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Archive for the ‘exhibits’ Category

time well spent…

Saturday, August 21st, 2021

dorothy’s dahlias

This week I was blessed to have a private visit with my 93 yo Aunt Dorothy, who is the light of my life. She, being an extrovert, often has a crowd around her, so for us to just enjoy private time together was so special to me, and seemingly her. She has always had my back, as I imagine she has many others. She is the most kind, giving and generous spirit I’ve ever known; although Marion was a close tie.

In conversation, I ran something by her that had really upset me, although it was by then, days past the incident and I was pretty much over it. I just wanted her wisdom on this. And she delivered!

Upon waking this morning I had an epiphany from that wisdom, that toppled my decades of resentment.  She knew so well this disturbing dynamic having been a witness, for all of my 7+ decades. Her comments were as if she handed me the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle of my life. All of a sudden, everything fell into place! Old hurts and conversations now all made sense.  Relationships that had tormented me for years all suddenly made sense. I could have been SO angry and yet I wasn’t. I finally felt free of the burden. First, I felt absolute liberation, then I got angry, then I wondered if my time here was nearly over, since I had finally figured this huge juggernaut out?!!!

And then I went into another Zoom meeting. The speaker, Paula Kovarik is an accomplished renowned artist who seemingly is my kindred spirit. I identified with so much of what she said, not only her artistic inspiration (Klee, Calder, Kandinsky etc) who are also mine; but her philosophy about life and art-making. Wow, just wow!

She spoke of bringing what is inside, out; which is exactly what I am doing in my work presently. And in releasing old painful wounds. I am in awe of her work and her art practice, and her discipline (treating art-making like a job!) but mostly what I gleaned from this look inside in her world, today, of all days, is the reminder.

The reminder from Paula and from my  aunt, of paying attention, being present; not only smelling the roses, but observing… the textures, the colors, the patterns, the shapes, all that forms our personal universe. Paying attention, so that when another life lesson presents itself, we notice, and don’t spend decades harboring the hurt. Some folks NEVER get that, whether they are not paying attention or thinking it unimportant. I am blessed with awareness. And most of all, learning from those lessons and moving forward…

And in others news…I just noticed I have not blogged about two pieces of work that were juried into the prestigious Intl Fiber Arts X at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, in beautiful downtown Sebastopol! The show is on now till September 12, open Thurs-Sun 10 am-4 pm; masks required. It is an incredibly diverse exhibit of fiber work, much of it sculptural.

well it finally happened…

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

detail Liar Liar 2

As a retired workaholic, raised by a workaholic & related to another workaholic, I am one of the most organized artists I know. I have curated, juried, packed and unpacked a number of exhibits, and know all too well that many artists lack this organizational skill-set. I have always been super proud of my organizational abilities and being a low-maintenance artist, at that. Until today.

Today I discovered I am human, that I too can be so distracted that I made a potentially fatal screw up on a submission. Well not actually fatal, but the physical reaction in my body did not feel good! The other thing I learned is maybe I should stop titling work #1 and #2.

I have learned in the past few years that my best ideas bloom while I am exploring them. I want to dig deeper, and make another and then maybe another after that. So other than being more mindful, more fully present in my brain while doing the exhibit paperwork, I will probably continue to do consecutive titles.

Liar Liar 1, detail

So what happened was I entered the image for Liar Liar 1, into an exhibit but mistakenly titled it Liar Liar 2 on the submission. I did not enter Liar Liar 2. I confirmed on the acceptance email that the actual Liar Liar 1 was accepted. How could it be otherwise, when I did not enter the other piece?!!!

The horrifying moment occurred as I discovered this error, as Liar Liar 1, is on its way right now to the exhibit near Chicago. OMG, what if I shipped the wrong piece?!

So I calmly looked at my initial submission and yes I had shipped the same piece I entered. Whew! So basically I had to change the google doc with labels and eat some crow by admitting to the curator that I messed up; that I, the former workaholic/nee organized artist blew it!

