Friday, May 30, 2008

A new series underway

(Click on image to enlarge)
Above: Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin with running stitch and the embroidered words: ONE DAY AT A TIME. 25 1/2" x 19".
Title: Twenty-five Years Sober.)

Yesterday I put an old wooden accountant's stand onto a wrought iron sewing machine base in order to create a lectern or Bible stand for Blues Bible. It was as if these two unrelated pieces were made for one another...a perfect fit. I'm still, painstakingly needlepointing the kneeler. This is the last thing to be done before moving "Blues Chapel" from Edgefield to the more spacious installation in Pickens...except for all the paperwork (exhibition list, truck rental, statement signage, and my part of the mailing list.)

In the meantime, I've started a new series. Since completing Decisions, I've been thinking about work to relate to this "centerpiece" order to submit the whole thing as another solo show. I wracked my mind while in England...thinking about the Industrial Revolution and rust and more found objects. This just didn't pan out. Then I thought about the word "decisions" and landed upon the idea of portraits. People make decisions.

At first I thought I'd represent famous people who'd made difficult those senator's in John F. Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage. I loved that middle school. The more I thought about this, however, the more I hated the idea. It sounded all too a good high school history project, not a work of art. Besides, I wasn't passionate about any of these people. Truth be told, I didn't care enough.

Still, portraits would bring about the missing human element found in the original installation. I also liked the idea of focusing on decisions that changed lives...bittersweet decisions....options that meant one thing is left as another is gained...forever changed.

Finally, I got it. I started last weekend with my sister Wanda. I'm currently working on my own self portrait. It will say: I quit my job to pursue my art. The title will be : Artist. I contacted my insurance agent. He's posing on Tuesday for a portrait that will say: I loved her for 45 years...the last 15 with MS. The title will be: Husband. I contacted my friend, associate English professor and published poet Ed Madden. He's posing after a research trip in Ireland. His portrait will read: I married Burt. The title will be: Poet. I want to contact the American Red Cross and find someone who's donated blood for years and years who will agree to pose with stitched words: I save lives one pint at a time. Title: Blood Donor. I wonder if MADD has a speaker who relates driving drunk for "I Made A Mistake"; Title: DUI. My friend Britta is sending pictures for "Twins at Age 42"; Title: Britta. The list goes on.

I'm most certainly willing to entertain other ideas. If you've got an idea, please let me know. This is a HUMAN project about the everyday/life altering decisions we all make.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blue Bible

I made a video of Blues Bible. I just can't upload it. There's probably a way...but I don't know it. This is a rather LARGE altered/altared book. When shut, it measures 14 3/8" x 10 3/8" x 4 1/4". It weighs a lot too. There's over 230 pages. I didn't even try to include images of all the spreads; but most are now on two separate slide shows.

Part One is here.

Part Two is here.

To create this book, I completely took apart the original late 19th century Bible and watercolored dozens of pages. I strengthened the fold with fabric applied with WonderUnder and also zigzag stitching. I arranged the spreads into signatures and collaged. It took hours to bind and two days to glue back together, using Yes paste and weights.

It is headed to my exhibition at the Pickens County Museum which I install on Friday, June 13. I've still working on the kneeler and the stand for this book.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Vanishing Landscapes

Above is the view from Charleston's Waterfront Gallery taken on the opening day of the annual Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto festival here in South Carolina. This year the juried art show had an eco-friendly theme and title: Vanishing Landscapes. I submitted three pieces and one was selected. If interested, here's an on-line article about the exhibit.

Above is the view of the reception in the lower gallery. Below is the photo of my piece, Earth Moods, an altered book. I created a video of it which is here. I did not create this piece specifically for this exhibition. It just fit beautifully and was on a nice white pedestal right in the middle of the lower fact, right below the walkway on which I was standing when I took the photo above!

Below is another photo of this beautiful, well lit art venue.

Above is the photo of my piece....which is pictured in the very, very slick color catalog for this exhibition. I liked many pieces, including Margaret Petterson's monotype, Tuscan Palette and Anne Sbrocchi's Log Bridge Creek (no on-line reference). I also admired McLean Sheperd's Lake Jocassee. Both Sbrocchi and Sheperd used metallic materials to great effect. Foils and glitter can be so tacky and amateurish, but these two works used the reflective quality and shine to great ways no other product could duplicate. Sheperd's piece won one of the awards.

One of the most compelling works, however, was by Paul Hitopoulos. I adored the "price" listed on the label, the lighting, the idea, and the feeling of a sacred circle.

