Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Last Words, Solo Show at the Florence Regional Arts Alliance

(Above: Last Words, solo exhibition. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

The Florence Regional Arts Alliance kicks off its 2010 - 11 season this Thursday, August 6th, with my solo exhibition "Last Words" in its newly renamed space, Gallery 412. My elder son Mathias and I took a Penske rental full of artwork and installed the show this afternoon.

It was fun and challenging. I'd never before been in the building. I had only a floor-plan and a telephone conversation with Frank Crow , executive director. We talked about the height and material of the ceiling so that I would be prepared to install the chiffon banners covered in free-motion machine embroidered epitaphs.

As an installation artist, my aim is to transform the existing space into a serene, peaceful, contemplative cemetery-like setting. The Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series and my "Angels in Mourning" series provide the visual images and suggestions of grave markers, mausoleums, and the physical structure in a cemetery.

The chiffon banners are meant to evoke a sense of mystery, almost ghostly reminders of past generations. The air-conditioning system even makes these sheer fabrics move a little....which I like. I'm hoping people coming to the reception this Thursday walk through the field of epitaphs, reading the "last words".

There is a sign near the front entrance that includes reads:


Crayon on silk grave rubbings, vintage household linens, recycled material, stitched epitaphs, artificial cemetery flowers, and angel images are meant to reflect both personal and universal mortality and the passage of time through generations. The exploration of final words marking others’ lives causes reflection of ones own existence. The work investigates the concept of remembrance, personal legacy, and our common human frailty. As an installation, questions are posed.

The work asks:
What are your final wishes?
How do you want to be remembered?
What last words will mark your life?

Please feel free to walk among the hanging epitaphs and carefully peep at the reverse of the quilts.
~Susan Lenz~

This installation was made possible through the support of family and friends, including Shives Funeral Home; The City Clerk Department of Colma, CA; Jeanne Williamson; Maureen Barrett MacNamara; Frank H. Crow, Jr. and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance; Guy Jones at River Runner; the cyber community reading http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com and http://graverubbingquilts.blogspot.com; Steve Dingman; and all those who bring artificial flowers to Columbia’s Elmwood and Greenlawn cemeteries.

After hanging all the work, we attached the exhibition labels. Then the FUN part....scattering the eight trash bags full of artificial flowers around the perimeter. All the flowers were collected from cemetery trash bins and dumpsters (NEVER from a grave site!). I dissected all the blossoms, washed the fabric, and allowed them to dry on the floor of our guest bathroom. (I have a very supportive husband!)

I took a few dozen quick photos and even some videos. These are the best of the bunch!

Arts Alliance President Gregory Fry was quoted on the organization's website: "Our plan is to schedule a diverse array of artists each year, and we encourage our exhibiting artist to 'push the box' in terms of their artistic exploration." I hope he's pleased!

Even the two hallways flanking the central area were hung with cemetery angel images!

There is a smaller room off one of the halls. I filled it too! (Two images below!)

Right before we left, I snapped a photo of Mathias with Frank Crow....

...and Mathias took pictures of me...

...among the chiffon banners....and sitting under one of the large panels of rubbings among the flowers. I'll have more images from the reception after it happens this Thursday evening!


Lynn said...

See me standing up and applauding you and your show!

See me in complete and utter awe!

How many pieces of art are hanging on the walls? Those are all yours?!!!

You simple amaze me.

The fabric hangings are magnificent.

The flowers add so much...how did you know you'd have enough? How long did it take to collect them?
I hope all this information is listed for people to see/read.

Bravo, Susan...BRAVO!!!

Karen said...

Wonderful Susan!!! The sheer numbers of pieces in this show stun me! I really wish I lived close enough to see this in real life. Amazing,stunning,thought provoking and wonderful works!!

Deb H said...

A very interesting show Susan. I aso like the connection of the show as you have it with "the veil", as in crossing the veil. The imagery is very powerful. Congratulations on your show.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Huge congratulations Susan! It all looks fantastic in the photos and I can only imagine how much better it is in real life. Your work is amazing!

Julie said...

How wonderful to be the opening exhibition of the new season , an added excitement! I have a lump in my throat here thinking of how far you have travelled by dint of your amazing creative imagination and drive.

The exhibition looks outstanding and how wonderful to have Mathias there to help set it up. I love that the hangings waft gently in the breeze.

Enjoy your opening night and here's to a stunning exhibition.

neki desu said...

what a powerful exhibit! a poignant subject dealt with so much poetry. truly magnificent

Anonymous said...

Great work,Susan.
Enjoyed the virtual-visit..
& cyber-browsing the installation:-]
------Vip K.

MargaretR said...

A wonderful and exciting exhibition Susan.

Anonymous said...

It looks amazing..I love the floaty hangings; a very thoughtful and meaningful way to put across your ideas. Well done. It will be a huge success!