Thursday, September 24, 2020

Women in Conversation reopened this past Tuesday for the final four viewing days, and we couldn't be happier. The opportunity to show a body of work is rare enough, but in these times, it is truly soul-stirring. As an artist, it is a rare moment to sit in a large gallery space and see the work you have created over years installed, living and breathing, interacting with the other artworks and the viewing public. It leaves me breathless. 

As Ben Johnson observed in the opening line of his article in The Chronicle, "Time stood still...". Indeed, our work has been in place since February, and stayed in place over the ensuing months, bravely waiting for our return. We are so thrilled to have a few more days to enjoy the work in situ. Here's when you can see it: 

Thursday, September 24, 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.; Tuesday, September 29, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Closing day: Thursday, October 1, 3 - 8 p.m. See the gallery link above to read the safety protocols.

You can also choose a time slot for the the closing event on October 1 and view a map CoolCleveland.

Can't make it to the show? You can still see it at the Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery Women in Conversation online. Check it out, and thanks for your support.

In these crazy times, it's wonderful to have a 'rainbow day' as my family calls it. I get a few extra ones this month. Stay well.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Four Months Gone; Carry on, if You Can

Detail of the mask I made for a
collage page in my friend Jill's
altered book.
 So, it's July. Though I have been gathering both my thoughts and images on my computer, for much of this Stay-at-Home time, I have been quasi-frozen. Like many of you, I have learned how to manage a Zoom call. I have rearranged my work spaces, including clearing out a lot of currently unused items from my art studio, to make room for more art supplies. In the process, I found some wonderful old artwork treasures that I'll share with you another time. 

Some days I hum along happily, doing the work in front of me, writing emails, letters and postcards, and, now, in the summer weather, spending time in my lovely garden. Other days, though, like my birthday in May, or now, when my county in Ohio is in the State's Red Alert public health crisis zone, I feel alone, isolated, vaguely sad, and, recently, absolutely furious. Outraged, in fact. Darn right pissed off at the self-centered crazies who simply will not wear a mask or follow the simple rules to get us all through this thing. They are making it worse for all of us, as we suffer together through a lack of federal leadership and crisis response. I have never witnessed such blatant corruption and incompetence in my life. 

So, what to do? Well, I do have a journal on my desk in my office here. It says Grateful on the front in all caps, gold lettering on a pretty orange cover. I write in it. Some days I can't think of anything new to write that I'm grateful for. But I'm trying.

Enter my longtime art group. The three of us, Jill Milenski, Gail Crum and I, have had three three-woman exhibitions with a hundred artworks in the past four years. We normally meet every week. I cannot tell you how much I have missed them.

Back in April we "met" on Zoom. We didn't make anything; we just talked, face to face, so to speak. I talked about how surprised I was at what a hard time I was having. We caught up on news, family stuff. At some point, Jill, always full of boundless energy, suggested we do an altered book round robin. It works like this: we each picked a book to alter and worked on it to set the theme, making pages to build on. Then, dressed in masks and gloves with books in plastic ziploc bags, we traded on each others' porches every week or so. Gail picked a German language kids book. Jill picked a kids book of knowledge, and I picked a book I'd had for years, Drawing at the Circus. The circus theme appealed to me, given the fact that a few months ago I finished making Clown Show: The Smallest Man in the World.

Clown Show: The Smallest Man in the World. It's 
a big, 3-D piece, 36" high. I haven't been able to
exhibit it anywhere yet. It speaks to the times.
This is the front cover of my
altered book. It is currently on view
at the Yards Project gallery. 
   Liz Maugans, the incomparable Cleveland artist, curated an exhibit at the Yards Project   gallery called Art Made in the Shut Down. Gail and Jill suggested we enter our pieces. Gail had already made another altered book by herself, a book about Time, which was perfect for the show. Jill and I entered our pieces. Recently, Liz did a gallery tour, and another one is scheduled for tomorrow, July 11. I'll add the link to it after it happens. You can see her paging through a few of our altered books on the video.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Feeding Body and Soul: Staying Healthy and Happy During Social Distancing Season

Instead of our usual giant salad for lunch, yesterday I made a delicious 
soup with leftover veggies and ramen noodles, served with homemade beet
tahini. It was delicious, and a nice change. It made lunch at home feel special.
So, I'm sure you can imagine that my art group's exhibition, Women in Conversation, came to a screeching halt here in north-eastern Ohio, where we are battling the spread of coronavirus. The artwork remains installed, while we await the day where a semblance of life as normal returns. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, a week into Staying at Home, I am keeping busy, and hope you are, too. Because I love to cook, read, sew, sketch and write, it isn't hard. Now might the time for you to develop a hobby. I'm just sayin'...

