Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pandemic

This really isn't an RPG, but I have to rave about Pandemic. Chuck and I just picked up the board game and it's really fun despite providing an overly simplistic and generalized view of the world. The best part about it is that the game is set up to be cooperative, so players work together to win or lose.

Anyway, with Chuck being off until New Year's, Pandemic, Wii Lego Star Wars and Rock Band, I'll likely not be blogging much. So don't be surprised if you don't hear much from me this week.

Art of the Week: Evidence I


Evidence of My Existence I
5" x 15 1/2" x 3 1/2"
sewing drawer, collected objects, glass bottles

This piece was initially created a couple years ago, when the bottles of evidence were collected, but I recently revisited it and created a new means of display, including the hang tags and old sewing drawer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Art of the Week: Cast Off


Yesterday I participated in Artica for the first time with Cast Off. This work featured a clothesline of trash and debris from the surrounding area to reflect on consumption, neglect and abandonment.

Cast Off
Weathered and worn,
floating on the wind,
tattered, forgotten, abandoned
testaments to human existence.
Always remember:
we learn about our history and ourselves
from our trash as well as our treasures...

Friday, December 18, 2009

WCA-STL Activism blog

The St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art has a new activism blog for members to focus on activism and their causes, from animal rights to clean rivers to humanitarianism & peace and more.

http://wca-stlactivism.blogspot.com

I am very excited about this development, since it reflects upon the group goals of activism and advocacy and since it provides a great forum for members to share their passions outside of art. I have myself posted several links to organizations that I strongly believe in and support.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This Week

Wow, time has gotten away from me this week and I almost forgot to post what I'm up to. I am doing a couple big events this weekend, including an art market and an art festival. So please feel free to come - between everything going on there's something to appeal to almost everyone.

Affordable Art Show
Riverside Gallery
13 W. Moody, Webster Groves, MO
Dec. 18, 2009
7 - 10 PM
I will be vending some of my jewelry and have a few of my Point of View collages on display. All artworks included will be priced $60 or less, so it's a great opportunity for last-minute holiday shopping.

Artica
The North Riverfront
Lewis and O'Fallon streets, St. Louis, MO
Dec. 19, 2009
noon - midnight
Artica is an outdoor multidisciplinary art festival, including interactive & community art, music, performance, installation and more. This is my first year participating, and I'm looking forward to it and hope the weather holds out.

Show Some Respect

I know that I've talked on and on about acting professionally, but a situation that a close friend was in has reiterated the need to revisit this topic yet again.

If you are organizing a show:

- Be responsive, responsible and professional. Treat those with whom you are working with dignity and respect and keep the lines of communication open. Treat the artists as you would want to be treated yourself.

- Don't neglect to return someone's work for months after an event with no communication, explanation or good reason. You could get sued or have a police report filed against you for stealing or losing the artist's work.

- Don't neglect to inform the artists whose works you are representing or exhibiting of any changes that affect them, like new phone or email contacts, physically moving to a new location, new staff or contactpersons, show extensions, traveling exhibitions and other related circumstances. You could cause the artist to panic when he/she doesn't know what is going on, where his/her work is or how to contact you and, consequently could get sued or have a police report filed against you for stealing or losing the artist's work.

If you are participating in a show:

- Be courteous and follow directions. Read all of the instructions before asking questions. Abide by deadlines and requirements and don't expect exceptions to be made for you. Remember, you are only one of many artists responding, so don't act like you are the center of the universe or the only person with whom the gallery/curator has any contact. Abide by the same courtesy, respect and level of professionalism that you wish to be treated with.

- Try to work it out with the show organizer or gallery first. Don't badmouth, backstab or gossip about people for all that gossip can be hard to avoid at times. If the show organizer or gallery has genuinely ripped you off or treated you badly (be wary and aware, there are con artists and sleazebags out there who will take advantage), remain professional in warning others about the circumstance if you feel the need to do so.

Advice for both curators and artists alike:

- Don't threaten, berate or badmouth anyone. Behave in a professional and courteous manner. Don't use hostile or vulgar language or respond violently as this won't resolve anything. Essentially, if you wouldn't want someone to say it to you or to your own mother, then don't say it yourself.

- If someone has treated you unprofessionally, don't let them egg you on into stooping to their level. You don't want to perpetuate or be remembered for this. Continue to act responsibly and professionally.

- Don't make threats that you are not willing to follow through on. (Ideally, don't make threats at all - it can exacerbate the situation and will reflect upon yourself in all of your professional dealings.) For example, don't threaten to "call your lawyer" if you don't intend to actually do so - you may be called on it or may actually need to do so later.

It essentially comes back to the Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated yourself and keeping in mind that your actions will reflect upon you professionally in all of your career, so don't knowingly do or say anything you'd be ashamed of or want to disassociate from later on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Yearning for the Past

I recently attended an artist's talk in which the artist lamented what he perceived as a steady decline in the art world since the late 1800s with the modern art movement and the introspective nature of art today. However, I cannot say that I agree with these perspectives.

I don't long for the days of the patronage system, nor do I think that more people were able to connect with art of the past. A lot of art existed because of wealthy patrons, and nobility and the Church supported artists to create exactly what they wanted made. Those viewing art were either granted access to it by luxury or, in the case of the general population, were seeing things that essentially existed as propaganda to further promote cultural ideas and remind them of their roles in society.

Artists simply didn't have the freedom of expression or thought in the past that we do today, and many were not able to be introspective. New opportunities have evolved and doors opened, and so a more varied assortment of artists can explore these concepts. But modern and contemporary art isn't solely introspective. A lot of artists are able to explore a much more varied range of concepts and to offer artworks as a means of communication and social commentary. Artists are able to both connect with and disconnect from a more diverse group of people than ever; we have much more autonomy to decide how accessible we want our work to be.

I don't think that the general population only understands, desires and responds to Classical traditions in Western Art. I think it better to give the viewer/patron the benefit of the doubt and let him/her determine what is of value in his/her mind. Different people respond to different things. Collectors are collecting a diverse range of works and styles reflecting an array of movements. Some see this as nothing more than a trend. But does that mean that what is considered trendy is not of worth later on? Throughout history what is remembered depends a lot on the culture looking back on it and what of the past has been preserved, for good or bad. And it cannot be said that past cultures have always had a great appreciation for those before. A lot of changes and shifts in thinking have occurred throughout history. A lot of things went unrecorded or were only discovered in ruin in other peoples' trash heaps.

However, I do see it as a definite pity that true Classical training seems to be becoming more and more scarce nowadays. There are so many movements and ideas to cover nowadays and some of those teaching lack a strong background in formal Classical concepts, so a lot of students are simply not offered as strong of a sense of focus in Classical traditions, or in any particular discipline or methodology for that matter. This depends a lot on the educational institutions and what they value. But those students from any program will go on to become the next generation of teachers themselves, so if information is being lost along the way it will continue to do so as more and more generations of teachers lose more and more of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Art of the Week: More Necklaces


This week, I'm posting more jewelry. Here are some highlights from the new jewelry I made this week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This Week

This week marks the start of the second half of the Remastered show at Soulard Art Market. Several pieces from Remastered Part 1 will be changed out so it will be a new experience. My Claude Monsterpieces will still be on display along with some of my other work. Please feel free to come and check it out. I will be at the reception on Friday for all that I cannot make it Saturday.

