Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meeting artists new to ACC Baltimore: Don Becker and Janet Coshow

I met some wonderful new-to-me artists at ACC Baltimore
this year. My booth was across from the "Alt Craft" area,
a specially designated area where the ACC provides exhibitors
tables and lights for a reduced fee. There is a slightly
different jury process for this section and once accepted,
the craftsperson can only exhibit in the area for one year,
investigate the scene and see if he or she would like to
pursue doing the show in a full way. This was the third year
of the program.There's been some controversy around the
effort, but in these difficult economic times for us all,
I appreciate it providing a mechanism for folks to try
the scene before expending huge amounts of money. Some
exhibitors have made the move to the main sections,
others have decided against or don't make it through
the general jury. For me, it's a chance to meet artists
I might not otherwise find and reminds me of the spirit
of the 60's and 70's when a lot of us were just starting
to exhibit. Many of the exhibitors are part of the new
"Indie" Craft scene who are creating their own cooperative
shows,and are selling via or other internet
selling venues.

One of the exhibitors in the area was Don Becker.Don's
website is:
He's hardly a "new" artist - since he's been making puppets and
performing as a puppeteer for years and worked for and in
impressive locations. But I'd never seen his work. I loved
watching him magically manipulate his puppets and treated
ourselves to the puppet I previewed in the last post. Here
is another image of "Snogwart" (named by two of our
granddaughters.) Snogwart is 5 1/2 inches tall, with
strings and stand (each individualized). Total piece is 18 1/2".
Don's puppets are so well designed that even a novice like me
can make Snogwart move amusingly, strangely, beautifully:

I highly recommend that you go to Don's website, but as a teaser,
here are a couple more photos of Don's puppets. He also makes
figures which don't have strings.

Be sure to check out his awesome dragon puppets and other
strange creatures!

Next I'd like to lift up Janet Coshow, a figurative sculpture
artist.Her website is:
Janet traveled from Santa Rosa, California to exhibit at ACC
Baltimore for the first time. She was in the main wholesale/retail
section, next to my booth,so we had a chance to get to know each
other and talk about the joys and challenges of making "dolls",
blogging,materials and life. Her blog is:
Janet explains the nature of her work this way:

"I began making sculptures because I was drawn to a paper mache
antique saint sculpture I saw at a brocante while living in France.
...I often focus on characters that live on the outside of society.
Hobos and clowns are someof my favorite subjects. They lived
lives of struggle and movement and never stayed anywhere long
enough to assimilate. I like the idea of experiences rather
than societies defining what we are."
Here is a "saint" and her "French clown and French bulldog."
Her figures tend to be 28-36 " tall.

I'm drawn to the borderlands spirit of Janet's figures.

Well - Spring is trying to arrive here. Crocuses and daffodils are
determined to bloom even with all the rain. However today it's in
the 30's and snowing!!! a good time to return to tax work.

Journey on! Wendy

Friday, March 19, 2010

Savoring the world of the "In Between"

Since 2006, I've been on the Executive Board of the
Interstitial Arts Foundation -a merry band of artists,
writers, musicians and energetic folk who love to work
in the "in between" rather than try to fit into
marketing genres or categories. Artist without borders.
The IAF is all about networking and supporting creativity
and definitely has pushed beyond the craft show box
which was getting rather comfortable(if less and less
profitable.) Hanging with and being challenged by writers,
musicians,computer techies and more has shown me worlds
I never knew existed.It's amazing to see what lies by the
side of the road, once you step out the door!

This month, we're putting daily (or almost daily) posts on
the IAF blog - with answers to a few simple interview
questions directed to the Board, a way of introducing who
we are, as well as posting info on people and groups we
think play in the same worlds we do.I urge everyone to
check it out

My interview went up on March
- perhaps a logical date for posting
since one of my great grandmothers did hail from merry
Ireland. (I'm trying to find out more about her journey
here...I suspect Ireland wasn't so merry when she left!).
I never used to think much about the Irish side of my
heritage until someone pointed out that I should look at
what I have been creating all these years...populating the
world with little people and creatures with more than a
touch of Celtic influence and Irish folk tale essence. Lately
I've been thinking a lot about the threads which seem to pull
us through life,connecting us to the past and pulling us
into the future.

The artist I lifted up on the IAF site was Thomas Wargin. You'll
see info and some of Thomas's sculptures there, but I recommend
going to his full site as
He's one of the artists who always inspires me when I see him at
shows and makes me want to push the limits of my work, not
worrying about where it seems to want to go, just being willing
to leap and fly there. This is not an easy thing to do in
difficult economic times, and yet, perhaps that is just when
we can't afford to be cautious. Below is one of Thomas's
bronze sculptures from his "narrative series"..with the
title "Eves Untold Story" Think of the tales it contains!