Earlier in the week, I set up a still life after my sweet husband went out for a brief grocery run and brought me some lovely yellow roses from the store. The kaleidoscope roses in the small vase came by mail from my sister, a congratulations gift for the opening of my show way back before we knew we had to Stay at Home.

Sketch in progress, still life with yellow and kaleidoscope roses together
with my favorite vases: two artist vases with faces, and an antique
amethyst glass vase that belonged to my grandmother. Though it
looks black, when you hold it up to the light, the amethyst color glows.
To me, it's the perfect metaphor for the way we can change our perspective
and find beauty in the process.
I have never seen kaleidoscope roses. They are so unusual, I just had to include them in my drawing. Though I am often the one to say there is nothing new under the sun, both the beautiful kaleidoscope roses and the dystopian nightmare we are experience disprove me. I am trying to make the most of it.

I am working with soft pastel pencils that I have had since drawing classes in college. I don't work with them a lot, because I really prefer oil pastels. That said, there is immense pleasure in the way soft pastels mark and blend. I love how they show up on colored pastel paper, as well.

Drawing is contemplative. It is a relaxing, focused activity. It is a skill than can only improve with practice. It is a challenge with an immediate sense of reward. It also frees your mind to wander while your eyes and hands are busy learning to see. Even if you are one of those many people ruined by a childhood "art" teacher who told you that you can't draw, I am here to tell you that you can. Give it a try. Don't show anyone. Do it for yourself. Any plain old pencil and paper will work. I highly recommend Danny Gregory's Art Before Breakfast to build your confidence. Danny is the founder of Sketchbook Skool, and presents as a gentle, kind soul and wonderful and enthusiastic support for artists and would-be artists. Take an art class with him online. Learn a new skill!

After two days spent gathering extra art supplies, I dropped them off yesterday (no social contact involved) at our our local non-profit art center, BayArts. Shout out to the amazing director Nancy Heaton and her wonderful staff, Karen, Jessica and Linda. They are creating free art kits for kids that can be picked up on the porch once a week. The first week, two hundred bags disappeared within hours of being set out. It feels good to do for others. See what you can do in your community. This coming week, I will be sewing face masks for first responders.

The other thing that I accomplished this week was to finally set up our reiki table again. My husband and I became reiki masters over the past decade. Though I give reiki to friends and family members, I have used my daily practice primarily as a tool for personal growth and healing. My husband does the same, but has also spent a lot of time teaching reiki for hospice, and giving reiki to hospice patients and their families. Instead of keeping our reiki table set up downstairs, I made space and moved it upstairs to a more quiet, personal space. I still have some rearranging to do in the coming days. In these uncertain times, it will be good for us to have a dedicated space to chill out, rest, refresh, and feel loved.

Wishing you peace and love. Take this time to do something special for yourself and those you love. It's a rare opportunity that has been foisted upon us. Stay in touch!
Reiki table almost ready to go.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Women in Conversation: Celebrate the Women in Your Life

Women in Conversation Make and Take
participant created a souvenir accordian-fold mini-
journal. The event took place before the amazing
play at Stocker Center, Ain't I a Woman.
Last night's Women in Conversation artist Make and Take event took place at the Stocker Center Studio Theater before the Diane Monroe play, Ain't I a Woman featuring the amazing Core Ensemble musicians and the actress Shinnerrie Jackson (an Oberlin Conservatory graduate.)

UPCOMING: If you missed out, you can join us in the gallery this coming Friday night (March 6) from 6 - 9 p.m. Jill Milenski, Gail Crum and Gayle Pritchard, the artists of Women in Conversation, will be onsite during the Stocker Center Film Series. The movie Station Agent screens at 7:30, so come to the gallery to see the show, do our Scavenger Hunt, and create a Make and Take, all before going to the screening. After the movie, come on back up to the gallery. We'll be there to welcome you, and to continue the conversation.

The Women in Conversation opening reception on Friday, February 28th was amazing, with fabulous food, live music, and a crowd of people eager to see what the three of us have been up to.

Jill Milenski, Gail Crum and Gayle Pritchard at the opening reception for
their exhibition, Women in ConversationPhotograph courtesy of Steve Sefchik.
As you can imagine, putting together artwork for an exhibition is labor intensive. The three of us, my  art group, meet every week, virtually without exception. For more than a year, we have worked with intensity and focus in preparation for Women in Conversation. The Beth K. Stocker gallery is a huge space, and we were all afraid we wouldn't have enough work finished. Not to fear! We delivered a ton of artwork to gallery director Beth Bryan, and she in turn did a magnificent job installing the show.

