Archive for the ‘narrative’ Category

before and after…

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Two posts ago, I wrote about painting over two pieces of work on climate change. The gist of it was the original four had repeatedly been declined for juried exhibits. So in the spirit of adventure, I thought, why not add paint?  I really had nothing to lose. In the end I like them much better!

Underwater Garden: the ocean water looks murky and very mysterious, yet all the plastic debris is still obvious.

before

after

Plastic Ocean 4: Beyond the Glory...the paint made a big difference on the water. The plastic is still there, but  not so glaringly white. The paint also exaggerated the sunset sky.

before

after

Soon I will soon be getting a new sink in my wet/print studio. In order for that to happen all flat surfaces had to be cleared off. So I am happy to get these photographed and put away.

Progress!

revisiting…

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

sculpted moose,
National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY

Nearly two weeks ago, we took a quick trip through four states (UT, WY, MT, ID) in 6 days! It was a fly-drive revisit of two national parks, a creamery at the college I attended (priorities!) and to see five ex-pat Californians.

We’d visited both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park as young marrieds. The past few years I had seen so many spectacular images online from artist friends; and wanted to return with my own artist’s eye, to see it again, but did not want to drive from home, as we had before….because once you are there, you have to drive home!

We flew into Salt Lake City and out of Boise, seeing ex-pat friends in both places. We went after Labor Day to avoid big crowds, and it was perfect, other than a whole lotta miles in 6 days. I did not anticipate driving all 1159 miles in a lowrider Chevy but after hubs doc scheduled eye surgery just days before we left, blurry was the best he could muster. The car had great go-power, but getting in and out, eh- was not pretty.

So we flew into Salt Lake City, which is always stunning for landings and departures.

SLC salt ponds

I had fried catfish for a late breakfast, and missed seeing Marion’s sister for said meal, due to a work project on her end.

fried catfish, Pig & A Jelly Jar

We spent the rest of that day visiting and dining with good friends, former Sonoma residents. Second day, we journeyed up to Logan, where I went to college, not for homecoming, but to indulge at the Aggie Creamery. The ice cream was divine and 5 cents a scoop, way back when. Now $1.99 scoop, it did not disappoint! I took a lactaid and was in pure lemon custard heaven for about 30 minutes!

Onward. I’d forgotten how spectacular Logan Canyon is, which we took on our way to Jackson. We visited the much ballyhooed National Museum of Wildlife Art which was stunning both in structure, location and art collections. It did not disappoint!

lemon custard from the Aggie Creamery

Spirit Totems by Herb Alpert @ National Museum of Wildlife Art

We stayed overnight at Teton Village, having cocktails with another friend/former Bay Area resident. When we rose it was raining and foggy so we did not actually see the Tetons but enjoyed the ride just the same.

We arrived in Yellowstone just in time for checkin to our restored historic hotel, only to learn we should have made dinner reservations six months in advance!  So we ate sandwiches for dinner three nights, in the deli, which were btw fabulous! You can keep your snooty dining room!

We spent two full days criss-crossing the park. We got up and at ’em early to see a lot of the sights before the crowds emerged. We got lots of exercise, saw many stunning features, all of which would make a great quilt. This is something people always tell the artist, for every photo she takes. That would make a great quilt! When in reality sometimes the photo is art enough, in of itself.

hello comrade!

I wasn’t much interested in taking a selfie with a buffalo, bear or moose. In fact we did not see the latter two. But the buffalo quickly decided I was theirs in spirit and turned up in the most unlikely of places, like jumping across the road 30′ in front of the trusty lowrider. Explain that to your rental car company! Well I was just driving along minding my own business and this buffalo landed on my windshield. Yea, ok lady.

This one ambled down a one-way road, as I drove by with my window open. Oh hello there! The last morning another was bidding us adieu as it grazed nearby as we checked out of our hotel. People who could not read the warning instructions in 12 languages were standing too close trying to get a photograph of themselves just before being gored by the buffalo.

