Orly and I are friends who both live in Salem and share a love of old books. What started as an idea last fall, blossomed into something beautiful: a collaborative workshop with Orly and myself. We met to dream about what we would offer, to come up with a title, and to figure out how we would present the class.
Once our ideas began to take shape, we had several photos taken of us together, named our workshop MIXT: Collage on Old Book Boards, and decided that we would each teach two days in our four-day class. The class took place last week and was held in NE Portland at the gorgeous former studio of Flora Bowley. (An added benefit was that Orly and I got to stay at the studio, which has been made into an AirBnB – the commute to and from class was divine.)
Orly taught the first two days, and I taught the second two days. It was a whirlwind of tearing books apart, doing creative drawing exercises, playing with transfers, making our own painted collage papers, and creating the biggest mess we could. No words needed; the photos tell the story.
The workshop was a lovely success. The weather was perfect, and we were able to eat outside on the lovely grounds of the studio and take walks in the morning and evening. Everyone created a series of beautiful collages, incorporating the varied methods and ideas that both of us taught. There was laughter, silence, tears, the sound of paper being ripped, and the sound of a squeaky brayer. Orly and I deepened our friendship as we shared this time and experience together.
My January newsletter went out this week and in it I shared about my participation in the 2023 Salem Readsprogram. This community-wide reading event has been sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation since 2017. I was one of the original artists, and although I have been invited to participate each year since, I didn’t jump on the opportunity. . . .until this year. The chosen book is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.
Invited artists were instructed to read the book and then create a piece of art in response. I listened to the book on Audible, which was read by Trevor; I loved hearing Trevor’s accent and his inflections, making for an enjoyable and humorous experience. The book was presented as a series of short stories, focusing on different eras of his life as a child and young man. The book was heartwarming, funny, tragic, tender, and ultimately a story of redemption as Trevor rose above his tough circumstances.
I was aware of apartheid and knew a little about it, but Trevor’s stories brought it alive through his eyes of a child growing up during the extreme segregation of whites and blacks.
In my artist statement, I was able to share what led me to create what I did for this exhibit.
As I read ‘Born a Crime,’ so many images swirled in my mind. Trevor was born to a black mother and a white father during the extreme racial segregation of South African apartheid. Despite their circumstances, Trevor’s mother demonstrated feistiness, determination, and perseverance. As Trevor matured, he exhibited many of the characteristics of his mother, carving out a life filled with humor, music, inventiveness, and friendship. Before I began my painting in response to ‘Born a Crime,’ I wrote out the text from the Immorality Act of 1927 across the surface of my board, reminding me of the laws in place when Trevor was conceived and born. I painted this piece with the idea of a young man rising out of the darkness of apartheid, which I translated into colors. I filled the niche with objects representing Trevor’s creativity, spirit, and abundance despite his circumstances.
The piece I created is 16×16 inches square and three inches deep, with a 5×5 inch niche filled with charms and small trinkets. I attached these small items using string, which I tacked to the top of the niche using vintage, colorful thumb tacks.
The 2023 show runs from February 1-25, and will be held in the Art Hall at the Salem Public Library. At the end of February, the show will be packed up and transported to a series of regional libraries; my piece will return to Salem in June.
If you’re interested in learning more about the pieces of art created for the show, several of the participating artists (myself included), appeared on Joel Zak’s KMUZ radio show, Talking About Art, last Friday. A recording of the show can be found on the KMUZ website by going HERE. During my segment, I talked about my motivation behind the piece of art I created for the show.
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The Word and Image show is one of my favorite projects and it took place last month at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita (on the Oregon coast). This event occurs biennially, and I was fortunate to have participated in 2020, so I was eager to apply for 2022. The process for the show goes like this:
Artists and writers are invited to submit samples of their work; artists submit three art images and writers submit three poems/short stories. The jury then chooses 12 artists and 12 writers. A pairing event is held where an artist’s name is pulled from a hat, then a writer’s name is pulled from a hat, and voila! those two are partners. The artist choses one of the three writing entries and creates a new piece of art in response to the words, likewise, the writer choses a piece of art from those submitted and writes a poem or short story in response. This new work is submitted electronically so beautiful broadsides can be printed and a book prepared and published.