Do you have any idea how difficult that is for me, little ms. organized to admit I screwed up? What if they think I am a flaky artist was of course a thought. Until I remembered,  shit happens, they don’t know me, I am quite distracted by the daily life of a loved one with Parkinsons, and so what? I made a mistake. Mistakes happen. The world is not going to end because I screwed up. The very worst thing that happens as a result of this is if the work sells, I make less money. I stuck with the price I submitted, as that is the professional thing to do. And I learned something….slow down and reread those entries!

So tell me, if you have ever screwed up an entry?! I’d love to hear about it…

drowning in paperwork…

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

can you read this? nah…me neither

Never have I claimed to be a voracious reader. That would be my daughter! How could two lousy comprehension slow readers produce a kid who reads everything she can get her hands on? And if she can’t find it, she writes it! It simply astonishes me.

No, I am the plod along, always distracted (multi-task, moi?!) eventually I will slog through it, reader. My worst nightmare would be to belong to a book club where I have to be accountable and actually read an entire book in a prescribed amount of time!  And y’all who continue to recommend books to me? Ha, you have no clue how long that list is!!!

Several years ago, in a move of supreme ingenuity, I stopped downloading books to my Kindle, which actually served as a holding space for someday I might actually read this. Now I simply save money & titles to my wish list, which is really a giant virtual post-it of stuff I want to remember but likely never will actually do that. The Kindle initially was a great invention for people like me. It ended the visual guilt trip of a stack of books purchased but not read. Out of sight and all that jazz!

A few years back I tried as one of my new year’s goals, to read for 30 mins a day. It started out great for about a week, then went the way of the weekly plank pose. I can have incredible self discipline in what I eat but don’t even think of trying to get me to read daily!

Wasn’t technology supposed to lessen the paperwork load? Whatever happened to that idea? No, I am drowning in stuff I need to read. At this very moment, there are catalogs from three exhibits I have work juried into. This is a good problem to have, and much easier to read as they are very visual; i.e. looking at pretty pictures which goes so much faster than a novel. There are three magazines, as in who subscribes to magazines anymore?! Apparently I do. I canceled my Mother Jones subscription, even though I love the articles, mainly because I just don’t have time to read them. Because for me, reading also means comprehending! If I am multi-tasking, which I most often am, the message gets lost.

I still get the digital morning version of the NY Times but often skip half of those articles. I tried to cancel my subscription which is next to impossible. One has to speak to a live person, who then tries to offer you the world to stay. I have failed that test twice. There are the endless things to read about plastic pollution, a cause dear to my heart. I have taken to bookmarking most of those for that time when I really want to read them, like never! And there is the barely started and then stalled Isabel Wilkerson’s Warmth of Other Suns. I knew it was a fluke that I breezed through Caste. I read that book last winter, in less than a month’s time, which is a new record for me. And I started this one with great gusto; then life and art intervened and what can I say…stalled again.

I guess that is really the answer to the ‘problem’ right there. I can either make art or I can read, but my brain cannot accommodate both, simultaneously. So I read enough to gather research for new work and then I move on. Someone sent me a volunteer manual to proof. Yeah, that isn’t happening. I tried until I realized it is not in my job description as a volunteer to proof documents! I just have too many other things I need to read. Get in line…

I do read the really important things, like prospectus (prospectii?) for exhibits and shipping instructions, etc. In fact I am doing that now, while also researching for new work. If it truly interests me, I manage to find the time and motivation!

 

what good are excuses anyway?

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Hypocrisy 1

In the past month, I finished new work that absolutely stumped me in design for the longest time. When I finally figured out what I wanted to do, it went swimmingly and I love it so much! It is titled Hypocrisy 1; because you just know I am making another! It is about evangelicals who worship on Sunday and make mayhem on Monday. It is bound to really anger some devout folks, but most people I know who sing the praises are good, decent, loving, kind people. This work is not directed at them; but instead the hypocrisy of whose who claim to be Christian yet behave badly.

Additionally I have been submitting entries to exhibits and this week got the fabulous news that two pieces of my work were juried into the prestigious biennial International Fiber X at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, July 31-September 12. Seventy two pieces were accepted, many of which are being flown in from all over the world. I’ve entered this show every two years but have not had my work accepted since 2010, so it was really gratifying to get that email!

