Friday, September 27, 2013

Decision Portraits at the University of South Carolina's Sumter gallery

(Above:  The pieces selected for the show in Sumter.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Decision Portraits, solo show at the University Gallery at USC Sumter, Sumter, SC. October 11, 2013 - January 27, 2014. A curated selection from the series. Artist talk and reception: Friday, October 11th from 5:30 - 7:30 PM. 

I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to once again share a selection of the 108 portraits in the Decision Portrait Series! The pieces that will be installed next Tuesday are:
Bald is Beautiful
Behind on the Mortgage
Blood Donor
Broken Nest
Cold Turkey
College Student
Death Wish
Drag Queen
Family Role Models
Fighting Illiteracy
First Love
For Science
Gift of Life
Happily Ever After Again
Happy Family
Husband II
Illegal Immigrant
Kidney Donor
Living with HIV
On Fighting Cancer I and II
Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse
Pro Choice
Pulling the Plug
Someone Else's Miracle
Soul Mates
Standing Up for Peace
State of the Economy
Tattoo Artist
Teenage Mother
Twenty-Five Years Sober

(Above:  The Button Dress ... photo from the ManneqART website. Photo by Irvin Simon Photographers.  Model:  Hannah Floyd.)

Although I've finished two large, stained-glass window pieces, I'm behind on my photography so will share these later.  Why am I behind?  Well, today Steve and I are headed to the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, Tennessee.  Believe it or not, I'm the featured speaker ... it is actually listed as such!  I'm very excited to be sharing ideas for non-traditional materials for fiber artwork as a source for inspiration.  (My husband Steve is supposed to take some photos.)  

From Tennessee, we are driving to the Horowitz Visual and Performing Art Center in Howard County, Maryland for the ManneqART gala.  The Button Dress has won the "Nightmare Award" of $500 plus tickets to this art/formal event.  What a weekend.  

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art.

Below is a personalized business card provided for the upcoming Washington Craft Show, November 1 - 3!  I can't wait!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Anniversary trip to New Mexico, a weekend in Hilton Head, and new work!

(Above:  Carlsbad Caverns.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

It is unusual for me to have a week gap in blogging.  It is much more unusual for me to neglect this blog for nearly two weeks but that's exactly what has happened.  It isn't that I'm not work or am somehow idle.  Far from it!  I'm BUSY and TRAVELING!

On September 12th Steve and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary by flying off to New Mexico.  We've always wanted to explore Carlsbad Caverns and knew we didn't really want to wait until we were in wheelchairs to do it ... though, it is quite easily possible!  So ... off we went for a wonderful, long weekend.

(Above:  These old tennis shoes totally disintegrated before we headed to the national park.)

There were a few glitches ... like our initial flight was cancelled.  We were rebooked on a totally different airline and arrived in Albuquerque three-and-a-half hours late.  This meant we didn't get to Carlsbad in time for the evening Bat Flight program.  We were disappointed ... until the next day ... when we learned that flash flooding in the area closed the park that night.  No one witnessed the bat flight at all.

Yet, before arriving at Carlsbad Caverns, we had another hilarious problem.  I brought these tennis shoes to wear in the cave.  Why?  Well, my "normal" athletic shoes are Skechers ... soft soled and have never been used anywhere except on my treadmill.  In the back of the closet, however, I found these harder soled tennis shoes.  I thought my mother must have given them to me.  (She says not!)  I don't know how long they've been in the closet but it has evidently been long enough (and hot enough ... as the closet is also where the pull down ladder to the attic is ... and it gets HOT in there all summer) that the shoes disintegrated almost immediately after I put them on.  We went to a nearby Wal-Mart.  I limped in ... sort of pulling the foot with the broken sole ... until the other shoe also fell apart! LOL!

 (Above:  At Wal-Mart purchasing a new pair of shoes!)

A nice sales lady cleaned up all the white, flaky foam from the floor and took me to the sales counter to pay for new shoes ... not in a box but walking out the door on my feet!  At about this time, we remember that it was Friday the Thirteenth!

