Library Proposals Explained : Kettering-Morraine

The Kettering-Morraine proposal is the fifth I have compiled for the ReImagining Works program. Curious to see my others submissions?  With each one, I hope to fulfill the program criteria and challenge myself to work outside my comfort zone and to explore new concepts and techniques. This proposal and the one for Vandalia were submitted for the Friday, May 22 deadline and should be reviewed in the next month or so. 

Manabu Haiku : Studio Images

My second proposal to be accepted by the ReImaging Works committee is Manabu Haiku. It is constructed of five 36"x36" birch panels and will be installed in the New Lebanon branch. One of the five panels arrived shattered, so that will delay the project, but since it is not due until April 2016, I am not a bit worried! Dick Blick has notified me that they will replace the panel and I will get started once it arrives. 

Boo takes a break from Crackle Past testing. He is a great assistant! 

Boo takes a break from Crackle Past testing. He is a great assistant! 

Art Hops Episode 1

A few months ago, I was a guest on Harper's Bizaaroworld, the longest running GLBT public access television show in America.  During the interview I mentioned that for nine years I ran the Rosewood Gallery, a non-profit space located in the Rosewood Arts Centre, Kettering, OH.  While assisting me to my car with props from the Harper's Bizaaroworld interview, the director asked if I would be interested in having a show on DATV. Being a naturally introverted personality, the thought had not crossed my mind. Upon further reflection, I decided that the main reason for leaving that position at Rosewood was so I could pursue new and challenging opportunities, and what more terrifying...I mean challenging opportunity than hosting a television show? I knew I wanted it to be an interview format show where the guest was the focus, and it needed a twist, something that suggested it was not a stuffy or formal program. I decided to combine two of my favorite things, art and beer, and thus Art Hops was born. 

From an art business point of view, this was an opportunity to network and get my name out to a new audience. From a personal perspective, this was a chance to chat with creative people whom I respect and learn from them, something I miss about running the gallery. 

My first guest was Tiffany Allyn Clark, and she did a spectacular job of describing her techniques and the upcoming show at Rosewood Gallery, while also explaining how she has healed from addiction and grief through her art. A natural pairing for Clark was Toxic Brew Company, located in the Oregon District, because she often exhibits her work there and has created a permanent installation at the brewery. 

The recording is currently being edited and will be released on DATV and my YouTube channel very soon! 

image.jpg

Feeling Blue

After blogging every day in my NYC Diary, it was nice to take a break from posting and just spend some time with my loved ones whom I missed dearly while I was away. Now I am back to my once a week blogging schedule and it looks like I am a bit blue...well, more like VERY blue!

image.jpg

Why? My friend, Mary, owner of Clash Dayton, organized an Alice in Wonderland themed photoshoot for their June festivities and I had the honor of being the caterpillar! This was the first collaboration with the very talented Robert Walker, but look for more to emerge in the near future! He started by airbrushing most of my body and then used various stencils and tools for the details. Many thanks to Hayden, whom you may recognize from this painting, for encouraging my hair to do something other than lay there! 

image.jpg

The total experience took about eight hours and involved several models. It was a fanciful day that left me with just one question, Will it come off?!? The answer, Yes! With a lot of hot water and scrubbing! 

image.jpg

Interested in seeing the final photos or perhaps to purchase some of the lovely threads shown? Join us Friday, June 5th from 5-10pm for First Friday at Clash Dayton, located at 521 East Fifth Street, Dayton, OH! I will have several of my Wasp in a Wig paintings on display and some special offers on Alice related items! 

