old phone number.  And go to the bathroom before you place your call to customer "service."