Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Duncaster: The Denouement

I had no idea it was going to be so plush,  the reception for my current art quilt show at
the Duncaster Retirement Community of Bloomfield, CT.

Holy Moly!  It even included a musical combo, not to mention freely-flowing refreshments.

There were a good number of people there. I didn't count, but I'd say there were about 40, including lots of my quilting friends and other dear friends and neighbors.  Thanks, everybody!

I decided to explain the evolution of my art chronologically, starting with the only art form available to women of a certain class and generation:  needlework items for the home.  My grandnother, who had a sixth-grade education, was a great crocheter of tablecloths:, and she started me off by teaching me cross-stitch embroidery.

One of my grandmother's crocheted tablecloths

My grandmother taught me to use this little hand loom called a weavette, and I set out at age 13 to make an afghan

I never made these woven squares into an afghan, as I planned when I made them, but now, 50 years later, I used them as a background for Fall Picnic II, a felted impressionistic view of the picnic area at Connecticut's Penwood State Park in the fall

Eventuallly I took up knitting, and more recently, felting, and now incorporate all three into my work:

Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms: Knitting, felting,embroidery, and quilting

I enjoyed describing the evolution of my art, and the audience listened actively and asked lots of questions.

So, a good time.  Thanks, Duncaster!

And thanks to my buyers. I sold three pieces.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Read This Unless You've Ever Made a Foolish Mistake

A few days ago I was sulking about my fiber art creations not making it past the juror in too many juried shows.

I was feeling the sting of rejection, but you know what?  Some of it was self-inflicted.

Read the sad truth here.

So, the Studio Art Quilt Associates ( ) was sponsoring an art quilt show called Text Messages. One of the main rules for the show was that all the quilts had to have at least some text on them.  I'd known about this for months and had ideas for three quilts to enter into it.  My ultimate choice: a formula for happiness I'd read in the New York Times a few years ago.  In that issue of the paper, a reader named Harvey Kliman wrote,

The Futile Pursuit Of Happiness

Published: September 21, 2003

As in physics, it may be time to suggest a unifying theory for happiness: Happiness = (Reality x Flexibility) / Expectations.
Harvey Kliman
Woodbridge, Conn.

I was tickled that someone thought to reduce happiness to a formula, and even though I'm not a math person, I could see the sense in its equation.  I liked it so much that I wrote it on a white board and stuck it to the side of my desk with a magnet.

Fast forward 10 years.  What more succinct way than this formula to express the factors that go into happiness?  And isn't succinctness the soul of a text message?

I decided to use that formula for my quilt, and to be on the safe side, I decided to see whether I could find Harvey Kliman and ask him for permission to use it.  Lo and behold, the man turned out to be highly Google-able.  I found him immediately.  He's a professor at Yale University.  I e-mailed him, and told him my situation.  He graciously responded immediately and gave his permission.

I set to work and produced this creation in the style called crazy quilt:
I'd sprinkled happiness-related quotes throughout the piece, such as Thoreau's "Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul."  This is a blurry image of one of those quotations, printed on a strip of fabric.
I toiled away at the piece, embellishing it with couched thread, yo-yos, beads, and whimsical flowers.  It was done 24 hours before the deadline.

As I went through the online submission process, I re-read the size requirements:  Messages must be 24 inches in width.  Length must be a minimum of 24 inches up to a maximum of 60 inches.

I got them reversed.  My piece was exactly 24 inches high, not 24 inches wide.  It was 28 inches wide and 24 inches high.


My own mistake, and an avoidable one.

So, yeah, last week, I was feeling pretty bummed about some of my art quilt failures.  But I was also feeling pretty bummed about this, too.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Feeling rejected

I've been on the receiving end of quite a few rejections these past few months.  By rejections, I mean rejections from juried fiber art shows into which I've entered my fiber art creations.  In a juried show, an entrant's work must make it past one or more jurors in order to hang in the show.  I know that entering juried shows is a crapshoot.

But I think they're shooting me more than my share of crap lately. 

