Saturday, December 28

Noyes and Forsythe

So nice to escape the city for a day, and actually get out and do something during this vacation time (although the studio has seen a bit more of me than usual this week). We drove down to Absecon to visit the Noyes museum, which is this great little art museum that features New Jersey artists primarily. They have four main gallery spaces. One is featuring a solo exhibit of fable-inspired portraits by Victor Grasso- while well-painted, some were just annoyingly... well see for yourself. Another gallery had a member show, and a third had an exhibit of impressionistic pastels by John Pierce Barnes. In the hall was a great window installation by Karen Guancione, filled with suspended card catalog cards- all these once-useful indexes flown to the wind.
 A final gallery had an exhibit about Noise (noise- Noyes, get it?- yeah it's a little silly, but it was perfect because my daughter asked on the way down- will it be noisy there? Oh we love a little pun....) I'm not a huge fan of multi-media art exhibits because half the time the media devices aren't working, and they weren't. There were headphones connected to a typewriter and an old trestle sewing machine, but no sound came out, and an ipod was dangling from a phonograph-like sculpture, but no sound poured forth because the cord was disconnected. And were these sculptures meant to be interactive or not? No signage granted permission, but the works seemed intended to be interactive. I love the Noyes, but this exhibit seemed sadly neglected. Despite the media flaws, there was an INCREDIBLE piece by Eve Ingalls anchoring the show. From afar it appeared like a charcoal drawing:
but up close it revealed its incredible 3 dimensionality. Entitled "After Sandy", it embodied the crash and thrum of pounding waves and the crunch of sand covered asphalt, all while sitting quietly on the wall. Perhaps its success was that it did not set out to make sound or incorporate sound literally, unlike the rest of the works in the show. It was a great noise through visual expression  and interpretation. Visual artists can get in trouble when they try too hard to be something more than visual. Ingalls captured it just right. Check out more of her incredible work.
 Is it any surprise that my favorite works were fibers-related?
 Much to my surprise, the Forsythe national wildlife refuge was RIGHT NEXT to the Noyes (who needs gps?) and our adventure continued to the great outdoors. It seems more of a vehicle-friendly place than walker-friendly (ugh... NJ car culture), but we took a short hike down to gull tower pond and climbed the observation tower. I took some panoramas and sketched from the close-up views of the swans and egrets you could see with a telescope up top. The sun-spot above obliterates the Atlantic City skyline with its windmills. I love windmills. From the aerial view, the wildlife seemed so much more abundant than from our roadside hike vantage.
 Although, we were wonderfully startled by an egret who suddenly leapt from his hiding place about 10 feet away from us as we walked. I love the marsh grasses and their reflections. The broken stalks below remind me of a Harry Callahan photo. I wish I could stumble in and weave a living basket of them.
Winter color is subtle.Winter light is crisp. I'm more inspired by the beauty of nature than the man-made beauty in the museum. I can't help myself but to go and make art myself... but it is a poor reflection of the wonder of the world.

Sunday, December 15

When in doubt... Stitch

With all the flurry of weather and other changes in life, today was the first time over to the studio in 3 weeks! Yikes! It was 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but with hat, scarf, studio sweater, fingerless gloves, and the space heater next to me I was able to work for about 3 hours. There is nothing like stitching to let the mind release worries. With my fingers busy my brain can still and I can be in the present moment. The rhythm of the needle and pop of thread through the taut fabric is music that calms and sustains me. The bleak midwinter is outside my window, but my center is warm and bright.

Tuesday, December 10

pattern play

Snow day today!! Which means I've had time for the great pleasures of reading, cooking, and photoshop playing. I was not about to slosh over to the studio, but decided to stay cosy at home and make some art on the computer instead. There were some photos I'd taken around South Philly that I wanted to mash up. Here's the Fleisher sunset with the sanctuary gates superimposed:

 And a little piece of Isaiah Zagar mural from 7th and Carpenter has made its way onto the ghost rooms from a building torn down at 7th and Bainbridge. I walked by yesterday and found a nearly complete new building has sprung up where this wall once was.
I REALLY want to print these out onto some silk and add some stitched texture. The beaded snow piece I started last month is complete and needs binding. Oh boy, there's a bunch of binding that needs doing!! Perhaps that will be my winter break activity...

In the meantime.....
Registration is open for Winter session at Fleisher and I need a few more student for Stitch and Surface!!! It's a 10 week course on Thursday evenings, and I promise a new sampler idea, some fabric bleaching experimentation, and a portrait project!
Registration for Summer workshops at Peters Valley is now open as well! I'll be teaching a digital print (and embellishment) on fabric class at the beginning of July. Check it out!

Sunday, December 1

Longwood visit

 We headed down to Brandywine area this weekend to visit Longwood Gardens, just in time for their Christmas extravaganza. I much prefer spending time there than shopping on this Black Friday weekend. My favorite decorations were the gourd birdfeeders on this fir tree above.
 My daughter laid claim to the camera while we strolled around the grounds and the conservatory. I cropped and enhanced them a little, but its interesting to see what captured her eye.

 I think these would be fun to experiment with by zooming in and printing them out on fabric.

Besides plant pictures she also took a ton of selfies and a bunch of her parents strolling off into the sunset together. We've had a lovely weekend. I wish we could always have this much time and fun together...