Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Over the weekend I finished the binding for Book of Extinct Languages. It is totally amazing to think of all the cultures, all the languages, all the native people who are no longer in their original existance. I had no idea just how many languages have died out until doing the research for this artist book. Dozen and dozens of native American Indian tribes, Polynesian people, nomadic groups, and ancient civilizations are gone. Their words, phrases, and idioms are all gone too. It was staggering to think of all the beautiful museum artifacts I've admired over the years and to realize that the maker couldn't talk to a single soul if granted a day in the twenty-first century. Communications have changed so much. Today we have the Internet, blogs, cable television, and more newsprint than a soul could read. Yet, as we come together in common languages, we lose so much too.
I wrote the following statement for the book. It will appear in the video that Alex will be making soon: While contemplating lost civilizations and the relics such cultures have left for museum display, it became impossible to ignore language. The words used by ancient cultures to describe their artifacts have often been forgotten. What are left to the modern era are the textiles, pottery, tools, religious objects, costumes, jewelry, baskets, masks, small furnishings and other functional and personal items. What is lost is the flow of communication. Everyday objects have become priceless works of art that cannot be discussed in a native language. This altered book seeks to remind viewers of how much culture is lost when only an artifact remains.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Recently in Hilton Head, my mother and I sorted through a box of tangled embroidery floss, yarn, and assorted threads. The jumble was a result of three years in the public classroom. Students managed to make quite a disaster from all the sewing supplies I brought as an Artist-in-Residence. I'm not teaching like this any longer. It was time to salvage some of the material. It took hours. We used nearly one hundred ziplock bags for storing what we retrieved. Still, there was an unbelievable mass remaining. Mostly, these were short strings, knotted ends, and frayed pieces. They were impossible to unravel, but I planned to "do something" with it.
This weekend I finished the artist book about extinct languages, transferred images onto the forty plus pages of Life Everlasting (my second copy, a recent Amazon.com purchase), and I had enough time to EXPERIMENT!
I spread half the pile over a piece of dissolvable fabric and covered it with another piece the same size. I pinned the edges; it looked like an odd pillow. For about an hour I free-motion machine embroidered the entire surface with a nice varigated thread. Then, DISSOLVE.
The result is strangely beautiful. It is quite a solid piece of material. I haven't decided whether to frame it, make it into a handbag, or hand stitch on it. I still have another pile of knotted yarns and threads left but no more dissolvable fabric. Thus, I have time to think about it.
This is the link (same one posted permanently on this blog!) to MySpace. If I knew how to upload videos to this area, I wouldn't have the MySpace; but, I haven't figured that out. In any event, the videos for Mosaic and Life Everlasting are now available. Alex did a fine job. Together we really have it down to a system. I finished the artist book on extinct languages over the weekend. Thus, another video will soon be created!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
After returning from Aiken, Alex spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon creating his Halloween costume for the contest held annually by Columbia City Ballet. He wanted me to buy a banana suit for him so that he could call himself “Eat Me”. Of course I refused. So, he decided to attend as “MySpace”. With spray adhesive and foam-core, he was ready in no time.
Steve dropped him off at the Koger Center for the ballet, Frankenstein. Alex has a season ticket but Steve and I opted out of this production. We knew it would be bad. We both remember the first time the company tried this storyline. Alex, however, was quite excited. He knew it would be terrible too, but he was going with the right frame of mind. He was going to be entertained, to laugh, to participate in the Halloween contest, and to have a good time. He wasn’t disappointed.
He managed to get his seat assigned to the handicapped area in order to sit with John Whitehead, executive director of Columbia Music Festival Association. After intermission, Shih-Huai (Kirov Academy grad now dancing with Columbia Classical Ballet) joined them. Shih-Huai asked, in his heavy Asian accent, “Dey Club Dance?” John and Alex nearly rolled out of their seats. Of course they did, with strobe lights and discotheque styled Deejay music!
Alex gave us his review between bouts of laughter when he returned home. He said that the corps actually danced and that there were a few moments of partnering. Then he demonstrated much of the rest of the performance. He did the “robot” and some gyrations typical of go-go girls using a pole. He said Barry Sparks had to have had a great time on the light-board and that this helped deflect attention from the movements.
Evidently, the production started with an overly long childbirth scene in which screaming was featured and then the Baroness von Frankenstein died. The ending was as lame. Words were used: “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” Alex said that it was one laugh after the other. A USC dancer left at intermission muttering something to the effect that "William had sunk to a new low".
John and Alex knew Tommy Blue, playing the role of the Monster, from his days at Governor School. They enjoyed Willie Moore’s controlled dancing. They had a very, very good time.
Then Alex announced that the best part of the evening was winning second place in the contest. He said that only a few people were in attendance and fewer came in costume. He had been afraid he’d win by default. But, in typical “Columbia” fashion, the top prize went to a Wal-Mart garb. He was elated with second: four tickets to Nutcracker and a Frankstein T-shirt that he really liked. He can hardly wait to take Steve, John, his girlfriend Erica, and I to another Columbia City Ballet extravaganza!
I had to wonder about some of the new names appearing in the program. Years ago, even before Mathias started ballet, I recognized that many of the patrons’ names matched the young members’ and the student dancers’ names. I wondered what some of these people thought about their expenses for lessons and pointe shoes ending up in such a performance. I didn’t wonder for long.
No matter what one might thing of this show, the performers were all living their dreams. They were all in a professional production. Backing the company allowed these dancers the opportunities to be on stage. Sure, this wasn’t the quality of Birmingham Royal Ballet or any of the other “big” companies gracing the world’s stages. Yet, this is a company; they produce dance; the members are living their dreams. Thank goodness there are people willing to contribute. Alex had a blast! That has to count for something good!
Alex and I headed to Aiken, South Carolina at 9 AM on Saturday morning. We delivered the entire African series to the upper gallery of USC-Aiken’s Ettheredge Center to its director, Ann Bliss. I am truly honored to have such a nice, public place in which to display the group. I’ve called the exhibit “Masks and Markings”. The picture is of Ann and I before we left her to hang the work.