And, I decided once again to bail on satellite TV. I nearly did a year ago but it all seemed so complicated. Yet when hubs could not watch his beloved Giants (baseball) a couple weeks ago that was the last straw! Oh he could watch it if we added another premium channel to our already bloated plan. So I said uncle and started the process.

The transition required several days of patience, investment in two new Smart TVs, a new iPad for him, because his was too old to stream, several days learning curve and a surprisingly polite conversation with an agent at the satellite company. It turns out I can keep the dish, and do whatever I want with it, for which I have no interest! And no I am not making a quilt of it. My patience continues, as every day hubs needs instruction in how to work the new remote and get where he wants to go. I knew this would be an issue, due to his cognitive challenges, but decided it was STILL worth it to unload the satellite company. And I still believe that.

I joined a FB group for Parkinson’s caregivers which is basically saving my sanity; sometimes having a place to vent is all one needs. I also got my long overdue quarterly art newsletter done (only 3 mos late) and scheduled to blitz mailboxes later this week. I should have taken the time to learn the latest template, but I am a quart low on learning new technology right now! I made labels for work going to exhibit and entered 3 more pieces in another show. Plus there have been those lunches with friends in a valiant attempt to revive my mastery of speaking in person!

So there…all my reasons for neglecting to blog. As an old woman told me when I was young…what good are excuses if we don’t use them?!

the big reveal…

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Somebody’s Child 2 photo credit Digital Grange

Now that Quilt National ’21 has officially opened, I can reveal my work juried into this prestigious exhibit. This is Somebody’s Child 2, which was digitally printed on silk organza, fused, machine and hand stitched with tear-drop shapes. This piece was a followup to my work Somebody’s Child 1; both of which were inspired by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN .

The artist statement reads …”after the recorded murder of George Floyd calling out for his Mama, I researched black lives taken at the hands of police. Over 4700 names of African Americans who died of gunshots or asphyxiation in police encounters in the past 20 years were digitally printed to silk organza and then layered. Each one was Somebody’s Child. All of these folks had Mamas.”

Somebody’s Child 2, detail photo credit: Digital Grange

This work is intentionally difficult to read, both in scope of the number of black & brown folks killed in police encounters but also in structure. My primary emphasis was on the horrific numbers of people killed just in this century (up to June 2020). There are sadly, so many more, now.

Photo credit: Joe MacDonald, Digital Grange, Petaluma, CA.

Simultaneously the images of Somebody’s Child 1 have been added to the virtual gallery of Art Against Racism.org while the actual work just concluded a run at the Textile Center in Minneapolis through the Women of Color Quilters Network exhibit We Are the Story, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. (You can see my work in the bottom center of the banner for that show, on the above link).

Somebody’s Child 1 is now off to Cincinnati to join 41 other pieces from We Are the Story at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, opening July 2 for a 2 month run. I am honored to have my work in this venue.

Meanwhile, another new piece that says something and potentially makes people think is evolving in the studio.

 

Somebody’s Child 1, detail

missing Marion…

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Marion and I, 2018

Today I have been working on a powerpoint presentation I am making next month for the SAQA Board. Essentially it is about introducing diversity to the organization by relating how my friendship with Marion Coleman led me to self-educating about black history. I designed and tweaked most of the morning, and when hubs needed the computer to Zoom with his Parkinson’s group, I left to go pick up some groceries.

As I drove to the store, I suddenly burst into tears. Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of Marion’s death, and it hit me how serendipitous that I am working on this presentation about her impact on my life & art-making, on the very anniversary of her leaving.

I have a friend who says I am the most ‘woke’ person she knows. While I consider that a compliment I am well aware that I still have far to go. I continue to self-educate, by reading books, watching videos and every black film I can get my hands on. I even took an online course about the Civil Rights Movement, which I lived through, but had paid little attention to as it did not apply to me, in my white privileged world. I also catch myself and others, on their stuff all the time.