Four wonderful artworks by Gail Crum from
Women in Conversation, February 28 - April 2.
To showcase our assemblage work properly, dozens of pedestals were put into service. These were placed along the walls in the center of the gallery strategically, highlighting all the work around them. This was essential for Jill's Fairy Tale series, which is comprised of small but powerful, intimate pieces. There are several more unique installation discoveries in the gallery, but I won't spoil it for you! Come see for yourself.

If you can't make it during regular gallery hours during the day or this Friday, we'll be back on Friday, March 27, 6 - 9 p.m. and, of course, for the closing on April 2, 4 - 8 p.m. We hope to see you soon.
Fairy Tale Series and Red Series by Jill Milenski from Women in
, February 28 - April 2. 

Installation of Wounded: What You Can Do For Your Country
by Gayle Pritchard with Lady, Not Liberty and We Are
Better Than This
by Gail Crum, a great pairing at
Women in Conversation, February 28 - April 2, 2020.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Women in Conversation Offers an Intimate Look into Women's Experience of the World

Top row: artwork by Jill Milenski; Middle row: artwork by Gayle Pritchard;
Bottom row: artwork by Gail Crum

Our show Women in Conversation opens at the Stocker Center Gallery tomorrow night. We are so excited to see the installation. Gail Crum, Jill Milenski and I (Gayle Pritchard) first met years ago in my first Spirit Boxes, Sacred Vessels and Shrines class. The artwork was so amazing, we created an exhibition of the same name. Now, some twenty-five years later, this sisterhood of artists has created a new exhibition, our third in the past four years, and we seek again to offer a strikingly powerful view into how women see and experience life.

From the passage of the 19th Amendment a hundred years ago  giving women the right to vote  to the present day #MeToo era, we three artists celebrate woman's necessary role in society and the  importance of hearing steady, strong diverse female voices expressed through art. The urge to create is itself transformative and necessary, a balm for the soul. Women communicate differently about the gendered dimensions of their place in the world.
Fairy Tale Series: The Wolf at the Door, in progress. Artwork by Jill Milenski

In this groundbreaking exhibition, we raise our voices and speak through our work, a year in the making. Viewers are invited to be collaborators in completing the circle from the birth of an idea to the magical process of turning that idea into an art object that is put on display for all to engage with.

The pieces presented are inspired by daily life, the result of the way we, as women, skillfully and passionately navigate the multi-faceted roles we play: We are sisters, wives, mothers, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, soulmates, girfriends, caregivers, teachers, advocates, activists and artists.

Women in Conversation is the natural outgrowth of long-time artist friends who share a love of process and materials. The unbroken threads of decades-long conversations about our lives,our families, politics, women's issues, art, and techniques are woven into the work we are exhibiting. The show is a unique opportunity to share a piece of what brings us together as women and artists: the vulnerability, the intimacy that arises from telling our stories in our conversations with each other and through our artwork.
Saturday Night (Record Series) by Gail Crum
Along with the shared narrative, we also often share art supplies and found materials unearthed in junk and antiques stores. We share a love of process, of making something from nothing, or trying out new tools and birthing new visions in our note- and sketch-filled journals. We love laughing at the persistent compulsions that are the never-ending subjects of the objects we create. We share processes and favorite techniques with each other, simply playing and exploring ideas while we stretch to make new work that is out of our usual comfort zone. We nurture each other through our sharing and our play-days.
A box of ephemera ready to
be added to an artwork

We love color, old books and postcards, broken objects, paper dolls, fabric, and time-worn wooden blocks. We peruse junk shops, where intuitively gathered new treasures await our artists' mojo  that magical moment when the discarded trinkets and trash of everyday life are transformed. These snippets, pieces and parts are paired with process to become objects that carry the stories of our ideas.

We invite you to join in this living conversation about women, art and community. The chance to show our work and have this conversation is nurturing and necessary. It's a supportive, feminine thing we do together. We raise our voices to speak through our work. We hope you are moved, amused and inspired. Above all, we hope to see you there.

Women in Conversation
 · Where:
Stocker Art Center1005 N. Abbe Rd., Elyria, OH 44035
· When:
Friday February 28, 4 – 7 p.m.: Opening reception, refreshments, Scavenger Hunt, live music and gallery talk at 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 4, 6 - 7 p.m.: 'Make and Take' with the artists before the play, Ain't I a Woman?
Friday March 6, 6 - 7:30 p.m.: Visit the gallery before the Winter Film Series
Friday, March 27, 6 - 7:30 p.m. | Visit the gallery before the Winter Film Series
Thursday April 2,  4 - 7 p.m. | Closing reception, refreshments, Scavenger Hunt, live music and gallery talk at 6:30 p.m.
TBA Other events celebrating Women's History Month and the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment

Detail of Travel Ban by Gayle Pritchard and
utilizing an altered Handkerchief Memory Project printed by
Clare Murray Adams

Monday, February 24, 2020

It's Here: Women in Conversation Opens This Friday

Detail, Spring Revisited by Gayle Pritchard
Such an exciting week lies ahead, culminating with the opening of our three-woman Women's History Month exhibition, Women in Conversation, on Friday night.