So, what else have I been doing.....CYBER FYBER trading, of course. Yet, artistically I've been very, very busy. I know I should have blogged about this "in progress" but I'm about to finish a major piece. Blues Bible will be bound this weekend. I'm working on a stand for it....and a kneeler. I think the trips to England have influenced my vision of kneelers (which was already very traditional to begin with) to the point that I now see ALL kneelers as traditional needlepoint. Though I've sworn never to cross stitches again...I'm counting....even doing cross stitch in wool...a historic pattern from one of my books about Austrian embroidery. It's killing me....but I want this kneeler! I'm excited about the new altered/altared Blues Bible too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Recent work and a wedding!

Last week I taught at Lander University. I finished a few of the simple demonstrations I did. Above is a xylene transfer on unbleached muslin on a dark tan piece of moire with previously painted WonderUnder (Bond-a-Web), chiffon, free motion machine embroidery, paint, and some metallic foiling.

Above is a color transfer of an African mask made with Sheer Heaven paper. Free motion machine embroidery attached it to a scrap of rust dyed vintage damask. I also applied some wool rovings, millinery net, and metallic foiling using fragments of Wonder Under.

Above is an arrangement of polyester velvet around a piece of embellished wool. It was covered with previously painted Wonder Under, metallic foil, silk fibers, chiffon, and free motion embroidery. The image isn't particularly good because I forgot to snap a photo before putting glass into the frame.

Later today Steve and I are headed to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania in order to attend my sister Wanda's wedding to her first love! She met Reinhard when she was sixteen years old. He's never been married...waited for her! They live in Germany. It will be a sort of family reunion at my mother and dad's lakeside house....and I'm suppose to teach my mom how to use her blog!

I created her blog in order that she could trade with me at CYBER FYBER...which is now into it's second/final round of trading!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Helen Hill's exhibit and CYBER FYBER

Last Monday I went to McKissick museum to pick up one of two pieces that had been part of the museum's annual art auction. (The other sold!) I wandered into another exhibition, The Dresses of Florestine Kinchen: A Tribute to Helen Hill. I viewed the work alone and in silence.

I knew this exhibition was coming. I'd followed the story in the papers. I wasn't prepared, however, for the experience of seeing it. I was confronted by Florestine Kinchen's discarded life of handmade dresses salvaged by a talented, murdered young filmmaker.

The blurb on the back of the show announcement reads: "Although she was only 36 years old when she lost her life in January 2007, Columbia native Helen Hill spent a lifetime making films. Sadly, her murder cut short the production of her newest film based on the discovery of more than one hundred hand-sewn dresses made by Florestine Kinchen, a recently deceased seamstress in New Orleans. Join us Friday, May 9, 2008, from 5:30 - 7:00, on what would have been Helen Hill's 38th birthday, for a tea party in honor of the filmmaker and dressmaker Florestine Kinchen."

I probably wasn't suppose to take photos, but I did. Panels of text filled in Helen Hill's strong academic background and pioneering film projects. Other panels gave information about Florestine Kinchen and the garments that were constructed from recycled clothing. One dress had a big tag in Helen's handwriting to identify the damage that Hurricane Katrina caused to many of the dresses after their initial rescue. Here's a little more information and another photo.

Then, I saw a panel about Helen's widow and two year old son....with a photo that included her parents...who I realized I knew. Kevin and Becky Lewis, both faculty members at the University of South Carolina, brought framing to Mouse House for years. I'd just never made the connection.

So, on Friday night I went to the tea party. Below are the photos I took. Ordinarily, I'd only include one...but another nice lady's camera wasn't working. Her daughter attended high school with Helen. I gave her a card with this blog address and said I'd post in a day or so. Friday was also my Mathias' twentieth birthday. Today is Mother's Day. I haven't quite come to terms with all the emotions.

(Above and below: Drs. Kevin and Becky Lewis, Helen's parent. Becky is wearing one of Florestine's dresses.)

(Above: Helen's family with exhibition curator Jason Shaiman in the middle.)
Hopefully, Helen's husband, Dr. Paul Gailiunas, will be able to finish the film for a closing reception that includes a film premier. Hopefully, too, this exhibition will travel to other venues. If it does, it's powerful and definitely worth seeing. Each stitch. Here is a link to Helen Hill's memorial website. change the subject ENTIRELY:

CYBER FYBER's second (and absolutely FINAL) round of trading is now open. Blogger has identified the postcard section as a possible "spam" mechanism. I guess this is standard practice when one creates a blog and posts over 130 entries within 24 hours. It shouldn't effect viewing...just publishing. It should be resolved within 48 hours! I'm still hoping for more votes.
(CYBER FYBER is the last item on the list!) I have found a caterer and a writer for the exhibition. I met with the writer on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Workshop for MAT Program at Lander University

(Click on any image to enlarge. PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO VOTE IN THE NEW CAROLINA "idea" CONTEST. CLICK HERE and select the very last selection in the list....this is for possible funding for CYBER FYBER!)

