Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lee Malerich

Today, I went to my studio. I finished a little, altered book on which I had been working. It had been one of those "freebie" gifts for a doctor from a pharmaceutical company. This one, however, was from 1943. It was a daily journal. It had been blank. I practiced my "imaginary text" over every page, from January 1 through December 31. It was interesting to watch my own faux-handwriting and note which little "made-up" symbols I tended to repeat. I filled in the extra pages in the back, an accounting log of some sort and pages for additional patient information. The few people who have seen it think my writing looks "Arabic". Honestly, I think it is all the forgotten short-hand I tried to learn in high-school finding its own expression.
While I worked, I thought about Lee Malerich--my "goddess" for embroidery whose work so inspires me. She mentioned that her current work has shifted. She no longer spends fifty hours a week stitching the way she had while dealing with and documenting in thread her ordeals with cancer. Her life then unraveled into something else....into mosaics. She talked (before the reception) briefly about a project she had done in Florida. (Unfortunately, I was a bit too nervous about the reception and a bit too pre-occupied with the strange gallery relations and misunderstandings. I talked entirely too much. I would have done myself a favor by SHUTTING UP and letting her talk; but I didn't. Pity!)
Anyway, I "googled" Lee Malerich and found the website with the mosaics in Florida as well as an image from one of Lee's FAMOUS embroideries. These were the things I was thinking about today. I thought I'd post the images. (One is blurry but of Lee. One is of Sandy's Wall, Lee's mosaic in Florida. One is of an embroidery.)
I also heard a funny story about the evening of the reception. An old friend came to the gallery before 5:00 PM. She found two of the wrapped and stitched spools that featured Paul McCarthy and John Lennon. She was convinced that I would not have made only two Beatles---I must have created all four. She looked and looked but didn't find the others. She bought the two and requested the other two.
I was floored. Frankly, I only knew that I'd made one with a Beatles image! I just didn't pay that much attention. I probably didn't recognize one of the faces as belonging to another Beatles at all. Yet, if someone really WANTED to purchase two more spools with Beatles, I could do this! I started looking around my studio for extra, wooden spools. I was hoping to find two. I found thirty-five. Inside the World Book Encyclopedia Yearbook from 1968 (I have 1962-1977 because auction houses and the Salvation Army refuse to take them!), I found color images of the Beatles plus a picture from the movie "Yellow Submarine". I painting and collaged all thirty-five spools--four TOTALLY BEATLES spools.
It's been a strange but productive day--thinking about Lee Malerich and rummaging through images that jump from the war in Vietnam to the mock-up of NYC's World Trade Center to the Space Race to the Cold War to mini-skirts to Maurice Sendak to Martin Luther King to lists of newly accepted "slang" words that I never even knew hadn't been part of the English language.

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