Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holiday: Race to get back for Christmas

Emily and I raced south yesterday morning so we could pick up Brad and head to Central Nebraska for Christmas. So far we are waiting out weather in Omaha with my family, so we've reversed our plans of visiting his side first-then mine for the time being. I'm going to enjoy family and will post again when I head back for install. Happy Holidays, stay warm, and safe travels!

Installation Day Four

Emily and I cranked out the other side of the horseshoe upstairs on Monday, putting in a late night. I'll have a bit to touch up on my return trip, but it was energizing to work while the carpet and panel of the first floor was being removed. So many staples and nails to pull- but the floor beneath looks wonderful. I could hear "This is the old basketball court? It's great to be able to see it." from passersby and the staff helping to return the floor to its previous glory. I am hoping some of the blue remains after the sanding as a remnant- it looks so sharp against the maple floor.

I already have a deep seated adoration of wood. Brad and I are so happy with the investment of refinishing our Red Oak from the Ozarks at home- just sealing it instead of staining it. We had Floor Designs ready to begin as soon as we got home for the first time from closing. I am also a huge fan of restoration and re-purposing unique features of architecture. The new wooden floor will be a beautiful backdrop to the huge doily I have planned for the lower story of the gallery. It will be great for artworks in future shows at C-SC as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Installation Day Two and Three

It's slow going... but we've got some intricate work in. I am just hoping the first floor will be ready when I come back in January. We are a bit off schedule due to the refinishing getting delayed. I will have to work fast to make my ambitious project happen. We stocked up yesterday on groceries- which is great since its been snowing non-stop since this morning. We will have to head home a bit early as well, as the forecast is ice pellets for our drive.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CSC Install Day 1

Emily and I arrived right at 1 pm to meet Jen at the gallery with no real weather holdups. I was afraid we would have to head home again after getting the low down on the space and meeting some staff, because the first floor was supposed to be refinished and perhaps a bit too stinky to safely work in. The floor redo had been postponed, so we had no worries about fumes and decided to tackle upstairs. We vacuumed, moved pedestals, set lighting and started drawing upstairs. I was greatly influences by the Four Centuries of Japanese Screens at the St Louis Art Museum- especially the use of gold leaf cloud shapes to both unify and divide space. We only got about an hour of drawing in at the very end of the evening, but it's off to a good start. Local BBQ sustained us and having Emily's extra hands has been wonderful.

The friendliness of Culver Stockton College folk has already made several good memories- from a helpful battery jump, to help getting campus numbers and loan speakers (thanks so much Jeanne!), to having a real bed and shower-- when I'm used to a sleeping bag and a yoga mat and zero privacy during a long install. It's really wonderful to be able to have a mini-residency at a quaint snow-covered campus with the help of an old friend.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chance Operation Lecture

Brad earned several points by spending an additional hour in an art lecture, presented by Meredith Malone on the Kemper Art Museum's "Chance Aesthetics" exhibition. The show is really incredible- the first show at the Kemper that is nearly loaned in its entirety. The discussion Malone lead was a learning experience for me, although I was familiar with most of the artists involved, I was unaware of the connections between them.My lack of love for art biography reared its head, and made me appreciate the storytelling of an art historian. I am not as interested in the network of personalities as I am the actual artwork.

Highlights: Duchamp's "Hat Rack", Dieter Roth's "Sunset" (Friend Chris Wood made me notice this artist quite a few years ago. I couldn't help thinking about Chris's new show "Recomposition" that opened Dec 4 at Antena Gallery in Chicago. in part inspired by Roth's sausage and paper prints.), a Max Ernst decalcomania painting (from the Kemper's collection), and the video set of Gutai Group performances, Niki de Sainte-Phalle shooting at her canvases with attached everyday objects and paintbags, and Pollock.

Part of Chris Wood's Recomposition Project.

