Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekend in Atlanta


This is one of the earlier pieces in my series "Elements of Architecture". I've just created the backgrounds for another eight works

On Friday I realized that all my hand-embroidery pieces had been recently completed. My evenings, in front of the television, have consisted of putting beads and embellishments on the articles for my archeology project. Basically, I’d forgotten to start anything else. This seems to happen every time I’m about ready to go out of town. I am facing uninterrupted time with no embroidery plan.

I managed to get out of Mouse House by 3 in the afternoon. I knew I had to figure out what stitching could be done during the car ride to and from Atlanta as well as for the trip to England. I went to the studio.

Wim Roefs had hosted a private preview party for the Phil Garrett and Mary Gilkerson monotype show the night before. (I had gone to Camden for Fran Gardner’s opening instead.) Yet, on Friday afternoon there was a sort of electricity in the air at Vista Studios. Random conversations floated over the walls of the gallery. People were wandering in and out. Music was playing. Wim was getting food and wine ready for the public opening. Several artists were working. It wasn’t quiet. I felt panicked. I shut my door, which I rarely do. I just had to get something started for the trips.

I looked in the corrugated box with the leftover heat transfer painted papers and heat-transfer crayons. Conveniently, there was at least two yards of white polyester. I flipped on the old iron, the one that really gets HOT. Soon color was being ironed onto the material. I took eight sheets of regular typing paper and quickly sketched architectural line drawings with the blue transfer crayon. Like a charm, the picture went on top of the colors. Within forty-five minutes, I had eight backgrounds ready to go. Eight new pieces in the “Elements of Architecture” series. I stapled two to stretcher bars.

Then I was able to relax despite the subtle commotion just outside my door. Actually, by the time 5:15 rolled around, I was solidly at work. More miniature quilts took form. I continued with the gold leafing in the “bird” altered book. I painted some wooden thread spools. I listened to the increasing volume of gathering people. I caught snippets of talk. I heard both familiar and foreign voices. Steve wasn’t coming until nearly 8 PM.

By 7 PM, I slipped out of my studio with the eight backgrounds. I went home and changed clothes. I returned to enjoy the show. Shortly thereafter, Steve joined me. We looked at the monotypes. We congratulated Patti Brady on her fellowship award. We admired the strong craftsmanship of the chine collé. We both agreed that Mary Gilkerson’s work has never been stronger. We drank a glass of wine. Later, we had dinner at home. Alex had been to the Dreher High School football game.

Yesterday, Saturday, we all got up and drove to Atlanta for the Décor art and framing trade show. I started one of the hand-stitching pieces for which I’d made a background and drawing. The trade show was quite smaller than in past years. Steve and I both have such fond memories of the annual framing trade show. We’ve likened it to “Pandora’s Box”, but these days are long since gone. Now, idle moulding representatives yawn and try to stay awake between casual browsers. The aisles are never crowded. Many booths are empty. There is a feeling of overall desperateness. Steve and I are so glad we downsized Mouse House when we did. We could look at the selections, the merchandise, the sales, and never really have a care in the world.

We bought a replacement mat cutter. We bought the exact model I already have. It was a good mat cutter, well used, too well used. It is just a basic machine. There are no “bells and whistles”; it cuts a perfect rectangular hole. I don’t want and need anything else, much to the disappointment of the sales agents trying to sell more expensive machines. We found a “flea market” sort of print dealer selling out-of-stock prints for $5 each. I was immediately “turned off” by the fat, redneck group perusing the stock. I nearly walked on past the entire area but an Aububon reproduction caught my eye. (One totally obese woman asked me what I was looked for. I answered, “Audubons”. She then said, “I don’t know her; what did she paint?” I said, “birds”, while trying to keep my composure!)

It seems that this “cheap” business simply buys discontinued merchandise including all the Aaron Ashley Audubon prints. Aaron Ashley was bought by a larger company. 75% of its prints were discontinued. Steve and I found dozens of the images, all at $5. Yet, there weren’t any Long-billed Curlews (with the Charleston city view in the background) or any Carolina Parakeets or Snowy Egrets or Blue Herons. I asked about these popular images. The owner had ALL of them back in his warehouse. Now, we’ve got a source for the images we thought were gone forever. This alone was worth the drive to Atlanta!

We got a real deal on the fifty metal frames we needed for the Carolina First Bank job. In fact, it was an amazing deal, almost a “steal”. Steve and I shook our heads at such an opportunity. At the same time, we shook our heads at the plight of our industry. The economy is terrible. The arts are suffering. As a result, we got more of a bargain than we had dared hoped.

We looked at moulding, bought some, browse through art, and finally left. We went to a nice microbrewery for a very late lunch/early dinner. Then, we found our hotel, the Renaissance. We had to drive past the Fox Theater. Steve told Alex all about the premier of “Gone With the Wind” that opened there. I saw the signs for the Broadway touring “Beauty and the Beast” production.

After we checked into our 22nd floor room, we went out on to balcony. We could see the Fox Theater. Alex called to see if “Beauty and the Beast” was playing that night. It was. Tickets were available. Steve and Alex walked over and bought a seat. I stitched.

Alex was thrilled to see the show. Steve and I watched our Ohio State Buckeyes team in the game against Texas. We went into the game ranked as #1. Texas was #2. I couldn’t help but to think of last year’s match. Mathias and I took Philip Slocki and his mother to the OSU alumni hang-out in Bethesda, Maryland to see the game. I forgot they were from Texas. They won. But, this year we won. It was great. I stitched between instant re-plays. Football is a great thing to watch on television while stitching. There’s always a big scream to alert me that something worth seeing has happened. I can then look up and see the replay!

This morning, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to Columbia. I stitched until we hit the city limits. Then, I went to the studio. I took this first project off the stretcher bars. I added a piece of navy chiffon as an overlay and a piece of felt as a backing. Within the hour, the piece was complete. I hope the other seven go as well!

I finished painting all the wooden spools. I finished the gold leafing in the “bird” book. I stitched two vessels from black polyester cord that’s been in my studio since last year—a remnant from the 2005 Sumter Accessibility fiasco. I started collaging on ten small panels too. It was a fruitful day.

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