Sunday, February 19, 2017
The last few days have been utterly wonderful! It started on Thursday when I drove my art-loaded cargo van to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville. I delivered nearly thirty framed pieces and twenty fiber vessels into the staff's more than capable hands. Then, I was off to visit downtown galleries and museums. For the most part, I was sight-seeing, not falling under the spell of fabulously tempting treasures until entering Chevron Trading Post and Bead Co. There was a section offering vintage beads. I couldn't resist a few rarities.
By Friday morning, my show was hung. (Not everything, of course! This show allows cash-and-carry. I brought enough work to have some "in reserve" ... and by Saturday afternoon, they were needed!) Fiber vessels sat on pedestals; price tags were up; and there was a gorgeous bouquet in a hand blown glass vase! I am truly indebted to everyone at the Grovewood! Thank you!
(Above: How the room looked on Thursday ... after delivering the work ... before the show was staged.)
I took photos of the space after I delivered the work. I meant to snap pictures when I arrived on Friday morning ... but I got busy! After bringing in my sewing machine, balls of cording, skeins of yarn, and one Large Stained Glass still on the stretcher bars for my demonstrations, people started to come into the space. I talked all day and again all day on Saturday. I met lots of great people ...
... and enjoyed a surprise visit from my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Larry (who was celebrating his 80th birthday!)
(Above: The Omni Grove Park Inn and Resort.)
It was truly my honor to be selected for a solo exhibit from among the 400+ artists represented at the Grovewood Gallery. Yet, the honor was heightened by the fact that this past weekend was the 30th Annual Arts and Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn. People came from all over the nation. Specialty artisans and companies (like Stickley and Roycroft!) set up vendor booths in the Vanderbilt wing.
I was able to browse through some of the displays before the conference opened on Saturday morning. There was also a very high end antique show, but it was firmly locked!
I could likely have spent the entire day admiring the carpets, furniture, stained glass, tiles, bronze ware, and pottery ... but I had demonstrations to do!
For the most part, I switched from "making cord" from several skeins of assorted yarn to "using the cord" to create a fiber vessel. Yet, I also had Large Stained Glass LXXVI with me. It wasn't finished. It was still stapled to a large stretcher bar. Holes had been melted through the layers using soldering irons but the final "zap" with my industrial heat gun wasn't done until today. Now the piece is ready for framing. It will be going to the ACC (American Craft Council) Baltimore Show next weekend.
I'll be in booth 1905, and the booth will look different. Steve and I talked about a new set-up. This morning we tried it out in our living room. I think it is going to look wonderful!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 5:17 PM
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
(Above: Seasonal Leaves: Winter, Inventory # 3839. Unframed: 16" x 12"; framed: 25" x 19". $350. Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)
Time is slipping by might fast! I spent most of today creating an inventory list of the work headed to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC for my solo show and then packing it all into the cargo van. The last four pieces were finished and framed over the weekend. They were photographed and entered into my inventory book on Monday. I can't wait to see them on display.
(Above: Seasonal Leaves: Summer, Inventory # 3831. Unframed: 16" x 12"; framed: 25" x 19". $350.)
I'm especially excited about this solo opportunity because I'll be in the gallery demonstrating from 11 - 4 on both Friday and Saturday. Also, this is the first time my fiber vessels will have gallery representation. I'm bringing twenty of them!
For the demonstrations, I'll be making more fiber vessels. If I'd wanted, I could have demonstrated my "HOT" techniques, the processes that turn polyester velvet into my In Box and Stained Glass series. Yet, demonstrating the fiber vessels is much easier to do while talking to people. I don't mind interruptions and only my sewing machine needs to be plugged in. The "HOT" techniques require more concentration, an iron and ironing surface, the sewing machine ... and I can't even show the melting! Why? Well, there's fumes ... lots of toxic fumes. I sure don't want to set off the fire alarm in the gallery!
Of course, I do have a "sampler" of the "HOT" process. I take it with me when selling at a craft show. It is a long piece of black industrial felt on which each step is shown. Plus, I'm bringing a large Stained Glass piece that is still on the stretcher bars. Holes have already been melted through the many layers using my three sizes of soldering irons. It just hasn't been zapped with the industrial heat gun. It will serve as an excellent example as to how the pieces are made. Hopefully, I'll remember to snap a few photos from the demonstrations.
(Above: Khaldoune Bencheikh and his rangoli at Comparing Religion: A Group Exhibition of Artwork Inspired by Religion, Benedict College.)
Some times I forget to take picture, even after I promised to blog them. About two weeks ago, I went by Benedict College during the installation of Comparing Religion: A Group Exhibition of Artwork Inspired by Religion. I promised to take more photos at the opening, but I only remembered to take two of them. Oh well. Suffice it to say, my Virgin of Gone and Forgotten Triptych is in the background (above) being inspected by my seriously talented friend Tyrone Geter. Other walls include most of my Angels in Mourning Series, the Book of the Dead, the Nail Triptych, and my Pardoning Altar.
