Tuesday, January 31, 2012
(Above: Last Words, my solo show in Rocky Mount's Imperial Centre. Click on any image in this post for an enlargement.)
Steve and I drove up to Rocky Mount (roughly a four hour car trip ... one way) last Sunday for the Spring Exhibitions' public reception at the Maria V. Howard Art Center in the Imperial Centre. In addition to my solo show, Last Words, four other shows were honored. (The Imperial Center is gigantic. It was formerly a tobacco factory!)
I was a little nervous. Why? Well, this was the first time my work was curated on-site but without my input. Almost all my Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series, the Angels in Mourning Series, the Dearly Departed Series, the chiffon banners, the artificial flowers, and The Book of the Dead were sent. I was told that the banners and the book would be placed in the center of the spacious room. Otherwise, I had no idea which of my works were to be included or what color the walls were to be painted. I had to go and see for myself!
As it turned out, only the art quilts (minus a few) were hung. (The entire body of work could easily have filled twice the space ... so curating was absolutely necessary.) The art quilts were thoughtfully arranged on lovely sage green walls and filled them nicely. Everything is perfectly labelled and beautifully lit.
An exhibition sign with my statement is posted at the wide entrance. A three-page gallery listing is available to the public as a hand-out too. (See photo above!)
Several people talked to me about my work. There were even a few, local fiber artist in attendance. Everything looks lovely ... and all the work stays on view through May 13th. It is a real honor to have my work in this gorgeous facility ... especially for such an extended time.
The photo above was taken right before we left. The reception was starting the wind down. We drove home happy!
The remainder of this blog post includes other images from the exhibition. Most of the photo were shot at 1 PM, right after the Art Center opened for the day ... an hour before the start of the reception. We went "early" just to snap these pictures ... before all the people came!
Please remember ... all these photos can be "clicked on" for an enlargement!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 4:14 PM
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
(Above: The Urn, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. 17 1/2" x 18 1/2". Crayon on silk rubbing, vintage crazy quilt block, and assorted buttons from the South Carolina State Mental Hospital. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)
Over the past weekend Steve and I drove to Washington, DC via Asheville where we dropped off more of my work at the Grovewood Gallery. It's been represented there for two full years. Yet, it still feels brand new and very exciting every time new work is needed.
(The Urn, reverse. Vintage linens. Click on image to enlarge.)
In the car I stitched on two more miniature sized art quilts made using some of the rubbings from Halloween weekend in Charleston's Circular Churchyard. I've combined these grave rubbings with scraps of vintage crazy quilts. The reverse sides are also made of other vintage textiles ... often the slightly damaged or stained pieces that no one else seems to want.
For The Urn I used a child's or doll's pillow embroidered from a kit. (The inventory numbers were on the edges inside the seams!) While cute, it really wasn't quite large enough on its own. Thus, I dismantled a pair of "tap pants" ... the name of such underclothing after "bloomers" went out of style in the 1920s. (Bloomers generally were crotchless and gathered at the ankle or just below the knee. Tap pants sort of look like baggy Bermuda shorts!) The former underwear was hand embroidered and I tried to show as much of this handwork as possible under the cat pillowcase and as a sleeve for the art quilt.
(Above, before cutting: The 1920s tap pants that became the sleeve and backing for The Urn.)
(Above: Circular Church Angel III. 10 1/2" x 17 3/4". Crayon on silk grave rubbing and vintage quilt scraps. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)
I added more handwork to the quilt scraps. On both pieces, I allowed the uneven edges to remain. I don't always feel that perfect "squareness" is important when using antique and vintage material. I like the "as is" look ... the faithfulness to the authentic ... even in its imperfect state.
(Above: Circular Church Angel III. Reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)
For the reverse, I used an old dishtowel and a cotton dinner napkin with shadow embroidery for the sleeve.
While in Washington, DC Steve and I managed to buy two tickets to the Mariinsky Ballet's triple bill in the Kennedy Center. All the performances that week were completely sold out ... not even a few "singles" sprinkled through the rafter section! Yet, a nice lady walked in while we were "begging" at the ticket office. She was returning two seats in the orchestra due to a conflict! The show was magnificent ... Chopinana, The Firebird, and Scheherazade.
We also visited the National Gallery of Art, the African Museum, the Sackler, and went to see the Star-Spangled Banner and First Ladies areas at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. I didn't take many photos on this quick weekend trip ... except for two details from the First Ladies fashions. Elegant!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 1:55 PM
Monday, January 16, 2012
(Above: Circular Church Angel II. 12 1/4" x 14 3/4". Crayon grave rubbing on silk; vintage doily, silk remnant, assorted buttons; hand and free-motion machine stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)
Last Halloween I spend a perfect day at the Circular Churchyard in Charleston. It was a "really big deal" because permission is needed from the congregation in order to create grave rubbings. (I blogged about it HERE.) Since then, I've been free motion stitching on the very large "collage" of grave rubbings ... on and off between other projects. But, I've also been hand stitching on smaller pieces. I took two with me to New York City. I stitched on the plane and on the drive to the Charlotte airport and back. Last week I finished them.
(Above: Circular Church Angel II, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)
The little bit of "black" showing in the photo above is the recycled packaging felt used in place of traditional batting. The reverse is also "repurposed". It was an embroidered, vintage hand towel.
