Sunday, June 30, 2024

Martha's Vineyard

(Above:  Steve and I on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For more than a week, we were away from our new home in the Cateechee mill village church.  We were off on an adventure to Martha's Vineyard.  Our mission was to bring my artwork, including The Lace Forest, to an invitational exhibition at Featherstone Gallery and to help install the entire show.  Of course, this didn't require every minute.  We had plenty of time to explore the island.  It was fabulous!

We were able to visit Long Point Beach.  We went early and had the entire southern island expanse to ourselves before walking through trails in the wildlife refuge.

On another day, we ventured to Great Rock Bight Preserve.  For most of the time, we were totally alone watching seals play in the distance and exploring the seaweed and rocks along the coastline.

Despite the fact that the water didn't look very inviting for a swim, the seaweed was beautiful ...

... and the rocks were amazing in their variety of colors.

For some reason, I never snapped a photo of the cute little cabin in which we were staying ... but I did get this shot of the turkey who visited nearly very morning for breakfast.  She had two chicks with her but they were camera shy (or I was too shy to get near them while Mama turkey was so close!)

Although Steve and I are not "foodies" and rarely take pictures of exotic dishes ordered in restaurants, we were elated with the seafood selections.  Of course we were!  Steve loves to cook too.  We bought bluefish at this Vineyard Haven store.  Bluefish, a colder water species, is almost never available in South Carolina.

We didn't buy a whole lobster  ... but ...

... we did go to Larsen's Fish Market in Chilmark, the southwestern part of the island.

Steve had an excellent lobster roll.  I opted for the best marinated calamari salad ever!

We visited both craft breweries on the island and had pizza at Offshore Brewing in Oak Bluffs.  Mostly, we ate outside our cabin!

On another day, we went to Polly Hill Arboretum.  It was fabulous ... and again ... despite the crowds in the historic towns, there were very few people around.  We felt close to nature and the reasons why Martha's Vineyard was a place of refuge in the 19th century.  It was away from summer heat in the big cities.  It was beautiful and lush with a rolling terrain and sandy beaches. 

The flowering trees were amazing. 

We walked through a blooming Dogwood Alley. 

We were struck by the beauty of magnolia blossoms that were beyond their prime ...

... but also by those just opened.  We have a magnolia tree at the church but it isn't the same species and most of our blossoms are much higher off the ground making photos like these nearly impossible.

Yet the flowers that impressed me most were the hydrangea.  They were EVERYWHERE.  They were beside the art galleries we visited.  They were in front of the shops we went to. They were at the flea market we visited (which was more of an artist market ... where I tried on a sterling and shell bracelet with a $718 price tag! Not the sort of flea market I assumed!)  The hydrangea weren't all deep blue or even the same species.  Some were bright pink. Some purple.  Some brilliant white with lime green.  It was lovely to be on Martha's Vineyard while the hydrangea were blooming.   

Friday, June 28, 2024

The Lace Forest at Featherstone Gallery, Martha's Vineyard

(Above:  The Lace Forest inside the small chapel on the grounds of Featherstone Gallery on Martha's Vineyard Island.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It all started last October during a two-week art residency at Bethany Arts Community outside Ossining, NY.  Well ... that's not entirely true!  The inspiration came from the Monterey Aquarium, a place our family visited almost three decades ago.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the kelp forest.  This seed of inspiration lay dormant for a long time ... until I created The Canopy in 2012.  That's when I dreamed up a way to turn the inspiration into an installation.  But, I didn't do it.  The idea resurfaced in 2022 when I got another chance to show The Canopy.  At that point, I applied for the residency in New York.  (Images can be found on the first blog post I wrote from Bethany Arts.  CLICK HERE.)

(Above:  Provided signage for The Lace Forest.  If you look closely in the background, the little chapel is visible between the trees.)

It was during the final few days of this residency when I got a telephone call from curator Michele Beasley Malone asking if I would bring The Lace Forest to an invitational exhibit at Featherstone Gallery on Martha's Vineyard.  I couldn't say YES fast enough.  At the time, I had fifteen strands completed.  Since moving into our renovated Cateechee mill village church, I stitched another fifteen.  I was also asked for other artwork and agreed to drive it all to Martha's Vineyard and help with the installation of the entire show.  


(Above:  The little chapel at Featherstone Gallery.)

I was totally over the moon to be given the Schule Chapel for The Lace Forest.  This tiny space was almost single-handedly constructed by long time Edgartown pastor John Schule as a place for spiritual retreat and family events.  Later, it was moved to Featherstone as an intimate exhibition space.  To me, it was the most perfect setting imaginable.  Each strand of lace was tied to the exposed, white painted wooden beams.  

 (Above:  The entryway into the chapel.)

It took Steve and I less than an hour to install.  Then, I took photos and even THIS VIDEO!  The space had two strings of white twinkle lights which we included ... making me think about the future.  I'm now toying with ideas for unique lighting ... perhaps even a sound installation of babbling water and/or videos of water on exterior walls.  Whether this happens or not, I learned plenty!

I learned that I definitely need more strands of lace.  Yet, this isn't going to be much of a problem (at least for the next fifteen!)  I have already accumulated another two tubs of lace.  I got this new stash at the Urban Recycled back in Springfield, Illinois when installing my solo show at the Springfield Arts Association.  The woman running the place said there might be even more lace in the shop's storage site.  If so, I'll be collecting even more when I return to take down my show!  My goal is to have at least fifty strands! More would be even better!  (If reading this and wanting to donate anything crocheted or lacy, please mail to Mouse House, 320 North Church Street, Central, SC 29630! Thanks!)

