Sunday, March 11, 2007

She Made Her Mark - Judges Comments

March 3, 2007

Judge’s Comments For “She Made Her Mark”

Best of Show - “Marie Curie”
By Carol Clasper

I could recognize the subtleties and surface complexities even from a distance. The hand x-rays were clear as well as a sense of radiant glow from around the hands. Subject was immediately engaging.

1st Place
“Seeking Higher Ground”
By Larkin Jean Van Horn

Doesn’t honor any one woman, but notes all who have stepped forward and held themselves up for all of us. Although not dramatic at a distance a closer view reveals a subtlety swirling emerald surface, textured by superb quilting. The eddies and whirlpools of stitching only make the elevation of the glass (allegorically, the individual) more dramatic. If I could have any of these quilts in my home to view daily, this one would be it.

2nd Place “Ruby Bridges”
By Marion Coleman

The entire composition of the quilt and its restrained use of color really accentuates the story of the girl who inspired it. There is a very journalistic quality to this piece.

3rd Place “Lady Godiva”

By Ruth Powers

Glorious color and superb quilting! The variety of stitched textures and fabrics are full of excitement and drama.

Ann Calland
The Quilters Hall of Fame
Museum Curator

Judge, Kathleen A. O'Connell
Herron School of Art and Design
Indianapolis, Indiana
Herron School of Art and Design, Associate Professor
Herron School of Art and Design, Visual Communications
MFA from Syracuse University

Kathleen looked over the entries several times in making her decision. She had good comments about all of the quilts.

Her Honorable mention if we had had one would have been “Doppleganger”. She really liked the play of light and dark, life and death, etc.

She very much wanted to give an award to the O’keefe quilt, but thought it was too much about Georgia’s work than about the artist’s own interpretations. But, she very much liked the upper center panel of the mountains and sky.

The Quilters Hall of Fame
926 S. Washington St
Marion, IN 46952

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Someone Turned the Switch

In just a few days we have gone from frozen water dishes for the birds to 83ºF weather.

Sonora is like this. We never have a gradual transition from winter to spring to summer. One day you awake and everything has changed.

The johnny jump ups to the left are volunteers that seeded down. The parent plants have been good to me and true to their designation of perennials and reappeared this spring.

There has been a lot of trimming away of freeze killed leaves and so forth. So we shall see what remains of the plants in the pots.

I've been unwilling to venture into the tropical garden courtyard in front of the master bedroom. The fishtail palm is looking poorly and the last time I looked at the banana tree it seemed dead. I won't know if the roots have survived for another month.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

March, Like a Lion

Here in the Sonoran Desert we are, again, in the throes of winter. The saucer that holds water for the birds had a quarter inch of ice on it this morning.

Tomorrow morning is expected to be the same.

The datura, at left, was a photo taken in Liepvre, Alsace, last September. It is known here in Sonora as the sacred datura, a hallucinogenic.

Because it is such a beautiful flower I planted one in a big pot in the tropical garden courtyard outside one of the bedrooms. It looks as though it has been totalled. I won't know if the last two months of hard frosts has killed the root or not. It will be mid April before the warmth comes true enough to start pruning frost damage.

I hate to even go out there. My banana tree is probably gone. The beautiful fishtail palm is looking pretty sorry. I've been blocked with the art and balked by the weather with the garden. I did get the roses pruned a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if the freezes will destroy the fresh, dark red, new growth.

This store window, with the reflected shutter, is an image taken while walking in Ribeauvillé last fall. It's easy to see that I'm sick of winter. Wool socks and a coat to turn the cold wind are getting old. The brilliant Sonoran sun does little to stop the wind.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Just a Bit Snarky Today

My friend, June Underwood, and I were discussing lists and the various ways of using them. As working artists we all have many different ways. I seem to have been stuck. I am stuck. I am working on pulling myself out of stuck.

Today, I wrote down three things that have been let slide for a long time. The Howard Zinn quote was on a bumper sticker on the back window of my little red roadster. It was removed over my objections.

So today, I went Googling, and Googling, and Googling. I finally found not only the image but a bumper sticker, a magnetic attachment for it to protect the painted surface of my bumper, and the same message on a black Tshirt.

Seems like I am getting more than a little pushy in my old age. I have two of the three items taken care of. Now for the last. Maybe more tomorrow.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

More Beautiful Than Flowers

I found something that was so beautiful I bought four of them. The opened field packing case was sitting on the floor in the produce section. This, remember, is not your garden variety grocery store. The cardboard box was almost empty. The side said Chinese Produce. The end had more than two dozen possible contents. The check box for Indian Bitter Melon was checked.

