17 October 2014

some inspiration :: katherine sherwood // tara donovan


i am always harping on my students to go see artwork. monkey see monkey do, right?

last night i was at gallery paule anglim  to see katherine sherwood's show. she was a professor of mine when i was an undergrad and totally influential. after school i worked for her for - in her studio and office for quite some time. that was a life changing experience. we discovered we have the same vocabulary/vision for color. i would print litho prints for her and she could say 10 in tangerine and 15 in bright lime green and i knew exactly what she wanted. that's actually a rare thing. your tangerine might be quite different from my tangerine, you know?

anyway - she was a mentor in many many ways. she helped me procure my first teaching job. i'm honored to call her a friend now. and her new paintings are STUNNING. really. she painted on the backs of these art historical prints that were mounted to linen [think vermeer, durer, renoir]. you can see the names of these legendary icons on some of the canvases. she's painted these amazing renditions of iconographic women - manet's olympia, ingres... but she's given them brain scans for heads [referencing the stroke she had 20 years ago], and they all have a disability [notice the brace on the woman above]. they sit on these STRIKINGLY gorgeous patterns. they are powerful, cheeky, art historically prudent [if you are an art history geek like me, these get you very excited on multiple levels]... and they are living in the same space with works by joan brown. brown was in many ways a mentor to HER. it's a very strong and interesting pairing. if you are local - please go see the show.


over the summer pace gallery put a pop up space together in menlo park and featured an entire giant warehouse of her work. i dragged the little right before the show closed. 

good god. 

i had seen pieces individually before, but never some of them. and never all of them together. 15 years of work. a mini retrospective. she still is one of my heroes. i've listed the everyday material in the captions below... 

buttons



cut pencils

paper plates

straight pins and glass

acrylic rods


mylar tape

straws



01 October 2014

wichita :: signs

so - truth be told i'm in the beginning stages of PANIC. my show at walter maciel gallery opens nov. 8th. i'm on track. i just have a LOT of knotting and stitching left to do. it WILL get done, but i only have a month. yikes. and school has started. and i've grading up to my ears. and kindergarden homework with the little [which isn't hard, but it is work]... and and and. so - things get neglected. like blogs. and laundry.

i still have things to share from kansas/wichita. so i'm just going to show you some signage i found and liked while there. i like vintage signs. i just do. the typography. the nostalgia. the faded. the beat up. the cool.





















17 September 2014

my first quilt


2 years ago [god i'm a bad mom]- when orange was her favorite color [we've since moved onto pink, purple, and my favorite "all the colors"] i had the little pick out some fabric. she chose the above cloud nine - and held it all the way home. 

i told her i would make her something. what did she want? a skirt? a dress? a bag? mama, i want a blanket. 

gulp. 


i made a quilt with my mom, once, as a pre-teen? quilt? oh boy. but you can't say no to that kind of request. so i told her she'd have to be patient, and she was... [i remind you TWO YEARS!]. 

i thought it'd be really fun to make squares and enlarge the funny monster characters - and the white circles/ovals they lived on. there were 6 characters. so that made it easy. i'd make six squares and use the fabric as the backing. i only bought 2 yards of fabric, so it was going to have to be slightly smaller than a twin in size, but that seemed fine [and made my task easier].


initially i was going to quilt the circles INTO the orange background, but i quickly realized that was beyond my skillset, so i appliqued them instead [machine zig zag stitch]. i also arranged the circles/characters in slightly different positions. once the embroidery was complete i started laying out the squares to see compositionally what worked. 


because it was my first quilt, i didn't want to do any CRAZY quilting. so concentric rectangles it was. i just measured them out. 


i used orange gingham i had in my stash for the binding [JEEZ i found the binding part REALLY HARD!!]. i machine stitched everything. 1 - because it's faster and 2 - because i figured this blanket would probably get washed a lot, and potentially dragged around and i didn't want to have to repair hand stitching repeatedly. 


i want to give a HUGE shout out to erin - if it wasn't for her book i would have had no idea how to sandwich correctly or how to even begin to tackle binding. i wrote about her book here... and it really is such an amazing resource. 

i also now see why people get into this whole quilting thing. i really do. [but i doubt i'll ever be a master]

10 September 2014

recollection :: three


NORMS

i was a picky eater when i was a child. this might have been my dad’s influence. to this day he hasn’t met a tomato he likes. [my mother was most certainly not at all picky and is willing to try almost anything at least once]. it might have been my tastebuds [apparently they are quite different when one is young]. 

i grew up in LA. the land of the coffee shop. the sprawling, suburban, 1950’s, pies in rotating cased, pleather booted, astro influenced architectured, fries with everything coffee shops. you had your upscale versions [more restaurant like], your downscale versions [smaller, dingier filled with old time regulars that sat and drank coffee all. day. long], and your somewhere in-between these two extreme versions. 