But several of the lectures from NIU given by Barbara Jaffee and a few guest lecturers, especially Hannah Hoch on Fluxus rushed back to me. There were only two others at the lecture, and I ended up being familiar with both of them. One gentleman, who came to the Material Studies artist talk at Good Citizen, even brought up my lace doilies, but not my name or recognizing me, as an example of an artist letting the audience destroy a work- and not rushing in to fix it. Brad pointed me out- and the discussion continued. I was really impressed by the educational materials at the Kemper, and plan on bringing my students there next semester if possible. The curator for Metabolic City did not show, so we looked at the exhibition I was already drawn to- I would have appreciated a walk-thru of the exhibition that didn't really capture my interest. A conversation about that exhibit would have vastly changed how much I absorbed from it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Examiner's Insider digs the doily

My birdseed doily appeared quite a few times in Danielle Lee's slide show of "Art St. Louis: a Diamond among Rhinestones" on November 15. Find the article here.

Art St Louis XXV Opening Images and Award

Here's the great montage that Robin Hirsh, gallery director, took during the Monday-Thursday installation...(and sent out in the ASL newsletter the week of the opening.)

Thanks to Travis for bringing his camera, and obsessively shooting images during the three hour opening reception. The doily was well-received, I even had a gallery visitor say "I like the fact you call it a doily and doilies are not meant to be handled, but people can touch this."

This doily was my largest- 12 feet wide, with three different types of seed: nyger, millet, and milo. I was definitely influenced by the East Asian sculpture and architecture lectures I've been giving in my Art Appreciation classes during the week of install. The show continues until December 28th, so stop by if you're downtown.

I earned an "Award of Excellence" from juror Sheryl Conkelton, author and independent curator, along with four other artists from the exhibition. So I am now eligible to submit works for consideration in "Honor Awards 2010" next Spring, curated by artist Carmon Colangelo, a prof at Wash U. I am hoping to get some images of my Canton wall-to-wall install for the CD of images for jurying.

Friday, November 6, 2009


October is over. Here's the long list of scratched out to-do's:

Lighting in studio. Lighting in rest of basement. (It now consists of several 4' fluorescent tubes controlled by 4 switches. So happy to see downstairs now that daylight savings is over and it gets dark so early these days. A big improvement from 4 compact florescent each on a pull string. )

Three shelving units are now downstairs- we still need more.

Yellow living room is now gray. Ahhhhh....soothing.

Small bookshelf now in office, instead of living room---cookbooks stored in kitchen and lots of clutter removed.

Designated: "Library book" shelf in office- that I can easily see and access.

Began and finished reading The Language of Ornament. Such perfect timing for a treatise about not hating beauty and how to look at pattern and ornament.

Got my new nearly fully-functional computer. Imagine a very sick computer getting harnessed to a tiny spunky one, without necessary programs and you get the idea. It's been a great reason (both when just dealing with the ailing one, and in getting frustrated over the issues of compatibility to not be blogging or online except for the occasional email.)

Deep cleaned the house. It was in a state of serenity and hidden activity- i need to put in a few hours to return it to that state again.

Drove up to Quincy, IL to see Jen and the gallery space for January. Lots of great surprises: an apartment to stay at, carpet I can easily work with birdseed on, and a home-cooked dinner with Jen's family consisting of bread from scratch; lentil, sausage/ minestrone soup; and pumpkin pie. The only bad part of the day was listening to Q & A (Slumdog Millionaire) on tape set to random... and forgetting to give Brad a call during the 12 hours I was gone. Lesson learned- although we still haven't figured out how to make the Sansa behave without randomly ordering the tracks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

with bells on

After looking at my 2009 Goals post-it and seeing that I haven't been able to mark this one off- I signed up for the Jingle Bell Run for the Arthritis Foundation. I ran a slow 5K between class and a presentation this afternoon- on a treadmill so at least I have a baseline time to improve on. So we'll see how much impact training will have in the 7 weeks until go time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

the awful

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
- Flannery O'Connor
Thanks Google quote of the day. I read Flannery O'Connor's short stories and analyzed them in my undergrad Ethics class...and thanks to a great philosophy professor and class discussion, I can still reflect on the implications of her narratives. Her words and works can be a great moral compass. O'Connor can capture the shock and violence of change(and what proceeds it) in a few pages. Here's a small private toast to a few new beginnings...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

let it shine

Material Studies and my three installations in Crystal Lake are coming down this weekend. In planning my delicate tear-down and technology pick up--- Andrew let me know the St. Louis Beacon's Ivy Cooper has included us as one of her "Bright Spots".