(Above:  The visitors center at Carlsbad Caverns.)

Fortunately, that was the end of any bad luck for the day.  From this moment on ... Carlsbad Caverns was more than we dared hoped.  We went on the self guided tour through the natural entrance.

(Above:  The amphitheater for the daily bat flight program.)

This tour starts at the visitor's center, meanders through the roughed, New Mexican high desert, goes by the amphitheater for the daily bat flight program, and descends on a paved hairpin path into the cavern.

(Above:  Carlsbad Cavern.)

The path is just over a mile and filled with natural beauty.  The enormous space inside the earth is amazing.  Finally, we arrived in the Great Room, a void so large that the next self-guided tour is another mile and a half around the perimeter.  At no point, however, were we even aware of the distances.

 (Detail in Carlsbad Caverns.)

Both Steve and I took a lot of photos but most didn't turn out well due to the low light.  That's not to say that the lighting wasn't PERFECT!  It was!  The lighting was subtle, never in one's eyes, and such that it didn't add color to any formation.  What we were seeing was really there ... and it was GREAT!  We just didn't bring a tripod in order to shot better photos.  What I did keep can be viewed on a Flickr! set ... CLICK HERE

 (Above:  Bathroom .... 750 feet deep into the earth!)

We highly recommend Carlsbad Caverns.  It is fantastical ... like a totally different, gorgeous world.  After the two self-guided tours, we took a bathroom break at 750 feet below the surface and bought a bottled water at the subterranean kiosk.

(Above:  Elevators at Carlsbad Caverns.)

Then we rode one of the elevators back to the visitors center, had lunch, and assembled for the Lower Cave tour.  This unique experience was limited to ten adults (over sixteen) and was escorted by two park rangers.  We were introduced to the location and instructed in the proper fitting for provided gloves and battery lit hard hats!

(Above:  Knotted rope used to descend into Lower Cave.)

We were also told how to use the knotted rope for our descent into Lower Cave and how to "work as a team" while on the three metal ladders ... passing information down the line ... "On ladder" and "Off ladder" because these slippery ladders are only safe if one person uses them at a time.

(Above:  Steve on the rope ladder.)

The Lower Cave tour starts with an elevator ride back to the Great Hall ... and quickly comes to a steep passageway accessed by the rope ladder.  It was fun!

(Above:  Metal ladders at Lower Cave.)

After the rope ladder, there's the metal ladders and then the floating bridges!

(Above:  Floating bridges.)

Along the way, the rangers pointed out several unique formations and provided interesting facts about the cavern's history, geology, and about the bat colonies that call the place home.

(Above:  Park ranger illuminates a mummified bat ... trapped inside the stalgmite formation.)

The park rangers were really very, very good, patient, and fun.  Although the Lower Cave tour doesn't require crawling, there is one short section that is optional.  Of course we crawled!

(Above:  Steve crawling inside Lower Cave at Carlsbad Cavern.)

We saw "cave pearls", a mummified bat, areas that shifted with fault lines, and unique reflections of the "ceiling" in shallow pools of water before coming back to the subterranean kiosk where the tour ended.

(Above: Snowflake like cave formation.)

By the end of the day, we just had to "adopt a bat" for a $5 donation.  The packet included lots of information about the sixteen species of bats living in the caverns, about bat preservation and about white nose syndrome that is killing east coast bats.  It also had a picture postcard of your bat and a certificate of adoption!  Hilarious!

(Above:  Steve with our bat adoption certificate ... framed, of course!)

Of course we had to frame the adoption certificate.  We named our bat Bury!  Great name and a perfect way to spell it!

(Above:  Letter from the adopted bat.  Click on image to read it!)

The very best part of the packet, however, was the LETTER FROM YOUR BAT!  Totally wonderful and worth the $5 donation in and of itself ... even though we never actually got to see any of the bats!

(Above:  Washed out road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings visitors center.)

