Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Settling into Vermont

The drive was grueling. The evening snow gave way to an eerie fog by the time morning arrived with the warm temperatures. What should have been a 7 hour drive turned into an 8.5 hour drive because I got lost in the Adirondacks. Getting lost in the tall pines, switch back roads, fog and snow reminded me of the drive in opening scene in The Shining. Anyhow, I made it. The folks here at The Vermont Studio Center were very welcoming. They stayed late to greet the late comers - like myself. I sincerely appreciated that. That evening is a bit of blur - I ate, meet some people and crashed about 8:30.  The next morning I was greeted by a light snow fall.

view from the porch of my house

The first order of business was to organize my scraps of wood into colors. The large pieces of wood are organized by color in my studio. But when I start cutting them into smaller pieces, I haven't been so careful to group them back into color. It makes working a nightmare. So, I spent the day organizing and  getting the feel of my new space. Monday was also orientation day. You know - the tour of the buildings; meeting with the other sculptors and reviewing the workshop rules. Tuesday was the first real day of work. It was a bit slow, but I am acclimating to a new environment and practicing kindness to myself as I settle in.
color sorting
A bit about the studios here. WOW! The studio is spacious! It is about the size of my studio at home - but without all the equipment and supplies. I can work on two pieces at a time. That is such a luxury!

I have signed up for the artist talk night next week. I am excited and nervous to share my work with such an impressive group of artists and writers. The internet is a bit slow here- so for more photos, please follow me on Instagram - Studio1301. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Building Community

Working in the studio is a lonely business most times. Except for my neighbor who stops by on his walk with his dogs, I see no one during the day. I realized that I needed a community- other artists who inspire me, understand the creative process, and artists willing to share opportunities and experiences. I am in the process of building that community in my professional practice.

It is important to me to be seen as a professional artist and to be recognized as a knowledgeable artist who knows what is going on. So when the opportunity to came to join my professors and other MFA students at Moore College of Art & Design for their end of the year critiques – I cheerfully accepted the invitation. I was both honored and delighted. It was a great opportunity to make conversation, have fun, feel motivated and get inspired by the all the amazing talent in the MFA program.

I had so much fun reconnecting with my former professors Paul Hubbard and Virginia Maksymowicz and the Dean of the Program Dona Lantz. I met some new professors - Lesley Shipley, Joshua Marsh, Theresa Rose and guest critic,  Anthony Romero. Alumnus Dawn Kramlich and I were welcomed by the faculty and  we had chance to talk about the adventures of adjuncting. What an inspiration it was to see the work by artists  Aimee Gonthier; Kristina Goverts; Melinda Houvig; Veronica Scarpellino; Alexander Conner; Chello Firefli; Michelle Sherman; Jennifer Vatza; and Omenihu Amachi.

Another development in this idea of connecting to community is my upcoming residency in Vermont at the Vermont Studio. I look forward to becoming friends with other amazing artists.  Even though I am bit nervous about leaving, I am still eager to see how this residency will inform my work. I know that my life will be enriched in ways I can’t even imagine right now. Photo by 

Finally, as I stated in today’s e-newsletter, it is the Winter Solstice. There seems to be the great stillness before the sun's strength comes back, and daylight grows longer. It can be productive time to rest and reflect. It's the fruitful dark out of which new life can eventually emerge. I wish you a joyous holiday and a wonderful new year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Aftermath @ the Noyes Museum

Last night was a great opportunity to meet some of the other exhibiting artists at the Noyes Museum. The exhibit is The Aftermath, and runs until January 11, 2015. The exhibit curated by Doug Ferrari.  From the surge of debris, raw materials, and emotions left by the hurricane, the artists in this exhibit discovered new channels for their creativity. This exhibition is a look at how seventeen artists have responded to the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. 

The moderator was Doug Ferrari, seen on the left; sitting next to him is yours truly; then, Maggie Fischer Brown,  Mike McLaughlin,  and Joanie Gagnon San Chirico and Richard Buntzen. The evening was informative, heartfelt, and fun! A special thanks to Dorrie PapademetriouDirector of Exhibitions & Collections at the Noyes Museum and Doug Ferrari. 

I also wanted to share this image with you. This piece, Surge,  is the traditional Court House Steps quilt.  This quilt is inspired by a fisherman friend and his experience on his scallop boat during Hurricane Sandy. Because of insurance policies and regulations, he had to stay on his boat during the super storm. That kind of courage and dedication was mind blowing. I asked him about the huge tidal waves he must of seen crashing into land. He replied that the water didn’t come crashing in, instead it rose and surged like a bath tub overflowing and spilling all over. After hearing his story, I made this piece. This photo is of him and his wife. 