Remastered Part 2
Soulard Art Market
2028 S. 12th St.. St. Louis
MO, Nov. - Dec. 2009
reception:
Friday, Dec. 11, 7 - 10 PM
Saturday, Dec. 12, 7 - 10 PM

Friday, December 4, 2009

Art of the Week: Mother Nature has deep pockets


This week, I'm posting a picture of a non-functional apron called Mother Nature has deep pockets. This piece incorporates collage, stitching and embellishment on dollhouse wallpaper and pastel paper. It fits into my fantasy nature environmental series, like Mother Nature's Party. It was made for the Young Women's Caucus for Art traveling show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Okay, I'm an Artist

I'm actually posting something today having been inspired to rant about a pet peeve of mine. I was purchasing some photographs at a boutique and yet again heard, "it's okay, I'm an artist." Every time I hear this phrase it rubs me the wrong way, and I've heard it from all kinds of people including my own art professors. It has been used to justify difficulties with math and spelling, general flakiness, lack of memory, illogical, erratic or emotional behavior, and more.

Why does it matter? Well, simply put, it feeds into preconceived ideas of what we, as artists, are. I don't like other similar excuses either, like "it's okay, I'm a woman." My being a woman doesn't automatically make me emotional or maternal or a good listener. (I'll admit that sometimes I may be emotional, but I don't tend to be maternal, and whether or not I'm a good listener has more to do with my state of mind at the time than with my being female.)

Saying "it's okay, I'm an artist" can reinforce notions that all artists can't spell or do math or hold a train of thought, and that simply isn't true (take Leonardo da Vinci for example). For all that each of us may not see the harm in those generalizations that do apply to ourselves individually, we are more likely to take offense to those that don't. But we're all different - we artists are a very diverse group and many of us prefer to embrace that diversity rather than imposing limitations on ourselves and others.

This holds true outside of art as well. Essentially why should we want to feed into stereotypes by using them to justify our own shortcomings? What if we were to take responsibility for ourselves, or at least not assume that our behaviors & tendencies automatically extend to others? Sometimes it's easy to slip up and place blame or seek camaraderie by making assumptions, but I make every effort not to do this and to try to be more responsible for myself. It all comes down to this: I don't like to be generalized, so I try hard not to generalize myself and/or others.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Art of the Week: Portrait


I'm sorry I don't have anything new to post this week, but I've been busy with the Thanksgiving holiday. Here's a portrait of myself with one of my favorite drawings based on my Migrations series exploring my childhood travel between my mother's house in St. Louis, Missouri and my father's house in Centralia, Illinois. I originally created this drawing while working on my BFA at Webster University.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Website Updated

Thank you so much Chuck for helping me update my website. To those of you who have seen it before, we posted much newer pieces in the Environment and Forgotten sections and posted photos from the Claude: the Monster, the Myth, the Legend and Relics & Reliquaries shows, so please check it out.
Environment page
Forgotten page
Claude: the Monster, the Myth, the Legend
Relics & Reliquaries

My next big update I'm hoping to post more photos of my plein air paintings on display at Art Saint Louis and Les Bourgeois Vineyards but I won't be doing so until early next year. Those shows will be up through the holidays (the show at Les Bourgeois will be up through February) so check them out in person if you can.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Art of the Week: Hat


Here is a photo of the Knify Knitter hat that I mentioned last week, complete with puffball. I am looking forward to wearing it as it gets colder - it's quite warm.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art of the Week: Necklaces


Sorry I'm a little late posting the art of the week. Yesterday I had a wonderful time at a day retreat at a friend's house and finally got started on a hat using the Knifty Knitter Hat Loom - something I'd been wanting to do for months. The hat isn't yet done but may make art of the week next week. In the meantime, here are some necklaces & jewelry sets I finished up this week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This Week

I have some artworks in a couple of shows opening this week. Outside In is "a contemporary celebration of outdoor art" in which artists worked en plein air and in their studios to depict sculptures & outdoor art from Chesterfield's permanent collection. Included are my interpretations of Ernest Trova's Gox A and Bob Cassilly's Butterfly. Similarly themed is the Remastered show at Soulard Art Market, where artists were invited to "re-imagine famous artworks of the past" in which I will be showing the Claude Monsterpieces.

Outside In
Chesterfield Arts
444 Chesterfield Center
Chesterfield, MO
Nov. - Dec. 2009
Reception: Friday, Nov. 13, 6 - 9 PM

Remastered
Soulard Art Market
2028 S. 12th St.. St. Louis, MO
Nov. 2009
Reception: Friday, Nov. 13, 7 - 10 PM
Encore Reception: Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 - 10 PM

Friday, November 6, 2009

Art of the Week: Love Nest


Love Nest
reappropriated women's & men's clothing, wire hanger, wooden pants hanger
Created for MoFA Member Challenge: Build a Nest to benefit Nest.
(Note: Not everything I do is for donation and I actually rarely make new work to donate, but I am catching up on things and was excited to participate in these two particular events.)

Statement:
Working together to build our lives and our home, we feel connected and safe in one another’s arms. There are many who would judge us harshly for choosing not to procreate, who would say that our relationship is illicit despite our being married because we aren’t letting nature take its course and surrounding ourselves with children. But neither of us feels the desire to have children to be complete; we have each other and that is all we need.

Professionalism in Practice

Aside from avoiding excuses, not being afraid to ask questions, and remembering to say thank you, you need to think about how you're representing yourself and your art. This is a continuation of my last post on the importance of having good images of your art, but here I will focus more on how we present ourselves. This is a topic I have touched on many times, but I haven't devoted a blog post entirely to it, so I hope to consolidate some of my thoughts here, in no particular order.

- You will be remembered by how you present yourself. First impressions stick, so make sure to make a good one.

- Present your work professionally. Shoot good images of your work to show to people.

- Keep business cards on hand so people you meet can contact you and can be directed someplace where they can see your artwork. If you use an image of your art on your business cards, make sure it is a good one and reflects your current work.

- It is a good idea to maintain a professional website, keep it up to date, and apply for a domain name. This reflects better on you than directing people to your MySpace or Facebook page which can be seen as amateurish. Blogs do not make up for websites and typically serve a different function.

- Always always always check submissions packets for spelling, typos and grammatical errors. Mistakes are much more forgivable in some formats than others (a lot of blog posts are rife with errors, but that is the nature of putting your thoughts out there quickly), but if you're applying for a show or a grant you want to show off. You don't want to be remembered for what you did wrong. Have as many other people as possible proof your work.

- Be courteous and polite.

- Abide by whatever rules are set up by those whom you're working with and don't expect that rules will be changed to suit your needs, especially not at the last minute. If you have any complications regarding your ability to meet requirements, check with the gallery or organization with whom you will be working to negotiate an alternative plan of action - don't wait and spring it on them last minute.

- Communication is important. Don't bother people and abide by their rules deadlines in regards to contacting them, but don't be afraid to ask questions if you need to.

- Say thank you.

- Attitude is everything. Convey a positive image of yourself. Try not to engage in gossip or complain, especially to those whom you don't know well. Negativity can do a lot to perpetuate itself by fostering more negativity, so try not to bring others down or come across as unappreciative as you can be remembered for that.

- Attend receptions for your work if at all possible. These are great opportunities to network, to show your commitment to yourself as an artist and to talk to others about your work. Think about what you're wearing to your show and how it reflects upon you.

- Stay respectful. Don't backstab or undermine others because they didn't treat you professionally - doing so won't reflect well on you either.

- Be responsible for yourself. Follow through on what you commit to. Try not to overextend yourself or double-book your work.

- Above all else, abide by the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like them to treat you.

I'm gearing up for a busy week next week with drop offs and pick ups, so this will likely be my last blog post on this topic, at least for awhile. I hope that you've found these at least somewhat informative. It has been good for me to get my thoughts down someplace where I can refer to them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Promoting Your Art Via Images of It

Aside from avoiding excuses, not being afraid to ask questions, and remembering to say thank you, you need to think about how you're representing yourself and your art. In this post I'm going to touch on the importance of having good, quality images of your work.