Alex and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon on a search for thrift stores in Aiken. We bought dozens of ties, even got a discount from the SPCA shop because the purchase was for another charity event. All the ties are headed for Alex’s donation to Festival of Trees, November 17 – 19 at the State Museum. It is a black-tie gala event to raise funds for Children’s Hospital. Alex’s tree is being called “A Gift for Dad”.
On the way back into Columbia, we stopped at the Pets, Inc. Thrift shore and found the “mother-lode” of ties. The manager said she’d only put them out an hour before we arrived. It was “meant to be”. Of course, we fell madly in love with one of the cats and left teary-eyed.
Alex spent the rest of the afternoon creating his costume for the Halloween performance of Columbia City Ballet’s “Frankenstein”. Steve listened to Ohio State shut out the Minnesota Gophers. I went to my studio and finished the binding of my artist book on extinct languages.
Friday, October 27, 2006
A few weeks ago I created an altered book using Fiske's Life Everlasting. I just couldn't resist. I knew the paper was too brittle, the binding was shot, and the book was just too fragile. I did it anyway. I'm as pleased with the results as I can be but wished that I'd made individual pieces using my digital photo transfers.
Well, I went to Amazon.com and found another copy of the 1901 book for just $7 including shipping. This is actually less than I paid for the first book! I'm absolutely thrilled. I'm planning on using all forty-five pages, framing the best twelve. Two are pictured here. Because of the effort in creating the book, however, I actually KNOW how to really make great individual pieces. Steve and I have worked out all the details (even now while the artwork is just getting underway!) The framed pieces can sell at just $150 and the remainder (matted and shrink-wrapped) will cost just $95. Now, the pressure is on to complete everything! They will all be in my studio for Vista Lights, November 17 -19. Thus, I've got my work cut out. I've also got to finish the series, "Growth". I've just got the twigs and stitching to do.
I am scheduled to deliver all 25 African pieces to USC-Aiken on Saturday for my solo exhibit, Masks and Markings. In the meantime, I'm working on seventy-five painted, wooden spools for the Archeology Project and finishing an artist book on extinct languages.
Alex has just completed the mini-video of my altered book, Mosaic. I will post a link to it when it appears on MySpace. I really wish I knew how to attach videos here. I read Matthew Murphy's blog regularly. He's an ABT corps member, an excellent writer, and knows how to attach videos--some of which have featured his choreographic efforts. So, I know it is possible to include a video; I just don't know how to do it! Alex will be working on Life Everlasting soon. He's anxious for the money! I pay him $15 per video--I know, really cheap labor! I do take all the images, color and contrast corrent everything, write the statements, and provide him with a "story board". He selects the music (which I approve) and makes the video, makes my corrections, and posts it. Still, cheap labor! Alex used Jesse Cook's music for Mosaic; my absolute favorite!
Mathias called yesterday. The company is in London and he's in a fabulous mood. He's excited about touring and even more ready to start rehearsal for Nutcracker. He's cast in several parts, soliders and rats and corps. But, there's something about "Spanish". Steve will be visiting in November to see the show. Also, both Steve and I will visit Birmingham in February during a week when we'll see one ballet close and the next open. Mathias is happy about our trips. He is also absolutely sure Steve should cancel all the travel arrangements made for a holiday visit to San Francisco. No regrets.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Today I went to the Red Cross. I've donated blood regularly for years. The main reason I do this is some sort of strange bargain with God. It is sort of one of those ways of returning the many good graces I've received. I've been to the neonatal unit at Baptist Hospital. I've seen the premature, sick, underweight, and often dying babies. I, however, was just visiting, actually on a tour of the facility.
My two boys were born totally healthy. Mathias weighted 9 lbs. and 1 ounce. Alex was 10 lbs. and 3 ounces. I've donated blood ever since. I'm CMV negative. I don't really understand what that means except that my blood can be used for neo-natal babies.
Anyway, Steve generally tries to feed me steak or something loaded with vitamins and iron after I give blood. (He's too chicken to donate after nearly passing out once years ago!) So, we went to Foxfire Grill. I ordered liver and onions. (It was delicious!) We went there because it was a restaurant we'd never tried and it was located in the same shopping complex as Two Peas in a Pod, the paint-your-own ceramic studio. (Alex was at some hardcore show at New Brookland Tavern with the Norwegian exchange student).
We stopped into the ceramic studio to look at my recently fired platter. This is the one headed to the charity fundraiser, Festival of Trees. It benefits Children's Hospital. Okay, Mathias was born healthy but spent his first Christmas in the neo-natal intensive care unit there having skull surgery. I guess I'll paint a platter for life! I'm quite pleased. This is a good thing for the day. My entry for Woman Made Gallery's national juried show "From Sham to Shame" got rejected. There were over 300 works of art submitted. Less than 33% were accepted. Oh well.
I had been among their strongest supporters. I do believe in first loves. How could I not? I met Steve at age eighteen. He is my one and only true love. Actually, my family's history is full of youthful relationships lasting the couple's lifetime. It was easy to be optimistic. Afterall, there were plenty of forces to pull them apart. They didn't need me to jump on that bandwagon.
Still, Steve and I cautioned Mathias and tried to prepare him. It was never really going to work, sad as that is. Steve and I just waited. We didn't interfere. Thus, we were here for his telephone call, to be listening, sympathetic ears. Mathias is hurt and sad.
I've been told that being the mother of a girl is much, much more difficult than being the mother of a son. I don't agree. I've asked several wiser people, parents of both sexes, for their opinions. Most say it depends on the child. Right now, I don't think it EASY to only be a "cyber" shoulder on which to cry.
Mathias will be fine. Actually, I think a vast majority of his ego is already okay. Birmingham Royal finished their tour to Sunderland and is now in London. Mathias has lots of new friends and a wonderful future ahead. In the long run, this will just be a disappointment. I think he really would have waited for her forever. Now, he can find someone who will feel the same way about him. He does live in the world of ballet afterall!
