Tuesday, March 27, 2012
(Photo from the West Martello, civil war fortifications and national historic site ... now the home of the Key West Garden Club. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.)
March has flown by!
My month in paradise at The Studios of Key West are nearly at an end. (Attention all visual, literary, and performance artists ... deadline for next year's residency program is May 15. Check out the application HERE!)
I am faced with wrapping up projects and visiting the remaining few locations on my "to do" list. This meant dealing with an incredible heap of polyester velvet scraps ....
... leftover snippets from making so many faux-stained glass fiber works.
(Above: In Box XCI. 37" x 17". Polyester stretch velvet, previously painted WonderUnder/Bond-a-Web, metallic foiling, overlay of chiffon scarves, free-motion machine embroidery, and melting. Photo taken on the front porch of my residency cottage. Click on image to enlarge.)
I returned to my original "In Box Series". The only real difference between the "faux-stained glass" and the "In Box Series" is the size and shape of the polyester velvet pieces used in their construction. I reduced the pile of snippets considerably. I could have made a few smaller "In Boxes" but I am now nearly out of 100% black cotton thread. (I purchased the only two spools available at Ben Franklin's in order to finish this piece!) For a free tutorial on this work, CLICK HERE.
(Above: Harry S. Truman's Little White House.)
Yesterday I visited the Harry S. Truman's Little White House. It was like stepping back into history. Everything is the same it was in the late 40s and 50s. All the furnishings are original ... down to the poker table, bar glasses, and piano!
Making the tour even more amazing was the fact that over half those on my tour remember Harry S. Truman! Even the guide, a native "conch" (person born in Key West) remembers being a twelve-year old newspaper boy selling the president a copy. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed to be taken inside.
I also visited the West Martello Tower, a Civil War era fortification and National Historic Site which is now the home of the Key West Garden Club. What a fantastic use of an otherwise "ruin" of a structure! Some of the structure is in good repair and is now a library and meeting room for the very active green-thumbs.
What they've done to the exterior ground is remarkably beautiful!
(A green iguana in the Key West Garden Club's butterfly area!)
I took hundreds of photos but pared the group down to a mere twenty-five which are now on Flickr HERE or as a slideshow HERE. Enjoy ... I sure did!
Sunday, March 25, 2012
(Above: Twelve finished "Windows" on the front porch of my residency cottage. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)
Yesterday I finished melting the twelve piece on which I've been working. They are all in my "Window Series" ... small, faux-stained glass in fibers. I shot them on the front porch here at my residency cottage at The Studios of Key West. They are in the same order as the pictures I shot of these pieces in progress shown a couple of days ago. It is simply amazing how much work one can accomplish when provided with "the gift of time" !
(To experience a month-long residency in "paradise", check out the application ... which isn't due until May 15!)
(Above: Window XXVII. Click on any image to enlarge.)
I haven't been "working" every hour of every day. That really isn't the point of a successful residency. One must experience the place, the feel, the atmosphere, and the people in the residency location. I've been doing just that ... especially on the provided bicycle.
(Above: Window XXXIX.)
There are all sort of opportunities to interact with other artists here at The Studios of Key West. Last week I filled in for a model who cancelled at the last moment ... for a figure painting workshop under Russian trained/Art Student League teacher Leonid Gervits, now of NYC. Yes ... this meant nude! The experience of watching participants struggle to get my body proportions correct, the coloring exact, and the setting put down in oils made my job of "standing very still" seem easy by comparison. Later, Mr. Gervits and I had a chance to talk about art and the daily work of just "being an artist." (There are obviously NO PHOTOS from this modeling session!)
(Above: Window XLVIII.)
Another workshop being conducted here was "Capture Key West: Digital Photography" taught by Allen Rokach. I was invited to sit in on some of the critique sessions ... which provided me insight into new ways to use Photoshop and new ways to use my camera.
(Above: Window XXXVIII.)
Yet another evening was spent with Bonnie Rychlak, a former curator at the Isamu Noguchi Museum. Her presentation to Key West Sculpture was excellent ... and right outside my door ... on the patio attached to my residency unit!
(Above: Window XLVI.)
I've visited plenty of art galleries too. The local talent is amazing and artists are actually reporting great springtime sales in this resort community.
(Above: Window XLV.)
Last night, however, I took a little break. I went to The Sports Page, a bar and grill. Even here in "paradise", I'm aware of "March Madness" and the fact that my Ohio State Buckeyes were playing in the "Elite Eight". The Sports Page is owned by people originally from Ohio ... who played our fight songs, the Alma Mater, and "Hang on Sloopy" thoughout the evening for the mostly OSU supporting crowd. It was a great game, exciting down the very last moments.
(Above: Window XLIV.)
