Month: June 2015

paring down

I am spending some time this week paring down stuff. I feel like I am taking a cheese slicer and slicing off layers of my life. Nothing huge. Just little things.

I have stopped writing my studio newsletter and blog. I first started it to keep my studio news separate from this more personal blog. Then I joined Constant Contact and began to send out the blog as a newsletter e-mail to people. After a while I realized that I was not looking forward to writing them anymore, too much repetition of information, too difficult to figure out yet another template for the newsletter and too time-consuming to switch from WordPress to Constant Contact. So I have shaved off the newsletter portion of my life. This is not a tragedy, after all I still have this blog and a pretty lusty presence on Facebook. I have toyed with the idea of Twitter or Instagram but I am wary of adding a new language to an already overloaded conversation. I hate to think that I am getting on in years and that it is showing in my reluctance to jump from one new technology to another. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for my husband, I would always have been woefully behind the times. I owned the same little TV for 20 years, I cringe when I have to buy a new phone (“I like the old one, I’m used to it, I know where all the buttons are”) and am grateful to Apple for making it easy (if not cheap) for an old broad to get new electronics.

That being said, you probably won’t see much difference in this blog. I will still post personal observations and sightings from my property, pictures of dogs and cats will pop up regularly and the occasional rant will grace these pages. But I might put a few more posts about what’s happening in the studio and other venues of my professional life. For it is all interesting to me, which is why I started the blog in the first place. And I am grateful that what is interesting to me is interesting to you as well. Sometimes that surprises me, but I have learned to live with it…

I am also working on a new sculpture, one that I started before I left for NYC. Still don’t know if I am finished with it, I need to live with it for a while. I like a lot of stuff about it but I am missing the amazing feedback of my teacher and fellow students at SVA. I think they would say that it might not be quite finished. And I would have to agree with them.

I leave you with a picture taken on my iPhone last night during some local fireworks. I was invited to ride in a pontoon boat on a lake near here during a yearly tradition of community fireworks. It was one of the most amazing firework evenings, not because of the quality of fireworks but because of the evening, clear, still and cool. The fireworks reverberated around the lake, the moon shone just to the left of them, the company was lovely and it was wonderful.

fireworks on the lake
fireworks on the lake

home again home again

Jiggity jog.

We just had a huge thunderstorm go through and I was able to watch the whole thing. No buildings were in the way, No sounds of traffic outside, just a storm and trees blowing in the wind, rain coming down, dogs panting…it was wonderful.

New York is so very vertical. At least Manhattan is. I am not sure I could live there. I am used to “vista”. There is no vista in Manhattan unless you are high up or next to a river.

But I have to say I am so very glad I had the experience at the School of Visual Arts. I am still processing my time there, both personally and as an artist. Personally I found my limitations of being away from home. Call me a wuss, but I really find it difficult to be away for more than three weeks. I start to make friends with any stranger with a dog and seek out every little facsimile of “country”.

Professionally, the processing will take some time. The opening was amazing, I managed to finish four installations which taught me something about myself. I am good at creating “site-specific” art. Give me a wall, a cubby hole, a hillside, and I can fill it with art that makes sense visually, that fits in with what is there and enhances it. This is such a great skill to have and I feel very blessed to be able to do this. My theater training and my craft training also allow me to create quickly. I know tricks and shortcuts to creating an impression, a scene as it were, one that can draw the viewer in, make them want to be a part of the story.

Now I just have to figure out how to market this, how to develop it and become a force in the art world. Piece of cake eh???

I also got in touch with my conceptual side. This means I made the leap from “object” to “concept”. The way I did this was to take an object and put it on the wall, then make more to go with it. Eventually a story appeared, a conversation if you will, about our relationship with trash and how the planet is adapting to it…or not. This conversation continued through to the next three installations, with plastic cups being the common denominator.

I also really enjoyed playing with the fibers and other materials that I have never worked with. Pipe insulation, tension wire, plastic coated wire…all of it was incorporated into the pieces. I have more materials in my arsenal now.

I leave you with pictures of the last two installations. If you haven’t seen the first two, check out the previous blog posts.There were professional pix taken at the opening, they will appear on my website as soon as I get them, probably some time in the next couple of weeks.

the title #3 #3 detail #3 detail #4 #5

the belle of the ball
the belle of the ball
me and my honey
me and my honey

one week to go.

One week from today I will be at home surrounded by my dogs, cats, husband and QUIET. There are times that the noises of the city reach into my soul and shake it up until my teeth start clacking together. I forget how much I take in on a sensorial/emotional level and the sights and sounds and smells and hard edges of the city are slowly transforming me into a New Yorker. I find that I look around less, ignore what is right in front of me, pass slow people on the sidewalk and retreat into my own world on the subway or bus. Sometimes I just have to come back to the apartment and close my eyes to conserve energy.

