Monday, June 30, 2014

Last Words at the Tapps Art Center

(Above:  Last Words at the Tapps Art Center ... view to the signage and the opening to the center aisle.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I am really, really lucky to live in a city with several great locations for displaying local artwork.  One space is at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... right outside my studio door.  The exhibition area can be rented by the week.  Each resident artist gets two free weeks to use the gallery as a "perk" in the rental arrangement.  This is time during which one can mount a solo show.  The resident artists also exhibit together twice a year for annual art crawls in our part of town:  Artista Vista in the spring and Vista Lights in the fall.

Yet, there's another GIANT space on Main Street called the Tapps Art Center.  I've been involved as an exhibiting artist since its very first month ... November 2010.  I've created four window installations, one of which included my only "performance art piece", Ophelia.  I've shown my Decision Portraits there ... after the initially opened ... before other exhibitions could be scheduled.  I've been part of a couple group shows too.  Last November and December I had a solo show at Tapps called I Am Not Invisible.  

With every new arts organization there are initial problems and plenty of growing pains.  Tapps Art Center has had more than its fair share.  Recently (like less than two months ago), the original executive director left.  A new person was hired.  In the shuffle of transition, no show was booked for July.  So, when I met the new director last "First Thursday on Main Street" (June 5th), I was asked if I could mount a solo show for the next month.  OF COURSE I CAN ... and yesterday, I installed Last Works!

 (Above:  Ledge!  I created five ledges on which to display my altered Victorian photo albums.)

A surprise solo show!  What could be more wonderful!  I've shown Last Words in Florence, South Carolina (summer 2010); at Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona (October 2011); and in the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (January 2012).  The work debuted at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios along with my Blues Chapel in February 2010. (Click here for that dual installation.)  Yet, I've been making more work ever since then.  Lots of things!  Also, I didn't curate the show in Rocky Mount.  That exhibit was more of an "art quilt" show.  None of my "Angels in Mourning" pieces were included.  The show in Arizona had shipping restrictions.  Thus, this new opportunity has been a real joy!  I'm in charge.  I have work I've never shown.  I have more space than ever before.  Plus ... Tapps Art Center is closed on Sunday and Monday.  The opening isn't until Thursday for the "First Thursday on Main Street".  I have enjoyed a leisure installation ... which will be expanded tomorrow.  Why?  Well, the new director is so thrilled that she wants to show the epitaph banners.  Someone is making arrangements for this to happen tomorrow morning!  This show is going to be GREAT!

(Above:  New ledge ... being tested at Mouse House.)

In order to show my five altered Victorian photo albums.  I created "ledges" from two planks of wood that were "leftovers" from when we hired a carpenter to create a pantry for us.  That happened TEN YEARS ago ... right after Mouse House (our home/business) caught fire and had to have a new roof and the back part of our second floor home totally restored.  The two planks of wood have been leaning up inside the pantry ever since ... and were exactly the amount of shelving I needed for the five ledges.  I used moulding leftover from framing my Large, Stained Glass Windows on three sides of the planks.  Brackets from Home Depot allowed me to screw them into the wall!  Perfect!

(Above:  The Angels in Mourning Series ... on a rolling cart at Tapps.)

Yesterday afternoon Steve and I unloaded a very full car.  Steve went back for the second load. 

(Above:  The center aisle at Tapps ... before I started to install.)

While Steve was gone (which wasn't long ... we live less than a mile away), I surveyed the interior space.  The center aisle is LONG!

(Above:  One side aisle at Tapps ... before I started to install.)

I was also given the walls facing the front doors, the walls facing the circular desk, and this side aisle.  The interior spaces are individual art and art-related business studios.  To be honest, I have no idea how many total running feet of exhibition space I was given.  Let's just say ... A LOT!

 (Above:  The center aisle ... after I installed.)

Several hours later, the center aisle looked like this!  On the left side are three of my ledges.  On the right side are two of them.  I adore the artificial cemetery flowers lining both walls.  It was great fun to "play" with my own work and create a special atmosphere, a unique vision of my creative endeavors.  I can't wait to continue working on it tomorrow and for the reception on Thursday.  Below are more images showing the way it looked last night ... before labels, before lighting adjustments, before the epitaph banners are suspended.  Oh ... I forgot to snap a photo of the side aisle ... and a couple of other areas.  I'll do that tomorrow!  Enjoy the images!

(Above:  The Book of the Dead on its altered Victrola pedestal.)

(Above: One side of the center aisle ... looking toward the Main Street entrance.)

(Above: The other side of the center aisle ... looking toward the Main Street entrance.)

(Above:  Two of the Angels in Mourning Series mixed media pieces flanking The Girl With The Upturned Shell, a Grave Rubbing Art Quilt made earlier this year.)

(Above:  Two of the Angels in Mourning Series mixed media pieces flanking a ledge with one of the altered Victorian photo albums.  Over the album is one of the Dearly Departed Series pieces.)

(Above:  The end of the center aisle nearest the Main Street Entrance ... showing Ready for Burial, Reverence, and other pieces.)

(Above:  One of the center aisles ... looking from the Main Street Entrance back toward the circular desk area.)

(Above:  A wider angle of the same wall at the corner ... including one of the two wall sections facing Main Street. I should have moved the silly little table ... but didn't.  It will not be there on Thursday!)

(Above:  The other corner and other wall section facing Main Street.)

My sign reads:
Last Words by Susan Lenz

Crayon on silk grave rubbings, vintage household linens, recycled material, collaged 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.  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 gently turn the pages of the fragile, altered Victorian photo albums and carefully peek at the reverse of the art quilts.

 This installation was made possible through the support of family and friends, including Caitlin Bright and the Tapps Art Center; Shives Funeral Home; The City Clerk Department of Colma, CA; Jeanne Williamson; Maureen Barrett MacNamara; Guy Jones at River Runner; Stephen Chesley; the cyber community reading and; Steve Dingman; and all those who bring artificial flowers to Columbia’s Elmwood and Greenlawn cemeteries.


Gisela Towner said...

Wow! Looks like an amazing exhibit!!
Now I have a great excuse to visit my cousin in SC, except she'll be arriving here in a few days.

Would love to see your show!

Norma Schlager said...

It looks so fabulous, Susan! Wish I lived close enough to see it.

Margaret Cooter said...

The work looks beautiful in the space ... a wonderful exhibition!

Suella said...

Well done. Love the inclusion of the cemetery flowers

California Fiber artist and composer said...

A Fascinating exhibition and body of work. Wish I was closer

Margaret said...

Oh how I wish I could see even one of your installations in person!