Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

installing new exhibit…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

“Forming Our Lives: Three Women, Three Phenomenal Stories” July 26-Sept 14, 2014 San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA

I drove down to San Jose Sunday afternoon to be in position for a Monday exhibit install at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. Sadly traffic patterns control my schedule in this part of the world so I knew it wise to position myself outside of my commute zone.

I stayed at a wonderful Air BnB place which was a treat. This cute little house with the beautiful garden is owned by a fun and friendly gal who frequently rents rooms to finance her home improvements. And it was a scant 10 mins from my morning destination.

We arrived just as SAQA regional members deconstructed their beautiful ‘Northern California Expressions’ exhibit (the one for which I made the two Vineyard pieces that sold right off my design wall in spring, so I couldn’t enter the exhibit). We began to unpack and lay out our work on sheets placed on the floor and as soon as they patched and dabbed paint on the walls, we got to work!

Bonnie J. Smith‘s husband was our main ladder man as he has much experience hanging her work.  After a couple OSHA-inspired tool juggling tricks we got down to team-work and in no time had installed the first wall which is a mix of all three women’s work and the artist statement for the exhibit. Forming Our Lives: Three Women, Three Phenomenal Stories was starting to transform the space and in a beautiful way.

This wall shows work from each of us and the artist statement about the exhibit

This wall shows work from each of us and the artist statement about the exhibit


four pieces from Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work

Next we hung work from my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work













then pieces from Bonnie’s Swimming Upstream series…about her rehabilitation from a debilitating work comp injury.


from Bonnie J. Smith’s ‘Swimming Upstream’ series

and finally five pieces from Cristina Velasquez Dresses series… a fabulous and inventive parody on all the ‘shoulds’ society & culture put on women.

Christina installing her 'Dresses' series

Christina installing her ‘Dresses’ series

We finished early enough that I had time to hit the highway home rather than staying another night. Of course I was in time for the “pre-commute” traffic!

the joys of living in the 'burbs

the joys of living in the ‘burbs


“Forming Our Lives” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles July 26-Sep 14, 2014 . (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays) Do see it…and while you are there check out the ITAB exhibit.

old hands, new tricks…

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I am working on a new body of work that will incorporate vintage clothing. In a moment of complete insanity I decided to deconstruct my father’s wool WWII Army uniform (on a hot summer day). The construction is incredible. Even the inner linings are works of art.  At first it felt a bit sacrilegious or unpatriotic to take it apart, but really what else is there to do with it? Donate to charity and let some kid wear it to school? No, it needs this repurposing!

After spending about an hour on it this afternoon my hands, wrists and fingers were killing me. Apparently all my years of handwork (sewing, knitting, weaving, spinning, more sewing, dyeing, painting and typing) have caught up with me. It might serve me to contract this job out to a kid who wants to make some summer cash. I need not do everything!

Meanwhile I am off to the South Bay soon to install a three-person exhibit of which I am proud to be included. “Forming Our Lives” will be at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles July 26-Sept 14, 2014.

Curator Bonnie J. Smith writes: Art gives us the opportunity to reach out and engage the viewer. In the exhibit “Forming Our Lives,” three women recount personal stories that have affected and continue to shape their lives. Viewers can relate to or learn from their experiences and self-discovery, the solutions they have found through their journeys, or perhaps the resolution they are each still searching for in their lives.
Bonnie J. Smith found herself literally swimming upstream in her life after a work-related injury forced her to use a wheel chair. Although professionals had their doubts about her recovery, she persevered and was able to heal herself. Carol Larson was surgically shortened six inches as a teenager to make her a better fit for society. While the path that followed the decision has been emotionally and physically excruciating, she is a survivor. Cristina Velazquez’s work questions the world that says, “Women must be and do certain things.” She hits us hard as she repeatedly asks, “Why must I be that woman”? The artwork they have created continually asks the question, “Why do certain situations happen in our lives and how do we overcome them?” This exhibit gives insight into how three women have answered those hard questions.


the zen of the doodle…

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

My friend Franki Kohler is a whirling dervish of art techniques. She is always strengthening her creative muscle by learning, playing & dabbling with various art supplies and medium. She recently posted about making art books out of junk mail and mentioned taking an online class from Silly U. I could not find Silly U as art classes when I googled so I emailed her and said…huh? She said she had linked to the site which of course I had missed because I never read every word of anything!

