Sunday, February 12, 2017

Traveling to see ART

 North Georgia- Not far from Helen, GA, I found this gallery housed in an old school. Added onto the school was the museum of pottery from the southern Appalachians. A person was nice enough to share the packet that new artists receive when they apply for this gallery. of all the places I traveled, this was probably the most like our own little gallery in Kimberling City. Since it was an old school, there are two separate rooms across the hall from each other housing the gallery. then there's a classroom and then a couple rooms dedicated to the history of that area.
 I found that the subject matter varied greatly in this gallery. It wasn't consistent in terms of quality or delivering a sense of place.
 I would one of the few things of significant historical relevance is an indian mound that someone built a gazebo on top of. It's there and you can see it driving by. It's in a field that you cannot access. The Smithsonian devoted time to a dig and then collected all that was found there. Once they got the museum up and running, they requested one piece back and this was it.
 North Georgia pottery( or southern Appalachian pottery) was also studied by the Smithsonian. The people involved were collected as examples of living history. For the most part, they were very utilitarian pieces, like jugs and crocks, churns, etc.. Mostly salt glazed and, therefore, not very colorful. The exception seems to be these face jugs that show some humor, or horror.
 Brad Walker, a potter in Dehlonega, Ga, creates interesting pieces and adds a note to the person who buys it in each one- supposedly. He was closed when I was there.  The trials of traveling in weekday, winters. there was a coop gallery opened and I spent quite some time talking with the artists there. I asked quite a few questions about how they are set up, how they deal with different issues, costs associated, etc... One interesting thing to note about Dehlonega has to do with gold and one building has a gold steeple. It's an iconic image they use to their advantage. One artist did a copy of Van Gogh's Starry night but added that gold steeple nestled in the town. I believe it was a mural somewhere, but she had cards of it as well.
 Charleston, SC-  This was my first time visiting this town and it's something really special. One thing struck me was that most scenery in the shops are very impressionistic in style. Charleston does a really great job of capturing a sense of place in most of the work I saw. In addition, there's a good tourist market for selling items based on the ornate grill work or the sign names of restaurants there. It is a foody kinda town. This town has so much history to draw from and everything is in fabulous shape. You would never imagine that house you walked by was built in the 1700's, or 1800's, etc..  It's southern, it's coastal, it's Gulah. The coop galleries seemed to understand the tourist market that drives the area. They seem to run similarly to ours.
 Coastal Gulf- I did not get to go into many galleries. just one in Destin and it was owned by a woman who does watercolor paintings. She has brought in other sorts of artists to round out the look, but all the paintings were hers and they were rather uneven watercolors. I liked a few of them, but mostly, they seemed unfinished. The subjects were strongly coastal and sea life related. I did go into my favorite commercial gallery, The Zoo Gallery, and it's a mix of interesting pricey pieces and commercial funky.
Pensacola train bridge
 New Orleans- Last year, I really got to explore New Orleans for the first time. I had just a 1/2  a day here this time and I knew to zero in or Royal street. What struck me this time after seeing Charleston, was just how shabby it all looks. It has a lot of similarities in terms of history and architecture, by Charleston takes better care of their stuff and New Orleans enjoys the not so perfect parts of life. New Orleans' art is bold and quirky and odd at times. It varies widely in styles, but also rather trendy. I mean, last time these colorful wonky depictions of houses were in Jackson square, now they are everywhere!
 I like the big VooDoo doll in the mid ground. There were a few people making cute voodoo dolls (not creepy) in wood, metal and paintings.
 I really like these that are somewhere between a doll and sculpture.

