Sunday, December 31, 2017

Photographs and Memories Invitational at the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum

 (Above:  My Bluegrass Roots III.)

I'm very proud and excited to announce that the curators at the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, WA selected so many of my pieces for their upcoming Photographs and Memories Invitational.  The work has been packed up and shipped.

 (Above:  My Bluegrass Roots I.)

I wish I could see the exhibition in person, especially since I've been to this great museum (Feb. 2011).  It is a fabulous venue!
(Above:  Soul Mates from the Decision Portrait Series.)

The initial correspondence asked about my Decision Portrait Series.  It was exciting to know that somewhere across the country there were people looking at my blog dedicated to this series ... looking, reading, considering each one for their exhibit, and finally making a selection.

 (Above:  Behind in the Mortgage from the Decision Portrait Series.)

The blog reads like a book.  Each of the 108 portraits has its own entry and story.  Each one is special.  I'm particularly happy that these pieces are off a shelf in my storage area and headed to an exhibition wall.

 (Above:  Organic Farmers from the Decision Portrait Series.)

I'm also fond of remembering how I joined Facebook (something I was resistant to do!) in order to find more participants for the series. Joining Facebook, this blog, and corresponding on various on-line fiber arts groups brought me several of the participants.  The Internet is truly amazing ... especially when years later it is what brought me this new opportunity! 

(Above:  College Student from the Decision Portrait Series.)

 I don't really know how or why these particular pieces were selected.  I'm simply honored to be in an invitational museum show!  Unexpectedly, this is happening while another phase of my art is going forward. Today my husband Steve and I have packed our cargo van. We are headed to the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, Alabama to install my solo show Anonymous Ancestors on January 2nd.  I can't wait to transform the gallery space!  So excited!

 (Above:  Gift of Life from the Decision Portrait Series.)

I'm also excited by another opportunity.  I've been invited to create a piece focusing on one of the Suffragists for an invitational exhibition in 2019 through 2010 or thereabout (and possibly a catalog and hopefully even a book!)  After research, I selected Lucy Stone.  I have a great idea in mind and will start blogging about it as soon as this project commences.
 (Above:  Illegal Immigrant from the Decision Portrait Series.)

So ... scroll down for the rest of the pieces headed to La Conner, Washington for the upcoming invitational exhibit!

 (Above:  Fighting Illiteracy from the Decision Portrait Series.)

(Above:  Self Portrait from the Decision Portrait Series.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!

(Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!  62" x 65". Whole cloth art quilt using unprimed canvas painted in public during the annual spring art crawl in Columbia, Artista Vista 2016.  Self-guided, free-motion machine stitching.  Hand buttonhole stitched binding.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Quite some time ago I was invited to participate in an upcoming art quilt exhibition called Things That Matter.  It sounded exciting and a bit scary.  I adore creating work that feels important, meaningful, and that expresses "things that matter" to me.  But, the work had to take up a minimum width of 60" ... either as one piece or in multiples. Sure, I could manage a bunch of little things that could spread across a 60" area.  Yet in my mind, this wouldn't have the impact of "importance" that a giant-sized art quilt could convey.   

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!)

I selected RECYCLING as my theme.  It is important to me.  My earlier correspondence talked about creating two 30" width, double-sided works made from vintage household linens and hundreds of old buttons.  Since that time, this idea morphed into an art residency proposal to create multiple 30", double-sized panels that could be hung in the round, as an enclosure ... a soft, nostalgic "cocoon" of recycled fabrics that could be stitched in public and include an open invitation for people to join me in the stitching and also to donate their own vintage buttons and fibers to the project.  I haven't gotten to do this quite yet, but it will happen.  It will be great.  It also ceased to be what I'd make for Things That Matter

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It! on my living room floor where I hand plied the buttonhole stitch around the entire perimeter ... while watching Premiership English "football"/soccer on television.)

I selected RECYCLING as a theme because it is part of my normal approach to making art.  I love using my stash of found objects rescued from yard sales.  Most of my fabric is vintage. Most of my paint comes from auction.  Almost everything in my house was once owned by somebody else.  So, I knew I could come up with another idea.  Then it struck me!  Use some of the fabric painted during last year's annual spring art crawl, Artista Vista!  I called the project Nike's Advice: Just Do It!  I blogged about it HERE.  There are two videos of the project.  The one-minute trailer is HERE.  The longer video is HERE.   (My participation in Artista Vista was by invitation from curator/artist Micheala Pilar Brown.)