So I followed the bread crumbs to Carla’s site and looked at all the class options and found Zentangle. And thought WTH is Zentangle? I met a woman last year at an art retreat who told me she Zentangles. But I wasn’t sure if it had to do with art or square dancing? So I googled it and it is an actual technique someone has created out of garden variety DOODLING. The concept being the doodle untangles the mind and takes the artist to a Zen place.

And this being America, land of the free, home of the capitalist you can even pay to learn how to doodle! And better yet you can buy a kit which is essentially a pen and some paper.

doodle062514As I settled in last night with my usual iPad games to multitask while watching TV, I remembered the doodle! So instead I grabbed a drawing pad and a micron pen and while we re-watched The Kings Speech and the replay of Giants game I doodled.

It was awesome until it wasn’t. About 3/4 the way through my hand began to hurt. You see I have not used my dominant hand to draw, write or knit in a very long time.  I massaged said achey hand with analgesic cream and this morning it felt better but still a bit cranky. It truly is a muscle I need to strengthen by doing more doodle.  

Now I know some wise apple is going to say…you could make a quilt out of that! You know what? I could but I hardly need one more could in my life. All I really need is more doodle time free of attachments or expectations. Ah Zen!



Earth Stories debut…

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

It’s been so long that I could not share my work for Earth Stories that the exhibit opened and I forgot all about it until I read Facebook posts this morning!  Over a year ago 25 international artists were juried by portfolio into the Earth Stories exhibit at Michigan State University Museum. I was honored to have my work chosen by the juror Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. She chose artists who she felt could best interpret the theme of environmental awareness. Once chosen we then had several months to create work to fit the theme. Additionally the work had to be linked with a non-profit which does work that benefits the planet. The exhibit opened last week and runs until November 30.

My initial proposal was about living on the Pacific Rim among shifting tectonic plates. Months of research, thought, procrastination and finally construction lead me to Torn Earth, which is two panels totaling 66″ x 72″.  It took me four months from the first dye process to the final stitch.torn-earth-M

Torn Earth celebrates the work of Architecture for Humanity,,a non-profit firm dedicated to building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. The organization’s projects focus on post-disaster development, design and reconstruction of seismic resistant housing.

The three panels that comprise Torn Earth were created using vintage linens, African batiks, and commercial fabrics, many of which have been dye-painted and screen-printed with original imagery. Multiple panels of fabric are pieced and stitched together to form the larger work.The right panel depicts Earth’s crustal instabilities.The left panel conveys the destructive energy released during an earthquake and the vulnerability of our buildings and structures when the Earth moves. The panels are offset to create jagged edges alluding to shifting and upheaval in the planet that results in collapsed buildings and loss of life.

We were to also create a small lead piece 14″ x 12″ to summarize the larger work for venues that could not present the entire exhibit, which is the piece to the right.lead piece-M-hi res-reshoot-whiteBG

A catalog was printed and is available here. The work of my good friend Marion Coleman is on the cover…a much deserved honor!  The catalog shows the work of all the artists and truly it looks to be an incredible exhibit. I am enchanted by much of the work. It is a joy to exhibit my work with so many other creative souls. This exhibit will be traveling for four years so perhaps I will see it at one of the venues one day.




where i’ve been…

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Where have I been you might ask? Good question! We have been in kitchen chaos for over a month now as we update our mid-century ‘heart of the house.’ It is difficult, anyone will tell you that. I think it is most likely the chaos and unpredictability of many factors that create the stress. Yet I try to keep my eye on the prize, that we are closer to the finale than the beginning and that this too shall pass.. hopefully soon!


metro ceiling, DC

And we just returned from ten days in the Washington DC area. We had last been there over 20 years ago so when the chance came to go to another textile conference we jumped on it. There were new monuments and museums to visit!

We spent five days ‘in the district’ exploring arts, history and botany. From wonderful art collections to great dining finds on Yelp! to drenching monsoons we experienced all DC had to offer. Then we moved on to Alexandria, VA for the conference which was both scenic and enlightening, yet probably not in the way one might assume. Our final day we headed back to a hotel by the airport for an early flight. We took the Metro into DC and visited one more museum and feasted on Russian fare in a fun and quirky restaurant near Dupont Circle. That was such a great reminder to me to honor my heritage more often and go to Russian restaurants locally.

