Monday, October 30, 2023

After a really busy week back at home!

(Above:  Selfie with the newest hand-stitched In Box piece.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

Generally, I dislike photos of myself, especially selfies, but it seems to be one of the best ways to actually present the scale of an artwork and the framed presentation.  So ... here's another picture of me with another hand-stitched In Box piece.  With all the traveling and the trips to the church we are having renovated for our retirement home, I will likely have more of these colorful creations.  

(Above:  In Box CDXLI.  Framed 19 3/4" x 15 3/4". $375.  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled, black industrial felt with hand embroidery. 100% cotton embroidery floss. Melting technique.)

This piece was stitched while I was riding in the cargo van on the way to my art residency at Bethany Arts Community in Ossining, NY.  It didn't get framed, however, until this past week.  Lots of things got framed this past week!  It is amazing just how many client orders were dropped off with Steve in my absence.  It's almost like a month of work piled up in just two weeks.  Most of the last few days have been spent designing presentations, cutting mats, and just "catching up".  All the while, I've been thinking/planning/hoping and looking forward to the coming year when we will finally be RETIRED and I will finally be a FULL TIME ARTIST.  

I have been stitching this past week (mostly in the evening after dinner), just not finishing anything.  Soon, however, the Found Object Tornado will be complete!  It was started over a month ago but had to stay here in Columbia while I was in New York and conducting a fiber art workshop in Kentucky.  More might have been accomplished ... except that I am now spending time packing and moving lots of things!  I hope to snap a few photos and write a blog post after our next trip to Cateechee, our future church home!

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Back home!

(Above:  Me holding the finished demonstration pieces created while conducting a very successful, private workshop in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I was a little sad to leave my two-week art residency at Bethany Arts Community in Ossining, New York.  The time I had there was wonderful and so very, very productive. My new installation is now underway.  Thanks to my friend Nancy Cook's suggestion, the installation is now titled Cascades. Yet, I also left with a sense of excitement.  Why? Well, I wasn't on my way home.  I was on my way to a private workshop in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  The experience was GREAT!

(Above:  Relic CCLXIX.  Framed: 15 1/2" x 13 1/2".  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to upholstery fabric with beading and hand-stitched embroidery. $165 plus sales tax and shipping.)

Every time I conduct a HOT workshop (Heat Activated Techniques for Contemporary Stitch), I give demonstrations and finish the artwork.  This is what I made on the first day.  I bring all the materials and supplies for everyone in the workshop.  After my demonstrations, participants get plenty of time to create something using the same approach and materials.  This first day is meant to get everyone familiar with fusing polyester stretch velvet, applying strips of chiffon and/or netting over the cut shapes, and doing some free-motion stitching in addition to the beading and hand embroidery.

(Above:  Relic CCLXX. Framed:  12" x 10".  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled industrial felt with free motion embroidery and melting techniques. $60 plus sales tax and shipping.)

After a full day of using these materials, everyone is ready for Day 2 ... during which polyester stretch velvet shapes are fused to recycled, black industrial felt before being free-motion stitched with 100% black cotton thread ... then melted with both a soldering iron and an industrial heat gun.  It is fun and everyone was absolutely successful.  Believe it or not, most participants finish at least four pieces during the two days.  Some finish even more!  I also bring all the mats and backing boards.  Below are just a few of the photos of participants and their artwork!

(Above:  The house my grandparents built in the early 1970s in Pocono Pines, PA.)

On the drive to Shelbyville, I made a slight detour off I-80 to Pocono Pines, PA.  Once upon a time (early 1970s), my grandparents built this house as their retirement place.  Unfortunately, grandpa had a fatal aneurysm at age sixty-one and grandma couldn't keep the place.  Still, I have so many childhood memories of deep winter snow and warm spring days of canoeing.

(Above:  A panorama view of the beach at Lake Naomi.)

My three cousins and three younger sisters used to play on this Lake Naomi beach.  We made sand castles with moats and dug an indentation which we called the Nile River.  Good times. Good memories.


Saturday, October 14, 2023

Approaching the end of my art residency at Bethany Arts Community

(Above:  Detail of my new, lacy installation.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

The time here at the Bethany Arts Community is flying by.  Because this is only a two-week art residency experience, I haven't blogged as often because I seriously want to spend as much time stitching on my new installation and also absorbing the many events and places around me.  As a result, I have plenty to show for my efforts.  It seems that I intuitively brought the perfect amount of materials on which to work in the time I have.  I took the image for this blog post a day or so ago.  Since then, at least another suspended strand has been finished.  All total, I have upholstery cord for fifteen.  I have today will see the fourteenth done.  I have tomorrow for the last one.