Jackson Square and an example of colorful art. I can't tell you how many galleries had dog paintings in them. Of course, the most famous is the Blue Dog, but he's high scale now and so this is what we have. There's someone doing pastel looking cats too. So, most of the galleries are either single artist galleries or a mix that fits together somehow. (subdued, funky, bright, etc..) I listened to a man and his wife argue over a painting. He loved it ($800) and she kept saying it didn't go with anything in their home. It was one of those wonky bright house paintings. I imagined her home to be all magnolia pastels.
  The lesson I always take home from New Orleans is that you can make art from anything. I saw a young man drawing houses on wood with ball point pens and having them for sale for $20. My favorite is Fleetwood Covington (fab name right?) who draws on rusted tin roof pieces with charcoal and conte pencil- black and white. Amazing!
 In all my travels, I only saw one person who is working in fabric as art. Chris Roberts-Antieau has her own gallery on Royal street. That's it.
 So, a whirlwind tour from the obscure to the famous. I enjoyed the heck out of it all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


thinking about adding the brim to this piece. Basically, is the mermaid totally underwater, or in a cave with some water in it?

Monday, January 23, 2017

January work

 I've been continuing to re-evaluate my art on my days off from work. Things had gotten so messy around here that I've spent quite a lot of time sorting through and getting rid of several things. Books and magazines, extra art supplies, and so on, streamlining and focusing on my core loves.
  I'm focused on creating a piece for VisionCon and maybe some smaller things. To that end, here's my progress on both projects. Above is the progress so far of the art piece for it- a mermaid in a cave. It's at the bare beginning, but I think you can get a feel for the direction it's heading in. Below are a few of the barrettes I'm making. I'm going to try to cover most geeky subjects. I'm still working out the best way to create these and learning a lot as I go.

Now for some bad news. The quilt I submitted for a quilt show honoring women and their accomplishments was not juried in. What? you say. uh yeah, it happens and it feels really crappy. So, for a few days, you walk around in a funk and you second guess every single thing you did to make this. Since it's happened to me before, I'd felt crappy before and I probably will again. it's the price you pay (literally) when you put yourself out there. You question yourself, the jurors, the others' art, all sorts of things- but, in the end, hey, those two people didn't like my work. Ok. 
  What it leaves me with is a quilt that I don't know what to do with. Thus, the creation trap we fall into when we pursue shows. This show required a specific size, a certain format, a certain subject assigned to you (from a choice you submitted) and now it is too small for most other shows, too specific for others, in short- it was made for a particular show and it is not in that show now. I could get all philosophical about how every piece is worthy and teaches you something but- yeah lessons learned.  

So here's some I learned. Only make art about things you truly love or feel strongly about. Be true to your own artistic journey. Speak with your own artistic voice and then you can stand strong behind your work.
   So, lessons learned- Stop doing these shows that restrict you by size and techniques. Stop trying to fit your life into these themes. Only do art that you feel strongly about. And- personally for me- stop equating your artistic success with shows/sales. Relax. you've got a job- make art you love.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas

I am writing this on my new computer that has an e key and I'm thrilled to be able to just write and not have to go back and correct for that missing e all the time.
 Having a new computer is a bit like moving into a new house. It's similar, but there's a lot of things in the wrong place and it takes a while to settle into the new space.
 I am still working this week five days and it's a bit crazy and chaotic, and I look forward to the next week of counting and get sad. It's also time when we're all a bit anxious for it to be over.
 I have applied to a new opportunity to show my work and we'll see what comes of it. I don't think they really know what they want, so I'm not sure what the project will end up being. It definitely isn't shaping up to be my vision of what could be there- I imagine salon style displays and multiple artists involved. I think they are looking for a few and divided in sections. Oh well. It's a shot at what I'd really like to see happen- my art on display without me having to be there. LOL
  Between this opportunity and another, my mind is weaving a bit- how to stay true to the direction I want to head in personally, adapt to sell-able smaller pieces as well as address a creepy theme for another exhibit and produce at a high level to keep up.
  I had a discussion with a fellow art traveler the other day and I pointed out her goal of an arts center might be getting the cart before the horse, as she has no art programs yet. Not many would be willing to renovate a building for a group that has no programs. So, she said maybe I should propose a class she could promote. I answered that I am not really interested in teaching how to make art (procedures) but much more interested in why we make art.
  In my opinion, that discussion is sadly lacking in the local art groups I've belonged to. I've seen some really bizarre things this year at art meetings. I'm wanting to see some bottom line numbers in some projects / galleries people have done. I'm willing to take a chance on some things, but I'm not looking to lose money on a regular basis. I'd like to see what the local Arts Council is trying to do and how successful they are. Seems like they should have some numbers to show for their efforts now.
  Anyway- I'm enjoying the process of pin pointing my thoughts a bit more.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Life after noise

