Wednesday, November 24, 2010

“Work: In Progress,” Varied Subjects

My artwork was on view September 2-19, 2010, at the Johnson County (Kansas) Library’s Central Resources Center.  This post shares images and commentary from that show.

The "Work: In Progress" show spans several decades, and gives kind of a past/present/future view of my work. It included some of my 2-D work from my "first art career" in the 1980s, all of the current paper sculptures, and sketchbook pages, which show some of my works in progress--a glimpse of the future.

In my last post, I showed the work from the south-side display case, which focused on my fantasy artwork, and included 2-D pieces dating back to the 1980s, when I was showing and selling my artwork exclusively in the science fiction and fantasy genre.  In this post, I focus on works from the north-side display case, which address a variety of non-genre subjects.

The northern (right-hand) display case at the library was devoted to work on a variety of topics.

 Development pages for "Midwest Flora" Series, 2009.
In September 2009 I took a series of photos near the site of the Hidden Glen Arts Festival, Olathe, KS, which formed the nucleus for a new series. This sketchbook spread shows some of the studies I did for what I intend to be an ongoing series.

"Monarch Season" 2009-2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
This was the first piece I started, in the "Midwest Flora" series. It includes four species of plants, as well as a Monarch butterfly, created to scale.

 "Wind in the Grass" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
I used a "design approach" to create this small piece, floating a "cropped" rectangle of grasses against a textured background. It also is part of my ongoing "Midwest Flora" series.

"Windblown" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
In this piece I returned to my love of rendering leaves (see "Treetop Primaries" and "The Leaf Thing" in the Fantasy Subjects album for this show). My objective was to explore the expressive possibilities in making the leaves seem not only like they were blowing in a wind gust, but also to explore ways of "floating" them above one another so they would seem airborne. This piece is the third one completed so far, of my ongoing "Midwest Flora" series.

Development pages for Yemeni Architecture Series, 2010.
Ever since I first discovered the beauty of traditional Yemeni architecture, I've wanted to make art about it. Greatly aided by Google Image Search, and later by my treasured friend Zaid, I have been attempting to do justice to these amazing structures in the medium of paper sculpture. This is just one of many spreads from recent sketchbooks.

 "Sana'a Fantasy" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
 This was the first piece I created, based on the wonderful traditional architecture of Yemen. Unfortunately, some of the architectural features truly are "fantasy." When I showed it to my dear friend Zaid, he gently informed me that the windows are all wrong. I now am at work on several pieces that attempt to portray the windows of Old Town Sana'a more accurately—but in the meantime, I still felt the dimensionality of the buildings and mountains created an interesting design.

"House on a Rock" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
This piece is based on architecture from the mountainous northeast part of Yemen, though once again my extraordinarily helpful friend Zaid has alerted me that I've mixed different villages' styles. I'll try to do better in future works!  There were multiple challenges involved in cutting these pieces in perspective, in reverse (the construction lines are on the back).  However, the hardest part of making this piece has to be the rocks. I added the Prismacolor pencil marks before folding, so I had to do a lot of imaginative visualization to get them to come out looking right.  I now list "can fold rocks" as one of my super-powers.

 "Through the Arch" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
This small piece also is an architectural study, but it is not based on the buildings in Yemen. It was more an exploration of the ways I could combine the optical illusion of drawn shadows and highlights to create visual texture, with the actual dimensionality achieved by layering several depths of real texture.

"Four Seasons Courtyard" 2007, earthenware and glaze.
I based this piece on traditional Islamic garden design (as a microcosm for Paradise). Each corner references a different season—perhaps it is not the most subtle expression of the idea that we live in Paradise right here on earth, but I had fun with it.

 "Fields Like Patchwork" 2007, earthenware and glaze.
Aside from the pun in its name (the fields are laid out like a 9-patch quilt block), this piece also expresses my love for the beauty of the earth as seen from an airplane window.  I deeply loved working with handbuilt ceramic sculpture, and would like to explore this medium further in the future.

 Developmental pages for "Italian Greyhounds" images.
I've always loved the sleek beauty of sight hounds, so naturally when I came to own a pair of Italian Greyhounds, I knew sooner or later they'd show up in my artwork.  The tan-and-white dog in the photos on the left side of the page is my dog Jake. The little black one on the right is my Brenna.  As you can tell from my little "first prototype," I'm still working on how to turn them into paper sculpture. I've nicknamed this little guy "Oakley," because his color reminds me of a dog owned by my friends Brad and Jessica. 

