Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Although I'm always working on something I consider "major", I really enjoy making fun, small, accessible pieces too ... especially when I use recycled old keys! I love keys! I also love using my embellisher to create unique backgrounds onto which I can stitch each tagged key. All fourteen pieces incorporate recycled materials ... from antique scraps of brocade ... to trim and vintage lace from Bill Mishoe's auction ... to leftover pieces of rusted doileys and damask ... to donated bits of fabric with lovely beading from cyber friend Margaret Blank in Canada! (Thank you, Margaret!)
I made these keys in order to beef up my inventory for the upcoming Sustainable Midlands' Holiday Sale on December 1st and the Crafty Feast show on Dec. 14th. I'm very excited about these two events. I've attended both these shows in the past but never applied to be a vendor until this year. Hopefully, I'll have lots more handmade and recycled items to share during the coming month. In the meantime, I'm listing my inventory number, dimensions, and prices ... because ... well ... they are "for sale" and were made with "holiday gift giving" in mind. Yet, I hope no one thinks this blog is about "marketing" more than about "sharing". It has never been my intention to blog for the purpose of drumming up business. (This week I got blasted on an Facebook group because a price showed up on a post. I left the group.)
Of course, if someone reading wants to make a purchase ... well ... great! Just call or email me. (803) 254-0842 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Selling work has always been more of the "icing on the cake" than a reason to make anything. There's a real "rush" when someone buys ... but it isn't the same feeling that brings me to my studio for hours on end. It also isn't the motivation behind any of my installations. Seriously, who buys things like my recent "thread" installation? Selling is not the point! I think artists can make both deeply profound and generally unmarketable work as well as enjoy making items that are right for gallery representation, craft shows, and for Internet sales. As for me, making one type of work often provides the mental time to prepare for the other type of work.
So ... here are the rest of the framed keys made this week! Enjoy!
I am also linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 12:31 PM
I've known about this wonderful opportunity for several weeks but had to wait for the "official" announcement and the release of this great photo by Brian Dressler ... and that announcement was just made in a joint release from TEDxColumbiaSC and an article by Xavier Edwards in the Free-Times.
So ... it's official! I'm a local TEDxColumbia presenter!
I join a stellar group of people who on January 19th, 2015 will be making presentations on topics as diverse as the preservation of our rivers to the committee's need for social services to new approaches in breast cancer research to .... me! My presentation is called "Precious" and will focus on the reasons I use found objects and vintage materials in my artwork. Each presentation is meant to "challenge the audience to reconsider how they interact with others and our world". I hope people hearing my talk (which will be video taped and available later on the Internet!) will think about their own precious possessions, what makes each one "special", and especially what future they might plan for these items. A month after I present, I'd love to hear someone say, "I used my china and silver just for the fun of it!" or "I labeled the backs of all my family photos" or "I pulled out everything from under the bed and shared it with my family ... all my memories".
The presenters are all listed on the TEDxColumbiaSC website ... including an excellent new photo of me! I even like it!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 8:20 AM
Friday, October 24, 2014
I haven't been attending the "I Believe Anita Hill" annual party since 1991 but several area women started this function twenty-three years ago here in Columbia, SC. I've been going for the past several years. It is a fabulous party, a great networking opportunity, and full of positive energy. It is wonderful to see the awareness being passed down to a younger generation. Many of the ladies cheering for the keynote speaker and clapping for the professional video hadn't been born when Anita Hill testified. The keynote speaker was only eleven years old. The best photo op location was under the event sign. I took the photo above ... and I don't know a single person in it but know each one shares something in common with me. (To read more about Anita Hill and her courageous stand against work place sexual harassment, CLICK HERE.)
My friend Dolly met Anita Garrett earlier in the week at another business function. I was introduced last night. Making connections, networking, and supporting other, strong, focused women is what the evening is all about. We are stronger together!
(Above: The crowd at 701 Whaley for the "I Believe Anita Hill" annual party.)