It is crucial that you have images of your current work and that those images do it justice. People will likely see more images of your artwork than your actual artwork itself, between promoting your work to galleries and publicizing it to viewers. So it is very important that your images are accurate representations of your work and make you look good.

I don't really have much to say on this topic except that it really really needs to be a priority. Keep in mind that high quality images are a must. This may be the only way some people see your artwork at all, so make sure to provide an accurate representation that reflects well on yourself and your art. If you don't feel you can do a good job shooting images of your artworks, then hire someone to do so. Make sure to arrange licensing & copyright agreements and payment in advance so that you have permissions to use the images of your artwork for publicity, promotion and to apply for opportunities.

Slides are becoming less common and digital images are used for pretty much everything nowadays. There is no standardized format for submitting digital images as it varies vastly from opportunity to opportunity, so always follow directions when submitting digital images to shows and galleries. It reflects poorly on yourself and decreases the likelihood that you will be considered when your files are improperly labeled, corrupted or saved in the wrong format or size. Check to be certain that your images are readable. It helps to look at your submission from multiple computers if possible to make sure that your files open and are readable and to see what your artwork looks like on different monitors, since that can change how color and detail is conveyed depending on screen size, resolution, type, brightness and so forth.

Digital images used for printed materials need to be much higher quality and greater resolution than those viewed on a computer monitor, so make sure you have an idea of what the image will be used for. It is also generally preferred that images used for print have fewer effects applied to improve them, except when those effects are used to create the artwork itself, since that can have a big impact on print quality. So it is far better to shoot good images in the first place than to correct them drastically later on when considering printed materials. And be aware that some print opportunities specify that images need to be saved in different file formats than you may be accustomed to otherwise, so don't always assume that you can send along a jpeg and be done with it and keep in mind that saving from one file format to another can alter the image quality.

Another consideration is where the images of your artworks will be viewed and by whom. If you or your representatives plan to post high resolution images online in the public domain, it is a good idea to watermark them with your copyright information to prevent others from using or printing them without your permission. Also consider whether or not your work can be traced back to you - I have gotten numerous emails about really cool art that people have forwarded so many times that there is nothing more than a string of images of artworks without any information about the artist or where to find more of the artist's work.

I recognize that I do not have the highest quality images of my work and so am not really the best source of advice on this topic. I prefer to shoot everything myself and do so on a regular basis to keep as many current artworks on file as possible so I can promote and submit them. I use my best pictures of my work to represent my art and myself for publicity purposes, and I tend not to post super high resolution images online so as to not draw attention to their imperfections.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saying Thank You

I touched on the importance of being grateful for opportunities in my last post, but I really want to reiterate that here.

Thank You - those are two of the most important words to consider and remember when promoting yourself. It is absolutely necessary to make certain that others know that their generosity and time are appreciated.

The workshop at RAC focused some attention on sending thank you letters and follow up communication. It is really important to make sure that people genuinely feel appreciated for what they've done for you. Some people really like hand written thank you letters. Some people really like phone calls or in-person visits. Some people are content with email. Just be genuine and be true to conveying your gratitude and stay in contact. One of the most important things to consider here is punctuality. It is best not to procrastinate when thanking others as the act loses much of its sincerity the longer you wait.

This is something that should be personal and genuine. Your time spent working on this is valuable, and you convey your appreciation by taking the time to genuinely thank someone for what they've done for you. So this is someplace where the use of templates is not a boon and hand-written letters can have a great influence. Admittedly, I don't send as many hand-written thank you notes as I ought to in order to show appreciation in my art career, but I try to be punctual and personal and convey my gratitude and enthusiasm regardless of the format in which I am communicating.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Week

After taking a brief break from the crazy past two months, I have a couple of things going on right now. First off, there's the fire festival this weekend on Nov. 7 from 5:30 - 8:30, where I will be offering some of my jewelry for sale, as I'd mentioned before. Also, I have some of my smaller paintings on display from Nov. 9 - Dec. 28 at Art Saint Louis in their little Lobby Gallery, starting next week.

The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave.
University City, MO
excerpts from solo show extended until Nov. 7, 2009
2nd Annual Fall Fire Festival
Join us for a night of fire, food, fine drink and fabulous art in celebration of Fall!
Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Tickets: $15 adult; $5 child through age 12 at the door

Lobby Gallery Featured Artist
display of small plein air paintings
Art Saint Louis Lobby Gallery
555 Washington Ave. Ste. 150
St. Louis, MO
Nov. 9 - Dec. 28, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Ask

OK, so I've explored how to turn some of those excuses around to start really promoting yourself. But what can you from there?

Lately, I have been much more forward when it comes to seeking opportunities to show my work, at least in regards to asking people about opportunities as I become aware of them. I don't know exactly how or why this happened, perhaps it was partly because I wanted to get as any of my paintings out there where they can be seen and maybe even sell for the holidays as possible, but it has proven to be interesting and informative. And I know even still I could do more, but I am getting a lot better about it.

Cold-calling galleries rarely results in what you'd hope for, but making informed decisions about what to pursue and fostering existing relationships can make a big difference. Do your research first and find out who you should talk to about showing your art in a particular setting. Get actively involved in the organizations, galleries and institutions you belong to to build a rapport with them and to get a better sense of what they have to offer, and then take advantage of what opportunities they do have.

It is really good to be consistent, professional and communicative. Follow directions and don't hound anyone about anything (especially if they gave you a timeline of when you can expect to hear back upon submission), but keep the lines of communication open in case questions come up. Get involved in other ways and get to know the people you're working with or would like to be working with if possible (in the sense of helping out, not of being pushy). And be grateful for any responses you get when seeking opportunities, even if you don't get in. This can be frustrating when communication is sparse, but make sure that you follow through on your end and that you are responsive and responsible.

Try not to engage in gossip and remain as professional as possible. How you treat others will make an impression, good or bad, so try to focus on presenting yourself as positively and responsibly as possible. Networking and social contacts are especially important and are far-reaching, so it is especially important not to burn any bridges lest they come back to haunt you later on. (Don't forget, gossip travels fast whether or not you are involved in it.)

Be gracious and keep in touch with those who have helped you in the past. You don't have to be in constant contact for someone to know that you're thinking of them and that you still appreciate them. If you're feeling like little more than a number in a turnstyle, remember that you are responsible for allowing yourself to become so easily forgotten (or not) depending on your actions. Many professors are approached by students seeking recommendations long after graduation, and they can be hard-pressed to recommend students that haven't kept up with them as they don't know what those students are doing. Keep in touch with gallery owners and those who have offered you shows; let them know what you're doing and don't let them feel taken advantage of. This can be hard sometimes when something is over because it is so necessary to focus on what is upcoming, but those with whom you've shown will likely want to follow your career and see where it is taking you afterwards and may be among your biggest fans and support system, so don't shut them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ignoring Excuses

Continuing my thoughts from my On Selling Yourself post...

I can't begin to reiterate how important it is to take advantage of what is right there in front of you. For example, many memberships in art organizations include opportunities to keep images of works on file, participate in off-site exhibits in area businesses and to apply for a featured artist page on the website and whatnot. And it never ceases to amaze me how few people actually do so, finding excuses for not taking advantage of these opportunities like:
I don't have anything they'd want.
I'm not ready.
I don't want to take an opportunity away from anyone else.
I'm not going to sell anything there anyway.
I don't want to be associated with that.
My work isn't good enough.
And so on.