On Saturday, we unloaded six carloads of artwork into the gallery and carefully unwrapped all of the pieces for the gallery director. The space looks beautiful, and we cannot wait to see the show installed.

We all worked until the very end finishing work, wiring for hanging, adding titles to the artworks, sometimes the most difficult part. There is such a broad array of work from paintings and drawings to art quilts, assemblages, hybrid books and so much more. We created educational displays to illustrate our processes and highlight some of the materials we love to use. We even made a scavenger hunt game. Come to the opening at the Stocker Center Art Gallery Friday, February 28, 4 - 7 p.m. to play! Enjoy the art, live music and refreshments, as well. If you can't be there Friday, join us Saturday, February 29, 6 - 7 p.m. We'll be in the gallery then before the Mardi Gras concert with Terrance Simien begins.

One of the new pieces I created for this exhibition is called Target Family. Here are some images showing my process.

I wanted to create a diverse sense of  the
people who come to this country, so I
looked for eyes of all sorts. Detail, Target
Family by Gayle Pritchard
Here are some of the images I found. I really like how it adds
an edginess to the collage. Detail, Target Family by Gayle

Here is the final piece. My mixed media painting backs the
collage of an official NRA target, an old photograph
that has been altered as shown above. I mounted all on a
painted board, then added the assemblage elements.
Target Family by Gayle Pritchard. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Women in Conversation: Two Weeks and Counting

Postcard Invitation for Women in Conversation, which opens
February 28, 2020 and features the artwork of Gail Crum,
Jill Milenski and Gayle Pritchard
In exactly two weeks, Gail, Jill and I will be delivering our artwork to the Beth K. Stocker Gallery for installation. Perhaps you can imagine, then, the frenzy of finishing we are all doing in final preparation for this major exhibition.

Yesterday, I created a "two weeks and counting" task list in my journal. It took up three pages! When I woke up this morning, I started in: I finished two house drawings from my ongoing series, which included framing them both and wiring them both for hanging, and that involved drilling holes with a very fine drill bit to insert hanging hardware on the tiny frames. Afterwards, I finished drawing a third house, which will be mounted. That's on the list for completion tomorrow. Ditto the "wire for hanging," always tricky when working with found objects. 

House Drawing #5 by Gayle Pritchard
Oil pastel on water color painting
Stay with me here. I found two large pieces of wood on bulk trash day, and they were beauties, old cupboard doors beautifully aged and unpainted. After removing the nice brass hinges (saved for another day), I used one entire door for a single piece, which is also on the task list for final assembly. The other door was just the right size to fit two of my mixed media collages, but it needed to be cut in two. I have a little miter saw in my garage, but nothing to cut this board. It sat behind my garage for about six months, even though the art was finished. Just this week, a friend with a portable saw stopped by, took ten minutes to measure and saw the wood, and hurrah!, I am in business. One of those pieces, called Bingo: Only in America Can Your Dreams Come True, is what I worked on finishing this afternoon. 
The beginning parts and pieces for Bingo. 
Yes, these are the things that inspire me: found
photos to be altered, an old box top, a bingo
game board and a drawing that is stamped
and ready to be stitched. 
The collage is done, but it needs to be mounted onto the cut wood. I decided I wanted to paint it first, so I grabbed my trusty Jacquard Neopaque fabric paints for the job. Why fabric paints? I wanted the wood grain to show through, but for that, I could have also used a wood stain. I use my fabric paints all the time because: a) I already have them, which saves me a trip to the hardware store and, b) they seal wood differently than stain, which needs to have a finish put onto it. This way, the paper on the attached collage will be more protected. Here's how the painting came out:

Look how pretty it looks!
 It adds the color I need, allows the wood grain
to show through, 
and seals the wood. 
After it dries, but before I attach the collage, I am adding framing strips which will be painted this black on the side and red on the edge. The collage has some dimension to it, and the framing strips will help protect it. 

Guess what I will be doing tomorrow?
Come to the show if you get a chance. With nearly 100 artworks, it is going to be fantastic. See the Events page on my blog for more information.