Monday, September 26, 2011

At Rest in Arkansas and other art

(Above: At Rest in Arkansas, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 16" x 17". Crayon rubbing on silk collaged with vintage household linens. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

A recent SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) newsletter included information about the Texas Quilt Museum and Karey Bresenhan's (of Quilts, Inc.) request for small quilt donations for its gift shop. I thought I'd make something using one of my grave rubbings made in Arkansas; but the piece sort of "got away from me", growing in size and complexity, and becoming something I could use in my upcoming exhibition in Rocky Mount next January thru May.

(Above: At Rest in Arkansas, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

Giving this piece a title was momentarily difficult. I already have a piece called At Rest. The title At Rest II was considered ... but it sort of implies a "series" or at least two "related" works. The only thing similar is the concept. I suppose the same name is possible. My mentor, Stephen Chesley has several pieces with the same name. Yet, each one of these grave rubbing art quilts is unique ... even if the image (as in this case) can be found on multiple tombstones. I've seen variations of the "picket fence"/"pearly gates" under an arch with a dove many times. The "anchor" motif in the upper corners were new to me though. I've only seen this combination in Arkansas ... hence the title.

(Above: At Rest. Shown as an example for why I just couldn't call the newer piece At Rest II. This piece is currently at Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona for my solo show ... opening October 7th. I'm going for the reception on the 21st!)

(Handed Down. Vintage, off white kid leather glove on antique quilt scraps. Hand stitched.)

So ... what did I finally decide about a donation to the Texas Quilt Museum? I sent Handed Down. There's a bit of serendipity to this. First, I actually do have two pieces with the same title: Handed Down! Second, the antique quilt scraps for this small piece were given to me by Connie Akers ... of Texas! The piece is sort of "going home".

(Above: Handed Down. Vintage gloves and cutwork tablecloth, antique paisley. Hand stitched. Two pieces, one title ... now I don't have to worry about this as the smaller one has been donated!)

(Above: Reba, my new studio assistant. Click on image to enlarge. Please note: At Rest in Arkansas was "in progress" by my Bernina.)

There's plenty of other art being made in my studio ... including some of the "paperwork" that happens with various installation. Last spring I showed "I Do / I Don't". The public was invited to share their statements about marriage and divorce before the installation ... but also DURING THE INSTALLATION. I still had four large pieces of mat board with all these collected statements (leaning up against the wall in the photo above). My new studio assistant Reba spent hours typing them into a "word document". Thank goodness this is now done ... months after the fact. I hope to use these statements in future, related work.

(Above: Stitching on Anonymous in my studio. Photo by friend and art patron Nancy Chambers. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've been busy with Anonymous, undoubtedly the most labor intensive grave rubbing art quilt to date (with the possible exception of My Epitaph Quilt.)

(Pinning the reverse to the quilt in the hallway at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... just outside my studio door. Photo by Nancy Chambers. Click on photo to enlarge.)

The front/top is finished. The reverse is in progress. I'll be blanket stitching the edges. Hopefully, within a few days it will be done.

(Above: Book Arts Class at City Art Gallery taught by Chris Johnson. Click on image to enlarge.)

My book arts class is going very well. Last week we worked on ways to embellish pages. I've never really gotten into stamps, especially those purchased at hobby and craft stores ... but I LOVE carving my own!

(Above: Some of Chris Johnson's hand carved wine cork stamps. Click on image to enlarge.)

I really liked carving wine corks ... especially the plastic ones which we first cut down the middle an used the rectangular "inside". We also carved linoleum and a soft, thick piece of white rubber. I may never use this idea ... but perhaps I will. It really was easy!

Now for some good news ... REALLY GREAT NEWS! The October/November issue of Quilting Arts Magazine includes a six page "artist profile" article on my work and me! The staff was so professional and wonderful to work with. Ellen Seeburger chose perfect words to compliment the photos ... which were taken "in house". The magazine selected which pieces they wanted and paid for them to be shipped for their "photo shoot". I'm totally over the moon about the article ... and the magazine is available all over the place ... like Barnes and Nobles and Books-a-Million, etc.