Now ... back to the invitational show!  It's called Rising Up! A Multi-Cultural Celebration of Stitched Fine Art.  The exhibit is up through July 21st.  Also included in the gallery space are several of my other artworks.  In fact, the Jeanna Shepard came during the installation to snap some fabulous photographs for the Vineyard Gazette!  This is one of the shot that appeared in print and on-line!

The reception was last Sunday from 4 - 6.  Lots and lots of people attended.  Most wandered out the door to The Lace Forest too!  Scroll down for two more images!

Saturday, June 15, 2024

A week in Salisbury, NC teaching middle and high school students

(Above and below:  Photos taken during my week conducting a fiber arts summer program for the area's talented and gifted middle and high school students at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, a regional museum in Salisbury, North Carolina.)

This past week found me at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, a regional museum in Salisbury, North Carolina.  I was the visiting artist teaching for the area's talented and gifted middle and high school students.  The aim of the week was to expose the participants to three different approaches to stitching:  by hand, by straight and zig-zig machine stitching, and by free-motion machine embroidery. 

Everyone in the workshop excelled.  On Friday, parents and friends visited for a presentation of all the things accomplished.  Lots of work was finished, mounted, and matted.  As always, I learned plenty too! 

The workshop ended on Friday.  I drove home and spent most of today (obviously, Saturday) unloading the van and then packing it for our next adventure.  Bright and early tomorrow morning, Steve and I head northeast!  We are going to Martha's Vineyard to help install an invitational fiber art show at Featherstone Gallery.  I have several pieces in the show!  We are both very excited!

 Please just keep scrolling down to see some of the pictures I shot during the week!


Sunday, June 09, 2024

Reception for Once & Again: Alterations in Springfield

(Above:  Just before the opening reception for Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last Friday was magical ... not just because there was a wonderful opening reception for my solo show ... and not because Steve flew into Springfield to attend and drive me back to South Carolina ... but because I went to a fabulous non-profit store called Creative Reuse Marketplace and found all sorts of things for both future Found Object Mandalas and for Cascade/Lace Forest, the current installation on which I am working!  Better yet, the nice college professor working at Creative Reuse Marketplace came to the reception and promised to look in the shop's off site storage facility for even more lace!

(Above:  Me ... during the brief "artist talk" at the opening reception.)

Apparently, the remains of a former fabric/notions store got donated to the business.  From the looks of what I've already acquired, this happened more than a decade ago.  All this never-before-used but still-very-old lace has been looking for its "second life" for quite a while.  I'm so happy to provide it!  Plus, the possibility of finding even more makes my return a happy occasion!  It is otherwise a little sad when a solo show must be taken down.  Now ... there's the hope for "more lace"!

(Above:  Springfield Arts Association executive director Betsy Dollar introducing me!)

One more thing made the reception so grand.  Kathy Johnson, a member of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Development board came!  She lives in Springfield and I met her during my art residency.  It was wonderful to catch up!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Illinois

(Above:  Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

On Tuesday I drove all day! In a little more than twelve hours, I arrived back at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  It was good to return!  From mid-January to mid-February, I'd spent a cold winter month in their artist-in-residency program.  It was truly "a gift of time" and the timing couldn't have been better.  By the next month, COVID-19 was raging. (To view blog posts from this opportunity, please scroll down on the right-hand side bar to my blog archive and select Jan. 2020 and Feb. 2020.)

 (Above:  The M.G. Nelson Gallery before installing my show.)

During the art residency I started creating The Clothesline.  At the time, I knew the work was speaking to my environmental concerns.  Found fabric hand prints were fused to vintage household linens.  This was my way to promote energy conservation and other common sense reasons to line dry laundry.  (The dryer really is the biggest suck of electricity in most houses!)  Yet within a month after the residency, my hand prints also became a visual reminder to WASH YOUR HANDS during a pandemic and thereafter!

(Above and further below:  Images from Once & Again: Alterations.)

The Clothesline grew considerably during those dark pandemic days, but something else also happened.  I started stitching Found Object Mandalas.  Amazingly, I knew why I was doing it!  Often, I start a series and I have to figure out why I'm so compelled to create the work through the actual process of "making".  This time was different and the reason had everything to do with the quiet solitude of the art residency.  I had time to devote to "thinking" ... which led me to longer stream-of-consciousness daily journal entries. 

Since 2006, I've practiced this routine.  It's the result of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a twelve step program for creative living.  Okay ... I admit it!  I cheat!  Julia Cameron suggests longhand writing.  I type my journal entries.  They are sorted by date in folders labeled by year.  While in Springfield for this art residency, I wrote about my compulsion to use vintage and antique materials.  I wrote how the desire to give "second life" to the old, neglected, unused, unwanted, and often damaged had everything to do with repeated childhood viewing of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  That entire scene at the Island of Misfit Toys touched my eight-year-old soul.  I knew even then to feel guilt for asking Santa for something new when I had old things I hadn't touched in months. 

I wrote about the first auction I ever attended and how the remains of an old woman were sold off to the highest bidder.  I wrote about my family members who washed aluminum foil and Ziploc bags.  I realized that my preferences in materials was with me long before I became an artist.  I wrote about my hope to transform everyday objects into art and how these things might touch others.  I actually started writing the original proposal for Once & Again: Alterations

For me, bringing this show back to the location where its seeds were first planted feels so very, very right.  I spent all of yesterday hanging the show.  Sure ... it isn't as large as the show was last year the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount.  (CLICK HERE for a video!)  The entire Patchwork Installation was left back in South Carolina along with several other pieces.  Sue's Environmental To Do List (which was also started during the art residency) isn't here either.  It was sold to a non-profit last year!  The work really does seem to touch others in the same way as they touch me!