Saturday, September 29


 I have a new crop of silkscreen students at Fleisher- this time in the 14-18 age group. With only 8 kids, it's really a pleasure working with a more mature group. We kicked off the semester learning about the roots of silkscreen in paper stenciling.
 Asked to combine a word and image that related to nature, the students designed a freezer paper stencil, being careful to include enough "bridges" between shapes. Then they came up with a second simpler shape and cut it out of contact paper for an adhesive stencil on the screens.
 Last week we printed the large simple background shapes using the adhesive stencils on the screen. This week we stenciled our key image on top with sponges, which allowed for more specific color placement than regular screenprint would have allowed in one layer.

 Once our paper prints were complete we headed out to the "free wall" in the parking lot and stenciled our key images in a random arrangement. The wall has been totally blank for a few months, so it was pretty cool to activate the space with our nature-themed prints.
Having put our art out in the urban environment, next week we'll go looking for image from the urban environment to put back into our art.

Friday, September 28

Kindred Spirit

 Last Friday was the opening reception for Jeff Dentz's solo show in the Works on Paper building at Fleisher, which he was granted as part of a faculty fellowship award. Walking in, I first noticed the woodblock above and was reminded again how much I love Jeff's work. Maybe it's because we have similar interests in urban imagery- remember my "Dawn Over Tacony" stitched watercolor from about a year ago? For comparison sake:

Of course, Jeff's large woodblock took a lot more time and planning than my little watercolor. That's one more reason why I admire his work. I have great appreciation for artists who put so much time and labor into their work. The process of woodblock printing was definitely honored in this exhibit. Series of prints hung in progressively complex layers.
Along with finished prints, Jeff included several original blocks in all their inky relief. I almost prefer the sculptural qualities and intricate surfaces of the carved and inked blocks over the prints. While his prints have an airy and delicate feeling due to the translucent paper and ghostly layers of color, his blocks are raw and tactile. They hold the history of the prints they released.
Printmaking is a doubled art of process and product.

Head over to Fleisher's Works on Paper building at 709 Christian St for a closer look. The gallery is open during class hours Mon-Thurs till about 9:00pm and Saturdays 9-3. It's definitely worth a visit.

Sunday, September 9

I'll huff and I'll Puff

First Friday along the Frankford Arts Corridor is really hopping lately. It's in no small part to the new addition of the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym at Berks and Frankford Aves. This month they've invited Terri Aluise, a fresh graduate from PAFA to exhibit her fairy-tale-inspired mixed media sculptures. I'm a sucker for anything fiber arts, and I think Aluise creates quite successful juxtapositions between hard and soft sculptural materials.
 While I enjoyed the materiality of the objects in the exhibition, what really made me fall in love with it was Aluise's sense of humor and spin on familiar fairy tale stories. The big bad wolf  is skinned and laid out like a bear-skin rug. The 3 little pigs sit contentedly on her piles of building materials.
 The 3 bears sleep soundly on their just-right bed no longer disturbed by naughty girls (a mat of golden braids graces the floor at the foot of the bed).
 And the ugly duckling has blossomed into a rainbow of a swan, leaving the other ducklings puny and drab.
I enjoy the nostalgia of stories from childhood. It's remarkable how a single object can draw up a whole narrative in one's memory. I've always hated to finish a book, because I want to know what happens after "The End". Aluise gives a very satisfying extension to these favorite tales. For more on Terri Aluise visit an article about her show, and her website (with way better pictures than I snapped here).
I can't wait to see what shows up next at PSG!

Friday, September 7

Teen Lounge, Teen machine

After school today I attended a reception at the Philadelphia Foundation for an exhibition called Teen Machine of artwork created through Fleisher's various programs for teens. It was very exciting to see my Saturday silkscreen students' collaborative piece hanging on the wall right at the entrance greeting everyone:
 Then down the hall were a selection of photographs from the Community Partnership in the Arts mural project I did with Work Ready teens at the Houston Center this summer:
The rest of the show was filled with imagery made by the kids in  Fleisher's drop in Teen Lounge program. It was fun to see the potential of the Teen Lounge because my daughter is finally old enough to join the program, and is looking forward to starting with them this Fall.
Exhibition is an important part of the creative process. It means a lot to me that the kids I've worked with have had a chance to show off their work with a larger community. It's also nice to get this reminder of all the creativity I've facilitated this past year. It's really a privilege to get to work with youth and be a part of shaping their artistic development.
The show will be up in the Philadelphia Foundation's office, 1234 Market St Suite 1800.

Monday, September 3

70 feet

The wrapping cloth is coming along. It is currently around 70 feet in length, and I've been averaging 2-3 feet completed per working session. At this rate I'm not sure I'm going to get it as long as I'd hoped by November. Either way it will be an impressive length. I had quite a few fabric donations today: a tie from a spouse who passed away, a t-shirt from a priest's first parish, a "birthday shirt". As I near the end the colors are getting more vibrant. The piece is moving from death back into life.
I hope I can keep this going in the next few weeks. I start seeing students at my elementary school this coming week!