I spent yesterday with a group of talented young art educators finishing the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. These six students graduate at the end of the summer and most already have contracts to enter the public school system as new "art teachers". Considering I don't have a single academic class in either "art" or "education", it is truly my honor to conduct a fiber workshop. This is the third time I've done so...and each visit renews my faith that South Carolina is producing wonderful art teachers.

The workshop introduced several fiber techniques and materials: using previously painted heat-activated adhesive (WonderUnder/Bond-a-Web); using heat activated metallic foil; melting synthetics with a soldering iron; free motion machine embroidery; using the embellisher; xylene transfers on fabric; color transfers using Sheer Heaven paper; hand stitching; and proper mounting and matting for fibers.

I had a great time too....and started three small pieces!

CYBER FYBER needs votes!

As most people reading this probably know, I've been pitching the CYBER FYBER to various groups, creating information packets for business leaders, and seeking funding for the exhibition. The Vista Guild awarded $1000. New Carolina had no money but an opportunity to submit the project into their "idea contest". They are giving away well over $8000 to various South Carolina ideas. Cyber Fyber has made it into the second of three rounds. To advance, votes are needed. Please click here and vote for the LAST IDEA LISTED! Thanks a million!

Monday, May 05, 2008

What I've Been Up To

(Above: Artista Vista visitor inspecting Decisions, my installation.)

(Above: Open Studio visitors in my studio. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've been busy...but not really posting anything new about the work I'm currently doing. I'm deep into collaging "Blues" imagery juxtaposed with religious icons and symbols onto the spread for The Blues Bible. It's a massive project. The spine of this book is about four inches thick. I'm on a deadline WILL be finished and part of "Blue Chapel" at the Pickens County Museum of Art. I install this solo show on Friday, June 13th! Yikes!

In the meantime, I have been posting on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios blog. These entries are primarily picture after picture...including my installation Decisions...all held in and around the gallery space that will host CYBER FYBER next January. We had the annual, downtown spring art reception a weekend ago. This past weekend was a second event...OPEN STUDIOS...two weekends in a row of "meet and greet" the general public. I'm sort of "talked out!"

I've also been writing on "My Family Blog"...long overdue posts from my trip to England. The first post is:
Going Without Embroidery and Swan Lake
The second one is:
Texere absolutely fabulous place for fibers of all sorts...dozens of photos from this amazing experience!

I'll try to remember to shoot a few "works in progress" pictures of The Blues Bible!

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Today names were written on slices of mat board.

These were put into a plastic bag. Steve was blind-folded (and he complained that he hadn't shaved...but I didn't care!). He reached in....

...and drew out ART IS BLISS. Congratulations! Through CYBER FYBER, I have her name and address. Fairy of Gold will be mailed on Monday!

Now...for some more AWARDS!

Yesterday was the reception for the North Charleston Arts Festival. This event includes two juried show opportunities: Art (five categories: acrylics, oils, drawings/pastels, watercolor, and 2D Mixed Media), juried by Leo Twiggs) and "Palmetto Hands", juried by Kellie Scott of Red Sky Gallery in Charlotte, NC. This is South Carolina's fine craft juried exhibition (categories: Clay, fiber, wood, glass, metal, and 3D Mixed Media).

Above is a detail from In Box XXXVIII which took an honorable mention in Palmetto Hands in the category of fibers.

Above is Textile Landscape IV which took third place in the Art category for 2D Mixed Media.

Above is Book of Masks which earned an honorable mention in Palmetto Hands in the category of 3D Mixed Media. It was a REALLY GOOD night!

I really admired the outstanding craftsmanship and ingenious ideas found in the entries for Palmetto Hands...including (above) Mike Fowle's New Blue Shirt and (below) my friend Lee Sipe's incredible copper wire leaf. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Best of Show was Courtney Starrett's bracelet. While others didn't seem to approve of this piece; I found it absolutely delightful...creative and completely novel. I just wish the artist had been in attendance so that I might have had a photo of myself wearing it!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Collage Mania II

Virginia Spiegel is a fabulous fiber artist, blogger, and the organizer for an on-line "Fiberarts for a Cause" charity event, Collage Mania 2008. 100% of the funds benefit the American Cancer Society. I've donated four pieces found on page 18. Bidding starts Monday, May 5 at 9 AM CST. I have my favorite piece...but I'm not saying which one! I'll be bidding on it Monday. It was created by the mother of a grade school friend with whom I've recently connected through our now common interest in threads and over the Internet! My fingers are on the link to find your favorite too!

PS Steve will be drawing the winner's name for my 2nd anniversary of blogging on leave a comment there! Scroll down to this next blog entry.