Sunday, February 07, 2016


 (Above:  Taking photos of The Cabinet of Curiosities, in progress. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I blogged about my solo show, PLAYA: A Month in Paradise last Wednesday after everything was set up and ready for the "First Thursday" art crawl/reception. Much of last week revolved around this existing art opportunity, and Thursday night was truly lots and lots of fun. Yet, I can't let one activity occupy all my time!  There's other work to be done ... including The Cabinet of Curiosities, creating more work for the ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Baltimore and Atlanta, and moving my studio out of Gallery 80808/Vista Studios and into the house!

 (Above:  The new studio at Mouse House ... a work in progress!)

This post is being written as "an update" to these projects-in-progress!  Above is an image of the new studio space.  It used to be a bedroom. Then it stored shipping boxes, suitcases, art installations, and tubs of vintage fabric. Now, it is being converted to my sewing studio!  I've got until the end of the month to complete the task.  Unbelievably, Steve and I are actually ahead of schedule!

 (Above:  In Box CCX. Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3636. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

In fact, my sewing machines have already moved.  Only the construction of new work for Baltimore and Atlanta can happen in my old studio.  I'm really enjoying the new location.  Like several other pieces finished early last week, this large In Box was also stitched at home. I've got several other pieces in various stages of production.

 (Above:  Detail of hardware used to attach a made-in-Peru decorative mirror to The Cabinet of Curiosities.)

Every day also finds me adding something to The Cabinet of Curiosities. This piece has to be finished before April Fool's Day.  Why? Well, that's the day I've rented a pick-up truck to take it to Lake City, SC for ArtFileds, a nine-day festival into which it was accepted for competition.  I really love working on this piece. All sorts of unique items (generally purchased for "a song" at Bill Mishoe's weekly "junk auction" on Tuesday nights) get included. Holes were drilled into the corners of this small, decorative mirror.  I could have simply used an ordinary screw ... but why? The attachments are generally combinations of found hardware!  This is so much more fun!

I bought three of these Temari or TemariKai balls at Bill Mishoe's for $5.  You couldn't get me to stitch one of these precise objects if you put a gun to my head!  Definitely, these are "curiosities".  I did nothing more to them ... just put them in place. 

I also bought this strange brass wall hanging ... and simply screwed it onto one of the legs of the clothes drying rack that is part of the cabinet's foundation.

Years ago a client gave me two clip-on mice. One day, I clipped them onto the cabinet.

I also pulled out the found metal objects with cording that I made while at the Anderson Center's art residency program last May.  This one was actually titled: So Obvious It Might Bite.  They are perfect for the cabinet.  (Click here to see the blog post from Minnesota.)

I've found several other, interesting objects from Bill Mishoe's ... like this polished stone and grout ball ...

... and this aluminum cross ...

... and recently two sets of Russian nesting dolls.  I almost didn't use the dolls.  They looked too new, too touristy, too much like cheap souvenirs.  So, I decided to use my dremel tool and some sandpaper on one set.  Once the shiny lacquer was gone, they looked better.  After applying a little chestnut stain, they looked much more like exotic, foreign objects from long ago!

I drilled through their bases to attach them to the cabinet.

(Above:  Aldwyth lecturing on her Dada installation at  701 CCA.)

A week ago I also took a break.  I went to 701 Center for Contemporary Art to listen to Aldwyth's lecture on her Dada inspired installation. I've admired Aldwyth's work for years. At 75, she's still tackling large scale collage, complex work rich in history made by someone whose compulsive sensibilities are so familiar to me!  It was a great afternoon!


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

PLAYA, A Month in Paradise

(Above:  PLAYA: A Month in Paradise, solo show at Anastasia & Friends Gallery, an alternative art space in the lobby of the Free-Times Newspaper at 1534 Main Street in downtown Columbia, SC.)

Earlier this week my solo show, PLAYA: A Month in Paradise, was installed at Anastasia & Friends. The opening is during the monthly "First Thursday" art crawl on Main Street ... which is tomorrow!  I can hardly wait to share work created and inspired by my October art residency in the Oregon Outback.  PLAYA is the name of the art residency program that awarded me this special time.