Here's the article, since I'm not sure how the link will fair with updates:

3:12 p.m. Mon. Sept. 21 - "A bit off the beaten path of Fiber Focus -- literally and otherwise -- is the exhibition "Material Studies" at Good Citizen Gallery. But if you're in the fiber way at the moment, this is one not to miss: a selection of works by six emerging artists who work with various conceptual and material strains of fiber, to really interesting effect.

Courtney Henson, who had a phenomenal show a while back at the now-defunct Maps contemporary art space in Belleville, weighs in this time with "And We'll Measure Your Brain." It's one of her signature process outfits: a handmade dress, hooked via knitted umbilical cord to a tiny video monitor which plays a loop of the artist performing in the dress. Henson is interested in twins and tautology, and makes some of the weirdest, most engaging fiber work around.

materialstudies100holz.jpgChristine A. Holtz is back to her subversive tricks too: "I Gotta Get Out Of This Place" is a space helmet, gloves and gravity boots made out of smashed styrofoam peanuts sewn together. Holtz plans to complete the outfit, and - who knows? -- it may actually help transport her to another dimension. (At the very least, the peanuts will outlive us all when the apocalypse comes.)

Erin K. Cork has transformed a vintage kitsch gold couch into a breeding ground for cell-like colonies made of felt and doilies, and Jessica Witte has followed suit with a "Birdseed Doily" on the floor nearby.

The show also includes works by Alicia Pigg and Jessica May."

new and old loves...

I spent my first afternoon in Edwardsville, IL since I was close by dropping Brad off for his first real vacation since moving to MO. With all the travel we've been doing through August and September, he has been in dire need of R&R and had to race to get ready for this venture. I hope he enjoys his male bonding weekend.

I have a new soft spot for Edwardsville- the main street is alive and full of character. Courtney directed me to stop by "Beyond Timbuktu." I ended up talking to the owner Andy for a long time over the Kuba cloth collection, teaching, and just raving about the store in general. Fiber dreams are made there- and I had flashbacks to my childhood days in fabric stores just running my hands over the merchandise. Incredible store- I am now seriously contemplating taking a weaving class to actually understand the process thoroughly (especially since seeing Laura Strand's artwork at Jacoby). I plan on going back with Brad to select a cut-pile embroidery for our house and to use as a reference for my classes.

I also had a chance to case out the Edwardsville Art Center. The space is great- and I love the concrete floors that scream to be installed upon as well as the storefront window span. (When I have to install over carpet I always want to work in ways that are physically impossible on an uneven surface that can't be mopped up.) Their "Impressed by Design: Letterpress in the Heartland" show curated by Creativille, Inc., was phenomenal. I wanted to move into the space permanently. Since I was already familiar with Hatch Show Print , I knew I would enjoy several works, but I was caught up by each of the artists involved- Amos Kennedy, Ken Botnick, Jim Sherraden (of Hatch Show Print), Eric Woods of Firecracker Press and Brady Vest of Hammerpress. Since prints are so much easier on the budget, I coveted many of the posters, broadsides, and books. I left proud of my self control (I rarely get excited about objects enough to want to bring something else home to find a place for it, so when my interest is piqued I can get a bit manic with purchasing)- but U-turned and purchased a work by Amos Kennedy to christen my studio space and inspire me. Ahh...good 'ol printmaking. See a great write up on the show at Felt and Wire.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cultivating Doilies...seed style

