Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective: Hanging our Latest Show

Hanging our show, Read/Red!  L-R Rosalind Spann, Mary Lachman, Karen LoPrete, Toni Torres, Carine Greene, Barbara Khachane, Cher Hurney, Diane Wright
 The librarians had to ask us to keep our voices down.
That's what happens when the members of the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective pull together to hang a show:  our level of verbiage--and energy--attract attention.
Today we put our energy into hanging our show, Red/Read, which will be available to the public at the Southbury Public Library, Southbury, CT, throughout the month of February 2012.
It includes a "read" component and a "red" component.
The red component:  a 12 x 12 challenge, for which each participant was given a red bag full of red materials, such as ribbons and beads and burlap.
Each of us received these materials.

From those materials, each of us created at 12 x 12 piece of quilting. 
What a variety!  Take a look at a few of our red pieces:
Rosalind Spann rolled some of her ribbons into beads and used the other components to create this yummy red necklace, mounted on red velvet

This is my entry, Red Explosion

Toni Torres visualized a healthy heart

Be Mine, a lovely valentine piece by  Mary Lachman

Here's a look at all of our Red-Read challenge pieces

The "read" component of the show celebrated the written word.  For example, Carol Vinick offered this image of the Chinese folk tale of the moon maidens:

One of my entries, Maple Flowers, illustrates the Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold can Stay.

And members contributed so many other lovely quilts in addition to those.  Take a look!
 Carol Eaton on how a rumor gets started

Signs and Symbols, a lovely tessellated piece by Diane Wright

Barbara Khachane checking out her piece, which was inspired by a newspaper photograph

Salon:  After Matisse by Diane Wright
Come see it all at the Southbury Public Library, 100 Poverty Road, Southbury, CT, until February 29, 2012!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Something Fishy: A 12 x 12 Challenge

Something Fishy.
That phrase formed the basis of a challenge for the members of Women Against the Grain, an art quilting group of which I'm a member.  The object of the challenge:  to come up with a fiber art representation of the words Something Fishy, using a 12  x 12 format.
We got the challenge in November.
We had two months to rise to the occasion.
This evening, January 23, 2012, we revealed our responses.  What a lively display!  Here are a few of our images:
Sandi Schrader being nibbled by a trigger fish

Carol Vinick's representation of the maritime life of an island off the coast of Ireland

Linda Walter experimenting with paintsticks

Betty Warner's take on goldfish and buried treasure

Judy Ross's line drawing
Sandy Morawski's undersea scene

And here's my own response:  a seafood cookbook.

I dedicated it to the members of Women Against the Grain

I included 10 of my favorite seafood recipes.  This one's blurry, but it's a recipe for Greek salad with tuna, from Gourmet.  This is one of my go-to recipes for hot weather.  Let me know if you want a non-blurry copy and I'll share it with you.
Scallops with prawns on brochette from the Ark Cookbook, a gift from our friend Faith, who lives in Seattle.  This is our favorite recipe for shellfish on the grill.
Swordfish brochettes, from Anissa Helou's Mediterrranean Street Food.  This is our favorite recipe for fin fish on the grill

The next 12 x 12 challenge, due at the end of March:  Race.  It can be a noun or a verb, but it has to be 12 x 12.  And the challenge is on!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gotta Start Someplace Department

My first attempt at abstraction.  This may not look like much to you, but for me, it's huge!

I'm currently taking a class called Pushing Toward Abstraction from the West Hartford Art League.  Here's the class description:

This course will teach you how to create
compositions with forms that have no
immediate implication to any specific
concrete objects; people, places or things.
We will briefly review the history of successful
paintings by old masters and great
abstract painters using an altered approach
to drawing from life and gestural studies.
Students will work on unique paintings
and drawings in the direction that most
interests them.

I signed up for this class because, when I create art, I don't know how to get away from the strict reality of the things I see.  For example:

This is a shot of the banks of Trout Brook, near my home

This is my rendition, in hand-painted fabric, Shiva painsticks, and hand embroidery, of that photo of Trout Brook.
I want to learn how to be more creative with the things I see, and to try to loosen my tie to granular reality.

So:  Pushing Toward Abstraction.