NYC Diary : Arty Goodness

The last day of my NYC adventure was the most daring day of them all, since I was mainly traveling solo. By this point, I had had enough experiences with public transportation to feel fairly confident about maneuvering around the city. After Mood, I meet up with Mark Laurence LaRiviere, a nice guy from my Klein Artist Works class. We had a lovely chat about art and life, then parted ways. There were only two galleries that I REALLY wanted to visit while in NYC and the first is located around the corner from Mood, Last Rites Gallery. This venue focuses on artwork with a dark twist and the current show was William Basso, who creates sculptures that he photographs and turns into haunting collages, and the amazing painter, Leslie Ditto. The space was lovely and the folks running it were very welcoming, which is more than I can say for the tattoo business downstairs.

image.jpg

My friend, Kat, insisted that getting to Brooklyn was a simple process, even though it seemed to be located on another planet according to the map. I took her advice and boarded a south-bound bus, then the "L" train over. She was right, it was quick and easy, so my hopes of seeing my second gallery, The Cotton Candy Machine, would be realized. The show I had expected to see was another favorite, Joe Sorren, but as it turns out my brain buggered up those pesky "M" months and it was long gone. In fact, they were between shows, so the gallery was only half full. It was still worth the trip, since they brought out one of the remaining Sorren's from the back room for me to see, and I was able to check out the craftsmanship and line work of David M. Cook.

image.jpg

And, as an added bonus, I walked by a Tristan Eaton mural on my way there, so it was a very good art day for me!

image.jpg

NYC Diary : In The Mood

Ever since the show began, I have been a total Project Runway fan girl. Today, it was me saying "Thank You, Mood!" I spent just under two hours roaming the isles of Mood Designer Fabrics, tugging bolts of stunning fabrics from the shelves like they do on the show, and petting Swatch. Since I was alone, I started playing silly games with myself, conjuring Project Runway style assignments and trouble shooting how I would resolve them. Then I realized I could do some real world problem solving and look for gifts. 

image.jpg

I will keep those a secret for the time being, but I will share that I found some stunning silks and one splurge brocade. Dennis, the gentleman who assisted me, was a delight. We chatted about the city and our loved one's battle with Alzheimer's. He helped sign me up for a rewards card that features Swatch's sweet mug. It's fun, free souvenir that will reward me with $25 off once I spent an additional $420. That could take a few!

NYC Diary : Blooms and Babies

Visiting galleries and museums are very motivating, but I often find the most inspiration during none art-related adventures. Thankfully for me, the Bronx Zoo and the Bronx Botanical Gardens are located next to each other, so I was able to cram both adventures into one day!

image.jpg

The day started at the Bronx Botanical Gardens with their lovely conservatory and adorable rock garden. There was plenty to see, but bummer for me the Frida Kahlo inspired show, where they will recreate her garden and have paintings on display, doesn't open until next week. I was able to sneak a peek and I got to experience one element of the exhibit, the amazing Echium plant.

image.jpg

The zoo had the most adorable baby gorillas, a carousel with bugs instead of horses, and my new favorite bird, the Capuchinbird. This beautiful bird with coppery plumage almost appears to have an exposed skull, and I adore it! This little guy and I flirted for at least a half hour! 

image.jpg

My luck with the weather seems to have run out. My last day in NYC is starting grey and rainy, but that won't dampen this Project Runway fangirl's mood, since I am starting out at Mood Fabrics

NYC Diary : Auction Action

image.jpg

If I am in a museum, it is almost a guarantee that I will either get repremended by a guard or set off an alarm. I am not a bad person looking for trouble, I just want a closer look. My hands remain behind my back and my feet planted behind designated lines, but apparently my forward lean is a bit extreme. I just want to examine how the materials are applied and how the colors are layered. During the Christie's and Sotheby's auction house previews, I was able to lean as close as I wanted and take pictures of any section, even if it meant putting my iPad inches from the surface of the most impressive collections of artwork I have ever seen. Oh, did I mention it is also free?