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the artwork in my "Work: In Progress" display. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

“Work: In Progress,” The Fantasy Collection

My artwork was on view September 2-19, 2010, at the Johnson County (Kansas) Library’s Central Resources Center.  The "Work: In Progress" show spans several decades, and gives kind of a past/present/future view of my work. It included some of the 2-D work from my "first art career" in the 1980s, all of the current paper sculptures, and sketchbook pages, which show some of my works in progress--a glimpse of the future.
The left-hand (southern) display case focused on my fantasy artwork, and this collection is the focus of this post.  I'll focus on the other display next time.   
The fantasy collection included three images from my “first art career” as a science fiction and fantasy artist/illustrator in the 1980s, as well as my current, mixed media paper sculptures, many of which have been shown at the ConQuesT, Conestoga, and Capricon science fiction and fantasy conventions.  All of the paper sculptures were displayed in the “Paper Dragons” show, Roeland Park, KS, March 2010.
"Stormwings" 1985, acrylic on Masonite.
This painting took 6 months to create, from first sketches through final brushstroke. Back in those days, I had to rely on images clipped from publications, for reference material. It took a week to find a grainy newspaper image of ducks taking off from a pond, that I could use for "wing" reference. Nowadays, I'd have hundreds of images available with one image search!
"Harmony" 1984, graphite on paper.
I used this drawing for our "Christmas Print" in 1984, and displayed it at numerous shows.
"Enlightenment" 1988, ink on Bristol board.
This piece was used for a "Christmas Print" in 1988. The model for the little boy was my son Ty, who was two years old at the time. The titles on the spines of the books on the shelves behind him were all titles of books written or published by people on our Christmas mailing list that year.
"The White Dragon in His Cloud" 2007, mixed media paper sculpture.
This was my first piece of paper sculpture.  I'd been thinking about the possibilities of making dragons in paper sculpture for quite some time, and a few months earlier I'd spent a fun afternoon doing somewhat nonobjective acrylic paintings.  I wasn't sure what to do with them, however, until one day I sat down and began to make my little dragon.  This piece took an afternoon (and the better part of two years) to make.
"A Nest in the Wildwood" 2009, mixed media paper sculpture.
I used painted bits for the background that date back to 2007, but the rendering on the feathers is more sophisticated than my little "White Dragon."
"The Wild Thing in the Weeds" 2009. Mixed media paper sculpture.
This piece was completed not long after "Wildwood," and I drew my materials from the same sources.
"Bone Dragon" 2009, mixed media paper sculpture. 
Kindly lent from the collection of Karin I. Frank.
This was my first exploration of some of the more abstract possibilities of paper sculpture.
"Denizen of the Winter Trees" 2009, mixed media paper sculpture.
I spent several months developing the prototype pattern for this dragon form. You'll also see that I created variations on it for another piece, "Treetop Primaries." This artwork also incorporates a real silver maple twig.
Development pages for "Treetop Primaries," 2009.
The "Work: In Progress" show attempted to show something of my process for creating artwork. To that end, I included four sketchbook spreads, including this one.
"Treetop Primaries" 2009-2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
Completed in 2009 (see the "Development pages" that were displayed with it) and adjusted in 2010, "Treetop Primaries" is the largest paper sculpture I had created by the time of the "Work: In Progress" show. I developed the dragon forms from the pattern originally developed for "Denizen of the Winter Trees," and also incorporated several real silver maple twigs into the design.
"The Leaf Thing" 2010, mixed media paper sculpture.
I so enjoyed working with the leaves in the background of "Treetop Primaries" that I made some more . . . then wondered what kind of fantasy creature might inhabit trees where tiny dragons live. I kept calling this piece "my 'leaf' thing" while doing the initial development, and finally decided that the creature also was a "Leaf Thing."

The fantasy collection made up half of my "Work: In Progress" show.  In the next post on "Artdog Observations," I'll show the rest of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I know--I usually post a different sort of art. But this one's for a cause that's close to the ol' Gazehound's heart! Well-run animal shelters are community treasures, and they deserve all the help they can get. Please vote for your favorite, and maybe they can get some extra money! If you don't have a favorite, please consider voting for mine: Animal Haven in Merriam, KS.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Matter of Style

Individuality shines through.  I'll give you an example.

Dorothy Dent and Michael Albrechtsen are both artists with devoted followings and successful careers, though their paths to success have been different.  They both favor oil paints, and frequently paint North American landscapes in a fairly traditional manner.  Both are spiritual persons, and do not hesitate to use references to God or religious expression in their titles.  Both travel considerable distances several times a year, to teach seminars.

You might think their work would look much the same.  If so, you might be surprised.

