Sunday, September 8, 2019

"in the collection of the artist"



When I took my clay monoprints over to Sweet Mabel Gallery a few days ago for my current exhibit, these two were not included.  They are "in the collection of the artist."

The first is called "Mystery."  It is indeed a mystery to me.  The full sheet wasn't successful and I had mixed feelings about it.  I decided to take a 12" x 12" crop to make a clay monoprint tile i.e. to mount it on mat board so that it can hang without being under glass.  To include both the feather and the dragonfly, I got a 12" x 12" composition that I wouldn't likely have otherwise chosen, and I like it.

This was my first use of a new hamsa stencil, and it fit well in the space.  I first used gold acrylic, forgetting that acrylic doesn't work with the substrate used in clay monoprinting unless it is liquid acrylic.  I waited for it to dry and tried brown watercolor on top of it.  By this time it felt like all was lost, so I might as well experiment.  A third coat of liquid acrylic gold on top finished it in a way I didn't expect.  I love it. It sits on the bookshelf in my office where I look at it often.

This second one is called "Self-Portrait with Hat," and it hangs in my studio.  I honestly don't know how I did it.  I am grateful for the spontaneous and unexpected nature of clay monoprinting.  It keeps me open to surprise.






Friday, July 12, 2019

The Tide is Turning


My favorite home-made sign at Philadelphia's rally and march today recalls Lady Liberty and the poem written on her base. This was one of hundreds of protests, vigils, marches, and demonstrations throughout the country, and some globally as well.  I'm glad to have been part of it.



The crowd was swelled by folks who were attending the national Netroots Nation Conference which was meeting in the Convention Center, right where the march began.  They were identifiable by their ubiquitous orange name tags lanyards:



It was heartening to see that the majority of them were millennials and Gen Xers.  Many had "first time attendee" ribbons attached to their name tags.  Who are they?  On the Netroots Nation website it says:

"Our attendees are online organizers, grassroots activists and independent media makers. Some are professionals who work at advocacy organizations, progressive companies or labor unions, while others do activism in their spare time. Attendees can choose from 80+ panels, 60+ training sessions, inspiring keynotes, caucuses, film screenings and lots of networking and social events."

How appropriate that this year their annual conference is in the home of the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center - and just happened to coincide with the Lights for Liberty action.  Seeing so many young activists and feeling the synergy being created gave me hope and a certainty that the future of our democracy is in good hands.  

Some of the march's signs were hand-made:







Berks County Residential Center is an ICE detention center in Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia.  



Some signs were already printed - and in a variety of forms:












It was a newsworthy day.



We'll see what kind of news coverage is given to hundreds of events nationally and around the globe.  We were in the heart of downtown at lunchtime.  People left their offices and were on the streets watching, taking photos and video.  Tourists were watching from atop their tour buses.  Most seemed interested and sympathetic.  A large flank of police on electric bikes made sure that traffic around city hall was stopped for the march so that we could safely take over the busiest of streets.  Some of them had immigrant names themselves. I wondered how many of them were marching with us in their hearts.





Monday, May 13, 2019

Scene on the Streets of Amsterdam


Bicycles are a major mode of transportation on this flat terrain.  They have their own lane on the streets, and pedestrians have to be careful not to get run over by them!  We were told that the construction in front of our hotel for an expanded canal will for the first time include bicycle parking under the canal!

Older folks sometimes rode electric bikes:



Bikes have many variations:







Other things seen on the streets:




















It was a wonderful celebration of our twenty-fifth anniversary!




















Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Clay Monoprinting: The Next Phase


The clay monoprint workshop with Mitch Lyons at Peters Valley School of Craft over Labor Day weekend 2017 was my idea of happy.  I miss Mitch so much, yet at the same time I feel his presence and his encouragement. He always said "let me know how it goes," regarding any experiment, no matter how crazy, and enjoyed seeing his many students find their own unique paths.


The quote on the front of the brochure at Mitch's Celebration of Life says it all.  

