Friday, June 26, 2009

What's in Your House?

One of Gayle's TagTalk greeting cards, made from recycled clothing tags.

Being with a group of artists on Middle Bass Island means a lot of show and tell. It's a chance to share in the enthusiasm of artwork in progress, newly finished works, the bantering about of ideas. It's a lot of fun!

Our hostess, Mary, is working on a bar stool benefit auction to be held on Middle Bass July 25 at her shop, My Aunt Irma's. She had several of the artist-embellished stools in the shop, and another one at her house. Old friend and transplanted weaver Kathie Roig regaled us with the story of the beer bottle cap covered one she brought up to the island from North Carolina. I laughed so hard I forgot to take pictures. She shared that she is about to start a large commissioned piece. Some of her smaller works are online in her etsy shop, KMRhandwoven.

Jan Gibson showed some felted pieces she has been working on, including one of a set of large dolls with handmade ceramic heads. Leslie Organ talked about her success selling Upcycled clothing at a local outdoor market once a month.

Lois Carroll, my energetic artist playmate, showed a funky knitted round handbag made with brightly colored Turkish designs. Because she is not computer savvy, I share my etsy store with her. Lois is known for her wonderful wearable clothing and accessories, many of which are available online under her Glad Rags moniker.

One of Lois' stylish tote bagsKathleen Van Meter showed some of the pieces she had exhibited at this summer's Threads of Inspiration exhibit in Vermilion at the Maritime Museum. I love layers, and Kathleen's work uses them to perfection. Her work is rich and subtle at the same time, layered sometimes with created grids, often with screening material. Her pieces are gentle and beautiful.

June by Kathleen van Meter, installed at the Artist as Quiltmaker XIII, juried by David Walker and curated by Gayle Pritchard.

Oberlin, Ohio artist and owner of Ginko Studio & Gallery, Liz Burgess showed a piece from her recent silkworm collaborations. Over the years, Liz has tried different materials, but this year she mounted casts of her own hands in various positions, indigo dyed. The silkworms were released onto the sculptural forms, fed their requisitie mulberry leaves, and left to spin their silk cocoons. It's worth a trip to the gallery just to see the installations in action. Fascinating!

Photographer Linda Grashoff, one of Ginko's studio artists, is busy working on a manuscript. When she works in fiber, she utilizes her photographs on cloth to present in-depth scientific studies, such as in her river series. Her work has been featured several times in Fiberarts Magazine.

JoAnn Giordano is a well-established and highly regarded artist, who also teaches in the area universities. She brought pictures of her work for this year's Parade the Circle event at the Cleveland Museum of Art. You can see one of her art quilts online at the Olin Art Gallery link for Kenyon College. She and I, along with Susan Shie, Clare Murray and a small group of Ohio artists exhibited there in Innovation and Tradition: Contemporary Art Quilting in Ohio.

Ruta Marino doesn't look like she's obsessed with food, but her longtime series of wall pieces made with "food" fabrics would suggest otherwise! In addition to the Gauguin inspired finished piece, she showed two delightfully fruity Marilyn Monroe pieces inspired by Andy Warhol's graphic work. While clever and amusing, the pieces, to me, are also a smirky commentary on our contemporary culture, and deftly presented.

But, to the heart of the matter, and my original question: What's in your house? Is it full, top to bottom and side to side, inside and outside with artwork? Well, Mary's house was one huge show and tell, from the quirky and elegantly painted bathroom to the upstairs landing. I am showing you just a few examples. The vignettes in her house could fill a book!

A painted hat on the wall serves as a colorful painting.

En route to the fun bathroom was Mary's kitchen art pantry. Instead of spice bottles, cans of soup and the bags of rice and noodles I see in my pantry, Mary's is full of multicolored delights, some functional, some just fun to look at.

Upstairs, a graphic painting of large bathing suits sits on the wall, while a Clown / Circus shelf welcomes visitors.

So I ask you again, what is in your house? Be sure to fill it with your personality, and may your home always be filled with joy. And don't forget the art.

PS: Here is the aforementioned beer bottle cap barstool. Yes, each cap is unique! Thanks for sending this, Kathie.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fiber Artists Converge on Middle Bass Island

Longtime friends, these Cleveland area fiber artists ride the ferry to Middle Bass Island on Lake Erie.