Pedal to the metal I drove over 8 hours to leave the park and over to Boise ID. Funny how it looked like a short drive online!  We got there and it was well into the 90’s. Just two mornings before we had cleaned ice off our windshield! We checked into our hotel, returned the rental car and enjoyed our last two nights with former Petaluma friends, now in ID. Then we flew home.

Six days, 1159 miles, two flights, 4 climate zones, 3 buffalo encounters, 1 catfish, 1 ice cream cone, hundreds of photos, visits with five treasured friends…priceless!

It has taken me a week to recover, but alas I’m back to art-making.

 

 

restarting the engines…

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

after and before step one in the makeover

As many of you know my creative mojo aka the muse went south just before Marion died in April. It has gotten progressively docile this summer, and brought the realization that this is likely the first summer of my entire life that I have relaxed! What a concept.

Lately I have had several days where I thought TODAY would be the day when I start in again, but alas I spent that day hand-stitching, reading or too much time ‘researching’ on the computer.

Today I decided to just start, do something, no matter what. I decided I would paint over some quilts! I have done this before, with excellent results. So why not again?

Last year I made four quilts about plastic in the oceans. While I believed it to be a timely, relevant topic, all four were repeatedly rejected from exhibits. When four quilts are rejected at least 4 times each, there is a loud and clear message there. So I decided today to just start in and overpaint one of them! If it works, I may paint them all. I have absolutely nothing to lose!

Undoubtedly it appears to the more conservative of you that I have totally ruined this quilt. I may have and yet I feel no panic, nor remorse. It is because I know I am not done yet, with the makeover. There is more to come, once the paint dries. When I laid down the paint I was greatly surprised in how thick the coverage was. It was likely caused by the 3-dimensional pieces stitched to the quilt, so I could not get a clean screen pass directly on the cloth. I decided to keep going and work with it! What, me worry? Nah it just presented me with a new challenge. It is after all these challenges that both keep my brain young and keep me making art.

Stay tuned…

 

to Ireland and back…

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

through a bathroom window…

As part of my research for the Defining Moments series, I poked through my ancestry online. My DNA revealed all those Irish & Welsh ancestors added up to 67%, while the expected Russian came in at less than 25% (explain that to the 100% Russian great-grandparents!) So it seemed only fitting to make one more trek o’er the pond to see this glorious land from which they emigrated.

We booked our Ireland adventure last summer and decided on a Road Scholar program since we have had so many interesting trips with them stateside and in Canada. We booked Ireland at a Slower Pace, which several days in, became apparent was a misnomer! We walked nearly 42 miles in 14 days, in London and Ireland.

history through a window…

The timing could not have been more perfect. The spring death of my Defining Moments project partner, Marion Coleman, preceded by the 15 months battle for her life had left me exhausted, defeated, and grieving with a wounded muse. So many said to me, and I agreed, that there could not have been better timing for a change of scenery.

for that windblown look, visit Gougane Barra

the rock walls in Ireland just dazzled me…except really hard to sit on!

The trip was fantastic in every way. Great people, great hotels, fabulous food, interesting programs and texture galore. (some of which you see here). The first few days Marion stayed on my mind, but slowly I began to enjoy being in the moment. I came back physically exhausted, but rejuvenated by the change of scenery and pace; and a renewed connection to my ancestors.

i loved all the bright colored buildings!

Before I left I noted on my calendar to begin preparation of my Defining Moments quilts to ship to Visions Art Museum in San Diego for its inaugural exhibit. I did not want to attempt it until I felt my brain had arrived back in California. So yesterday I hauled all the quilts out and today began preparation, pressing, rolling, packaging, etc.

All of a sudden, I felt a HUGE rush of excitement for this upcoming show, with a big sense of accomplishment; that all my efforts these past five years are at last coming to fruition. Such joy, and then BAM, immediate sorrow.