Over the past few weeks, Steve and I have been working on an order for Janet Kozachek's upcoming art show. We are matting and shrink wrapping lots of work on paper and framing several acrylics in exchange for Conquistador, one of her mosaic masks. Well, the piece was delivered last Friday (just another thing that happened on that busy day!)
We decided to display it in the living room's fireplace. Alex has been cleaning it out. We used to burn candles inside but haven't done that in years. We've never considered using the gas for fake logs, so creating a niche for art seems wonderful. Of course, Steve thinks the face looks like a scene from Harry Potter, but I like it!
By the way, Janet's show is called Milongueros: Paintings of the Argentine Tango and Beyond. It is being held at Pinckney Simons Gallery, 1012 Gervais Street from November 1 through 30 with a reception on Thursday, November 16 from 5:30 until 9 PM. For more information: (803) 771-8815.
My posts are all out of order, but this likely mirrors my thoughts for the past several days.
Last Friday, in particular, was a jumble of utterly unrelated activities. We went to the ballet. The art exhibit Shelter opened. I actually found the floor of my studio in the morning (by using a broom!). Yet, the afternoon was spent at the South Carolina State Fair. I went with Sharon Licata.
We did manage to see the artwork, the flower and garden displays, and some of the vendors. We walked through part of the midway too. But, the reason I went was to collect chicken feathers. Okay, I'm not an intellectual artist. Conceptualism isn't my forte. I'm drawn to simple ideas. This project has got to be one of the silliest, but I'm in the process of creating a unique artists book. I've clipped hundreds of images of eggs. Now, I've collected the chicken feathers.
Get it? WHICH CAME FIRST? THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
Truly, I'm having a blast making art! Alex was out of school yesterday (teacher's in-service day). I paid him to wash all the feathers, many of which were....well....dirty! They look great now!
The show was especially well publicized and images of my book were even used in The State newspaper and in the on-line version of CarolinaArts. Televison coverage happened earlier in the day for broadcast that evening.The exhibit was very well attended. Some of the women living in the Women’s Shelter even came and a few pieces of art sold.
Steve and I were almost over dressed, ready to skip out to the ballet. We tried, in vain, to see the show but were caught in too many conversations to really enjoy any of the artwork. Alex was dressed in his best, chic jacket and tight pants and didn’t manage to escape idle chit-chat either.
The exhibit features two large “structure-like” pieces made of recycled materials. Judy Hubbard made one with help from an architect friend. It is entirely made of used, plastic water bottles. Most people are just raving about it, but I think this is mainly due to Judy’s well-know personality. In truth, I was not too impressed with either “building”.
Ellen Emerson Yaghjian created an audio recording of interviews she conducted with several ladies at the Shelter. I think she called the work Voices of Mary. I found this much more thought provoking and meaningful. Much of the artwork was truly inspired. Several pieces, however, were just “put” in the show. They were not works created in response to the theme; they merely “fit in” and were by “big-name” local artists. No one seemed to care. In fact, the reception was so full that viewing it was difficult.Still, awareness was raised and this was the focus. My work was displayed quite nicely. We left early for the ballet.
Monday, October 23, 2006
First, let me explain. Unbelievably, there are two professional companies in Columbia, South Carolina. This one is run by Radenko Pavlovich. Mathias started dancing at the other company's school and then switched to this one's school. Our experiences with these schools and companies is twisted, tearful, and miracularously on speaking terms with both artistic directors. (Long story)
Generally, the quality of dancing is better at Columbia Classical Ballet. Unfortunately, none of the quality was obvious in this production. In fact, it was rather dreadful. Rick McCullough was the guest choreographer for Carmina Burana. Too much of it featured the entire company (about twelve dancers) spread across the stage in about three rows. They were all suppose to do the exact same steps at the exact same time, but there was no unison. Some were too early; some were significantly late. It looked under-rehearsed. It was boring.
The set was a slide show. George Mirabal got credit on the program insert. (Perhaps he is a photographer? I'll look that up later!) The images were all very nice but most really didn't relate to Carmina Burana's themes. Sure, the program stated that the ballet was to resonate to 21st century issues and situations. Yet, there were too many images of atomic bomb blasts. Much of Carmina Burana is suppose to deal with personal choices and the difficulites of faith. It just didn't work for me. It was as if the images only related to the mood of the music.
The music was interesting. I would like to know which recordings were used. They were each beautiful but it was obvious that several recordings were spliced together. The editing did not allow adequate time for the "grand pause" right before "O, Fortuna" is reprised. This marred the music entirely.
The audience didn't seem familiar with ballet or the score. They kept trying to clap when there wasn't time or reason. Naturally, some gave a standing ovation. Then we had an intermission.
Jekyll and Hyde is a horrible book. I remember reading it to Alex years ago. How it became a classic is the only mystery in it. The plot really didn't work for ballet either. Some of the dancing was nice but overall, it was weak. Too much of it, like Carmina Burana, was just Mikhail Ronikov showing off a bunch of tricks. There was another standing ovation.
The best part of the evening was seeing Shih-Huai and congratulating him. Afterall, good or bad, this was his first professional show. He seemed very, very pleased that someone had come just to see him dance. We told him we would mail the program to Mathias and we invited him to Thanksgiving dinner.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
In the meanwhile, unraveling the mysteries of the Internet are not the only things being sorted. The picture here is of my mother and the incredible tangle of threads that were my "teaching" supply. Over the weekend, she and I chased the ends of yarn and freed all sorts of embroidery floss. I used most of the zip-lock bags in a box of one hundred to store the newly claimed threads!
