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.