Listening to music, tears welled up in me as my grief returned. How sad that Marion is not here to celebrate our exhibition together. I soon realized that this opening, could be for me a really sad event. My job for the coming month, to get myself to a place where I can celebrate my own sense of accomplishment as well as celebrate who she was, as she lives on through her work. She would not want it any other way.

The trip to Ireland was exactly what I needed, but also a reminder that grieving cannot be tamped down. It may be set aside temporarily, but the healthy thing is to ride it out. So my buddy, the muse and I are doing just that.

Footnote: I posted a lot of images on Instagram, rather than FB while traveling. You may see them (with permission!) here.

 

 

 

 

the loss of civility…

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

bloomin’ peony

Yesterday I was reminded why I quit the lecture circuit. I really enjoyed speaking to guilds and groups for the years I did it; until I didn’t. I remember exactly what group I spoke to when I decided to stop. I told people I was no longer giving lectures because of the wear & tear on my body. In reality it was the wear & tear on my nerves that did me in.

I was reminded yesterday as I bore witness to what happened to me, happening to another speaker. I was present to hear a 90 min lecture on trash & recycling, given by an employee of the garbage hauler. Her job is to educate communities and companies about sorting their trash, compost & recycling, to ease the demand on the public landfill, which is filling at an alarming rate.

The landfill was rapidly filling before the rash of wildfires and floods, where hundreds of homes were destroyed; and their contents dumped there. Since I have become obsessed with plastic in our oceans and on our beaches, I wanted to hear what this woman had to say.

She started by saying she would take questions after her presentation. She had not said two sentences when someone interrupted her with a question, then another, then another, then side conversations. She reminded the group of seniors that she would take questions after the presentation. She started in again. A guy interrupted asking if she really thought anyone was going to read this brochure of garbage policies? Then continued to rail her about how stupid it is for a corporation making millions of dollars to hope that educating people about garbage is just that, garbage.

And what about the Mexicans, another woman shouted. They don’t sort their trash, she said, adding she was not racist.

The speaker continued, slightly rattled. Another interruption, and another, and another. One woman pointed out that she could improve her presentation with a handout, to which the speaker told the woman she was holding the handout! It just went on and on and on.

I found myself getting upset by all the interruptions, and also by the speaker, unable to ‘control’ the room. My thoughts migrated from trash talk to anger over the lack of civility in the room. Perhaps a whip and a chair was necessary?

What really annoyed me was how do two generations (the “greatest” and the boomers) who were raised to be so friggin’ polite, courteous and considerate behave like a bunch of spoiled children in a public forum? Since when has a lecture become a public discussion group? A lot of the questions people peppered the speaker with were answered in her presentation, had they only listened.

Some might blame our current administration, which granted has done nothing to encourage public civility. But my last lecture was 7 years ago when this behavior first began to annoy me.

The last time I gave a lecture was in a college town to a group of quilters about photo editing. Everyone in the room was an expert on the subject and they interrupted me constantly. I began to question why they even came to hear me when they were all experts? I decided right there at the podium, that I was never going to do this again. And I blamed it predominantly on this being a college environment. Little did I know…

Yesterday I learned it is not just the millennials, it is pervasive in our society. Perhaps the old folks have lost their ability to communicate as much as the kids never learned it in the first place. We have lost our ability to communicate with civility. What a sad situation.

The conclusion I came to from yesterday’s meeting is I will continue to conserve, recycle and use as little plastic as possible. I will not become an activist though. It just makes me too angry. I don’t want to spend the rest of my days arguing in public with people who just don’t listen.

I’d rather go into a quiet room, turn on some music and make art.

 

editing within an inch of my life…

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

threads begging to be stitched

I recently received a request to be interviewed and featured on a blog titled Create Whimsy. I read the interviews of several colleagues and decided it was a good idea, so I have been answering the interview questions, then editing the file within an inch of my life.