(Above:  The start of the suspended installation.)

I'm not going to type out the inspiration for this new installation again.  I wrote about it last week.  CLICK HERE to access that blog post. In that post, I mentioned and provided an image of my 2011 piece, The Canopy. So, I'm still calling these things "bedposts" and I still need a better name!  Anyone reading with ideas?  If so, please share!  I can't keep calling them by this term or by the other source of inspiration!  I can't keep saying I'm created a lacy "kelp forest".  What's a better title?


(Above:  Detail image of how these "strands" are stitched.)

To stitch these things, I first cut up my stash of lace, doilies, crocheted bedspreads and tablecloths, and other fabric with embellishment. All these things came from auctions, thrift stores, and through the generosity of others donating to my collection.  Then, using a chenille needle and perle cotton thread, I'm stitching the pieces to the one-inch upholstery cording,  I start at the bottom and work my way up to the loops I've previously stitched as an end.

(Above:  Natalya Khorover in her Port Chester studio.)

I could easily spend two weeks holed up in my studio stitching this installation but I haven't done that!  I've had a few wonderful experiences ... including a visit with Natalya Khorover in her Port Chester studio.  We had lunch at a cool Peruvian restaurant and talked about art, life, recycling, installations, family, materials, and epoxy! 


(Above:  Selfie with SAQA regional-rep Linda Stern (left) and Ossining resident/SAQA member Tamar Drucker.)

Last Tuesday I gave my HOT workshop Zoom presentation to the NY/NJ regional SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) meeting.  Within no time, I had a lunch date with Linda Stern and Tamar Drucker.  They visited my provided residency studio and took me into Ossining for a fabulous lunch at a great Turkish restaurant. 


(Above:  The crossing bridges and Ossining aqueduct.)

Both these talented art quilters live in the area.  They took me to see the Ossining aqueduct with its double bridge ....

... and the Croton Gorge dam.  Although it has been rather rainy here in the Hudson River Valley.  The sun shone that day and made it a very memorable outing!  THANKS Linda and Tamar!

(Above:  Bernard Brown's residency trio.)

There have been activities here at Bethany too ... including a tremendous dance and original music performance by a trio under Bernard Brown.  The evening included the audience dancing too!


(Above:  Open Mic at Hudson Valley Books for Humanity in downtown Ossining, New York.)

Last night, Bethany Arts Community collaborated with the Hudson Valley Books for Humanity for Open Mic. Maya, a young atist-in-residence (a three-month program for artists under 35) read poetry and introduced those who read from their upcoming novels and poems or sang original works.  It was a magical evening.  Now ... scroll down for a few detail images of my new installation ... which needs a proper title!

Sunday, October 08, 2023

ARToberfest and other events during the first week at Bethany Arts Community

(Above:  One page bookmaking workshop at Bethany Arts Community.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This past week has flown by!  One of the reason has everything to do with the many opportunities to converse and share with some of the other, talented artists who are also in residence.  For example, Jennella Young shared her one-page bookmaking process.  It took place in the Bethany Arts Community's garden.  We folded pages from discarded library books into one page books, glued several of them together, made pockets and had the chance to alter them with paint, markers, and other supplies.  Although I've made several artist books, I'd never before folded a single piece of paper into a booklet.  It was cool ... especially as a way to use pages from books that were otherwise headed to a landfill.

(Above: Tessa Brinckman's performance.)

On another evening, Tessa Brinckman gave a most fabulous performance and artist talk.  An internationally acclaimed flutist and composer, she played works that showcased unique sounds made on and through her instruments. She accompanied a short film created in collaboration with two animators, spoke about her early life growing up in New Zealand, and shared her insights and inspirations. For the final piece, Tessa led the audience in an extremely fun exploration of personal music making.


(Above:  Me ... during today's ARToberfest!)

During the first part of the week, the weather was wonderful.  By Thursday, the forecast looked bleak.  Wisely, the Bethany Arts Community staff postponed their 4th Annual ARToberfest from Saturday until today, Sunday.  It was a good move.  It poured rain almost all day on Saturday!    Today, it didn't rain but it was COLD! (At least it was cold to me!  Coming from South Carolina, I'm just not accustomed to high 50s and low 60s!)  Nevertheless, the Community Crazy Quilt project was a success.  

(Jennella and a young participant stitching on the Community Crazy Quilt.) 