MY PAINTING PROCESS
I chose to use an 18×28 inch cradled birch panel. I prepared it with acrylic paint, a layer of plaster, more acrylic paint to seal the plaster, and a couple layers of oil and cold wax. This was all the preparation to begin painting in response to the writer I was paired with, Simeon Dreyfuss. I chose Simeon’s poem, Walk Roots the Day as the piece I was using for my responsive painting. When the initial layers of my prepped board were completely dry, I wrote Simeon’s poem across the surface of my board.
I began adding layers of paint, looking for the poem to emerge.
After layers of paint, and scraping off a layer, I worked on this piece when I wasn’t teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology– either early in the morning, or in the evening after my students had left for the day. It seemed appropriate to be painting this piece while I was at Cascade Head on the Oregon coast.
Art was delivered to the gallery, art and broadsides were hung, an online reception was held, and a beautiful book was published.
A HAPPY POSTSCRIPT
As I was working on this blog post, I took a break to welcome Paula Booth into my home. Paula is a professor of art at Western Oregon University and also curates the art at two northwest hotels, The Dundee and The Independence. I am fortunate to have art at both hotels and we had made arrangements for Paula to come to my house to view my available work to change out some of my pieces at The Independence. I had just picked up Storm Mounting from the Hoffman Center for the Arts, and so it was one of my available pieces. Paula was excited to include this painting in the group of paintings she selected.
I had the privilege of teaching two classes at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. The first, June 30-July 3, was in the smaller of the two studios at Sitka, Smith, and with ten students, it was the perfect space.
Because I was teaching two classes and they were back-to-back (I had the 4th of July off between the two classes), I got to stay at Morley House, which was a first for me. I loved this space!
Now to the good stuff. The class. I could babble on about it, but instead I’m going to share photos – a fraction of the photos I took, but it gives a good look into our four days of art making. The group was talented, energetic, spirited, and hard workers — and they wanted to know if they could sign up for my 2023 class on the final day!
What a thrill it was to hang my show at Guardino Gallery a couple of weeks ago. I always like behind the scenes photos, so I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of the hanging on May 25, 2022. My show partner, Nadine Gay, was there with her husband, and my husband/studio assistant/business manager showed up and did a bit of everything to help get the show hung. It took six of us four hours to get the whole show hung.
I did an earlier post about Howard’s hanging of my 25-piece grid made up of individual 8×8 inch pieces, and you can see that post by clicking here.
I had an idea for a painting I wanted in my show at Guardino Gallery. I envisioned a grid of smaller paintings hung together to create a large 40×40 inch piece of art. I decided the small paintings would be 8×8 inches. But the initial problem was how to hang 25 paintings in a manner that would allow me to work on all 25 at the same time, as if I was actually painting a 40×40-inch piece of art. My studio assistant came to the rescue. He devised a system using Velcro. He attached Velcro to the back of the 25 8×8-inch cradled panels, then matched up the other piece of Velcro to the wall, allowing all of the paintings to hang together, but could easily be removed for me to 1) paint the edges, and 2) work on each piece individually when it became time to resolve each piece as a single painting.
After I secured the 25 panels (thank you Art Department for ordering so many boards for me), they were primed with fluorescent pink and orange acrylic paint by my studio assistant. I decided to start the painting process using acrylic paint to get lots of layers of color and marks. It was such fun to paint across the surface with grand swaths of paint, and occasionally pull the panels off the wall to wrap paint around and onto the edges.
After a few layers of acrylic, I switched to oil paint mixed with cold wax, and began enhancing and adding more layers, words, and marks.
About ten years ago I discovered this 25×49 inch framed painting on canvas at a local Goodwill; I think I might have paid $25. I didn’t buy it for the painting, but as an inexpensive canvas to repurpose for my own art. The canvas got tucked away in our shed, and I forgot about it. Last year I rediscovered it and took a closer look. It was signed on the back by M. Runyan and it had been painted in 1985. I asked my artist friend Bonnie Hull, who is familiar with many artists in Salem over the years, if she knew of the artist, but the name didn’t ring a bell. So I decided I would give the painting a makeover. And as it turns out, another makeover, and then another until I was finally satisfied. For now, anyway.
I opened a big bucket of gesso and began covering erasing the six starred bottles (I kind of cringed and then cried a bit).
And then I began applying paint.