I also needed to take some photos of my studio. With a southern exposure window there it is nearly impossible to get a good image in the daytime. I waited until evening, then noticed the shelves were messy, as if an artist had actually been working in there! So last night I spent tidying the shelves! Finally this afternoon I sent the whole shebang off. Who knew it would take me so long?!

got fabric?

What really came to me in the process of editing my interview was my personal battle of being seen vs. being unseen. When I was younger, much younger actually, I felt so unseen that I could not talk about myself enough. Some people might still think that is the case!

As I have matured and big brother has stepped into my life, I feel the need to be much more private. It may be an aging thing, but I am resistant to say too much about myself, online. So while I want to answer the questions appropriately and have the interview at least be interesting, I am not excited about laying it all out there. Decades ago I never would have thought this a possibility.

But then decades ago we did not have people be able to look into every detail of our lives. We did not have big brother buying groceries for us, as evidenced by the new credit card which only has to be waved near the machine. We did not have companies prodding we buy knee pads or sprain bandages as soon as we simply mention to our spouse that the treadmill stress test partially injured the soft tissue of the foot. I suppose if I examined it too closely, I would turn off all devices and pick up an abacus. Hey I eat like a cave-woman, why not be one?

One of the questions that tripped me up was what I have learned about myself from making my art? I’ve learned that I have the ability to change the narrative, to contemplate other ways of thinking, being, doing, speaking, reacting. And as a result of this effort, I learn more every day, about the world and my place in it. Yet how detailed did I want my response to be? I tweaked the answer to that question for a long time. All of this assumes though that anyone cares enough to even read the interview!

Meanwhile, I have been working away on all sorts of things. The dreaded big purple bed quilt went off to the quilter, and returned last week on the rainiest of rainy days. It now awaits a binding, which has been prepared, and will potentially be stitched on this weekend.

I also finished the catalog for the upcoming Defining Moments exhibit, and just received the 2nd proof in the mail. It is nearly soup, I believe, which is a relief as our first exhibit is coming along this summer.

I whipped out a fast piece on climate change that has been rolling around in my cranium for awhile, which I will show at a later date. I tossed and turned over the title for a new series, and think I have finally figured out a good name for that. Stay tuned.

Now that my studio shelves are clean, it’s time to mess them up a bit!

artivist at work…

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Plastic Ocean 4, stitched sky WIP

I have taken a little heat lately for my creative zest! I was going to say over-exuberance but that is really a judgment call. I seriously do not mind feeling over-exuberant about my work at all. I relish the time when the muse is in the house and ready to get at it. For I know the fallow time will come.

The creative muse is much like the aging gene. It is important to honor it, show it respect, celebrate and thrive within it, because in all likelihood it will not last forever! And as another artist recently said, the more we create, the more prolific we become. I can think of a whole lot of worse things than being prolifically creative!

That said, I continue to design work about the plastic garbage in the ocean. I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with my own consumption of plastic, which in reality is probably a good thing. After all, half of making any change is the acknowledgement of the problem. Several people have commented that my talking about this has engaged them to think about their own consumption. Just like my morning walk photo collages on social media inspire others to notice their surroundings when they are out walking. I love that!

And I have also heard it said that I am starting a trend with this work. I find that rather humorous as I have never seen myself as a trendsetter! My kid is the trendsetter in this family.

Nearly 20 years ago when I began this phase of my life, otherwise known as retirement, my gut instinct was to make work that ‘said’ something. Someone then told me nobody wanted to see that! I let one person’s opinion lead me into years of making ‘pretty’ art quilts. Until…I began the Tall Girl Series!

Plastic Ocean, WIP, 3-D

Now, nearly two decades later, I still feel this great calling for telling stories. Now, I don’t care if people don’t want to see it! That is their issue. Those who do, will, and might even think about how they too can enact change.

This works for me in so many ways because I can make my voice known without stressing my body, by marching down the street. I have after all become an artivist!