NORMS was the family friendly in-between version. There are still NORMS peppered throughout LA. there was one close to our house. the sign is simply iconic. i don’t know who norm is. i don’t know if they are a chain owned by some corporate conglomerate now. and frankly i don’t really care. [i’m sure i could look it all up]

what i do know is that i loved when we went to dinner at NORMS. when i think about all the places we ate [ok LA people remember these? hamburger henry’s, hamburger hamlet, floppy’s burgers, bob’s big boy, [[how are there so many “hamburger” joints??]], the velvet turtle a couple times -NORMS is at the forefront. it could have been the fried chicken. maybe it was the golden brown, slightly bigger than mcdonald’s, but usually perfectly fried fries [i didn’t like the too crispy or brown ones then]. it could have been sitting with my folks in a booth. it could have been the smile on my mom’s face simply because she wasn’t cooking. it could have been that when i was in kindergarten the teacher’s assistant for my class was also working as a waiter there. i adored him. tall [really tall, especially for a small kindergardener], gentle, glasses, always smiling. i can’t remember his name, but i have a foggy picture of him in my brain. 

i think, though, why i always get that pang of nostalgia when i drive around LA and spot a NORMS sign is that because we were out to eat i was usually allowed a treat. and the treat at NORMS was a hot fudge sundae [did it come with my meal? i can’t remember]. by no means gourmet, it was the classic: vanilla, fudge from a bottle, whipped cream, nuts, a cherry [sometimes extra whipped cream and cherries if my teacher assistant was working]. 

of course those sundaes were good. delicious to my childhood palette. but really, if i’m honest, it was more than that. somehow a feeling of family got wrapped up in those sundaes. 1 sundae, 3 spoons. my dad loved the ice-cream. mom thought they were too sweet, but would dip into the chocolate and the whip cream. me… i loved the whole thing. and that’s probably why every time i visit LA if i see a NORMS i break into a smile.

02 September 2014

wichita :: sen :: 1000 doilies - new piece


so... i asked for help. knowing that i was going to the ulrich. knowing i was supposed to make a companion piece to the 1000 doily piece. YOU - you lovely people sent me drawings and knots. i packed up a big bankers box and shipped them there to meet me.

but i really didn't have a plan. other than i knew there would be 1000. when we finished installing the big doily piece, i opened my box and started counting - both the knots and the drawings. at first i kept the drawings together by the people who made them. then, i began organizing them by place. maybe i should make a map. place the doilies in spaces close to where they came from globally.

when i counted the knots i touched them and thought about where/who they all came from. how far they had traveled. should i make a quilt? a really big seninbari belt? organized by color? by fabric color? by knot color?

then i flashed on something:



when i was in japan these - EMA - caught my attention at every temple/shrine we went to. thousands of people, leaving thousands of wishes.




what if i treated this installation like a wish wall? what if each drawing/knot made was like a personal little wish? 

so i found giant nails. set up a grid. 



as i kept sorting through the doily drawings i realized that i just might have 100 colors of drawings. 

the doily wall has 100 colors of doilies. oh. that would be a nice connection.



at first i thought i'd stick the "main" color in front, and then fill the rest in behind with other colors to make even stacks. but as i sorted i realized why not let the stacks be what they are? if they have 1 doily they have one. the black pile would simply have over 100. i liked the idea of the numbers being dictated not by me. 

so began the task of punching holes.

i also had doily drawings of various sizes. so i thought i'd "arrange" them so that you could see the different scales. 


i also felt as though the thread that the drawings hung from should match the doily drawings themselves [also to link to the 1000 doily piece]. 


luckily there were a few more workshops to round out my numbers and get me to 1000 drawings. and the museum staff made sure to contribute drawings as well. 

my mom helped me tie a thread to each drawing. every night we'd sort them, separate the floss, tie loops and then attach a loop to the drawings. while we worked we watched japanese samurai movies. [fitting don't you think]?


then i'd come and hang them up. 


until finally they were all up on the wall. 


this might have been one of the scarier projects i've ever undertaken. mostly because i didn't have a SOLID plan before starting, and because i knew i had a very finite time [2 weeks after putting up the other piece] to complete it. 



but as is usually the case - pressure cooker situations are often good for the studio practice. and once the idea gelled, i felt like this was really a cool way to once again incorporate SO many hands, and my love and interest of color. and the nod to japanese culture [including my own experience with it] tied in nicely with the doily piece. 




i made the museum a color chart - with some extra threads in case one broke. and of course i love IT as an object in and of itself. 


video

when you are there... the air conditioning makes the pieces move. which is also a lovely bonus. 

so... to all of you that sent drawings, and good wishes, and happy thoughts; and for those of you that sent knots - i haven't figured out how to use them yet, but i will... once i finish all the work for my upcoming show at walter maciel [opens november 8th. mark your calendars]. THANK YOU. i am once again humbled and grateful. the almost indescribable magic that happens when a piece is collectively pulled together is present in this piece. and i will be sending you all little parcels of thanks soon. 

i don't think i will ever stop just making drawings and things that i do on my own, but this process - a social practice, has altered my approach to work in a very significant way. so again, thank you. 

i'm excited to visit the two pieces together this weekend. 

29 August 2014

wichita :: thifting

i had sort of hoped that i would be able to find some good thrifting while in wichita.

turns out i could have rented a uHaul truck and come back with it and then some. it was like thrifting heaven. seriously.

here's a smattering [there are still a few things i haven't photographed yet] of what i brought back.

kids metal plates

mccoy vases/planters

globe bank

baking goods [scale i already had]

christmas ornaments [i already have a big collection but when you come upon a box that is $4 and 50% off you can't say no]

bristle brush mini-wreath

60's vinyl floral bags

pyrex and hand embroidery

1980's shoulderpad dress

this is just a smattering of what i LEFT BEHIND. oy.

i return to wichita next week for their bruce conner opening [and technically mine as well. who ever thought i'd share an opening with BRUCE CONNER?]. i'm hoping to dash around to a few stores in my short time there.... 

also soon i'll post all about the piece i made while i was there. promise.