Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
This trip has, however, been entirely different. There's been no ballet but plenty of books. Though Steve had been to Quinn Auction House, I never had been. We drove directly there on Thursday for the "shelf lot" book auction. It was fantastic. All the shelves are numbered. Each shelf is sold as a single "lot". Most were grouped by subject but many were listed as "miscellany". There were lots of architecture, modern art, Mayan culture, ceramics, old auction catalogues, Civil War, birds, toys, Bibles, leather bound, Shakespeare, theater, pottery, European history, railroad, poetry, furniture, textiles, carpets, heraldry, hardbound fiction, etc. Most of the volumes were new, hard back, in great condition, and were arranged in desirable groups. It was easy to lose oneself in the process of looking at the selections. It was easy to forget the lots in which one might be interested. Taking notes was a MUST. There were several lots with very, very old volumes, 1600s and 1700s. Just the feel of their paper and worn covers made me want them.
The auction itself was quite rapid with over sixty lots selling in under an hour. Everyone was seated in another room. The auctioneer simply called out the shelf number and started the quick bidding process. Steve and I were unsuccessful on almost all the lots we wanted. We sat on a nice oriental rug in the back of the room sipping a glass of provided red wine between us. We laughed a lot. Many of the lots we wanted went into the hundreds of dollars. We certainly could pick the best books! Amazingly, we got two lots, both for less than we were willing to have paid. One lot includes the future source material for my upcoming "fantasy maps". Soon, I'll have the Archeology Project back home and will be ready to continue bring it to a fuller life.
On Friday, we went to the American Museum/Portrait Gallery and spent the entire day. It was wonderful just wandering around all three floors. The collection is vast and very interesting. Happily, we found some of our favorite paintings. We'd fallen in love with Thayer's Virgin Enthroned and his Stevenson's Monument (an angel) while they'd hung for years in the Renwick. We had no idea where they'd gone--and so many others from that Grand Salon at the top of the red carpeted stairs. Now we know. They're in the American Museum. I can't wait to tell Mathias. He, too, missed them last spring. Sure, Caitlin's American Indians are nice....but we preferred the variety and great beauty of these other works. It was especially nice to be so close to them. Hanging in the Renwick, they'd all been far overhead.
In a grand foyer on the second floor is a most amazing mixed media piece called MVSEVM by a guy named something Beck. There was a video about the construction. I will research this more later. It was absolutely fantastic. I thought museum's inspired me! This is truly a remarkable obsession.
We also enjoyed the presidential portraits, the portrait competition (51 pieces were selected from a jurying process that started with over 4000), and the exhibition on Josephine Baker. Later, we bought wonderful, inexpensive wine at Trader Joe's and had dinner in our Towne Place suite room.
Today, we went to Quinn's other auction, the regular event with prints (loose and framed) sold before furniture, carpets, china, silver, etc. We were terribly interested in the several lots of Audubon birds. Most lots had ten each. They were put up early in the sale, but there was a problem. The auctioneers (a family business) were all very, very sorry...in fact, embarrassed. The estate from which these prints came had reservations about the sale just last night. Very high minimum bids were imposed. This sale was being simultaneously held on eBay and had a bank of employees minding various telephone bidders. Most of the Audubon lots did not come close to the newly required minimum bid. Some lots sold. One lot, with fifteen songbirds, even became ours! We also bought the Denton fish; which we really wanted. Amazingly, we were able to acquire a lot of nicely colored, early etchings. We were quite happy.
To celebrate, we took the metro to DuPont Circle, had lunch at a newly opened Johnny Rocket, and went to the Phillips Collection. Later, we visited the Catholic Basilica to see the newly mosaiced dome over part of the center aisle.
Tomorrow we head back home. It's been grand here. I hope we can continue to come, for both books and art!
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Unfortunately, this happened late in the afternoon. Decor Moulding closes early on Fridays. I was in Charleston making a delivery; Steve tried to handle it alone. Nothing was actually done. I had to handle it today.
