Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

The Trouble in Paradise

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

IQF Houston took place a couple of weeks ago. That’s normally cause for celebration, but my attention has been on the fires in Malibu and here in northern California. Still, my understanding is that it was a great show; I’m sorry I missed it.

The OURstory exhibit, spearheaded by Susanne Miller Jones, debuted there. I have a couple of pieces in that exhibit but alas, we aren’t allowed to release photos just yet. One can get a little sense of the exhibit from this story in the Houston Chronicle, which features interviews with a few of my fellow artists.

I confess that I got my back up a bit when I read a comment that exhibits such as this one are “political” and that IQF Houston should leave them out of its shows. Why are celebrating human rights, religious freedom, or fair labor practices regarded as political? Why are those things controversial? What’s the counter position – that the medium of fiber should only be used to depict warm, fluffy topics such as kitty-cats hiding in pumpkins or children playing on the beach? Should we be celebrating the views of Strom Thurmond circa 1948?

The exhibit will be traveling. I do wish people would go have a look at it before judging it. The work in it is heartfelt. I was told that one of my pieces “moved people to tears,” and I imagine that was the case with much of the other work as well. I worked hard on my pieces and I know that my fellow artists did as well.

Another of my works, Cranky Claus, was out in the main section of the show. It’s one of my personal favorites since the Santa in it is such a thuggish type, not at all the sort of person you’d want to have come down your chimney or roam around your house while you were asleep. I hope visitors enjoyed it or at least were mildly horrified.

 

Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8 and several other works from the Fly Me to the Moon exhibit are on display at the Johnson Space Center as part of the Apollo 7 & 8 50th Anniversary Exhibit. They’ll be there through December 13.

 

From the San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 15

Meanwhile, Malibu and a chunk of Northern California have been on fire. I live down at the south end of San Francisco Bay, about 200 miles away from the fire that took out forest land and the town of Paradise. The morning after the fire started, I went outside to walk the dogs and the air was thick with smoke. “Wow. Is that from the fire north of Sacramento?” I asked my husband. Yes. It was. 

Air in Sacramento November 15

We’ve been battling bad air ever since, air that leaves me coughing and with a sore throat if I stay out in it for long. We’ve essentially been housebound for the past two weeks, and that’s with the fire 200 miles away. However, our inconvenience is nothing compared to what the people closer to the fire have faced, or the tragedy of losing homes, loved ones, pets, and wildlife. “Remember, that smoke you’re complaining about breathing is someone’s house – or worse,” pointed out a newspaper commenter.

The stories of horror are abundant, and the survivors’ paths to recovery are just beginning. This story in the L.A. Times tells about people sheltering in vehicles or tents in parking lots in Chico, huddled together for warmth. Winter is coming. Soon the weather will turn harsher, cold and wet, and many of the people don’t have the financial resources to move, much less rebuild.

One would think this would be an occasion for an outpouring of sympathy and relief efforts, with FEMA swooping in and the POTUS making statements of compassion. Instead, we have people camping out in parking lots, with no idea where they’re going to go or how they’re going to put their lives back together. Instead, the current POTUS initially threatened to withold federal aid. He conveniently “forgot” or ignored the facts that California supplies more federal funds than it uses, much of forest that burned was under federal management, with funding for maintenance cut by him and the Republicans, and the town that burned leaned Republican. When he visited the burned remains of the town, he couldn’t remember its name, even when reminded. Instead he mumbled deranged nonsense about maintaining the forest by raking it, like the people of Finland do theirs. The citizens of Finland weren’t aware they’d been doing this, and were understandably surprised.

This behavior is not a surprise to me – like all good con men, the POTUS has contempt for his marks – but it is still a disappointment. I’m sad to see people defecated on by the man they voted for. One would hope he’d care about them, if not the rest of us. But he doesn’t. He cares only for himself and perhaps his oldest daughter.

Remember the people of Pleasure – I mean, Paradise – in your thoughts and donations, and shore up your resources and your neighborhoods. Get to know your neighbors, keep a reasonable amount of emergency supplies on hand, and have a plan for sheltering in place or evacuating yourself, your pets, and your family if necessary. Support the people and organizations who provide emergency services.

There will more disasters, particularly as global climate change accelerates. The reality TV personality currently occupying the Oval Office and his administration will be no more capable of responding to them with compassion or practical assistance than he was this one. The only things he can reliably deliver are self-interest and harsh, threatening remarks when people are grappling with grief and fear.

We have each other, at least. Right now, that’s about all we can count on.