Yesterday was a picture perfect day in northern Ohio. It was a perfect day to ride the ferry to Middle Bass Island, one of several popular island destinations that dot Lake Erie. For this crew, the trip was an annual visit to My Aunt Irma's, an island treasure trove of a one-of-a-kind gifts, handmade crafts and clothing run by quilter, knitter and crafter extraordinaire, Mary Roesch.

Due to the size of the group, some of us received a police escort!

After the requisite coffee at Mary's house, we admired the view from the deck before heading to the shop. With two vans full, a few of us took Mary's hand-painted golf cart, and laughed the whole way there.

There are only a few things more uplifting than spending a day with friends. One of them is spending that time with friends who are also artists. The conversations are easy and fun, and often inspirational. This is especially true when fiber artists get together. There is always a lot of food, excited talk about exhibitions and new work, and breath-taking show and tell. (Please be sure to see my next post for pictures from show and tell.)
A group of friends; an inspiring and accomplished group of artists.

I feel so fortunate to live in an area where artists abound. I have many artist friends nearby, and I also belong to a local artist's group, the West end Textile tArts.

I also feel lucky that I live in a time where we are able to connect with each other in this way. I would like to hear from you what type of support, if any, you have in your area, or whether you rely on your online connections or something else. Let me know your experience.

Next post: Artist show and tell and another question for you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If Only

"I WAS sick -- sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me." Edgar Allan Poe

This is Poe's introduction to the Pit and the Pendulum, and it aptly describes how I felt this week: wobbly-headed and nauseous. Thankfully, I am feeling a bit more steady today.

If only each day proceeded according to the plans we have mapped out in our heads. I did, indeed, make it to Columbus to present a lecture for the delightful Columbus Metropolitan Quilters.

Gayle speaking in Columbus, Ohio
The group members were kind enough to hold their business meeting until after my presentation, giving me time to drive back to Cleveland the same evening. By the next day at lunchtime, however, I was decidedly ill.
I had great plans for this week, and none of my plans included being sick. Having traveled so much in the past month, I was ready to get back to work on the various unfinished pieces lying on my studio table.
Members of the guild look at artwork Gayle brought to the meeting.

I still haven't burned the first screen to practice printing with the YUDU I received for my birthday. My garden is overrun with weeds, and our butterfly bush died and needs to be replaced. The list goes on and on, the list in my head, that is.

As you may have noticed, the wheels in my mind do not easily stop turning. Sometimes I think I become susceptible to illness just so my body can make me slow down for a few days.

I am old enough now to have learned the lesson that I fought for most of my youth: lie down, relax, take a deep breath and be still. This is a time to make room for new ideas, a time to let my mind wander, a time to rest and refresh.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Talking About Art Quilts

Gayle Pritchard speaking at the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.

While most of us who make art quilts love all types of quilts, not all art quilters enjoy studying about all types of quilts. For me, though, research and study have always been a part of the equation. I was a kid who read encyclopedias, after all.

Writing, teaching, lecturing and making art combine every one of my passions. First, they all connect into my deep love of history and family genealogy, providing a way to "leave a trace" of my life. One of my favorite writing books, Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson, dovetails perfectly with my passion for research and writing about my life, and the lives of others. It's a great read, and has terrific prompts which I have used repeatedly in making art.

In my office, in fact, all over my house and in every closet, I have stacks and stacks of research material about quilts, art and history. Did I already mention my passion for reading non-fiction and doing research? For many decades I have collected material and put it into files by category. I have hundreds and hundreds of early quilting books and magazines. From these materials, I have pulled information of interest about trends, people and events, and put them into files. I did this long before I even had an inkling that I would ever write a book about the subject, but the passion for organizing it all really helped when I actually sat down to begin writing. Even though my book, Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution, is about the evolution and emergence of the art quilt movement in Ohio, I discovered through my research how inevitable the emergence of the art quilt was, and why specifically Ohio became the epicenter for the early movement.