The moulding is still "lost" but Yellow Freight will not take any responsibility for the resulting problems. They've only agreed to pay Decor for the missing product--when they "officially" determine it is really "lost". They don't actually call it "lost" at this point (eleven days after picking the moulding up for a 6 day journey). They claim to be "looking for it". They say it is "reasonable" to consider the moulding "in transit" for double the amount of time a normal delivery would take. Thus, it won't be lost until tomorrow--at the earliest. They reserve the right to extend the "search time", even by a month or more.
I asked lots of questions and learned that after a "claim" is filed, they will assign an investigator who "rapidly" works on the case. I asked what "rapid" meant. Generally, thirty days but it can take up to 120 days before a claim might be paid. I was also told, in no uncertain terms, that if I ordered additional moulding, this was MY CHOICE and MY FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY for all charges, especially for additional charges (like the Next-Day Air shipping).
Basically, Yellow Freight hasn't "lost" the moulding at all. They are looking for it and might admit that it is gone four months from now---if proper paperwork is filed by somebody else! At that distant time, they will pay only the amount of the moulding--no penalty, no interest, no admission to have caused lots of extra work and expense by anyone else!
In the meantime, Decor Moulding is filing the paperwork but my account still has an invoice for the order. Decor might not get paid for four months--FOUR MONTHS without the product available to other customers and without money. (While my account becomes flagged as "past due".) If the moulding is found, even on day 119, Yellow Freight only has to return it to Decor; they'd owe nothing.
In order to solve the REAL problem, I had to place an order for the same moulding to be shipped NEXT DAY AIR. Yellow Freight won't even entertain the idea of paying the difference between their cost for delivery and the air charges. The entire thing is ridiculous.
This is what has become typical of "service" in America. Few companies take responsibility for anything, even providing the product/service they advertise. Few companies care about the "real" problem and are only trying to watch their own expenses. There is no pride in these businesses; there is only staff training in "passing the buck" so that it never finds a desk on which to land.
Okay, this is a rant. Mouse House has never operated in such a manner. I would rather pay the next-day air charges than let the problem trickle down to my client. That is exactly what is happening. At least I've taught my children to take responsibility for their actions and to try to overcome obstacles. This can be seen on Mathias' newly posted videos. He finally figured out how to upload videos to his MySpace. One features his incredible fall in Round One of the Varna International Ballet Competition. He even added words about dealing with a "screw up". He never tried to "blame the floor" or make excuses. He laughed about it even before he knew he would advance to the next round. To see the video, go to his MySpace.
I don't understand many things about MySpace, but I know how to get to Mathias' one way: Click the provided link to my MySpace and then click on Mathias' profile. He is one of the few "friends" I have!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I make these embroideries by first painting a picture on cheap, typing paper. I use heat-activated paints (key ingredient!). Once the paint is totally dry, I turn it face-side-down onto 100% polyester and iron it firmly using the highest heat setting possible. (Actually, I use an old, heavy iron because they get even hotter than the new ones do!) Then, I hand stitch the polyester using heavy, bulky wools and assorted other threads. Finally, I put a piece of sheer nylon chiffon (the kind women use to wear over their hair curlers) over the hand stitching so that I can free-motion embroider into the threads. I zig-zag the edges.
Anyway, since I'm not much of a painter, I have generally collaged the painting onto an 8-ply piece of mat board with other papers, paint, and oil pastels. I just finished creating 16 of these collages. Pictured with this post are the two that correspond to the recent embroideries!
School kids all enjoyed a two hour delay in the start of their day last Thursday. Otherwise, the weather was only a bit colder than normal. I was easily able to deliver fourteen pieces to Corley Elementary School. The art teacher, Ms. Maybin, seemed thrilled to have the work. She promised to hang the little show and take photos for the local free publications that are circulated at the grocery stores. This all seemed so odd. I was delivering a "show" to someone who was willing to hang the work, make the labels, take photos and create the publicity. Sure, this isn't an opportunity that will ever find a place on my resume; but, the care and attention was professional--more professional than the arrangements with I. Pinckney Simons Gallery.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
It's been more than a year since the end of the reconstruction of the house after the fire. Naturally the "brand new" roof is now no longer under warranty. Naturally, there is now a tiny leak. Naturally, it is where we'd had past problems that were finally fixed before the fire. Fortunately, we have a great friend ready and willing to help. Image, Stephen Chesley, an internationally renown artist and my mentor, climbed up the 32' ladder with Alex, a staple gun, extra shingles, and all the other supplies necessary to make the repairs. They really made me nervous when their legs were hanging over the eaves.