The first image was what was left after Little Miss Smoke discovered that Indian Bitter Melons were rollers. First she bit one to understand exactly what it was. Then she pushed it off the plate then off the counter to the floor. Anything that rolls belongs to her. The image below was taken two days earlier and shows you how really gorgeous they are.

On Wednesday, the twenty first, I was in search of fresh rice noodles with shrimp and green onions. The search was unsuccessful as Chinese New Year was last weekend. All the cold cases were almost empty. The story was the same everywhere: next shipment on Thursday.

Back to bitter melons, I have a punjab cookbook from London dated 1995. The only sensible reference I can find is Bharwein Karele, stuffed bittergourd. The notes say eight to the pound. I had four small ones that cost me 30¢. I had everything in the pantry except the dried mango powder. Good sense said, beautiful, beautiful, besides the cat likes them. More beautiful than flowers. Art is like that. Almost every artist is also very interested in food. It is a pleasure both to cook and to eat. Images of the cook book follow.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Just a Story

First things first. Thank you to all the people who have commented on the curatorial process. You have no idea how many smiles and how many times I've said thank you out loud. Your notes do so much to buoy up my spirits. Again, thank you. Now for the promised story.

Years ago I met a woman named Annie McCandlis. She became a friend. Although we now live on different ends of the country when we meet we pick up where we left off. I have a few good friends in the same category.

One of the things Annie taught me was :
change the rules
change the game
or don't play

The first time I hear that small set of rules was in 1980. I was working in Port Townsend, Washington. It was a different sort of art in those days as I was just a bit younger. I would see Annie here and there. I would complain and Annie would listen. When I complained most bitterly she would remind me of the rules above.

I learned to parrot those lines. I could say them for many years. Slowly, slowly, I began to learn for myself what they truly meant. It's like truth; truth comes one to a customer. Those rules, like truth, mean exactly what one person needs them to mean. Artists all have rules of their own. Annie's rule comes in handy in making career and professional decisions.

Here it is twenty seven years later. I'm learning again, that rules, like truths, are up to each, one person's perception. It's time to begin the spring cleaning of my workroom. Like all house cleaning it works on multiple levels: the physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual, the universal. Time again to change the rules.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Day Eight - She Made Her Mark

Aurora Horribilis, © Nancy Erickson.

Well, I think the phrase is "hoist on her own petard." My living room is twenty two feet long but due to cabinetry I can't get more than nineteen feet focal length. I was in a big hurry this morning. Cold, grey, bleak, shooting in ambient light, I thought I had this image famed properly. It's easier to fudge as it is not rectangular. Notice the tell tale of the line between the wall and the ceiling. I screwed it up.

This is the exact same image dropped into photoshop and custom rotated 1º right. See how it is not even with the text. If I had cropped out the ceiling line I could have gotten away with this one. Yes, the bottom is uneven; it is built that way.

This is the first one I took from about twenty five feet back and maybe ten feet to the left. Are you beginnng to see how important it is that your camera and the work are square with each other?

This one was taken from about ten feet back and maybe twelve feet to the left. See the keystoning that is looking like visual perspective?

All this to show you that good photography is not easy. If you do not own a tripod, the least expensive is about $30 retail. Look for the levels. There should be a leveling bubble on the tripod body. There should be another leveling bubble on the head that actually holds the camera. Use them; they are there for good reason.

One of the problems a tripod solves when it comes to keystoning is the winder that makes the camera higher. I am the shortest person. Without a tripod I am looking up at everything. There is no way I can get a square image without standing on a ladder. Frankly, $30 is the cheapest emergency room insurance for me.

Learn to use your tripod and your camera. I am very fortunate that the Spider tutors me. It's an ongoing process. I'm honored to have his help.

However, for exhibitions that require slides there is no way, no matter how good the tutor, that I can replicate Jack Kulawik's studio. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and decades of photographing art put Jack in a class by himself. He regularly puts my slides in the accepted column in national exhibitions.

I don't have the time or the fuel to take a photography class at the local community college. It may be an option for you. However, don't fool yourself into thinking that the best digital camera can replace a professional. I proved it myself this morning.

So here I sit, with my head stuck up like a turtle looking through my trifocals. I've worked seven hours today. Four hours of that is PhotoShop time. The other three hours is in photography, color printing, and computer and phone communications. All these things take time. I am waiting on two images.