Luckily, I am a people person. This engages my desire to teach others what I have learned, either through writing, giving lectures or teaching art workshops. When one has a passion, it is a joy to share it with others. That is precisely what I will be doing tonight, in Columbus, Ohio.

I have lectured almost non-stop on the subject of art quilts since my book came out several years ago. The audience is always full, the questions many, and the response gratifying. No matter where I have been, and almost without exception, regardless of the audience, one question continually arises: What is an art quilt? My simple answer: an art quilt is the end product of an artist's idea.

I am pleased that interest in the subject of my book has not waned. Tonight I will be with the Columbus Metropolitan Quilters at 7:00 p.m. If you are in the area, check out their website for location directions, and please come by. In the fall, I will be speaking in the Cleveland area, and invite any of you to come for a listen. Event listings are always on my website. If you can't attend in person, I have two NPR podcast interviews, one from the Diane Rehm Show, and one from WXVU in Cincinnati, Ohio (click on "Uncommon Threads" to listen.) I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

One final thought to all of you artists out there: remember to document your work. You don't have to organize your scribblings, (an abhorrent idea for most,) but please keep your papers. Trust me, some crazy research buff will want to look at them some day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Out of Town and Out of Touch

I am still on the road. It's strange to not have internet access for so many days. Not only do I need it for work, but I am missing my people-contact time!

As I sit here writing, obviously finally online again, I am listening to my granddaughter cry as the new parents try to put her to bed. She is a spirited baby, obvious even at six months old. She really fights falling asleep. I like to think that she is afraid of missing the action.

When I was a child, I hated falling asleep. Come to think of it, so did my own children. They stopped napping around age one. Anyway, my parents would often find me asleep under the couch in our family room. I would climb out of my bunk bed, creep silently down the lone hallway leading to the family room, then circle right to avoid being seen by either of my parents. They were usually watching a television program, Perry Mason say, and sipping on bourbon and 7-Up. I don't think they ever saw me.

After crawling through the living room and into the kitchen, I would squeeze under the naugahyde sofa in the family room and, apparently, fall asleep.

Just like I imagine my grandbaby feeling, I always hated missing out on anything at all. I still do. I like to be where the action is, and will go without sleep to make it happen. I can sleep when I get home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Granny Would Be Proud

For Sadie Jane, two page artist book spread by Gayle Pritchard

We have family visiting (again) and in last night's conversation I got on the topic of Granny Pritchard, my husband's grandmother. The cyanotype image on the left is a picture of her on her wedding day. Anyway, I was remembering last night that it was Granny Pritchard who taught me how to make pie. I was in my early 20's, in her kitchen, my trusty old Betty Crocker cookbook in hand. I made notes all over the illustrated pages about making pie crust. Granny had a lot of tips, such as keeping the water for the pie crust in the freezer, along with the dough fork, pie plate and all other utensils until ready to use. Her most important tip, however, was to place her marble rolling pin in the freezer until it was time to roll out the pie dough. I proudly own her marble rolling pin, and I dutifully place it in the freezer as soon as I begin gathering the ingredients for pie dough. It works like a charm. Now, if I can just find a member of our family's next generation who is interested in learning how to make pie!

I am traveling again this week, this time to watch my baby granddaughter while her family moves into their new home. Instead of bringing my bag of art supplies, I am bringing my idea journal and a small quilt I am finishing. I don't anticipate having a lot of free time to sketch or work, but always like to have something to grab when I do find a few minutes. That is always how I accomplished so much when my own children were small, and why I prefer to sew by hand: it's portable. I pieced, appliqued and quilted many artworks while sitting at dental or doctor appointments or school activities, or even waiting in my car to pick them up.

Once I return home, I have a lot of artwork-work to catch up on. I also desperately want a playday, since I got a Yudu home screen printer for my birthday.

Here you see it sitting on my dinner room table. It is now in my temporary "garage" studio, calling my name. I have watched several online links demonstrating how it's used. Fortunately, I have done silk-screening before, although it was many years ago at the Cleveland Institute of Art. They, of course, have a wonderful facility, with very large work tables and a separate wet room. With the Yudu, everything is self-contained. The screen size is limited, but I am hoping it will be sufficient for my needs right now. I'll keep you posted!