Monday, September 18, 2017

In the Details

My art group at the opening of In the Details, Jill Milenski,
Gail Crum and me standing in front of my installed work.
I was so excited last Friday night to attend the opening of In the Details, a fiber exhibition curated by Mary Urbas and held at the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve. The CAN journal, Cleveland's go-to magazine for the arts community, had a nice article preview about the show and the accompanying solo exhibition by the late Lillian Tyrell at the adjacent Sculpture Center, Disaster Blankets. New-to-me Canvas Magazine also had a nice review article by Michael C. Butz.
Mary Urbas, center, talks about In the Details, as the artists in attendance
listen in. Left to right: Jennifer, Deborah, Juli, Mary, AAWR director Mindy
Tousely, Gayle Pritchard, Libby Chaney

The gallery is a small space, but it's perfect for showcasing a themed exhibit, as this one is. A broad range of fiber art is on display, and includes two of the Archived artist, Lillian Tyrell and Evelyn Svec Ward. I was happy to be included for exhibition with amazing artists such as Susan Shie, Libby Chaney, Juli Edberg, Sandy Miller, Jessica Pinsky, Jennifer Whitten and Deborah Silver, all of whose work I have admired over the years. The show will be up through November 4.

Part of the crowd reading Susan Shie's amazing work.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Falling Into the Rhythm

Detail of Beauty Queen by Gayle Pritchard
Fall is here. I say it out loud, even though it's only September 4th. Yesterday would have been my mother's 89th birthday, had she managed to live to a ripe, old age. It's also the day my husband and I had our "family" wedding celebration, seven months after we went to a Justice of the Peace in Virginia to get married. Fall is full of memories. It's a bittersweet time, since I always feel a bit wistful as summer wanes and cooler weather approaches. Still, fall offers its own opportunities, and it's time to adjust to that new, slower rhythm.

Last week, I finished and delivered my artwork, including three brand new pieces, to the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve. I am absolutely thrilled to have been included in the upcoming exhbition, In the Details. The exhibition was curated by Cleveland's own Mary Urbas, and it will open to the public on September 15.

I have many stories to tell about the artworks I created for the show, but I am not ready to tell them yet. I will share a detail of one of my new pieces, one of three I made in honor of my nephew, Jeremy Schroth, who died in recent weeks. He was a Wounded Warrior. His life given in service to his country over a series of multiple deployments rested heavily on my mind as I finished Wounded: What You Can Do For Your Country.

Detail of Wounded: What You Can Do For Your Country
by Gayle Pritchard; 2017
This week, I am fortunate to attend HippoCamp 2017 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a conference for writers of creative non-fiction. My daughter, who is also a writer, will attend with me for the second year in a row. I can't wait to explore a different part of my creative brain!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Showing Up and Working

Sometimes you just have to go into your studio, close the door and get to work. I used to have a studio, the one in the picture, outside of my home. When the kids left home, I didn't really need outside space, since I had extra bedrooms I could fill up. The only drawback is the carpeting in the rooms, which I hesitate to get too dirty with dripped paint, and the like.

That said, even at home, I don't get into my studio every day. Right now, though, I am preparing for an exhibition at the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve curated by Mary Urbas, and entitled In the Details. It opens next month, several months earlier than initially planned, and I am really slamming it right now to finish up the new pieces I want to show.

What I'm working on right now? I can't even tell you the titles. For me, I never know exactly what the work is until it reaches a tipping point, and I understand what it is about. I continue working through the uncertainty until the piece reveals its intent to me. I have a number of those in progress right now. One is a political piece that is constructed with my dad's old flag and zippers. More on that another day. I just finished painting the top piece for this one, a construction with several stitched panels and a book at the bottom.

This large wooden protractor, given to me recently by a friend, is going to hold the components together and also serve as a hanging mechanism for the piece, shown here before this part was painted:

You can't really tell from this picture that the very bottom panel is actually a fabric book, hanging open in the photograph. It will be folded up and attached to the middle panel when it is all assembled.

Here is one of the side panels, almost finished. The back is a luscious purple silk and the front is my hand dyed shibori. I love the lines in this fabric!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

More Inspirations

One intriguing aspect of Basquiat's artwork is how he joins smaller drawings together on a larger surface, and then integrates the imagery. Here is an example from the recent show at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The reflections make it a bit hard to see, but you get the idea. Fabulous!

There is such a multitude of ways to approach art making. I think you know by now how I promote the unique approach each person can take. No one else can tell your story. It's yours to tell, and you have to do it your way.

Sing your own song.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on some new pieces that are very different for me. I found an over-sized book at a library sale full of photographs of every day buildings and people from the olden days, all in black and white. I cut out the images that appealed to me for use in my collage work, and I alter them for my own use. I have written about my techniques for integrating found and throw away photographs in to my work in previous blog posts here.

I used an image of an old house for my piece About a Boy: 
Both found and "throw-away"photography are combined and integrated into a larger piece,
About a Boy, Gayle Pritchard 2017.
In the newest piece I am finishing, and which I showed in progress in my last blog post, I used found imagery of a group of children, which have now been sandpapered, hand colored with oil pastels and stitched with other found papers. I love how it's turning out!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I saw a terrific exhibition at Cleveland's treasure of an Art Museum: Basquiat's Notebooks. I absolutely loved the show, and saw it twice. This box is one of my favorite pieces:

Seeing how he used his notebooks to create his artwork was inspiring. I use my journals and sketchbooks all the time, and am always in motion, creating marks or writing words as often as possible. It was really fascinating to have a glimpse into someone else's process.

