Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lesley Dill's a dilly!

I was so fortunate to attend Lesley Dill's talk, together with my friend Susan Turkel.  Dill's work truly has no boundaries, only 'intersections' with all of life, especially words and transformational experience.  

She spent a couple of years in India as a young person, and her interest in mysticism and spirituality shaped the rest of her life:

Her work has also been deeply influenced over the years by Emily Dickinson.  Most recently she has put together an Opera based on Dickinson's poems, that is stunning both visually and musically.  It has been performed in California, and is about to be performed in New York city in April 2018.  

This three-minute trailer gives a taste of it:

I'm tempted to go see it! 

Above is a detail of her lithograph with photogravure (2005) that has sixteen sqares.  

We had a brief conversation before she started her talk.  I had brought a book with me of her work from 2002, so she knew I was a long-time fan.  She inscribed it with a quote from an Emily Dickinson poem and wishes for good luck with my work.  We are connected.  I am grateful.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Theater of the Absurd makes a match

The Dumpster Divers recently visited Bethany Mission Gallery, where they fit right in.  Only Eugene Ionesco could have brought about this historic convergence. 

A fan of theater of the absurd,  I had gotten tickets to The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium's  performance of Ionesco's Bald Soprano.  Little did I know that the venue would be Bethany Mission Gallery (BMG).  Once I saw it, I knew I had to share it with the Divers.

You can see why I love BMG.  Here is one of my favorites:  She-He by Sam Doyle (1906-1985):

Bethany Mission Gallery is the private collection of Victor Keen, and is not open to the public.  It is like the Barnes, in the sense that it is the collection of one man, and is eclectic because it reflects his particular interests.  It encompasses primarily Outsider Art, but also folk art, radios, toasters, tin toys, and all kinds of other stuff.  It's a little gem of a museum that is a well kept secret.

This Adoration of the Wise Men, 1985, by William Hawkins (1895-1990), is  extraordinary.

Gary Smith, the BMG guy who figures out how to hang the work and manage the logistics of the collection, greeted us, and here is starting to show us around.

Victor Keen gave us the scoop on his collection, and wanted to hear from us about the Dumpster Divers as well.

We were rapt.

After the talk, there was time to look around some more and schmooze.

Many pictures were taken.

This shows only part of the radio and toaster collection:

Where would we be without the Theater of the Absurd?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ukulele Mama! and other stuff

A discarded ukulele case makes a perfect altar for my Ukulele Mama sculpture, made from paper clay, glazes, and acrylic.  The background is one of my clay monoprints.

While making her, I was influenced by my decades of living in San Diego, close to the Mexican border and its pervasive imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Ukulele Mama is the first piece I finished after returning from our Southern road trip, and she has a little bit of Nashville attitude as well.  She floats on a cloud made from one of my mother's vintage handkerchiefs.

In the top of the case is a ceramic lilly pod, made from paper clay, oxides, stains, and glazes.

The lilly pod was dipped in paper clay slip.  The pod itself burned out in the

kiln, leaving the ceramic mold of it's shape which could then be stained and glazed.  Shining down from the top of the ukulele case, it is a source of light, warmth, and protection.

Ukulele Mama continues my exploration of combining clay monoprints and 3-dimensional mixed-media work.  I finished Garden of Eden, below, shortly before we left on our road trip:  

Garden of Eden again uses one of my clay monoprints as background.   The objects are all paper clay with glazes and stains, except for the bird's nest and eggs, which are the real thing. 

I'm looking forward to some quiet studio time over Thanksgiving weekend to make some new clay monoprints.  I give thanks for that opportunity.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ashville, North Carolina - I never thought of it as a pit stop...

Our whole road trip's schedule got messed up on day two, by a rutting deer leaping into the passenger side of our car in a suicidal frenzy.  Fortunately, we were unhurt and the car was still operable so we carried on with the vacation despite our trauma.

We still had from 2:00 - 5:00 pm in Ashville last Sunday, which happened to be the weekend of Studio Stroll in the River Arts District.  There were many more than 50+ artists.  This sign was just for one of many warehouses filled with studios in the district.

Artists were demonstrating their techniques:

It is always exciting for me to see other artists work spaces, especially when it is a medium I don't work in myself, like this glass and mosaic artist:

I met Lynn Bregman Blass who is a fellow former Californian, and is also a psychotherapist as well as artist.  I was very taken with her work, including, as well as her encaustics.

Here she is amidst an installation hanging from the very high ceiling in her studio, made from "scraps" from the visual history project.  We have much in common, including knowing that sometimes the "scraps" are the best part.

There was also an exhibit of vintage theater posters, of which this was my favorite:

I only made it to a portion of River Walk, but enough that I got the flavor.  A lot of folks were out enjoying the stroll:

Fortunately, there was also time to get to Blue Spiral I Gallery in the downtown arts district, a large gallery with museum quality work.  I could have easily spent much more time there, but they kicked us out at closing.

This was a very poignant exhibit, portraits of the faculty of this legendary experimental college that was founded in 1933 and closed in 1957.  

Robert Rauschenberg:

Helen Frankenthaler:

Willem De Kooning:

Cy Twombly:

Robert Motherwell:

It was an entire wall of these 12" x 12" portraits. (There wasn't time to take more photos because of the gallery's closing.)  Seeing all their faces together made a deep impression.  Intellectually I had known they were all at Black Mountain over the years, including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, et al.  But seeing their portraits in that location, in the beauty and isolation of the mountains, made it alive and real and brought them present.  

It may have only been a pit stop, not as long as I would have liked to be in Ashville.  But seeing the wall of portraits of the Black Mountain College faculty was a connection with the real Ashville, a reminder of why Ashville is such a mecca for all the arts today.  With that, it was time to get on the road again.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Asleep in the Deep: many ways to use clay!

Asleep in the Deep is my first experiment in combining clay monoprints with clay sculpture.  Here I have covered the wooden box with a clay monoprint.  The mermaid, who represents a deep dream state, is made from paper clay with oxides, stains, and underglazes. The little bubbles in the monoprint seems to be coming out of her mouth, as if she is breathing while under water. The ceramic natural forms inside the box are paper clay with glazes.  If is fun to combine three different ways to use clay, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional.  

The design of the clay monoprint is watery, and the colors go well with the mermaid, although this wasn't planned in advance.   

The glazed ceramic pieces inside the box were natural things such as seed pods and  branches which were dipped in paper clay slip.  When fired, the organic material burns out, leaving the ceramic shell, which can then be glazed. 

The box itself was a gift from my friend Melvin Chappell, who knew I would find an interesting use for it.  I never imagined it would be this!

This cabinet has been lined with another clay monoprint:

The sculpture I have in mind to go inside of it will be coming out of the kiln by Thursday.  I have other ceramic nature pieces I will add as well, and a small birds nest with some broken blue egg shells in it.  It will be an interesting cabinet of curiosities! The clay monoprint will function more like a stage setting than a backdrop. I'll post it when it is finished.  

I have been on a kick now with using pieces of clay monoprints, ever since Main Line Art Center asked artists to contribute 8" x 8" work for a fundraiser.  I cropped several clay monoprints into 8" x 8" sections, and then had wonderful leftover scraps.  My first project was a collage on the door in our kitchen to our basement steps:

It feels like the protector of a stairway that is steep and narrow, offering both safety and a reminder to be careful.  It is also the stairway that leads to my studio!

I decided that the first door collage is finished, so started a new one on the inside of the door to my studio, seen when it is closed.  I'm not sure how finished or unfinished this one may be.  So far it feels like a self-portrait.