Monday, May 24, 2021

A present arrives

I received a wonderful present today from Paula Kovarik, a great quilter whose work I admired even before we got to meet and become friends,  It's a small quilt, densely stitched, of course, since that's her modus operandi, but a bit different from her signature quilting in that it has no funny creatures, just straight lines.  In fact, the quilt is called "Sightlines," which I'll explain in a minute. 

I couldn't wait till I find a place to hang it, so Ken obligingly modeled the quilt right out of the box.

This quilt is special not just because I get to have another Kovarik original in my collection -- which is special enough right there -- but for how it came to be mine.  Paula has written a book about her quilting process, and I had the privilege of editing and proofreading it for her.  "Sightlines" is my pay for the job.  

Having read every word of this book four or five times, I am uniquely qualified to tell you that it's a fine piece of work.  It has several kinds of text: detailed stories about how she came to make some quilts, tutorials and exercises on how to emulate her style of drawing-through-stitch, thoughts on her creative process and why she works in this medium.  It will even tell you how to (gasp!) cut up and reconfigure quilts that you're bored or dissatisfied with.  (Paula even did this with a Quilt National piece after it came home from touring.)

The book is called "At Play in the Garden of Stitch: thoughts that come while eyeing the needle" and it should be ready to purchase very soon.  (One advantage of self-publishing, which I shared with Paula while she was still in the planning stages of this book, is that you don't have to wait for months and months for a publisher to slot you into a huge schedule.)   I'll let you know when that happens.

But back to my new quilt.  Paula pieced the quilt from her scrap bag, and when it came time to quilt it, decided to not just stitch on all the pieced lines, but to extend those lines all the way to the edges of the quilt.  That led to a very dense network of lines, which made a web of interesting shapes, especially in the large black and white areas of the quilt.  Wherever she saw a triangle, she filled it in with dense stitching in gold.  

The gold areas jitter, giving excitement to the plain white foreground and making the black "sky" alive with sparks or fireworks or maybe auroras.  I can't wait to get this quilt into a permanent place so I can see it every day. 

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.