So I share with you some reflections of our DC trip. I did not take my usual hundreds of photos but did find some gems while out and about… public art both authorized and not.  I noticed much less graffiti there. There must be some unwritten code about destroying others’ artwork.


incredible night sky into SF the night before we left, taken on the new bay bridge


view from our room near SFO

intriguing texture at spy museum


this aerial shot looked so much like a stitching pattern…somewhere over the midwest

reflection caught from restaurant window

downtown DC…


national geographic museum


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


mosaic, terminal C, MKE


mosaic, terminal C, MKE


closeup of copper panels at FDR monument


incredible copper inlaid panels at FDR monument, depicting workers in TVA projects


sidewalk in front of gov’t building


FDR’s index well worn index finger, FDR Natl Monument

getting up to speed…

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

currents-25-orig-hiresOur houseguest of 2.5 weeks left yesterday. It was both a joy and exhausting!  As I try to relax and regroup I find myself instead catching up on my work… the photography, the documentation, the submissions etc. I can rest tomorrow!

One piece I recently finished cannot be publicly shown yet so there is a gap in the latest work section of my website. But this little baby can be shown…Currents #25! I designed this for the SAQA 25th Anniversary Trunk Show from fabric I designed circa 2000. It is hand-dyed, discharged sueded rayon.

As I was stitching this mini 10″ x 7″ piece I was thinking how much I loved it and could not bear to part with it. So I have submitted it as NFS; when it is finished traveling the planet it will return to me. Of course hubby thinks I should make another one, a HUGE one from the same cloth, of which maybe 6 square inches remain.

I suppose I could try to recreate the cloth if I could find my notes on what colors and amount of dye I used. Then again…why go backwards?! If I so desired I could begin anew with something more 2014-ish.

wild and crazy year so far…

Sunday, January 19th, 2014


It looks as though 2014 is going to be the year of be prepared! My adult daughter always tells me I am such a girl scout which I take as a compliment although scarcely intended as such.

I never have intentionally thought be prepared but certainly live my life that way. So this short start to 2014 has already proven to be a be prepared type of year.  It may be the Chinese year of the horse but to me it is the year of the Girl Scout!

I was contacted late in December by a reporter who was writing a story about art quilting for the regional paper. She had seen another artist’s work last summer at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, loved the medium and decided to follow up with a story. She interviewed Judy Mathieson who turned her on to me.

Because I am a girl scout I was prepared for the interview. I have had interviews before and the photos of me always makes me look 100 years old and my work look amateurish. So when the reporter showed up I gave her a labeled CD with professional images of both me and my work. Both made it into the article. Be prepared!

As a result of the article I garnered new collectors. One emailed through my website and asked about my work, my prices etc. We agreed to meet offsite and I brought specific work he and his wife were particularly interested in. That was ‘Entanglement’  detail of which is seen here. We had a family emergency the day before and so I was a bit preoccupied let alone tired as I had had little sleep. Yet I was prepared to make a sale and did so.

For the past two weeks I’ve had a houseguest living in my office. My mind has been stressed with details of her care, keeping up my own work and being semi-present in the world!  I have had help for which I am grateful. My be prepared attitude has also helped me see through the emotional component to what is best for all parties. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I have also been working on four small pieces for various deadlines most of which seem to be coming up at once.  I have been literally fighting with the design of two vineyard pieces and seriously have considered a bonfire to put them out of their misery. Today someone saw them on my design wall and wants to buy them!  Good thing I didn’t light that campfire after all. Be prepared!


got socks?

Thursday, December 19th, 2013


I used to knit a lot. In fact I knit my first sweater, with buttonholes no less, when I was a teenager and recovering from major surgeries.

When my mother died suddenly on my 47th birthday I picked up knitting needles and knit a coat. I didn’t follow a pattern. I just knit…a visual manifestation of my grief.

I learned to knit wool socks about 15 years ago partially as a self-dare…oh I could never do that, they are so difficult, they are round with many needles! Not only could I do it but I enjoyed it and have been doing it since.

When I travel I knit socks. When I have to sit through an important meeting that would otherwise put me to sleep, I knit socks. Knitting socks allows my visually oriented brain to focus on the subject at hand while keeping my hands busy.