Anita, Dolly, and I had to wait for our turn under the sign ... because the evening was packed with people ... mostly women but also a few, strong, supportive men. I snapped the photo above ... of half the large room! It was a great evening ... worth foregoing my studio for. Ordinarily, very few functions can steal my precious studio time.
Fortunately, I did get plenty of studio time during the past week and managed to finish several new pieces. I'm working hard to increase my inventory. The American Craft Council shows in Baltimore and Atlanta will be here before I know it!
I know I want to make at least four more "Lancet Windows". The unique size is perfect for odd walls ... especially ones sort of "ruined" by light switches or thermometers, etc. Many collectors have homes that are quite filled with framed artwork ... but they frequently have a long, skinny place!
I also finished a new "Large Stained Glass Window" and have yet another under construction. These take hours and hours but the results are great!
I've also been busy with another hair-brained idea ... which includes my first attempts at natural dyeing. I'm only using plant life from my own backyard. I'm also busy rusting several vintage sleeping gowns. Those images will be shown sometime next week. I'm going to iron a few pieces before shooting pictures!
(Above: Wade Sellers ... the new owner of Time Revolving!)
Another wonderful thing that happened this week was that my friend Wade Sellers selected Time Revolving for his personal collection! This was my part of our trade. I think I got the better end of the deal! Wade is a real pro. His equipment and staff are "serious". His company, Coal Powered Filmworks is also a very well respected local business. This summer Wade shot a segment on our South Carolina veterans returning to the shores of Omaha Beach for eTV. His client list is significant. I don't really want to imagine how much his normal charges for my video would have been. Wade shot, edited, selected the music, posted, and made possible the fabulous video called Threads: Gathering My Thoughts. (CLICK HERE to see the video.) I've already uploaded it to one of the "call-for-entry" sites and used it to submit an exhibition proposal.
(Above: Steve with his new "toy" ... a gigantic, flat screen, HD, "smart" television.)
We did make a significant purchase this week. Why? Well the twenty+ year old television (which had been my parents before we inherited it) "died". My husband Steve is now very, very happy. He tells people that we've finally arrived in the 21st century with this enormous, "smart", high-definition television even though it sits on the treadle sewing machine on which I earned my Girl Scout sewing badge! As for me, I likely wouldn't own a television set. Everything I really want seems to be "on my computer"! LOL!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 2:34 PM
Monday, October 20, 2014
(Above: Rings made from recycled dairy pull tabs, artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters, and assorted beads.)
I adore using found objects and vintage materials in my work ... so naturally I wanted to be part of a one-evening-only, local holiday sales event sponsored by Sustainable Midlands. I support their mission and have bought things at past sales. Yet, I've never applied to be a vendor until this year! Luckily, I was accepted. It will be on Monday, December 1st at 701 Whaley from 4:30 - 8:30 PM. (My work was also accepted for Crafty Feast! This is a 100% handmade, juried, independent indie holiday craft fair on Sunday, Dec. 14th from noon - 6 at the Columbia Convention Center, Columbia, SC. I'll blog more about it later!)
(Above: One of two photos sent to Sustainable Midlands ... showing fiber Christmas ornaments, wooden spool ornaments, fiber vessel with more wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools, book marks ... all on a beer cap embellished framed mirror.)
I could only submit my website and two images of my work. Of course, this was problematic. The work on my website isn't exactly the right merchandise for such an event ... nor is it all "recycled". Sustainable Midlands is about reusing, repurposing, and recycling. So ... I sent these two photos.
(Above: Framed, tagged keys.)
While I strive to create "serious" ART, I also really enjoy making small things ... especially using found materials. Lately, I've been doing just that! So ... be prepared for more photos of framed, tagged, recycled old keys ... more Christmas ornaments ... and a couple of other "new" items like these fun rings! (Photo at top of blog post.)
(Above: One of the rings on the finger of a neighbor. I wish my hands looked like hers but alas my hands look like those of a middle aged artist! LOL!)