  I've been marginally successful with cutting down on the noise in my life. I find I don't miss the online group at all. Even though I've cut myself off, I still ended up having a piece in Houston and still heard about the controversy involving copied art there again. My only comment to that was to acknowledge it and realise there's no fighting it. Remaining FB friends with those still fighting the good fight kept me in the loop but I have no interest in fighting it any longer.
  I've been examining some groups I belong to- re-evaluating their usefulness. I might keep one, drop the other and I joined up with a new group I'm excited about. I am concerned that, while I can think up projects, I can't execute them with the speed others can. Between work and that my medium takes longer, I just can't get to production phase just yet.
  I'm going back to focus on two themes I want to work in and I have a couple ideas I want to pursue within those larger themes. The idea of archeology- digging into your past, layering work and the second is regionalism.
  I have grown tired of some of the more traditional ways to achieve success in the arts. I tried the quilt show route, the gallery route and a long time ago I did the craft/ art show route. None of them are particularly rewarding. I've grown a bit cynical, but I'm really tired of the "pay to play" system that is pervasive in the art world. Too many artists are out there spending money they get from elsewhere (their spouses, their retirement, their other job) to try to show their art in places that don't pan out financially. Why do it?
 So off the merry-go-round I go and away from the Carnival life to where it's quiet and personal. I have a need to hear my own voice and luckily, I can do that for now. Perhaps, at the end, I'll be able to show what I've been thinking.
  But first, I finish this season of work and prepare for Christmas, so no physical art for me for some time. I'm in my fallow stage, thinking, considering, sketching, planning which is arguably, my favorite part of creation.

Monday, August 08, 2016


  There is too much noise in my life these days.
 My septic tank blower has a high pitched noise that greets me every morning on my way to the car. Sometimes there's also an alarm for the blower or the pump (especially if the ground has been saturated) sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the alarm and the blower's normal sound.
  Too much noise at work. Between loud families, summer camps and crying babies, it often gets too much for me. Today I got an award. it came with some really loud banging on something, cheers, claps and quite a few of my bosses. So, my first thought was to get away, my second was wondering what I did wrong, and the next was having them all congratulate me. It took me an hour to get over it. During that hour, I thought, "This. This right here proves I'm an introvert." I appreciate that I won something, but I could do without the fanfare.
   So noise. Some of it I cannot control, some I can.In that vein, I'm taking myself off the quilt list. I'm withdrawing from memberships. The noise has gotten to me. Pushed me in directions I'm not happy about. Pushed me into unhappiness in general.
  I've been busy trying to figure out how to get ahead. How to move forward. How to get past where I am. I've been pulled this way and that with my art being defined by a theme or size, compromised by other's vision. I've lost mine. Every interesting thought I've had to move in a direction has been modified by, "when I'm done working on this project for this show".
  I've been so busy defining things, defining what is NOT, that I don't have any time for what might be for me. I really don't need to keep defining things for myself. I need to give myself the time to make what I want.
  The noise of being connected makes me unhappy. It points out that there are pretentious people, too gregarious for my tastes. It points out that I am not good girlfriend material. It blares bad humor and complaints daily. It makes me angry, jealous, leaves me feeling despair and makes, "It's not a level playing field" almost a daily mantra.
 No more. Since when did I need someone's approval for anything I thought or did? If I don't know about it, I can't feel bad and I do not deserve to feel bad about my life. My life is pretty darned good, actually. I have a husband I love and who loves me. I have a home and a family. I have a job I love doing and people I love working with.
 And so I turn to Julia Cameron for some words of wisdom to get back in touch with myself and do what I love. Time to remember again.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