As part of my recent closet purge I happened across a myriad of knit socks as well as wonderfully designed cotton mens socks of which I have also amassed a collection. Some designer finally said heh, why should men (and women with long feet) have to wear ugly socks?  So my collection of awesome cotton socks is now growing too.

Today I ventured into a store (which I generally avoid in December) and bought some nifty drawer organizers for my burgeoning sock collection. I wasn’t sure how many to buy as I was putting them into two drawers. I bought just enough with two slots to spare.  I can now finish the current pair on the needles and just one more then I need another organizer or to toss some of the older ones.

I am pretty jazzed to have this art sculpture in my sock drawer!

just because i can…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013


Years ago I was waxing on about something I should do when a friend said…“Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to!” This little tidbit of wisdom has since been a beacon in a sea of indecision and revisited again in the middle of last night. Just because I can doesn’t mean I have to! Sheer brilliance…

I had been sorting & culling clothes from my closet and cloth from my studio over the weekend. It was a combo of creating robust energy in my surroundings and prepping for year-end tax-deductible donations. As the daughter of a war bride I inherited many of her quirky habits; you know the ones like recycling and reusing!  Additionally cast off clothing was always given to someone whose face you would recognize. I continue to have that quality to this day where I want to either remake old clothing or give it to someone I know. Fast forward 60 years… upcycling and repurposing are now the chic words for remaking.

There is a store in Berkeley that sells all kinds of repurposed clothing. Recently I bought a gorgeous cashmere scarf there thinking of course that I could have done this myself.

The idea that I could repurpose tired fleece pullovers into some jazzy, snazzy one-of-a-kind jacket/vest/pullover/you name it had been festering for a while now. I’ve obsessed about the pattern, should I use something ready made, an old pattern or perhaps design a new one? So yesterday I tossed in an ‘intend to repurpose’ pile two fleece vests…one with broken zipper, a brand new pullover for the man who refuses to wear fleece and a tired old red pullover.The pile nearly covered my ironing board which then created unwanted stress about more stuff in my studio!

As I lay in bed the fleece transformation came to mind. I just wasn’t sure which pattern, which shape, how do I get the neck right, yada, yada, yada until voila…an epiphany! Just because I can doesn’t mean I have to!  Just because I have the equipment and skills to do this task I don’t have to do it. Undoubtedly the people repurposing clothing love doing it. I don’t!

When I got up this morning I went directly to the fleece and repurposed the pile! I put the new pullover on the shelf for me to wear, the two vests went into the charity bag and the red fleece back on the shelf because sometimes there are days when a gal just needs some red, old or not!

I also sorted my fabric and pulled a lot of small pieces and books for the Legacy, a local thrift shop carrying sewing supplies.

redsAll the remaining fabrics were arranged by color.They had been previously sorted by color and I laughed about how one value was now darker than the last time I sorted it. I am about to start a new series and the thought has come about making each piece in a different color-way in an effort to whittle down the stash. Hmmm….just because I can… 

When I was a youngster learning the ways of my depression era parents it was considered selfish and even verboten to refuse to do things one could do. Today it just seems incredibly brilliant!

got fruit?

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013


Ever since I finished the massive Earth Stories project I have been making all kinds of art but nothing specific to my media. I’ve been instead enjoying a painting/collage/text class online with Jane Davies.

Instead of doing lessons on my print table which is the logical place, I brought everything to my design table so that I could walk in the studio, see it and work on it rather than go downstairs. In essence my design table has been covered with paper, paints, gel medium, scissors, magazines etc for the past 6 weeks.  Finally I said ‘uncle’ I need to make some new work and partially cleared the deck to do so. Now that I am on the last class of this series the design table will soon be all mine once again.

So I have been working on some small COLORFUL pieces for exhibit next year. The first is for FiberShots Community Challenge: Tasty Too! a fundraiser for the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The theme is food inspired.  Nothing was really coming to me except chocolate and that could just be several pieces of brown fabric sewn together!  That is until one morning when I was cutting fruit for my morning smoothie. I grabbed the camera and voila I had a basic design!

I will reveal the entire piece soon. For today I finished stitching the kiwi which really reminded me so much how I enjoy working with cloth.