All year Steve and I have been saving little, plastic dairy pull tabs. I embellished them with the tiniest artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters and assorted beads. I'm thinking of charging $2 a piece. It was fun to make them in front of the television ... until the TV "died" last week. It was 20+ years old. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. We've been streaming things on the laptop since then. A new, flat screen is supposed to arrive later today ... HD and "smart"!
(Above: Two beer cap embellished photo frames.)
I've also been playing with an amazing stash of beer and soda caps ... making assorted mirrors and several photo frames. The photo frames have mats cut for 5" x 7" pictures. The mirrors are all various sizes ... because the actual mirror have come from Bill Mishoe's auction.
(Above: Corners of two of the larger, framed mirrors.)
Most of the frames have absolutely no repeated bottle caps! It was a blast to design and nail them to these frames. I am now turning my attention to earrings ... made using the plastic bread clips. Should be fun!
(Above: Installing my solo show at the Durham Arts Council in Durham, NC.)
Last month I installed my solo show, Fiber Architecture: Buildings in Stitches, at the Durham Arts Council. Steve drove me there and took some of these photos but I never got around to blogging about the experience. Why? Well, I was in the midst of my "thread installation" and I knew that the reception wasn't going to be held until last Friday night, during the "Third Friday" art crawl in their downtown. So, I'm blogging it now! We brought twenty-two pieces and hung them in the Allenton Gallery.
(Above: A large "In Box" piece flanked by two "Lancet Windows".)
These three were on a wall beside the elevator. Below is the rest of the show.
(Above: View of the wall with the elevator and one of the two main exhibition walls.)
(Above: One of two main exhibition walls.)
The reception was very, very nice. I was so pleased to talk with two other art quilters: Sauda Zahra and Christine Hager-Braun! They are both Facebook friends and members of PAQA-South!
I am also linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 3:00 PM
Thursday, October 16, 2014
(Above: Hit Me With Your Best Shot. 49" x 33". Used target practice sheet with collage of clipped letters and colorful papers in frame embellished with used shot gun shells. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)
My studio is one of thirteen at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in downtown Columbia, SC. Twice a year the group exhibits together during the annual spring and autumn art crawls sponsored by the Congaree Vista Guild, our neighborhood association. The fall event is called "Vista Lights" and it always falls the Thursday before Thanksgiving which this year is November 20th from 5 - 9 PM. There's a Facebook page, a professionally designed logo, and a PR firm involved. Participants have been asked to help "spread the word". With this blog post, I now consider myself in good standing! LOL!
(Above: Logo for Vista Lights. Facebook event.)
Vista Lights is in its 29th year. That's a lot of shows. That's a lot of show titles. Finding a new title for our group exhibit has become rather difficult. Titles must be appropriate for all the artists and their media ... from non-objective oil paintings to stone carving to classical realism to my fiber arts. For some reason, the group selected "Just Another Cliché". (I wasn't at the meeting when this title was picked.) At first, I HATED the title. I thought to myself: Why would any artist want work in a show touted as a "cliché"? Synonyms include: commonplace, banality, stereotype, triviality, trite remark, threadbare phrase, old story, overused, and hackneyed phrase. Maybe I just didn't get it? I wrote to Michel McNinch, one of the other artists. She explained it while laughing. She was in the midst of painting The Shirt Off My Back and Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Michel reminded me that I once had an entire series of pieces collaged with various adages or common phrases. She further reminded me that she owns my Hell NO!
I didn't really want to return to my earlier work so I thought about "clichés" and somehow found myself realizing that the Twilight Zone theme song is an audio-cliché. Almost everyone I know is familiar with it even though the program went off the air long before my parents thought me old enough to watch it. Horror movies and scary television shows are filled with clichés. Then I remembered the thirty-five framed photos of very creepy dolls that I had in storage. I've only showed them twice: once in Galesburg, Illinois and then in Chandler, AZ. In the blink of an eye, I was ready for the upcoming show!
(Above: One of the images of the antique dolls. Definitely scary!)
