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).