I guess the reason I forgot to snap more photos was because I know what my work looks like! LOL! I was really only anxious to see how the rangoli would turn out.
Khaldoune worked with students at Benedict to come up with and carry out the design. It looks great!
I meant to snap more photos on Saturday. I went to the second part of the Columbia Antique Mall/Chic Antique liquidation sale. It was bittersweet. I came home with a box of old printer's type, an antique wooden chamber pot commode, and four boxes of old 45 records. I didn't want the records; my husband Steve did. He previewed the auction with me and said, "Bid $10 a box. If you get the bid, take two boxes. It will be worth twenty dollars for the hours of sheer entertainment I'll spend sorting through them all." Well, I got them for $5 per box and took all four. Steve had a blast. I told him it was his Valentine's Day present. He said my present was sparing me from listening to any of them! LOL!
Unfortunately or fortunately ... depending on how you look at it ... old Victorian frames aren't bring much money either. I got these two for $10 each. Last week I got three for $10 (but they weren't quite as nice as these two.) They've been transformed into new pieces for my Wall of Ancestors.
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 4:43 PM
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
For the past week, I've been spending my evenings transforming some of my wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools into Christmas ornaments. It is an excuse to sort through and use some of my hundreds of vintage buttons. There's a shank button on the bottom of each. I really like stacking several, colorful flat buttons on the top and adding a bead or two.
These ornaments sold very, very well during the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Of course, it was November, a time for holiday shopping. I'm not sure if anyone will want to buy Christmas ornaments in February at the ACC (American Craft Council) show in Baltimore or the ACC Atlanta show in March ... but I'm ready! Steve and I do buy Christmas ornaments year-round. We have collected them since our first Christmas together in 1981. At that time, we gathered all our nickles and dimes to purchase our first, small tree. Proudly, we got it home and then realized that we owned no ornaments. We also had little to no additional funds. That first year, I decorated the tree with artificial flowers bought from a yard sale. We've been collecting Christmas ornaments ever since. In 2000, I commissioned the Saluda Forge in Tryon, NC to create a wrought iron Christmas tree.
Our Christmas tree stays up year round. Until this past season, our fireplace was also decorated every day of the year. As a special gift, I sent all my hand-stitched Christmas angels and stockings to my son Mathias' family in England.
(Above: Twelve Christmas angel ornaments that I stitched in the 1990s.)
The angels were all Joan Thomsson needlepoint kits. Nowadays, I wouldn't consider stitching a design by someone else and I haven't done any needlepoint in years ... but I truly loved making each and every one of these angels. It was while stitching them that I got a hair-brained idea to design a stocking, something more elaborate and larger and totally my own.
(Above: The only Christmas stocking I ever stitched.)
I meant to make more Christmas stockings but I never got around to it. It was while stitching this one that I realized I wanted to "make art" instead ... but I truly loved stitching just the one. It is now in England. I am hoping that in Baltimore there are other people who celebrate Christmas year-round, buy ornaments, and appreciate handwork! If not ... I just might hang the wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools up for myself.
In anticipation of my solo show at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC which starts on Friday, February 17th, I made Seasonal Leaves: Winter. It replaces a very similar piece that sold during my solo show last November at City Art. I'm very excited about the upcoming event because I'll be in the gallery doing fiber arts demonstrations from 11 - 4 on both Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th. I'm almost ready!
I might have gotten a little more work done since my last blog post but I didn't spend most of Saturday in my studio. Why? Well, Columbia Antique Mall/Chic Antiques is being liquidated. I felt compelled to go to the auction. It seemed as if this business' demise signaled the end of an era ... at least for me. When Steve and I first moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1987, we scouted out all the antique shops. This one was "the best". It was filled with exotic furnishings, Persian rugs, ornate glassware, fine china, and a vast array of oddities, ephemera, and curiosities from past cultures and distant eras. This is the place where I rented a claw-footed porcelain bathtub for my performance art piece called Ophelia. The man who owned the building and collected most of the antiques also owned another building, the Mais Oui ... where I once hung my installation I Do / I Don't. Well ... both building were recently sold. The antique malls will be demolished to make way for new student housing.
These places and the people I knew there were fixtures in my community, but we all get older. Places change. Buying habits shift from generation to generation. What was once precious might not be valued any longer. Names on the back of old photos become forgotten people. I guess that is why I went to the auction but also why I make much of my found object artwork, especially The Wall of Ancestors.
Saturday's auction provided several inexpensive lots. (Basically, the auction was what many sadly call "a fire sale".) Among my purchases were two Victorian photo albums full of antique images, several nice, deep Walnut frames, pressed botanicals, and lots of artwork. By the end of the day, I had transformed four photos into four frames.
Unbelievably, the auction only dispersed half the property. The other building sells this coming Saturday. That's where I'll be ... trying to rescue a couple other, precious possessions.