Life got busy and once again I abandoned this canvas. The bottles were gone, gesso applied, and some bands of color slapped on. Not sure where I stored the canvas, probably in the upstairs hallway, but it got tucked away until last July when I pulled it out again. This time I started adding swaths of black, green, pink, and burgundy.
It was at a stopping point and I hid it away again for many months. Until two weeks ago when we packed it into our car and drove to Astoria. I thought maybe it would look nice in our House of Color since we were in need of a piece of art above our couch.
Nope. It didn’t look good at all and I didn’t even like the painting anymore, so instead of dragging it home, I took it upstairs to my studio and painted some swaths of wild color.
It was fine, kind of fun, definitely colorful, but it lacked any kind of KAPOW, so back upstairs it went. I pulled out more paint, began spreading, scraping, and marking.
It was finally what I had wanted all along (but didn’t know what that was until it appeared). Here is the final painting and some close ups of different areas.
But guess what? I needed a big painting for Fogue Gallery in Seattle, so this finally finished pop of color piece of art will be heading north on Thursday and be on display and for sale just in time for the Georgetown Art Attack on Saturday, April 7.
And the wall above our couch is once again empty and in need of art.
Finally, our long overdue and postponed group show, Traces, is now on view at the Salem Art Association Annex Gallery. During the two-year wait for things to reopen and get our show rescheduled, we changed our name from the Salem Art group to the Band of Artists Collective, but we’re the same group of talented artists. We’ve been plotting and planning for this show over the past few months, and got together in February to make final preparations (and take a very serious group photo).
The title of our show Traces, could be interpreted however we chose, but our group show statement explains it in more detail:
Like messages to the future and from the past, the traces of nine different paths converge here in the Annex Gallery this spring. As mark makers of varying sorts, these nine artists of the Band of Artists Collective use the indications of their existence as persons in their art work. An interest in superimposing experience, idea, image, and color onto canvas, paper, wood, and fabric is the shared language of any group of artists, this group included.
Artists understand the term palimpsest as way of reusing materials and ideas, of scraping an older work away while leaving a trace behind, a shadow, a nuance of an earlier idea. As women, as artists, as gardeners…as daughters and mothers and friends, we find the trace of others stamped on our minds just as we leave a shadow behind.
Although there is always a narrative somewhere buried in an artwork, it is less necessary to know each individual story than to sense the traces that appear in the work. Bring your own eyes to the work displayed here, perhaps finding a trace of communication.
Earlier this week, art work was dropped off. The day I dropped off my work, Kay was dropping off her pieces and Robin was busily hanging Katy’s work, while Kathy was trying to keep track of all of the final details.
Fast forward to Thursday. I was out for my weekly walk with Joni, and we decided to swing by the Art Annex to see the show. It was so nice to walk into the space and have it to ourselves. It’s a stunning show.
The work for each of the nine artists:
Salem Art Association prepared a beautiful color brochure, which includes a photo of everyone’s work along with individual artist statements.
Here is what I wrote for my Artist Statement – even before I had created my body of work.
Mixed media is often a wild goose chase down a twisted rabbit hole. It involves a series of what if questions and actions. What if I glued this down, drew a line over the top, added some paint, glued something else down, and then took a sander to it to reveal the first layer of collage, added more paint, then glued something else down, wrote with a wax crayon, then started over?
It is all a grand experimental mystery, which somehow all comes together one way or another. This project fits perfectly with my 2022 word of the year: RISK. I am taking a risk working in a new way, one I have been intrigued with for several years but somehow fear held me back: How can I cover a beautiful collage with paint? And yet covering it, excavating, concealing, and revealing is what I love doing and something I do in paint all the time.
Creating my mixed media pieces is a messy affair, a wild cacophony of cutting, tearing, drawing, gluing, painting, writing, scraping, sanding, layering, revealing, and varnishing. My pieces reflect my curiosity, playfulness, irreverence, and my love of texture, history, and a touch of surprise.
The opening reception was held tonight, it was a marvelous gathering of artists, art lovers, friends, family, and supporters.
I’m delighted to share the news that my art is in a new gallery (and in a new state). I was invited by the owner of Fogue Gallery, Kerry Gates, to display my art at this lovely Georgetown gallery, located about four miles south of downtown Seattle. Georgetown is a lively and funky neighborhood, with several art galleries, numerous restaurants, eclectic shops, and the Georgetown Trailer Mall.