I usually don't discuss politics, religion or public policy anywhere except at home. I often disagree with co-workers, some friends and some family about issues. But, in this case, I'm just thinking out loud for awhile.
  My father's family from England were among the first to settle this land. I have several generations before the Revolutionary War even occurred.  So when I say I'm an American with no hyphen it's safe to say. While some people celebrate their family history, Mayflower families, DAR, etc.. by joining clubs, I have not.
 Despite this history, my Father found himself the oldest of 12 children, raised during the depression to a life that was already mostly poor. Scratch out a living on a mountain top, barely getting enough food and have the space for a cash crop for other food stuffs. Obviously, hunting was a big part of keeping the family alive.
  Then WWII happened and he enlisted, as most patriotic, young men did. His travels were convoluted, but it's enough to say that he started the war on the coast of Africa, through Morocco, into Italy, then onto D-Day plus 3, and on into Germany where, his finally injury was severe enough to get a trip back to the states. He was wounded 4 times, lost and survived behind enemy lines, survived a landing that is seldom spoken and on and on. He also came home "shell shocked" or what is now called PTSD that lasted for years.
  He loved Guns. He was a member of the NRA. He continued to hunt the rest of his life and he opened a small gun shop in our home. He talked about every aspect of guns and I was raised with guns in my home, easily accessed, not under lock and key and never even thought about touching one without permission, even as a small child. In fact, the two sets of encyclopedias were in the hallway, on the shelves just below the guns and we certainly were encouraged to go there.
  So, why didn't it occur to me? I knew I'd be in trouble. They were off limits and I knew it and I knew there would be trouble in the form of a whipping if I did touch them. I received a 22 for my 12th Birthday. I still didn't touch it without permission or a purpose. I went hunting with him on occasion. I saw him proud of me for killing a rattlesnake. I saw him angry at hunters who were killing birds and leaving them because they were not edible. Senseless killing. I saw first hand that if you shoot it, you eat it, even weird stuff. I saw him exasperated with me walking too loud and scaring the game through the woods, until I learned how to walk quietly.  I learned he bought cookies and candy for his trips we normally didn't get because Mom wasn't there.
  He needed the peace of the woods to survive. Society irritated him. Noise bothered him. Too many cars, people, stupid people made him irritable. The woods brought him peace and providing for us did as well.
  I wonder what he would be thinking now about the NRA. There are those in my family who believe that he would probably be still supporting them. But I wonder. Because he was against senseless killing, even birds. Because he wasn't interested in target practice, but bringing home food. But he would be interested in the swift rounds. The mechanics of the semi automatic rifles would probably be interesting enough that he's want to own one or two. But, how would he feel about putting a gun in the hands of small children? The grow with you guns? He never put one in my hands before the age of 12. The age of judgement. When you understand it's not a toy, and dangerous. I'm pretty sure he would not be in favor of that. Nor would he be in favor of putting guns in the hands of those not capable of judgement, mentally ill, and I'm very sure he saw all the killing of people he cared to see in the War.
  My thoughts are this. I understand what it's like to hunt and feed yourself from the animals you raise or hunt and the vegetables you raise. There's an effort to growing food that makes you appreciate it more. I think no child should have a gun before the age of discernment. If that's 12, so be it, but I know some teens that have none yet. It's not an age but the realization that life matters and taking a life matters more. When you take something dangerous and make it a toy, a hobby, something to play around with, you end up with grown men accidently shooting their friend, a child accidently shooting another, or being temporarily angry and doing something you regret for a lifetime.