Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Savoring nearby people and exhibits: JP artist Sandie Fenton and El Anatsui exhibit

Often in this blog, I share the work of those I meet during my
travels or talk about my own projects. Today I'm lifting
up the idea of savoring exhibits and people close to home.

First - the work of a very long time friend, Jamaica Plain, MA,
artist, Sandie Fenton. Sandie and I began our journey into the
fine craft world together in the early 70's. For a short time we
even exhibited together under the name "Common Ground".
I was a potter, Sandie a weaver. Occasionally we cooperated for
"loom" pots...I threw them, she wove in the openings. Turns out
(somewhat to my embarrassment) my mother-in-law kept one:

Needless to say we both moved on, changing media and vision.
A while back, Sandie made the decision to stop traveling to do
shows in order to delve deeper into her work and to be freer
for experimental exploration. Fall of 2009 she gathered a
group of 12 artists to begin the Time Project - The artists
(ranging in age from 52-75) committed themselves
producing one piece a week for a year and to meet once a
month to share and explore. The focus : Time - interpreted
however the artists chose. My schedule didn't allow me to join,
but I have been following the project with fascination. Various
individuals in the group created blogs connected to the project.
Sandie started hers this year:
Rather than speak for her, I encourage you to go to her blog to
get the direct scoop on the project from Sandie and
to see images of her work and read about the concepts she
is exploring. The image at the beginning of this post is of one
of the pieces she created in connection with the project.
entitled: "Haiti - Struggle and Spirit".

I had the good fortune to see the presentation the group offered
at the year's end which included sharing some of their work-
sculptures, artist books, photographs, miniature paintings, digital
flip books and more. They also showed a video of the meetings
which helped the audience get a real feel for the meaningful
and supportive interaction of the group. (7 hours of taping down
to 20 min. - quite a feat of editing!)

The group, slightly reconfigured, started up again this year
again with monthly meetings, but with the commitment to
produce monthly, instead of weekly. This year Sandie has
said her personal focus is: " Memory: Strength and Fragility".

Never being one to only do one thing, Sandie also just
completed a commission for Children's Hospital in Waltham.
The hospital is opening a newly renovated wing this summer.
It promises to be filled with glorious fun art. I spent a lot of
time with our children in Boston's Children's hospital when
they were young and know how important engaging art is in
a hospital. I took this snapshot of Sandie's 30 " x 48" wall piece,
"Two Horses and Their Friends" before she delivered it. Her blog
gives details on the commission and metal and paper materials.

These close ups help show the three dimensional aspect of the
piece. She was allowed 3 inches of relief depth. It will be
framed in wood and plexiglass. I can almost hear the voices of
children making up stories!

And - why just limit oneself to visual art? Several years ago,
Sandie initiated a monthly writing group to keep momentum
going for some memoir writing she was doing. I joined the
group a few years ago - first working on a mythic tale (more
info on that in future blog posts) , then lately on a bit of walking
down memory lane myself. I'm intrigued to see if I can identify
and understand the origins of the "threads" which have seemed
to pull me through life. Or perhaps see they have always been
there in one form or another. Regular meetings really help keep
the writing going.

Finally - Sandie always keeps an eye open to finding
what intriguing exhibits or performances are coming
to town...and then making sure they are not missed by
friends. Latest case in point was her insisting we HAD
to be sure to see the exhibit at the Davis Gallery at Wellesley
College of Ghanian artist El Anatsui : -
She was right, of course. My only regret was that I
didn't get to it earlier. I saw it last week only a few days
before it closed. I would have enjoyed going back again
and again and figured a way to bring along some of the
youth I work with. For visual and conceptual inspiration
El Anatsui's work is breath taking. This exhibit is traveling to
other cities. If it is anywhere nearby, go! At a minimum, do
some internet searching on him. Here is a short Youtube
link featuring El Anatsui:

So as I said at the beginning of the blog... travel and
explore, but don't forget to savor those nearby and
to appreciate the life gifts creative friends offer - and if
they suggest an exhibit...don't wait!

Adventure on near and far! Wendy


  1. the loom pot is fantastic! Thanks for sharing all the links & "finds!" you always have such interesting travels....

  2. Yes so important to savor those close to home. I feel so lucky to have grown up surrounded by artists and their work. It has been inspiring to see how your and Sandie's work continues to change over the years. I hope this year I can get to some open studios since I will finally be close enough. Thanks for sharing!