Tonight I'm planning to attend the local production of Kiss Me Kate.
(Above: Window XLIII.)
On Tuesday night I'll attend the Waterfront Playhouse's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee featuring one of the other artists-in-residence, Kristen Michelle.
(Above: Window XLVII.)
I'm starting a new "In Box Series" piece ... due to having so many little scraps of polyester stretch velvet on my ironing table due to the construction of so many faux-stained glass fiber pieces. I'm trying to plan the next few days carefully ... for maximum productivity. My time in "paradise" is too quickly coming to an end.
(Above: Window XL.)
(Above: Window LII.)
(Above: Window XLI.)
Before I end this blog post, however, I want to share a special story from yesterday afternoon. A family dropped by my cottage. I knew they might come because their "Uncle Marvin" contacted me about a month before I came to Key West. His mother used to own this structure. His family might be in Key West during my stay ... and they were! Of course I gave them a "tour"!
Above is the family of Norma and Gene Gootee, the former owners of 607 Ashe Street. Several of her granddaughters, who remember chalk painting on the front sidewalk and where the only bathroom was located, were nearly brought to tears at how wonderful the place looks. It was quite clear that the attention to preservation, architectural details, and to overall beauty given by The Studios of Key West made this family very, very happy. Parting words included, "Grandma would be so proud!"
Posted by Susan Lenz at 11:36 AM
Friday, March 23, 2012
(Above: Group of twelve pieces in my "Window Series. The "construction" phases is mostly completed ... polyester stretch velvets backed with WonderUnder/Bond-a-Web on recycled acrylic packaging felt. They are ready for another layer of previously painted WonderUnder and sheer chiffon scarves ... then free motion machine embroidery. Scroll down to see how that looks! Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)
Since finishing my entry for Runaway Runway, a fashion show of recycled materials, I went to work on an ambitious project ... the creation of twelve new "Windows". Generally, I do work on more than one of these at a time but certainly never this many. The "gift of time" is really what this residency is all about.
So ... here I am stitching in paradise! The photo was taken by one of the other artists-in-residence, Kristin Michelle, an actress who is appearing at The Waterfront Theater's production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". It took only about eight or nine hours of constant stitching to complete all twelve. At home, this time would be divided between several days. Here ... it was yesterday!
So, now I've got the same twelve pieces ... with a layer of previously painted WonderUnder and a collage of chiffon scarving and stitched with 100% black cotton thread. This morning I started the melting process ... which actually takes me longer than the stitching. By tomorrow, I'll probably be ready to post the finished work! (The photos were taken with the pieces laying on the front porch of my residency cottage.
(Above: Aquarium at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.)
Each day, however, I don't just work, work, work. This is Key West! I have to take time to explore the place. Recently I rode my bicycle around the edge of the island ... by the Gulf side harbor, down Duvall Street, past the Atlantic Ocean's sandy beaches, around the airport, and back down Scenic Hwy. 1. I've also visited the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and seen the film swim down through the mangroves to the coral reef's depth.
In town, I went to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum and enjoyed the actor guides humorously educate visitors on the riches from wrecking. In 1852 Key West was the richest city per capita in the entire United States ... funds from salvaged cargo.
The artifacts were great!
I especially liked the ivory handled toothbrushes!
One of the best things at the Shipwreck Treasure Museum is its rooftop platform, a view to the ocean ...
... and a view over Key West!
On another afternoon I went to St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Duvall Street. The stained glass windows on the sanctuary floor level are installed to swing open to the world ... quite a unique and tropical place of worship.
I lit a candle ... thankful for this opportunity!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 4:01 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
(Cover of Jasper Magazine ... This link will navigate you to the on-line issue ... Vol. 001, No. 004 ... March/April 2012.)
I've known this was coming and I really hated missing the magazine's launch party last week ... but at least today's mail brought the new issue of Jasper Magazine! My work is the cover and the magazine carries a great article with a most amazing photo of me! (I usually hate photos of me ... but I guess a real professional like Mark Green knows how to shoot even people like me with a squinting eye and a lop-sided smile!)
(The page directly behind the cover!)
The cover is bright pink (Women's History Month!) and includes a section that appears like a hole ... with a view to the page directly behind it .... Time, my new 3D assemblage piece! What a way to debut a new series than to have a work on the cover of an arts magazine!
(Page One of the article. Click on image to enlarge and read!)
The article is great too ... thanks to a lovely interview with Susan Levi Wallach.
Opposite the first page of the article is ...
...this incredible photo of me in a "nest" of my own yarn, fabric, and thread! It was taken on the floor outside my studio door at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... same location where the magazine hosted a party last week.
(Above: Photo from the Jasper Magazine launch party at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... found on my Facebook page! Sorry I missed you all!)