image.jpg

As this CNN Money article explains, there are no requirements to viewing the art previews other than to enjoy yourself.  How did I figure this all out? My friend, Kevin (aka The Auction Master), has been attending these previews and auctions for years and he let me tag along to see the artwork and how the staff dote on him! He was also so gracious as to not only introduce me to them, but inform them that I was an artist he collected. With this promt I would hand them a business card. My inner critic laughed at my boldness, as if they would have any interest in my paintings when they were surround by the masters of the ages, but you just never know what one of your business cards could do in the pocket of an art professional! My advice is carry them with you and share them with the world, even the cashier at the Bronx Botanical Gardens who compliments you on Nuvango Fumage shirt. 

image.jpg

I could talk about the state of the art world and the prices that are paid for artwork. Sums of money that could be used for improving schools, feeding starving children and generally improving the lives of millions of people, but then I would get depressed and soil this amazing experience. Instead, I will savor this inspirational high, knowing that should this artwork go to a private collector, it is very likely to be hidden away for generations. These opportunities are not year round, so do your research and start planning your trip!

image.jpg

Oh, and one more collage of naughty bits! 

image.jpg

NYC Diary : Love vs Alzheimer's Part ll

image.jpg

When we arrived for the second day with Suzanne, you could see she was very tired. Our prior day of excitement had taken it's toll on her, so we started off slowly. The decor in the facility where Suz is staying is pink, VERY pink. Suz and I both are not fans of pink, at least not in our living spaces, so Barb and I brought in some vibrant color, including one of Suzanne's older paintings. It really spruced up the place!

I took out the sketch pad, this time we had brought colored pencils for Suz. She looked at the pad and closed her eyes. "Suzanne, do you remember how we drew together yesterday?"

"Yes." Her eyes opened.

"Do you want to do it again today?" 

"No." Her eyes closed again.  

It was not something I was going to force, so instead I took off her shoes, trimmed her toe nails and gave her a foot massage. This gave her a chance to rest a bit and then she seemed more engaged, so we took her outside for the first time since fall.

We were able to take pictures of the three of us with the beautiful spring flowers. Suz seemed to really enjoy every moment of our time outside. She and I got pretty silly, we danced and sang like "Disney Princesses." 

image.jpg

We took her back to her room to play some music. Another improvement to the room was a portable CD player and a stack of her CDs. First we played Marvin Gaye. She did not really respond to it, so I showed her all of the CDs and she chose the opera singer, Andrea Bocelli. I was not sure she was listening until song #6 and she began to passionately hum along, her face twisting with emotion. Her sister thought it was too much, was making her too sad, but I disagreed. Opera IS emotion. It is supposed to move you and I thought that anything that brought Suzanne out of herself was a wonderful moment. 

I will spare you the details of the heart-wrenching goodbyes. It was a beautiful and very emotional visit. My time with Suz has really started me thinking about being an artist and what it means when you lose the ability to express yourself. That is something I will address in a future post. Too much to process right now.

NYC Diary : Love vs Alzheimer's

image.jpg

When I was about 16, I spent a week in Philly with this beautiful woman. Suzanne is my Step-Dad's second cousin, but more importantly she is an artist that inspired me to follow my creative path. She too loved a good adventure and took on the responsibility of an entire warehouse building in a rougher part of town. She proceeded to renovate it into lofts, living in the middle loft space while renting the upper and lower floors to artists. I can not count the hours I spent fantasizing how I would move to Philly and live in her amazing building! During that early visit, she took me to a giant cemetery and Edgar Allen Poe's house, both at my request. She also took me to NYC for the first time. The day was spent gallery hopping and concluded with a glass of white wine in a little corner bar. That was the best glass of wine ever!

Years later I returned with my husband and friend to see Suzanne, who was again the most gracious host. Fast forward further to another visit with my husband, but this time it was different. Suzanne was still living in that building, but she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was the early stages and mostly presented itself in fleeting moments of confusion or repeated stories. 

Since that trip I kept planning to get back, but life continued to be distracting. A lot has changed for Suzanne over those years and the disease continued to progress. When I finally prioritized a trip to see her, I wondered if I had waited too long and if the Suzanne I knew was still there.

