Monday, March 04, 2019

The start of a two-month art residency with Osage Arts Community

(Above:  The front of the Osage Arts Community Gallery in Belle, Missouri.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last week was a whirlwind of activity.  I was BUSY!  Not only did I have to drop off my artwork for the group Alternative Storytellers exhibit that will open (sadly without me) this Thursday and finish all sorts of custom picture framing, but I had to prepare for two May workshops in Wisconsin ... because I'm not coming back to South Carolina after my two-month art residency with the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri.

 (Above:  The interior gallery space, a non-profit/non-retail place for residents and others to exhibit artwork.)

I left on Thursday morning and arrived here the next day.  Already, I am in awe.  This is truly "the gift of time".  I have no obligations other than to "be an artist" ... and even that doesn't mean what I thought it didThe expectations are for me to relax, think, enjoy, honor "nap time", and examine my studio practice as it exists now and how I'd like it to go forward in the future.  This program knows that the best work might come later.  This is a time to grow in more ways than just productivity ... which is indeed a novel way of thinking for me ... even scary.  It challenges my preconceived ideas.  It is an opportunity like no other I've ever encountered, and I'm only on full day three!

 (Above:  My bedroom ... which is nice an dark at night and peacefully very quiet!  What's not to love!  It even came with a quilt!)

Osage Arts Community has several building spread over this tiny Midwestern town in which residents and fellows live and work.  I haven't met them all yet.  My studio and living quarters are in the back of the organization's non-profit gallery space.  The gallery is on the main street, well lit, and has regular weekend hours.  There's a common area/classroom too.

This is the kitchen which I share with a young couple, poets from Tuscon.  They are in a building across the street. 

My area is spacious and includes lots of natural light.  I have WiFi and a back door to a parking lot that so far is for my cargo van alone.

There are stairs to a large attic with four bay windows.  I can use this area too.  I took the photo above from the staircase.  It shows the rest of the studio space and the red felt dress I am making for ecoFAB Couture's upcoming August runway show of recycled garment.  I started the dress shortly after I arrived.  It isn't done, just a nice start, a good foundation for a piece I'll title The Red Carpet Dress

Last November as the Philadelphia Museum of Art Show was packing up, I took a section of the red felt-like material that lined all the aisles.  I knew I wanted to make a recycled dress from it.  There were hundreds of yards being stripped from the floor and headed to a landfill.  The material is a spun polyester, very much like a thick, stiff interfacing used to line purses or shape hats.  It is not biodegradable ... yet it is A RED CARPET.  It was put down because it really gives the impression of a Hollywood event ... a "red carpet" sort of occasion to which a really high fashion statement is meant to be seen.  The section I took fills my parking lot but was really just a small portion of what was being thrown away.

So, I really want to make a dress fitting for the red carpet is once was.  I even got an invisible zipper sewn into the back seam.  It works ... but not easily.  The thickness involved make it difficult to use.  I will leave it in place but will look for other closing options.  I will also be changing the front of the dress.  As is, it will be cumbersome to walk without the dress looking bulky ... but the back has potential to be a great train of trash embellishments.  I might make a boa too.  I certainly have enough red carpet to work with!

Trying to get my mind around the idea of easing into a creative mode (not going full steam ahead with a artistic to-do list), I spent several hours just clipping letters from vintage sources into my sorting trays.  It is mindless work.  It allowed me to simply think about art, not stress out about doing "something significant".

 (Above:  Almost "before" and "after" photos of a friend's beloved Christmas Tree Skirt.)

Before I started all this, however, I tackled a repair job.  A friend from Bill Mishoe's weekly auctions gave me her family's Christmas Tree skirt.  Over the last two years, she has given me all sorts of things, especially vintage household linens and antique garments.  She continued to say, "When I find the Christmas tree skirt, will you repair it for me?"  Of course I agreed but she couldn't find it until two weeks ago.  She knew it was in much worse shape than she thought.  The entire background was disintegrating.  She thought it couldn't be fixed.  Tearfully, she said, "If anything is salvageable, please use it for yourself; but if you have to throw it away, never tell me about it."
 (Above:  The four sections of the Christmas tree skirt.)

Well, it really was in bad shape.  Even the four design elements have plenty of problems.  I thought synthetic felt wasn't biodegradable.  It is possible that only the white felt is synthetic because most of the rest is really, really fragile.  Yet, I was able to remove the designs and carefully applique them to new green felt.  I even removed the rick-rack, washed it, and put it on the new skirt.  I had to stitch more than just the outer edges but I'm quick with a threaded needle.  It only took one full day to do!  I don't hope she likes it ... I know she will!
 (Above:  Downtown Belle, Missouri.)

Fixing the Christmas Tree Skirt seemed like a perfect thing to do while the snow came down and the parking lot behind the building became a nice, flat, white surface.  Although it is REALLY cold here (at least for someone from South Carolina), I couldn't help myself ...

... I went outside and made thirteen snow angels!  The view from the attic's bay window was great!

I haven't made snow angels since I was a kid (except for those few times in college when a little beer was involved!)  It was great fun.


Linda said...

Remember the red satin dress that Aunt Janet made for your prom?

Peggy said...

I am the very proud, & somewhat humbled, recipient of the rescued Christmas tree skirt. To say I am thrilled beyond words would be the understatement of the century.

The skirt was a present from my sister back in 1981 when my boys were 5 & 2 years old. I first found some damage about 5 years ago & have been trying to locate it (we moved into a new house & it got misplaced) ever since to see if Susan could save it for me.

I will be forever grateful to Susan for sharing her talents with our family.