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail.)

The giant bolt of canvas was given to me by Michel McNinch, a painter who had lugged it around for nearly twenty years after purchasing it from an upholstery shop that was going out of business.  She said she finally realized that she'd never actually stretch, prime, and prepare her own surfaces.  She just gave it to me.  It was high time to USE IT!  The paint came from auctions, friends, and as samples from an art supply store.  Transforming the fabric in public was a blast ... but I have never used any of it ... though I promised myself I would.  It was high time I did!

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail.)

It was also high time to use my Babylock Tiara, an expensive machine purchased for exactly this sort of work.  Sure, I've made several pieces on this machine including Stitching Together which sold to McKissick Museum of the cost of the machine.  Sure, I've made several other works on it ... but not as many as I'd planned to make.  With 130' of painted canvas ... well ... I could really get some great use of the machine!  I basted the piece ... three layers together.  The middle layer is a piece of black industrial felt, recycled of course.  This felt was once the packaging material protecting a kayak being shipped from a manufacturer to my local outdoors shop.  For most of my art quilts, I use a false back.  I faced my inner demons and stitched through all three layers.

(Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail with one corner filled over to show the reverse.)

Because of the large working area under the Babylock Tiara, I was able to work quickly and NEATLY ... even on the back!  I had so much fun that I've already stitched another section of canvas.  Tonight I'll start the buttonhole edge!  I can't wait to make more of these!

Now, I don't actually know where this exhibition will take place.  It is supposed to be a traveling show.  Vision Art Museum will select approximately fifteen for a smaller, curated show.  I don't know if mine will make the cut but I needed a formal statement:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! I live by this popular mantra for good reasons. The average American discards seven-and-a-half pounds of garbage every day. Most of it ends up in landfills, putting our environment at risk by releasing dangerous greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. By contrast, recycling contributes to a more healthy environment and has created a $236 billion dollar industry that employs 1.1 million nationwide. Products made from recycled materials require far less energy, fewer natural resources, and reduces pollution. As an artist, I generally use materials that had a life before I got a hold of them. My stash comes from yard sales, auctions, and as donations from other people who are avoiding throwing away potentially useable materials. Nike's Advice: Just Do It! was created from a two-decade old bolt of canvas and half used containers of paint during a public art event. The middle layer was once the packaging felt wrapped around a kayak being sent from a distributor to my local outdoor shop. Only the sewing thread was purchased new. For me, painting in public and creating a giant, whole cloth art quilt was scary. But, like recycling, the thing that mattered is the follow through: Just Do It!

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Santa Fe

 (Above:  Santa Fe Farmer's Market at the Railyard.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Before frequent flier miles expired, Steve booked a trip for us to visit Santa Fe in New Mexico.  We left early last Friday morning and arrived in time for a holiday craft fair.  When we travel, we always stay in inexpensive accommodations booked through AirBnb, making sure we have a full kitchen.  Cooking-in saves high restaurant tabs but also allows us to "eat like a local" by purchasing fresh from the farmer's market.  We even brought back Southwestern spices from this nice guy!

 (Above:  Photo op for a local quinceañera celebration.)

Walking around Santa Fe is fun and easy. The historic downtown plaza bustles with activity, including local families taking photos of their quinceañera celebrations.  (It's a traditional fifteenth birthday party for every Mexican girl, a rite of passage that is sort of like "Sweet Sixteen".)  The Plaza was also the place where we saw the Jewish Community light a giant menorah for Hanukkah and where Native Americans sold stunning jewelry and other fine crafts.  

The city is known for its art galleries.  In fact, the concentration of art galleries along Canyon Road is denser in Santa Fe than any place else on earth!  It was amazing (and, no, we didn't manage to visit even 10% of them!  There are over one-hundred on this mile long street!)

(Above:  World-renowned Joyce Yang, a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist, with Aspen Santa Fe dancer Seia Rassenti.)

