Monday, April 16, 2012

Jam Packed Week of Art

(Above: Time Revolving, 23" x 26" x 10". 3D Found Art Object Assemblage. Click on image to enlarge. To read about this piece, scroll down!)

Springtime is always a wonderful season for art events ... but it is getting a bit ridiculous here in Columbia, South Carolina!

Today I mailed The Cemetery Flower Dress, The Leaf Dress, and my entire "I Do / I Don't" installation of wedding veils to Blue Door Gallery for the upcoming, national juried exhibition Art & the Human Form: Concept, Costume, and Beyond.

Tomorrow I'm speaking to the Sumter Art Guild.

On Wednesday I'm meeting with my studio assistant and getting my Gallery 80808 studio ready for Artista Vista (April 26th). My Bluegrass Roots I, II, and III are in the group show there. My studio assistant is keeping my studio open as I won't be here for the actual event.

On Thursday I'm giving a presentation to an elementary school art club, followed by a Runaway Runway rehearsal, followed by an Open Studio preview party where I'll pick up all the traffic and parking signs.

On Friday my sister and her friends arrive for the weekend and we "clean the house".

This coming Saturday our home/business will be open for:
701 CCA Open Studios ... my "home" studio and our business (Mouse House) will be open, 10 - 6!
The Historic Elmwood Park Tour of Homes ... the rest of the house will be open!
The Columbia Foundation Scavenger Hunt ... teams will be looking for a "bright pink arts publication, aka Jasper Magazine with my work on the cover!

...and that night is Runaway Runway, a fashion show of garments made from 100% recycled materials. I have a "killer" outfit headed for the catwalk.

Sunday is a continuation of Open Studios, noon - 6 PM.

On Monday Steve and I are flying to MUNICH! My sister Wanda (a very talented, traditional embroiderer) and her husband live there. My parents are flying in too ... and we'll all go to see Birmingham Royal Ballet's performances with the Bavarian Ballet Festival. Our elder son Mathias is first cast for Puck in The Dream! We can hardly wait!

This past week has been busy too!

(Above: Stephen Chesley and Ice.)

On Saturday night we went to a unique art reception. My mentor, oil painter Stephen Chesley, hosted it for his exhibition, Ice.

(Above: Some of Stephen's work at Tapps Center for the Arts.)

The paintings focused on the Titanic, images of icebergs, and portraits of crew members and passengers. The reception started at 11:20 PM, the exact time the Titanic hit the iceberg one hundred years earlier. It ended at 2:20 AM, the exact time when the ship totally went under the ocean's surface.

Steve and I decided to go "first class" ... complete with our life jackets!

(Above: Stephen Chesley, my husband Steve Dingman, me, and Patti, Stephen's girlfriend.)

Stephen found a recipe for the champagne punch served on the Titanic. He brought in a giant chunk of ice ... just to feel the cold water.

At one point, we took photos of people at this late night event ... though some had already turned in (or took the lifeboat home!)

(Above: Time Revolving.)

I, too, have been working on my art, finishing another 3D assemblage ... Time Revolving. Several months ago I stitched two pale blue vintage leather gloves on the scraps of a log cabin quilt (a gift from Connie Akers ... which I've now used every tiny piece!) The entire backgrounds are heavy with running stitch, kantha style embroidery. These were put into two wooden veneer frames and hinged to the old clock case, making a triptych.

(Above: Time Revolving, detail.)

The back of the clock casing is now a mosaic of broken mirror pieces. An antique toy globe from Bill Mishoe's auction was mounted on a piece of wood. It isn't any ordinary piece of wood but a part of an antique Victrola (also from Bill Mishoe's auction house). On the side are three wooden pegs salvaged from piano keys. The front spiral is from the original clock parts. I filled the wooden Victrola part with old, rusted nails wrapped in yarns and stitching.

(Above: Time Revolving, detail.)

The interior sides of the clock case is a collage of used postage stamps. These were collected from fiber postcard trades I made when conducting Cyber Fyber back in 2008 -09. I almost forgot I saved all these stamps!

(Above: Time Revolving, back side. Click on any image to enlarge.)

The back of the clock case and the two triptych side panels are backed with more vintage quilt scraps. These were made from old silk ties and a gift from my neighbor, Gita Larson. I stitched them onto pieces of recycled black acrylic felt.

(Above: Time Revolving, back, detail.)

The fabric for the side panels is nailed into the framing ... all vintage and used nails. The fabric for the center includes a row of buttons and was glued onto the back with gel medium. I'm very happy with this work.

(Above: Cabinet for The Book of Angels I - VI.)