Tomorrow I begin the mock-ups in earnest. I've avoided them as long as I can. However, working with the images, sizing, going through things again and again, I'm beginning to get the names, the works, and the sizes comfortable in my brain. Without that nothing happens.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day Seven - She Made Her Mark

Good Sunday Afternoon,

It's cold, raining, and the wind is blowing here in Sonora. I closed the blinds that look out on the garden to cut the heat loss. Beware, I'm on a rant.

I'm very frustrated today. I am in the process of reducing every image submitted to She Made Her Mark to the scale of one inch equals one foot.

I have provided one of my own very crappy keystoned images rather than disclose any images from SMHM. I have spent about two hours working on the first third of the image deck. The bad news is that photoshop work gets priced out at $35 per hour.

I've been closely cropping and sizing images. Many too many of the images are keystoned. I could use photoshop to correct all the keystoning as represented by the sample. That process distorts the image; it is an improper way to get a good image. That is not the curator's job; it's the artist's job.

If you are going to take your own digital images you need to carefully look in the image display on the back of your camera. Unless you intentionally built a trapezoid you better be able to see that each edge of the quilt is parallel with the window. If you don't have a tripod invest in one.

You need to learn how to closely crop an image and size it properly. File names are of necessity consistent. They should have your last name, height x width, (which is my fault, not in the prospectus), and resolution. Even if that is perfect I still have to rename the file to add your entrant's number; today I'm adding a notation that tells scale.

I am looking at a lot of work that would lose all consideration if a panel of three jurors were evaluating the images. One of the most exquisite works is nicely, closely cropped. However, the artist did not remove the vestiges of the garden in the background.

Anne Copeland and the FiberArts Connection of Southern California have worked very hard to create openings for beginning and emerging artists. Anne has proven time and again that the work of artists with unknown names is equal to or of greater quality than the work of names we know.

Now it's time for all of you to do your work on Google and find the online places that offer classes in everything from photography to photoshop elements. The information is out there; in many cases it costs nothing except self discipline to teach oneself. Quit depending on your children to do your computer work. If you are smart enough to create the quilts I'm looking at you are smart enough to teach yourself about your own computer.

The other issue that is really bothering me is one of scale. As you saw yesterday, The Quilters' Hall of Fame is a huge old house. The ceilings downstairs are ten feet high. Upstairs the ceilings are nine feet.

As I work my way through and scale these images so that each may be considered equally according to their size, image, and merit, I am concerned. I have already cut ten inch strips of foam core to mock up the walls. When I compare the scaled image on my monitor and the foam core I worry.

Many of these lovely works are very small scale. How do I arrange the exhibition so that the intimacy of these works is not lost in a huge space?

As artists do you ever consider how and where your work will be hung? Have you ever thought about scale? If not, it's time to put those issues into your thinking caps.

Sorry to be so harsh today. I set out to give you a good look at the curatorial process. Now you've seen the darker side. So, we need to charge up four hours today, two to photoshop. The woman hours are adding up. If you are a non profit there is no way you can fund an exhibition if you have to hire help.

Now, before anyone has a nervous breakdown, all these issues are mine to work out. This is going to be a knock out of an exhibition.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

She Made Her Mark - Day Four

This box for entry forms that have been entered into the data base. That box for artists' statements. The shoebox for CDs that have had the images pulled off of them.

The tape measure holds down one group of papers; the stapler another. Another shoebox holds other stuff. Every, and I mean every piece of paper and Cd must have the same entry number. Every bit of computer data has to be backed up by plain old paper.

For day four, we have completed the remaining 15% of the image file building. There still remains about 40% of the database entry to go. Peg took one look at me and said, I don't think we will get much done today.

So for our two hours each we entered the image files in the iPhoto6 software and took a look at the slide show. OH, oh. One file is in a format incompatible. Hum, drag and drop doesn't tell me those things. iPhoto doesn't tell me which image is bunk. Oh, my, oh, my.

Well, we had loaded the 72dpi into the macbook. Came over and loaded both the 72dpi and the 300dpi into the iMac. Now we have five incompatible format files. groan. I have a message out to my Spider. Maybe he has a quick trick for identifying. I certainly do not wish to drop each and every one of these files into Photoshop to read the entire label. Maybe help will tell me how to expand the Information panel in iPhoto.

The slide show was highly professional and holds all sorts of possibilities. Now, we just have to do a whole bunch more grunt work.

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She Made Her Mark - Day Three

This is just barely the beginning of Day Three. By the end of the day this waste basket will be full to overflowing.

Since none of the packaging is light enough to go through the shredder my husband has decided on a novel way to foil the identity thieves.

Take the big kitchen garbage. Tear up all the envelopes manually as well as can be done. Then proceed through the house and the garden courtyard and the garage scooping cat litter boxes along the way. Tie the bag shut and leave for the garbage man.