Here's my statement:
“My name is Talky Tina and you’ll be sorry!”
In November 1963 the popular television show, The Twilight Zone, aired "Living Doll", an episode in which a wind-up, talking doll was featured and eventually caused the death of the overbearing father. Since then, people exposed to this scary program have rarely seen dolls as innocent play toys. Instead, an antique doll’s stoic gaze is likened to the clichés of horror flicks in which an innocent (generally barely clad) teenager goes off alone into the night to meet untimely horrors. In stereotypical fashion, Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone theme song often accompanies mental visions of such scenes.
Susan Lenz has created a series of thirty-five photographs that suggest the sensations of a “Living Doll”. Each straightforward but evocative image is equipped with every scary attribute equated with after dark fears and supernatural powers.
“Living Doll” was episode 126. It aired on November 1, 1963 during season five. It was directed by Richard C. Sarafian, written by Jerry Sohl (credited to Charles Beaumont), and included an original score by Bernard Herrmann. The stars included: Telly Savalas as Erich Streator; Mary LaRoche as Annabelle Streator; Tracy Stratford as Christie Streator; and June Foray’s voice for Talky Tina.
(Above: The postcard for our group exhibit.)
(Above: Detail of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.)
I thought I was done. Yet, there was a little nagging voice in the back of my mind ... a hair-brained idea ... and finally I gave in and made Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I've had the target practice sheet for years. Another artist, Pat Callahan, found it while on one of her long-distant runs. Pat's life drawing skills are top-notch but recently she's been making unique jewelry from discarded pieces of metal found while running. I've also had the shot gun shells ... donated by the client who most recently purchased one of my large stained glass windows. The only thing I really didn't have was the large drill bits. Yet, my parents were coming through town on their way to their Hilton Head timeshare. I called Dad and asked to borrow his. It didn't take long to make this piece. Frankly, I think it is hilarious.
(Above: Detail of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.)
I did have to order a unique moulding ... wide and thick enough into which I could drill the holes for inserting the shot gun shells. This piece is a total lark, hair-brained idea, and a cliché. Sometimes, I just have to make things for no better reason ... like ...
... A Difficult Decision. I made this piece two years ago. Until being accepted into Spun, a national juried show at Etui Fiber Art Gallery, it hasn't been out of its storage box.
(Above: Detail of A Difficult Decision.)
I also have one of my fiber vessels filled with wrapped-and-stitched vintage wooden spools in this exhibit. It is called Ancestors. The exhibit opens tomorrow night. It's in Larchmont, NY. Obviously, I won't be there ... but I will be in the Durham Arts Council's Allenton Gallery! Tomorrow is the reception for my solo show there! I'll post about it later.
In the meantime, I've finished the eight embroideries for an upcoming, February 2015 invitational exhibit called Art from the Ashes. These eight pieces will be part of a larger installation. I blogged about it HERE. This work is in collaboration with Al Black, a poet, who is writing three pieces ... from the viewpoints of a period undertaker, Confederate soldier, and a Union Soldier. I can hardly wait to put the entire piece together ... these eight pieces with their "cubes" and wrapped nails in shallow fiber vessels ... along with at least three large vessels filled with even more wrapped nails! All very exciting!
(Above: Working example for the display of the embroideries ... hung over a 7" wall mounted cube on which will sit a shallow, fiber vessel filled with assorted, old wrapped nails.)
This is how I envision these pieces within the larger installation.
I finished the last two embroideries over last weekend ... which was a great time. My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday at their timeshare on Hilton Head Island. Steve and I took two long walks on the beach. I picked up several shells. At the time, I had no idea that they'd work themselves into my art. Yet, the burning of Columbia was very much part of Sherman's "March to the Sea". I used "invisible thread" to attach the shells through tiny holes and over the pointed shell ends. No glue! I love the texture of all these embroideries too.
I'm now working on several new "Stained Glass" pieces ... getting ready for the upcoming ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Atlanta and Baltimore! This blog post is also linked to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 12:26 PM