So ... about that Victrola! I bought it at Bill Mishoe's auction several months ago. I knew exactly what it would become! It's finished now as a cabinet for my six Book of Angels antique photo albums. Of course, I plan to display The Book of Death on the top ... but it is currently on view at my solo show in Rocky Mount's (NC) Imperial Center. All the phonograph parts are being used in other 3D assemblages. The original top will become a "pedestal". Link

(Above: Cabinet, detail of top. Click on image to enlarge.)

The "new" top is actually a custom built frame with glass for a grave rubbing I made in Nottingham, England.

(Above: Interior of the cabinet with Victorian photo albums.)

Right now, one of the Book of Angels is sitting open in the large space where the Victrola parts used to be. This will actually be the place that The Book of Death can sit when the other albums are "out" and "sitting on the lectern" I made for it. I'll take another photo once I am able to put these books all together.

(Above: The Teachings, a collaborative art quilt and poem. 44" x 30". Click on any image to enlarge.)

I also finished The Teachings. Stephanie Levin, an award winning poet in North Carolina, is my partner for an upcoming exhibition called "Narrative Threads". (Click Stephanie's name above to read the poem and visit her blog. To view her awarding winning book Smoke of Her Body, winner of the Jacar Press Full Length Book Contest, Click HERE.) I wrote about making this quilt HERE. It is made from an antique quilt section mounted to a larger piece of the same quilt ... except that this larger part shows the "back" of the quilt. The poem is free motion stitched on slightly grey wedding tulle using a water soluble stabilizer. The entire quilt is stitched to black, acid-free foam centered board for support, especially for the "pillow". Vintage buttons and the blanket stitch edge the work. There's a stretcher bar stitched on the back ... straight through every layer. It is wired for hanging.

Narrative Threads will be exhibited at Page-Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC from June 25th through August 27th with a reception on June 29th!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Narrative Threads ... a new collaboration!

(Above: The Teachings, in progress. Click on any photo in this blog post to enlarge.)

After a week of "catching up" with all the custom picture framing and a day spent sorting and distributing the stashes of two different women, I finally made it back into my studio to work on Easter Sunday. I had a special project to begin. I'd been thinking about it for over a month but it started long before this.

At the reception for my solo show Last Words in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, I met an art quilter. She talked about a quilt organization and a collaborative project pairing quilter with poet. A day or two later, she corresponded with links to PAQA-South and its upcoming show Narrative Threads. I joined immediately. Later I was paired with award winning poet Stephanie Levin. (Click on Stephanie's name to read the poem we are using! It is WONDERFUL!)

Of course, the group is encouraging close collaboration and several of the pairings are selecting fabric together, responding to stitch with additional poetry, and going to lunch together to discuss the progress of their piece. Stephanie and I live too far apart and are much too busy with family, work, and hectic lives to become so involved. Yet, our collaboration is no less important. I would have never thought to make such a piece; Stephanie never envisioned her words in fabric ... but that's what's happening and it is very exciting.

Stephanie gave me permission to use "The Teachings" from Smoke of Her Body. It already had a quilt in it! It is a little "dark" and very thought provoking. It is steeped with memories from the past ... everything I really, really like. Not all the collaborations will include the entire poem written on the art quilt, but ours will! I am truly enjoying the challenge of recreating the feeling her words evoked.

I cut an old, very worn, hand stitched antique quilt into a piece to represent "the quilt". I dug around in my stash of vintage household linens and found a loosely woven white card table size cloth with a hem stitched edge ... to be "the sheet". An old tuck dish towel was turned into a pillowcase, and the remains from a feather pillow was stitched into the pillow. For the backing, I turned the same old quilt upside-down and cut a piece measuring approximately 44" x 30".

I wrote the poem on Mokuba's water soluble stabilizer and applied it to a slightly gray piece of bridal tulle (recycled, of course!) Free motion machine embroidery closed the pencil lines. I washed away the stabilizer. It will be perfect ... but not attached until I stitch the "quilt" and the "sheet" and the pillowcase to the "background quilt. It will also include a row of vintage buttons around the entire edge. Right now, it is all just pinned together. My plan is to mount the entire piece on over-sized foam center board backed with a stretcher bar that can be wired for hanging. This will support the additional weight of the pillow. The last thing to do will be stitching the very sheer tulle to the top of the pillow, allowing it to "float" in front of the work.

(Above: The Teachings, in progress ... pinned and with the overlay of words simply placed over the other fabric.)

Narrative Threads will be exhibited at Page-Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC from June 25th through August 27th with a reception on June 29th!

Meet the Designers, Columbia Museum of Art

(Above: The Recycled Bridal Party now on view at "Meet the Designers" in the Columbia Museum of Art. Click on photos to enlarge.)