(Above: Circular Church Angel I. 14 3/4" x 16 1/4". Crayon grave rubbing on silk; vintage doily, upholstery remnant, assorted buttons; hand and free-motion machine stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)
I can't remember where I got this piece of upholstery material. I'm lucky. Lots of people donate random pieces of fabric and other used items to me. Whoever you were ... THANK YOU!
(Above: Circular Church Angel I, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)
(Above: Memory, a postcard. Click on image to enlarge.)
I didn't get a work juried into this year's Art Quilt Elements but I did get an email invitation to "Hang With Us", an accompanying benefit of postcards celebrating the tenth anniversary of this important show of contemporary quilts. So ... I made this piece. It's been mailed. I'm happy to support this event and hopeful that I'll have work accepted in the future! It's a REALLY, REALLY BIG DEAL!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 9:30 AM
Thursday, January 12, 2012
(NEW YORK CITY ... View from the Staten Island Ferry. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)
The weather could not have been more perfect for a long, January weekend in New York City. At times, we didn't really need coats. The sky was deep blue and the nightlights of Times Square were bright and beautiful.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, met our elder son Mathias and his girlfriend Laura-Jane in time for dinner at Bubba Gump's at Times Square ...
... followed by an evening with Bob Fosse's Chicago.
On Friday morning we visited Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial.
I honestly didn't think any other memorial created during my lifetime could be as powerful as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC ... but I was wrong.
The place is still very much a construction zone. There are blasting signs and orange-reflective clad laborers everywhere. Security is strict. Admission is free. The place is overwhelming and ever so appropriate. One cannot see the bottom of the two pool's recessed space ... an inverted rectangle descending into the ground so suggestive of the structures taken down by terrorists. All the victim's names are organized by flight or location.
People wept. Others just stared at the new buildings going up just a block or so away, one tower reflected into another.
The museum still isn't open. I'll have to come back one day.
From there we went to Staten Island and back on the FREE ferry.
The view to the city, to the Statue of Liberty, and of Ellis Island are wonderful.
Then ... on to Brooklyn ...
... to the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
I've always wanted to see Judy Chicago's iconic feminine art masterpiece, The Dinner Party.
It was better than I dared hoped. Every guest was perfectly incorporated into the ceramic plate and the unique, embroidered tablecloth.
The lighting is low but the detail shines through.
Every little stitch! It was wonderful.
Yet, we saw all sorts of great art in this museum ... and we only visited two of the four floors! One of the ingenious works was by Mounri Fatmi, a collection of Islamic prayer rug covered skateboards called Maximum Sensation. The juxaposition of cultures in this guy's life were obvious and also wonderfully a happy mix. I didn't snap any photos at MoMa when we got there. It's FREE on Friday nights ... and packed with people, especially in the deKooning retrospective. Believe it or not, I ran into a friend from Columbia, Natalie ... who owns the local bead shop. She, too, was visiting her son. He's a model in NYC. Later I ran into Suzie Surkamer, the former head of the South Carolina Arts Commission. She was on business ... staying in the same hotel. Small World!
After MoMa, we had dinner at Bottega di Vino ... a place that served wine in the largest glasses I've ever used! Everything was beyond scrumptious!
We had to walk after such a meal ... and it was a total pleasure to see all the lights of Times Square.
We also took the subways all weekend long.
Laura-Jane got a hat to sort of "match" Mathias'. They look like chipmunks to me ... and now this one is my computer's screensaver.
On Saturday we got half-priced tickets to see matinees. Mathias and LJ went to see Sister Act. Steve and I went to see Memphis. We were all totally thrilled with the performances.
So much about being in a big, teeming city like New York is artistically inspiring. I'm not really referring to all the fantastic works in international renown museum though. Inspiration, at least for me, is more often found in cemeteries ...
... especially ones with churchyards dating to the 17th century. This was at Trinity Church ... a place with dozens and dozens of awesome headstones. I wrote down a few personal epitaphs but didn't make a rubbing. (No crayon; no fabric ... must return!)
Inspiration also comes through music and any other live performance filled with passion ... like this group singing under the Bethesda Arcade in Central Park.
Unexpectedly, however, the most inspirational time came while walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.
It wasn't just the structure or the traffic or the people enjoying the weather.
Instead, it was the number of locks left by people as mementos of their love.
I snapped at least one hundred photos. There's "something" about locks ... like keys ... that resonates with me. The graffiti was good too ... and in several different languages.
I love New York City ... its energy, its inspiration, and the sense of possibilities that seem to jump off the pavement with every passing person.
Of course, the food's good too ...
... even in the diners! What a hot dog! The menu boasted fifteen inches ... and I think it was correct!
The thing I think I like the best, however, it still the buildings ...
... like the Guggenheim, where we saw Maurizio Cattelan's incredible installation All. (The museum's website has a most amazing time lapse video showing how this enormous piece was installed in the soaring space. It is HERE.)
I took nearly 600 photos. I trimmed the selection to under 200. Most (except for all the locks and the images from the cemetery) are on a Flickr! page. It is HERE. There are over 30 "buildings" in this collection, lots more photos of The Dinner Party, etc. ...
... below are just a few!
Now ... back to work! Back to the joy of creating my own art while thinking about all the inspiration for even more artwork!