In my last post, I promised to begin to talk about some of my
favorite artists who were at the American Craft Council show in
Baltimore this year. Thomas was there. As was Christine Kaiser.
I love Christine's quirky, story-filled work. Here are a couple
images I took at Baltimore. The first one is titled "In a Minute".
The title of the one on the left in the second image is
"I should Dance".

Christine describes her work this way:"My pieces are fairy tales
for the modern world. Like most folktales their story isn’t
always revealed on first glance. They are (I hope) engaging
enough to catch your eye again and again. Part of their charm
is the tension between sweet and not so sweet." I'm drawn to
work with an edge...with tension and a bit of a question. Have
fun checking out her

Finally here is an image of a character I picked up at Baltimore
this year - named "Snogwart" by my grandchildren. He's climbing
on the back of my large dragon. Puppet is by Don Becker....more
about Don in my next post!

Now I'm off to work on my taxes - the Spring fun for all
self-employed people! Peace, Wendy

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dragon's new lair..

As promised, here are more images of the large commissioned
leather dragon and rider I just delivered and installed in a
condo in Baltimore.

First, of course, we had to get it out of the convention center
in Baltimore. This is the photo that Bob Barrett took of me and
his assistant negotiating the dragon down the escalator. Actually
these were taken after the photo shoot in his temporary
photography studio before the show opened.

As I mentioned in the last post, the dragon attracted considerable
attention at the American Craft Council Baltimore show. It is not
often you get to step over a dragon's tail in a booth. People were
very careful. Finally it was time to get the dragon "home". My
husband joined me at the end of the show to help with delivery
and documentation so we have numerous installation photos.
Here are a few, first as you enter the room, then a full view.

And finally a view of the dragon from the loft office area at
the top of the spiral staircase. I had arranged 5 wire loops at
14 inch intervals (the space between the balustrades of the
staircase). For the initial installation we used plastic
electronic ties through the loops and extra green cord to hold
it in place until the customer could replace the cord with better
wire through the loops and up around the base of the railing.
We were pleased how easily and comfortably it attached. The
rider's location turned out perfectly.

The customers and we agreed that the size of the dragon and our
collective vision of the project worked beautifully for this
specific location.

After attaching the dragon to the staircase, the customers shared
photos they had taken in Vietnam, Thailand and China when they
acquired the textiles they had given me to use. It was a real
treat to see the textiles being passed from the individuals who
had woven the pieces to my customers hands...and then see them
on the dragon's belly and rider.They also shared a dictionary of
the dongba pictographic script used by priests of the Naxi people
in Southern China - the only remaining pictographic script used
today, which they had picked up in their travels. Here is a
photo of the cover, and a page with the glyph for dragon!

We left, happy that the dragon was flying in such a beautiful
art-filled home where adventure and learning are so prized.
Speaking of inspiration - my next post will be talking about
some of the amazing artists who were at the ACC Baltimore show.
It is both humbling and energizing to be surrounded by so much
creativity. Until then...journey on! Wendy

Friday, March 5, 2010

10 foot leather dragon goes to ACC Baltimore

And so the journey of the Dragon and I began. In the end it
measured10'5" from snout to tip of the tail. As you can see
from these photos,it was a good thing it wasn't any bigger.
It just fit in our van. Its head rested between the two front
seats, nice company as I drove to Baltimore with a stop in New
Jersey for a visit with friends. Altho I did see a few strange
looks,when people glanced inside the van!

Fortunately, storms were past, so the dragon and I made it safely
to Baltimore for the American Craft Council Show. I had the
photographer, Bob Barrett, take some photos. Bob also took a
photo of me carrying the dragon down the escalator! Have to get
him to email that to me. I'll share it when he does. These are
Bob's photos of "Zeleckaa and Agupo" - Dragon and rider (new
owners get to choose which name goes with which..I try to be
non biased on that front!)

Getting a full shot of a piece over 10 feet long is a real trick,
especially in an impromptu studio setting. It took quite a bit
of time and playing with background paper. For jury slides, I'll
probably use the 3/4 shot, but enjoy having the full one as well
for my records.

Figuring out how to display a 10 foot + dragon in a 10x10 corner
booth was a challenge. Here is what I finally settled on - booth
photo by photographer, Paul Jeremias. I let the neck extend a bit
over my boundary. The dragon made quite a stir at the show. Kids
and adults alike were intrigued and spread the word to look for it!

But,of course,the folks I really wanted to see it were the
customers who commissioned it. They came on Friday morn to
see it for the first time. I appreciated their coming early.
It would have been nerve wracking to wait all day! Although
at first a bit startled by its size and wondering about the
installation,they fell in love with it (thank goodness!).
And when finally installed, agreed it was the perfect size
for the space. Next post will be installation photos.

Journey on! Wendy