Now, there's just a small plastic bag of impossible sewing thread all in a tight bundle. I have decided to make something of this mess. Likely, I'm going to use water soluble fabric and try to create a solid piece of material--fabric made of 100% thread.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The beaches on Hilton Head Island had never impressed me for shell collecting until this weekend. I would never have guessed that during the beach renourishment project currently underway, the shells would be so varied and plentiful. I took over one hundred images and gathered nearly an entire plastic bag of "treasures". While on the beach, I spotted three dolphins and enjoyed numerous birds. I focused on shells with holes in them (imperfect) because they can be easily stitched to other things.
Mangiamos is a really nice bar/deli-styled restaurant on Hilton Head Island. The decor, however, isn't the expected "Italian" that the name implies. It is totally done in scarlet and gray. Ohio State pendants, signs, flags, and sports photos hang on just about every square inch of wall space. Televisions are mounted in every corner and turned to the Buckeye game. Kick-off was at 3:30 but we knew to arrive by 2:15 in order to secure a table. The food was great; the service was friendly (all staff dressed in OSU football jerseys!); and the crowd all supported the team. The game was a slaughter. Perhaps a few Michigan State players were even considered for "best players" on the Ohio State team. They did almost nothing right. We could hardly do anything wrong. As a result, we had a great time until ABC decided to switch coverage to another, non-blow-out, game. The Mangiamo owner was immediately on the telephone to the cable stations demanding coverage. Amazingly, we soon were able to watch the final quarter where MSU finally scored against the OSU third string team (or maybe the student walk-on section). The photos are of the interior and two of the local fans.
I was just thrilled to meet writer John R. Maxim at Mangiamos on Hilton Head Island. He had never really heard of altered books but is a real art fan. He came with his charming wife, also an artist, Christine. We talked a bit, had a drink, and discussed our families and futures. Mr. Maxim is currently working on a television deal while waiting for word from publishers about his most recent novel. It was a wonderful visit.
After talking non-stop (as humorously as I could!) for fifty minutes, I said "thank you" one more time. My messages were these: 1) Thank you to all teachers and 2) "Practice What You Teach". Then I headed back to Columbia.
I unloaded all my workshop supplies and loaded the van with merchandise for Terrace Oaks Antique mall in Charleston. Then Steve and I caravaned to my parent's time share in Hilton Head.
Over the weekend I spotted three dolphins, collected dozens of shells, shot hundreds of digital images, saw "West Side Story" and an art show, visited with my parents, cheered OSU on to another victory and had my recently finished altered book, Mosaic, signed by its author, John R. Maxim.
(The images are of teachers participating in my fiber workshop at the South Carolina Arts Educators' Conference in Greenville, October 12, 2006)
I spent Thursday and Friday in Greenville at the SC Arts Educators' Conference in the Hyatt Regency. It was a blast. Images of my piece "The Lesson" covered posters, programs, and even T-shirts. My workshop was one of the "sold out" ticketed events. Several teachers told me that they'd received a refund for their cost after being "closed out" of participation.
I think those that were enrolled really enjoyed the class, the ample supply of "everything", the humor, the handouts, and, well, everything. They all had several cards to take home. The techniques included heat-activated adhesives, foils, various materials and snippets, soldering irons, and then a "bonus". This, was, of course, the Sheer Heaven papers. I printed out several sheets of Sheer Heaven papers with images from my altered book "Life Everlasting". Everyone really loved this.The other website will have photos. Suffice it to say, the workshop was a success.
I went to dinner with three of the teachers from the Aiken School district, including Harriet Nix and Ms. Muse.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Well, Blogger is allowing me to upload images right now. Thus, here are the two I planned to posted with the last message! One is of the only completed piece for the Vista Lights event in November. The other nine are currently just the panels. The other image is of our beloved "shop cat", Shadow. Shadow isn't very bright. In fact, she sometimes tries to jump up onto our work tables but misses. She doesn't know her name. (Fortunately, our other cat, Siren, know both their names.) Siren can rarely be seen by clients but Shadow almost requires each person visiting Mouse House to pet her. She always wants to be around people, especially Steve or I. In the photo, Shadow is sitting on a tutu rented from Boston Ballet. Sasha danced Santella in it. After we returned from Varna, I had to mail it back. I had laid it down for just a second before packaging it in a tissue-lined box. That second was all it took for Shadow to make herself at home on top of the tutu!
I managed to reach John R. Maxim, the author of the suspense novel "Mosaic" which I just completed altering. He and his wife live in Hilton Head. He actually agreed to sign my artwork/his novel without hesitation, without having to view the images I posted on the other blog (some sideways, but definitely visible!) He even volunteered to meet us at the bar where the Ohio State fans meet to watch football games together.
I also got a nice mylar (or cellophane?) wrapper for the altered dustjacket. Pat Mason, owner of Dr. Books in Five Points (www.abebooks.com/home/DRBOOKS) just gave it to me. They have a most wonderful Siamese "shop cat", almost as grand as our Shadow!
I am nearly ready for my workshop and keynote address for the SC Arts Educators Conference in Greenville. I haven't actually heard from these people for the past two weeks. It does sort of worry me. I even dreamed about it last night. The van is mostly packed.
Terrace Oaks Antique Mall called to say that we sold several large pieces, enough that we really need to bring more merchandise. So now it looks like I'll head to Greenville, return to Columbia just long enough to unpack the workshop supplies and pack the pictures, and head on later in the day to Hilton Head. Steve will take Alex in his car. I will stay Sunday night with my parents and then go directly to Terrace Oaks in Charleston. In the meantime, I'm framing the large pictures in among the rest of the work.
Chris Gomez of Ironstone Vineyard in California did write back. I will definitely have a solo show there! It will be from January 1 through Sunday, February 25th. I am so very, very excited. The show is being called "Fiber Architecture: Building in Stitches". It is exactly what I was hoping for, including the possibility of a reception, if I can attend. Steve is already looking into flights.
The posted images on the Altered Book site have received plenty of nice compliments. It has nice to share with others the information about Sheer Heaven papers. I learned about this amazing product from their site. Like any group of this nature, there is just too much information for one to absorb. Sometimes, repeating it helps!