See, you really did not need a shredder did you?

Today, although we spent eight hours we accomplished only eight percent of the work load. I am at fault. I mis-saved a database in an arcane Windows format. Normally my iMac will open and translate all of these. Nope, not this one. Searched and searched - even looking into iBackup to see if we could retrieve the file.

We would have saved a lot of time if we had just bitten our tongues and re-entered the data. The entry forms were easily available. The image files were separate and safe.

So, for this, not one of our better days, we add eight hours at $20 per hour for $160US. We're at 85% of the administrative work done. Our cost to date is $520. Once we have everything entered we will be a long, long way from being done.

Again, please remember the FiberArts Connection of Southern California. Without that organization there is no venue for the beginning artist to learn the ins and outs of entering professional exhibitions.

Oh, by the way, the few image files I have opened looking for detail shots, tell me there is NO WAY that this exhibition is anything but top notch professional. It's an amazing thing that is happening here. Very skilled artists with names no one has noticed publicly are producing very exciting work.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Dressed for Work

Three weeks to the day after back surgery that means my back is a junk yard unacceptable to the Department of Homeland Insanity, I have drawn myself up, much like Scarlett. I have work to do.

Tomorrow you will see the pile of mail. The next few days will show you the process of the administrative beginnings of volunteer, free lance, curating. We'll be accounting for hours invested. The number of images placed in files. All this before any image is ever inspected.

Stay tuned. It should be fun.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Year's Ramble

The Impresssionists at First Hand was published in 1987. It is copyright, © Thames and Hudson. I had seen a reference to the book somewhere on line. When I went looking I found Abebooks. A second hand, paperback book with unbroken spine at $2US; the entire bill, including shipping from London was around $8.

I'm going to give you two paragraphs, the first and last of the introduction. Then I'll go rambling off on my own based on those ideas.

"One of the problems about history is that it involves the imposition of the past of the ideas of the present. Apparent in every branch of the subject, this tyranny of hindsight is especially evident where art is concerned. To coax into some comprehensible pattern the constantly changing manifestations of painting and sculpture, the mutability of taste, brutal categories have to be forced on recalcitrant phenomena. People, whether artists, critics, or mere spectators have to be denuded of their real personalities with all their various interests, their contradictions of character, their inconsistencies, and their awareness of the recurrent problem of matching action with intent, to be transformed into lay-figures, playing the role assigned to them in the art historian's drama.

"This book is not meant to be a continuous narrative; it is not a history of Impressionism. Rather it is an attempt to re-create the actuality of the lives and attitudes of a group of artists who by being categorized under a stylistic label have lost someting of their human dimension."

Now, these two paragraphs are © Thames and Hudson, 1987. They are published under the fair use for educational purposes doctrine of the copyright law.

So, what do these two paragraphs and this book have to do with artists, today, who happen to work with textiles? One of the ideas - just a one liner in the introduction about la ville lumiere, as Paris was called in the nineteenth century, put the physical geography of my upbringing, my life, and my travels into sharp focus.

I was raised in the nineteenth century agrarian tradition. One saw fields and animals, thickets and open woods. To take the Broadway Limited into Grand Central Station in New York City was the first glimpse of the broad boulevards and the population density of the cities that had grown out of the industrial age. What I experienced after World War II harkened back nearly one hundred years.

The Impressionists were experiencing this first hand long before I rode the train. Much of the work they did was in response to this massive upheaval in society. Life had not only changed, it looked different.

As you begin to read the reviews of the time, for instance: Renoir's Youth taken from La Vie Modern, 19 June, 1879, you begin to get glimpses not only of a painting or an artist but of a time, a place, a small grouping within society. It becomes a relationship with the fullness of life rather than looking at one painting in a row.

As an artist, what does this mean? I think, for me, it means not to concern myself with theories and schools of thought. No doubt someone in another time will pass judgment. If I am fortunate, get plenty of work done, get an exhibition, I may find myself facing a scathing review of work I know full well is good.

It is rather comforting to read of the agonies of gallery representation, the petty politics of exhibiting, the cost of living, the thoughts and ideas of one artist for the work of a colleague.

In another way it defines a time and place and situation that is past. It is unlikely that any one of us will find ourselves in close quarters with dozens of our colleagues. The world has changed that much.

I think one of the most valuable assest for learning in this particular book is the critique of one known artist about the works of another. It gives a framework for examining work and thinking about what qualities make it good. It examines theme, method, medium, and how all those things are inexplicably intertwined with life.

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