Monday, August 11, 2014

Today in Art: What Would Woody Say?

Today the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective, a vibrant art quilt group of which I am a member, mounted a Woody Guthrie-themed show in the back gallery at Hartford's Theaterworks.

Our show was conceived and designed to correspond with Woody Sez, a musical production on the Depression-era troubadour whose wandering ways and everpresent guitar inspired a long line of  blue-jeaned American singers from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen...and whose social commentary informs the conscience of generations.

Check out the Theaterworks production:

Here's one example of the work we hung today, Toni Torres' American Troubadour.  Wow. 

And how about Carol Eaton's The Plains, showing an empty windswept kind of place like Texas or Oklahoma, where Woody grew up and came of age:

Carol Vinick has Woody singing at a union rally:

and Linda Woods shows us a Depression-era jalopy:

Karen Loprete depicted one of Woody's songs, Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree:
My own piece, What Would Woody Say? juxtaposes illegal Depression-era travels in boxcars--and the hardships that compelled people to live that way--with the contemporary flood of young people from Central America entering our country as they flee drug-related violence and anarchy. 
In each corner of this map of the United States, I've juxtaposed photos of illegal rail travel in the 30s with those of people coming illegally into the country now:

The map of the country is sewn onto a background of headlines about today's Central American immigration, printed on red.  Around the perimeter of the map and the blocks of headlines, I've attached the words to This Land is Your Land.  When it gets to the following verse, I trail those words right across the map to a photo of Woody singing them out from the top of a boxcar:

"In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people.  By the relief office, I seen my people.  As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, 'was this land made for you and me?'"

 I mounted it all on ticking, some of it really old vintage ticking, to give the piece a Depression era/jailhouse/orphanage look.

It took us a couple of hours to get the show up.  Here's the hanging crew:

L-R Linda Woods, Diane Cadrain, Carol Vinick, and Antonia Torres.

Our full complement of CFAC members was not present for the hanging today, but we all hope to have a reception for our show,  in conjunction with one of the free hootnnanys following the Sunday matinees. If  we do that, we'll let you know!

If you're planning to go to Woody Sez at Theaterworks, stop by the back lobby and see our work!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Five Fiber Friends: The Denouement

We Five Fiber Friends saw our long-planned art quilt show come to fruition a week ago, with a reception at Fair Haven Furniture's River Street Gallery.  I remember it as if it were just last Sunday, August 3, 2014.

The food was good...

the entertainment sparkling...
...and good times were had, especially by me, for a number of reasons.  One was that I sold a piece of art at the reception.
I have to say that Low Tide, First Encounter Beach looked great where it was hung at the Gallery:

The second reason why this event was so rewarding for me was that it served as a mini-reunion for a group of my high school friends.  We went to Sacred Heart Academy in the New Haven suburb of Hamden, Connecticut, graduating in 1967.  Here we are after the reception at Adriana's Restaurant on Grand Avenue in New Haven:

L-R Diane Cadrain, Rita Shair, Sue McNerney, Gloria Hudson, Paula Forni
Love ya, ladies! 

And some of my Unitarian Society of Hartford art buddies traveled all the way down the state to see the show.  Love you too, my USH art partners!

L-r Tina Davies, Martha Bradley, Diane Cadrain. Sheri Williams

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Today in art: Sunprints, Shibori, and Grape Leaves

Tomorrow, I'll be at a reception for the opening of an art quilt show in which I'm involved, Five Fiber Friends:

Gallery art director Kate Paranteau invited us fiber artists, as part of our show, to make pillows to put on her gallery's sofas. 

So I'm making pillows.  And food for our reception.  More on the food later.

Here's one of the pillows:

The central motif on this one is a simple sunprint made with Pebeo Setacolor paints, a few confetti stars, and a few pieces of arborvitae.
When we Five Fiber Friends were hanging our show, Kate liked to tell us how the pieces we hung together could "tell stories" to one another.

If this pillow were telling a story, it would go something like, "On a quiet night, as the stars were just starting to come out the air was still warm enough to hold the smell of the sunlight on the pine needles."

Or, what about the jazz standard, "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars?"

I like that story.  Here are a couple of other sunprints that continue it:

I gave these two sunprints each two borders:  narrow ones of white linen and wider ones of shibori-dyed Pima cotton.  I like what the shibori does for the sunprints, and vice versa.  As Kate would see it, they're telling the same story. Or different versions of the same story.

I used shibori fabric for the backs of the pillows, too:

In addition to these three sunprints, I'm also going to include  another pillow I made, this one with a central knitted motif:
If this one told a story, it would be, "There was once a twining vine, and it tried and it tried and it reached and it reached until it reached every place it tried to go."

I know a vine like that.

In between making these pillows, I've also been working on some finger-food type snacks for tomorrow's reception.  Somebody else was already bringing cheese and crackers, a veggie platter, and a fruit platter.  What was left?  Nothing healthy that I could think of, except...

I do have all these grape leaves growing on the garage...(lovely, aren't they?) I suppose I could make stuffed grape leaves.

