Saturday, May 15, 2021

Girls' week out

The last time I saw my sister was in September 2019.  It was not a particularly good time for either of us.  She had just lost her husband a month earlier.  I had a brief visit for the funeral and promised to come back soon, but before that could happen I fell and broke my ankle.  So between grief and hobbling around in an orthopedic boot, we were not at our best.  We vowed that when we did this again, we would both be in better shape.

Then came coronavirus and lockdown, and a year and a half passed, and now finally we have managed our visit, this time accompanied by my niece, who needed a vacation from pandemic childcare.  We chose scenic South Bend Indiana, perhaps not your first choice for exotic travel, but it's exactly halfway between our homes so we each made a half-day trip instead of somebody making an all-day slog.

Our rented place had a huge long table where we spent all day together reading, working, talking.  A walk every day, in glorious sunshiny weather.  I brought along a big crate of art stuff and we made little "sampler" books, trying out different tools and mediums.

We found a restaurant that served wonderful red-sauce Italian, which reminded all three of us of our upstate New York youth.  I have lived in Kentucky for more than 50 years and my regrets in leaving New York include brilliant fall foliage and red-sauce Italian food.  

Yes, there are Italian restaurants in Kentucky, and some of them are even pretty good, but you can't match the Sicilian edge that I treasured from long ago.  Every time I visit the Rust Belt I seek out Italian restaurants, preferably those with the authentic vibe of the 60s that I remember so fondly.

This one, Carmela's, was a little more upscale than my fantasy dive, but the food was perfect.  We came back on Thursday night and ordered the same eggplant parmesan that we'd had on Tuesday.  Make sure you patronize this place if you find yourself in South Bend!

My father was a graduate of Michigan State and a football fan, and I was raised to look upon Notre Dame as the archfoe, both in football and religion (we were Lutherans and thus kind of suspicious of Catholics).  So I was a bit wary to be entering enemy territory when we strolled around the Notre Dame campus.  Fortunately I escaped unscathed, and was totally charmed by the beauty of the place, indoors and out.

So, a great trip.  We've resolved to do this every year, and expand it next year to include the daughters-in-law.  I'm already planning what our craft projects will be.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Lots of boxes 1

My new show consists of several "collections" of collage and assemblage, fancy words for putting a variety of miscellaneous junk together and calling it art.   I've been drawn to this form of art for a long time; maybe it started as a way to rationalize keeping boxes and boxes and piles and piles of miscellaneous junk instead of throwing it out.  But I have learned that miscellaneous stuff, no matter how appealing each piece may be when scrutinized closely, doesn't become art until you have a good way to fasten it together forever.

And for me, the go-to answer has always been to put the disparate parts into boxes.  

I have been doing this for several years, mostly using pre-made new wood boxes that you get at the craft store, and several of those boxes made it into my gallery show.  But the project got turbocharged when Pamela Mattei, a long-time fiber pal, was seized by the desire to clean out her garage and basement during early pandemic lockdown.  Early last summer she gave me five huge cartons of old cigar boxes, which I immediately started filling up for art.

Some of the boxes had slide-off lids, which I slid off to use for other purposes, leaving me with six-inch cubes to wallpaper with maps, photos, book pages, sheet music, fabric or other flat stuff.  Then I populated the boxes with things that wanted to be together.

Here are some of the cigar-box cubes that made it into the show:

Pink Specs Box

Bingo Berry Box

Some of the cigar boxes were hinged, and I took them apart to give more five-sided "rooms."

Trio Box

I'll show you more of my boxes in other posts.  Meanwhile, if you're near Louisville, I hope you can drop in and see my show at PYRO Gallery, 1006 E. Washington St.  Gallery hours are noon to 6 Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 Sundays through the end of May, and by private appointment. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

The show is open!

Yes, friends, I have gone radio silence for the last week and a half, getting ready for my show at PYRO Gallery.  Got all the work packed up and carted to the gallery, unpacked and arranged and spaced out (and pleasantly surprised to discover how nicely it fit into the room) and hung on the walls.