I am thankful to Bohumila Augustinova and her assistant Grayson Goodman for their hard work to arrange and install the show.  I left all the presentation decisions to them ... except for the arrangement of pieces for my shrine to the dead Northern Flicker.  The empty vessel is the one in which I placed its lifeless body for the photos.  I hadn't entirely decided what to do with the black pedestal underneath.  (Mostly, I wasn't sure if it was necessary or would add to the shrine.  Seeing it on site let me know exactly what I wanted to do!  Scroll down to see!)

Anastasia & Friends Gallery is a lovely setting for this work.  The exposed brick and partial plaster walls enhance the textural feel of the show. 

There's also plenty of natural light during the day ... which means there are some odd angles of light for some of these photos.  It also means that everyone walking past the building can see inside to the artwork.

Once inside the door, this is the wall to the immediate right ...

... leading to this corner ...

... across from this view!

Several of my fiber vessels are displayed on this large, low pedestal.

Others are on taller pedestals ... right beside the window to Main Street.  That's the Columbia Museum of Art on the other side of the street.

With the sun shining through, I thought better photos weren't possible.  Then, I looked through my camera's lens on this sort of detail!

I focused on the crackled interior of the fiber vessels.  This surface was created to resemble the dried Summer Lake bed.  The photo resonates with me ... because one of my most important reasons for having this show is to share the experience of an art residency with local artists, writers, composers, choreographers, poets and creative individuals in Columbia.  These two images have the unique feature of PLAYA juxtaposed with Columbia's art museum ... almost bridging the connection ... hopefully suggesting a new direction for others.

Now ... back to my shrine to the dead Northern Flicker.  During my first week at PLAYA it flew into a window. I tried to save it. Despite my best efforts, it died in my hands. I created my first fiber vessel as it suffered. Then, I placed its lifeless body inside to snap lots of photos ... some of which were turned into art quilts.  One of the art quilts is the long, framed, horizontal piece above the framed photo.  The now empty vessel is just beneath the photo.  Below is a black pedestal.  As soon as I saw it, I hated it but I immediately knew how to make it better!

I matted an antique map (1902) of Oregon and Washington and cut a piece of glass to fit on the top of the pedestal.  The candle is one of those realistic types ... that is actually battery operated.  The rocks are shards of obsidian found near Paisley, about twenty miles from PLAYA.  Obsidian is a naturally forming volcanic glass that occurs when molten lava cools rapidly. Since pre-historic times it has been used to fashion arrowheads and cutting devices. Metaphysically, obsidian is a protective stone with mythical properties for the removal of negativity. It is said to protect the gentle from abuse and to cut emotionally unhealthy attachments.  While at PLAYA, I felt removed from negativity and emotionally happier than ever.  Perhaps it was the obsidian.  Perhaps it was the high desert. Perhaps it was the fact that my days were totally filled with the process of making art.  Probably, a little of all of this!

The antique map was published only 59 years after the Western explorer Captain John C. Frémont's 1843 exhibition through the area.  On December 16, 1843, the expedition struggled down a steep cliff from a snow-covered plateau to reach the lake. He named them "Winter Ridge" and "Summer Lake".  In my mind, however, it is simply "Paradise", aka PLAYA.

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What a Week!

(Above:  Detail of a garland made of free-motion/melted felt leaves and autumn colored artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. The garland is part of my installation/shrine to a dead Northern Flicker. This installation will be part of my upcoming solo exhibit at Anastasia & Friends gallery opening during February's "First Thursday" on Main Street.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I keep telling myself that I need to blog MORE OFTEN instead of waiting until a week has past!  But, I did it again.  I let the last six days over run me. This blog post is long ... because this has been a busy, busy week!  So ... what am I doing?  I'm gearing up for the ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Baltimore (Feb. 19 - 21) and Atlanta (March 11 - 13) by making lots of new work.  I just finished the installation/shrine to a dead Northern Flicker and delivered all the work to Anastasia & Friends Gallery. That solo show opens on Thursday.  I went to the Columbia Museum of Art for a great lecture by chief preparer/installation expert Michael Dwyer and I had John Sherrer and his associate from Historic Columbia pay me a visit.  So ... please scroll down.  It's all here!

(Above:  Five new "Windows" under construction.)

First up!  Five new "Windows" were created this past week.  The first step is to lay down a foundation design on the recycled, black acrylic felt.  (For a free tutorial on my original technique, CLICK HERE.)

