Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blues Chapel and Last Words, Columbia


(Above: Tapestry in Blue, 51" x 112", 2006. The unit is the focal point for Blues Chapel, honoring 24 early female blues singers. The 24 mixed media portraits are hung as a single unit. Click on image to enlarge.)

Blues Chapel and Last Words were installed with the volunteer help of my "Artist's Way" group friends including Dolly Patton (and her daughter Sims), Margaret Neville, Regan Regan, Kay Reardon, Mary Langston, and Kim Bendillo.

(Above: Last Words, an installation of cemetery related art quilts and mixed media pieces surrounding a grouping of sheer chiffon banners on which collected epitaphs were "written" in free motion embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

Without a doubt, the exhibition looks much better than I could have done alone. Kim Bendillo, a professional interior designer at a big architectural company (Garvin Design), "set the cemetery". Mary Langston assisted. I ease-dropped on their conversations about my work and was treated to unique insights....things I didn't realize about my own work! It was really exciting to hear my art being discussed with such seriousness and respect. The resulting display is stunning. The groupings make sense and are beautiful together while highlighting each piece.

(Above: Never Accurate But Never Dull (left) and Ready for Burial (right). Grave Rubbing Art Quilts. White artificial cemetery flowers at the base. Click on image to enlarge.)

Sharon Licata, my friend and fellow Gallery 80808/Vista Studios artist (stone carver) helped me set the lights through the large space. My mentor Stephen Chesley calmed my nerves, supported my plans, and suggested the white artificial flowers at the base of the wall on which Ready for Burial was hung (above). Kay, Margaret, and Regan sorted and placed them.

The reception was on Friday night, 6 - 8....even though the exhibition stayed open until midnight! My partner and caterer for the evening was The Blue Martini, a late night bar with live music every Thursday through Saturday. They are located off the common hallway to the gallery. Eboniramm (above) sang a free blues tribute at 7 PM. I had "ushers" in Blues Chapel who passed out fliers about the show with advertisements from my sponsors, Shives Funeral Home, Fletcher Monuments, and the Christian Counseling Center.

(Above: Shannon Purvis, owner of Body Rites...a local tattoo shop... and her boyfriend Porter Barron as ushers for Blues Chapel. Shannon is also part of my Decision Portrait Series. She posed for Tattoo Artist with the stitched words "Marked for Life". Below: Shannon during the reception...please note that i'm in the background, center....one black shoe and one white shoe on tights with the opposite shade! Click on either image to enlarge.)


I had to wear something "special" for the reception. I had purchased an interesting pair of tights while in Stockholm with Annica (over a year ago) but never wore them. The reception was the perfect occasion....one leg black and the other white. A pair of black patent leather, four inch heeled shoes was altered....one was painted white just hours before I put them on! It was a blast! I also carried a martini glass...filled with a BLUE LOUNGE LIZARD! I don't like martinis...but a margarita with blue liqueur and lime slices and a salty rim completed my outfit!

(Above: Later I had to replace the black-and-white high heels for my comfortable felt studio slippers. They are part cat, part mouse, and part jester! The black velvet dress was a "hand-me-up" from my younger sister Sonya....altered to fit me because I'm so short waisted. Click on image to enlarge. Photo by Kim Bendillo)

(Above: Blues Chapel, view of south side of the room. Included: Three of six faux-stained glass fiber pieces, genuine mahogany church pew, one "Angel in Mourning" piece, and a wall of "Elements on Blue" series with Taking Flight in the middle. The "Elements in Blue" series and Taking Flight are all free motion machine embroidery directly into hand stitching with heavy yarns on polyester with heat-transfer designs. Taking Flight sold on Saturday night! Click on image to enlarge.)

Below are dozens of photos (in no particular order....sorry!) I'll caption them and they can all be "clicked on" for enlargements. Ordinarily I'd pare this number down to just a few but my parents couldn't make it to the show due to severe snow storms between here and there.....so, I hope everyone enjoys them!


(Above: Two soldiers looking at Killed Instantly, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Photo by Kim Bendillo. Click on image to enlarge.)

