Friday, September 2, 2016

Imagine Your Park, Imagine The Art

Now that the summer is coming to a close, I have found a moment to update my blog. There was so much happening this summer with an exciting project at Sandy Hook National Park that began in October, 2016 and will culminate during the weekend of September 17-18, 2017. 




The project, which is spearheaded by Monmouth Arts, is titled "Imagine Your Park, Imagine The Art." Including myself, there are three other artists involved , Angeles CassioManda Gorsegner, and Lisa Bagwell, and each of us has been paired with an environmental group to find inspiration. Monmouth Arts has collaborated with the U.S. National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook Unit, NJ on  Gateway to the Arts to engage the public in our local national park through the visual  arts. Imagine Your Park is a grant initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts created in partnership with the National Park Service to support projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places and landscapes of the National Park System.

photos courtesy of Manda Gorsegner
In October, 2015 and April 2016,  Manda, Angeles and I participated in Clean OceanAction's Beach Sweeps. The garbage collected from that sweep was what we used to make our works.
photos courtesy of Manda Gorsegner

The studios for this project were located at Fort Hancock, in the basement of the ranger station. My nickname for the place was the dungeon - because that is pretty much what it resembled. Fort Hancock is a decommissioned military base - with the abandoned buildings it reminds me of something from the Walking Dead.




My first attempt at making this work was to sew plastic water bottle together. There were so many water bottles collected on the beach! The idea was really great - the water bottles created this elegant sinuous line but unfortunately, it didn't hold up in a  summer rain storm. Then, I remember hearing my professor Paul Hubbard's voice  in my head  telling me to go big.  He always had encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone and push my personal boundaries. 
large pieces of foam getting prepped in the basement studio

So I headed back to our storage room of collected debris and saw the biggest item - plastic foam- you may know it as Styrofoam. 


photos courtesy http://www.monmoutharts.org

Styrofoam is the common brand name of Polystyrene, which is a petroleum-based plastic. This Polystyrene might really last forever.  It is resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from a light source. From my research, I have learned that the quantity of marine debris is increasing in oceans worldwide and the foam products transport pollutants around the world. In addition, the problem associated with foam is that they often fragment into small pieces once in the ocean, where fish, sea turtles or seabirds can mistakenly eat the tiny bits.


photo courtesy: http://www.monmoutharts.org

I coated the plastic foam with a plaster to hold in the bits that could break off to prevent any further contamination into the environment. 
photo courtesy: http://www.monmoutharts.org
At this point, I needed a way to get the pieces into the outdoor space in parking lot D at Sandy Hook. This  area  of the walled sandy hill was planned for my work. Behind the wall are picnic tables, outdoor shower facilities, bathrooms, and on the bricked area are usually food trucks. In other words - this is a very public space! My past experiences with public sculpture have taught me that the public loves to touch the artwork - sometimes too much. You can read about that experience here. 



I finally settled on rebar and concrete poured into plastic food buckets donated by Del Ponte's Bakery in Bradley Beach.  After seeing a bridge built for the past year or so, I felt that I had a decent understanding of how rebar works and the strength it can provide. Strength and stability are an important factor in this project because this is the Jersey Shore where we can any number of high winds, hurricanes, nor'easter and strong summer storms. 


I then had to dig these buckets into the ground and push  the foam sculptures into the rebar.



photo courtesy: http://www.monmoutharts.org


After three installations, the work was finally complete. I also added an orange debris boom to the installation. This was my favorite find from the April 2016 beach sweep. It took Angeles , me and 8 young men  from M.A.S.T. to haul the heavy wet boom up a hill and into the back of my pickup truck. Besides the great adventure, orange is my favorite color and that boom added a great line of color that connected the piece. 

