Upcoming events : Gallery Route One show

I will have two of my pieces in an upcoming show at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco. The show runs from January 21st through February 20th. The opening is Sunday, January 23rd from 3-5 pm. I hope to see some of you there.

Up and Out, 2010. 12" x 16"
In case you can't make it, here are the pieces that will be in the show.

Cutting edge, 2010, 12" x 16"
Click here for more information and location.


My family of artists

I've been thinking about my extended family recently because of the holidays and last week was the 21st anniversary of my mother's death (it made for a rather depressing holiday that year, let me tell you). But, on to positive thoughts! The one thing that most of my family have in common is a lot of us ended up becoming artists or architects. Here are some pictures I have of us creating and what we've made over the years. I'll start with my grandfather, who was a professional photographer.

Lance Johnson
Look at the size of that camera equipment he's carrying! Remember when? Well, I don't! Here's another of him probably doing a portrait, judging by the smile on his face. He ran a portrait studio in Anniston, AL before my uncle Jim took if over when he died (yep, another photographer).

Lance Johnson
And now for my parents, both artists of course. My dad made his living as an architect as does my brother, and my uncles, etc. I love this photo of my dad, especially the pipe!

Bert McIntosh
Did I also mention he invented the Apple Macintosh? Just kidding. Luckily, that question wasn't asked until I was in high school. Oops, did I just date myself there? I have a photo somewhere of my mom sitting at her loom but I can't find it. Here is one of her drawings for a wall tapestry she made.

Mona McIntosh
And remember that uncle I mentioned earlier. Here is some of his fine art photography which I love. I have a copy of this hanging in my house and I look at it every day.

Jim Johnson
Here's a picture I love, the next generation of artists. My daughter making abstract prints for her teachers when she was four.

I'd love to hear your stories about other artists in your family, it does seem to be a pattern, no?


work table : lots of projects

I've been so busy the past few weeks with various projects, the holidays and dealing with colds I haven't had much time to read any blogs, let alone post much on my own! I am hoping to catch up soon to see what everyone is doing but I suspect you are all going through similar busy times these days. Here are some the things seen on my work table in the past week. My daughter, Zoe, has been begging me to make her a quilt for her dolls ever since I made one last month for a friend of hers.

Then I realized we'll be opening presents in Florida and there won't be any dolls to play with while we're there. So of course, I had to make her a doll to go with the doll quilt. I made both of these entirely out of remnants lying around. The doll dress is a liberty fabric I saved from one of her old dresses. I tea stained it just for fun. You can see a hint of scarf ... the amazing wool gauze I'm using in my foreclosure series.

And I've been working on my quilt. I have much more to show you in the next post, but for now, here's a teaser.

And the deadline is approaching fast for the Sketchbook Project in January ... see how pristine this book is? Hmmm, it needs filling really fast! This is what I plan to focus my time on while we're visiting family in Florida over the holidays. I have a great idea of how to tie it into my current series.

One more post before we're off on our trip. I'd love to hear what handmade gifts everyone has been making this month. Happy Holidays everyone!


Artisan : Mariem Besbes

I suppose I have to create a new category when talking about the textile designer, Mariem Besbes. While flipping through an old Marie Claire Maison from 2007, I rediscovered her work. I think I bought the magazine because of the amazing images and now three years later, here I was working with what I think is her wool gauze. She weaves the most incredibly beautiful fabric and the colors offered are stunningly rich. 

Image from Rue de L ......
According to her website, the openwork weaving, originally called Peplos in Greek, was originally worn as a seamless garment. She decided to learn the ancient art, bringing in her own style and sense of color. And all of those incredible colors are ground by her own hands.

Image from Rue de L .....
A weaver in Tunisia, Mariem learned her grandfather had made this cloth before turning to silk weaving in 1910. She decided to go back to her family roots. I have no idea if the wool gauze I'm using in my new series is the same, I hope so. I would love to see those other colors in person, I bet they're even more beautiful. See her website here for more detailed photos. You can find her cloth easily in Europe, not so easily here in the States.


Inspiration : Quilting details

Now that I'm on to quilting my first Foreclosure piece, I've been digging around on Flikr for some great examples of modern, edgy stitch examples to inspire me. There are so many talented artists out there and here are just a few that really have an edge.

I love the ruggedness a lot of these quilters have. I also have a weakness for blue cloth these days too. Click here to see who these talented artists are and to link to more of their work on Flikr.


Foreclosure : more assembling ...

And it continues ... I thought I'd share some photos of a day in my studio today. I love it when things start to come together in a big way (in the literal sense today).

I finalized the quilt top piecing this morning. I love the underbelly of the fabric seen above. And then the sun came out and I saw all the amazing little shadows come to life. This one looks like a mountain range to me.

I just discovered this amazing Chaco liner chalk 'pen' last week that has made my life in the studio SO much easier! Have you used these before? A complete lifesaver for chalking long lines and curves as well.

This red inner layer fabric runs only 42" wide so I had to piece together this as well since my quilt width is 48", argh. However, this was much easier to sew than the wool scrim.