I spent a gorgeous afternoon yesterday, creating peace doilies with St. Joan of Arc Catholic School as part of their celebration of the International Day of Peace (September 21). It was a learning experience for all of us. Seeing the wide range of ages approach the project was wonderful to see. Working on the asphalt space next to the garden, the project turned out beautifully, with several doilies created by several different groups building on each other's center. Although there was some hesitation to begin, once they started handing the seed "It feels so good on your hands!" was a common response. The meditative aspect spanned ages- as they settled into forming the doilies a quiet fell over many groups. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to principal Deborah DaLay for approaching me at the opening at Good Citizen and initiating the project. Once I arrived on Tuesday, art teacher Ellen Rapp and the other faculty were a huge help in doily and student wrangling (we over 100 students take part). With a threat of thunderstorms in the forecast, the sunny day turned out beautiful in more ways than one. I will post images as soon as they arrive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Capsule Review in RFT

Check out Jessica Baran's review of the show in the River Front Times.

It's a bit difficult to see the fatalism in the show after seeing Christine A. Holtz walking around during the opening and giving a thumbs up or Andrew a high five (or discussing at the gallery talk about how the mirrored visor is inspired by The Three Stooges)- but garments look much different when they are static instead of worn. Seeing the space helmet on the card- it does look really austere. Several of the works reference entropy so I can understand and appreciate Ms. Baran's comments. Anyone willing to agree or disagree?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Local school doily workshop

Good News! I am planning on conducting a birdseed doilies workshop with the St. Joan of Arc Catholic School (to help commemorate their activities for the International Day of Peace). It's been great to have the artwork extend to include others in its creation and to see such a positive reaction to the work. Deborah's excitement about the project since meeting her at the Good Citizen opening has been infectious- and I look forward to seeing the birdseed doilies manifest themselves outside the gallery setting. Since my previous attempts at creating the works with children have been limited to a few participants, this should prove to be a fruitful experiment and experience.

Pete and repeat

I replicated a piece of Venetian lace out of clay, compost, birdseed and wildflower seed ( using a grid to transfer the drawing for the first time ever) to create a few slides for my White Flag submission and some other galleries in the area. They ARE the wallpaper flowers I cut out with an x-acto by hand out of 2,100 feet of wallpaper a few years ago. No wonder I was drawn to this pattern above all others.

My attraction to a certain strand of Venetian lace is from a past love/hate relationship. This former affair made me purchase rolls of clearance wallpaper that approximated the pattern about 7 years ago. The wallpaper sat in my studio for two years before I found its "proper" usage as my "Holding Pattern" wallpaper. My love-hate relationship with the odd flowers (some built to resemble venetian lace- before I knew its source) sparked the beige cut work by removing all the large, structural flowers. If I didn't post some of the more hilarious studio "in progress shots" it would have taken longer for me to make the connection. --- For comparison- look at the flower directly to the right and above the "" flower.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"chub-ler", "Winston-bear" and "a blue hair dinner"

We spent the weekend focused around our new nephew, Winston. Brad and I didn't get more than 2 hours of sleep the night before heading out- so we crashed on the couch after a visit to Tony Luke's for cheesesteaks (love that sharp provolone!). We hit the beach the next day, which was beautiful- but very windy and cold. In every other photo taken at the beach- my hair is an amorphous mass....(it approximated Erin's couch felt clumps.) I took off a dirty much-loved sweatshirt for pictures- I would have not have been able to brave our stay without it. Before returning home, we were lucky enough to meet up with Donna, who Brad is currently riding 200 miles for in the MS Ride for the cure this weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fellow artist raves about "Material Studies"

A fellow artist, Jennifer Weigel, blogged about our show, read her comments here at Chaoticblacksheep's Rants and Raves. Thanks for taking the time to reflect on the show, Jennifer. Her second to last paragraph sums up some of allure of working within a fiber art methodology or framework- people are familiar with cloth. A gallery visitor, perhaps David(? the lawyer?)... commented that the show was very "accessible" during the opening. Since I carefully consider using materials that have associations that can be read on some level without an art history degree, I greatly appreciated his choice of words about the exhibition.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

a little help from my friends...