There is a wonderful sign at the location and I will be on site for the Zero Waste Festival which will be held on Sept. 17 & 18 at Sandy Hook National Park. Zero Waste Arts Fest (ZWAF) will engage diverse communities through an array of arts, environmental and historical education activities, public art and battery tours, games, arts and food vendors, and overall free family fun! Shuttles will be available to take people to the three public art locations on Sandy Hook and to Battery Gunnison for historical tours provided by the Army Ground Forces Association. 
photo courtesy http://www.mckayimaging.com















Thursday, June 2, 2016

Antigua, Guatemala

Quilts are obviously my thing - but so is weaving and knitting. After all, my first Masters degree is from Drexel University in Fashion Design. I have been wanting to reconnect to my love of weaving and knitting for some time and was very excited to be invited to go to Guatemala with Rebecca Welz. Rebecca and I had meet at the Vermont Studio Center where she was the visiting artist. To learn more about Rebecca - please click on her website: http://www.rebeccawelz.net



Antigua, Guatemala

Over the years, Rebecca has organized  trips to Mexico,  Guyana and Guatemala in which craftspeople there work with us to learn how to create hand made products from leather, cotton, wood and metal. Guatemala in particular is known for its hand woven textiles. Rebecca worked with Alida Perez, the founder of the Museo Casa del Tejido Antiguo, a craft museum and cultural center in Antigua, to organize this amazing opportunity to make a woven fabric using a back strap loom. 










To read more about Rebecca's project and learn about my trip, please click here: https://bkaccelerator.com/the-antigua-project-a-design-craft-collaboration/

And for more photos, please visit my Facebook album titled: Guatemala or click here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Deja Vu: An Interview with a Quilter

As the Pattern Pieces exhibit winds down this month at the Michener Museum, I just wanted to share a really special moment that happened along the way.

Spot On, 2014, 36" x 36", Salvaged wood from Hurricane Sandy


I was tagged on Instagram by really accomplished quilter, Amy Verne. She had admired my work at the museum, in particular “Center Cut, ” but when she went on my website - she found her favorite:  “Spot On.”  



Starting in January, Amy began to recreate the pattern in cloth and she finished it a few months later.  Her progress of the quilt was posted bit by bit on Instagram. She sewed it entirely from her stash of  scrap fabrics to mimic the limitations that I had when using wood salvaged after Hurricane Sandy.  
Spot On II: Cloth , 2016, 72" x 72", cotton cloth  
What really impressed me about this recreation was Amy's ability to see the fine details of rips and tears of the wood, the layers of peeling paint, and the grain line. She was able to recreate the wood's grain lines by quilting. 



By taking the top cloth of the pattern, with the inner layer of cotton batting and back fabric, Amy articulated the wood grain by stitching various design lines on each one of the blocks for an individual look of wood grain. This sewing on top of the pattern is called quilting, the arrangement of fabric is called patchwork. In the bottom photo, there are he two, distinct patterns of stitching that are quite clear in this blue and brown square. Amy stated that each triangle had its own unique stitching done to represent the grain. There are 200 blocks in Amy's quilt, which equals 400 triangles. WOW!



Amy's ability to capture the detail didn't stop there. To emphasize the ripping of the wood, or the chipping of the paint, Amy switched colors of cloth within a triangle/block. I use the salvaged wood as I have it - with the original colors, the original damage and nail holes are always left alone. Amy created this treatment by alternating colors. For example, the blue triangle is interrupted by the bright orange rectangle; the light orange has slashes of white through it. Again, notice how Amy individually quilted the bright orange rectangle differently than the blue triangle to highlight the different wood grains.



This is a detail of my work which shows the chipped layers of paint, the cracked wood, and the nail holes. I love looking at the original wooden quilt and comparing it to the cloth one. The similarities are remarkable, and the differences are joyful. Amy's individual interperation of the work is outstanding.



I wanted to get to know Amy a bit more so I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed for this blog. Thankfully for us, she agreed.

Laura: What is your background with quilting? How/when did you get started, and how has your work changed over time?

Amy: I made one quilt about 20 years ago using a little instruction pamphlet that came with my sewing machine. It was a windmill pattern and I made it with garment fabric because I didn’t know any better. My oldest daughter literally loved it to pieces. What is left of it is now in my linen closet.





Then about five years ago I decided I wanted to take up quilting as a hobby, so I searched the internet and found the newly formed Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. I joined and have learned so much from my fellow members. I didn’t know what a layer cake was and I thought that sewing curves (in quilts) was completely impossible!

Laura:Tell me about your favorite quilt. Who was it for? Where is it now?