In the first class, the teacher, Ethan Boisvert, started us off by having us come up with 20 different ways to make a line.  I came up with these:

Then, he had us draw 24 boxes and fill them with...whatever.  Here are mine:

Finally, he pointed to a cluster of objects he'd arranged on a table in the middle of the room:  the usual still-life props--wine bottles, goblets, baskets, artificial grapes, things like that.  Plus a cinderblock and some other miscellaneous stuff.  He invited us to build on the two exercises we'd just done, and make images of some of the things we saw, using the lines and the boxes as techniques/tools to work with.  I came up with this:

This is a huge step for me.  Gotta start someplace.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Vegetables for a Winter Night

Roasted winter vegetables with couscous.  I came up with this recipe in the early 90's, when my girls were counter-high, or less.  How hard is it to come up with a recipe for roasted winter vegetables when you've been reading recipes in the media for years, ranging from the stately pages of the late, great Gourmet, through the food sections of the New York Times and the Hartford Courant, to the unpretentious pages of Family Circle?  And how hard is it to come up with a recipe for spiced couscous?  The one I use to accompany these roasted winter vegetables, in fact, may even be verbatim from Gourmet.

Even though I don't remember the exact year when I hatched this recipe, my paper copy, stained, yellowed, torn, and dripped upon, looks like it belongs in the National Archives.

I look at this recipe now and I wonder what I was thinking the day I produced it.  At the time, I had three little kids and a job, yet I was willing to spend 30 to 40 minutes chopping some of nature's stoniest vegetables, and furthermore willing to give 90 minutes to the process of roasting them.  I will say, though, that when served on top of a heap of curry and cumin-scented couscous, these winter vegs were pretty tasty.

But time-consuming to make.   That's probably why, after preparing this recipe each winter for a few years, I retired it, rebelling not only against the physical effort of cubing all those rocklike veggies, but also against the amount of forethought it would take to put this opus on the table.

Nevertheless, this week, after so many years,  I pulled this recipe from my archives. Its required degree of effort and forethought are no longer such a concern:  My three girls aren't as present in the house, and my work doesn't occupy as much of my time. Plus, it's the right season for this kind of cooking: I wouldn't roast vegetables on a hot day.  And there's lots of fiber here, along with far fewer calories than, say, red meat.  No animals have to die for this one.

For a salad to go with it, I used a mix of baby greens and herbs, adding a little chopped fresh dill and parsley.   I had a heel of going-stale bread in the fridge and I cut it into cubes and sauteed them in a little olive oil to make croutons.

I tossed the salad with a dash of olive oil and a dribble of this wonderful fig balsamic vinegar given us by our good buddies Margie and Rae, also known as the T-Fs.

Before serving the salad, I dusted it with a little crumbled feta.

Voici le diner a deux chez nous, le 14 janvier, 2012. 

Joe becomes a member of the Auburn Road Clean Plate Club.

Here's the recipe:

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today I walked into the clear subfreezing January sunshine, got into Joe's little GeoPrizm, and drove it an hour in a southwesterly direction, to Southbury, Connecticut, where the members of the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective were scheduled to hang our show, Identity and Other Things.
Why are we calling it that?
Because an important part of the show is devoted to the theme of identity. To create the Identity pieces, each participant used fiber art to express her own idiosyncratic singularity in a 12x 12 format. Here's mine:
Sanctuary.  A  red silk heart, fractured and wounded, lies supine on a crusted bed of newsprint bearing chilling headlines.  Despite the darkness of this backdrop, a door in the heart opens to reveal its interior:  a path through a green sanctuary of stillness and peace.

Then, in addition to those Identity pieces, each of us also contributed some of our favorite work.
To get this show under way, I took myself to Southbury, listening to Stephen King's latest, 11.22.63, en route.
Which reminds me, this story does include a grave site and a headstone.
The Southbury Library is an impressive and luxuriously-appointed facility, so luxurious, in fact, that it looked like George Washington might have slept there:
The Southbury Public Library, 100 Poverty Rd., Southbury, CT
Inside, we members of the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective worked collectively to hang our show.
Roz Spann and Carol Eaton did a lot of the heavy lifting for this one.  Thanks, gals!  Here they are going over the specifics with Irene, who coordinates the art shows for the library.

Teamwork!  Carol Eaton and Carine Greene
Karen Loprete, Diane Wright, and Mary Lachman

This show is looking good!

Here's a look at my own contributions:


Many-Colored Polypores

Milkweed Pods

Two Ways of Looking at Seaside Goldenrod

Windy Ravine

I told you this story involved a grave site and a headstone.  When my work was done in Southbury, I made my way to New North Cemetery, Woodbury, CT, to look at the family headstone.  My goal was to check out the feasibility of adding my sister Jeanne's name and dates (1945--2002) and my sister Linda's married name (Mazumdar) and her date of death (2011).  

Is there room for Mazumdar under Linda's name?  And what about Jeanne (1945-2002)?  Where does she fit in?  The family will have to talk about that.