But a lot of people do this, even to the point that organizations can actually have a hard time filling vacancies for featured artist pages and off-site shows. I have taken advantage of many such opportunities and wound up getting a lot of them, not necessarily because my work was that incredible or well-suited so much as I actually presented it for consideration. (In one case, I was even the "website featured artist of the month" for multiple months running because no one else submitted anything at all.) So it doesn't behoove you to make excuses for not getting your work out there. I am going to examine some of these excuses to show how it's possible to turn them around and to ready yourself to take advantage of opportunities instead:

I don't have anything they'd want.
Don't belittle your own work and decrease the chances of it getting seen by making vast assumptions about it. A lot of organizations offer a range of opportunities for off-site exhibits that are seeking a range of artworks to show. Let them decide what is and isn't appropriate - they have a better sense for it. That said, if you know from actually inquiring that your work isn't applicable at all and you want to take advantage of such an opportunity, you may want to consider exploring some other options in series or something. Or just try again later - new opportunities come up all the time and something you did that was ill-suited for one thing may be perfect for another. It is important to keep trying and not to give up.

I'm not ready.
Then get ready. Don't fall back on this same excuse time and time again - let it be a kick in the pants to do something about it for the next time. Be prepared and do the leg work beforehand. A lot of artists make up new packets for everything they try for despite the fact that each of these individual packets may be very similar. Worse yet, some people don't even keep the old packets and instead just get rid of all of their hard work after the application process has passed. But it is simply not efficient to reinvent the wheel every time you need a cart. Make up some generic packets for the purpose of taking advantage of opportunities. Make these as simple and versatile as possible so you can change them to suit different things as they come up. Templates for cover letters, image sheets and other packet information can be easily adapted to suit whatever so that you don't have to rewrite everything from scratch every time. Keep these generic packets up to date and reflective of your current work and get into a habit of shooting digital images of artworks as you complete them so that you have images of those new pieces as well.

I don't want to take an opportunity away from anyone else.
There are a lot of things to consider here. For one thing, others will likely not be nearly so polite to you or concerned about depriving you of anything. And just because you're taking advantage of something doesn't mean you deprived someone else of a chance at it. What if no one else is taking advantage of it either? Those opportunities that no one is pursuing at all very quickly cease to exist because not enough people are pursuing them. So you may actually be helping others by fostering an opportunity so it can continue to be offered, and you'll benefit as well.

I'm not going to sell anything there anyway.
This is difficult to judge and you can be surprised by what sells pretty much anywhere you take your art because you may not be entirely aware of the clientele or of your own audience. So don't deny yourself potential sales opportunities. Some businesses actually pay artists and art organizations for the privilege of hanging artwork in their establishments, so there may be other monetary considerations as well (not just for your benefit as an artist but for the organization to which you belong and wish to foster).

I don't want to be associated with that.
I don't get why people would be involved in an organization with which they wouldn't want to associate in the first place, but I suppose for some really well-established artists with gallery representation showing in certain circumstances could easily be construed as a step down. However elitism for its own sake is rarely a benefit as we can actually dissuade ourselves from participating in good opportunities by thinking we're above them. Ask those galleries and individuals that represent you what they think about such an opportunity - they may see it as better than you assumed they would or be able to suggest other things that you could do instead more suited to your standing. (Also ask yourself this: if your representatives aren't already offering plentiful opportunities themselves, then what benefits are they offering and do those benefits outweigh whatever limitations have been placed on yourself in regards to promoting and showing your work yourself?)

My work isn't good enough.
This is easy to fall into. Many artists are very self-critical and their work is actually far better than they perceive it to be. But if you are uncertain about the integrity of your own art, then work to change that. Take classes and workshops so that you can develop and improve skills. Seek advice and criticism from as many people as possible, and don't take their suggestions personally but rather look at those suggestions constructively to determine what you can do to better your art. Get out and see and absorb as much art as possible (not just in the museums, but in the galleries, cooperatives, coffee houses and as many places as possible); expose yourself to a wide range of what's out there and focus on studying how things are made and presented to see where you are in comparison. Your work may be better than you're giving yourself credit for. And you'll likely find a niche suited to your skill level.

Show Extended

I started to take down Relics & Reliquaries today and have uninstalled my window installation, small plaques and folding screen. But the rest of my show at the Green Center has been extended through the Fall Fire Festival on Nov. 7. And I will be vending jewelry at that event, just in time for the holidays, so please stop by and check it out.

Relics & Reliquaries, solo show
The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave.
University City, MO
extended until Nov. 7, 2009

2nd Annual Fall Fire Festival
Join us for a night of fire, food, fine drink and fabulous art in celebration of Fall!
Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Fire Performance
Stories in the Greenhouse
Pottery Workshop
Glass Art Demo
S'mores
Brews by the Bonfire
Meet a Fire Crew
Food...Wine Tasting...Art Sale
Art Sale: Finish your holiday shopping early at the Fall Fire Festival art sale featuring ceramics, prints, mixed media works, photos and jewelry all under $100. Proceeds benefit the Center's Youth Arts-Science programs.
Tickets: $15 adult; $5 child through age 12 at the door
Admission includes food and drink. Cash or check preferred. Credit card check-out via Network for Good. All Ages Welcome...Rain or Shine.
Sponsors: Aalim Belly Dance, AEP River Operations, Chuvani Belly Dance, Fitz's Root Beer, Onesto Pizza & Trattoria, Redwood Creek Wines, Schlafly Beer, Third Degree Glass Factory, Whole Foods, and Winslow's Home

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Selling Yourself

You really do have to sell yourself as an artist in many ways. There are a lot of artists out there, and whether or not we like it we are in competition for visibility. We need to get our work out there where it will be seen and better yet purchased (if that is a goal). We need to seek name recognition, find our niche and develop a rapport with our audience. We need to stay active at the forefront of what is going on so as to not fall off anyone's radar and risk losing fans, potential sales and other opportunities.

As I am quick to point out to people who question how active I am, my work isn't going to spawn many conversations or sell while sitting in storage in my attic studio where it is not going to be seen. Perhaps getting your work out there isn't as important to you as making it, which is fine, but do remember that the more you produce the more you will need to store unless you can find something else to do with it (and the trash heap is a far cry from a solution to this). Personally I feel that getting my work out there is probably one of the main reasons I do it. Not because I'm that egocentric, but as a means of spawning conversation, getting people thinking about things and challenging preconceptions. My work that doesn't fit into this, like my jewelry, is generally geared towards being sold and so still needs to get out there where it can be seen.

I personally prefer to focus more on camaraderie than competition because new audiences, connections, opportunities and publicity can be found and fostered when we work together. But with limited engagements for people to view art it becomes all the more important for individual artists to take advantage of every opportunity available to them to get their work seen. We all need to remember as artists that this is really up to us individually - no one else is going to do it until long after we've already done the legwork and achieved some pretty hefty fame and name recognition by account of our own efforts.

And many galleries and institutions are solely interested in current work and are not showing much of anything over three years old, which offers a very limited window of visibility. It's almost as if artworks have an expiration or sell-by date depending on when they were made, after which no one is near so interested in showing them anymore except in special circumstances, like retrospective exhibits. So it is necessary to work to promote yourself and your art as much as possible so that you can get it seen while you still can do so.

In the next few posts, I am going to offer some tips on promoting yourself and your artwork. I just attended a workshop at the Regional Arts Commission on Marketing and Professional Presentation which raised some key points that I'd like to reiterate here for all that I know I've mentioned some of this in the past. And lately I've found that I've been much more forthright in my own promotion and will explore some of what I've learned from that as well.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Art of the Week: Mother Nature's Party

Mother Nature's Party
faux flowers, mask form, spray enamel, collage, gel medium on board
created for 13 Squared: Celebrate Again on March 12, 2010
(All works in Celebrate Again will be sold for $50 on a first come, first served basis with the proceeds benefiting St. Louis Artworks.)