 

making art with plastic…

Saturday, August 25th, 2018

Underwater Garden, detail; recycled plastic, pool noodles, toothpicks, newspaper bag

I have just finished designing three pieces of art embellished with plastic. They are Plastic Ocean 1, Plastic Ocean 2 and Underwater Garden. It has been a long and winding road that led me to the point where I felt it important to make a statement about the massive quantities of plastic in our oceans.

I have been an avid recycler for 30+ years. I just assumed if I were recycling it, good was coming of it; yet I was astonished when visiting other states that had different recycling standards, if at all. Or other counties just in the Bay Area. Some recycle styrofoam, some don’t. Some take food containers while others don’t. Huh?…Aren’t we all living on the same planet?

So I was just going along being a good consumer, recycling as much as I could, when it suddenly came to my attention that there is a whole lot of plastic floating out there in the ocean. At first I was thinking, OMG, that is not right but really not thinking about it much more than that.

Underwater Garden: berry basket liner, berry basket, credit card punch, floss treader

Then I began to see on social media, especially, more and more posts about ALL the plastic in the ocean. I befriended folks who are picking up trash on beaches world-wide. I learned about the fish choking on plastic, turtles with straws lodged in their nose, marine mammals caught in fishing nets & line. I saw videos of tidal waves of plastic churning worldwide, and kids playing in a surf of plastic debris. It was becoming more and more difficult to avoid thinking about it; the I am doing my part by recycling, this does not affect me school of thought. It began to dawn on me that with education this is quite possibly something humans can have an impact on in the world. So why not educate through art?!

Last winter I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and see these incredible sculptures by Sayaka Ganz . She designed huge installations just from plastic trash recovered from the oceans. I was intrigued by these works, and the mind that created them.

Sakaya Ganz’ plastic sculpture

Sakaya Ganz’ rescued plastic garbage sculpture

 

I began to think about my own work, and my own voice. Since I was wearing braces on my lower teeth and using a huge amount of plastic toothpicks to clean my teeth, I began to collect them. Someone actually said eeew! to me about using my used oral implements, but in reality isn’t all of this plastic debris eeew?!

I continued to collect whatever plastic I was using. I stopped buying food packaged in single use plastic, abandoning my favorite place to buy groceries when they could not say if or when they will replace this packaging. I wrote to all the major grocers in my area and asked that they stop using single use plastic. Some replied they are ‘working on it’ while others told me to tell the produce guy next time I am in the store…talk about passing the buck!  

credit card ‘guitar picks’

So as my personal plastic collection was growing, I began to design elements for these quilts. I stitched, both by hand and machine the aforementioned dental picks to a water soluble fiber. I punched guitar picks out of a collection of expired credit cards, drivers licenses and hotel room keys. Then I hand stitched those to the water soluble fiber. I cut disks from remnants of pool noodles, which I use most often to ship my work. I culled the newspaper bags (don’t even get me started on why the newspaper has to be robed in plastic every day year round, or worse why do we still subscribe!)

After designing and stitching two identical quilts, I began to hand-stitch the various plastic remnants on to it. I learned a few things. One, even using teflon sheets and pressing from the back, the heat will melt the plastic!  Two, plastic is really hard to sew through! Three, while hand-stitching is so meditative, hand-stitching around plastic is not. Four, while I never make work specific to a theme, my initial intention for this work shifted halfway through. I went a completely new direction, and crammed in one more piece to make a submission deadline, for an environmental center. If my work is chosen I will be making minimally 2-5 more pieces for the exhibit next year!

For these pieces I used the aforementioned newspaper bags, various other plastic bags, berry baskets, berry basket liners, toothpicks, pool noodles, food containers, credit cards, hotel room keys, drivers licenses, foil blister packs, nuno felt, paint and screen-printing.

All throughout construction, I did not allow myself to think about how to store this work, which essentially cannot be bent, or rolled. Or so I thought. Actually I was able to roll all three together around a cardboard tube, and then place in one bag. That was maybe the easiest part!