When turning the page, one sees my Spool Cradle and the second page of the article!
(Above: Page Two of the article. Click on image to enlarge and read!)
THANK YOU Susan Levi Wallach, Cindi Boiter, Mark Green, and the entire staff at Jasper Magazine for making this possible! Thank you to my husband Steve for sending a copy via priority mail! Yes, this is a PRIORITY!)
Posted by Susan Lenz at 4:31 PM
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
(Above: Stitched, recycled tyvek mailing envelope. Click on this or any photo in this blog post to enlarge.)
An artist residency is truly "the gift of time". I love getting up in the morning and immediately going to "work" ... stitching and making art! It is a fantastic way to spend the day. Yet, every day I also try to "see something" new in Key West and to ride my bicycle. As a result, I'm getting to know the place pretty well and also getting a little tanned (or at least my arms and lower legs are!)
Yesterday I went to the Wildlife Rescue Center and the White Street pier. I saw lots of birds. Some can't be released back into the wild due to the injuries they've sustained. Others are mending and will be set free. Lots of birds just enjoy the pond and the jungle-like grounds. The place is near the White Street pier. It was windy but the sun was shiny brightly. I know that the color of the ocean is a result of some complicated way sunlight refracts and reflects through the water ... but, seriously, the two sides of the pier seemed like two totally different bodies of water!
One side was variegated green ... from mint to kelly.
The other side was all turquoise and blue! Both sides were amazingly clear to the sandy bottom. There were plenty of fish too!
Although the cruise ships dock on the other side of the island, I cycled past this one earlier in the morning.
So ... what have I been up to "art wise"?
(Above: Runaway Runway 2012 two-piece recycled garment. )
I've been working on my Runaway Runway 2012 garment. This fashion show of recycled materials is being held on Saturday, April 21st. This is also the same day as the Historic Elmwood Tour of Homes and the Columbia Open Studios. Our home/business, Mouse House, will be featured for both these events ... and then we'll get to the Township Auditorium for the fashion show that night!
My mother and youngest sister Sonya came to Runaway Runway 2011. The morning after the show, Sonya and I designed the concept for this year's entry. Sonya warned me not to blog about it but I can't help myself. (Plus, I've never really been someone to keep an art secret. When asked about the possibility of others copying me, I've always figured I'd simply invent something else ... something even better! I have faith in my imagination.)
The two-piece garment will be worn by my neighbor's daughter. She's fourteen and into pageants. The base fabric is recycled packaging felt from River Runner, the local kayak and canoe shop. The owner, Guy Jones, has been donating this felt to me for years. It is the same material I use as the base of my "In Box Series" and all my faux-stained glass fiber pieces. Most of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts don't have traditional batting; they've got this recycled, black packaging felt.
The white buttons were salvaged from the floor of the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital's laundry and alterations building. I used them in my December storefront window installation at S & S. Now, I've been stitching like "crazy" to cover the felt ... a little every night before going to sleep in the big, comfy bedroom chair. Even the decorative buttons around the neckline came from the mental institution.
(Above: "Junk" from my youngest sister Sonya's travel agency!)
The garment isn't all that will be on the cat walk next month. My model will be carrying a red faux-alligator bag made from "junk" from Sonya's travel agency. She sent it to me within a month of last year's fashion show. Some of it dates to 1989 ... like the disc covers for travel agency computer programs from Delta Airlines!
(Above: Stitching the tyvek mailers.)
Some of the mailing envelopes were made of tyvek. I stitched a grid ... well ... several grids! Then I zapped them with a heat gun. Heat made the fabric pucker and bubble. I painted it red.
(Above: Stitched, zapped, and painted sheets of recycled tyvek mailing envelopes.)
I gently ironed the "material" as flat as I could. Then, I restitched the largest piece onto a couple of bubble-wrapped mailing envelopes.
(Above: Bubble wrap mailing envelopes about to be stitched onto the zapped and painted red tyvek.)
(Above: Red faux-alligator bag for Runaway Runway 2012.)
Eventually, I used some of the foam material and more tyvek for the strap. More buttons from the Mental Hospital were added ... plus an elastic hairband that I took from one of the other artists-in-residences! Kristen Michelle is appearing at the Waterfront Theater's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She was generous enough to supply the used hairband I needed for a purse closure!
I also added some wax and black crayon to better emulate the look of faux-leather.
The interior still shows the materials used in the construction. There's another accessory for my model ... but I'm keeping that one "a secret" for a bit longer!
Unbelievably, I ran out of painted Wonder Under. I use this while constructing my faux-stained glass fiber pieces. I'm currently working on twelve, small "Windows" (approximately 13" x 11".) It was nice to allow the washes of color to dry in the tropical garden just outside my cottage!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 1:49 PM