(Above: Sissy, our rescue cat ... may she rest in peace. She left pawprints on our hearts.)

Finally, some sad news. Sissy, our rescue cat, had to be put to sleep on Friday morning. Something terrible was wrong with her sweet little heart. Fluids were building up and literally suffocating her. It was so sad and we will miss her.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jillian's aka The ReFashionista

(Above: Jillian and me at the Jasper Magazine launch party.)

Last Thursday Steve and I went to the launch party for a new arts publication called Jasper. I ran into Jillian, aka The ReFashionista. She looked amazing ... in a "brand new-to-her" dress. A photo was snapped and I ended up on her blog ... which isn't just any ordinary blog! Jillian is using her blog to document a year-long challenge. She's altering a garment a day! Last Thursday was day 78. Check out her full blog post for this dress HERE. To visit the entire, on-going blog, click HERE. Jillian has altered all sorts of outdated outfits ... even a soccer jersey into a skirt and she's made mouse-shaped cat toys from big, '80s shoulder pads. Very cool! Very talented!

(PS Jillian ... If you don't want to continue with the cat toys ... please pass the shoulder pads on to me. I've got three cats and no toys!
PSS Jillian will accept donation of slighted used, out-of-style garments. I'm raiding the back of my closet! She said I could drop them off at the South Carolina Arts Commission where she works.
PSSS I met Jillian when she posed for my Decision Portrait Series. The piece is called Bald is Beautiful. Jillian had her head shaved to benefit kids with cancer. Click HERE to read more about this amazing decision.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coming up for air!

It's been two weeks since my last post ... which is a rather long time for me to neglect my blog. Please don't think, however, that I've been neglecting my art! I've actually been quite busy! Of course, there was a pile of custom picture framing and other "work" waiting from my attention after the month of August in Hot Springs National Park as the "artist-in-residence". That ate up a lot of my time. Then ... I had a few special projects to tackle ... washing and sorting all the buttons collected from the alteration/laundry facility in the former State Mental Hospital ...

These thousands of buttons were scattered all over the dirty floor.

Why was it dirty? Well, the buildings haven't been occupied for decades.

Chipped paint from the ceiling, inches of dust, and general dirt was literally scooped up by hand and broom.

(Photo by Fred Delk, Executive Director of the Columbia Development Corporation, who helped arrange for me to visit this unique, otherwise "off limits", historic site and collect socks, buttons, and other materials for my use in art!)

I was given permission to collect them for my art. I plan to use them for an installation at S&S Art Supplies December. It was high time to wash them ... and the water turned BLACK ... but the results were worth it. I sorted them into two groups: white and multicolored.

Buttons weren't the only things in need of washing. I had artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters to dissect, wash, dry, and package!

Here's the spare bathroom tub ... the rinsing station for the flowers. (I hand wash by the sinkful!)

After draining the water from the tub, I spread old towels on the floor where the flowers can dry.

All these cemetery flowers joined the bags I'd already collected over a year ago. These are the "previously collected flowers" in two JUMBO "space bags" ... the kind from which a vacuum cleaner or shop-vac sucks all the air. We'd never used them before.

... but they sure work! That's Steve (above) with the same two jumbo bags of artificial flowers. (We used our Shop-vac in the framing garage!)

Those two bags then fit into the old box for our miter saw!

The box joined six others filled with a total of 175 pounds worth of artwork now on the way to Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona! My solo show "Famous Last Words" opens on October 7th. The reception is on October 21st ... and I'm very excited to by flying out for this exciting part of the annual Dia de los Muertos celebration.

(Above: Killed Instantly, 24 1/2" x 24". Running stitch in wool. Vintage doily with embroidered poppies and vintage lace and linens on severely light damaged material salvaged from an old office window. Grave rubbings made with crayon on silk with words: Born 1817. Killed instantly in front of Petersburg, Va. June 22, 1864. Brave Christian Solider Fare Thee Well. For more about this piece with images that can be enlarged, click HERE.)

