Saturday, July 15, 2017

Clay Monoprints: Dreams, Visions, and Alternate Realities

Harmonic Convergence is the title of this clay monoprint.  I can tell I made it while at Mitch Lyons Open Studio last June, because it makes use of his wonderful round piece of lace.  (Mitch is the founder/inventor/master of clay monoprinting.)  I must remember to use it again when I am there in August. 

The one above is called Other Solar Systems.  I haven't put the wooden strips on the backs of this batch yet, like this:

That is how they will hang in my upcoming solo exhibit at Pendle Hill, the Quaker Study and Retreat Center, (October 5, 2017 through February 1, 2018.)  Jesse White, the Director of the Pendle Hill Arts and Spirituality Program, who invited me to do this exhibit, advised me on a kind of glue for the wood strips that won't bleed through the substrate.  It's called Magna Tac-809, and I had not heard of it before.  Jesse is a book artist so knew about it, and it solved the logistical problem of hanging.  To hang like this, unframed, reminds me of Chinese scrolls or Tibetan Tankas.

This one is titled Jacob and the Angels.  I photographed this batch on my dining room floor.  I have taken several workshops over the years on "how to photograph your art,"  and recently have simplified.  I discovered that if I wait for a good sunny day at an optimal time and pull up the dining room blinds, that the room is flooded with natural light that is far better than the artificial flood light set up I used to do in my studio.  My iPhone camera is excellent.  I make a tripod by resting my elbows on my knees so it is stable. 

 Here's a further sampling of this batch:

 Kiss is one of several smaller ones.  It's fun to work with different sizes. 

Mitch charges  .09 cents per square inch.  It makes sense to charge by the square inch, and gives a freedom to have a variety of sizes without worrying about how to price them.  I will be charging .06 cents a square inch. 

 Shore Heat:

Floating World:
This one is dedicated to the many happy hours I have spent watching leaves and blossoms fall into a stream and float along with the current.

 Guardian Angel:

Sea, Land, & Sky:

I'll post more later.  Tomorrow is the start of making a new batch!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Newsprint Trash Reclaimed

This newsprint could have been thrown in the trash.  In the process of clay monoprinting the clay slab is blotted with newsprint every time a new layer gets inlayed into the design.  I spent Saturday June 17th with Mitch Lyons, the originator of clay monoprinting, at his Open Studio in New London, PA.  

The images transferred to the newsprint were too interesting to me to just throw out.  I decided to save a selection, glue them into a notebook and coat them with gloss varnish to keep them from fading, hoping they will serve as a journal of the prints made that day, a reminder of some of the imagery.

This fragment includes beautiful Chinese decals.  Today, our handyman finally installed the air conditioner in my studio, so I am ready to roll (pun intended), and zero in on clay monoprinting for the summer.  In addition to moving forward with a new prints, I will hand finish prints already made before photographing and posting them. I  got a second slab from Mitch at Open Studio, so I will be able to work on two slabs at once.  I will spend another day at Open Studio with Mitch in August, and a three-day workshop with him over Labor Day weekend at Peters Valley School of Craft, but mostly I will have fun with it in my own studio. 

It's not only that I am preparing for a solo show of clay monoprints for the Tree Rooms Gallery at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat and conference center, that will run from October 5, 2017 through February 1, 2018.  It's that I love making clay monoprints!  It combines my love of monoprinting and image transfer with the tactility of clay, and offers possibilities for depth and layering that is unique to the clay process. It's wonderful to be able to make prints without a press. I suspect this process will be an important part of my art practice for years to come...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel - that's what this one should be called. The hovering figure that feels like a guardian angel was made by dipping a piece of bark in paper clay slip.  The bark burned out in the kiln, leaving a ceramic shape that I then coated with oxide stain and fired again.

I drew the bathtub in Brinton House, Room 26, when I was at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study and retreat center, for a 7-day silent Mindfulness Meditation Retreat last Spring.  The bathtub captured something of the quaintness and charm of staying in Brinton House.  Early in the retreat there was a rain storm with lots of thunder and dangerously close lightning.  An alarm was set off by the lightning, and the fire department showed up in a big red truck.  It was close, but not a direct strike. We were all OK, seemingly protected by a guardian angel. None of us had ever been so close to lightning strike, and we were shook up and scared...and then we went back to meditating.  What else?


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Art Camp for Seniors

Tomorrow will be the third day of a four day senior art camp, sponsored by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.  Don Stephens, above, teaches our drawing class.  It's at the Horticultural Center, which is a beautiful and conducive setting.  Last year was my first year, and I took watercolors. It's the same teacher this year, so I'll go over and say hello. It's a major social event.  Everyone keeps running into people they know from other times and other contexts.

It's fun for everyone.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

On Art Safari!'s motto is "Made in Philadelphia, read in Beijing, Brooklyn, and Berlin."  Their presence in Philadelphia goes a long way towards creating the 'community' part of the Philly arts community!  Yesterday, along with my friend Susan Turkel, we went on one of their Art Safaris, first to the Arthur Ross Gallery to see contemporary African American artist Willie Cole's exhibit, "ON SITE,"  and then to the Institute of Contemporary Art.  Both venues are part of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Arthur Ross Gallery is housed in the Fine Arts Library building, interesting architecturally in itself.

We were a small group, and got the red carpet treatment from the Director of the Ross Gallery, Lynn Marsden-Atlass.  She gave us back story tidbits from her conversations with Willie Cole, and insights about the work that would have been missing if I had seen the exhibit on my own.  

These two pieces, called "Chaos" and "Order" make use of high heels.