The exhibit remains open through Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Monday - Wednesday from 11 AM until 6 PM. Next Thursday - Saturday I'm keeping "bar hours"....11 AM until Midnight! Should be fun...and I'm already getting lots of stitching done in my studio while manning the show!

(Above: Dr. Bob Jolly, putting a "red dot" (indicating that the piece is SOLD) on Stained Glass XVIII. Click on image to enlarge.)

There have even been some SALES....which is most unexpected! Being an installation artist, I approach art making as a serious attempt to create a special environment....an atmosphere that evokes a particular sensation of time and place. The exhibition was about SHARING uniquely sacred places....a chapel remembering early female Blues singers and a cemetery that asks viewers questions about how they'd like to be remembered themselves. All I hoped was that my work TOUCHED people. Sales, however, are always GREAT!


(Above: Cindi Boiter, Bob's wife, and I posing by Stained Glass XVIII. Cindi is more than a friend. She's a talented writer. She blogged about my show, promoted it on Facebook, came, and then bought the piece for her Victorian styled house....a perfect artwork that will fill the dual function of beauty while giving the illusion of a real, architectural, stained glass feature in her home! Click on image to enlarge.....THANK YOU BOB and CINDI! By the way....Cindi's blog post about this show and me is about the most impressive article I've ever read with regard to my work. I am truly honored. Click HERE to read her well crafted words.)

Now.....just the photos and captions! Let me know what you think!


(Above: Blues Chapel, View from the north looking across the focal wall to the southern wall. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above: Stained Glass XVIII, XIX, and XX with one of the "Angels in Mourning" series. One corner of Blues Chapel. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above: The other three faux-stained glass fiber pieces (XV, XVI, and XVII) with another "Angels in Mourning" work....and the opposite corner of Blues Chapel. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above: Stained Glass XV, XVI, and XVII with church pew and Altar for Forgiveness. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above: Blues Chapel with church pew. Artwork from left to right: Blues Madonna; Cats Leave Paw Prints on the Heart (Grave Rubbing Art Quilt); The Blues (abstract embellished fibers), Ma Rainey, Domestic; Elements in Blue: Blessing, and Altar for Forgiveness. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Tapestry in Blue, mixed media focal point for Blues Chapel honoring 24 early female blues singers. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Reverence, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt....attached to one of the black curtain panels...just outside my studio door. Also...the "margarita" styled flower arrangement sent by my Mom and Dad, my sister Sonya and Vipin and their little dog Lulu. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View through epitaph banners to western wall in atrium, especially to Spirit in Stone, Angels in Mourning Series. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View through epitaph banners to northern wall in atrium, especially to On Earth a Bud, Angels in Mourning Series and Lost at Sea, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. Click on image to enlarge.

(Above: View to epitaph banners from large, side hallway including two "Angels in Mourning" series works and Artificial Flowers, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above and below: View down the large, side hallway past two 7 1/2' long grave rubbing paneled curtains to the atrium with the epitaph banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

Now....a little "side story". During the twelve weeks that I facilitated a recent "Artist's Way" group, we (the group) spoke about our current projects. Naturally, I talked about creating Blues Chapel and Last Words....about dumpster diving for artificial cemetery flowers....about grave rubbings and ways by which society remembers their deceased family members. Margaret Neville, one of the members, owns The Mad Platter....a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio carried on the conversation. Her business is very near a floral shop that produces funeral sprays. Margaret's "favorite" arrangement was one with a telephone and a "Jesus Called" banner. We found this hilarious. A few moments before the reception officially started, such an arrangement (but with a cell phone!) was delivered. It included a card from the entire group....THANK YOU SO MUCH! Honestly, I wanted this small hallway to become a faux-chapel niche and intended to make some sort of funeral spray for this location. Because I ended up in "over drive" creating six major pieces instead....this "vision" was simply going to go undone....until serendipitously the perfect spray arrived!