One of the art quilts, Killed Instantly, was on Vision Gallery's curated list. It will be sent directly from the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, Tennessee where it just won Best of Show for art quilts in The 29th Annual National Hertiage Quilt Show with the theme: "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: The Civil War"! I wish I could have gone; I love these sorts of historic museums.

In addition to "washing" my raw materials and shipping artwork, I've also been enrolled in a book art class at City Art. The first week we learned several types of Japanese stab bindings. Our homework was to create two, coordinating books using these stitched bindings. I decided to make three ... partly to use all three bindings taught ... but also because I really messed up and had to redo pages from one of the books ... which eliminated the planned "coordination".

The small book now has cemetery angel photos stitched with antique bookend paper that coordinates with the more colorful book. The cover was made from leftover Thai Stucco paper, the "third layer" of all my Decision Portraits. (All photos can be enlarge.)

The "more colorful" cover was made from the title page of an antique book with a collage of bookend paper and an antique engraving. The paper was really was too brittle for this purpose (hence some of my initial problems). I ended up taking the entire book apart ... ruining the original pages (they were salvaged for another use!). I glued antique red brocade fabric to the inside of the covers and finally managed a "fern stitch" binding ...

...with a second batch of pages. These "new pages" used some of the Thai Stucco paper with angel images ... hence "coordination".

Finally, the third book is filled with larger (6" x 4") photos of cemetery angels. It has a Thai Stucco paper cover ... and just doesn't coordinate with any of the red tones or bookend paper. Oh well!

It does, however, show the tortoise shell binding ... which was totally new to me!

During the second class we learned COPTIC BINDING! (There are four more classes ... but this is what I really, really wanted to learn ... and I LOVE IT as much as I hoped I would!)

There was absolutely no way for me to "read" instructions for Coptic binding and figure it out. Yet, once shown the steps, it is rather easy. For homework, we were told to "make a book using the Coptic binding".

I am NOT considering this "homework" to be a "class project" and it certainly isn't a "kit". I took apart two early, mixed media pieces on 5" x 7" masonite panels. Holes were drilled, folios torn and folded into signatures, thread was waxed, and He Said, She Said was created.

My original titles for these two works were: He played and She Listened. Obviously, the poses are very suggestive. Although I'd never before created an intentionally provocative piece, this is what the images suggest ... and I had a blast putting all my vintage clipped letters together into a sexually charged piece.

Above it the title page.

Above is one spread ... using the original titles. To see/read the entire book, please visit the video that includes Ravel's Bolero. It is HERE. Who knows what the homework for week three will be!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Quartz Mining, Final Residency Presentation, and HOME again!

(Above: Hiking on the Hot Springs National Park trails.)

My wonderful husband Steve flew into the Little Rock National Airport last Wednesday afternoon. I was thrilled to have him with me for the final few days in Arkansas. We hiked several trails in Hot Springs National Park, cleaned the cute "ranger house" in which I'd been living for a month ...

...presented my work during "First Friday", the monthly "art crawl" in the town of Hot Springs ...

...officially donated three pieces to the National Park's permanent art collection, ate in the finest local restaurant, waded in the creek, took a scenic drive, and WENT QUARTZ MINING at Coleman's Quartz mine!

It was 96 degrees outside. We met all sorts of fun people digging through the dregs from the "professional" mining, found lots of gorgeous quartz pieces, and had a total blast. I even created a two-minute video of the experience. It is HERE. Then, Steve drove me back to South Carolina. I stitched on my Grave Rubbing Art Quilt piece, Anonymous, the entire way. There will be photos coming ... but for some completely insane reason, I decided to add very, very dense running stitches (kantha style ... like the beautiful work from India) to the piece. I'm estimating a minimum of 45 hours more stitching to complete the quilt top. Thank God I love hand stitching! Tomorrow ... I tackle the mountain of work that piled up in my month-long absence.