Thursday, September 3, 2015

Found art -- now I understand!

Last year I had a project with my friend and art pal Uta Lenk in which we sent each other pictures of "found art" every week.  Sometimes the found art was simply a reflection or a patch of picturesquely peeling paint, but sometimes it was actual "art" found in an unexpected place.  In Rome last summer I was walking along the Tiber and was surprised to look across the river and see these mysterious figures on the embankment on the far side.

I sent the photo to Uta and promptly forgot about it, until yesterday I saw an announcement that artist William Kentridge is going to do a huge public art installation along the Tiber next year.  Apparently what I saw was a test for the real project.

Here's a rendering of what it's going to look like:

image from Tevereterno
The images are in effect made from dirt: a stencil is placed over the embankment wall and a high-pressure hose is used to power-wash around the edges.  What's left is the natural patina (fancy artspeak for dirt) of the wall, and as time passes more dirt will accumulate, eventually obscuring the figures.

Meanwhile, the frieze will extend more than a third of a mile and be illuminated at night.  According to the release, it will include "scenes of war, kings, victory, mythology, and devastation."

And I saw it first!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sneak peek 3

Here's another sneak peek at my new book, "Pattern-Free Quilts: Riffs on the Rail Fence Block," just published last month.

The book has a gallery of 26 quilts, most made by me, but some made by other artists whose names you will recognize.  At first glance, you might not think that they're based on the rail fence block, but that's explained.  Here's a quilt by Melinda Snyder:

I see each of the horizontal rows as a single rail fence block; for instance, the bottom row/block has 12 rails.  It might seem like a stretch to call that a "block," but that's exactly what I'm trying to do in the book -- to stretch the imagination and explore what you can get out of a very simple basic concept.

To buy the book, click on the thumbnail picture in the sidebar at right, or HERE.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Entry woes part 2

The good news is that I decided what to call my knotted sculptures.  The ones coming out of the tea balls are called "Infusions;" the ones coming out of the spools are called "Unspooled."  No "Specimens" in sight.

fabulous photo of tea ball -- knots a bit out of focus

The bad news is that it took me the better part of an hour to do the online entry, and that's not counting the hour or so that I spent getting the photos ready to upload.  I know that online entries don't have to be difficult -- several shows that I have entered in the past have made it painless, even pleasant.  But CaFE, the online entry service that Fiberart International uses, marches to a different drummer.

I neglected to document all the frustrating parts along the way, until I hit about the fifth one, at which point I took screenshots.  I may have forgotten one or two of the bad parts.

It was confusing to navigate around the site; it was confusing to figure out what kind of information they wanted.  You discover only after logging in and starting the application that they want an artist statement (but I've entered two very different kinds of work, and I guess I have to provide a statement for each one, and label each one.  This requires searching through my past files to find relevant statements and edit them down to fit into the 1000-character-limit box.  And one had to be written from scratch.

I'm a fast writer, but still....  I finally finished everything on the page and was wondering "where do I upload my images?"  Scrolled down to the bottom and was trying to read the directions (save the application, then go back to the portfolio page, then come back later...) and was about one second away from hitting the SAVE button when the session timed out.


Fortunately I had had the foresight to do all my writing into a Word document and copy it into the website -- been burned too many times in the past when my writing disappears from a web window -- so logging back in and doing the whole page again didn't take very long.

But now to upload those images.  You had to select a file, then fill in the info about it.

What would you fill in for that "Medium" field?  Would you just write "fiber"?  Or would you list materials?  I wasn't sure, so I picked one and hit SAVE.  Later on there was a field called "Description (optional)".  What if anything would you put in there?

Then I selected the detail shot -- and got the very same screen!  I tried to type in the title of the work and leave the rest blank -- heck, aren't they filing this stuff by title? -- but that didn't work.  I had to type it all over.

Since "series" needed two detail shots, I got to type it in yet again.  I'm a fast typist, but still....

Finally got to the last entry.  I was surprised to find that the piece I was going to enter here was already in my CaFE portfolio; apparently I entered it in another show last year.  But I had taken a better photo since then.  I tried to simply delete the previous version so I could upload the new images.  Sorry; can't do that.  After a bit of thought I decided to type in the title with extra spaces and see if I could slip it by the computer.  That seemed to work.  Typed in the info twice....

Time passed....  the sun went down....   I'm glad I didn't wait till 11:30 to log in in advance of the midnight deadline.  Every time this happens to me I wonder whether anybody from the show committee ever sits down to pretend to do an online entry before choosing which service to use.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Entry woes

You might think that after somebody has entered 100 shows or so, it wouldn't be such a big deal.  But yet again, it's entry time and I'm struggling.

This time it's for Fiberart International, a very prestigious show that comes around every three years and attracts artists from all over the world.  I was fortunate to be juried into the show once before, in 2010.  The next one, in 2013, unfortunately had the same entry deadline, give or take a week or two, as Quilt National, and the three quilts I had so tediously finished for QN constituted my entire artistic output for the year.  So I had nothing to enter in Fiberart International that year.

So this time I was determined to have an entry, and it is centered around the knots I've been tying for several months.  The entry deadline is midnight tonight. I finished the last piece on Friday and this weekend did the photography -- that shouldn't be too hard when the art is only a few inches tall, should it?  No struggling with big design walls or wrestling huge quilts into position.

But too small can be just as challenging as too large!  My point-and-shoot camera, usually utterly reliable for extreme closeups, refused to focus itself on the knots for detail shots.  Here's what my beautiful sculptures were looking like in the photos: a blur.

Fortunately I have a good friend who saved my life by using his much nicer camera to shoot gorgeous photos this afternoon.

Now the last hurdle: what to call these pieces.  The first ones that I made were called "Specimen", a name I liked because it was indeterminate as to the nature of the things depicted.  Are they animal, vegetable or mineral?  I'm not sure, and the name left it ambiguous.

So the obvious name for the series I'm entering in Fiberart International, in which the knotted bodies are emanating from old wooden spools, would be "Spool Specimens."  Oops.  Too close to disastrous connotations.

I still have several hours to come up with a good name.  I'm thinking, I'm thinking....