I'm going to try to introduce a new feature on my blog called Art of the Week where I post a picture of something I've been working on that week. Hopefully, this will help me to be more active here since Claude is still relishing his time off. This also addresses one of my other goals of getting better about promoting myself and my work. After all, I am an artist, and my blog has been strangely devoid of art thus far so now I'm going to work to change that. I have gone back through some of my older posts and tagged them as art of the week as well, since some sort of were already (for all that I wasn't doing this on a weekly basis before).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Language of Objects

I finally made it to the Sheldon Art Galleries to see The Language of Objects by Jane Birdsall-Lander and Jo Stealey today. Both artists explore history, form, language and the natural world and evoke a sense of spirituality and symbolism through their work. The show is described as using "language as a conceptual catalyst as well as a textural and/or a contextual component to speak to fundamental human issues of communication and existence" and both artists explore the role of nature and object in our everyday lives.

Jane Birdsall-Lander's work from her Bound Alphabet series utilizes scythe handles (or snaths), cello, violin and viola pegs, wooden canes, pitchforks, shoe factory racks and more, imbuing the found objects with a sense of history, importance and symbology. Birdsall-Lander transforms these reappropriated objects into new forms that both bespeak and transcend their past use, also incorporating waxed linen thread as a means of connecting past and present. She references the history of written language, alphabet, music, and form, stating that "our contemporary alphabet once took the form of pictures... that represented the basic categories of human existence... life, home, travel, sexuality, conflict, the human body..."

Jo Stealey has transformed the gallery space with the inclusion of 25 tree-like structures and over 600 rocks, all crafted from handmade paper of abaca and flax plant fibers. Jo Stealey states that, "It is my intention that viewers walk through the forest in order to immerse themselves in the environment and ponder the role of nature and cycles in our lives." The work evokes feelings of ebb/flow and the life/death cycle and fosters a sense of the ephemeral through the use of materials "viewed as ethereal yet common and ironically tough and long lasting."

Both artists' works are exquisitely constructed with an attentiveness to detail and materials that furthers their connections with history, symbology and spirituality. Jane Birdsall-Lander's works evoke artifacts, offering a sense of human history imbued in everyday objects, both past and present, and of the evolution of said objects and forms. And Jo Stealey's installation is a delight, especially when immersed in it, transforming the viewer's sense of time and place, life and death, interior and exterior, natural and fabricated... You can read more about both artists approaches, interests, explorations and ideas on the Innovations in Textiles blog:
Jane Birdsall-Lander
Jo Stealey

It is also worth noting that William Christenberry's Southern Artifacts show, which extends into both the Gallery of Photography and Bernoudy Gallery of Architecture, fosters a similar exploration into objects with its documentation of "the sculptural forms of vernacular structures and cultural artifacts of Hale County, Alabama." And American Framing by Jessika Miekeley in the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Gallery downstairs also examines how objects become imbued with a human presence through her images of coats on chairs that "emphasize the sculptural quality of their forms and their ability to mirror human emotions."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Last Week: Relics & Reliquaries

Just a reminder - this is the final week for Relics & Reliquaries at the Green Center. Please check it out if you haven't yet done so - it's my biggest show to date with over 80 pieces included of varying sizes, from 4" x 6" plaques to large scale room divider screens, outdoor sculpture and even a window installation, over 50 works of which had been previously unshown.

Relics & Reliquaries
solo show by Jennifer Weigel
The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave.
University City, MO
Oct. 3 - 31, 2009

This is also the final week of On Site Theatre Company's One Extraordinary Darkness at the Green Center with only four performances remaining. I am deeply honored that my artwork has become part of the backdrop for the play. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and how it is integrated into the space after attending opening night. So please consider going if you can and if there are any tickets left - you won't regret it. And while you're there, you can check out my work. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on Reviewing Art

I just wrote a second review for the Art Saint Louis blog, on the ArtFiber "... and then there were nine" exhibition currently on view at Maryville University's Morton J. May Foundation Gallery. I had previously written about "Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight" and responded in my own blog here.

After writing the first review, I thought about what I learned and what challenges I'd faced and had really wanted to pursue writing again, but I hadn't been able to get to it formally until now, though I have posted some small reviews here on my own blog. (Lately, I've unfortunately been too busy to see shows when they're new and instead have been going near closing so I haven't wanted to write much, besides which I haven't had much time to write. I do still want to write more as I think I learn a lot from the process and will get better at it the more that I do it.)

Writing about this show posed very different challenges than the last. In some ways, writing about the artworks themselves was easier because I have more experience with writing (through trying to write more) and because there was so much to take in and respond to in the larger group format, but in other ways that made it even harder. Since the show highlights a range of works by multiple artists working in diverse methods, materials and concepts, I found it challenging to touch on the breadth of what was offered while still giving a good sense of what I saw and felt. This was especially hard for me as I tend to ramble and I didn't want the review to go on too long or to edit too much out trying to keep it short. As a result, I fear that I may have skimmed over some things that should have gotten more attention.

All in all, this was another excellent learning experience and something that I would like to continue to do when I can, for all that it may not be near so frequent as I would like. I am honored to have been able to write another review for the Art Saint Louis blog and would encourage others who are interested in trying their hand at writing to do the same at some point. It really fosters a better sense of appreciation for both the artwork itself (when taking the time to really study it) and for what is involved in writing about art.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spur of the Moment Events

I just did a small art fair this past weekend that was really laid back. It was a nice event, the weather was great for an outdoor fair, and it got a good turnout due to the fact that the event has existed for awhile for all that this was the first year in which artists and craftspersons were invited to display their wares. Granted, since this was the first time art was included and that aspect wasn't widely publicized after only a handful of artists had responded to the call, a lot of the people attending weren't expecting to see or buy anything like that, but it was still good exposure nonetheless.

I knew somewhat in advance that I'd be participating, though I only knew by a few weeks, not months. But this really got me thinking about spur of the moment events because I treated it as one - I didn't really commit to it until I knew what the weather was like that day because it was so casual. (Also, the laid-back atmosphere encouraged the skeptic in me to question whether or not it was really going to go on, so I wasn't naturally inclined to be all that committal for all that I did want to participate.) So I didn't publicize my involvement as much as I otherwise might have, even here on the blog.

It can be good to participate in spur of the moment events to get work out there where more people can see it, but there are a lot of things to consider first. I will point out some of my observations in this regard, please feel free to respond with your own and to suggest ways of working through potential last-minute issues.

One of the first things to consider is: Is the spur of the moment participation something that I brought on myself by deciding to do it at the last minute or was the event itself planned without much advance notice? If the event itself has been planned out but you hadn't decided whether or not to participate until the last minute, then that is different. One challenge faced in this scenario is determining whether or not you have put anyone else out by coming into the event late (perhaps inadvertently shirking some responsibility that everyone else had). Some people don't care but I find it's best not to burn any bridges so to speak, although often this reflects more on the event organizers than on the last minute inclusions. Another challenge is whether or not you'll be able to get the word out on your own behalf. In some circumstances, you may not feel it necessary while in others you may want people to know beforehand that you're involved, so that is best assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Genuinely spur of the moment events don't tend to get a lot of press and publicity because they are last minute, though this can depend a lot on who is involved. Hype takes awhile to build up. It requires that a buzz be stirred and that communication be dispersed to and through as many avenues as possible. And physical cards can be a big help, but typically cannot be printed affordably last minute if at all. I'm not good with press and publicity in the first place, especially given how I feel about announcement cards, so any further hindrance becomes an even greater detriment to my ability to spread the word. Thus I really have to weigh that against whether or not the spur of the moment event will be a benefit to me. Some questions that I would ask in this regard are: How much press have others been doing for the event? Was the event already established in some sense, even if not as an art event, so it will draw a crowd regardless?

