Some work just demands to be viewed up close — especially the work of Vija Celmins. I was able to see a retrospective of her work at The Met Breuer in New York City recently. Numerous guards looked nervous as I surveyed her drawings and prints closely.Continue reading “Seeing Vija Celmins Up Close”
After what seemed like forever, the beloved Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University reopened this week. For a town that hovers on average at 100,000 people, we are spoiled to have a free, world-class museum just minutes away. I was fortunate to be among many volunteers that welcomed visitors back in to see the newly re-imagined space.Continue reading “Reopened Eskenazi Museum a treasure for printmaking”
I continue to take my art on the road. Eight of my reduction linocuts are part of an exhibition at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. Titled Art Reflects Science, the exhibition also includes work by Vera Scekic and Hunter Cole. Scekic exploits poured acrylic layers, often scraping, sanding and splicing to create imagery that feels like primordial cells. Geneticist and artist Cole uses bioluminescent bacteria in solution as paint, photographing her work as the bacteria grows stronger and then weaker.
You can read an article about the exhibit here.
Some of my favorite reduction linocuts and new monoprint collages have been peacefully coexisting in a library this month. It is nice to see that while the techniques can be very different, both the colors and the structures of the work seem to harmonize nicely.
The library is part of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey located in southern Indiana. While most of the abbey architecture is made of local sandstone blocks, the library is a white brutalist structure that nestles unobtrusively into the hillside.
I was delighted to give an artist talk about the work to a group of Indianapolis IB math, music and art students recently. As I challenged myself to explain the why of my work, I could see the many mathematical and scientific phenomena that inspire me. The students gave me quite a gift — a kind, attentive and inquisitive audience for the debut of my combined works. In a place of peace and contemplation, I was grateful indeed.
The New Year has dawned…and I’ve been on the road. I am fortunate to be in several group shows this winter, two of which are in the southern part of greater Chicagoland. Because my work is large and heavy, shipping is not an option.
Woody Guthrie and I
My first car load of work was headed to a show at the Victorian House Art Gallery of Olivet Nazarene University, which is located in Bourbonnais, Illinois — a village of Kankakee. All along my drive, I just couldn’t get the “City of New Orleans” lyrics out of my head.
“All on the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out of Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields…”
With temperatures in the single digits, plus wind and blowing snow, Google Maps took me on a journey across very rural parts of Indiana and Illinois, and got me safely to my destination. The patterns of the corn stubble against the snow gave me ideas for new work, although relying on the white of the paper to represent snow can be tricky….
And more framing!
Back at home and I need to get more work framed. Because of the expense of the large frames, I will often switch out the work depending on what is required for a show. I use acrylic (or plexiglass) to frame the largest work, requiring the use of our dining room table to open things up, switch the work, and seal things up again. It has been tremendously cold in the midwest this month, making the house so dry that I would swear lint from the neighbors’ house wanted to leap into the frame. Quite an exercise in patience for me, and my mensch of a husband.
Another trip north…
With the RAV4 loaded with three large works and six medium-sized, I set off another morning for the Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery in Park Forest, Illinois. Warming temperatures and snow covered fields meant most of the eight-hour journey was completely white with fog and clouds. Thankfully the sun finally broke through during my last hour of the drive.
With everything settled in their galleries, I now have time to devote to a new commissioned work instead of heading out on the highway again. I’ll be watching the weather carefully, hopefully driving again on January 20th for openings for both exhibits. If you are in the greater Chicagoland area, here are all the details:
Water. Fire. Ice. Earth. Air.
Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery
376 Artists Walk, Park Forest IL
Opening Saturday, January 20 from 1 – 3pm
January 19 – February 24, 2018
(impressit) A Group of 8 Printmakers
The Victorian House Art Gallery
577 S Main St, Bourbonnais IL
Opening Saturday, January 20 from 12 – 2pm
January 9 – February 7, 2018
We’ve been redecorating at my house this summer. Redecorating is not for the faint of heart. You change one thing, then another. Suddenly you are down the rabbit hole of what we call “home change” — and there is no end in sight. But there is one thing people can do relatively quickly, without new paint or subway tile… and that is rearrange your artwork.
At this point people (gasp!) People seem to assume that art placement in their house is something sacred, that can never be changed unless they move. I think this is a recipe for personal stagnation. But I am sympathetic to these feelings, in that I have a dear spouse who is convinced that everything I hang on our drywall walls requires a screw and an expansion bolt. I stand before you today and say – that is simply not true. You either need some different nails (more about that later) or better yet, your own hanging system.
My birthday present from 2016 was a hanging system for several walls on our main level. It took until the summer for repainting to be completed, and then I ordered my system from Systematic Art. Some details:
• Four white metal channels are now installed on three different walls, just below the ceiling.