I owe all of this growth to my friend Marion. We were acquainted for 15 years and had talked about most everything. It was her question, near the end of her life, that prompted this growth in mine. How many black people do you know as well as you know me, she asked? I responded that maybe it was 5-6; to which she said, no I mean who you can talk to as comfortably as you speak to me?  Well that was the kick in the pants I needed to look out beyond the lily white meadow and learn something.

She might be surprised how far I have come from Pollyanna in just two years time. I am continually grateful to her for so much, not the least of which was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I miss her so much.

RIP girlfriend.

loose ends…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

I’ve been fraught with anxiety for much of the past four years. I made a lot of art about subjects that got me fired up and am now exhibiting it as much as I can, in a pandemic. After the election I calmed down a bit until the domestic terrorism two weeks ago. Today on the eve of the inauguration I am beginning to feel as if I can breathe again, knowing full well that we as a country still have a long, long way to go, before we can feel complacent again. In fact I don’t believe we will ever see “normal” again. You know the kind of normal where you don’t think every day about your government, or the pandemic.

In the meantime, I have been preparing for a SAQA Textile Talk next week. If you want to watch, comment below and I will send you the link to register. I am one of 5 artists whose work is being featured from an exhibit titled ‘Upcycle’ on recycled materials. I have spoken about my work on many occasions, so that is the easy part. I was able to put my vintage PowerPoint knowledge to use and prepare 10 slides of art and studio shots for my portion of the talk. Where I got hung up was on the lighting for my ‘person’ on Zoom.

I decided I wanted to do a custom background, featuring some of my work, as one would do. Yet the problem was still with the lighting. A colleague suggested I bring a lamp with a shade to my computer. Uh, I no longer own a lamp with a shade! Our entire house has been upgraded with overhead LED lighting. I tried my Ott-lite and that sort of helped.

Another suggested a green screen. I researched green screens, and decided against it as I did not need more stuff to clutter my office. My sister gave me a new green screen which she bought but decided not to use. I also decided not to use it and passed it along to Goodwill.

Finally I decided to swap out the wall quilt behind me, forgetting that a 6 ft table bearing a heavy midarm sewing machine was between me and the wall as a deterrent to hanging another quilt. Thank goodness for these long arms, as I was able to reach over the extended arm of the table, up the wall and with a little -uh hang a different quilt!

Then I remembered a recent purchase of a clamp-on light can, down in the basement. I brought that up, put a 5 watt bulb in it, clamped it on the shelf above my computer and voila! Let there be light. Essentially I spent two weeks fretting over the lighting.

Some time ago, before the pandemic, as I recall, I volunteered to design a memory quilt for the family of a slain person of color, for the Social Justice Sewing Academy. I  heard back a week ago, asking if I were still interested? I replied yes.

This past weekend I received the information, photos, likes and dislikes for my first memory quilt assignment. After reading the information about this woman, I felt such a tremendous responsibility to create this quilt, which I need to do in 6-8 weeks. What a huge honor to be asked to design something memorable for a family who has already lost so much. Especially in this era of Black Lives Matter, and white supremacy, it is so important to me to step outside of my life as a person of privilege and really look at the life of a woman who didn’t have a chance. The easy path would be to turn away, as so many of us have done for centuries. My hope is I have it in me to do more than one. Stay tuned…

Lastly, I have been mulling over the role of social media in my life. Several people whom I know have left Facebook, and thrived! I have considered it many times. What keeps me there is the contact I have with so many of my art colleagues, all over the world; friends and neighbors. It’s a place to read about others art and blab about my own. I also enjoy reading about local restaurants, taking a class or two through groups, reading local gossip, as the paper comes out just once a week; just catching up.

The lack of security is what bothers me most. And yet I wonder if I do walk, where will I have human contact? Where will we meet up? It looks like it will be another 2-3 months minimally before I get the vaccine, before I can meet friends for lunch, go to exhibits, resume some sort of a normal life.

I guess if I do sign off, I will just have to pick up the phone, which is not exactly a bad thing. I’ve noticed that my ability to actually speak language rather than type it, is occasionally challenged. As in, if you don’t use it... all good food for thought!