Another consideration is where the event will take place. Permits and permissions need to have been obtained in many cases, and this can require more notice than a couple of weeks. Nothing is more frustrating than setting up shop with all of the work that goes into doing so only to be shut down before you even get going because no one obtained permission to be there, not to mention how that reflects on yourself as an individual participant, especially if you did anything to hype it up at all. (Note, some events can be planned well in advance by organizers who neglected or forgot this step, so this concern is not limited solely to spur of the moment things for all that it is generally more common then.) And in the case of a new art fair in conjunction with an existing event, like the one I did this weekend, it is critical to ask "Are the artists going to be included among the regular event activities or will they be in a separate space that people may or may not know to look for?" Keep in mind that regular eventgoers may not even be aware that there is a new aspect to the event if it isn't included among the regular activities.

At any rate, these are some things to consider when getting involved in spur of the moment things. By all means, such events can be good exposure and are well-worth consideration, as you never really know exactly when and where you're going to find your biggest fans or best patrons. But as a general rule, I tend to approach these kinds of opportunities with a laid back attitude, taking a more minimal approach instead of creating a bunch of work for myself, because it can be much less stressful to just go with the flow and see where it leads.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Cleanup

I am in the process of going through the blog and cleaning it up. You'll notice a new Labels feature under the list of current and upcoming shows - you can use that to search for posts by label. I have tried to make the labels as relevant as possible so that people (myself included) can use it as a resource to find blog posts on similar topics. Some of the art categories really blur together though; I probably ought to go through them again later on when I get a chance.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Studio Cleaning

I'd mentioned before that I have been cleaning out my studio. Wow, do I ever have a bunch of crap! I must have removed at least twenty five boxes of stuff out of my studio over the past week. Fortunately I'm almost done now. I have a handful more things to put away, but I can see the floor and get to almost everything now so it's a huge improvement.

Much of this will be sold at my mother's garage sale, coming up next week. I don't have many art supplies at all, just some cheap paper. Most of it is found vintage and antique stuff. There's some fabric leftover from other projects, including some obviously faux fur, but nothing very nice. And there are several costumes and costume accessories (Halloween is coming up soon after all), but no complete ensembles per se.

I would list things out to give a better feel, in case anyone is interested in coming to the garage sale, but most of it is really just junk. I'm not just saying that because I don't want it either - there's mostly a lot of broken random, deteriorating stuff. I used all of my good finds towards my show at the Green Center. If you think you want to come anyway and check it out in the hopes of finding a treasure, feel free to email me if you want to learn more. The sale will be next Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blessed Bonds

I recently read about Blessed Bonds in Cat Fancy magazine and had to write a post about it. Cat Fancy included an account by a woman who had to leave her home situation quickly due to domestic violence and so was moving in with her brother who was highly allergic to cats. She was distraught after contacting shelter after shelter that could not accommodate her pets and feared that they may be later euthanized should she find one to take them. Blessed Bonds fostered her cats until her life was "back to normal" and she was able to retrieve them.

Aunia Kahn wrote previously on her blog about some other organizations that work with domestic violence shelters and pet ownership, an unfortunately all too often overlooked aspect of domestic violence that is really important. Blessed Bonds works with people in different situations as well, like those in need of medical care or hospitalization or those in financial distress, offering assistance to others who need it too. I think it is very important for organizations like this to exist, that focus on offering temporary assistance to people who may otherwise lose their pets. It is just as important to keep pets in their homes as to find homes for those without, if not more so.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Studio Cleaning / Art Shows

Now that my big show is up at the Green Center, I've begun really cleaning out my studio. I've needed to do this for months but hate breaking up my creative time and the longer I put it off the more of a sense of dread it has generated. I have removed at least twenty boxes of stuff and I still have a lot to go through. Today I finally got around to putting in my new bookcase and reorganizing my books, including shelving all of the art books that were lying around without homes. My hope is to continue working on this as I can over the rest of the month while my work is away. After I get a better sense of what I have to get rid of, perhaps I'll post a list in case anyone is interested. Most of it is random found and worn objects, dried plants and some costume stuff, though - no real art supplies to speak of.

Anyway, if you missed my opening at the Green Center, please stop by and see the show sometime while it's up. I know that a lot of people couldn't make the Saturday reception with as much else as was going on, but the Green Center keeps fairly regular hours so hopefully you can see it later, although sometimes the staff are working off site so it can be a good idea to call first, especially if you plan to go in the morning. Like I said before, this is my biggest show to date including over 50 pieces, so it's a pretty big deal for me.

This week I am painting en plein air. Not today, due to the weather, but I intend to be out tomorrow and Saturday. The St. Charles plein air competition is this week and I am participating, although I won't be able to get nearly as much work done as last year due to other events. I am still hoping to have a couple pieces for the sale and the show at Framations, though. Tuesday and Wednesday I created some new paintings in Rocheport at Les Bourgeois Vineyards in anticipation of my show there from November 2009 - February 2010. And Saturday I'll be painting in Chesterfield for OutsideIn in conjunction with the unveiling of the Awakening.

Innovations in Textiles

I know I said I was going to post something about Innovations in Textiles 8, but I have been so busy lately and have seen so many shows that my memory is simply not serving me well at the moment. I would not be able to write a review of anything and do it justice at the moment. (I did write previously about the Gee's Bend show at the Missouri History Museum and Material Studies at Good Citizen.)

That said, make sure you see Fiber Focus show at Art Saint Louis and Quilt National 2009 at the Foundry. Both are amazing and include some techniques and ideas that I never would have believed if I hadn't seen them myself. The Art Saint Louis show ends Oct. 15 though, so there's not much time left. Quilt National runs through Oct. 29.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Street Art - Found

Yesterday, on Oct. 1, 2009 I found a broken bracelet on our evening walk. I took it home and, at Chuck's suggestion, repaired it. We dropped it off in the same spot where it was found in the morning on Oct. 2, 2009 in the hopes that its previous owner would happen upon it. This is my most recent piece of street art after Claude and Wishes and Art Is Everywhere (which will be growing into something new next year so keep a lookout).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Green Center Show Opens This Week

I wanted to send one last reminder about my big show opening this week at the Green Center. As I mentioned before, this is my biggest show to date and features several new assemblages and fibers-based assemblages, so I hope that you can make it out to see the show. This show is a really big deal to me as I have over 80 pieces on display, a vast majority of which are new.

I'm sorry I haven't blogged much lately. I have been busy getting ready for this solo show. My hope is to blog a really brief synopsis about some of the fiber shows soon, as I've made it out to see quite a few. The next couple of weeks will bear some plein air events, but after that is a much needed break and hopefully more time for blogging.

Relics & Reliquaries, solo show
The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave.
University City, MO
Oct. 3 - 31, 2009
reception: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2 - 4PM

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Going Green - Opening This Week & Next

My next two upcoming events are going green. First, I am taking some of my remaining assemblage artworks from my Seeking Nihility show to the Green Craft Show & Sale this Saturday. After that, I will be showing several new found object assemblages at my upcoming Relics & Reliquaries solo show at the Green Center as mentioned in the Innovations in Textiles brochure. I am very excited about Relics & Reliquaries as it is my biggest solo show to date and I am glad to be debuting more of my window screen assemblages.