Lights arranged (what a huge difference it makes to have a real pro in charge, one who isn't afraid to go way up on the tall ladder).  

And finally ready for company!

We're still operating under the state pandemic rules, so masks inside, but we were able to hold an outdoor reception in the garden behind the gallery.  This was the first time PYRO has done a reception since March 2020, and we knew some people would give it a miss for fear of encountering a crowd inside.  Happy to report that everybody kept their distance indoors, and the rain held off all afternoon for those outside.

I'll show you some of the pieces in the show in future posts.  Meanwhile, if you're near Louisville, please visit sometime before May 30.  Gallery hours are noon to 6 every Friday and Saturday, and 1-4 Sunday.  Or you can email me for a private appointment any time.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is this mending? I guess so...

If you define mending as fixing a dysfunctional garment with a needle and thread, then yes, this is mending.  The cardboard mask was the perfect complement to a superhero cape, except it was so poorly engineered that the only point of contact between mask and nose came way too far down, and the forehead didn't support the weight of the mask, and it HURT!! 

So I found a piece of an old T shirt, and stuffed it with poly batting, and affixed it to the inside of the mask with stitching and a bit of glue, and all is well in the superworld.   

Afterwards, ice cream was served, which made the day perfect.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Great and not-so-great minds 2

Imagine my surprise when I saw a recent article in Hyperallergic in my email, with this feature image:

It's a lithograph by Anni Albers, whom I have always known as primarily a fiber artist.  And indeed, doesn't that mottled background remind you of any number of dye jobs you yourself have done in your fiber art career?  It looked  like some of my experiments with walnut ink.

But what really struck me was the tangled-cord motif.  Which looked exactly like one of my favorite subjects from my year of daily drawing. 

So I guess the only artistic difference between Anni Albers and me is that she had the good sense to combine her tangles with her mottles, and make lithographs.  And probably a couple of other things.

And that got me to thinking of another déjà vu moment when I saw my own reflection in a famous artist's work.  Coincidentally, that famous artist was none other than Anni's husband Josef Albers! 

(If you're interested in Albers' printmaking, check out the online exhibit of the current show that Hyperallergic was talking about.  It also features prints by another artist who is primarily known for her fiber work, Ruth Asawa.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Forced to Flee -- zooming this evening!

I wrote yesterday about how my 3-D "art quilt" is now traveling with the SAQA show about refugees, "Forced to Flee."  I will be one of five artists participating in a zoom webinar roundtable this evening at 7 pm eastern, discussing our work in the show.  

The webinar is free and open to the public, but you do have to register first, at

Because of the time difference, it will be difficult for non-North American viewers to tune in, and only US artists were invited to participate in the roundtable discussion.  I thought this was too bad, especially since SAQA bills this as a "global exhibition" and many of the artists live outside the US.  So I asked my dear friend Uta Lenk, who lives in Germany and has a piece in the exhibit, if I could feature her in my own little non-zoom roundtable.

Uta Lenk, Everyone has the right (detail below)

Here's what she has to say about her quilt:

Over the years I have met and become friends with a number of refugees, many of them from Africa, who had come to Germany via different routes, but for many of them a rubber boat trip across the Mediterranean Sea had been part of their journey. Germany’s reaction towards the ‘refugee crisis’ has taken a decisive turn, the brief period of ‘welcome refugees’ in 2015 has turned into a Fortress European Union, trying to keep refugees out, violently (and illegally) pushing them back from Greek shores to Turkish shores. 

I have always deeply felt the gap between the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to which the European Union likes to refer when it is reproaching other countries for not abiding by these rights – and the way the EU is treating people seeking a better life by leaving a home whose difficulties were often caused by interferences of European countries, be it long ago or today. I get the impression that European countries do not grant the same degree of Human Rights to people from any country. I used a newspaper photo of a refugee rubber boat on the Mediterranean as inspiration for this quilt. An abstracted boat with its passengers is enclosed by excerpts from the Declaration of Human Rights written in the background, on the sky.


Thanks, Uta, for your guest appearance today.  Sorry you will probably be asleep during the zoom tonight!