So, before the Archeology Project and the Architecture series in January, I am showing in the Open Eyes exhibition, Vista Lights, and having a solo show of the African pieces. This is really quite a lot, but it is wonderful!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Okay, I am at a total loss for words! Six images managed (one at a time) to pop up into the composition screen perfectly! I guess this is fitting. The title of this altered book is Life Everlasting.
I really shouldn't have created it because the paper is too brittle and the book was too fragile. I just couldn't resist. I used Sheer Heaven paper to transfer my digital images. The gravestones, churches, and pictures are from Washington, DC; Moscow; Varna, Bulgaria; Wolf Creek, West Virginia; and Birmingham, England. I am truly thrilled with the process.
Some of the pages from the book were removed (or fell out). I'm creating individual pieces from these. In truth, the individual pieces are are better use for the pages. I wish I'd done this instead of trying to make a full, altered book. Of well, the lesson has been learned and the experiment with the Sheer Heaven paper was a total success.
Well, I just don't get it! Here are two more images of Mosaic. I cannot begin to guess why one is sideways! This is fairly hilarious. Just last night I wrote on my other blog that this is the one on which I'd like to keep posting. Sure, the layout of the blog is much prettier and text seems pleasant to read; but, it was undoubtedly the ability to post more images that drew me to this blog! I'm not changing my mind, however! I'll continue with a few more posts leading readers from the other blog to this one. Perhaps, everyone will simply strain their necks a bit! I think I'll try posting a few images from my other book, "Life Everlasting"!
Well, I selected different settings. I used the "small" size. Amazing! Here's another spread from Mosaic. I'm too afraid to try uploading another photo into this post. I'll try another in a minute. I'm keen on getting a few available as I'm planning to call John R. Maxim, the author, tonight. I'd like for him to have a place to view the artwork in order to consider signing the book for me!
Well, once again, an image that is perfectly formated on my computer has uploaded sideways. I have no idea why? Yet, it still shows how the inside of Mosaic looks! There are over seventy spreads. I'll try another image in a minute! Maybe it will be top-side-up!
On and off today I've tried to post more than one image from my recently altered book Mosaic. This one uploads perfectly. Others have come up sideways. I have no idea why.
I'm really thrilled with this work. I bought the perfectly fine novel at the Book Dispensary here in Columbia. How could I resist? This book will be part of the Archeologist Project with Janet Kozachek. The entire inspiration for this joint effort was based on her mosaics!
So, I removed about two-thirds of the pages and started to work. I even altered the cover. On the inside of the front jacket, I added my statement:
In creating this alterd book, I sought to focus on the individual words that are so like the tesserae used to make a mosaic. Alone, words do not relate a story and the colored tiles do not make a design. Yet, each is still quite beautiful and absolutely necessary to the whole. By viewing carefully selected words, readers and art enthusiasts will be reminded of the details in both the craftsmanship of mosaics and in the written word.
On the back jacket flap, I added my picture and brief biography that for John R. Maxim. Inside, I added my other altered books below the listing of his other novels. I added my name where his appeared. On the page where he dedicated his book to his wife, I wrote: "For Janet Kozachek...Whose mosaic inspired me." I left one page at the beginning and two pages (the entire last chapter) untouched. The remaining pages have only about nine words visible. The rest are blackened out with watercolors and gouche. Other colors and iridescence inks were added to make the edges quite pretty.
I hope to upload a few images. What I'd really like is to contact Mr. John R. Maxim and ask for his signature beside mine. Of course, I don't have the slightest idea how he will feel about his work being used to make my art! Many people think altering a book is somehow paramount to being sacrilegious. It is true, the book is no longer the same. Some artists totally obliterate the book upon which they work. Yet, Mr. John R. Maxim is alive and well and living in Hilton Head. I'll be in Hilton Head next weekend. I've found the address and telephone number on-line but no email address. I plan on calling but would like to let him know what the book looks like! He could check it out here without giving me his personal email.
Wish me luck!
I have absolutely no idea why this image uploaded side-ways! One of the other things I did this past Saturday was to go to Two Peas in a Pot and paint my platter for Festival of the Trees. (This is one of those paint-you-own pottery places, popular with families and for hosting kid's birthday parties.)
Of course, the colors on the photograph are fairly accurate for how the platter looked after I spent nearly five hours painting it. Yet, after it is fired, it will look completely different. It is sort of difficult to imagine how it will turn out. I used over twenty different colors, I think!
For the past six or seven years I've painted a platter for this charity event. It benefits Children's Hospital. The gala evening is a totally awesome affair, black tie and evening gowns, live music, entertainment, top shelf liquor, great food, and plenty of auction items on which to bid. The hospital has one of the lowest percentages of costs taken from the event. Or, should I say it has an extremely high percentage of money collected going directly to the hospital.
The main attractions are the holiday trees. People, businesses, and organizations actually compete for a few prizes. There's a serious effort to create a unique Christmas tree. My son Alex has donated a wreath made from pointe shoes and a wreath made of broken skateboards in past years. Last year he donated all his old Beanie babies (123 of them) on a tree. This year his working on a tree called "A Gift for Dad". It will be covered with neckties. (If anyone has any, please send them!)
Why are we so involved? Well, Mathias had skull surgery at Children's Hospital when he was only six months old. He was released on his first ever Christmas Day. For a child who is now so unbelievably handsome, we have Children's Hospital to thank. By right of nature, he would have a deformed head!
I'll post an image of the platter once fired sometime next week.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
My entire African series is based on the digital images of Dimba's masks, textiles, furniture, and trinkets. Of course, when our hard drive crashed I lost everything. Even the company in Charlotte specializing in reclaiming data from dead hard drives couldn't retreive a thing. All my images were gone. But, I was granted an opportunity to shoot new pictures!
The stash of masks and artifacts was more impressive than ever. I had give myself a crash course on the operations of the new camera, but I was able to take 224 new pictures. I am in debted to Ginny Newell for her invitation and to Dimba for his willingness for me to photograph all his pieces! New art is ON THE WAY!