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 5:06 PM
Friday, February 03, 2017
At the beginning of this week, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to work on next. After all, I have a solo show coming up at the Grovewood Gallery followed by the ACC (American Craft Council) Show in Baltimore. What pieces will go to which venue? Hmm? Then, Steve read the blurb I submitted to the Grovewood. I mentioned bringing some of my Artifact Series pieces. That presented a slight problem. I left that series at City Art ... in the gallery ... after the close of my solo show. Sure, I could have gone and taken them back ... but ... I could also spend the week making more of them. That's what I did!
I finished seven new pieces. All are headed to the Grovewood Gallery for the big, weekend opening. I'll be demonstrating from 11 - 4 on both Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18th. So excited!
Unlike much of my other work, these pieces are all matted and framed. I used a fillet, a wooden inlaid strip to raise up the outer mat. This allows space between the glass and the artwork. Each piece is stitched to a lower mat ... which just happens to be the same white color as the outer mat.
There's really no better way to explain how these pieces look than by showing a picture ... including me doing my best Vanna White impression. LOL! Scroll down to see the other four pieces.
I can't generally work on just one thing. I've got to mix it up a bit. This week, I also made another large In Box Series piece. Plus, I went by Benedict College's Ponder Art Gallery. I have just over twenty pieces in an upcoming exhibit called Comparing Religion: A Group Exhibition of Artwork Inspired by Religion. The show was curated by Wendell Brown, associate professor at the college. The opening is next week and the exhibit rungs from February 9th through March 15th.
I wanted to see how the installation was coming along ... especially how my work relates to the other pieces. Mostly, I wanted a chance to see Khaldoune Bencheikh's piece in progress.
Khaldoune Bencheikh worked with Benedict art students to come up with a design for the floor.
(Above: Spirituality Show at Benedict College, installation in progress shot.)
The outline is in rice flour and the spaces will be filled with all sorts of things (some of which looked good enough to eat even if they actually weren't "food").
The opening in next week. I'll blog some photos of the finished floor art. It is truly my honor to be part of this show. Below are the rest of the Artifact Series pieces completed this week. Enjoy!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 11:02 AM
Sunday, January 29, 2017
I didn't admit my secret desire to "become an artist when I grew up" until 2001. I was forty-two years old at the time. I worried that it was just a pipe-dream, that I started too late, and that my lack of an academic background would prevent me from being taken seriously. None of those things impacted my creative endeavors ... amazingly ... not in the least.
Back in 2001 I was wonderfully mentored by impressionistic landscape oil painter Stephen Chesley and other well established, professional artists. I was told that storage would become an issue. I didn't believe it. Well ... guess what? Storage has become a significant issue. My husband jokes that I need at least one solo show at all times. Otherwise, all my finished artwork will not fit into the nearly 4000 square feet that is our home/business. Right now, I have twenty-four pieces on loan for a show at Benedict College. (I'll blog about this later!) I delivered the work five days before I had to pick up the vast majority of artwork from my solo show at City Art. Thus, I found places for all the returning work.
Back in 2001 I was also told that most serious, professional artists spend as much time on "the business of artwork" as in their studios actively engaged in the process of making the work. I didn't believe it. Well ... guess what? It's true. Between writing exhibition proposals and various artist statements, articles, and researching residencies, juried exhibitions, and other opportunities ... blogging and website maintenance ... photographing and cataloging the work ... sharing images to social media ... and keeping equipment and materials in order ... well ... I spend as much or even more time on these activities as I do in my studio. Art is HARD! In 2001, I had no idea.
There was one thing, however, that I wasn't told in 2001. I wish someone had mentioned that using Roman numerals is a true pain. I'm mildly to moderately dyslexic. IV and VI look very much the same to me! XI and IX are problematic too. No computer program sorts file names accurately when Roman numerals are involved. Some of the numbers are impossibly long. Others are oddly short. Forgetting a digit is easy too.
It's too late to undone my system. So, I will continue despite the many issues. To date, I have four sizes of "Stained Glass Windows" with Roman numerals: Windows, Lancet Windows, Lunettes, and Large Stained Glass Windows. I have my "In Box Series" which is now number over two-hundred-fifty and there are "Relics" and "Artifacts" too. They all have Roman numerals.
If I had to do it all over again, I would NEVER have started with Roman numerals! (Okay ... I kind of like them. They seem so steeped in history and remind me of elementary school days and the tales of the ancient world. LOL!) Still, if I have one piece of advise for an artist just starting out: DON'T USE ROMAN NUMERALS! They'll drive you crazy!
This blog post includes the work that was finished during last week and over this weekend. I'm already making other pieces. Everything is headed to either my solo show at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC, February 17 - March 26, 2017 or to the American Craft Council Baltimore Show, February 24 - 26. I'll be at the Grovewood Gallery doing demonstrations on both February 17and 18 from 11 - 4. I'm excited!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 2:59 PM