Sunday, November 5, 2017

Skeletons, Skeletons, Everywhere I Go

A fun night at the Skeleton Show with dear friends.
Honestly, I simply cannot remember a time when I have been more busy! I haven't even had time to write in my journal, let alone update my blog. So, let me begin with an attempt at a blow by blow of an amazing few weeks.

Ghoulish putt-putt anyone?
First up: The Skeleton Show at LCCC gallery, and curated by the inimitable Mary Urbas.

Artist friends Sean and Gail Crum were both in the invitational biennial exhibition, Sean with a cool new print, and Gail with her amazing collage Fear and her assemblage, Skeleton Putt Putt.

Sold! Some lucky patron is taking home Gail's Fear.
Adding to the fun of the evening was a huge crowd, many of whom were dressed in elaborate costumes.They were several booth vendors, as well, selling fun items like sugar skulls, which I bought for my grandkids.

Not sure what the costume is, but it's festive!
Mary Urbas in full regalia!
It's always fascinating to see the fleshed out ideas of other artists. Creativity is such a gift to the world: smile, cry, think, observe, react. It's an experience. I encourage you to try it!

An amazing fiber sculpture by Janet Frazee Wade.
I soooo love this necklace!

One of my favorite local artists, Mark Yasenschack
made some ceramic skeleton heads for the show.
Dozens of them were sold by nights' end!

We topped off the evening with dinner at a fabulous chef-run Mexican restaurant in Lakewood, El Carnicero. The atmosphere is urban and fun, and the food and drinks are to die for. 

So, there you have it, details on one lovely night of art, friends and food. Wait until I tell you about Friday, the very next day. Watch this space!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Evidence of Work and Patting Ourselves on the Back

"Evidence", an example from one of my creativity
workshops.  ©gaylepritchard
Boy, do the days, weeks and months fly by. I have always loved John Lennon's lyric, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." His line resonates throughout my being. Overcoming the hindrances of life is how I have learned to go with the flow while still remaining focused.

It's not that I am required to do x, y and z on any given day. Flexibility to the workday is one of the many benefits of being self-employed. What is required of me, rather, is what I set out through personal choice and motivation to accomplish, and I am quite disciplined in that regard. I keep my eyes on the prize.

Over the past two months, life has certainly happened, and derailed me on and off for a time. My darling nephew died suddenly, five days after returning from his honeymoon. That happened at the same time that my brother was told he needed emergency bypass surgery, and then the cardiologist proceeded to throw roadblock after roadblock in his path, preventing the surgery from happening for nearly three months. One time, the surgery had been scheduled to take place the night before my nephew's funeral, six hours away, so the family fretted over plans as we tried to figure out how to be present with our brother for his surgery, then drive six hours and arrive in time to be with our sister the morning of her son's funeral. It was actually a relief when they cancelled the surgery when the doctor supposedly "found" signs of kidney cancer in his blood-work. Mind you, none of this had shown up in the previous three pre-op blood-work tests, and, of course, he did not have cancer of any sort. It was the closest I have ever come to having a panic attack.

Another time the surgery was scheduled, but didn't happen, my husband and I had driven the three hours to the location, rented a hotel room, and were prepared to camp out until he was up and around. Prepped and shaved and ready to receive anesthesia, the surgery was cancelled one last time due to a miscommunication between the cardiologist and the surgeon. It was an emotional roller coaster for all of us all summer long, I can tell you.

My 2017 Vision Board, made each year in January 
in a workshop with my daughter. It requires taking 
time to consider and focus on what it is you want in
your life in the coming year. The results are always
I write about this only because I suspect that your life has these periods, as well. It is so easy to have plans derailed, and sometimes it is really important for us to turn our attention elsewhere and put aside whatever it was that seemed so important before the disastrous event occurred. It's okay. Yes, deadlines may loom, and freelance opportunities are waiting for your return, but it's very difficult, at least for me, to be creative on demand, and crisis-mode tends to inhibit that creativity temporarily. More importantly, there is never a time when the needs of my loved ones would take second place. There are simply moments when you need to be present for others.

I do admit, though, the delitght and joy that fills me when I can return to my work. Down the rabbit hole and immersed in my creative mojo is the place where my soul lives. Since life has settled down, I've made up for lost time. I have entered three writing call to entries, as well as Cleveland's Keep Talking storytelling call for entries on the theme of "medical." I have written drafts of two new stories, and worked on editing others. I am pulling together two new creativity workshops in hopes of presenting them at Hippocamp 2018. I have entered a regional juried art exhibition, and two national ones have deadlines looming. I'm ready with several new pieces.

This coming Friday curators and docents from the Cleveland Museum of Art will attend the exhibition I am so honored to be a part of, In the Details. Over the next few days, I need to finish preparing a seven minute presentation about my artwork. I'm on it. I know what I want to accomplish, and I keep working toward those goals. It makes me happy. It feeds my soul.

So, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back if you have been able to keep working toward the things you want to accomplish. If not, give yourself a break. Tomorrow is a new day.

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. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Beginnings and Endings

About Chris, a photomontage in progress
As my upcoming show installation date approaches, I am busy each day putting finishing touches on various pieces that I want to exhibit. (Please see the Upcoming Exhibits link for details of Memories Evoked: Circling Back Home.) In the process of digging through collage papers and found objects to complete a piece, the makings of a new piece sometimes comes together before my eyes. That is the case with a new piece I have just begun, About Chris, a detail of which is pictured here. I am so excited to finish it, a composition of art photos and throw-away pictures of trees held together by a large house image and this painting.

I have just finished Dream House tonight, a handmade book inside of a handmade, hinged house structure based on a dream. Here you see the accordion book part of the piece clipped and clamped for drying.

Dream House by Gayle Pritchard. Here you see the accordian book clipped for drying.

The book fits inside the house structure, and accordians out of the openings. After the clamps were removed, I washed the Yes! glue from the picture surfaces so I could sandpaper them. I then added oil pastel into the scratches. Click this link to see how I alter photographs.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Preparing to Exhibit

Painting fabric for "Fear of Flying:
My house is an absolute mess at the moment. Not only do I have to finish tax paperwork for my company, but I am in deadline mode for an upcoming exhibition. (Details are on my Upcoming Events page.) My desk in my office is covered with paper receipts, and my kitchen table has neat little piles of paper ready for entry into my computer. My studio tables are full with almost-finished pieces, bits and parts here and there, waiting to be put in place. The overflow from my large studio pieces sit on my dining room table, where it is easier to walk around the large works as I finish them. When I was younger, it seemed easier to juggle so many "to-do" items at once. Now it's harder. I need to rest more. Everything takes more time.

My vision board from last year
That said, today I am giving myself a gift of time. I am taking the afternoon with my daughter and several close friends to make a vision board for the coming year. My daughter is our guide. She first learned to create a Vision Board in the context of a Native American women's circle she was fortunate to sit with for many years. She will be sharing some of those teachings about the tribal Medicine Wheel as we create our own visions for the year to come.

It is important to give yourself time to think and plan, no matter how busy you are. For me, having dedicated time for myself scheduled into my calendar works well. I am looking forward to some quiet meditation today as I chart my course for the coming year.

Detail of my assemblage, in progress