Pacific International Quilt Festival, 2018

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

 

 

Last week I went to the PIQF, which is a grueling 6.5 mile drive from my house. My piece Do Dragons Like Cookies? received this award, which I very much appreciate.

I’ve had pieces with 3D/CGI surface designs sell, be published, and tour. However, this is the first time one of them has received an award. That’s a welcome milestone.

 

Unless I mount an exhibit of 3D/CGI surface design or enter an exhibit for quilts featuring hungry dragons, I imagine PIQF will have been its last public viewing. I don’t much enjoy shipping things out to different shows – I prefer having work in exhibits that travel and stay gone for a year or so. I hope that those who saw it enjoyed it.

I always enjoy PIQF; since it’s so close, it’s a relaxed, fun show. Getting everyone’s work together so it can be studied at a size larger than that of a computer screen is a lovely, communal activity. It always drives home the vast range of aesthetics and skill levels out there.

One exhibit I greatly admired was provided by the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Quoting from their website,

“Through a series of hands-on workshops in schools, prisons and community centers across the country, SJSA empowers youth to use textile art as a vehicle for personal transformation and community cohesion and become agents of social change. Many of our young artists make art that explores issues such as gender discrimination, mass incarceration, gun violence and gentrification.”

The pieces are powerful, with quite a lot of heart. It’s incredibly sad that not only are adults having to face the issues depicted, but youth are too. They literally can’t escape them and, unlike adults, are powerless to vote or politic for different policies. However, they can engage in peaceful protest and statements of their concerns by creating artwork. They’re following a noble tradition utilized by, among others, women who wanted to vote, citizens concerned about the Vietnam war, auto and mine workers, Quakers who found the slave trade abhorrent, and the original colonists who didn’t appreciate taxation without representation.

Twitter Tantrum, Carina Cabriales

The words on the quilt weren’t invented by this artist. They’re quotes or messages from a sitting elected official. Given the hate-filled, foul-mouthed, bigoted, misogynistic messages this person spouts on a daily basis, this quilt is extremely restrained.

Learn more about the quilt and read the artist’s statement on the SJSA site.

 

One block from Activist ABCs, Bianca Mercado

See the entire quilt and read the artist’s statement on the SJSA site.

 

Exit Wound, Audrey Bernier

A portion of the artist’s statement:

“Did you know that the exit wounds from an AR-15 are the size of an orange? That means regardless of the shooter’s aim, if he hits anything he’s going to do severe damage – more often than not, fatal damage. I titled my quilt “Exit Wound” as a reminder that gun control in all communities is a social justice issue that deserves action and conversation.”

The Atlantic published an excellent article on the topic of AR-15 wounds. It’s written by a radiologist who dealt with victims of a school shooting.

 

One block from Agency.

Learn more about the quilt and read the artist’s statement on the SJSA site.

 

Protect & Serve: EVERYONE, Chloe Gorski

This piece concerns the disproportionate killing of African Americans and invites viewers to add the name of someone who was a victim of police lethal force.

“As of the summer of 2018, 38% of unarmed citizens killed were African Americans.” This is about three times the percentage of blacks in the U.S. population. No, not all cops are trigger-happy bigots. Just enough that if the outer 1 mm of your body is a different color from that of a white person, you live in fear.

To see more quilts, view an exhibition schedule, or find out how to help, visit the Social Justice Sewing Academy website.

Current Exhibits

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

It’s probably a marketing mistake, but I don’t pay much attention to where my work is at any given time. I’m happiest when I can ship stuff off to an exhibit which travels the country for a few years, forms the basis of a book, then gets sold and never comes home.

Occasionally, though, it’s fun to look and see where stuff is and where it’s going. Many thanks to the exhibit organizers and others who handle the marketing, shipping, and coordination of these exhibits! They provide fascinating exhibits for viewers and make it possible for me to hide in my studio and focus on creating.

 

May 10 – August 20, 2018
Webster Presbyterian; Webster, TX (aka “The NASA church”)
HerStory: Mary Blair

June 29 – July 27, 2018
Floris UMC Art Gallery; Herndon, VA
HerStory: Maria Goeppert-Mayer

July 19-21, 2018
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo; Raleigh, NC
Threads of Resistance: Game Over, Gusher

August 9-12, 2018
Birmingham Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, England
Fly Me to The Moon: Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8

August 17-25, 2018
Experience Fiber Art; Rochester, NY
Threads of Resistance: Game Over, Gusher

September 13-16, 2018
Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza; Oaks, PA
Threads of Resistance: Game Over, Gusher

October 10 – December 13, 2018
Apollo 7 & 8 50th Anniversary Exhibit; NASA Johnson Space Center; Houston, TX
Fly Me to The Moon: Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8

October 15 – November 4, 2018
Charlton Sewing Center; Charlton, MA
Threads of Resistance: Game Over, Gusher

November 6-11, 2018
International Quilt Festival, Houston
Judged show: Cranky Claus
OurStory: It Happened, Seeds of Hatred

December 7, 2018 – April 10, 2019
National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY
HerStory: Mary Blair, Maria Goeppert-Mayer

It’s quiz time!