I'm so glad I set up this 4x8 work table last year, it's been perfect for piecing together the quilt. Now a quick look with the top layer to make sure I'm on the right track.

At the moment, the quilt is 80" long but it will shrink a little once I trim and bind it. Now onto the final quilt back. That will be tomorrow's project and hopefully by week's end, I'll be stitching those layers together. I'm running the risk of leaving this lying on my table since my cat is notorius for vomiting on all my fabrics that I leave lying out ... hmmm maybe I'll roll it up for the night just to be safe.


Foreclosure : ink studies

I made some simple gouache studies today to help me visualize the details of the quilt blocks I plan to make on my Foreclosure series. It's always a challenge between striking a balance between representational and conceptual. I think it works here. You're not quite sure it's a map until you understand it, and then it's obvious. Well, hopefully ...

Foreclosure study, Las Vegas neighborhood (A2), 2010. Gouache, 15" x 20"
The lines are roads and the rectangles represent foreclosed lots. Shocking that there are so many, no? Imagine twenty-four of these areas pieced together. Even more shocking.

Foreclosure study, Las Vegas neighborhood (B9), 2010. Gouache, 15" x 20"
Foreclosure study, Las Vegas neighborhood (D4), 2010. Gouache, 15" x 20"


Foreclosure : piecing

After a long holiday week, I'm back in the studio making some progress this weekend. It was nice week, but I'm missed my studio time. I've mostly pieced the major front panels of my Foreclosure series and it's now just a matter of sewing those all together. Here they are hung together on my pinboard.

The piece measures about 4' x 6' and represents a bit over a mile of a North Las Vegas neighborhood. My remnants have been squished off to the side for the moment. Who knows if some of them will show up in the quilt. I still need to assemble the triangle pieces which represent a park and a channelled creek. Why developers feel the need to pave over natural creeks, I have no idea. Sigh.


Foreclosure : assembling ...

It's been hard to show my progress in the past few weeks since we haven't had much great natural light for photographing not to mention that squares after squares of the same fabric can't be so interesting to look at! Nevertheless, I've got some progress to share on my foreclosure quilt series. Here was my final experiment where I finally determined scale and representation of foreclosed lots.

Foreclosure experiment remnant, 6" x 6". Linen and cotton.
I then decided to use the blue wool scrim as my quilt top fabric with red sandwiched behind and a rear layer of the natural scrim. Cutting away from the blue to the red is a much more powerful image.

Now, onto the assembly! I've started working on Las Vegas first which, thankfully is a sea of grided arterial roads. This makes it easy to layout the quilt pieces. Within the grid roads, the streets are all unique (some have some badly appropriate names). I plan to quilt the secondary roads using a contrasting thread. And now onto assembly!

I have larger panels sewn together but they're hard to photograph at the moment. I hope to have more to share over the next few weeks.

The solid fabric on the bottom represents retail and civic areas in the neighborhoods. I love how civic and retail occur in patterns on a map and this simple treatment on the quilt subtly highlights them without taking away from the real point. I'm excited to see this idea finally come together!

In the meantime, I hope everyone in the States has a wonderful Thanksgiving and a relaxing long weekend! We plan to spend it with good friends here in the city. Their flat has an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Happy Thanksgiving!


Artist : Myrna Tatar

I discovered several fiber artists recently who are members of a bay area art group called fiber/DIMENSIONS, which began in 1990. All of their work is amazing and ranges from quilting and sculpture to papermaking. One artist's work really stood out to me, the work of Myrna Tatar.

Holly Monday, 2010. Linen, plastic food wrappers, mixed fabrics, embroidery thread. 
Holly Monday detail, 2010.
I love the looseness of her work, challenging the idea of what is a quilt. I haven't been able to find out much about the artist except for what is on the DIMENSIONS website, but I like what I see.
Myrna Tatar.
I love this piece, a long roll of fabric with doodles and sewn sketches all along. And this detail just amazes me, she has such freedom in her work.

Myrna Tatar.
You can see more of her work here on the fiber/DIMENSIONS website. Myrna's work is also part of the current fiber/DIMENSIONS' show, Intersections 5: Colors-Concepts-Contours, on view through December 19th at the Presidio Officer's Club in the Presidio. It's open Wed-Sun 11-5 at 50 Moraga Avenue. See more details here.


Beautiful objects

I took a trip up over the Golden Gate bridge today with my dear friend Ines to shop Heath Ceramic's annual factory sale. I love Heath Ceramics. Their dishes are simple and elegant and incredibly well made, not to mention local which means a lot to me.

Photo by: Dustin Aksland
I love this new yearly tradition we started last year. So far, both years the first big winter rains hit just as we arrive. We stay nice and dry inside admiring all the beautiful wares. The factory building is just as beautiful as the ceramics.

Photo by: Dustin Aksland
At one point, someone dropped a dish and you heard an audible anguished cry from everyone in the room. We all seemed to be in agreement how precious these objects are.