Speaking of artwork, the reception for the State Fair was today. Okay, no matter what, I cannot list anything from a "state fair" on my resume but extra cash for an award is always welcome. Entering the state fair is easy, on-line, and free. So, of course, I entered. I won first in Open Media two years ago and figured I'd never win again. Winners were suppose to be notified by an email. One never came but we went to the reception anyway. It is always a nice, relaxed time to see artwork and friends.
Amazingly, however, the Lord's Prayer Triptych had a ribbon on it--a BLUE RIBBON. I won first in the category which is $500. For a piece that just got rejected from the Pittsburgh International biennial, I was stunned.After spending the day in preparation for the SC Art Educator's conference, this prize was a reminder as to the life I want to lead--an artist, not a teacher. Many say I'm a natural teacher, born to entertain and educate simutaneously. I need to focus, however, on just the art, not the teaching. I'm ready for the address, the workshop (I think; I hope!) but I must be strong and keep my focus--my art!
I really mean this. These hard-working teachers go into the classroom day after day. I've taught through the SC Arts Commission's Art-in-Education program as an Artist-in-Residence for three years. I absolutely know I couldn't handled going there every day. Many of these teachers have (wittingly or not) influenced young people or at least made the weeks of public school tolerable--art can be one's salvation! I, however, cannot be such a martyr! I must, however, be the keynote speaker.
I pulled slides. I prepared painted WonderUnder, velvets, chiffons, and made a dozen notecard examples of the workshop project. I even cleaned and swept the studio floor (it was found on the bottom of the pile--a flat, blue painted floor!) I updated my biography and my "Bibliography and Resource" hand-out. I ordered copies of these and my newly designed business card. Kinkos should have them ready by tomorrow morning. I'll pack the car by Tuesday. This should give me 24 hours to remember anything I'd previously forgotten. All this for $200.
Yet, if I actually can inspire someone, it will be a worthwhile venture. I guess this is the point to the address. Each teacher must allow time for inspiration and growth in order to effectively teach and impart information.In the meantime, the Mosaic Book is complete. The dustjacket was altered to include me, my biography, my statement, etc without really obscuring John Maxim's information. I only realized (when altering the dustjacket) that this author is still living and working in Hilton Head. I'm toying with the idea of contacting him next weekend to see if he's sign the finished project along with me. Of course, I run the risk of offending him after altering the book~
I posted the mini-video of "Man's Fate" and a few still images on the altered book site and received several nice compliments--from people all over the world! Amazing!
I heard from a man who has followed Mathias' journey. He asked about experiences with European companies and a supposed "ban" on hiring Americans! It reminded me why I don't go to Ballet Talk for Dancers and why I sort of miss being part of Ballet Talk (they've evidently banned me from posting and being part of their little, special "in" crowd mostly on the basis that I'm a mother of a dancer!). Still, the Internet world is remarkable.I correspond with many people I'll never meet coming from places I'll never visit. Hopefully, the coming week will broaden the horizon.
I'll be a workshop presenter for the South Carolina Art Educator's Association in Greenville on Thursday and their keynote speaker on Friday.It is strange being asked to address such a group. I have no art degree or teaching certificate. What could I honestly say to these people? A few teachers under whom I've conducted "artist-in-residence" week-long classes have volunteered to help me. I accepted to offer from Harriet Nix who teaches in the Aiken County school system. Then I had to try figure out how I could use her as a classroom aide. I guess she'll pass out my biography and my bibliography. It is sort of cool having an aide with decades of teaching experience and nearly my mother's age.
I've selected slides of my work. The keynote address is to be only one hour. I've got more slides than I thought. Orginally, I thought I'd just try to inspire teachers to hvae a hand at art by showing the chronology of my personal artistic path. Then I had to admit that there is no straight time line. Like all artist, I jump around from one technique to another, from one theme to another, from one spiritual focus to a completely differently inspired idea. It is impossible, after just six years, to categorize anything into concrete sections. I've just adopted a way to speak about one topic and a transition into the next. Nothing is really in "order". There are no "periods" or "stages" of development. It is all on-going and related to every other aspect of my artwork and life.
It is a fabulously intellectual show. It pulsates with disturbing ideas about mankind. The works both compliment one another and set each piece off into a realm of its own. I walked through the familiar space, the area right outside my studio door, and was strangely transported into some foreign setting. Was I in NYC at a high-brow opening? Were these pieces really intended to be viewed from one's living room? How could a man understand childbirth so personally that he could use the OB-Gyn instrument to view the vagina as the facial features for a sculpture?
Questions spun around my pea-brain while I went from one remarkable work to the next. Steve and I were already familiar with some of it. We'd framed the pastel images that Jeff Donovan had on display. In fact, Jeff is the only one of the four artists who we actually knew. It wasn't hard to pick out Dorothy Netherland. Her vintage pattern styled dress almost matched her imagery of 1950s idealized domestic life. Her medium is reverse glass painting. It is sad that no spacers were incorporated between the two layers. In a decade, the southern humidity will have peeled the paint from the glass. Without "breathing" room, this is to be expected.
(Dorothy, however, looks far younger than her years. I put her at least ten years my junior. She's only 45. We had a very nice conversation. I honestly think we have a common background as women, mothers, artist, and lovers of pattern.)
John Monteith is from Columbia. I've seen the name. I must have seen the work. I'd never met him until the opening. I hated the presentation of his art. From the corner of my eye, it all looked like high quality digital photography. In fact, it is all oils on a paper called "yupo". Why anyone would willing make their work look "cheaper" and part of a numbered quantity rather than "one-of-a-kind", I'll never know. Yet, John Monteith said he liked fooling people into thinking that these were something "digital" or new-age. All his work is appropriately called "Untitled". This does allow viewers to form their own theories. Yet, talking to the artist only made the high quality of the work dissolve for me. He was just too arrogant and self-absorbed for my taste. It is strange how an artist's personality can add a wash of color to their work!