Friday, May 25th, 2018

It’s time for some fun! I’ve posted eighteen pictures below. I want you to go through them and assign each to one of the following categories:

  • Abstract
  • Animals
  • Digitally created
  • Fantasy/Whimsy
  • Naturescape
  • Painted
  • People, portraits, and figures
  • Pictorial (objects, still life, wildlife, cityscapes)

Is there a point to this exercise? Yes, there is. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let’s go through the images.

 

Image 1

 

Image 2

 

Image 3

 

Image 4

 

Image 5

 

Image 6

 

Image 7

 

Image 8

 

Image 9

 

Image 10

 

Image 11

 

Image 12

 

Image 13

 

Image 14

 

Image 15

 

Image 16

 

Image 17

 

Image 18

 

DING! DING! DING! Time’s up!

What did you decide? Did you put any of these in the people or portraits category? How about abstract or animals? Did you see any still lives or anything that struck you as whimsical?

Well, it doesn’t matter what you or I think, or what the style or subject matter of these images is because every one of them was digitally created or modified. (More on that in a minute.)

As far as the International Quilt Association’s rules are concerned, if any of these are printed on fabric and made into quilts (actually, three of them already have been), if they’re submitted to one of the IQA shows, they have to be submitted under the Surface Design category.

That’s right. No matter how little these individual images may have in common, they’re alllllll going to be slopped together in the same category because a computer was used to create them. The same thing goes if you’re submitting a quilt that is more than 50% painted; it gets put in a painted surface category regardless of its style or subject matter.

Why?

Why is the instrument or technique used to create a design more important than its style or subject matter?

Why are quilts with painted or digitally designed fabric being stuck in a ghetto where completely unrelated works will be competing against each other?

What is the goal? To focus on works which use more quilting supplies, thus making vendors happy? To return to the traditional roots of quilting and reduce the focus on art?

Regardless of the intention, I know one probable outcome: to reduce experimentation and fossilize the art form. Fewer available categories for one’s work implies that there are fewer available slots and less work will be accepted. A few people I spoke with said that because of this rule change, they aren’t going to submit work this year. They’re excellent artists, but they find the rule change discouraging and ominous, so we won’t be seeing their work. I only submitted one piece.

***

About the images:

I made every one of them on the computer. Notice how little they have in common other than that. Then imagine them turned into quilts (if the image is suitable for that) and hanging on a wall together in one category. Why do that?

 

Image 1 – Apples. A digital painting I made in Procreate for iPad, using someone else’s photo as a reference. Apologies to the person for not crediting them, whoever they are. The painting may be mine, but the composition is all theirs.

Image 2 – Clouds. Rendered in a 3D program.

Image 3 – Eye. A digital painting I made in Procreate.

Image 4 – Odalisque with Squeak Toy. A digital composite of 3D CGI and a photo of my dog.

Image 5 – Dude with Fish. A digital painting I made in Procreate. I vaguely remember that I’d had a glass of wine and wished I was Joan Miro.

Image 6 – Succulent. A photo heavily, heavily edited then modified with filters.

Image 7 – Fractal something-or-other. From Filterforge.

Image 8 – Why Knot? – A digital composite of typography, images, and a photo of my son.

Image 9 – Handsome shirtless guy. Rendered in a 3D program.

Image 10 – Landscape. From Filterforge.

Image 11 – Dame with white hair. I rendered the woman in a 3D program, then composited her against a background I made in Filterforge.

Image 12 – Map. More Filterforge work.

Image 13 – Abstract. Again, Filterforge.

Image 14 – Abstract “painting”. Filterforge.

Image 15 – Pears. A digital painting I made in Procreate, using someone else’s photo as a reference.

Image 16 – Rock texture. Filterforge.

Image 17 – Snail ride. A digital painting I made in Procreate, using one of my own photos (for a change) as a reference.

Image 18 – a 3D rendering.