While I wait for the jury results, I am going to sort/purge my print studio, which is really overdue. And then start in on my next series about elder women….or possibly sew more plastic!

 

 

 

 

time flies…or not

Monday, July 30th, 2018

nurse sleeping on the job…

When last we left our heroine…A few days after my fabulous weekend jaunt to Alaska, I woke up with a bad foot. It was bad in the sense that it really hurt and I couldn’t bear weight. Other than that I knew nothing! I figured I had sprained it somehow, well actually thought I had twisted my heel. I blamed it on putting on knit shoes in a small space on a plane. About as good an excuse as any, really. So I rested, iced, tried to stay off it, figuring it was sprained. I did take a couple 1/2 mile walks which did not feel good at all.

Two weeks in, and not getting better, I contacted my orthopedic doctor, who was on vacation. When he returned he told me I needed to see a specialist, for which I needed a referral. So I contacted my primary and she ordered x-rays on her way out the door to her vacation. Note to self…schedule injuries for winter!

Long story short…6 weeks, three sets of X-rays, complete lab work-up, bone density test and two doctor visits later and I now have a healing stress fracture of my left heel. Theory is I did it in Alaska. Apparently walking 8 miles in 3 days in good shoes is not something the aging body actually wants to participate in. So I am still grounded from my morning walks, but doing cross training at the gym and minimal weight bearing, such as grocery shopping, cooking and maybe standing in the studio for 25 minutes at a time.

All of this down time allowed me to ponder the meaning of life, while 3 different people told me it was the Universe’s way of telling me to slow down. Actually it wasn’t. It was my foot’s way of saying don’t ever think of walking 8 miles in good shoes, in 3 days, ever again EVER!

first supper, post-tingrin

This concept of slowing down at 70 boggles the mind. I don’t have much time left! A friend told me that 20 years ago, so it is even more true today. My mind overflows with ideas for new work, which I figure keeps it stimulated. I fear if I slow down, I will grow fat, bored and boring.

So what I have done in the past six weeks is: finished curved piecing for two pieces on the plastic oceans, got my lower jaw braces off after 9 months (as in time flies) and indulged immediately in ribs and corn on the cob. And adopted a new mantra…

I have a young mind in an old body! It is astonishing how much better this makes me feel as I deal with another temporary setback. And it is true. I have a very active mind, for which I am both blessed & deeply grateful. Onward, one foot at a time.

ocean base

‘gun it granny…’

Monday, May 21st, 2018

After two weeks of delightful procrastination I finally got back to machine stitching my latest work today. Today I woke too weary to walk, after driving 235 miles in traffic yesterday. While walking may have been the best thing for me, I decided instead to pamper myself and stay home, do laundry (oh boy, now that’s pampering!) and stitch. Once I got started and the rhythm going, I changed colors 5 times and finished stitching the entire piece. Ah progress! It is actually just the foundation as now I will lay the design, the narrative, if you will, on top of the stitched base.

just how fast do you think you were going young lady?

Not long after I got into the swing of it a voice from the past visited….Chris Walberg and his gun it granny! I was really zipping along or so I thought until I looked up at the speed meter and it read 50%. Well I think at 100% steam would have been rising from the machine!

When I was 15, I took drivers education as did all baby boomers. Because we were so populous there were 4 kids in every car in drivers ed. I was blessed to be relegated to a car with Chris Walberg. Undoubtedly it was because we both had last names that started with W-. Chris seemed to be my constant alphabetical companion in high school. So there I was driving some back road in Walnut Creek, and possibly a bit overly-cautious. I felt empowered, as if I was really now a grown-up, until Chris leaned over from the backseat, stuck his head between the instructor’s and mine, and snarled, gun it granny! Funny how that has stayed with me all these years. And it makes me wonder now, as I zip along at 70 in traffic on the freeway, if he is that guy slaloming between cars at 85?

So today, pedal to the metal at 50%… Chris Walberg, this one’s for you!

this baby stitches through 6 layers like a dream