Cole has truckloads of shoes, especially high heels, among his supplies.  We were told that after a full day in the studio, he spends the evening with his family, and then returns to the studio around 11:00 pm and as a sketch, will rubberband groups of shoes together.  If he still likes it the next day, he will attach them together permanently.  These two were done that way:

I especially like the one below, called Louise in Heels. He did confirm to Lynn that it is hommage to Louise Nevelson.

Here is Louise Nevelson's Sky Cathedral, one of her all-black wood constructions:

I love what he captured of her in Louise in Heels!

Just as shoes "keep the shape, sweat, and smell of the person who wore them," so do water bottles "contain the individuals' DNA (breath, spit, and soul)."  

This large water-bottle structure hovered over the center of the Gallery - more like a giant floating jelly fish than a 'chandelier'.  Students helped assemble it, inserting an image printed on mylar of a man with his hands up, a target on his chest, in each water bottle. 

As a Dumpster Diver I feel a kinship Willie Cole's upcycling of discarded objects, and am in awe of his ability to transform ordinary things into magical and numinous art.

I was not much impressed or moved by the Myths of the Marble international group exhibit at ICA (The Institute of Contemporary Art).  It was interesting, in terms of artists' exploration of virtuality.  No surprise most of them are young.  It was however my first experience of wearing a virtual reality headset. (My grandson would have said "cool!"  For me it was a lot of hype over not much.) The discussion by the staff person was helpful, but sometimes felt like trying to spin dross into gold.

The exhibit upstairs, with paintings by Ginny Casey and sculptures by Jessi Reaves was more satisfying.  Casey's paintings have a surreal edge to them:

I had seen Jessi Reaves work at the Whitney Biennial, and enjoyed seeing more of it at ICA:

It was a great afternoon, thanks to theartblog's Art Safari!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

'Monoprint Mania' was well-named

"Monoprint Mania", the first day of a five-day intensive, was a lot of fun.  The black and white and red part of my print above was done in the morning, taught by Andrea Snyder.  The colored glazes were added in the afternoon module, taught by Christine Staughton.  

I love how Christine always references art history in her teaching.  I made the monoprint landscape above inspired by the monoprints of Degas that she showed us.  I was sorry to have missed the exhibit at MoMA last year of Degas' monoprints, but at least there are online images.  Here is an Autumn Landscape by Degas, (1890):

I did go to the second day of the intensive:  paste paper, gelli plates and more, taught by Meg Kennedy.  Two days were enough.  I needed the rest of the time to prepare to meet with Jesse White, the Director of Arts and Spirituality at Pendle Hill, the Quaker Study Center, who had asked me to have a solo exhibit of my clay monoprints from October 5, 2017 - February 1, 2018, in their Tree Rooms Gallery.  It's exciting, and I'll be busy all summer with a different kind of printmaking!  It was good to start the summer though with 'Monoprint Mania', as I gear up for clay monoprinting. 


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Whitney Biennial, A Few of My Faves

Melvin Chappell and I had a very exciting day at the Whitney Biennial in New York city last Wednesday.  The new building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, has so many terraces and lookout spots, it is a fun photo-op in itself.  

I love Larry Bell's six laminated glass cubes, Pacific Red II, 2017.  

 Here is Melvin, shooting me through the glass:

They can be seen from the terrace above, but don't give any indication of what it is like to actually look through them when you are next to them!  It has to be experienced.

This site-specific installation by Raul de Nieves also plays with reflections.  Born in 1983 in Morelia Mexico, he presently lives in Brooklyn.

We were there at the perfect time on a sunny day to get the full effect of reflections on both floor and walls.  The "stained glass" panels were made using paper, wood, glue, tape, beads, and acetate sheets.

Some of these are costumes the artist uses in his performances.Here is this figure from the back:

 The figure in white has an interesting face:


Its hands are fascinating, as is the pattern of the yarn.

The orange one is placed on a mirror as can be seen in the person's upside-down reflection.  It's hard to tell where the artwork ends and the reflection begins!

We took a break for lunch and a walk on the Highline.  This was visible very near the Whitney entrance to the Highline:

This intriguing wall poster, mural really, was almost completely removed by the time we walked back.  You still can get a feeling for it at this stage.

The Highline was beautiful as always, and so well maintained:

This view looks back towards the Whitney, showing its silhouette:

The Whitney itself likes to play with reflections. We shot this from an indoor lookout platform, until we were so dizzy we had to stop.  It is especially fun when the traffic below is moving, and reflected upside down.

The work below is by KAYA, a collaborative:  painter Kerstin Bratsch, sculptor Debo Eilers, and a girl named Kaya, who was 13 when they began working together in 2010.  It had many very large hanging tapestry-like pieces, which were somewhat dark, and included body bags as part of its mixed media. Even the docent called them "creepy."  But very beautifully creepy!  I  focused my shots on details, the glimmers of beauty amidst the darkness.

This one cast an interesting shadow on the wall:

Henry Taylor had many important and wonderful works in the exhibit.  Most of the publicity went to "The Times Thay Aint A Changing Fast Enough" (2017), which shows the fatal shooting of Philando Castile in his car by a Minnesota Police officer.

This one is called "The Fourth" (2012-17).  Were it not for the docent talk,  I would not have known that the building in the background is a prison, and the rooftop the place the prisoners exercise, which makes its meaning more mysterious.    

Horses appear in Henry Taylor's imagery repeatedly.  I am especially fond of this painting:

Here is a photograph by An-My Le, who was born in Saigon and now lives in Brooklyn:

We managed three docent tours during the day,  two on the Biennial, and one on the accompanying exhibit Fast Forward:  Painting From The 1980s with selections from the permanent collection, which was great history and context for the Biennial.  Melvin has made me a believer in docent tours!

It was a very happy, if exhausting, day. Here we are in front of a painting by Aliza Nisenbaum.