(Above: Our Lady of Found Art Objects Triptych; One Less to Love on Earth, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt; and JESUS CALLED funeral spray from my Artist's Way group. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Photo taken from where JESUS CALLED funeral spray stands....looking past Tomorrow in Heaven, Angels in Mourning Series; Ready for Burial, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt; to the main gallery entrance with Blues Chapel. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The back side of the wall on which Ready for Burial hangs.....a place for Time Flies, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt besides two "Angels in Mourning" Series pieces. The pedestal provided a place for sponsors' literature. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The Hour is Near, Angels in Mourning Series seen through two of the free motion stitched chiffon banners of epitaphs. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Blues Chapel, including Tapestry in Blue, focal point honoring 24 early female blues singers; Bessie's Quilt; Blues Bible (which sold on Saturday night); an "Angels in Mourning" series pieces as well as a small "Elements in Blues" embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Spirit in Stone, Angel in Mourning Series seen through free motion embroidered epitaphs on chiffon banners. Artificial cemetery flowers cover the edge of the room's flooring. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Southern wall in the atrium including a few of the free motion epitaphs on chiffon banners on the left and artificial cemetery flowers ringing the edge of the room. Above, from left to right: A Bud on Earth, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt; Sweetly Sleeping, After the Toils of Life, 'Til We Meet Again, Angels in Mourning Series; and Death the Divider, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Farewell, Beloved!, Angels in Mourning Series seen through a chiffon banner embroidered with epitaphs. From top to bottom on left: Sacred, Be Ye Also Ready, and Thy Blessed Will Be Done, Grave Rubbing Art Quilts. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Same wall as above except no chiffon banner....plus The Hour is Near, Angels in Mourning Series on right. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Blues Chapel during the reception. I'm on the far right talking to Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher, Fletcher Monuments, sponsors of the exhibition. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Another shot early during the reception. I'm in the center...notice the black and white, alternating shoes/tights. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Another photo early in the reception. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Ready for Burial, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt and view to the main gallery with Blues Chapel. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The entrance to Blues Chapel and Last Words including Ready for Burial, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt and view past the main gallery entrance....looking to the atrium with Last Words. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View of hallway between the main gallery entrance and the atrium....where My Epitaph Quilt, Eccles II, and Weep Not For Me (an others) hang. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: JESUS CALLED....funeral spray gift from my Artist's Way group! Click on image to enlarge!)

(Above: Guest book and brochures with flower arrangement from my sister Wanda in Munich! Click on image to enlarge. THANK YOU WANDA! THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!)

(Above: Two 7 1/2' grave rubbing panels hanging with black curtains in large, side hallway off the atrium. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View to Farewell, Beloved!, Angels in Mourning as seen through the epitaphs on chiffon. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View through epitaphs on chiffon banners to western atrium wall. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View through epitaphs on chiffon banners to eastern atrium wall. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: View of epitaphs on chiffon banners hanging from the skylights in the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios' atrium. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Another view of the western, atrium wall as seen through the chiffon banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Detail of free motion embroidered epitaphs on chiffon banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above and below: More photos of the free motion embroidered epitaphs on sheer chiffon banners hanging from the atrium skylights. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above: View of the southern atrium wall through the chiffon banners. Click on image to enlarge.)


(Above....okay....here's another view. I just LOVE how this looks....it is ghostly, legible, and gently moves in the breeze from the heating/air unit. People were encouraged to walk through the field of fabric. Many were moved nearly to tears. That's when I knew my efforts were truly worth it! Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Another photo from the entrance. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Looking down the large, side hallway...past the 7 1/2' grave rubbing panels to the atrium with the epitaphs on chiffon banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Be Ye Also Ready and Thy Blessed Will Be Done, Grave Rubbing Art Quilts as seen through the epitaphs on chiffon banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: FINALLY....the last image.....the artificial flowers collected after many dumpster diving excursions to the cemetery. All petals were carefully dissected from their plastic stems and veins, washed, rinsed, and dried in our guest bathroom! Okay....my husband is saintly in his patience for my bizarre art ideas! The results, of course, were colorfully PERFECT! Click on image to enlarge.)

24 comments:

lindacreates said...

Absolutely incredible Susan. Words escape me. I have read and heard about how you would hang the epitahs, but the visual is stunning. The whole show is very emotionally powerful. Congratulations on your sale, and I am sure there will be more. I would give anything to be there in person.