Just a few people to note for making my night/day a bit better after the school violence tangent, plane delay, & sore throated evening...Heidi for the airport rescue,

Joe Turner
for finally getting a web presence for sharing some artworks (and some mighty fine ones at that- see Baghead above), and Michele Bosak for being a marketing guru & Jane-of-all-trades martha stewart-esque installer taking advantage of Art Prize. Wonderful people who make me want to get down to business and make something with meaning.

The New Duck-and-Cover

On a more depressing note than the previous entry, I got a text message from the college about the Test broadcast for "simulated violent act by an armed intruder"while waiting for my flight home. Even knowing that the message was a test- I was sick to my stomach. After being on campus during the NIU tragedy (which I still haven't really processed), I don't know if I would have handled the simulation very well. I applaud the efforts of administrations across the country to try to make schools safe, but it seems like the spector of student or gunman violence on campus is encouraged by advertising it. It seems like the next paradigm to unite people in fear. Nuclear holocaust is still on the table, but more people are worried under the surface about an unstable person with a loaded gun in a public place. Sweeping statements (which are offensive to discriminating audiences) follow, I apologize in advance. I can not process the info, but I am trying to get a handle on it in broad sweeps. Is it a creative outlet for those who have no sense of community or identity? Considering the proliferation of such shows as "Ultimate warrior" and nearly any American depiction of hero violence, is this the contemporary way of getting notoriety without talent/wealth/hard work? Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point discussed the spread of teenage suicide in the South Pacific islands of Micronesia as being viral. Are we seeing the same thing occur here with school violence? ---I was conducting research on violence in my studio practice but I just couldn't detach myself or deal with the info after the shooting at NIU. I only got a few chapters in to Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect before I had to stop.

The experience did however bring me a fresh reason for dedicating my life to art--- the only thing that seemed to heal was artwork. Two things made me feel better during the numb weeks afterward: spending time in Ayomi Yoshida's Yedoensis installation (click on photo gallery at the top of the blog for some better views than my photo) at the NIU Art Museum and hearing former poet laureate Ted Kooser reading his Valentine poems on public radio. (Not only were the poems simple and precise, I heard him read during my residency at the KHN Center for the Arts). Those artworks made sense during a time when not much else did.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bonfire and bon voyage

I'm happy I came early to the opening tonight and thank those who came out in support to check out the show. I feel really good about our move to St. Louis--- it's hard to beat interesting conversations, being part of an art show you can be proud of, and roasting a late late dinner over a bonfire. I've made more art in the past few months than the past few years. Teaching has felt rewarding. Off to see the new nephew... sorry no pictures of the new dress, I left my camera in the trunk. Plenty of cameras were around, so I'll link to those images as they arrive.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Random (in) progress...

While prepping a juried show proposal--- I came across a blast from the past folder- "In progress". Just thought I would share some of my random visual blurts from years past. The comment "it just looks like a crack house" seems completely obvious now. (Hint: The mauve nagahide is burned into the seat of the chair. You're on your own for the rest of the images.)


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Installing like the wind...

The show is nearly ready for the public. Luckily, my part is complete. I've got a doily creeping under Erin Cork's couch and will have better documentation of the work under the influence of audience participation. After two days of sliding around seed on the beautiful floors- with special thanks to the meticulous hands of surprise volunteer assistant Christine on Tuesday evening- I had enough time to purchase a new dress for the occasion. I found my black lace dress (plan A- the one I purchased to wear for Barbara Cole Peter's "Little Black Dress" vintage clothing show when directing) is torn and bagging up on the top. Not a great look--- so I brought along my trusty shopping lucky charm Heidi and found shoes AND a dress (fitting the vague requirements I was sorta kinda hoping for) for a price of a "maybe" dress. I am looking forward to the opening 6-10.

Here's some install action shots from Tuesday... (Erin fluffing the couch, and the slow growth of the doily).