Photo by: Dustin Aksland
I've decided to slowly replace all my daily dishes with Heath's. It will take me a few years, these don't come cheap. But the sale certainly helps.

Photo by: Dustin Aksland
I love this photo. All the mistakes and remnants uncolored and unglazed. It's all beautiful to me. If you're lucky enough to be near San Francisco or Los Angeles, you can join in the fun this weekend and all next week here. Check out the Dwell article to see more great photos.


Artists at work

I love looking at other artists at work in their studio. When creating, artists are so caught up in the moment that all else falls away and it's often reflected in their studio photos. Here are some of my favorites.

Louise Bourgeois,1967 in her Italian studio.
There are some funny studio pictures of Bourgeois, I imagine she was quite a character.

Eva Hesse in her studio.
 Eva's studios are full of fascinating details. I wish I could walk through them.

Kiki Smith at work.
Kiki's home is her studio, there is no separation. She breathes art and it shows.

Lenore Tawney at work.
I love this one of Tawney. She looks seriously frustrated with this piece. We've all been there!
John Cage manipulating a piano.
I'm reading an amazing book about John Cage called Begin Again by Kenneth Silverman. I really see him more as an artist than a musician.

Shiela Hicks using one of her handmade looms.
Is Hicks not beautiful in this photo?


Inspiration : Lenore Tawney

I created an Inspiration folder on my computer three years ago where I collect images artists' work that I really admire. My eyes have been drawn lately to Lenore Tawney's fiber pieces. Here are few I'd love to share.

Path II, circa 1965-66. Linen. Image from Browngrotta.
I love this piece, it's simplicity and frankness. How it hangs a few feet off the wall which gives it a completely different presence I think.

Waterfall, 1974. linen. Image Browngrotta.
I admit I have a thing about orange and this piece I really love. I wish I could understand Tawney's thought process as to how she came up with her ideas and how she figured out how to execute them.

Bach, collage. 1967. Image Browngrotta.
She also made a lot of collage works. What an apt title, not just because of the obvious subject but don't you just hear Bach in the way the piece was assembled? It's nice to pull these images out of the folder and just study them for awhile. See more work online here.


Layers : Quilt experiments with scrim

My second quilt experiment is to use the same pattern as before but this time with a stunning greyblue wool scrim. I love how this looks with the light behind it. Photographing it was near impossible but you get the idea.

Pojagi Quilt experiment #2, 2010. 12"x16", wool scrim and embroidery thread.
I feel like I'm not quite there yet, still working out ideas but enjoying the process. This is what the piece looked like before I cut into it. I love how this fabric looks instantly old when sewn together.

Pojagi Quilt Experiment #2, 2010. 12"x16" wool scrim.
 I give The Silly Boodilly full credit for this Pojagi sewing technique. Her tutorial is the best out there if you ask me. Thanks, Victoria!


How sweet!

I just wanted to share a really sweet gift Rae Dunn sent along with some beautiful items I ordered from her. Thank you so much, Rae! I photographed it alongside my sewing materials for the day.

I've placed this by my sewing machine and it reminds me how supportive my online friends have been since I entered the blog world. Thanks to all!

Rae along with her co-potters Christa Assad and Josie Jurczenia at Fourth & Clay in Berkeley, will have a Holiday Party on Dec 9th from 7 - 11pm. This will also feature the opening of the Invitational Cup Show, featuring 26 Bay Area Potters with wonderful cups on sale in their gallery. The show runs through Dec 24th.

Check out more of Rae's work on her site as well as the Forth & Clay blog.


Layers : Quilt experiments

I've been busy working out ideas for a new series and thought my experiments could be considered a Layer series piece as well. As a former urban planner, I've been acutely aware of how big an impact the foreclosure crisis has had on our cities and towns. I'm trying to find a way to bring it to everyone's attention just how significantly this affects most neighborhoods in the US today. I'm currently toying around with this idea in my work.

Foreclosure Map study, North Las Vegas, 2010. 15" x 20" Embroidery on linen pojagi quilt.
The empty panels represent large blocks that have foreclosures in them. Sadly, some have up to forty foreclosures in a block. I'll be playing with scales and materials over the next few weeks. I will possibly pull these away from the wall as translucent Pojagi can be traditionally shown. I'm really excited about this series and can't wait until I'm able to pin down all my decisions on how to present these. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!


Inspiration : Sol LeWitt letter to Eva Hesse

I recently came across a letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse discussing the creative process and pursuing new ideas. Every artist has doubts and fear about trying new ideas and this letter was written when Eva Hesse was just about to have her eureka moment with her three dimensional pieces. I've included a clip of it below. Advice worth remembering ...

Eva Hesse, No Title, 1970.
April 14th 1965, letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse:
Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, gasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, rumbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose-sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding grinding grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1268: Scribbles: Staircase (AKAG).
This comes at a time when the Albright-Knox Gallery will be featuring the largest commissioned scribble drawing by Sol LeWitt. Hats off to the creative process.


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