For more about the exhibit, please read this review: CLICK HERE. 

The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College is located at 733 Lily Lake Road in Oceanville (Galloway TWP.), NJ, 08231. Their telephone number is  (609) 652-8848 and their website is The hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Thursday until 8:00 PM & Sunday noon to 5:00 PM

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Go Float Yourself

I know my blog focuses on the creative process, art reviews and opportunities, but I wanted to share my most recent experience with you because I think you may want to try it to have some time to be self reflective, relax and unplug. What creative spirit doesn't need time for self reflection and calm? The other day I tried out a “float” – a visit to our area’s newest flotation tank space called  the Float Studio. The Float Studio is located on Sunset Avenue in Ocean, NJ. 

A flotation tank is also known as an isolation tank, sensory-deprivation tank or “restricted environmental stimulation therapy” tank. Don’t even ask if it is like 1980 sci-fi classic Altered States with William Hurt. I had no desire for lamb or a visit to the zoo afterwards. I didn’t have any crazy animal hallucinations like Lisa Simpson had either. It has nothing to do with those. 

The Float Studio is a warm and tranquil place with contemporary furniture and diffused lighting. There are two float rooms, each with a private shower and a tank. Each floatation tank holds 10 inches of water kept at body temperature with eight hundred pounds of dissolved Epsom salt.

Before entering the tank, I showered and shampooed thoroughly to remove any hair products, makeup and deodorant that might contaminate the water.  I was given earplugs for my ears and a foam noodle for my head. While it’s nearly impossible for my face to become submerged in the tank, I was told that some people have trouble relaxing and prefer the floating head support. For the first few minutes, I used it but found it cumbersome once I became acclimated to the floating sensation. If you wear contacts, you will need to take them out. Since I swim in the ocean frequently, I knew not shave my legs the day of my float because of the salt.

My experience was just relaxing. I floated naked and weightless in complete darkness, enveloped in a warm salty bath, listening only the sound of my own heartbeat and feeling acutely alive and three-dimensional. The darkness was optional – there are lights inside. At first, I found it difficult to relax because of recent shoulder injury. But after a series of stretches, the pain subsided and I was comfortable. There was enough room in the tank to swish around and play and to even sit up. I liked how I lost track of time, how I lost the dividing line where my skin ended and the water began, and how lost physical orientation within the tank. My brain just emptied. There was no email to answer, no work, no dinner to make, no conversation – just quiet. I had to time to reflect on personal goals and aspirations and just be with myself without any expectations. Time to be self reflective without any distraction is powerful. 

At the end of my float, I showered again. A ninety-minute session, which is the recommended time, costs $65. Towels and soap are provided but I would recommend bringing your favorite shampoo (Dr. Bonners mint soap is provided for hair and skin) and a fresh change of clothes. There was no pruning of the skin nor was my skin dry and flakey. My skin and hair felt baby soft afterwards. After my float, the water would be filtered and disinfected with oxone and hydrogen peroxide; no toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, are used.

I came home, ate a simple dinner, and slept soundly. I felt clear in my head, invigorated and alive. I will be definitely trying this again. The Float Studio hours are Tues-Sun: 10am-8pm and the telephone number is  732-898-7100. Appointments are recommended. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Artist Residencies

One year ago, I returned from The Arctic Circle residency. This adventure repositioned my approaches to my professional practice as an artist. When asked what do I do for a living - I now tell people "I am an artist, sculptor primarily." No longer do I identify myself as "just an artist," nor do I declare that I am a teacher then an artist. This was a major shift in my perception of identify. I felt that I had made substantial leaps in my career and learned so much about myself and my work.

An artist residency is place where artists - of any media- and writers can go to produce work for an extended period of time- a week or even up to three months. Some residencies charge for fees and some do not. This trip to the Arctic Circle lasted about 3 weeks. To read about the trip's highlights, I have the whole experience posted HERE.

While I was on this residency, I meet some incredibly talented people - musicians, poets, performers, artists- from around the world. Their career levels varied  to having years in the profession to just graduating with a BFA. From these people, I learned how to build a sustainable career, found new opportunities, and opened conversations to professional practices. 

Photo by Tom Snelgrove
I felt very lucky to have been accepted into The Arctic Circle Residency. Being accepted felt that someone other than me believed in my work and wanted me to succeed. I am also pleased to be included in a small group exhibit at the Noyes Museum next year which will feature the individual and collaborative works of some of the participating artists from this residency.