 

 

 

high anxiety elixir…

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Somebody’s Child 2, detail. Photo credit, Digital Grange

It’s rather remarkable to me that in this time of high anxiety I have been prolific at art-making. It seems everyone I talk to or read about, including myself, is struggling with anxiety during these “uncertain”, “unprecedented,” “troubling “(insert an adjective) times. It’s remarkable to me that as my body reacts to living in these anxious times I am making art. Believe me I am grateful, but also somewhat puzzled by the whole thing.

Since my last blog post, I have finished two more pieces of narrative art. And one of them was juried into Quilt National 2021! For the uninitiated this is one of the top-drawer contemporary quilt shows in the world. One has better odds of getting hit by a meteorite than having their work juried in! I tried and tried for years with no luck. Just shy of giving up, in 2016 I entered Defining Moments 12: NO Means NO, my piece about campus rape into QN 2017 and it was juried in! I skipped 2019 as I had nothing that fit the criteria.

I entered again this year, submitting two of my recent works about politics and social justice issues. Somebody’s Child 2 was juried in. This piece was a vision in my head that proved quite difficult to execute. My initial thought was to make the layered silk organza pieces into a square, but then it occurred to me that the names would be more impactful as a list, a long skinny piece. It finished 63″ x 16″.  I also considered it as 3-D with LED lighting, sort of as a totem but it looked too much like Christmas; and this is not a festive narrative. This is a somber narrative, showing the over 4700 names of black lives extinguished at the hands of police in this century.

In the end I decided to just let the fabric do its own thing. It is three layers of digitally printed silk organza, fused together and hand-stitched with tears. I have no doubt people will whine that this is not a quilt, as it moves silently in the air! It does however meet the criteria of two layers stitched; actually being three layers, hand-stitched with tears.

It will be interesting to see how they install it, whether it will be backlit which will show the names laid askew to emphasize the horrendous number of lives lost. I likely will not be going to the opening or to see it in person, unless these “uncertain” times bring a miracle. So hopefully another artist who does attend will send me photos. To me the best thing about being in this prestigious exhibit is the other artists I meet; which is the truly sad part about not attending.

After that, I whipped together a piece about Your Tax Dollars at Work. I had the fabric commercially printed and I screen-printed the text months ago; then it languished in the studio. A 3 am design session gave me the idea of money growing on trees and after that it came together quickly. And I love it, which is always a bonus!

Your Tax Dollars at Work, a study in pork barrel projects

We are all coping with these “uncertain times” in our own ways. Some spend hours online debating/arguing/sharing political posts, others are streaming serials and movies; or baking the world’s supply of sourdough, while several friends are writing postcards, and letters to voters in other states to encourage them to do their civic duty and vote. I am so grateful to those folks for taking the time to do this important work!!! THANK YOU!

At the same time I know I would be creating more stress for myself to do the same thing. My activism is coming through in my work, for which I am enormously grateful. I even had that thought the other day, you know that one, that no one wants to consider. What will happen to all this when I am no more? Immediately I dismissed it… that’s not my problem!

So while I deluge myself in mindfulness reminders, yoga stretches, morning walks, and really annoying twice daily blood pressure checks, I continue to make art that says something. A new work is going under the machine today! Life is good in these “unprecedented’ times.

dazed and confused…

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Fire & Flood 2, detail

While undergoing bathroom reconstruction in our home, I decided to do some construction of my own and created two 20″ x 20″ pieces for exhibits in 2020. I decided to do both on climate change, as followup to Fire & Flood 1, so now have Fire & Flood 2 and Fire & Flood 3. Nothing was particularly difficult about them until I finished, cut the slats, photographed, cleaned up in PhotoShop, and put up on my website. Well actually the confusion began right after the photography.

I had a challenging time trying to remember which detail belonged to which piece. The full-views show two different designed pieces, but the details, not so much. Was that tree branch on the left or the right? Is the text on the black next to the trees or the water? I finally had to pin a number to each piece so I could keep them straight. Then PhotoShop started telling me I didn’t have permission to work with my own images. Then there were the actual construction questions and updates. And then me questioning why did I choose to do this right now?! Well, it is because once I finish work, I like to photograph, file my images, update my website, do the documentation for posterity (you all do that, right?!), label and store. I’m not big on work languishing in the studio when I am ready to move on to something new.