They're a lot of work, but they're exceptional:  my recipe has wonderful ingredients, pine nuts and dill and currants in addition to the rice.  They're so much better than those served in restaurants, which feature mainly rice and certainly not pine nuts or currants.  I can't take credit for my recipe, which is from a cookbook.  All I do is follow it.

So I did:

Grape leaves drying off after their one-minute trip through boiling water

Look at the yummy ingredients in that stuffing!

 Finally they get cooked in a low slow bath of olive oil, lemon juice and water.

They're gonna be good!   And so is the reception.  So please come!  But if you can't come, the exhibit will be up until September 21.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Problem Relative

Grandpa Ott, the old guy I hate to love, has no clue where he's not wanted.  His growth habits are--let me try to put this kindly--frisky.  Unless restrained or outright uprooted, he takes over whatever space he shows up in.

Here he's feeling up a globe thistle on the upper left, a cabbage on the lower left, and a fescue on the right.

Did I plant this morning glory next to this cabbage, globe thistle, and fescue?  The answer would be no.  It just showed up there, as it has done every year since the fateful day, many moons ago, when I intentionally planted it.  Once.

Even in places where I do intentionally plant it, like this pot on my deck, Grandpa Ott has to be restrained and told where to go.

There's green garden wire in use here, guiding Grandpa up the window frame

The tulle on the pot--that's another story.
I put up with the invasive qualities of Grandpa Ott morning glories because I love the flowers. 

I think hosannas should sound across the universe every time one of these opens

And so, my friends, if anyone who is reading this is planning to go to my art quilt reception on Sunday August 3, or is otherwise in touch with me, I'll give you one or more Grandpa Ott seedlings, if you would like one.  They constantly appear in my garden, and I have to get them out of there.  Let me know and I'll put one aside in a pot for you.

It's so worth it.  You just have to put Grandpa in a place where you can control him.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Five Fiber Friends: Hanging our Show

Big day.

Today the Five Fiber Friends, of which I'm one, converged on New Haven's Fair Haven Furniture to hang our art quilt show in the store's River Street Gallery.

Here's Trish Hodge on her way into the store with some of her work
It's been a long time coming.  We first set our feet on this road in 2011.  Now finally here we are, hanging our work in this gallery of one-of-a-kind furniture.  It's a striking venue.  Check it out:

Because there are five of us, there was lots of work to consider and there were lots of decisions to be made.

Making decisions:  L-R Mickey Lawler, Trish Hodge, Kate Themel, and Diane Wright

Decisions, decisions.  The woman in the center is Fair Haven Furniture's artistic genius, Kate Paranteau

Hanging this show took us all day!  from just before 10 a.m. to a little after 4 p.m.

Here are a couple of examples of the work that went up:

 Bundled Up by Kate Themel

Falling Stars by Diane Wright

This lovely piece is by Trish Hodge, on the right in the blue shirt, and held by Diane Wright, left. 

I neglected to take any photos of Mickey Lawler's pieces in the show, but here's a look at a piece from her website:

Beach Houses by Mickey Lawler

I'm glad my two latest pieces are displayed together, complementing one another:

Here's Diane Wright with my two pieces, Foggy Coast, left, and Low Tide, First Encounter Beach, right

I'm also glad that my felted piece, Seeking a Path, will hang in the show.  Seeking a Path takes its name from the benediction, "If you seek a path, may a way be found, and the courage to take it, step by step."

 When we were done, around 4 p.m., we were tired but happy to have mounted a vibrant, exciting exhibit that represents each of us vibrant, exciting Five Fiber Friends.

Please come to our reception:  Sunday August 3, 2 to 4 p.m., River Street Gallery, Fair Haven Furniture, 72 Blatchley Ave., New Haven.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sewing down mushrooms, sticking down labels

Sewing mushrooms and sticking labels.  Isn't that how everybody spends Wednesdays in July?

I'm getting ready for an art quilt show called Five Fiber Friends, in which I'm one of five fiber artists whose work will be hanging at the River Street Gallery of Fair Haven Furniture in New Haven.  Thus, sewing mushrooms has become necessary:

This image of Jack O'Lantern mushrooms had a few felted mushrooms that needed sewing down.  A few errant leaves, too.

This is one of my favorite pieces, and I'd be flattered if someone wanted to buy it, but I have to say, it looks great in my living room.  The background of the mushrooms is knitted in a pattern and from a color intended to look like bark.  The larger background is hand-painted in a yummy pumpkin-ish color.  

I based this image on a photo of Jack O'Lantern mushrooms taken at Connecticut's Penwood State Park:

Did you know that Jack O'Lantern mushrooms are phosphorescent?  I'd love to see that...but no idea how to do it, as staying overnight in Penwood State Park would  be illegal.

On other pieces, I had to stick down some labels and tweak a few errant leaves back in better directions.

As of now, mushrooms sewn, labels stuck, and leaves tweaked, I'm ready to use my new gear hauler from L.L. Bean to get my work into the Fair Haven Furniture building.  That will be Friday, the day after tomorrow.  

The excitement mounts.