Today I joined her sister, Barb, on a visit, and as I watched Barb touch the shoulder of a woman watching TV I thought to myself, 'That can not be her.' I approached as Barb told her Amy was here to visit and she turned to face me. This woman was too tiny, too frail to be my Suzanne, but then those blue eyes, eyes who pupils were so terribly tiny, focused on me and she lit up! Yes, this was the woman I had idolized for so many years, and she recognized me! I had prepared myself for this not to be the case and not to take it personally, but to my relief she knew exactly who I was and it made her very happy!

image.jpg

We spent the day with her and Barb said it was the most engaged she had seen her in quite some time. We looked at family photos, old and new, and I showed her my current art projects. Barb had tried to get Suzanne to continue with her art, but she refused. Today, I had my 11"x14" sketch pad with me and I put it on her lap. She took the pencil, made a tiny check-shaped mark and whispered, "I can't," then closed her eyes. I started doodling and talking about how we were just playing around, no big deal. She would open her eyes, look at my marks, examine the paper and close her eyes again. Then I remembered how Alzheimer's patients responded positively to music. I tried the Talking Heads at first, with little response, and then I tried The Beatles. As the music played, she stirred, then her eyes opened and she began to move her hand. She pressed down hard, breaking the lead several times before getting the feel for the pressure, and then she wrote. Just a little here and there, snippets of lyrics, a mark or two and statements like "this is it" and "what I don't know." At one point we drew a bit together, just simple shapes, but it was more than she had done in a long time. Her eyes would close and I would tap the paper to the beat of the music and she would return for another mark. 

image.jpg

I have so much respect for her sister. She works full-time while struggling to sell that beloved warehouse building to financially support Suzanne. After today's visit, Barb and I brainstormed ways to improve Suzanne's space and a few possible techniques to engage her and continue the progress we saw today. More on that tomorrow!

NYC Diary : Love vs Alzheimer's Part II

NYC Diary : Ready to Rock!

Dear NYC Diary, 

The day has arrived. Soon I will be boarding a plane for my NYC adventure! In preparation, I have downloaded a photo collage app called Photo Grid, which does nifty things like faux magazine layouts, grids and stitch photos together like the one of my fur babies. I have packed the necessities: headphones, iPad charger and 11"x14" sketchpad for Wish Squish drawings, into my one back pack. Since Monday's adventures require traveling from Long Island to the upper west side with a pit stop at Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses, I decided to pack as light as possible. Of course, I want to be practical as well as fashionable, so I have three pairs of shoes and numerous clothing options jammed into that little, and now rather heavy, black bag. New York City, let's rock!

image.jpg

NYC Solo Adventures

image.jpg

By the end of this week, I will be departing the plane to start my solo NYC mini tour. In the past few years, I have been traveling solo more often. Mostly these trips have consisted of travels to see family in AZ or Chicago and some solo day adventures in Pittsburgh. I love traveling with my husband and I look forward to the trips we have planned, but there is something intriguing, and slightly terrifying, about traveling by yourself.

The main motivation for this trip is to visit a beautiful artist, Suzanne, who showed me her art world when I was only 16, and convinced me that my artistic path was a true one. Now almost 25 years later, that artist is plagued by Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

Of course, I do have a support system in NYC, generous people who are opening their doors and showing me around the city, but there will be several occasions that I will be navigating the city on my own whims.  My plan is to do a daily journal reflecting on aspects of this adventure, the art world, health, and making wishes come true. Have you made your wish yet? 

Spring Adventures

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your artwork is get out of the studio. Our destination on this beautiful spring day was Hills and Dales, part of the Five Rivers MetroParks system. The highlight of the hike was this amazing stone tower, which has many names, including Lookout Tower, Witches Tower, or Frankenstein’s Castle. After several failed attempts, I conquered the tower and now I can return to the studio, victorious!