One of these pieces will be my juror’s piece for a SAQA East Coast exhibit titled Visionary that I am jurying next month. The exhibit curators changed their theme title because of the popularity of the year 2020. Already I have seen several calls for entries titled 2020 Vision, 2020 Visions, 2020 Visionary, 2020 Visionaries. Undoubtedly by the end of 2020; 2020 Vision in particular will be tied with American politics as the most exhausted theme/buzzword/catch phrase of the year!

Both of these pieces address climate change, which actually does exist! It proved itself last winter when in the course of 4 months there were both devastating fires and floods within miles of where I live. The irony struck me. Too little water, too much water.

Now that one shower is complete I am re-installing artwork in the bathroom. My motive is simple. All the artwork from the hallways and bathrooms has been stored on my mid-arm machine table. I want to use the machine, so the artwork needs relocation. I just know the contractor was thrilled to see 12″ quilts all over the bathroom when he arrived this morning to install the new faucet on the sink. Good thing he is an artist himself.

Fire & Flood 2

Fire & Flood 3

 

 

the Visions opening…

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

The Storyteller

As you know, I was ambivalent about the opening of our new exhibit Defining Moments in San Diego at Visions Art Museum. I was torn between anticipation and dread. I was very worried that my grief over Marion’s death would lay a cloud of darkness over the entire event. I was worried I would be tongue-tied if asked to speak, and yet totally resisted planning anything to say, deciding instead to rely on spontaneity. Apparently I aced it!

I kept my focus on being in the moment throughout the entire trip, which kept worry and grief at bay. I had been to an opening at Visions last fall when my work was in a juried exhibit, so I knew the location and the wonderful staff & volunteers, so all was good there.

the outer and inner tallgirl

Hubs and I arrived at the museum at 3 pm for an appointment to talk for an audio tour of the exhibit. It will be available to museum-goers on their cellphone.

audio tour QR code

Then I walked around and took it all in, before the galleries filled with people. Then I got it! It filled me up, from my toes to my nose! What an incredible accomplishment this body of work was! How important this work is! How sad so much of our shared history is still so relevant today. How people need to see these stories in art. And what an incredible friendship and working relationship I had with Marion. I just felt immense gratitude with not a shred of ego. It was exhilarating!

Gratitude that she asked me to create this project with her. Gratitude that she taught me our stories are important, that it is the job of the elders to tell the stories. And that we are the elders now…

The Harried Years, Maternal Grandparents, Paternal Grandparents by Larson

When I first began my Tall Girl Series, which was my first body of narrative art; someone told me no one wants to see this. No one wants to see your dirty laundry she said. Well it turns out that was one person’s opinion! People do want to see this work. People do want to talk about it. People do want to ask a myriad of process questions. It is all good.

The gifts I received from attending this reception were many. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet both of Marion’s sisters who have been entrusted with her quilt legacy. They asked me to please continue the exhibitions of Defining Moments beyond Lubbock in 2020; that Marion would want these exhibitions to continue. I could not agree more and was thrilled to hear those words. Another Defining Moment!

Tall Girlfriends by Coleman. I LOVE this quilt, and the artist who made it!

 

Most of all I felt gratification that I am on the right track. When I began this gig as a professional artist 12 years ago, more than anything I wanted to be seen. I often felt unseen in my highly educated family of overachievers, and my goal through my art was to be seen by them. Now who cares?! What matters to me most now is that my work is seen!

And I don’t mean that my work hangs in a gallery or museum and people pass by without pause. I mean people stand in front of it, look through the layers, read the story, think about their own story and how they might communicate that; and feel impacted by what they have seen. That is my greatest reward. I am on the right track. And inspired, finally, to begin again…

Immense thanks to Visions Art Museum and all who make it function so well for shining a light on our Defining Moments! This exhibit is open until October 6. Go see it, if you can!