Christine said...

Susan, this exhibition is just stunning. Congratulations, a real triumph. I wish I could see it in person too, but your photos convey the feeling of the show really well, almost churchlike. And after our CyberFiber trade I can say I have 2 pieces of that artist's work too !
Hooroo from Christine in very wet Sydney Australia

Julie said...

Big congratulations for the exhibition Susan and for the sales. You so deserve the recognition.

PS I love your studio felties :)

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I'm speechless with awe. How very wonderful the whole thing is. Spectacular and totally humbling. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to see it in person. Kudos Susan!!

Susan Nash said...

Looks like an amazing show,,,wish I lived closer so that I could view it in person!

lk moonwood said...

Your installation looks incredible and your artwork is AMAZING! Found you via Sara Lechner's blog - so glad I did!
: ) lulu

Wanda said...

Susan....breathtaking. Absolutely, without a doubt an incredible and moving experience, even in photos.

Linda of the Lake said...

I can bearly enlarge each photo without tears in my eyes.
Thank you for being you.

Anonymous said...

What an undertaking! Your work is incredible. I am a fan of graveyard rubbings, too--your pieces left me speechless.

Lorie McCown said...

so great, i'm speechless, you must have been on cloud nine! and sales!!! yeah! you rock. and it's great to see textiles getting the full 'art' treatment. long time coming. xoxo Lorie

WoolenSails said...

The display is the most beautiful setting I have ever seen. I enjoyed walking through the exhibit with you, and love how everything looks.

Debbie

Nancy said...

Susan, this installation is breath taking. How wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing the details.

Connie said...

Susan, congratulations. It looks beautiful. I am not at all surprised and would love to see it all in person but feel blessed to have seen many of the pieces in Texas.

artnsoul2 said...

Susan, thanks for sharing this with those of us that are not close enough to visit in person. Your visual lay out is wonderful. Very powerful. Congratulations.

Diana Mains Welte said...

Susan, once again, you ROCK! I love everything. The Blues quilt turned out so well, as did the cemetary rubbings work. "Jesus Called" made me smile. Thanks for keeping my artwork on it's toes. You make me take that extra look inward.
I've got to set aside time to make the trip south for one of your exhibits. I know the pictures don't do them justice.
Oh and the tights are awesome!

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Congratulations Susan for a stunning exhibiiton!! Only wish I could see it!

Alison Schwabe said...

The vision...the application through the chosen techiques...the installation ... I do so wish I'd been able to experience this show in person, but thankyou so much for sharing so much with us all.

Anonymous said...

Nur wenn man dran glaubt..

Gisela Towner said...

Susan, I wish I could see this in person. It's an absolutely brilliant display -- really stunning -- words escape me!
Congratulations on an outstanding job.
PS -- cool tights!! :)

Anna Rice said...

Susan -
All I can say is W O W! What a stunning show, FABULOUS ART! you are quite the visionary. This is one show I would have loved to see in person. The gravestone rubbings are quite moving, would have loved to stand and ponder those up close. And that "Jesus is calling" wreath - over the top -lololol - your group has a wicked sense of humor - love it!
Wishing you many more of these shows - your art is stunning!
Anna Rice - Tampa

Tamara Miles said...

I visited the installation today --- it's the most impressive collection of artwork I've seen in a long time. It looks like it took years and years of contemplation and preparation. Very moving. Thank you for your commitment to this project.

Quote from a blues harmonicist I know (Jerry "Boogie" McCain): "The blues is wanting, not getting-- needing, not having."

Amanda Sheridan said...

I so wish I could see it in real life - the photos are the next best thing.

There's a little something for you over on my blog - enjoy!

Jacquelines blog said...

I wish I was there, looks beautiful. Congratulations Susan!

Karoda said...

Just trying to wrap my head around everything I see here in your exhibit gives me chills and leaves me breathless! I wonder what effect seeing the show in person would have on me! CONGRATULATIONS ON CARRYING THE CONCEPT FULL CIRCLE!