New collage in progress by Gayle Pritchard, 2017
Now that our Memories Evoked: Circling Back Home exhibition is over, I am back at work on some new pieces. They are a bit different for me. This is the beginning of a new one, collage and oil pastel markings over painted marks. The antique handkerchief was selected for the color, but also because I knew how cool it would look made transparent with matte medium. I placed the found paper alphabet circle underneath it before gluing it in place, but after I made my marks on top of the paint. I like layers, and hiding some of my marks.

The next step was to add other collage elements, which I will show you next time. After those had dried, I began stitching the edges of the fabric with embroidery floss. I then ran everything that would fit through my sewing machine.

New collage in progress by Gayle Pritchard, 2017. This piece is enhanced by both hand
and machine stitching.

Because the paper is thick, I couldn't roll all of it to fit under the sewing machine foot. That forced me to choose which areas I wanted to emphasize. I can't wait to get it finished!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Circling Back Home: The Opening Reception

The artists gather for a picture: Jill Milenski, Gail Crum
and Gayle Pritchard.
Exhibiting artist Gayle Pritchard looks on the
crowd at the entry to the exhibition.
 The opening reception for Memories Evoked: Circling Back Home was last Saturday night. The gallery staff reported it was the largest attendance for an opening they had seen. Needless to say, Gail, Jill and I were thrilled at the turnout. Having worked for two years to create the exhibition, each of us is delighted to be able to show a large body or our work. There are just over a hundred artworks on display, and each of us have thirty some pieces in the mix. Even we are amazed, not only with the amount of new work we created, but with how beautiful it all looks installed in the gallery.

Two feelings prevailed for me that night. Talking to people I know, such as my family, friends, my in-laws and other artists who came to see the show, I could say, "Now you know me better." The other palpable feeling I experienced is the slightly nervous anxiety that arises from being vulnerable in public. While viewers are necessary to artists, musicians,writers, poets, actors and other creative people, they do not always grasp what they are seeing, hearing or experiencing. My main goal is to create work that people engage with, as opposed to simply walking by it, leaving the work unexamined or unnoticed.
Another artist group to which I belonged, the West End Textile TArts, were organized by Susan "Pomme" Shie (not shown here: she's taking the photo!) to arrive early for a quick meeting. We were happy to add two new members, Mary "Ginger" Urbas and Gail "Riesling Grape" Crum. From the left: Jill "Lime" Milenski, Gayle "Kumquat" Pritchard, Christine "Cherry" Mauersberger and Christy "Raspberry" Gray. Our new members are on the right!

Friends old and new engaged in the show.
Spouses, children, collectors and strangers.

Susan Shie, Mary Urbas, and Christine
Mauersberger make their way through the
So many people attended, and we were delighted!

My artist granddaughter made me a card that said Happy Art Night! My
grandson observed, "Grandma, I've been seeing all of this since I was, like,5,
and way before anyone else. It sure looks different in here, though."
Be still my heart. And thanks for coming.

 Up next: please come to our Gallery Talk on Sunday, March 12th at 1 p.m. at the Beck Center in Lakewood. You will meet all the artists, learn more about their processes, and see the artwork from the show in depth. Plus, ask all the questions you can think of! See you then.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Anticipation: Before Everything Else, Getting Ready

Gail Crum, Jill Gray Milenski and Gayle Pritchard created  
more than a hundred artworks in preparation for Memories 
Evoked: Circling Back HomeThe exhibition is on view now
through March 12, 2017  at the Beck Center for the Arts, 
17801 Detroit Rd., Lakewood, Ohio.
To quote Henry Ford, "Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success." If that proves true, the opening of my artist group's three woman exhibition, Memories Evoked: Circling Back Home, should be a smashing success! It has been two years in the making, and the three of us have created over 100 artworks for the show. Last Friday we got all the work together to have a look before the artwork was installed in the gallery. Our take-away: impressive work, ladies!

As the Artist's Opening Reception approaches, March 4 at 6 p.m., we are seeing our exhibition proposal come to life. Here is the idea we submitted two years ago, the core of what motivated us to work toward this day for years:

For two decades, three artists with a shared aesthetic have met together, grown and supported each other. Though the artists express themselves through media as diverse as painting, assemblage and fiber, these three women share a passion for found objects, ephemera and colors chosen to give voice to the subject matter they explore here: memories evoked.  

In her work, Gail Crum rescues the unwanted and re-purposes the odd and discarded. Jill Milenski’s colorful imagery juxtaposes the idealized version of childhood with the reality of modern parenting. Gayle Pritchard integrates story-telling with fiber, paint, stitches and the written word in work that seeks to examine the past as a way to heal the present.

The artists met in a workshop Pritchard had developed to explore the process of imbuing ordinary objects with meaning. Twenty years later, these women have come full circle.  Together their diverse backgrounds in the business world, academia and art and their shared experiences as women in a complex world find confluence in the evocative and personal viewpoint each artist presents in the work displayed in this exhibition. 

Gail writes down titles of artworks that we have grouped
together for the upcoming installation in the gallery.
If you live nearby, we sure hope you can join us on March 4. If not, stay tuned for pictures of the installation and the opening.