I recently viewed exhibitions of each artist's work within a bit more than a week.  Albrechtsen's work comprises the main show at the Rice Gallery in Leawood, KS this month.  I encountered Dent's work on a recent trip to Republic, MO.  I was immediately struck by their similarities--but also by the marked differences in their approaches to very similar subjects.

Here are some examples.

The 1958 documentary 4 Artists Paint 1 Tree shows four artists painting a tree en pleine air in a California field.  Each artist has a markedly different style, so each tree painting looks distinctly different, even though the original model was the same tree.

It's really pretty cool, I think.  Individuality shines through.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Should we call it the Leawood Arts District?

Something artistic is happening out there, and we should take note.

By "out there," I mean what many in the Kansas City Metro think of as "out there" in southern Johnson County, KS.

I'll be the first to grant that southern Johnson County doesn't exactly have a reputation for being stylish or artistic. Much of the artistic community around town tends to think of it with a What's the Matter with Kansas? frame of mind: as a wasteland of white-bread suburbanites in cookie-cutter plastic palaces.

If you think of it that way, however, you haven't been paying attention.

I recently attended the Johnson County Art Crawl, held Friday and Saturday, July 16-17, 2010.  Four of the five galleries on the itinerary are located in a relatively small area between 115th and 119th Streets, bounded on the west by Nall Avenue, and on the east by Tomahawk Creek Parkway--an area that I've started calling the Leawood Arts District. I couldn't get the link to Google Maps to work right, so I've included a screen shot.

A person in good walking shoes could have walked, Kansas City Crossroads-style, between the Prairiebrooke Gallery (A on the map), Eva Reynolds Fine Art Gallery (B), Leawood Fine Art Gallery (C) and The Rice Gallery of Fine Art (D).  However, unlike in the Crossroads, parking was not an issue, so it was easy to drive.  The fifth location was only a few blocks away, at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, which now hosts Overland Park's "Art at the Center" series.

There were no colorful crowds on the streets, such as you see on First Fridays in the Crossroads, but other aspects of the event compared very well.  The artwork I saw on display was easily equal to, or better than, much of what you typically see on a First Friday.  These galleries also had efficient air conditioning, decent wine, fresh hors d'oeuvres, and good live music.

The art on offer was a nice mix of local and nationally-known artists.  In several cases, the artists were both nationally-known and local!  Examples are the first Kansas City solo show by Michael Albrechtsen at the Rice Gallery, an exhibition by sculptor Tom Corbin at the Eva Reynolds Gallery, and several new, large paintings by George Jones, featured at Prairiebrooke.  "The Abstracts Exhibition," a collection of works selected by Friends of Overland Park Arts, was the attraction at Tomahawk Ridge, and a group show featuring work by many of the gallery's excellent artists was the focus at Leawood Fine Arts.

These five are by no means the only art galleries in Johnson County--nor are they the only good ones.  What should command the attention of every art lover in the KC metro, however, is the relative concentration of them in this fairly small area, and the uniformly high quality of the offerings to be found in the Leawood Arts District.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gallery Personalities

We know individuals have personalities that are uniquely their own, and that artists develop a recognizable personal style.

But I never was so clearly aware of how much a gallery can have its own individual style or personality, until recently. My husband and I were rambling through the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District when we encountered two examples of how distinctive a gallery’s “personality” could be.

The first was the new 2010 Gallery at 2010 Main Street, Kansas City, MO. We walked in and immediately “recognized” the wall colorings and characteristic groupings of images on the walls. After a few moments we recognized some individual artists’ work, as well. “Wait!” We both thought, “This looks like the Park Place!”
At left is the homepage for their website.  It gives a good idea of 2010 Gallery's look.

We’d been to the Park Place Gallery in Leawood, KS seven months earlier, but we knew it had closed soon after we were there. The “look” of 2010 Gallery was unmistakably similar. We later discovered that we’d been correct: this was the new “incarnation” of the same gallery. 2010, like Park Place, is the work of Tim Morrison and Rachelle Craig. We’re glad to see them back! 2010 Gallery is a strong new addition to the Crossroads.
At right is a screen shot of the Park Place homepage.  See the similarities?

The second wasn’t as much of a surprise—we already knew that Red Star Studios had moved from their former 17th Street location to the Belger Arts Center at 2100 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO. Red Star not only has gone through a change of location, but it also is transitioning to new ownership. The manager, ceramic artist Tara Dawley, brings consistency to the transition, because she also was manager and deeply involved in the “old” Red Star, owned by fiber artist Susan Hill.

The wide-open space at Belger is much different from the rather tight quarters of the old gallery space on 17th Street, but the display strategies are consistent. They feature white, neutral, or rich, finished-wood surfaces and 3-dimensional groupings to show off the work of the gallery’s ceramic artists.
At left is an example of a display in Red Star's old 17th St. gallery.  It shows the work of Mike Jabbur and Michael Fujita.