Although every news program was covering the flooding in Colorado, there was plenty of rainfall and wash-outs in New Mexico too ... including the road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings ... our next destination.

(Above:  Gila Cliff Dwellings.)

We got lucky in many respects.  The Gila Cliff Dwellings were closed the day before we arrived and closed the day after we visited.  On the day we went, only the road to the visitors center was washed away.  The day, however, was gorgeous.

(Above:  Gila Cliff Dwellings.)

The trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings was lovely.  The historic 14th century ruins were amazing.

(Above:  View from inside the cave.)

The park rangers were informative and the views were terrific.  One would never guess that nearby areas were flooding away!  We never it made it to El Murro.  The bridges across the San Francisco River were all closed!  Yet, we really, really loved this western area of New Mexico!

(Above and below:  Gila Cliff Dwellings.)

We particularly loved D and D's Organic Haven, a bed and breakfast!  The place was a paradise!

(Above and below:  Breakfast at D and D's Organic Haven.)

Our time at D and D Organic Haven was one of the best parts of the trip.  It was quiet, relaxing, and a place to contemplate the natural beauty of the high New Mexico desert.  I created another Flickr! set for all my photos from the Gila Cliff Dwellings and other parts of New Mexico HERE.

(Above:  Petting the cat at D and D Organic Haven.)

I don't usually just SIT and STARE and pet a cat for the sake of it.  Relaxing in New Mexico was wonderful!  We soaked in the hot tub, watched a thunderstorm in the distance, and ate from the garden.

(Above:  View from D and D Organic Haven.)

After returning from New Mexico on Monday night, Steve and I plowed into the custom picture framing that waited for our attention.  It was a "short week" since last weekend was another opportunity to leave Columbia.  This time we went for a visit to my parent's time share in Hilton Head.  I finally got to go down the water slide at Marriott's Barony club.  Such fun!  Thank you Mom and Dad for another great weekend away.

(Above:  My Dad and Mom with Steve in Hilton Head.)

When we returned from Hilton Head we had a great surprise.  My mentor, the highly talented Stephen Chesley, assembled a wooden cairn from some of the slabs of our old pecan tree ... right on the old stump!  We ate outside just to enjoy it a bit more!

With all this traveling, one might assume that I've gotten nothing creative accomplished!  Far from it!  Below are the three newest "In Box" series pieces.  I've also got another, large Stained Glass fiber piece on the stretcher bars for melting and a second one with its stitching nearly complete.  Plus, I finalized the details of a solo show for a curated group of the Decision Portraits to be on view at the University of South Carolina's Sumter branch from October 11 - January 27!  (More about this later!)

(Above: In Box CXVII.  Unframed:  14" x 10.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  Polyester stretch velvets, metallic foil, chiffon scarves with self-guided free-motion machine embroidery on recycled, black acrylic felt.)

(Above: In Box CXVIII. Unframed:  28" x 16".  Framed: 34" x 22".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

(Above: In Box CXVI. Unframed:  14" x 10.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Work and Anniversary trip to New Mexico!

(Above:  Signature block on Stained Glass L.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Today my mat board delivery came in the morning.  By the afternoon I had two newly finished Lunette Series pieces mounted ... plus a recently finished large, faux stained glass fiber creation.  I stayed very busy because, in addition to framing these pieces, I was trying to tie up any loose ends before leaving Columbia for a long weekend in New Mexico!

(Above:  Lunette IX.  Unframed: 17" x 21".  Framed:  23" x 29". Polyester stretch velvets fused with previously painted, heat-activated adhesives and metallic foil under chiffon scarves on a substrata of recycled, black acrylic felt with soldered holes and melting.  Click on image to enlarge.)