I've just finished the catalog for the Archeology Project. All 110 textiles have thumbnail images and description. All the primarily paper pieces, except the "Imaginary Text" sheets also have thumbnails and descriptions. It is ready to go.
Oh, how did Steve and I repay the favor to Stephen for the roof repairs? We used a long saved, hand silvered and patinaed moulding for one of his recent oil paintings. Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, Ed Wimberly, and David Yaghjian are having the annual exhibition of new work coming up at the end of the month. One of the most amazing things is this is number 10,449! Okay, he's been creating work for over twenty years, but that's still about 500 finished, cataloged pieces annually! Stephen is amazing....and today he was a roofer!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The "roller-coaster": Pricing for the show at I. Pinckney Simons. First (before the show), Janet Kozachek wrote an email suggesting the the gallery owners were worried about how low my artwork might be priced. She strongly suggested that I allow the owners to "adjust" my prices. I felt like a "second-class"artist. I felt apprehension due to my inclusion in an elusive gallery. I felt like my "quality" was being questioned because of my affordable prices. I agreed to let Rick Simons suggest higher prices. Yet, when dropping off my work and hanging the show, he didn't seem interested in re-pricing my pieces. In fact, he admitted being unfamiliar with the average costs of artist- and altered-books and installation of any sort.
Immediately after hanging the show and providing additional pricing tags (these tasks should have been the gallery's responsibility), I started getting email messages from Janet about the Archeology Project. She strongly suggested that I break the collection. She implied a level of dissatisfaction from Rick and Irene Simons, the gallery owners. I had priced the entire installation at $9,500. I never wanted to sell the entire unit, but the worries about my low prices prompted the change. Earlier, she had said that Rick and Irene regularly sold artwork at $8000. She reminded me that they would have to sell 10 of her $800 pieces to net the same commission. She implied that they wouldn't want to work selling some 100 pieces for mine at $80. Thus, I let Rick adjust my prices on other work and also priced the Archeology Project as a "high-ticket" item unit.
Yet, Janet's emails were quite insistent. At first, I resisted. I reminded her that we had submitted the Archeology based work for a show at the Sumter Gallery of Art. Thus, I wasn't eager to sell the work anyway. She wrote back with a note that basically said only museums and non-profit spaces could afford to devote valuable floor space to non-collectible art projects. I was stunned. I was being accused (with nice words but still pressure) of WASTING commercial sales area. At this point, I started crying. I cried on and off for two days. I had been so happy to have the piece on view; then I wished I had taken the entire thing home. I wrote back to Janet to remind her that the piece WAS FOR SALE! In fact, with over 300 pieces for $9500, the average cost per item was just over $26. The piece, as priced, was/is a BARGAIN.
Janet finally relented saying, "Fine". I haven't heard from her since. Still, I was upset and wondering if I was in trouble with the Simons. I had just hand addressed over 380 envelops with invitations inside. Each invitation also carried a hand-written note: I hope you can come. I was exhausted and insulted. I didn't know if I were even welcome to my own reception. Finally, I went to the gallery.
Irene was there. Rick was in their gallery in Beaufort. They weren't upset. They didn't carry if I kept the work as a unit or broke it. They knew that breaking it would mean work. They were up to the task. They also said that Janet was just dying to purchase one of the individual pieces! Perhaps, a mystery had been solved.
Since I always planned to sell the pieces individually, I photographed them--over 300 images (most had both a front and back). I've been working on a catalog ever since. Still, I don't care if any of it sells or not. It has been a labor of love--the fantasy dream of a fictional archaeologist (me)! Such a "professional" would naturally have an image and a description of all the "artifacts" uncovered.