Green Craft Show & Sale
in conjunction with the Green Homes Festival
Cardinal Ritter College Prep
701 N. Spring Ave.
Grand Center
St. Louis, MO
Sept. 26, 2009

Relics & Reliquaries
, solo show
The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave.
University City, MO
Oct. 3 - 31, 2009
reception: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2 - 4PM

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Week

Here's a list of what I'm doing this weekend. The collaborative exhibit at Third Degree Glass is one of my bigger shows this month, and the work generated by the artists involved has proven quite different, so please stop by and check it out. I am also participating in the Mississippi Earthtones plein air event in Alton and will have a small selection of jewelry available for purchase and will be painting from 12 - 5 as per the event.

Common Threads
collaborative small group show
Third Degree Glass Factory
5200 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO
Sept. 2009
reception: Friday, Sept. 18, 6 - 10 PM in conjunction with Third Friday
Artists: Jes Kopitske, Jeremy Lampe, Libby Leuchtman, Jim McKelvey, Aaron Quigley, Sandi Shapiro, Jennifer Weigel, and Denise Williams.

Mississippi Earthtones Festival 2nd Annual Plein air Competition
Riverfront Amphitheater, Alton, IL
Sept. 19, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Claude on the Big Screen


As I'd mentioned before, Claude and I went to the film screening of his videos today at Schlafly Bottleworks in Inside the Outside as part of ArtOutside. We thoroughly enjoyed watching all of them on the big screen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gee's Bend quilt show

I'm not going to write an actual review so much as a word of advice: go to the Missouri History Museum. Seriously, if you haven't yet seen Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond, you have missed out on a truly wonderful exhibition. I am very glad that I managed to finally make it out today to see it (especially since I had thought the show ran longer and it ends this weekend). I can't even begin to describe what an amazing show this is, you really just have to see it for yourself.

The exhibition closes on September 13 so this weekend may be your last chance to see it. And artist Lonnie Holley and curator Matt Arnett will be at the Missouri History Museum from Thursday, Sept. 10 - Sunday, Sept. 13. There will be documentary screenings, book signings and a quilting workshop over the weekend. So even if you have been, it's likely worth returning this weekend to see the show one last time and to meet Lonnie Holley & Matt Arnett.

Last Claude Video / Video Screening



Here's the last Claude video, in which we play some more Rock Band and sing a duet.

The Claude videos are going to air on the big screen in Inside the Outside, a video, sound and performance art event in conjunction with ArtOutside at Schlafly Bottleworks, so please feel free to check them out.

Inside the Outside, premiere Schlafly video, sound & performance event in conjunction with ArtOutside
Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave. (at Manchester), Maplewood, MO
Sept. 11 - 13, 2009
I am performing Gendering from 10 AM - noon and the Claude videos will air from 4:30 - 5 PM on Saturday, Sept. 12. (The videos will also air from 6 - 6:30 PM and 8 - 8:30 PM on Sept. 11 but Claude & I won't be able to attend at that time due to the WCA show reception.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Material Studies

I have been hoping to see a bunch of the fiber shows happening all over St. Louis and write some mini reviews on my blog, but I am so busy myself that I just haven't had much time to write anything. However, I will post a brief blurb about the Material Studies show at Good Citizen Gallery, which opened September 4 and runs through September 26.

Material Studies includes works by fiber artists Erin K. Cork, Courtney Henson, Christine A. Holtz, Jessica May, Alicia Pigg and Jessica Witte. This exhibition "is a culmination of artists exploring the world of fibers in which the boundaries between art and everyday life are blurred by our familiarity with materials and hand-made processes... The show is full of highly charged artworks meant to challenge and inform our personal involvement with fiber materials and processes in the world today."

The show highlights a wonderfully diverse range of modern explorations into fibers, incorporating found object assemblage, performance art, installation art, video and more. Many of the works are quite ethereal and utilize natural objects, including my personal favorite: a floor installation by Jessica Witte of an elaborate "doily" of birdseed that could easily be swept away. I am especially interested in how Witte's work engages the viewer by involving him/her in the artwork through his/her avoidance of stepping upon it. I am also drawn to the reference to the Tibetan sand painting mandalas and the temporary nature of the piece. Another piece that begs for viewer interaction is Couch by Erin Cork, an altered sofa that has taken on an even more organic feeling. While I was at the opening reception, this artwork always had at least one (and often two or more) people sitting on it.

I especially find these interactions intriguing because I feel that viewers naturally connect to fibers in different ways than with other media and that such artworks further explore those relationships. Fiber art incorporates textural elements that are experienced visually and sometimes even tactilely (in those circumstances in which viewers are invited to physically handle and engage in the material). There is much rich history in fibers and textiles, from long before the development of fiber as a modern art form to the actual fiber artworks themselves, which are often painstakingly generated over time. And we all have very intimate relationships with fibers and are rarely without them, as is evidenced by our use of clothing, upholstery, blankets, shrouds, covers, curtains and more.

At any rate, if you get a chance to see the show, you should definitely do so. I only regret that I cannot make it to the gallery talk with as many other things as I have going on.

Material Studies
Good Citizen Gallery
2247 Gravois Ave.
St. Louis, MO
show: September 4 - 26
gallery talk: September 12, 2 - 4 PM

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's a Crazy Hectic September!

Hi everyone,
This is panning out to be a crazy hectic month for me, so I want to kick it off by letting everyone know what I'll be up to. Please check out all the amazing fiber shows that you can - there's a really diverse range of incredible innovative work. You can learn more about Innovations in Textiles and some of the fiber shows on the blog. I even did an interview there awhile back for the Third Degree Glass show.
- Jennifer

Reclaim, Renew, Reuse, juried by Pat Nelson & Kenton Hall
Atrium Gallery, Ball State University
2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN
Aug. 25 - Sept. 26, 2009

On the Wall, invitational exhibition through the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Spirits Lounge
300 S. State St., Alton, IL
Sept. 3 - Oct. 31, 2009

Made By Hand, juried by Jo Stealy and sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Crossroads Art Studios
501 N. Kingshighway, St. Charles, MO
Sept. 11 - Oct. 8, 2009
reception: Friday, Sept. 11, 7 - 9 PM

Inside the Outside, premiere Schlafly video, sound & performance event in conjunction with ArtOutside
Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave. (at Manchester), Maplewood, MO
Sept. 11 - 13, 2009
I am performing Gendering from 10 AM - noon and the Claude videos will air from 4:30 - 5 PM on Saturday, Sept. 12. (The videos will also air from 6 - 6:30 PM and 8 - 8:30 PM on Sept. 11 but Claude & I won't be able to attend at that time due to the WCA show reception.)

Common Threads, invitational small group show featuring fiber and glass collaborative artworks
Third Degree Glass Factory
5200 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO
Sept. 18 - Oct. 13, 2009
reception: Friday, Sept. 18: 6 - 10 PM

Mississippi Earthtones Festival 2nd Annual Plein air Competition
Riverfront Amphitheater, Alton, IL
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009, paint out: 12 - 5 PM, awards presentation: 6 PM

Green Craft Show & Sale, in conjunction with the Green Homes Festival
Cardinal Ritter College Prep Commons
701 N. Spring Ave., Grand Center, St. Louis, MO
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, 10 AM - 6 PM

And don't forget about my solo show at the Green Center, in October. :)
Relics & Reliquaries, solo show
The Green Center
8025 Blackberry Ave., University City, MO
Oct. 3 - 31, 2009
reception: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2 - 4 PM

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

More on Entry Fees

I recently posted a response to a local listserv regarding entry fees, which I am copying to my blog here. For those of you following this, I won't deny that my sentiments on the subject have changed some over time. I do still get irritated over entry fees. But I also see how they've come to be an integral part of the submission process for all that I don't necessarily like it. And I see how so many organizations come to rely on them to stay afloat, especially in tough economic times when other funding is harder to obtain. Essentially, the more I think about it, the more I realize that artists must be willing to invest in their careers and that different artists have different criteria for this. Entry fees can help open up opportunities that otherwise wouldn't exist - chances to show work that isn't as commercially-viable, work by less established artists and those just starting out, work that confronts the status quo, work that otherwise simply would not be funded...