My husband Steve and I were married 32 years ago.  Yes ... it seems like only yesterday!  During the three+ decades, we've visited plenty of caves:  Luray Caverns; Mammoth Cave in Kentucky; Old Man's Cave in Ohio; the ice caves in Werfen, Austria; caves outside Buxton in England; Kartchner Caverns in Arizona; several small caves in California as well as various gold and silver mines; plus others underworld locations.  We aren't spelunkers but we do enjoy the natural wonders found in these subterranean locations.  We've always wanted to go to Carlsbad Caverns and figured that we'd better go soon.  If we waited too long, we knew we'd likely have to roll in with all the other senior citizens coming in their wheelchairs and going to the one area of this cave that actually has an elevator!  Imagine ... an elevator in a cave!  Anyway, we've been exercising regularly, getting prepared and going ... tomorrow ... returning late Monday night!  We are very excited!

(Above:  Lunette X.)

Like normal, we packed about an hour ago.  That took about five to ten minutes.  We may technically be "old", but we are experienced travelers.  We go with the flow!  We each packed two different outfits for the cave because there is a remote possibility that we will be required to change clothes between our two booked tours.  (There's something about carrying in harmful substances that could affect the native bat populations.)  Yes, we've booked two tours!

(Above:  Stained Glass L. Click on image to enlarge.)

We thoroughly read all the available tours and decided that we were already too old to crawl on hands-and-knees through narrow openings ... but that we are NOT too old to descend down rope ladders.  This coming Friday the Thirteenth, we are headed underground ... so ... if CNN or Google news features a couple being life-flighted out of the New Mexican National Park, it is only us admitting that we were older than we thought! LOL!  I promise to take load of photographs from this adventure!

(Above:  Stained Glass L.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Finally, I found the photo below on Facebook.  It was taken last week during "First Thursday" on Main Street.  Steve and I wrote a line on the public art project called "Before I Die".  We've written the same line on the same public art project in two other different cities!

(Above:  Steve and me participating by writing a line on the "Before I Die" public art project.  We wrote:   Before I/we die, I/we want to have my/our son Alex back in my/our life(s).  It is a hope.  Alex will turn 23 while we are returning from New Mexico.  Happy Birthday, Alex!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Connecting Concept & Materials Reception and new piece ... Enigma!

(Above:  Art reception.  Me with The Last Bouquet, fiber art installation in Connecting Concept & Materials: Fiber Arts in South Carolina, an invitational exhibition at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, Pickens, SC.)

Saturday evening was wonderful.  Steve and I drove to Pickens for the opening reception for Connecting Concept & Materials: Fiber Arts in South Carolina, an invitational exhibition.  I'm honored to have several pieces in this show including a selection of Grave Rubbing Art Quilts, my Spool Cradle, The Leaf Dress, and this installation.  It is always a big, big deal when an executive director asks for an artist to create site specific work, and this one was so much fun.  I truly loved transforming the circular alcove into a sacred setting with a mountain of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters and over thirty chiffon banners covered in free motion stitched epitaphs.  Love, love, love doing this ... and I think the result is just great.

 (Above:  Weaver Alice Schlein, art quilter Terry Jarrard-Dimond, and me.)

Yet, I was most excited to meet several artist whose work I have long admired.  The names of the artists showing work in this exhibit is incredible!  What talent we have in this state ... including weavings by Alice Schlein and art quilts by Terry Jarrard-Dimond.

(Above:  Gail Sexton and Marilyn Wall in front of Marilyn's work which Gail quilted. Marilyn also had her own personal work featured in the show.)

I was quite eager to meet Marilyn Wall too.  In fact, Marilyn agreed to transport a large stash of recycled, black acrylic felt back to Georgia ... to give away in the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) booth at the Cobb County Quilt show. 

 (Above:  Marilyn's vehicle with the recycled felt in it!)

Serendipitously, our cars were beside one another in the parking lot.  Our husbands transferred the felt from vehicle to vehicle.  There's nothing quite like art quilters to arrange free recycled fabrics!

 (Above:  Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Jim Arendt, and me.)