Next, I iron previously painted, heat activated adhesive (Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web) over the foundation.


Then, I add heat-activated metallic foiling.

Additional shapes of polyester stretch velvet are ironed in additional layers.  (I was running out of studio time ... and finished only the first three ... returning later in the week to finish the other two!)

More previously painted Wonder Under is added over the additional shapes in order to apply strips of colorful chiffon scarves.

Here are the first three ... stitched!  To see all five new "Windows", just scroll down!  Please notice, I'm in the process of moving my rental studio back to my home/business, Mouse House.  By the end of February, I'll have the job completed.  Right now, however, I'm constructing new work in the rental space.  My sewing machine is currently in my home, 3D assemblage studio on the ground floor.  It might stay there.  It might move to the new, upstairs space.  Time will tell!

(Above:  In Box CCV.  Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3623. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

Last week wasn't just about making "Windows". I was also deep into making new "In Box" series pieces too!  In fact, three large ones and five small ones were completed.  Scroll down to see them too!

(Above:  John Sherrer and his associate from Historic Columbia looking at my Grid of Photos.  Click this link for an additional blog post with plenty of photos.)

It took a while, but John Sherrer finally came to Mouse House to pick up a small stack of letters, photos, and other ephemera I wished to donate to Historic Columbia. I bought the box because I was collecting the raw material for my Grid of Photos. It is strange to sort through the remains of another family's lives.  It is even stranger when some of the photos are labeled to reveal the name George Marguardt and the fact that he was a German immigrant stone sculptor and monument builder who once had his business less than four blocks from my home, right at the entrance to Elmwood Cemetery, a place where I've made dozens and dozens of grave rubbings ... maybe from stones he carved. 

(Above:  The Grid of Photos.)

What's more? One of the photos showed his prototype for the 1927 lamp posts that grace the Gervais Street bridge ... a bridge less than a mile from my house, over which I've driven thousands and thousands of times.  It seemed to me that I was holding a portion of a man's artistic life work, and it was up to me to help keep his memory alive.  Finally, I got to hand over the stack.  Of course, I had used many of the other family photos in my Grid of Photos.  John and his associate wanted to see if they could pick the images out.  They could!  (This family has at least one image in my Wall of Ancestors too!)  It felt very good and very appropriate to help preserve this artist's memory!

(Above:  The Columbia Museum of Art's lecture series.)

Columbia is full of resources.  One of them is undoubtedly the Columbia Museum of Art.  This past week I attended a lecture by chief preparer/installer Michael Dwyer.  It was very informative.

(Above:  Michael Dwyer discussing his job and telling stories of past installations at the museum.)

Because I hope to have many more opportunities to have installation in other, high profile venues, it was great to hear how the receiving staff prefers to work, communicate, and do their jobs.  Definitely this was a good way for me to spend an hour!

(Above:  Shrine to a Dead Northern Flicker, work in progress.)

I really enjoy working to convert a space into a temporary, site-specific presentation that alters the way the public feels in the space.  That's an installation!  This coming Thursday, I'm hoping that the manner of showing a fiber vessel, a framed art quilt, a photo, and this garland will transform a gallery wall into a "shrine", a place to reflect on a dead Northern Flicker and how nature is both beautiful and fierce. To that end, I spent time in the evening stitching autumn colored artificial leaves collected from cemetery dumpsters and stitched/melted leaves onto gold upholstery cord attached to a wreathe of barbed wire.   

(Above:  Detail of the garland.)

The felt leaves were made several years ago.  I've used them in other installations.  The other leaves were collected from cemetery dumpsters ... and I've used them in even more installations.

I really like how this idea is coming along.  I'll blog how the rest of the "shrine" turns out after Monday when it is installed at Anastasia & Friends Gallery.

(Above:  Window CXV.  Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3633. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

So ... now ... just scroll down for the new work completed this week!

(Above: Window CXVI. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3634. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXVII. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3635. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXIII. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3631. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXIV. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3632. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCIV.  Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3622. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCIX. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3627. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCV, detail.)

(Above: In Box CCVI. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3624. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCVII. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3625. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCVIII. Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3626. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCX. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3629. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCXI.  Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3630. $225 plus tax and shipping.)
I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.