This January, I will be in Vermont for the month on another residency to the Vermont Studio Center. I received a Merit Scholarship, which means the cost will be offset by a work exchange award and artist’s grant. In other words, I will be working in the kitchen for 10 hours a week. I promise to post a photo of me in a hair net. I plan on bringing the 4 cases of Arctic Trash collected from first residency with me. 

If you are interested in a residency, please check out these links:

Before you apply, remember that there is a tremendous amount of research you need to do to find the right program for you; plus there is a bit of work in the crafting the application essay.  Don't be discouraged if you are not accepted the first time - consider reapplying or working harder at finding the right residency for you. Most importantly, match your work style to the right residency. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More Sandy Stories

After I posted my two year update on Superstorm Sandy, a friend of mine wrote this response.
I feel that this opens up the conversation on many people's lives and should be said:

 I was so heartened by your bringing to light the devastation brought about by Hurricane Sandy. I live in a complex in which most residents are senior citizens. For a week after
the hurricane, everyone, including individuals with disabilities, endured the cold without electricity, heat, or water. I was able to get my family to a safe place, after driving through a maze of fallen trees, with darkened streetlights swinging overhead. I agree—it was like a war zone. Every time I turned, another street was blocked, another line down. I would try to determine where the blackouts ended—where one could purchase food, supplies.  And the stories one heard…water flooded an entire home in which an elderly person was waiting in his attic; somewhere—a building with gas leaks…
   I recall a particular day when I returned home from work to find a sign on the doors:
“Building Closed.” Officially, the building was to close in one hour, so I found myself
taking whatever items I needed from our apartment in the fifteen minutes I was allowed.
I cannot describe that feeling of thinking that I might never return. My parents, refugees in World War II, had left everything behind, and here I was…Yet this was nothing compared to what people in your area (Monmouth County) faced.
   I also remember watching what was a stream on our block become a raging river. A stone square weighing several tons still remains, broken and tossed like a mere brick, behind the yard. In an area where I had hiked, I saw gardens that had moved into
the center of a river, with roses blooming where water should have been.
    In times such as this one, many people helped. We kept teaching, although several of us had been evacuated from our residences, while others had families near the shore. Yet what remains with me, as a vivid memory, is that somehow, even several hours before the winds started, people were still out shopping, having parties…as though this would never happen—not here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Superstorm Sandy: Two Years Later

This time two years ago,  news reports kept warning us of an impending hurricane. Well, we all know what happened - Hurricane Sandy. Click here to review my blog post that shows some of the devastation. 

Since that time, I have created artworks, inspired by American quilts, using that wood. This fall, I was invited to exhibit these works in major exhibits focusing on Super Storm Sandy. 

The first exhibit, SANDY: Destruction/Constructions,  is at Gallery at 14 Maple. In collaboration with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Arts Council of the Morris Area sponsors two juried art exhibits each year in this LEED-certified “green” space, located in the common areas on the 3rd floor of 14 Maple Ave., Morristown, NJ. The gallery is open to the public Mondays-Thursdays from 10am to 4pm and on Fridays from 10am to 1pm and by appointment, call (973) 285-5115 for additional information. The exhibit runs through February 2015. 
Petrovich-Cheney, Wildeman, Burkitt, Perlmutter

Along with me, Bruce Perlmutter (Red Bank), Kevin Burkitt  (Manasquan), and Roddy Wildeman (Belmar) were selected. As curator Dick Eger, notes: “This exhibit by four artists from the Jersey shore memorializes the destruction from Superstorm Sandy and celebrates artists for their tenacity, perseverance and creativity of the human spirit through their art.” The catalog for this exhibit can be viewed here and here is a review of the exhibit 

The second exhibit, Aftermath, was curated by Doug Ferrari at the Noyes Museum. The Noyes Museum of Art  of Stockton College is located at  733 Lily Lake Road in Oceanville, NJ; museum hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM, extended hours Thursdays until 8:00 PM , Sunday noon to 5:00 PM. The exhibit is open until Jan. 11, 2015 and there will be a panel discussion on December 4 from 6-7:30 pm. Click here to read a review.

Photo by Sage Stuart

Here I am pictured with a piece entitled Surge. This piece was inspired by the experience of my friend and professional fisherman, Ken Osche. Ken had stayed on his commercial fishing boat throughout the whole hurricane. He told me that he saw the water rise and just fill the entire Point Pleasant area. I had always imagined that the hurricane brought the seawater into our area like huge waves from some apocalyptic movie, instead the water simply surged into the area like water overflowing from a bathtub spreading in all directions. 

photo by Sage Stuart

For the opening of this event, my husband and I brought our two favorite art fans. Like my solo show at Abington Art Center, I had given the girls a camera to photograph their world. Here are some highlights of that evening.