If Herb Parker was in attendance at the opening, I didn't know it. He is undoubtedly a genius. His sculpture is both thought provoking and well crafted. Pieces of mixed media blend so well together that it is impossible to tell where one medium starts and the other picks up. At the same moment, I have no idea who can afford such art for the mere notion of a good idea.
In all, five pieces sold. Four were by Jeff Donovan. Jeff is my friend. He has always treated me with respect and kindness. More importantly, he has always taken my ambitions to become an artist seriously. I am honored to be among his friends. Just as one artist can cause me to lose interest in their work, another can cause me to purchase their art. Steve and I own four of Jeff's pieces. He is interesting and so is his work. He is also affordable and it didn't surprise me to see the red dots on the tags of his work.
I am also quite relieved about these sales as Jeff owes us for framing. In the past we've traded framing for artwork but currently I'm working two different trades: one with Suzy Scarborough and the other with Janet Kozachek. I can't really afford another trade with an artist for which I already own four pieces.
My parents saw the show. It was sort of cute watching them look at the edgy pieces and trying to look comfortable and sophisticated. It reminded me of so many things (some pleasant, some not so nice). How many times have older people's tastes been discounted only to have history want to repeat itself with just those same qualities. I must remember that "cutting edge" shouldn't always mean offending the elderly or even confusing them! They, too, once were young and their opinions still should count!All taken in, the show is still very, very good and worth a long, serious look. I am quite proud to be working in my studio just a few feet away from these pieces.
I knew they'd be early. I figured 11:15 to 11:30 AM. I armed myself with a dustmop, a broom, a brand new vacuum cleaner bag in the machine, and a bottle of Windex. Furiously I scrubbed, swept, and delivered items from inappropriate locations to better sites with purpose.
My parent arrive before 10:30 AM. At least the bed was made, the dishes were safely being washed in the dishwasher, and the middle of the living room floor was unimpaired for foot traffic. That is about the most positive thing I can say about my housecleaning.
"Shit" was all I could utter when Steve announced their arrival. I finished the few meager tasks at which I'd been working and joined them. In past years, I knew my mother would have a frozen "smile" on her face when viewing our house, but that's not what happened this time.
Maybe it is the passing of years....maybe it is old-age eyesight...maybe it is the expectations for youth (a group for which I no longer qualify)....I really don't know. My mother wasn't dissappointed. She didn't frown. Instead, she was geniunely interested in seeing the artwook I'd produced in the last few month. She was excited about Blues Chapel, "American Dream" (altered book), and the African series.
Okay, she could have followed along on this blog. She does have a computer, email, and the Internet. Yet, despite not reading this blog, she was excited for me and for my artwork.
In the end, we had a perfectly wonderful visit. She and my Dad even went to my studio. Wim Roefs' show "Humans" was already in full swing. As good as many of these pieces were, they could have cared less. They wanted to see my studio, my work, my sacred setting for creativity.
I'm forty-seven years old and had almost forgotten how important it is for ones parents to really support and care. It was an amazing day even with the dust-bunnies huddling around our feet!
The State newspaper wrote a nice article that set the tone for the evening. It mentioned Martha Graham coming to Columbia years ago, her personal doubts, her high expectations, and included many personal anedotes. I was quite ready to see the performance as the curtain came up.The audience was nearly filled. Mostly there were students required to write impressions and the friends of those in the program.
The first piece was Miriam Barbosa's "Pandora's Box". We'd seen it over a year ago when it made its debut. Truthfully, it had been quite horrible. This time, however, the quality of dancers in the corps had improved. It was obvious that USC now has a real dance major. The class isn't just a bunch of overweight, wannabe dancers and guys trying to flirt with ballerina-types. No, this was a shorter version. It had a clear story-line and good delivery. We were thrilled to see Bonnie Boiter-Jolley in the role of "Hope".
We've known Bonnie since she was nine years old. I remember her as the one in class with the poorest technique and the worst arm movements. The past few years at NCSA and the Graham influence have brought her into a new, clear light. She was perfect, expressive, quite wonderful. (Her mother, however, is a totally different story. I was spared having to run into her. They left before the closing reception to which we were invited!)
After a brief intermission, Jennifer DePalo-Rivera danced "Serenata Morisca". It was grand. The dancer, the costume, the music, and the mood were fully in harmony. Energy pulsed in keeping with the quick tempo. I was thrilled to see this.
There was a very short pause before Norbert Nirewicz and Sarah Coats danced "Dual Channels". We'd seen this piece when it debutted as well. Norbert set it as a reaction to a piece of artwork in "Brimming Tides" at the State Museum. It had been the best thing in that program. Not anymore. Gone were the costumes that borrowed from the oil's palette. Gone was the intimacy with an impressionistic southern landscape. Gone was the unique connection to another world, a world of visual arts. The piece became flat and uninteresting. Sure, the dancers had much, much more room in which to move (which was quite helpful) but they were dancing just another boring set of steps about a male/female relationship. Interestingly enough, Norbert appears to now be involved with Sarah as his divorce is becoming final. Still, a little gossip couldn't save the effort.
After another brief intermission, "Sketches from 'Chronicle'" was performed in its three parts: Spectre/1914; Steps in the Street; and Prelude to Action. USC was given the rights to perform this piece on the condition that Miriam Barbosa, USC faculty member, dance the lead. She's actually too short for the part. The first section almost needed a taller dancer. It was long and became more about the costume than the dance or dancer. The final two sections were most wonderful, however. Miriam seemed to lose steam but the student dancers were stronger than ever. They carried the show, the mood, the imagery. It was all quite grand.