This calendar year alone, for example, my art has been rejected from:
 1.  The national Fiber Directions exhibition in Wichita, Kansas:

The juror for that show rejected these pieces:
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms
Serious Sushi
Dog in Eel Grass, which is made with hair from my dogs
2. The Visual Symphony, a musically-inspired art exhibition at the Lazarus Gallery of United Hebrew of New Rochelle:
The juror for that show rejected this piece, Thus Spake Zarathustra, which just last summer was juried into Art Quilts Lowell 2012, a venue of the Lowell Quilt Festival:

3.  The 102nd annual exhibition of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts   
The Connecticut Academy chose my work in 2010 and 2011, but not in 2012 and now 2013.  The juror for that show rejected these pieces:

Two Ways of Looking at Seaside Goldenrod, a piece that won second prize in the West Hartford Art League's 2012 Juried Show
Deconstruction, a look at the destruction wrought by squirrels on the cones of a Norway spruce in my yard
and most lately and most hurtfully:

4.  Local Color, an exhibition sponsored by the Connecticut affiliate of SAQA, the Studio Art Quilt Association, of which I am a member.  This rejection is particularly galling because I'm currently working with a small group of folks to bring this traveling show to the Legislative Office Building, an impressive space in Hartford.

The Local Color jurors for that exhibition rejected these pieces:

The Charter Oak, based on the painting by Frederic Edwin Church.  This one even has an image of the Connecticut State Seal on the back, including the state motto, Qui Transtulit Sustinet.  Does this not qualify as local color?
Seeking a Path, an image of a trail at Connecticut's Penwood State Park.  Is not an image from a state park an example of local color?  To qualify this one as a quilt, in case a juror had a doubt, I added a great deal of free-motion quilting to the back.  Of course, the jurors couldn't see that.  But you can:

Fall Picnic II, an image of the picnic ground at Penwood State Park in the fall.  This one uses woven squares I made at age 13 and never assembled into an afghan.  You can see them, green and brown, behind the felted image of the picnic area. It cracks me up that I still like the same colors at age 63 that I did at age 13. To qualify this one as a quilt, I painted quilt batting and applied it beneath the quilted piece but on top of the woven afghan squares.  No doubt the judges couldn't tell it was quilt batting.  If they could, would it have made a difference?
It's true, ladies and gentlemen, all this rejection.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I also, during these first few months of 2013, I had not one but two solo shows, had work received into one juried show, and sold a significant piece of art.  

Still, rejection hurts, and I'm sulking.

I'm also regrouping and considering what, if anything, to do next.

At least I can say that I finished my first sock today:


This morning, along with a gang of community residents, I hung an art quilt show in the art gallery of the Duncaster Retirement Community in Bloomfield, CT, --an opportunity I would not have had if I hadn't gone to UConn Health Center for a mammogram.  How's that for the power of preventive medicine?

The day of my mammogram appointment, I saw art on the Health Center's lobby walls, tracked down the woman who arranges the art shows for the facility, and asked whether I could have such a show.  My work was accepted and the show took place in the spring and summer of 2012.  One day during those months, Jackie Mott Brown, a resident of Duncaster, walked into the facility for a medical procedure, saw my art, and asked whether I would have a show at Duncaster.  I said yes, the show was scheduled for March 2013, and today, March 1, 2013, we hung it.

Work waiting to be hung:  L-R:  Serious Sushi, Lunch among the Cabbages, Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore, Trout Brook, Celery Rose
Duncaster resident Paul Sessa, seated at left, has a good eye for arrangement, so he gave advice while a team of Duncaster residens got out their hammers and nails and did the actual hanging.

Here are Judy Wawro, and Carol, whose last name I don't  know, hanging Buddhist Temple I.
Carol and Paul hanging Celery Rose

Here's the Duncaster hanging team:  Gloria, Jackie Mott Brown (who invited me to hang my work there), Paul Sessa, Carol, and Judy Wawro.  Inexplicably not pictured:  Alice Loomis, who worked alongside us.

 Thanks to all of them for the opportunity to meet and hang out this morning...and to show my work in their enviably lovely home!