Sunday, January 31, 2016

What a Week!

(Above:  Detail of a garland made of free-motion/melted felt leaves and autumn colored artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. The garland is part of my installation/shrine to a dead Northern Flicker. This installation will be part of my upcoming solo exhibit at Anastasia & Friends gallery opening during February's "First Thursday" on Main Street.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I keep telling myself that I need to blog MORE OFTEN instead of waiting until a week has past!  But, I did it again.  I let the last six days over run me. This blog post is long ... because this has been a busy, busy week!  So ... what am I doing?  I'm gearing up for the ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Baltimore (Feb. 19 - 21) and Atlanta (March 11 - 13) by making lots of new work.  I just finished the installation/shrine to a dead Northern Flicker and delivered all the work to Anastasia & Friends Gallery. That solo show opens on Thursday.  I went to the Columbia Museum of Art for a great lecture by chief preparer/installation expert Michael Dwyer and I had John Sherrer and his associate from Historic Columbia pay me a visit.  So ... please scroll down.  It's all here!

(Above:  Five new "Windows" under construction.)

First up!  Five new "Windows" were created this past week.  The first step is to lay down a foundation design on the recycled, black acrylic felt.  (For a free tutorial on my original technique, CLICK HERE.)

Next, I iron previously painted, heat activated adhesive (Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web) over the foundation.


Then, I add heat-activated metallic foiling.

Additional shapes of polyester stretch velvet are ironed in additional layers.  (I was running out of studio time ... and finished only the first three ... returning later in the week to finish the other two!)

More previously painted Wonder Under is added over the additional shapes in order to apply strips of colorful chiffon scarves.

Here are the first three ... stitched!  To see all five new "Windows", just scroll down!  Please notice, I'm in the process of moving my rental studio back to my home/business, Mouse House.  By the end of February, I'll have the job completed.  Right now, however, I'm constructing new work in the rental space.  My sewing machine is currently in my home, 3D assemblage studio on the ground floor.  It might stay there.  It might move to the new, upstairs space.  Time will tell!

(Above:  In Box CCV.  Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3623. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

Last week wasn't just about making "Windows". I was also deep into making new "In Box" series pieces too!  In fact, three large ones and five small ones were completed.  Scroll down to see them too!

(Above:  John Sherrer and his associate from Historic Columbia looking at my Grid of Photos.  Click this link for an additional blog post with plenty of photos.)

It took a while, but John Sherrer finally came to Mouse House to pick up a small stack of letters, photos, and other ephemera I wished to donate to Historic Columbia. I bought the box because I was collecting the raw material for my Grid of Photos. It is strange to sort through the remains of another family's lives.  It is even stranger when some of the photos are labeled to reveal the name George Marguardt and the fact that he was a German immigrant stone sculptor and monument builder who once had his business less than four blocks from my home, right at the entrance to Elmwood Cemetery, a place where I've made dozens and dozens of grave rubbings ... maybe from stones he carved. 

(Above:  The Grid of Photos.)

What's more? One of the photos showed his prototype for the 1927 lamp posts that grace the Gervais Street bridge ... a bridge less than a mile from my house, over which I've driven thousands and thousands of times.  It seemed to me that I was holding a portion of a man's artistic life work, and it was up to me to help keep his memory alive.  Finally, I got to hand over the stack.  Of course, I had used many of the other family photos in my Grid of Photos.  John and his associate wanted to see if they could pick the images out.  They could!  (This family has at least one image in my Wall of Ancestors too!)  It felt very good and very appropriate to help preserve this artist's memory!

(Above:  The Columbia Museum of Art's lecture series.)

Columbia is full of resources.  One of them is undoubtedly the Columbia Museum of Art.  This past week I attended a lecture by chief preparer/installer Michael Dwyer.  It was very informative.

(Above:  Michael Dwyer discussing his job and telling stories of past installations at the museum.)

Because I hope to have many more opportunities to have installation in other, high profile venues, it was great to hear how the receiving staff prefers to work, communicate, and do their jobs.  Definitely this was a good way for me to spend an hour!

(Above:  Shrine to a Dead Northern Flicker, work in progress.)

I really enjoy working to convert a space into a temporary, site-specific presentation that alters the way the public feels in the space.  That's an installation!  This coming Thursday, I'm hoping that the manner of showing a fiber vessel, a framed art quilt, a photo, and this garland will transform a gallery wall into a "shrine", a place to reflect on a dead Northern Flicker and how nature is both beautiful and fierce. To that end, I spent time in the evening stitching autumn colored artificial leaves collected from cemetery dumpsters and stitched/melted leaves onto gold upholstery cord attached to a wreathe of barbed wire.   

(Above:  Detail of the garland.)

The felt leaves were made several years ago.  I've used them in other installations.  The other leaves were collected from cemetery dumpsters ... and I've used them in even more installations.