• I chose stainless steel cables, because I have had experience with the clear nylon cables getting nicked and worn.
• Self gripping hooks with safety guards were my choice for hangers.
• I made sure to order enough cables and hooks so that the work could be hung from the D-rings on the back of my frames. This helps to hold the work close to the wall, and resist shifting when someone slams the mudroom door.
A hanging system requires no hammer and no math. Just your keen eye, an assistant and maybe a level.
Now it is easy to change the decor of the majority of our living space without nail holes and pesky measuring. A delight!
Admittedly this system wasn’t inexpensive, costing about $250. But since I was hanging heavy work framed in glass, I was willing to invest a bit more in something that will probably be installed long after we no longer live here.
What can you do if you can’t make this investment? Get some OOK nails from the hardware store. These nail and hook sets are easy to use, and twist out when you want to remove them. They leave a small hole that will need to be filled, but don’t require removal with the claw of a hammer which then further damages your walls. I used them to hang my gallery show in April, and they were flawless. Be sure to use two for very long horizontals so your frame doesn’t shift constantly.
So please, do your home a favor and mix up the artwork. It is much cheaper than moving.
April is a month of exhibits for me. My solo show “Ephemeral and Enduring” at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center features my cloudscapes and landscapes. One of my cloudscapes — Cantata for Eventide — was accepted as part of the Indiana Artists Annual Exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The dreaded artist statement
All of this exhibiting requires not only artwork, but also words. For the solo show, I needed to write an artist statement to explain why in the world I made these massive linocuts. As a rule, I find artist statements an exercise in hyperbole where the reader feels inadequate to even be viewing the artwork.
Late summer is a time of letting go in the college town where I live. Parents drop off their students and have to walk away. They must trust that their children will eventually find their way by themselves. From experience, I know this is difficult to do — so much is unknown. It turns out that this experience is similar in showing my artwork.
Letting go of artwork
I have been invited to show work in two upcoming shows, located in Lafayette, IN and southwest Chicago. I loaded my RAV4 with three large works laying flat, and five small pieces tucked behind the front seats. I set off with a friend to begin delivering this work. Instead of speeding north, we were eventually detoured onto back country roads, where we spent an hour with intermittent cell service, snaking our way past orchards and through state forests. “What does this have to do with making art?” I thought to myself.
Delayed more than an hour, we finally drop off one piece and begin the longer part of the journey toward the Argonne National Lab outside of Chicago. Instead of the swift journey forecast by Google Maps, we experienced more delays… and trucks!
After seven hours, we finally pull into the Argonne National Lab, and are greeted by large brick gates, lots of fencing, and a tiny visitor’s center. This is as far as I can go with my art. There is a small area to leave the artwork, which will be moved to the lab’s gallery later in the week.
Now I’m nervous. I have carefully transported my larger work flat, to avoid stress on the frame’s corners. All I can do now is prop them gently against a wall, and pin a note explaining how they need to be moved.
Letting go and trusting the process
When I deliver artwork, I usually bring the work into the space and meet the people who will be installing the exhibit. Argonne National Labs is a collaboration between the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy so in retrospect it makes sense that we left the artwork outside the facility as we were not cleared by security nor escorted. My friend later suggested that the art would be inspected as well. Just as parents cannot find out information about their student’s classes, professors and grades, I must trust my artwork in the hands of others. Not an easy thing to do.
Dealing with loss and change
What do you do when you must let go? Empty nesting parents redecorate, or go on a much needed vacation. The accidents and congestion faded away for our return drive, and we were treated to Simpson’s clouds as we neared the Indiana line. A stop at the Albanese Candy Factory — home of the world’s best gummy bears — lifted our spirits and made the journey home a bit sweeter.
I hope to get back up to the Argonne National Lab to attend the opening. Like Parent’s Weekend this will be my opportunity to convince myself that the artwork is doing just fine without me.
I took a break from my studio routine recently to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s exhibit entitled Gustave Baumann: German Craftsman — American Artist. Baumann actually began his career printing the landscape right near where I live. He joined painter T.C. Steele in Brown County, Indiana carving and printing the hills, forests, fields and quaint rural buildings. Baumann’s relocations and travels truly informed his work — from the browns and oranges of a midwestern fall, to the blues and purples of the Pacific Ocean.
Each period in Baumann’s career was covered extensively in this exhibit. I was most drawn to some of his later work from the mountain west, where he uses brilliant greens, yellows and purples in dramatic ways. Baumann used multiple blocks to create his imagery, and the resulting color combinations are spectacular. It makes me wonder if I should use a few more blocks! Continue reading “An Afternoon with Gustave”