The Columbia Design League is an affiliate organization at The Columbia Museum of Art. Their biggest annual event and fund raiser is called Runaway Runway, a funky fashion show of recycled garments. My first time entering was in 2010 with a dress created entirely from artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. Last year I created a recycled bridal party ... bride, maid of honor, bridesmaid, and flower girl. This year's event is on April 21st and I'M READY with a 2-piece garment made from black felt covered with white shirt buttons. The black felt used to be packaging material for a kayak or canoe when being shipped from manufacturer to local retailer/distributor. The buttons were salvaged from the floor of the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital.

In anticipation of this fashion extravaganza, the Columbia Museum of Art hosted an invitational exhibit called "Meet the Designers". It is on the second floor, just a few feet from the Chihuly chandelier that hangs over the first floor lobby. I'm so honored!

(Above: Recycled Bridal Party, Chihuly chandelier, and officers from the Columbia Design League selling tickets to this year's Runaway Runway during the reception for "Meet the Designers".)

(Reception for "Meet the Designers" at The Columbia Museum of Art.)

The reception was last Friday night. Only about 110 people showed up ... but it was Good Friday! The show will stay on view through June 3rd so lots of people will actually see it. The photo above includes my husband Steve (far left) and Guy Jones (beside Steve). Guy Jones is the owner of River Runner, the local outdoor sports shop from which I acquire the black felt. I've been using it for years. It is the substrata for all my "In Box" and "Faux-stained glass" pieces. It is the "batting" for almost all my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts. Two other designers are also using this black felt for Runaway Runway this year.

(Above: Recycled Maid of Honor, right, and Bridesmaid, left. Please note, the fashion show "number" is still attached to one of the garments!)

Heidi Darr-Hope is one of the Columbia Design League's officers. Her studio is next to mine at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. She was helping Deana Rennick put the finishing touches on her "Marilyn" dress made of used plastic cups.

(Above: The Real Housewives of Crystal Pines at "Meet the Designers".)

Some of the fashion show entries are collaborative efforts. A group of women from Crystal Pines created one of my favorite garments last year. Like me, their work was selected for the museum exhibit.

The blue gown on the left was made by "The Real Housewives of Crystal Pines". The one on the far right was made by Kirkland Smith, another artist with studio space at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.

Another "favorite" was the Juicy Fruit dress ... which matched the Chihuly beautifully. I can't wait for the fashion show! Lots of photos are coming ... and a surprise or two!

Getting back to work!

(Above: More wrapped and embroidered wooden spools. Click on this or any other photo in this post for an enlargement.)

Returning from an art residency ... which was most certainly a "month in Paradise" (aka Key West) required all my attention for an entire week. The mountain of custom picture framing that awaited me seemed endless but I tackled it.

(Above: Eight "Lancet Windows" ... framed and stacked on my Decision Portrait Series. Storage is beginning to be quite a problem here at Mouse House!)

Some of the framing, however, was for my own work. I finished twenty-eight pieces during my residency! (That's not counting my 2-piece Runaway Runway recycled garment or the red faux-alligator tote or any of the wrapped spools or the quilt in this post!)

(Above: Newly framed Stained Glass XXIX.)

During the last few days, I packed up my polyester velvet and WonderUnder. I finished the free-motion machine embroidery on the largest Grave Rubbing Art Quilt I've ever made. I brought an old painter's drop cloth for its backing. It came from Bill Mishoe's auction and I lovely washed and ironed it. The discoloration and spots are really rather beautiful. The weight of it is perfect.

(Above: Grave Rubbing Art Quilt, in progress ... free-motion embroidery done ... being pinned to a recycled painter's drop cloth as it's backing ... on the floor in my Key West residency studio.)

I started stitching buttons from the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital through the drop cloth and the quilted top ... attaching all three layers together with each button. The last day of stitching in Key West was spent on the porch, in the sunshine, stitching these buttons ... but I didn't finish until just last week.

(Above: Circular Churchyard, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I'm not posting a full photo of this quilt ... and, for the first time ever, I'm asking that this quilt's images NOT BE COPIED! Why? I think I'm going to enter it into a show that requires images of entries NOT to be on websites, blogs, or exhibitions other than the maker's. I'm perfectly happy with my work on Pinterest and on other blogs ... but, please, not this one! (There are lots more details at the bottom of this post too.)

(Above: reverse.)

I also didn't pin the whole quilt up on the wall in order to snap a photo of the reverse. Instead, I put it back on the floor at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios (where my studio is located). This is the same place where I basted it to the recycled felt. A post of this is HERE.

(Above: reverse, detail.)

Taking photos was important last week. I was able to get images for my blog while in Florida but not high enough quality for other uses. Most everything had to be shot again!

(Above: My Bluegrass Roots II. 33" x 25". Acrylic photo transfer on a section of a vintage quilt with buttons. Click on image to enlarge.)

This included pictures of My Bluegrass Roots II and III. The woman is my great, great grandmother in ca. 1925. Her name is Carolina Amelia Phillips Oswald.