Instead of spending all our time looking at visual arts, we came to see Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Nutcracker.  Why? Well, we've watched Seia Rassenti dance since she was fourteen years old.  She was in our son's grade at the Kirov Academy of Ballet.  She used to dance for Charlotte Ballet, just 90 miles from us.  That's where she met her husband Joseph Watson.  We haven't seen them since they joined Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.  We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the program's cover (above) and only wish we could return for the contemporary spring performances it advertised!  The Nutcracker was great ... but this upcoming show would truly be AWESOME!

(The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, exterior.)

Steve and I always try to hit all the tourist destinations in every city we visit.  It's impossible in Santa Fe.  There's so much to do!  We did visit the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assissi ...

(Above:  Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, interior including baptismal fountain.)

... and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (where we didn't take any photos). We bought the "Cultural Pass", a more affordable ticket which included the Governor's Palace, New Mexico History Museum, and the International Folk Art Museum.

 (Above:  Artifact from the Governor's Palace.)

In each location we were exposed to a mix of cultures through the ages.  Native American, Colonial Spanish, and western expansion blends in so many unique ways.  Around every corner, we were treated to artistic treasures ...

... a fabulous printing facility ...

... and special exhibitions including Voices of the Counter-Culture in the Southwest.

(Above:  Counter-culture crocheted garments by Birgitta Bjerke, including vintage "Hand Dress", ca. 1967.)

Ordinarily, I'm rather wishy-washy when it comes to counter-cultural documentaries, smoking pot, and embracing everything associated with San Francisco's Haight Ashbury and the "Summer of Love".  My husband Steve, on the other hand, is fascinated in all ways young people protested Vietnam, lived off-the-grid, and found alternative lifestyles from the ones in which we grew up.  So, I knew he'd really like this exhibition, but I didn't expect to be so completely wrapped up in every display area.

We must have spent more than two hours reading placards and talking about our childhood memories of this era.  It was great!

I even decided to pose with the rather too new looking VW bus.

(Above:  Loretto Chapel, exterior.)

It was almost sunset when we arrived at Loretto Chapel.  Every place we went was decorated for the holidays.

The famous spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel was no exception ...

... but I found the exterior tree just as appealing.  People have hung all sorts of plastic rosaries from every branch.  By the time we ended up at the oldest church in the entire country, the San Miguel Mission Chapel, a mass was about to start.  What a wonderful way to spend a holiday!  Unfortunately, photography is taboo in such instances.

(Above:  Our docent at the International Folk Art Museum.)

On another day, we took a docent led tour of the International Folk Art Museum.  I'm glad we took the tour.  It kept us on track through the four exhibition areas.  This museum is ENORMOUS.

The Girard wing is simply overwhelming.  Special display cases, dioramas, and built-in viewing area were all crammed with the vast collection of the donor.  More than 10,000 objects from the over 100,000 collection are on display.  They come from six continents and were carefully arranged by donor Alexander Girard ... with instructions that no permanent signage mars the viewing field.  (There are a few galley guides tucked in out-of-the-way wall pockets).  It was Mr. Girard's intention to showcase his vast collection through his singular vision and intuitive understanding of the multiplicity of cultures and artistic genres exists side-by-side and without academic labels.  It was a wonderful way to explore the artifacts.

Of course, I really, really liked the Mexican folk life figures that focused on activities from the traditional Día de los Muertos. (Day of the Dead).

Yet, there were enormous scenes from just about every country and every folkloric tradition.

As outstanding as Alexander Girard's permanent exhibition is, I liked No Idle Hands: Myths and Meanings of Tramp Art even better!  It was great!

No trip out West is complete without some time spent in nature!  On Monday (a day museums are all closed), Steve and I ventured to nearby Bandelier National Monument.

It was a great day to explore the archeological site ...

... climb ladders into ...

... cave-like dug dwellings ...

... and see several mule deer!  Our drive also took us through Georgia O'Keeffe's landscape.  Unfortunately, her former residence closes for the winter but the views were spectacular.

(Above:  Steve's and my shadows in front of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.)

We had plenty of time to walk across the entire Rio Grande Gorge Bridge outside of Taos, New Mexico.

The view directly down was scary!

Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic as the sidewalk is right beside the driving lanes!

(Above:  Two "lovers' locks" attached to the railing.)