Entry fees do seem to be on the increase, I think in part because so many grants and patronage have been lost or cut back, thus forcing many organizations to struggle to survive by relying more and more on the artists that they serve to stay afloat. But we as artists can't legitimately sit back and complain without recognizing our active role in this. We feed into the cycle by entering shows and paying the fees charged. Unless we collectively decide that we've had enough and en masse choose not to enter shows that charge exorbitant entry fees then there is less incentive for organizations to change, even if those organizations legitimately want to do so as a benefit to the artists but haven't found other ways to make ends meet. (Recently it seems that a lot of opportunities are being extended due to too few submissions; perhaps this does mean that artists are reassessing whether or not they want to pay those fees to participate and are being more selective about what shows they do enter.)

From an organizational standpoint, entry fees are good. They help to fund exhibitions and opportunities. And charging a fee to enter can ensure that artists will be more likely to follow the submission guidelines and to enter their best works to avoid declination. So it can benefit the show organizers in many ways. So I don't take up issue with the practice (although I will admit that some fees seem high to me too, but I just don't respond to those calls). What irks me is when exceptions are made for some and not for others. Inviting guest/celebrity artists is different because that establishes a difference up front, but waiving fees for friends and making exceptions regarding drop off times, presentation, and other logistics is both unprofessional and unfair to those who abide by the rules. It can reflect poorly on the show organizers, especially when they have put out a public call. As other artists learn of differences in treatment, it can dissuade them from abiding by the rules and encourage them to seek exceptions for themselves. And it can cause an uproar on behalf of those artists who felt like they got a bad deal because no one bent the rules for them. It also behooves show organizers to be courteous and communicative to those who entered, especially if there was an entry fee charged. Those artists who entered put both time and money into the submission process and deserve to be treated respectfully and professionally. Let them know of scheduling changes promptly and acceptances & declinations on schedule - they'll be more likely to want to work with you again in the future if you do. I appreciate all of the galleries and organizations that I've worked with and I understand that putting on an event is a lot of work and that things come up, but please be aware if you are organizing a show that you will be remembered by all of those artists who submitted and participated, for better or for worse.

I personally feel that it is up to each artist as an individual to determine whether or not he/she thinks something is a benefit and to weigh it against his/her career and what he/she wants to gain from the experience. It is important to examine the pros and cons. Sometimes the entry fees are worth it and sometimes they're not. Acceptance fees are somewhat better because they are only charged to those who are showing their art and thus gaining the benefit of exposure, but those can be high too and so those opportunities should be weighed according to the pros and cons as well. This also holds true in regards to donating artworks to fundraisers and volunteering time in organizations. We are all at different stages of our careers and all have different needs, so we need to determine this individually. Essentially, ask yourself - what am I willing to put towards this (time, money, materials...)? How does it benefit me? How does it benefit the art community as a whole?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Claude show ending

Claude wanted me to post a reminder that his show at Cranky Yellow ends this Saturday, so hurry down and see it if you haven't yet and want to. Only three days left!

Claude: The Monster, The Myth, The Legend
reception: Friday, August 7, 2009 7 - 11 p.m.
Show runs through Saturday, Aug. 29.
Free and open to the public.

Cranky Yellow
2847 Cherokee Street
St. Louis, MO 63118

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Claude Videos - Monsters of ROCK



Here's another of the Claude videos. This one features us playing Rock Band with Feral Pig and Garden Gnome. And yes, that's me singing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rough times...

I know that I've ranted before about artists having to donate time, artwork and money to keep arts organizations afloat. This post isn't really a rant so much as some thoughts on the topic, though, in response to the fact that a well-established arts organization and anchor in the arts community that I am involved with is struggling to make ends meet after grant funding has been cut and their main fundraiser didn't go as well as in past years, and so after deliberation sent out a letter to the membership asking for money to keep the doors open. It saddened me greatly to learn of this, and it really hit home as to how badly the economy is affecting all of us. (I knew this already, but every time it manifests itself the effects become yet more apparent and widespread.)

Art is considered a luxury. There's no getting around that. We don't culturally value free expression and even if we did, we don't need it for our physical survival like we need water, food, medical attention and shelter. In rough times, such luxuries often fall by the wayside with more people focusing solely on the bare necessities, those things that they need to get by. So sales go down and funding drops away from things that aren't seen as absolute necessities. This takes the form of fundraisers that don't raise much money towards the causes they support, grants that are cut, people who may otherwise make a purchase looking instead of buying...

I was really bummed out about this last week. It is frustrating knowing that my career path is considered an indulgence or extravagance, deemed unnecessary by so many people outside of the arts who don't understand why modern art should be supported at all. I wondered, how am I going to make it when even one of the leading art community resources is struggling so? And a depressing conversation about the leveling of the playing field wherein only those organizations that the city will support would survive (even if that should amount to only one or nothing) only made the outlook seem bleaker.

But there are multiple ways to look at things, and though it is easy to be depressed these situations also offer the opportunity to reassess, to look at things differently and to really come together in solidarity and support across disciplines. In our own art careers, we can adapt to what we are successfully selling, perhaps offering more smaller, lower ticket items in place of larger, more expensive ones, or we can look at the decline in sales as an opportunity to explore new means of expression. We can support other artists by buying their art and attending their shows with genuine enthusiasm about what they are doing and not just to network and hobnob with whoever is there.

In regards to those art organizations we support, we can help out by volunteering our time and money and by bringing new people into the organizations. (I know that giving more freely of time and money isn't something I'd normally condone, but right now many organizations are struggling just to scrape by after funding cuts and so there are fewer opportunities for them to become self-sufficient. If we want to continue to be able to be a part of these organizations and to see them into the future, we may have to be more involved in keeping them afloat, at least for awhile.)

Above all else, we should keep our minds open to new ways of doing things and new approaches that could develop into better business practices in the long run.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Through the Eyes of a Child

Janiece Muntadar Senn's featured artist show, Through the Eyes of a Child, opened at Avante Art Gallery in Maplewood this evening. It is always a pleasure to see Senn's work, and a surprise each and every time as well since she works in so many different media and techniques.

Through the Eyes of a Child featured several new collage pieces and wall-hung works in addition to a few sculptural pieces. The collages were intriguing and I especially liked the format of the large series because they had the same basic framework, found trays hung vertically that are much taller than they are wide. In addition to providing a lot of compositional interest and cohesion, this format related to the theme of the show by bespeaking a sense of time. And Senn worked within the challenging vertical format wonderfully, exploring all sorts of objects, colors and found images.

I was especially drawn to a large scale painting entitled Winter. This piece featured many layers of white on white and minimal color. The subtle beauty was entrancing and reflected upon the subject well. It was also a joy talking to Senn about the painting: how she enjoyed working on it and would like to see more explorations in white. This piece is extrememly difficult to photograph and digital images don't do it justice, though, so you should see it in person if at all possible. (That really holds true for any art that wasn't conceptually meant to be viewed online; everything is so much better seen in person in the context in which it was conceived. But in the case of something like this, it is absolutely necessary to see it in person.) I cannot wait to see the rest of the series, Spring, Summer and Fall, later on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Claude Videos



Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be uploading the new Claude videos to YouTube. (Claude debuted five new music videos at his show.) Please feel free to check out my channel as well if you like. As I post videos to YouTube, I will embed them here as well so you can see them from here on the blog. This first video is of Claude and I playing Dance Dance Revolution.