That being said, I am still having a blast. I have finished a second sculpture. My teacher has challenged me to continue the conversation I started with the first sculpture. This involves my take on the relationship between humans (including me) and the trash that surrounds us. How do we create it, how do we expand it, how do we ignore it, how do we try to contain it and how has the earth and all its life forms adapted to it?

On this note, my walk to the East River tonight was quite pleasant. I walked through Stuyvesant Town, a very nicely maintained community with lots of lovely plantings and one of the quietest places I have found on this island. I sat on a bench looking at the river, watching the last rays of the sun hit the buildings in Brooklyn and enjoying a sense of space. As I got up to leave, a boy, probably middle school age, hauled off and threw a plastic bottle into the river. I became irate and cowardly at the same time. I chose not to confront him, just as I chose not to say anything to the girl who dropped french fries onto the ground in the park last week and then stepped on them. (Those probably became pigeon and squirrel food.) I think my job as an artist right now is to observe, reflect and communicate through my art…but it is hard. I want to fix things, to clean this world up, to ban plastics, toxic chemicals, medications that get into the water supply after being flushed down the toilet. I want to stop fracking and mining and over-fishing of our seas. I want to dredge the plastics out of the ocean and fill the ozone layer back in and magically refrigerate the glaciers. I want to stop poachers and the people who tear down the rain forests. And I definitely want to stop stupid children from throwing shit into the river.

But here’s the kicker. I also want heat and showers and electricity. I want my computer and warm clothes and a place to sit. I want to travel and drive my car and weld cool sculptures and…

It’s a conundrum. For now I will just observe. And start dialogues with my artwork.

Here’s the latest piece. I call it Anthropocene which means The Human Age.

anthropocene anthropocene

a wild ride

New York City is such an amazing place. No matter the time or day, there is something that is happening, something that is guaranteed to grab your attention and say “Hey…this doesn’t ever happen at home does it?”

I am busy in my residency. I have actually finished my project way ahead of schedule. I chalk this up to having absolutely no life other than the residency. I also figure that I have spent countless amounts of hours over the past few years not working when I should so this is a good time to balance the scale. And quite honestly, when will I have access to such amazing mentors, artistic equipment and exhibition space as I do right now?

I feel like I have grown so much as an artist in the short amount of time I have been here. I have gone to lectures on subjects about which I knew nothing and met people that I didn’t even know existed. I have painted with phosphorescent bacteria, grown mycelium and SCOBY (look it up) and looked at pizza flour under a microscope. I have gone to lots of galleries with more on the list. I have hit the New Museum and the Met, I still have the Whitney to see. I have walked the Highline and spent a pleasant hour in the Strand bookstore. I spent yesterday wandering around Bushwick (Brooklyn) going into dozens of artist studios.

The food has been amazing (-ly expensive) and I think this is the best city in the world to find a good cocktail. Central Park is the place to be on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. I have explored new areas of the city from the meat packing district to the Lower East Side/Village to Brooklyn.

And, perhaps most exciting of all, I have garnered some really positive comments from my teacher, a woman who doesn’t mince words, who says what she thinks which is just the way I like it. I think that my work has shifted a bit and I can see how much more I have to go before I will feel like I am plumbing the depths. Actually, I don’t think that will ever happen but I am happy that I am going in that direction.

And because you all have been ever so patient, I will share a couple more pictures of my installation with you. If you want to see it for yourself in person, come to the School of Visual Arts building at 335 W. 16th between 8th and 9th (across from the Google building and around the corner from Chelsea Market) on Thursday June 18 at 6 p.m. My studio/exhibition space is on the fifth floor. I’d love to see you! Oh, and tell a friend or two…the more the merrier.

installation installation installation

nothing

I had visions of creating a nice long chatty blog post tonight but I find I have got nothing in my brain. I have been going strong at this residency for two and a half weeks and tonight I feel the need to switch off. I will tell you that the residency is going well and I’m learning lots of stuff, some if it fascinating, some of it a bit bizarre. My studio space has transformed itself into a gallery space and the installation that I am doing is coming out really well. I have gotten good comments from my teacher and I hope to be done with it by next week. Maybe. Here is a sneak peek at a part of the installation. Unfortunately, it is going to be a bitch to get a good picture of the whole thing as I have a post in front of my space.

installation

New York is cold and rainy today, the kind of damp cold that gets in your bones. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for my not feeling great. Instead of waiting forever for a bus this morning, I decided to walk to school and I do not have the right clothes for this weather so I was not a happy camper. (Forgive me for grumbling a bit, I’m just in that kind of mood).

Tomorrow is another (warmer, less wet) day and I am hoping to have worked through my grumpy moments…stay tuned!