Amy: My favorite quilts are the ones that are used by my family every day. I like to make utilitarian quilts, so I love seeing them all rumpled up on the end of the couch or thrown over a hastily made bed.


It is nice to see the family cat enjoying the comfort of Amy's new quilt.

Laura: Do you have other art activities that you practice? (Like knitting, painting)?

Amy: I’m what you’d call a serial crafter. I’ve dabbled in needlepoint, embroidery, cross stitch and crocheting. I’ve been a garment sewer since my grandmother taught me to sew when I was a teenager.





Amy's two youngest children are pictured here holding up an amazing abstract quilt.

Laura: What inspires you the most?

Amy: The sources of my inspiration are evolving. While I was learning the basics of quilting, I relied on established quilt patterns while I played with fabric selection, color variations and alternate grids. Lately, I’ve begun to get inspiration from works of art. Spot On II is the first example of this. My next artwork-inspired quilt is going to be based on a student’s drawing that I saw hanging in my local library. At least that’s my plan.

Laura: What do you plan to do with Spot On? What will you name it?

Amy: I’ve named this quilt “Spot On II: Cloth” and that’s about as fancy as my quilt names get. I’m planning to submit Spot On II for consideration at The Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon East to be held in February 2017 in Savannah, Georgia. It would have to be juried in and it will be my first solo submission.

I wish Amy the best of luck in her submission! For more about Amy Verne's quilts - please visit her Instagram page: @amybob3kids



Monday, March 21, 2016

Art Fairs, Sculpture Gardens, and Flower Shows

This review will cover several shows. Let's start where I left off last time with the art fairs. I encourage all artists to visit the art fairs once in their life time. It is such a treat- overwhelming at times, but so educational and informative. Saturday, March 5th,  started with a visit to Pulse. I went specifically to see the works at Pentimenti Gallery. This is a progressive gallery located in the Old City Philadelphia. The gallery owner is a real mover and shaker in the Philly art scene and is widely respected for her curatorial eye.  Should you ever find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love, please visit the gallery located on North Second Street.

Two works by artist Derrick Velasquez



A side view and frontal view of a singular work by Simmen Farhat.


Walking around, I discovered  Marna Shopff represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.



Cynthia Reeves was showcasing the works of Jaehyo Lee (the first three) and Steven Siegel (last three)







There was one work that provided a great selfie op:

Black and White Gallery from Brooklyn featured the works of Isidro Blasco. 



Let's review the Independent Art Fair. This one was my least favorite of the art fairs that I had seen this year. For me, the problem was the venue. The building was extremely vertical. Not just speaking about the various floors one had to walk up or down to see art. But the venue had such high ceilings. The high ceilings  in combination with the  partitioning display walls created an inharmonious viewing experience.

There was just to much verticality. However, the red dots told a different story. One edition of a print was sold multiple (like 5 ) times!

Herald St Gallery's Alexandra Birchen's Combination Series.






 A sculptural gem was discovered at David Kordansky's booth was Evan Holloway.

 



And finally, Charles Mayton represented by  David Lewis Gallery.



The Art on Paper Fair was a blast. Believe it or not, one attendee said, "I can't believe everything here is made of paper," 














Jason Hughes at Randall Scott Projects, if it looks familiar, it should, it is currency. 






and an artist working...


The Philadelphia Flower Show.  I will admit it, I am a flower junkie. The gardening catalogs - hell, even the seed catalogs- make my heart skip a beat. I went to the PFS as soon as it opened because it is the most crowded event that I have ever attended. I highly recommend getting there early and going. There are lots of ideas from this show that inspired me for my art practice as well as my own yard. I suspect that my hands will be very dirty this spring. 









For another delight, please visit, The Grounds for Sculpture.   Not only are the outside sculptures wonderful, but there are amazing indoor exhibits as well. One that will be there some time is Paul Henry Ramirez's Rattle exhibit. This show is a magical , musical, adventuresome world of color and shape which lives in stark contrast to the natural work just outside the window. 

Yours truly enjoying one of my favorite spaces at GFS - the little room surrounded by Dana Stewart's sculptures. 
Installation shots of Paul Henry Ramirez's work: