Sunday, November 17, 2013

Movement ,form and dance - at American Fine Craft and Contemporary Art Show NYC October 2013

This year at the American Fine Craft Show NYC, I was fortunate to
have my booth across from that of Lila Turjanski-Villard.  I had
seen  her work at previous shows and admired it, but never had 
much chance to  talk to her.  As Lila says on her website, she
has always had a passion for art and dance - something I relate
strongly .  It is the amazing movement, grace, and interactions 
in her work which draw me to it.
Lila explain on her website: "The themes of movement, space
and communication are constantly present in my artwork. I
like to explore the suggestions of bodies in communication
in movement and in rhythm with space." 

Dancing shadows enhance the work. 

Marc Jenesel and Karen Pierce: were there
with  "Jewely for the Home in Clay, Fiber,Metal and Stone"
offering more movement and form through their collaboration
of raku pottery(Marc)  and woven sculpture (Karen).  The forms
danced and soared in the booth:

Another exhibitor,Mary O'Malley, talks about dance from a
different  perspective.  On her website she says: " The dance 
that results from trying to  find a balance between what we can
control and what we cannot is where I believe true beauty lies."
Mary was there with her intriguing "Bottom Feeders" series
which seem to tell the tale of  sea creatures taking over the
remnants of an elegant dining experience interrupted by a
devastating shipwreck. 

Fall of 2014, Mary will be off to the Royal Academy
of Art working toward a MA.  I wonder what series
that might provoke?

And finally - while on the subject of movement -
How about painting while flying over a canvas?
That is exactly what Indorato, the flying artist
does...and did in his intriguing weighted flying
apparatus at the show.  His canvases are so large
being able to hover  above them helps..

You can  see a video of Michael  "flying" on the homepage
of his website. Just goes to show, you never know what you'll 
miss by not attending a show.  Unfortunately, lots of folks
missed all this at the Javits this October.  Attendance was low-
so this show will not return to the Javits.   

The Brooklyn Museum  seems a better location -
and that is exactly where I am heading for the
venue and work promises to be extraordinary.
But before that - a popup gallery exhibit with two
other Roxbury artists...we're showing under the
name "Journeys By Hand".at a gallery/work space on
Beacon Hill -bridging neighborhoods through art. Images
of the fun there in my next post. 

Adventure on!   Wendy

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wiskune and Hocus Pocus in Northampton

Wiskune, the mystic carried his mystery and fun to
the Hocus Pocus exhibit at the Paradise City Arts
Festival in Northampton as promised in the last
post..and yes, he posed for a good photo before
leaving for his permanent home.

This Hocus Pocus exhibit was a good mixture of
mayhem and magic.


 I was intrigued by the magical ships of Rafaela McCormack.
Into what worlds of magic might the paper sculptures in
the exhibit and her booth be sailing?

Of course what would hocus pocus be without a few rabbits,
pigs and frogs?  Alan and Rosemary Bennett provided these

Since magic, mystery and fun is embedded in much of
my work, I offered this large sketchbook/journal to
the exhibit to encourage a spell or story or two.

In Northampton, I also experimented with
a new backdrop for my booth.  I discovered had the perfect wrinkle free
washable backdrop to give a clean look.  Since so
much of my work involves black leather, the
white really helps.(I'm not sure why the black
cloth looks so funky in this is plain
black - not textured gray as it looks here.

After the Paradise City Arts Festival, I was off to
NYC for the American Fine Craft Show NYC.  Next
post about that experience Oct. 24-27.

Adventure on!   Wendy

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Mystical figure commission - almost completed..

 As I mentioned in my last blog, there has been a figure in my
studio  for a while, waiting patiently for finishing touches. The 
order was placed  at ACC Baltimore in February, with no specific
deadline for completion ...although  I had been aiming for the 
customer's birthday in late August.  He generously  told me not 
to compromise my grandparenting duties in  order to finish and
added:   "Time might just be a sales promotional thing for watchmakers." 
I do try to meet deadlines, but certainly appreciated the 
freedom this time around, especially for this type of figure. 
My notes on the order stated:  commission for  a "mystical" 
standing figure about 26 " tall, with a staff ,ceramic heads, hands, 
feet, lots of color. He had admired my figures for a long time,
and realized I was moving in new directors so if he wanted one,
he'd  better act soon.  He told me he liked lots of things, including
ships, but left the details to me.

It's been fun revisiting this type of work...and realizing how 
connected I still feel to it.  Circling back has been instructive.
 I realize what I have learned in recent years re armature (the
figures are more sturdy now) and made me think again about
story being at the core of  my art. 

In my last blog, I  promised some process photos.   The 
figures begin with sculpted fire and glaze clay parts, wire,
polyester, thread and muslin:   

After creating the basic figure, I started looking around the
studio to see what textiles and leathers I had to create a
mystical look.  The materials have a magical way of just
being there...waiting...The top of a heavily embroidered hat
seemed just right for vest embellishment:

An old quilted and embroidered piece was waiting to become
a mystical cape. It just needed some more beads, trim, story items
and a collar made from part of an old embroidered Japanese kimono.

The staff?  Hmm...I wandered in our yard looking for an 
appropriately twisted stick..found a dead branch on our curly
willow just the right size...and saw a bird skull that I had picked
up on the beach during a writing retreat sitting on the shelf at
my work table....It fit exactly on the top of the branch.  
At little carving of the wood, a little stain and paint..and it was
ready for addition of some silver medallions, beads, leather and

Then, of course, no mystical figure should be without a 
book of spells...
or nice beaded sandals:

A leather mask seemed in order:

oops...can't forget that mention of ships. A little embroidery
on the back of the suede coat would be a nice surprise:

And so the mystical figure has emerged.. Folks will be able
to see the almost finished figure at Roxbury Open Studios
this weekend. (October 5-6) at my home studio.  I'll work on
his name and legend this weekend.


I'll undoubtedly add a few more details next week, then take
him out to be displayed in the special "Hocus Pocus" exhibit
at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton next weekend.
I'll be in booth #805 at the festival with all my other work..
some inspired by this guy (including some miniature mystical
books.)  I hope to get a good photo of him at the festival. I'll share
that in my next post.

On return, I'll pack the figure up...and he will journey to his new
home and greet my very patient customer.

Here's hoping some of you are able to stop by my studio this
weekend or my booth next weekend in Northampton!

Adventure on!   Wendy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Summer "Nana art camp"

Family time is precious. With this in mind, I made the decision to
spend this  summer enjoying children, their spouses, and our 7
grandchildren rather than travelling to outdoor art shows.   One
daughter and her family live in Ecuador now, but came up for the
summer. We came together in New York, Virginia and
Massachusetts enjoying each other, including cuddling
two new grandbabies.

Here in Boston while our 8 year old grandson was at Taekwondo
camp, his 5 year old sister, Eliana, who tells everyone she is an
artist, requested "Nana art camp". Their parents were busy
launching a  new non-profit library and literacy project. (Stay
tuned for more of  that in future blog posts.)
Here are images and descriptions of some Nana art camp
activities.  We covered lots  of  media and took field trips
for extra inspiration.

Clay - experimenting with textures, balls, and making coil pots

After firing...we opted for painting with acrylics, rather than glazing:

One finished tall coil pot:

Mixed media sculpture - a walk around the neighborhood, and
search in my  studio resulted in this stone/wire/bead creature:

Two field trips to the Museum of Fine arts provided lots of
inspiration.  Eliana's brother joined us for the trip to see the
Samurai armor exhibit:
to see  incredible craftsmanship in leather, wood and bronze.
The dragon mask below was made to be  worn by a horse.

Eliana and I checked out the Hippie Chic exhibit:
. Eliana
imagined her Nana wearing some of the outfits. (Somehow
some of the  outfits  didn't seem too far off today's garb.)
Though I have to admit I never felt quite as stylish in
the 60's as the models looked and didn't have white hair.
Eliana spent a long time looking at shapes and sketching
dress designs, and choosing her favorites. She finished
the design below back at home:
Looks like one I might have worn...or might now.

We stitched up a new "work" dress for her doll.
Every artist needs a place to store things. A painted plastic box
was perfect to keep a few items found in my studio to take back
to Ecuador to continue to working there.

Learning about promotion is important for aspiring  artists
so I encouraged  Eliana to design and decorate her own
business cards:

Then she decided she needed a  leather card holder.

 Well...yes it did look like the ones I make. She saw me working
and asked me to show her hot to make them.As you can  see in the
photo above with the cards..she added her own style and color to
the finished holder. I was sorry this skillful apprentice couldn't
stay around to help with my inventory this Fall.

Another field trip to a neighborhood site  which was filled with
large paintings and sculpture this summer offered further
 inspiration:  You never know what
awesome art might be just around the corner!

We pulled in Grandpa and brother, Joaquin, for some of the fun there:

Back in the studio...creatures roamed
and emerged . "Alice, the dragon" came to life

with Alice's story, of course:

It was a wonderful summer....
Now back to a usual Fall schedule...and catching up on some
of my overdue business orders....including the creation of
a standing mystical storyteller....Next post I'll share some
process photos of him.  He's been patient this summer...
evolving slowly, but ready to be finished now...

and the American Fine Craft Show NYC...all in October!!

I hope you all had wonderful summers....

Adventure on.  Wendy

Saturday, June 29, 2013

HYCC kids explore greenhouses

Another Spring - another fun project with kids at
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center's after
school program. Last year's project was Green
architecture, this year's focus was  greenhouses.
With a grant from the Boston Foundation for Architecture
we helped the kids learn about different types of
greenhouses, their construction and uses. Then had
them visualize, plan and make a model of their "own"

During  initial discussions of greenhouses, we looked
at pictures of different styles (super fancy to simple),
locations (urban to rural) , and elements (glass, plastic,
metal or wood construction etc. ) Next we took a field
trip to the nearby working greenhouse on the top
of the Roxbury Community College. Ms. Nasreen
Latif,  in charge of programs using the greenhouse,
showed us the seedlings growing there.

 The kids took lots of photos inside and outside and

and checked out the solar collectors on the roof  as well.

Back at the center, the kids began exploring ideas
of how they might design a greenhouse.
They drew designs, thought what they would
like to grow inside, then turned to construction
ideas. The youngest kids (K1-1st grade) worked
on their ideas via blocks.
The older kids (2nd to 6th grade) used leggos:

We combined elements to come up with
a collaborative design and talked about scale.

A  small group went on  a special tour of the
greenhouse at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum,

Ms. Johnetta Tinker showed us around and
explained how the staging greenhouse in the
new wing is used to hold plantings used
elsewhere in the museum, as well as used
for art activities.  The kids took notes, photos,
and reported back to be able to report back
to the entire group. They explained how
they saw some of the nasturtiums which hang in the
courtyard in the Spring, talked about the flooring,
metal mesh tables and ventilation.

Then the serious model making began. ...Working on a
1"= 1 foot scale we created a 20" x 28" model on a
plywood base.  Colorful duct tape made a border, and
vinyl tiles the flooring - the kids wanted to be sure it
looked waterproof. Using model magic, self drying clay,
and other materials the kids created flowers, benches,
fountains,planting  beds etc.

Dowels up from wood kneewalls, wood cross supports,
wire curved roof beams...and the basic structure took
shape with liberal use of hot glue.

The kids had observed fans and watering systems in
the greenhouses, so made fans from popsicle sticks
and linked straws which stretched across and down the
walls offered the illusion of a sprinkler system.

Our finished walls were of heavy duty plastic stapled
to our structure.

The final model was displayed in the Isabella Gardner
Museum greenhouse as our contribution to the
Community Creations celebration. It's always
exciting and a real affirmation for the kids to see
their work exhibited, especially at a museum.
The model will be there through all June and
July for everyone to enjoy.
 Later we will take it to the Dudley Library to put on
display for additional viewing.

This spring the kids planted their own garden
plot behind HYCC and helped plant raised beds in the
lot next to HYCC. Maybe HYCC can have its
own full sized greenhouse someday. It's such
fun seeing kids excited in the presence of nature.

For now, I'm turning to working in our garden
and spending the summer  with our grandchildren.
Although, I hope to finish up a commission or
two as well.. I'll try to get up some process

My best to everyone for a wonderful
action filled summer.

Adventure on,  Wendy