Red Star’s current show is “The Fundamentals of Clay,” featuring the work of Ted Adler and five Wichita State University graduate students:
 Nathan Carris Carnes, Lauren Clay, Todd Hayes, David Hellman, and Joe Leonard.  Work by two artists from the current show (Ted Adler at right, and David Hellman below) give an idea of this show's range.
Red Star Studios is a distinctive asset for the Kansas City arts scene. It consistently brings in work by top ceramic artists from all over the US and Canada (my apologies if their offerings are even more international than that!).  
According gallery staff and a conversation I had with Susan Hill at the Prairie Village Art Fair in June, the Belger Arts Center is not Red Star’s final destination. Ultimately, they will once again occupy their own space, somewhere else in central Kansas City. But for now they are alive and well at Belger, and we are glad for the chance to see their artists’ work again.  Anyone who is interested in the ceramic arts should pay close attention to their shows.

Discovering respected “old friends” in new places is a pleasant experience. I am excited to see both of these “old friend” galleries settling gracefully into the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District. I hope you will soon go see them for yourself!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Kids of “Este es mi México” are Awesome!

As an art teacher who knows how most 7-to 11-year-olds draw and paint, I was impressed by the exhibit, “Este es mi México,” currently at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery.  The Mexican Consulate and the Mattie Rhodes Center jointly sponsor the show, which runs through March 26, 2010, here in Kansas City.  These child artists have really got it going!

The exhibit is the result of a contest conducted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The contest is annual; this is the 2008 version. 

The contest rules state, “Children between 7 and 11 years old, related to Mexico, from all over the world, may participate . . . Show in your drawing whatever your imagination says about Mexico: what you know about the country, what you remember, what you are proud of as Mexican, why you love Mexico, what you know about its heroes, culture, art, architecture . . . there is a lot to paint about!” 

The result is an international representation of images made by very talented children from places as diverse as Malaysia, Poland, and the US.  Jenny Mendez, Director of the Mattie Rhodes Art Center, kindly allowed me to photograph some of my personal favorites from the show, to share on this blog.  I hope you’ll agree they are wonderful.

First of all—a salute to these kids’ art teachers! 

It takes a lot on the ball to realize there’s a contest that would relate in meaningful ways to your students’ “roots.”  Next, it takes dedication and planning to fill out all the necessary forms and get all the needed permissions.  And finally, there’s often a surprising amount of effort that must be made to inspire kids in your class to actually enter a contest—even when you make it a class assignment! 

I’ll guarantee you that behind every artist in this show, there stands a wonderful teacher, and often a dedicated parent or two, as well!  A great case in point is the wonderful work in the Polish entries.  
These two pieces probably were made by relatives, possibly twin sisters: 10-year-old Ewa and Agnieszka Grodska.

You'll note a technique (oil pastel, I believe) in common with the Grodskas, in the work of Agata Micharowski, 11, which is distinctive enough to make me think they all have the same art teacher.  Nine-year-old Julia Honkisz used crayons or oil pastels with an ink wash over them, then scratched back down to the oil-based layer for the scratchboard design.

These two works from Malaysia also show a commonality of media and color sense that make me think they had the same teacher.  The dancer with the ear of corn is by Alice Roh Gyu Bin, age 8; the Aztec deity and temple are by Tasnim Faiez Syakirah, age 10.

Similar vigor and rhythms of line and color are visible in some of the US entries, such as those of 7-year-old Alvaro Abrego of Oxnard, and Marisa Athena Jaskowski-Fierro, 9, of Salt Lake City.
Like the Malaysian artist Tasnim, 11-year-old Alan Alexis Liao Sierra of Panama reaches back to Mexico's Aztec past for his sophisticated rendering of a temple.

Many pieces referenced cultural standards, such as Dia de los Muertos (Erick Deyden Olague, 8, of Phoenix), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Daniela Gonzalez Herrera, 8, of Brownsville), and an Arbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life (Santiago Edinger Huerta, 9, of Los Angeles).

Festivals or carnivals seemed to be on some young minds.  Strikingly detailed images shown here are from Yuseli Medina Perez, 8, of Oxnard, and Raquel Hernandez, 10, of Sacramento.

And lest we forget that Mexico also is a country with beautiful cities, here are Cinthia Patricia Ramirez Parra, 9, of Phoenix, and Christian Gerardo Villegas Rosiles, 10, of Los Angeles, to remind us!
For me, these were the highlights of the show. I hope you enjoyed them, too!