Lots of families, local neighbors, other artists, and friends came to learn a little about quilting and take a few stitches on the piece I brought.  The piece will eventually become part of my Patchwork Installation.  This piece is special ... not just because it was made for this special place and opportunity but because a section of the unfinished Battenburg lace that was donated to my stash is spread across the patchwork of vintage quilt scraps.  Outlining the lace is a row of stacked buttons.  Most of the people who participated in the activity helped with the buttons.  I've got a long way to go in order to finish this work but it got a good start here!

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

The start of an art residency at Bethany Arts Community

(Above:  The main entrance to the Bethany Arts Community just outside Ossining, New York.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Bright and early on Sunday morning, Steve and I started out on this adventure!  We drove the cargo van to Allentown, PA that night and were up early again on Monday.  Because check-in at the Bethany Arts Community was scheduled for 2 - 4:30 PM, we had time to spend in Sleepy Hollow.  The tour of the cemetery was great!  By 1:30, I dropped Steve off at the Ossining train station.  He went into NYC, saw Six on Broadway and flew home the next day.  

Meanwhile, I arrived for my two-week art residency! Above is a photo of the main entrance. Originally owned by the Maryknoll Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic, this place was once a convent.  It was expanded in 1951 and now has an interior space of 44,000 square feet! The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers took over the property in 1958. By 1979, the building was used for the missionary program.  Finally, Bethany Arts Community purchased the place September 2015 as an art residency.  There's now two, large dance/performance spaces, permanent studios for local artists, an independent pre-school, a cafeteria, offices, art galleries, and lots of small rooms that serve as art studios and bedrooms.  Plus ... twenty-five acres that are mostly woodlands!

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the friendly staff and shown both my bedroom and studio.  A proper orientation for all arriving artists-in-residence was later that evening, followed by a wine-and-cheese reception and welcoming dinner.  After nightfall, two of the artists that arrived a week earlier conducted a public engagement program of song and poetry around a nice bonfire.  (The residency program staggers arrivals and departures so that everyone gets to meet more people!  There are dancers, writers, composers, poets, an opera singer, a flutist, and a couple other visual artists here with me!)

I was eager to bring in my stash of "white things".  For years I've amassed a collection of vintage lace, crocheted doilies, damask tablecloths, and ... well ... you name it ... I probably have it.  Believe it or not, I didn't even bring all of it ... just "more than enough".

I also brought my Grandma Lenz's sewing box in which I've kept balls of #5 white and off-white DMC embroidery floss.  I didn't buy any of this "new".  Almost everything I brought came from auctions, yard sales, thrift shops, and as donations from generous people.  The only "new" item was the one-inch upholstery cord that I got wholesale from UPHSUP Upholstery Supplies

Soon, I was at work.  Now, the photo above might not look like anything recognizable ... but let me explain!  I've been thinking/wishing/dreaming/planning/hoping to build this new installation for years!  It all started back in August 2012 when I built The Canopy at an art residency in Galesburg, Illinois.  CLICK HERE to see the reception for The Canopy that concluded this opportunity. 

The next year (2013), The Canopy was part of the inaugural ArtFields competition in Lake City, South Carolina.  The photo above shows me stitching in the Jones Carter building in front of my Canopy.   Though The Canopy was hung in several other venues during the next few years, it really was more recently "in storage" for quite a while ... until ...

.... 2022 when it was erected at Good Shepherd Church in Sumter, South Carolina.  Seeing it again made me remember my earlier hair-brained idea for a new installation.  I wrote a proposal and submitted for this art residency ... and now I'm getting to make this new installation! The idea came from The Canopy's "bedposts".  I couldn't help but to wonder how it would feel to walk through dozens of these long, skinny creations ... all suspended from the ceiling.  Would it feel as if swimming in the ocean waters off Southern California ... through a kelp forest?  (Yes ... I've been to the Monterey Aquarium and was mesmerized by these giant plants!) Yet, I've never had the time to act on this idea, and it took about decade to amass enough lacy and crochet to attempt pulling it off.

So ... once I arrived here at the Bethany Arts Community, I pulled up my earlier blog post to relearn how I stitched these "bedposts".  The photo above is one taken back in 2012, in Illinois, at the start of that art residency.  (CLICK HERE to read it.)  I've already completed the first one.  I'll blog more as the work progresses.  There's no way to finish this idea in just two-weeks but at least this installation is underway.

As easily as I could spend all my time with a needle and thread, I will take time to walk the trails here ...

... stare at the blue sky ...

... and even meditate in the garden.  Plus, this Saturday is ARToberfest here at Bethany Arts Community and I'll be conducting a community crazy quilt activity from 10 - 4:30!  If you are in the area, come see me!