(Above: My Bluegrass Roots III. 34" x 25". Acrylic photo transfer on a section of a vintage quilt with buttons. Click on image to enlarge.)

This is my great grandfather, Max Emil Oswald. The photo was taken around 1896 when he was a very young man. I have a single memory of him even though he died when I was almost four years old. His wife, my great grandmother, lived until I was in high school.

(Above: Spool Cradle II. Click on image to enlarge.)

After finishing all the buttons on the Runaway Runway 2-piece garment, I spent my evenings stitching on wrapped wooden spools. Each spool was wrapped with wool tapestry yarn ... a donation from a local woman who used to do needlepoint and design kits. I have LOTS of it and this is a good use. Fortunately, my studio assistant did most of the wrapping ... and had another large pile of spools to work on while I was in Florida.

I love stitching into the wool with colorful threads. Most of my embroidery floss comes from auctions and yard sales.

The rocking doll cradle also came from Bill Mishoe's auction, and I have yet another one for the next batch of spools!

(Above: Maribeth and a full car load of "stash".)

Because I have a studio in a well known location and attend auctions, I'm often in "the right place at the right time" to acquire someone's former fiber "stash". This past week I bought two large boxes of good, clean fabric for $12.50 each. The boxes were too large for me to lift by myself ... and quite heavy. I also was contacted about a "stash" from an older woman who is now in a home. Her daughter couldn't bare to sell her mother's "life" at auction or an estate sale. She wanted it to go to someone "who cared". I care but I couldn't keep it all. Besides, this stitcher was primarily into heirloom sewing and smocking ... things I don't do and never will. I called Creative Sewing and asked for the woman who teaches these techniques. She wasn't working but her twenty year old daughter Maribeth was. For Maribeth and her Mom, yesterday wasn't Easter; it was Christmas. I felt wonderful to donate the things I couldn't keep to the people who can love and use it. Maribeth said she'd share "this wealth" with a new employee at Creative Sewing, another young girl with limited income!

The rest of this post contains more images of my latest Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Please don't copy these images but thanks for looking at them! Blogging is still the easiest and best have for me to share my work with my parents in Slippery Rock, my sister in Germany ... and for this piece ... with Carolyn Thiedke who gave me permission to make these grave rubbings in a place that is otherwise posted with "NO RUBBINGS" signs!

Last Days in Key West

(Above: Photo taken at Bahia Honda State Park. Click on any picture in this blog post to enlarge.)

I'm behind in my blogging but not so far behind that I can't catch up!

The last few days of my month-long artist residency with The Studios of Key West went by in a flash. I had to say good-bye to the other two artists-in-residence, including actress Kristen Michelle who has since written a wonderful blog post on "The Actors Embassy NY" titled What Living With An Artist Has Taught Me. I'm so very flattered!

(Above: Landscape painter Anne Ireland with our meals at Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West.)

I had a farewell feast with Anne Ireland at Blue Heaven. The fish was so fresh and the music was great!

(Above: My studio at The Studios of Key West ... with my newest grave rubbing art quilt, on the floor being pinned to a used painter's drop cloth as a backing.)

I finished all the free motion embroidery on my largest Grave Rubbing Art Quilt to date. This is a whole cloth collage of crayon-on-silk grave rubbings. I created it on Halloween weekend in Charleston. I'd brought material for the back of this quilt ... recycled material, of course ... an old painter's drop cloth which I'd washed and ironed. I spent my last full day of the residency on the porch, in the sunshine, stitching buttons from the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital through this unique backing and quilted top.

Then I packed and drove to Miami's International airport to pick up Steve. (He came on a one-way ticket to drive me back home!) On the trip up the Keys, I stopped at several locations, especially the places near the "old road" and its foundation ruins.

(Above: The old "Overseas Highway" at a place known as "The Bridges" ... looking north toward Bahia Honda State Park)

(Above: The old bridge.)

(Above: The "old bridge" looking south from Bahia Honda State Park.)

(Above: Looking to the beaches at Bahia Honda State Park from the top of the "old bridge". From this vantage point, I saw an enormous manta ray!)

I went to Bahia Honda State Park too ... and saw a really large manta ray swimming in the clear ocean water ... very near the fishermen who couldn't see it at all.

A stop at Robbie's just south of Islamorada meant seeing the giant tarpons again.

Steve and I returned to Key West for a single day of fun.

(Above: Sunset at Mallory Square.)

We bicycled all over the island, had dinner at Pepe's (est. 1909), and clapped for a spectacular sunset from Mallory Square.

Steve was thrilled to pose for a photo at mile marker zero on the Overseas Highway. We posted together at "the Southernmost Point".

Then, we drove back to Columbia ... and to a mountain of custom picture framing work that piled up during my absence.

Next post(s): The week back in Columbia!