I really like how this idea is coming along.  I'll blog how the rest of the "shrine" turns out after Monday when it is installed at Anastasia & Friends Gallery.

(Above:  Window CXV.  Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3633. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

So ... now ... just scroll down for the new work completed this week!

(Above: Window CXVI. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3634. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXVII. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3635. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXIII. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3631. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Window CXIV. Unframed: 12 1/2" x 10 1/2". Framed:  17" x 15". Inventory # 3632. $265 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCIV.  Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3622. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCIX. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3627. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCV, detail.)

(Above: In Box CCVI. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3624. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCVII. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3625. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCVIII. Unframed: 27" x 15". Framed: 34" x 22". Inventory # 3626. $550 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCX. Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3629. $225 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CCXI.  Unframed: 13" x 10".  Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 3630. $225 plus tax and shipping.)
I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Filming a Segment for PLAYA: A Month in Paradise

 (Above:  Getting ready to film a segment for my upcoming solo show at Anastasia & Friends Gallery.  Click on any image to enlarge.  This photo is by John Allen. Thanks, Barry, Bohumila, and John for making this experience so wonderful!)

Sunday afternoon was exciting!  Barry Wheeler and John Allen came to Mouse House with gallerist Bohumila Augustinova of Anastasia & Friends Gallery to tape segments for a brief film.  The film will accompany my solo show that opens during "First Thursday" on Main Street for February.  The show is called PLAYA: A Month in Paradise and features work made or inspired by last October's art residency in the Oregon Outback.

 (Above:  Bohumila Augustinova, gallerist at Anastasia & Friends ... sitting in my living room for the taping of my video.  This photo and those below were taken by my husband Steve Dingman!  Thanks, Steve!)

Bohumila selected our living room for the taping.  It is a large space but also one that presents plenty of problems for film makers.  There's a lot of reflections coming off the glass on so many framed pieces of art work.  Plus, it is always "Christmas" in the living room.  The wrought iron Christmas tree stays up year round ... as does the embroidered ornaments and stocking on the fireplace.

 (Above:  John Allen adjusting the lights.)

My job was easy.  I sat in the rocking stair while the two men struggled with the lights.

 (Above:  John and Barry positioning their cameras.)

Lighting is complicated.  Our overhead lights actually cast a blue glow on my hair and had to be turned off.

 (Above:  Barry Wheeler coordinating the cameras.)

Audio is equally important.  I had to wear a tiny microphone.  Strangely, I talk more quietly when interviewed than I do in normal conversation.  Who knew?  Well ... the microphones!

 (Above:  Barry making the final lighting adjustments.)

Barry asked several questions about the work I'll be showing; about PLAYA, the art residency that inspired the work; and about my inspiration.  What made PLAYA so significant?  Well, it was remote.  I was mostly out of touch with family, Columbia, and the Internet.  I was left to explore the high desert on my own, to experience nature more in depth than I've ever done, and to work in harmony with my surroundings.  I found the respect I've always most wanted ... my own.  Also, a Northern Flicker died in my hands during the first week.  I'd never held a woodpecker.  I'd never watched a small bird struggle and lose the battle for life. I'd never felt such softness in the midst of nature's brutally while surrounded by so much beauty.  It was profound.  I got to talk about such things for the filming.  I hope the results are good!

The show opens on Thursday, February 4th from 6 - 8:30 at Anastasia & Friends Gallery, 1534 Main Street in downtown Columbia.  The space is open weekdays from 9 AM - 5 PM.  There's a Facebook invitation HERE.  I'll post the video once it is available!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Moving things around!

(Above:  Scrolls of exotic fabrics!  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last December I blogged about my Cabinet of Curiosities. It is a project I've been thinking about for a long, long time.  I'd already made a few objects ("curiosities") for it but hadn't tackled the actual construction until then. Yet, I'd already entered the work into ArtFields, a 9-day arts competition in Lake City, SC.  How was this possible? Well, ArtFields accepts "proposals" for new work or works-in-progress.  I entered. Amazingly, it was accepted!  The only real thing that has changed for me is that there is now a deadline.  The Cabinet of Curiosities will be finished and on display April 22 - 30, 2016.  So, I've been turning my attention to making more "curiosities".  Fortunately, several nice people have been helping with my "hunter-gather" phase ... including Lindsay Hager, Ed Madden and Bert Easter, my sister Sonya, Kim Bendillo, and Noel Gilliam.

(Above:  Box of "goodies" from Lindsay Hager.)

Sometimes I remember to snap a photo when a box of "goodies" comes in the mail ... like one of this cool assortment of naturally dyed, rusted, vintage, indigo dipped, and exotic silk fabric from Lindsay Hager!  (Thank you, Lindsay!)  I've been ripping and wrapping the material, making little scrolls.  It has been an excellent way to spend time in the evening in front of the television!

(Above:  The Cabinet of Curiosities includes several cigar boxes ... all firmly screwed into place.  Now, one is totally filled with fabric scrolls.)

