Friday, May 27, 2016

40' Otter, 9000 pound chicken, a Viking ship plus new work from Minnesota!


(Above:  Otto, the forty-foot otter sculpture here in Fergus Falls, MN.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.

I brought a brand new quart of matte medium with me.  It was the largest size available from City Art unless I'd special ordered a gallon.  I probably should have done that.  I ran out.  The nearest "big box" art supply store is in Fargo, North Dakota.  I've always wanted to step foot in a new-to-me state.  So, off on a day trip I went ... going via the giant, forty-foot otter sculpture here in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.


(Me and Otto!)

There's a picnic bench right beside Otto.  Locally, it is considered romantic to picnic here.  I don't know why.  It was cute, of course!



Otto stands guard over one of the town's lakes ... which is filled with families of Canadian geese ...



... and home to dozens of nesting snowy egrets!  I couldn't stay long though.  I had places to go and matte medium to purchase.


(Above:  The Hjemkomst Viking Ship in Moorhead, MN.)

My first stop was the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay Count.  It was noteworthy on many counts (not the least of which was the fact that ... for the very first time ... I qualified for a senior citizen's discounted admission ... over 55!)  This Viking ship was the dream construction of a local high school guidance counselor, Robert Asp.  He started int he early 1970s.  It took six years.  Although he was diagnosed with leukemia, he was able to pilot his vessel on open water but before it made the journey to Norway (with a cast of twelve ... including four of his children).  The movie was emotional.  The ship is incredible.  The building, with an inflated, tent-like structural roof is equally outstanding.  There is little wonder that it is the county's major tourist attraction ... and it wasn't the only grand thing on the site!


(Above:  Replica of a Norwegian stave church.)

Just outside the doorway from the Viking ship is this amazing replica of a Norwegian stave church.  Entrance is only via a guided tour ... which naturally I took.



The interior construction was gorgeous.



The hand-carved wooden Celtic motifs and sculptural elements were fabulous.



The altar included hardanger embroidery made by a ninety-year old Scandinavian descendent. 



There was also a fine, local art guild show and an exhibition of aprons ... including a mock Christmas tree made of holiday themed aprons.  It was very well done, informative, and brought back lots of memories of my Girl Scout sewing badge.  Grandma Lenz taught me how to stitch aprons on the treadle machine that is now in my living room.


(Above:  The 9000 Prairie Chicken statue at Rothsay, Minnesota.)

From Moorhead, I drove over the Red River into Fargo, went to Michaels, bought the two pints of matte medium available, and started back to Minnesota ... via Rothsay, the Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota.

(Me and the giant Prairie Chicken.)

Amazingly, this was also a picnic spot.  I don't know why ... but it was cute.  I hear there's a giant clothespin in a one-man-made sculpture park east of Fergus Falls. I think I'll go next week!


(Above:  Altered, vintage photos.)

Now, I'm not giving up that much studio time!  I was back in my basement space by 3:30 yesterday afternoon ... ready to collage some more.  Thus far, I have altered well over one-hundred vintage photos (the kind on hard, corrugated-like boards).  Each one is finished with a polished coat of wax to prevent the matte medium (an acrylic) from adhering to one another.

(Above:  Three issues of Fortune Magazine from the 1940s.)

Not only did I run out of matte medium earlier in the week, I was running low on a few of the clipped letters.  "I" and "L" are the most difficult to keep in stock.  Why?  Well, both these letters are often depicted as a straight, vertical line.  Think "capital I" without being a block letter.  Think "lower case L".  When collaging in a ransom-note fashion, it is difficult to read the words if an I or an L is simply a vertical line.  I need nice, block letter Is or lower case Is with a dot.  I need only capital Ls.  I prefer vintage letters ... though I do mix in a couple current art magazines.  At home in Columbia, I have several 1940s issues of Fortune Magazine.  I had Steve mail three of them.  Thankfully, they arrived just in time for the new supply of matte medium.  I'm ready to continue working!


(Above:  Cover of Forever in Our Hearts, an altered Victorian photo album filled with my images from the ancient cemeteries in Edinburgh, Scotland.)

I generally like my altered books to look, from the outside, just like they did before I worked on them.  Forever in Our Hearts is no exception.  It looks just like a Victorian photo album.  


(Above:  Forever in Our Hearts, open to the first page.)

Once the cover is opened, however, there are no vintage family pictures.  Instead, there is a collection of my photographs taken in 2012 in the ancient cemeteries in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I had a problem with this album however.  The interior pages were very, very well worn.  Most of the slits at the bottom of each page (where photos are to be inserted) were torn.  Edges were ripped.  It was a mess.  I had to do "something".  Each one of these pages included a monochromatic, floral design.  I thought to myself, "Susan, you need a bunch of cut-out flowers ... in black-and-white ... no ... in seriously OFF WHITE tones!" 


(Above:  Another spread from Forever in Our Hearts.)

Now I had no idea where I might find such a material ... until walking by Biffley's Used Games and Books store ... which is literally two doors away from the Kaddatz Gallery where my studio is located.  Books are sold for $4 per pound or as marked ... whichever is less.  I browsed until finding Using Plants for Healing by Nelson Coon (1979 ... and available on Amazon for as little as $3 which is about what I paid). 

(Above:  Coffee stained floral motifs clipped from Using Plants for Healing by Nelson Coon ... sitting on the ravaged hardback book!)

I cut out every flower, took them to the apartment, brewed a pot of Starbucks (only the best!), and poured it into the shallow depth of a cookie sheet in which the floral motifs were placed.  After an hour or so, I removed the thoroughly soaked paper, arranged them on the granite counter top and sprinkled some of the coffee grounds over them.  The next morning they were all dry.  I brushed away the grounds and took the flowers back to the studio ... collaging over the damage.  The coffee stained perfectly.  In the photo above, I placed them on what was left of the book ... quite a change in tone!


(Above:  The back of some of the plain vintage photos.)

I had lots of leftover flowers ... and collaged them on to the backs of some of the plainer, vintage photos.  Most of these vintage photos have decorative reverse sides, usually a fancy advertisement for the photo studio.

(Above and below:  The remaining spread of Forever in Our Hearts.)

Now, just enjoy the spread from Forever in Our Hearts.  Some pages have lots of flower due to lots of damage.  Some don't! 

















1 comment:

Margaret Roberts said...

A lovely post Susan. We have egrets nesting across the river from me here and I wish my camera would get even closer to them. I don't think they have arrived just yet though.