I was also so eager to finally meet the talented Jim Arendt.  His work has won Best of Show at Fantastic Fibers in Paducah and, more recently, the top $50,000 Prize at Artfields, a 10-day festival in Lake City, South Carolina.  Jim was at the reception with his wife and two adorably cute daughters (aged seven and four.)  I stood with Marilyn while Jim was engaged in another conversation.  I think we both sort of felt a little star-struck.  We introduced ourselves and said how thrilled we were to finally meet him.  Unexpectedly, Jim's wife corrected my statement by saying, "Oh we've meet before!"  I shrugged this off saying, "Well, probably just in the same room at another art reception."  Well, NO!  She smiled and explained that she was, in fact, right.  About ten or twelve years ago, they lived down the street from us.  We'd met at a local microbrewery, Hunter-Gatherer (our regular hangout at the time).  She asked about our elder son Mathias ... did he continue dancing?  She asked about Alex too.  I was stunned. 

Honestly, this encounter hasn't triggered the slightest recollection of our meeting.  It has, however, made me think about time and memories (my constant concepts) in a new light.  How is it that they remembered us but we don't remember them?  What makes something memorable?  How much of our every day lives get lost in only a few short years?  Fascinating!  Inspirational!  Just what I hoped to gain by meeting these special fiber artists ... just in a totally unexpected way!

(Jim Arendt with his work .... PANTS ON!)

We all talked about our upcoming fiber art plans and opportunities and some of the shows in which we've had work.  Jim talked about this piece.  He added the denim shorts when the work was exhibited in a solo show in the Sumter Gallery of Art.  His daughters cheered for him ... to take off the pants.  There was almost an air of David Rose and his Orchestra's rendition of The Stripper ...

 (Jim Arendt and his work .... pants off!)

 ... when he pulled off the shorts.  His girls cheered.  One said, "Private parts."  "Yes", their mother said in a very matter-of-fact way, "Everyone has private parts".  There's something very wonderful about this family.  The two girls absolutely know that showing REAL "private parts" in public is "wrong".  They also know that nudes are totally appropriate as an artistic subject.  There was no embarrassment, no lengthy conversation, sense of shame, or indecency.  There was nothing but ART.  Jim Arendt also added that he completely understood why the Sumter Gallery of Art (and Pickens) elected to show the work with "the pants on".  That's okay too!  Tolerance!  Acceptance of different points of view ... easy going, natural, and always creative.  No wonder I was star-struck.  Wish I could remember Jim and his wife from ten to twelve years ago! 

 (Above:  Scraps of polyester stretch velvet all with Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web ironed to the reverse.)

So ... two blog posts in a row about art receptions.  Please don't think I haven't been working.  I have been working.  In fact, I've created so many "Stained Glass" series pieces that the scraps of polyester stretch velvet overtook my table top.  It was time to "do something about it".  I cut the scraps up into as many squares and rectangles as possible.  These are now being working into "In Box" series pieces.  Yet, I couldn't quite bring myself to toss all the smallest bits.

(Above:  Enigma, in process.)

I started ironing all the tiniest pieces onto a piece of recycled, black acrylic felt.  Another layer of previously painted WonderUnder/Bond-a-Web went over the top.  I added a bit of silver metallic foiling and a dark blue chiffon scarf.  At that point, I took the photo above.  From there, I free motion stitched ... creating a focal point from which the lines seemed to emerge.  Finally, I melted little lines through the piece using a fine tipped soldering iron and melted the edges.

(Above:  Enigma.  Polyester stretch velvets on recycled, black acrylic felt with free motion stitching and melting.  Unframed:  17" x 13".  Framed:  29 1/2" x 25 1/2".  Click on image to enlarge.)

I matted and framed the piece.  I'm very pleased with it ... and still waiting on a new shipment of mat board in order to show what else I've finished!

Today was also a wonderful day ... so great that I forgot to snap a photo.  Regina Dunn, an art quilter from Florida, and her husband stopped by on their way to visit family in Charlotte!  Oh well ... maybe next time I'll remember my camera!  I hope to see Regina again at Mary McBride's Focus on Fiber Retreat next March where I'll be teaching my HOT workshop!