After the performance, Richard Durlach invited us to the reception. Everyone was rightfully in high spirits. We talked to Wendy Nance, who is now on the USC Dance board, Norbert and Sarah, and to Susan Anderson the head of the department. Having watched USC's productions for years, it can easily be said that there is an active force at work. The quality of dancing is jet-rocketing with each new idea. I can't help but to think of all those looking to pursue dance in college ought to investigate this program.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The new mat cutter arrived with the over-sized Seal release boards on a giant truck. It took only fifteen minutes for me to unscrew the old mat cutter from my table and install the new one. It is wonderful. It is exactly what I wanted--what I had but brand new! There's no learning curve or instruction book to read.
I am having to read the manual for the new digital camera, however. Today I plan to try it out. The batteries are now charged. It is ready to go.
The web-cam works like a charm. Listening and watching Mathias is a blast. He has two more performances of Romeo and Juliet today. He says that he particularly likes Act 2. We told him that my parents are coming on Friday. Maybe he'll be available on-line for a conversation with them.
I framed all morning and then spent most of the afternoon composing an article on my upcoming show. The article is for Carolina Arts. The show is the one in Aiken with my African series. I'm calling it "Masks and Markings". I also prepared and mailed the exhibition list and statement to Anne Bliss, the gallery director. It would have been nice if the gallery would have handled the press but they don't. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to show the series altogether.
I also prepared a statement for the Vista Lights show. It's about three sentences long. It's hard to say much more when the artwork really isn't even done. Also, this article is to include all the participants from Vista Studios, so three sentences is quite enough.
Here's what I wrote about the African series:
The Etherredge Center on the USC-Aiken campus will present an exhibition of mixed media work by Columbia artist Susan Lenz in its upper gallery from November 1 through 28, 2006. The exhibit, Masks and Markings, will feature twenty-two new works based on West African artifacts.
Susan Lenz’s interest in tribal art stems from travels to Kenya and has been fostered by visits to notable museum collections. She says, “I began working on this series as a result of a wonderful opportunity to photograph and sketch a truckload of African artifacts. I admire the craftsmanship of people who use materials in their midst, the notion that each tribal member is an artist in his own right, and the function of creativity in spiritual matters. I am seeking to interpret these images using the materials with which I have always worked, with the understanding that my lack of a formal arts education is not a deterrent but possibly a “tribal” bonus, and in the spirit of experimental creativity. Each piece provides an opportunity to try a different approach or application order.”
The work includes collaged polyester sheers and velvets, Expanda-paint, oil pastels and crayons, silk filaments, snippets of threads, and free-motion machine embroidery. Some also include hand stitching, beads, textural gels and paint. The series is on going.For more information, contact the gallery at 803-648-6851 or 888-WOW-USCA.
Monday, October 02, 2006
After a post of UPs and DOWNs, Monday arrived. It is the start of a fresh week. With a new beginning, I faced some of the "downs" and conquerered them!
The "bird book" (officially, "Man's Fate") is currently featured on a mini-video on MySpace! It uploaded and was (naturally) approved. I wish the opening image wasn't "NSM Productions" but something that read "Man's Fate". So, I've learned something! That is: the first image is the one seen! (NSM stands for Ninja Space Monkeys. This is what Alex calls his "production company". I am the only client. I pay him $15 per video successfully uploaded onto MySpace!)
Alex is about to earn another $15 because I managed to finish the extreme fragile altered book, "Life Everlasting".
This is the one that I couldn't resist. The title was just too captivating. Yet, with every action came a doubled reaction of self-destruction! The binding was shot; the paper crumbles to the touch; the pages won't turn, etc. I was steadfast with determination to breathe new life into the text. The images are of gravestones and other highly suggestive "eternal" ideas from West Virginia to Moscow to Varna to DC to Birmingham, England. It is now complete; still fragile, but given a new "everlasting" life--or at least a couple more years!
I bought a new digital camera. It is better than the one I had and cost less money. It has a macro lens and better zoom capabilities. Of course, the staff at Columbia Photos is personal and very, very well informed--far better than a few high school students reading the descriptive signs in front of each demo model! The prices were nearly identical to Best Buy, too!
The web-cam is operational. This afternoon we carried on a totally hilarious conversation with Mathias. First we were both just typing. Then Mathias successfully hooked up his web-cam. We could see him but not hear him. I reminded him to stop biting the stubs he calls fingernails and asked what it was that he was eating--pizza.
We talked about the weekend's performances of Romeo and Juliet, about the company, about the casting, about all sorts of things. Mathias is doing very well in adjusting to this new life and to being at the bottom of a large company. He is working hard to be noticed, to perform well, to take class eagerly, and is totally comfortable about the work required to advance.Later, Steve and Alex managed to hook up our web-cam. Soon they were all conversing and no one needed to type at all. Mathias gave Steve a whirlwind tour of his apartment. They talked about the Ohio State football team, the upcoming BRB tour to Sunderland, and just about everything else.
The only real "down" for the day was a letter from the Fiberart International Exhibition of Contemporary Fiber Art. This is a very important biennial in Pittsburgh, PA. Well, almost 1500 entries from 609 artists representing 29 countries were juried by a panel of three experts. Only 93 pieces were selected. Obviously, I was in rather good company being rejected!
The South Carolina State Fair entries were posted today on their website. Of course, the competition isn't fierce at all, though a surprising number of pieces do manage to be disqualified each year. Neither of my two pieces were "unacceptable".
Another "positive" thing about Monday was the fact that I worked on one of the ten pieces I did for Vista Lights. HOPE IS INSIGHT! IMPROVEMENTS WERE MADE! This series was looked at by Jeff Donovan, Steve, and Alex. Jeff, an artist who does exclusively figurative work, thought the abstracted organic panels (each just 7" x 5") looked more like background, unfinished. Steve disliked them and thought they needed another dimension--too flat. Alex liked one or two but thought the remained were boring. Well, they will be used as "background" in a frame with 3D twigs and threads. I am almost excited--about the pieces, not the event!
The only thing hanging over my head is next week's South Carolina Art Educator's conference in Greenville. I AM THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER and am one of the workshop presenters. I must work a bit on this!