His death on March 5, 2018 was a deeply sad loss for so many people.  I felt lost and unable to make any new clay monoprints until after his Celebration of Life on April 28th at the Delaware Contemporary.    

It helped to go out to his studio, visit with his wife Meredith, and look through all his flat files to select a clay monoprint for over our mantelpiece.  I also picked a small one which hangs unframed next to the door in my studio, so I see it many times a day:


It is the only one I found where he wrote in the margin, here noting the date of a tung oil experiment.  

I'm slowly growing into what I need to do, now that I can't just rely on Mitch.  I used to order 20 sheets of Reemay at a time from him.  (Reemay is the non-woven industrial substrate that acts as the 'paper').  Now I have my own industrial roll of Reemay, 40" wide and 30 yards long.  A friend will come over soon and take 15 yards of it.

When one of my wooden slabs, the printing matrix, was warped or had gotten mildewy from the need to keep the clay moist when not in use on a daily basis, I just purchased another one from Mitch.  With Mitch gone I considered building my own slabs.  The directions are quite clear in his book:


For me, it would be like changing the oil in my car myself.  I decided to ask my new handyman to do it, and xeroxed the pages with the specifications from Mitch's book for him.  He realized that the plastic lining of the wooden board was meant as a moisture-barrier between the clay and the wood, and suggested azek, a synthetic polymer that is impervious to moisture. The universe sent me a new handyman who is himself an artist.  I am grateful for these synchronicities, and I now have azek slabs! I filled this one with stoneware clay:




It felt strange to put the clay down directly on the azek, rather than on a plastic liner.  I'll have to get used to this.


A scraping stick is then used to level the slab.  To store it until I am ready to make some clay monoprints,  I cover it with damp rayon in a plastic box.  (It's important to use a synthetic fabric rather than cotton.  I was told this, but used cotton at first and found out its truth the hard way..)



Under-the-bed storage boxes are a good size for this, with the advantage that they can be stacked and have wheels. 


It's all an experiment.  I'll let you know how it goes, Mitch.







Monday, June 11, 2018

Just what is Clay Monoprinting? Watch the Video!



This video is from my Artist's Talk in October 2017 at my exhibit "Clay Monoprints:  Dreams, Visions, and Alternate Realities" at Pendle Hill.  At the time I assumed there would be many more open studio times to make prints together with Mitch Lyons, the guy who developed it all...the father of clay monoprinting.  Keilan Barber, my gifted video editor, started work many months after the talk.  Little did I know that Mitch would no longer be with us by the time I posted the video.  He is greatly missed.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

THE SOUL OF SOLES


This is Jean Shin's wonderful installation currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which I am glad to have seen today.  "Worn Soles" creates a pattern on the floor."Hide," hanging from the ceiling, is meticulously stitched together from the uppers of the soles on the floor:


I was reminded of the Willie Cole exhibit I saw last June at the Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania:



 He works extensively with shoes - truckloads of them.  This one is called "Order":



 I love his fanciful shoe sculptures:




Mr. Cole has many fascinating videos on YouTube talking about his work.

Then there is Chiharu Shiota, whose installation I saw at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. in 2015:


She had people write write notes that told stories about each particular shoe.  The note attached to the sneaker below says (translated from the Japanese):  "The time they were worn: November 2005 to October 2007. Place: from my home to my work place and the pilgrimage of Shikoku’s 33 temples. The memory: These were familiar shoes. When it rained, water went into the shoes. At the end of the life of the shoes, I wore them only when it was nice out. When I did the Western pilgrimage of the 33 temples they served my purpose very well. In addition, every time I went out running, the laces became loose." 



Each of these three artists is quite different; each makes use of shoes in their own unique way.  What they have in common is being touched by the life of ordinary everyday objects and the stories they tell about the people who previously wore them.  They make art out of objects touched by human sweat.

Shoes have played a role in my own work as well, and I gather them at thrift shops and garage sales whenever particular ones catch my eye.  This piece  makes use of a sneaker that had been my father's.