Last month, Howard and I made the drive north to the gallery to hang my art on a beautiful, freshly painted white wall, where we hung five of my oil and cold wax paintings.
The second Saturday of every month is Georgetown’s Art Attack, so we got a room at the Georgetown Inn and attended our first art walk. What a blast!
I got to see my friend Kathleen, who has been a longtime artist at the gallery, and she was gracious enough to introduce me to several of the other artists showing their work in the gallery.
Our oldest daughter lives in Tacoma and she drove up to show her support and cheer me on.
What an evening.
A tiny peek at Georgetown in case you’ve never been . . .
And my biggest thanks goes to my husband, Howard, who does ALL of the behind the scenes work like wiring, inventory, cataloging, schlepping, hanging, adjusting lights, and color coordinating his clothes to match my art.
The next Georgetown Art Attack is Saturday, March 12. I’ll be there, so stop by and say hello.
I have too many flippin’ journals all going at once, so what am I thinking starting another one. I am a sucker for journals. At the current time I am actively working in several. Follow me . . . .
Color Journal: A place to keep track of colors I like, the brands of colors because not all colors are the same, what happens when certain colors are mixed together, formulas of colors I like, and the Pantone color of the year (this year it is Very Peri).
A small painting journal where I have combined paintings with art quotes on the opposite page. This has been in process for the past couple of years.
A vintage book where I wipe off excess paint from my palette, clean off my brushes on the pages, glue in leftover tidbits, and experiment with quick ideas that pop into my head.
Visual Journal: This 9×12 inch journal is my hard-working jack of all trades journal. I take notes in it when I take a class, record ideas for a painting or a show, sketch out ideas, and take notes at art meetings. This is my official visual journal and has been a key part of my art practice for many years. The journals are lined up in my studio with little tags indicating the dates covered in each journal.
Collage Journal: An old composition book where a student kept notes and did engineering types of drawing, and also glued in tests and notes. I use this journal to create collage compositions right over the writing and drawings. The glued in papers I have torn out, but gluey residue peeks through on many of the pages.
Junk Journal: I created this big chunky book out of hundreds of pieces of old papers, collage materials, and ephemera, and created three signatures (or was it four? the journal is thick). The junk part was my use of junky papers, but then I have gone back in and embellished the pages, fleshing out more complete collage compositions. I have been working on this one for months!
Covid Journal: When Covid hit in full force in early 2020, I took one of the junk journals I had made and recorded milestones and statistics for the first full year of our lockdown. Every once in a while I will go back in make a note or update the statistics. Sadly, I am entering the third year of entries.
Travel Journal: Anytime we take a biggish trip, I maintain a travel journal. My most recent travel journal was done in September when we spent a couple of weeks in New York. I used a handmade artist journal and cut and glued paper and ephemera from our daily excursions.
Which brings me to January, 2022, and the decision to what I plan to do regarding a journal in the new year. In 2019 I committed to painting a painting a day in a 9×9 inch journal and somehow I pulled it off. Sometimes I was playing catch up, but for the most part keeping that painting journal got me into my studio. Every. Single.Day. (And it took seven journals to get through the year.)
A few of my favorite paintings from my 2019 journals:
In deciding what kind of journal would be most enjoyable, I flashed back to 2012 when I used “The Open Daybook,” a perpetual calendar book, edited by David P. Earle. I remember buying this big book of a journal at Monograph Bookwerks (fine art books, objects, + ephemera), located in NE Portland, and I was so excited to use it to record what I did every day for a year. Each page has original art by 365 artists (actually 371 as some worked in groups), so the imagery and graphics were always a treat.
A few of my pages from 2012. My entries were short and sweet, but really captured in detail how I spent my days.
That year of record keeping got me to thinking about what kind of journal I would keep now, ten years later. I keep a lot of visual journals (obviously, from the list above), and I have a calendar on my desk. But what if I kept my own sort of Daybook, a cross between what I did today, but coupled with a sprinkling of collage, dabs of paint, imagery, ideas, quotes, and what is on my mind (now there’s a scary thought). I liked the sound of this combination and I just happened to have the right journal for the job (cue the dramatic music), a chunky beast of a journal, built by Leather Village craftspeople.
I wrote a private preamble on New Year’s Eve, then jumped in on January 1st.