work table : circles

I've been drawn to circles recently ... perhaps it's cutting and sewing too many rectangles in my foreclosure series that's got me thinking of roundness. I took some pictures yesterday around my studio of all the circles I saw.
Anyone else thinking in circles these days? Hmmm, sounds like a great title for an Idiom piece ...


Trip to Napa/Sonoma

We completely lucked out on the weather for our trip to Napa/Sonoma last week. The forecast was rain the entire time and we almost cancelled. One day before the trip the sun came out.

We spent most of our time in Napa County driving around the various towns of St. Helena, Calistoga and Oakville. We came to the conclusion that it's too touristy for our tastes. Nothing seemed authentic, it was all for show. Granted the wines are incredible there, the shops are wonderful. But, it just seemed as if we were looking at a postcard the entire time. We couldn't put our finger on it.

The last day, we drove over to Sonoma on our way home and spent the day wondering around in the countryside and town.

Bartholomew Park Organic Winery, Sonoma.
There's something about Sonoma that we love. Maybe it's the down to earth people, the low key setting, that beautiful town square. I think a big reason is the large number of working farms raising cattle, growing vegetables and making cheese in addition to grapes. You don't have to go far for everything you need, it's right there.

Mustard, Bartholomew Park Organic Winery, Sonoma.

We've already planned a week long trip back to Sonoma in April, the week the farmer's markets open for the year. This is where we stayed last year and loved every second of it. If you're in the area, it's the perfect vacation spot. Dreamy, no?

Check out this farm in Glen Ellen and read this wonderful book "Field Days" by Jonnah Raskin. It's all about the working farms spread throughout Sonoma County.


work table : kindergarten quilt progress

Just a few days in Napa and we're already back home. We had some incredible meals and even managed some upscale restaurants with our six year old tagging along. I'll post some photos soon of our trip but in the meantime, I'm back at work wrapping up the Kindergarten quilt for my daughter's school auction. I'm working on the binding now but haven't been able to take any decent photos because of overcast skies this week. We might even have snow here in San Francisco but I'm not complaining! In the interim, here are photos as I sandwiched the pieces and  after I finished hand quilting.

In the works ...

I did the bare minimum of quilting to let the art speak for itself and well, frankly, I'm running out of time!

The binding is going well considering it's my first time. A few more hours and I'm finished! What is amazing is that my cat has not thrown up on the quilt ... he has this amazing habit of finding my artwork at the most inopportune times. Fingers crossed.


Inspiration : Napa bound

We're off to Napa for a few days of hopefully nice weather to take some photos and relax and enjoy our daughter's "ski break". We never had anything like this growing up in Florida!

The forecast had been for rain but miraculously, the rain seems to have decided to stay over the Pacific instead.

Image by www.merrygourmet.com
I hope to have some inspiring photos to share from the trip including taking some of my own snaps of The French Laundry gardens. Click here to see some pretty ones from the fall. One day we'll actually have the chance to eat there, perhaps we'll get away with Ad Hoc this time with Zoe.

We pinch ourselves often when we're up there, it's only 45 minutes from San Francisco!


work table : cape coral foreclosure boro

In between making a class quilt and my larger foreclosure quilt, I'm squeezing in some progress on my next foreclosure boro. I'm feeling the pressure to work more on this, especially in light of the recent report published by the Obama Administration, "Reforming America's Housing Finance Market". It's returning in the media's attention, but the problem is still far from over. In the meantime, I'm plugging along in the studio.

I'm sewing these rectangular 'lot' panels into the navy neighborhood map. I might decide to rip them out and leave them hanging, exposing the red lining behind.

I'm still not sure what direction this piece is going to take, or for that matter, the boro series. I'm beginning to imagine a room installation with the foreclosure quilt laying flat in the center with these more detailed boro on the surrounding walls. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the latest foreclosure news, Gretchen Morgenson with the New York Times seems to be one of the few reporters who is focusing on these issues. See some of her recent articles here.


Artist : Kiki Smith

I've been needing a little inspiration lately, some different ideas to jolt me out of my comfort zone. Whenever I feel this way, I often return to Kiki Smith's works.

From Kiki Smith: A Gathering. Walker Art Center
My name growing up was Kiki, even my parents used it. And when I married, I took my husband's last name, Clark. One day, this young artist (oh my, was I young when I married) came across the name Kiki Smith. I wondered what kind of art Kiki Smith made compared to Kiki Clark's. I was in for a surprise.

Mine, glass, 38 units vary from 950x114x121 mm to 178x184x95 mm, 1999;
ⓒ Kiki Smith, photo by Ellen Page Wilson, photo courtesy of PaceWildenstein, New York
Prints by Kiki Smith. Image from mintdesignblog.com

Constellation, 2000. Mass MOCA
Fast forward ten years long after I'd lost my nickname. In the late 90's, Sotheby's auctions were online and my office was one of the few with high speed internet. I scored this lovely piece for a song ...

Silent Work, 1992. Silkscreen with rubber ink stamp, and candle.  19" x 29" Image from moma.org
MOMA even has a later edition than mine (ha, take that moma!).  I look at this every day with awe. This is the image that seemed to resonate with me the most today was the pojagi inspired website MOMA created for her 2003 show. Of course I love the design. It provides the perfect balance for her free spirited work. Hmmmm.

For more images of the above website go here or here if your flash isn't working, like mine, grrr. To see the entire installation for the  2005 Venice Biennale "Squatting the Palace", click here.


Inspiration : just enough

I discovered a book a few months back while browsing through Moe's Books in Berkeley. It's one of those few locally owned bookshops where you expect to be surprised by something unusual. This time it was just enough: lessons in living green in traditional japan by Azby Brown.

It's one of those life changing and awakening books you rarely come across anymore. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Just Enough is a book of stories and sketches, depictions of vanished ways of life told from the point of view of a contemporary observer. It tells how people lived in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo Period, when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development, just before the country opened itself to the West and joined the ranks of the industrialized nations.

Illustration by Azby Brown
It explains a lot about the Japanese way of life that holds true today. Bathing rituals, celebrations, the design of their cities, why they eat out so often, etc. I learned a lot from reading about their history and respect the Japanese way of life so much more after reading it.
Illustration by Azby Brown.

If you want to know more, check out Azby Brown's website here and his TED talk below.


Artist : Sheila Hicks

My friend Neile Royston, gifted me a wonderful book a few years back called Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor. I had never heard of Hicks and was just beginning to be drawn into fiber at the time. Thanks to you, Neile ... you pretty much changed the direction in my art because of this book!
Image from Wonder-Collective.
Hicks is known for her large fiber installations and is now being recognized for her small weavings, often created on a handmade loom. The works are incredibly powerful, even if they are so small in size. I love this image because you can see the relationships between the works as well as understand their small scale.

Image from Full Circle
And here are some of the pieces up close. I prefer her smaller works

Hastings, wool and cornhusks, 1996. Shiela Hicks. Image from artnet.

Trout Quipu, 1964; woven, wool; 8 x 5 1/2 inches. Image from  Studio and Garden.
Here's what she says about her work, taken from the Browngrotta website: 

Much as I am absorbed in the study of historical textiles and art, I try to challenge a status quo in my own work. Not by taking a radical approach – because I feel more comfortable with intriguing colors and balanced shapes – but by expressing the interconnectedness of disparate elements. By concentrating on essence and observing intrinsic qualities of materials I structure a small world of elegant incongruity.
                                  Sheila Hicks

To read more about Hicks, check out The New York Times interview with the artist in 2006 and see her website here.


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