Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photo suite 178 -- love locks

One of my favorite places is the Big Four Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the Ohio River, which has become a destination for lovers who write their names or initials on a padlock, fasten it to the bridge and then toss the key into the river, metaphorically locking themselves together forever.

Unfortunately the heartless party-poopers at our waterfront agency come around and cut the locks off, apparently worrying that the extra weight will cause the bridge -- built to hold railroad trains -- to collapse.  But not to worry -- I document the locks whenever I see them, so even if the lock itself has gone to the landfill, it lives on in cyberspace.

In honor of my wedding anniversary this weekend, here's a bunch of locks from the bridge -- dedicated to the one I love.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FNF 5 -- award for political and social commentary

In the very earliest years of Form, Not Function, I helped install the show, and one year after we had been sorting and rearranging and hanging quilts all day I made a comment that I was pleased to see a couple of quilts with a political edge to them.  I had been complaining for years that quilt shows had a dearth of such pieces, instead being full of nice, pretty quilts giving off only positive emotional vibes.

And then I had an aha moment -- if I liked quilts with strong emotions, I could and should do something to encourage artists to make and submit them.  So I asked the museum director if I could donate an award for political and social commentary, and she said of course.  If I'm in town when the show is hung, I'll choose the winner, and if I'm away I'll delegate that task to the juror/judges.

This year I got to do the honors myself.

Judith Plotner, Bronx Elegy (detail below)

I like the gritty character of this quilt, with its raw edges, faded colors, imperfect printing and loose thread ends.  I'm happy I had the chance to give it a prize!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FNF 4 -- Award of excellence

The fourth-place winner at Form, Not Function was Gay Lasher of Denver for her digitally printed whole-cloth quilt.

Gay Lasher, No Exit (detail below)

I like the design, a complicated mix of dense areas with open space, with curves and stripes placed with a sure hand.  Digital printing allows  quiltmakers to use complex images, impossible with traditional piecing or applique, and this is an excellent example of what can be done.

But what I find particularly stunning is the quilting.  The printed image, looked at up close, has irregular lines between the different colors, and Lasher has quilted precisely along the boundaries, preserving every wave and wobble.

With no knots or thread ends visible, I can only imagine the painstaking work that went into the finishing.  I might have wished for a bit more quilting in the open areas, where the fullness will no doubt droop over time as the piece is displayed -- which I hope it will be!

This award of excellence is given by River City Fiber Artists, a small group of six to which I have belonged for getting on twenty years; I'm proud that we helped start the FNF show and that we are still supporting it through our sponsorship.  Providing an award at an art show is a gratifying experience, and I'll write more on that subject tomorrow.  But meanwhile, hats off to Gay Lasher.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Calling all Photoshop-challenged

Is there anything in your photographic practice that might benefit from a bit of post-production improvement?  Is there anything in your fiber art practice that might benefit from being able to audition compositions, colors or shapes?  Most pathetic, is there a copy of Photoshop Elements already loaded on your computer but you don't know how to use it?

If you're like me, you can answer yes to all three questions, but even if you aren't that bad off, you might very well benefit from a class that will teach you how to use that program in your art and your life.  I enrolled in two classes this winter and I am so pleased with what I learned and what I was able to do with it.  Let me show you just one of my new tricks:

My fiber art pal knew she needed to make radical changes to this work in process.  She thought maybe she would cut off the fire section at left and move it to the bottom, radically changing the composition -- but obviously she was reluctant to hack it to pieces if that wasn't going to work.  So I took a picture:

And went home to show her six different alternatives, including:

putting the fire on the bottom

slicing and staggering the landscape section
 adding a new section of burned ground
 adding stylized burned trees
 reversing values

In an hour on the computer I was able to audition several different approaches, some of which looked crappy and others of which had promise -- all without touching the original.  As you can see, as the afternoon wore on I got more enthusiastic about playing with the program, silhouetting the raw edges, drawing new shapes, simulating more burn.

This is just one thing I learned in my online classes with the Pixeladies, aka Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt.  I wrote several posts about the class while it was going on, and I return to the subject because they have just opened the enrollment for a new series of the same classes, in June and July.  I can't recommend this strongly enough and urge you to check out their website and sign up!

These women are not my sisters-in-law and they're not paying me a kickback for referring students.  I'm just a very satisfied customer who thinks you might become another one.