I created labels to go with any sold piece. Each says: Artifact #_____Excavated by hand and machine by mixed media artist and fantasy archaeologist Susan Lenz in 2006. Formerly in the I. Pinckney Simons Collection.
I'm assuming that the "unit" will not sell (even if it is a BARGAIN; it is still $9500, a lot of money!). I'm also assuming that only a few, if any, of the individual pieces will sell. I've been working on a catalog with thumbnail images for myself, for the Project, as if I were an archaeologist recording my discoveries.
In the meantime, I've been working on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios website. I've figured out all sorts of things. I've changed images for David Yaghjian and updated his biography. I added a resume for Sharon Licata under her one-paragraph biography. Then I figured out how to change the Calendar page and also the Featured Show. Successfully altering a website is a most elating experience. For someone who couldn't burn a CD last month, I've made remarkable experience!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2007
Susan’s Exhibit at Ironstone Vineyards is titled “Fiber Architecture: Buildings in Stitches” and will be available for public viewing and purchase in our galleria from 10 am to 5 pm. The exhibition will end with a fabulous closing reception also open to the public on February 24th at 5 pm that will include, wine and hors d’ oeuvres as well as a chance to meet the artist.
Collaging fabric, foiling, and transferring paint through heat-activated process provides fiber artist Susan Lenz a marvelous way to explore the world of architecture. Windows, facades, towers, staircases, floor plans, wall treatments, bays, domes, eaves, columns and archways overlap. Historical periods and distant cultures relate and are tied together through free machine stitching. Many of the techniques used are very contemporary. Fabrics are manipulated and the materials are used in ways quite different than their normal functions or their manufacture’s instructions. The resulting artwork is more than just beautiful; it is interesting and leaves the viewer wondering just how it was accomplished. These new technologies are in the forefront of international fiber arts.
The series is on-going and debuted at Gallery 80808 in Columbia’s Conagree Vista during September 2002. All pieces are professionally framed. The series is machine embroidered. Additional pieces are individually titled and are hand embroidered or use a combination of hand and machine stitching.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I also mentioned being "down in the dumps" and "on top of the world". Well, yesterday I delivered my artwork to the show at I. Pinckney Simons Gallery. I thought I was just going to drop everything off. All the pieces were nicely labeled, cataloged, and ready to hang. I provided an exhibition list, plenty of extra bios and business cards, and had this paperwork printed on card stock and inside a three-ring binder.
I was shocked to learn that Rick Simons expected, no....required..., Janet and I to actually HANG THE SHOW!. This job took all afternoon. Once finished, Rick Simons announced that he needed....no...required.....typed labels for all the pieces. He explained that clients needed to "see the prices"....not have to turn the pieces over or ask. Sure, I see the point......but, isn't the gallery suppose to do this.....or something? Basically, Janet and I have done all the publicity, paid for the invitations, are doing all the mailing, hung the show....and now I created labels for all the pieces...both mine and Janet's. (How was she going to generate typed labels in Orangeburg overnight and return to Columbia?) Today, I tagged all my artwork and the collaborations. I insisted that Rick had to figure out which tag belonged to which of Janet's works.
So, in a sense, I've been down in the dumps because this gallery really isn't WORKING for the 40% commission....providing they manage to sell anything. Let's hope all my words here are one's I'll soon regret because their salesmanship abilities will far exceed my wildest expectations. (I'm not going to hold my breathe!)
I've also been "on top of the world". My Archeology Project is right in the middle of the gallery on an ornate round table, a focal point. It looks great. Also, my other show is on the Ironstone Vineyard website! I am thrilled. Steve booked my accommodations (a really sweet deal) at a quaint place called The Jumping Frog Inn. So, soon I'll have an opening in Columbia, a trip with Steve to DC, a trip to Birmingham to see Mathias and ballet, and finally both a trip and opening in California. Yes.....even if I'm rejected from the local McKissick Museum charity event, I'm on top of the world!