It was nice to see a couple locks attached to the railing ... signs of love ... and hopes to return to New Mexico.  It was a great time!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mended Words, a new series

(Above:  Mended Words III, The Lady of Shalott.  Original late 19th century engraving, ripped and mended, collage of letters clipped from mostly vintage sources.  Stitched to an acid-free mat measuring 16" x 20".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Years ago, Mouse House (my business) was a full service custom picture framing shop with up to fourteen on payroll.  Full-time employees enjoyed covered health insurance, paid vacation time, and over-time pay. Although we framed for just about every government agency in the state and hundreds of local companies and individuals, our specialization was actually antiquarian prints. Every week I made a trip to Charleston, picking up and delivering framing orders to all the high-end antique shops on King Street.  I had several walls in an antique mall outside of Charleston ... for twenty years.  I worked CONSTANTLY ... until I finally admitted that I wanted to be an artist "when I grew up".  That was in 2001.

 (Above:  Mended Words I, The Exiles.)

Very few people really understood why my husband and I decided to "kill" our very successful frame shop. It doesn't make much sense to downsize a business that was still growing by double-digits ... but the fact of the matter was simple:  It was killing me. My creative soul was dying!

It took two years to finish long term commitments and to help employees find suitable jobs elsewhere. It took two years for me to find a studio and get "serious" about making art.  It was a gradual transition from "full time picture framer" to "artist".  (I still frame pictures for "a living" ... but now only "part-time"!)  Eventually, I gave up the walls in the antique mall and hauled off most the antique prints to an auction house outside Washington, DC.  Yet, there are still a few half-forgotten shelves and drawers on which antiquarian prints are stacked.  Every once in a while I come across a pile ... and recently I decided to rip, mend, and collage clipped letters onto a few.  It's been a fun way to start each day.   

 (Above:  Mended Words II, Homeless.)

I've really had a great time researching quotations that seem appropriate to the engraving's subject.  For Mended Words II, Homeless I found a great statement by the musician Gustav Mahler who felt like an outsider no matter how influential and talented he was.  

 (Above:  Mended Words VI, The Confidence Broken.)

Then the next day, I found a great quotation by William Blake.  Though the engraving suggests an ideal "confidence", the ripped paper forebodes a different outcome.  Hence, I added the word "broken" to the title.

 (Above:  Mended Words V, Shakespeare.)

One morning, I spent almost an hour reading quotations from Shakespeare's many works.  It was hard to select just one for his portrait.  Finally I settled on "Words without thoughts never to Heaven go" because it implies a warning to other writers and poets.  To me, this makes sense of the ripped-and-mended engraving.

(Above:  Mended Words, The Duel.)

While reading lines from Shakespeare's plays and consulting the engravings I had, I was stumped on this scene from The Twelfth Night.  The illustration is obviously perfect for the torn paper but I didn't like any of the quotations.  Finally, I googled and found one by Toba Beta.  I admit it. I'd never heard of this Indonesian poet and fantasy syfy novelist ... but the quotation is wonderful!

 (Above:  Mended Words VII, Hamlet.)

There were plenty of quotations from Hamlet that could have been added to this engraving but I really liked the princely reference since the portrayed actor was so handsome.  Then, I noticed the name of the actor ... Edwin Booth.  Yes!  Edwin Booth was quite famous and some theatrical historians claim he was the greatest 19th century actor in the role of Hamlet.  His fame, however, was eclipsed by his younger brother John Wilkes Booth, a man who assassinated President Lincoln.  So, I added "Sic Semper Tyrannis" at the bottom.  Why?  Well, supposedly John Wilkes Booth screamed this after shooting Lincoln but more importantly in this context, it also comes from legends of the Ides of March ... from Julius Caesar, another Shakespearean play.  It means "Thus Always to Tyrants" and is the motto of the state of Virginia.  It seems fitting for a ripped engraving of Hamlet too.

(Above:  Mended Words VIII, Macbeth.)

I'm really having a great time researching Shakespearean quotations and applying them to ripped engravings.  Macbeth brought back memories from tenth grade English literature.  I've got other engraving to transform too.  I'm not really spending too much time with this series.  It is just a curiosity, a morning exercise, a way to combine literature and stitch, and I'm enjoying it!