I've filled one of the cigar boxes with scrolls ... very, very tightly.  I don't think another scroll could possibly be crammed in!  But ... I still had more!

(Above:  Cedar box, attached to the Cabinet of Curiosities and filled with additional fabric scrolls.)

I drilled holes in the bottom of this cedar box in order to tie the ribbon firmly around these scrolls.  Yet, I still  had more!

(Above:  A new curiosity!)

This ceramic donkey and pull cart came from my sister Sonya.  It had been our Grandma Lenz's and likely once had an African violet planted inside.  I put the plastic Jesus inside (sort of like "Palm Sunday").  The Jesus figure came from Bert and Ed.  In order to keep the figure upright and firmly in place, more fabric scrolls were added.  They are so dense that the container can be turned upside-down without anything falling out.  I added a necklace chain and a clip-on earring. 

(Above:  My 3D home studio.)

Because I will be making dozens and dozens of additional "curiosities", I needed to organize my back room ... which is my 3D home studio.  (When I say "organize", I actually mean "cleaning up".  The top of the table was totally covered in "stuff".  That happens when I'm in my "hunter-gather" phases! LOL!)

(Above:  To the right of the work table in my 3D home studio ... shelves full of "stuff" meant to become additional curiosities.)

It took most of an afternoon to sort through boxes, bags, and the pile of things I'd put on my work table.  Most of the items were put onto shelves just a foot or two away from the table.  Now ... almost everything is in sight and ready to be made into the additional curiosities that I will need to fill the cabinet.  Below or several photos of this items.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed.  Of course, I'm still accepting donations of small trinkets, keepsakes, souvenirs, and assorted "stuff" that is suggestive of a narrative or resembles things that might have been treasured by someone.

Lots of these things came from Bill Mishoe's auction.

Other items came from my own jewelry box, the back of my closet, or tucked on the top of a couple bookcases.

I love making these curiosities.  Many will include epoxy ... like the ones initially made.  (To see them, CLICK HERE and HERE.)

(Above:  Soon to be my new home studio ... for STITCHING!  Photo taken from the doorway looking diagonally across the room.)

At the end of last year I wrote about "hitting a creative plateau" and my decision to CHANGE THINGS in my artistic life.  One of the most important things I've decided to change is my studio.  I've had a rental space at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio from the end of 2002.  That was only a year-and-a-half after I started making art. So, almost everything I've ever made has been done in this small room in the middle of a cooperative studio setting.  Immediately, I grew. Being surrounded by other professional artists was beneficial ... but things change.  I've been spending more and more time in my home studio. It makes sense to move my sewing studio home now.  The room above used to store boxes, suitcases, installations, my 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth, and boxes of vintage materials.  It is now EMPTY!

Here's the view from the other corner ... looking back toward the door.  This room is actually bigger than my rental studio.  I'm a little scared to move, but I'm also quite excited.  Steve is excited too.  I couldn't manage this without his help. 

This is a former bedroom in the back of our house.  (Please know, we live above Mouse House, our limited service custom-picture framing shop which also doubles as a gallery for my artwork.  For a tour, here's a link to a video!)  The Pro Panel booth's walls are immediately on the right.  Behind them is my installation Cotton: Triangular Trade ... waiting to go to the Textile Museum in DC (April).  There are large plastic bags full of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters, a crib of vintage crocheted bedspreads, a shelving unit full of vintage textiles and small 3D pieces, and ... just peeking out near the center window is one of three giant, black leaf bags full of unraveled thread for Threads: Gathering My Thoughts which is going to the Mesa Contemporary Museum in Arizona (April).  Storage is a real issue for an installation artist!

(Above:  The converted garage.)

Another issue is shipping.  I need all sorts of boxes.  There is no reason, however, that they couldn't be stored in the garage. Recently Steve and I converted the racks that once held hundreds of feet of picture framing moulding into shelves.  (Mouse House once had up to fourteen on payroll ... until I decided to become an artist!)  We don't need all those racks.  We did need the shelves!

So ... all the boxes are now neatly on the top.  I can actually SEE all of them.  On the bottom are two boxes full of "stuffing" ... crinkled paper, pieces of bubble wrap, Styrofoam sheets, etc.  Plus ... the U-Haul boxes are filled with a little more than half the 130+ baskets needed for Threads: Gathering My Thoughts.

(Above:  The back side of the new shelving rack in the garage.)

This is the back side of the shelving rack.  It stores things like nine white, wall cubes for 3D displays, five brackets for other 3D displays, a pile of recycled industrial felt ... and more baskets.  This weekend Steve and I started moving the first items from my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios back to Mouse House.  I will continue renting through February, making the transition easy and allowing everything to be put in a proper place ... at least from the start.  I'm sure I'll have it all messed up very, very quickly!

I'm linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.