Where is the story?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Succulent, 38 x 32″

Here’s my latest, Succulent. It’ll be at PIQF next month. I managed to finish it just before the submission deadline, battling my sewing machine the whole way. (And have I taken my machine in for repair yet? No, I haven’t. However, I’m still whining about the fact that it’s broken despite the fact I’m now past deadline and could do something about it. It’s a good thing I’ve never claimed to be wholly logical.)

It was interesting. By interesting, I mean that I really hate doing work at the last minute and I’ll do almost anything to avoid ending up in that situation. However, I had a firm commitment for another piece that HAD to be done by a certain date – for a top-secret exhibit, natch – so this one had to be postponed for awhile.

Most of my recent work has been 3D-based. Succulent is a little different, although it’s still based on the output of a computer.

Back in 2009, I saw a plant about the size of my hand and absentmindedly took a photo of it. I think I was at Balboa Park in San Diego at the time; the place is covered with plants.

That photo had a nice abstract quality that has fascinated me over the years. I finally sat down with it and ran it through some custom Photoshop filters to increase saturation and simulate a watercolor effect. I had the resulting image printed onto fabric at Spoonflower, then did the usual batting and stitching and muttering that transforms such things into art quilts.

This piece used thirty-three colors of thread. I have no idea how that compares to my usual work; it isn’t something I normally focus on. My philosophy is that you use however much thread and however many colors you need to, and it usually isn’t worth dwelling on. I always use a lot of thread, but I don’t deserve a freaking medal for using up an entire manufacturing plant’s worth of polyester. When people look at a piece, it either speaks to them or it doesn’t.

However, occasionally – very occasionally – it is interesting. In this case, it’s a reminder of the complexity that can dwell beneath apparent simplicity. When I look at  the quilt, I’m surprised at the fact that the design was able to bear up under so many different hues. Perhaps it’s because the shapes are so simple and bold.

Now I’m dwelling in the land of “what’s next”? My usual work mode is telling stories, either visually or with words. Succulent was a bit of a departure from that. It’s a pretty piece, with its play of light and color, but there isn’t much of a story there other than “look closer and pay attention to the world around you”.

I don’t know which story I want to tell next. This happens after every project, and I hate it every time. It doesn’t help that I can hear that Chuck Close quote in my ears, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

In the meantime, I’ve been taking an online course on fantasy artwork and making things like this:

A winged naked guy is hanging out on a cloud bank. He’s naked because … let me think about this … there’s no laundromat nearby. He tried hauling a washer up there, but it kept falling through the clouds, plus there was no real water supply to plumb it up to. Try not to dwell on the other sanitary implications of that situation.

When he wants to go on a date, he flies down to Target and buys a nine-pack of tighty whities. Not that he needs to, because there’s nothing up front to hide. No geometry, if you get my drift. Which, I guess, really makes dating pointless … having 2.4 flying kids and a flying dog isn’t in this guy’s future unless he adopts. Never mind. Forget I mentioned it.

How many times have you seen images similar to this, with a naked dude or a scantily clad woman hanging out by a cloud bank? Yep. A lot. That’s why I won’t be taking this image any further and making a quilt out of it. That is, unless I get desperate and can’t think of anything better or more original. Then I’ll make up a nonsense story about how the idea came to me in a dream.

This image wasn’t too hard to put together, but the filthy little non-secret about 3D/CGI is that if you work in that medium, you’re going to be fiddling around. Always. Always. Always. I have never had a project that didn’t have at least some minor issue. I’ll want a different texture on one of the models, or the lighting isn’t quite right, or something will outright go to pot and I’ll have to figure it out. I’m a perverse creature and I enjoy that process, but I know some folks don’t.

 

Here, for example, we have one of the early surface designs for Game Over. I thought my little plastic polar bear should have a little plastic scarf. However, it looked awful. Delete.

 

In this snippet of a scene, a bare-chested hottie was groping away at a willing female. Later I discovered that the hottie was so enthusiastic his fingers were jammed right through the woman’s belly. I wish I’d inspected the scene more closely before poking the render button.

 

I was trying to come up with a new hottie. (I don’t remember whether this one is a stock character or something I modified.)

That thing on his head was supposed to be hair. Unfortunately, the hair texture didn’t get applied to it, so it looks more like a shower cap. Perhaps that’s why he appears so unhappy.

 

I thought that creating a realistic velvet texture for one of my scenes would be AWESOME. Too bad it looked like a green porcupine. There was another one that looked like mottled decay. Wish I’d saved a picture of it. On second thought, perhaps it’s best that I didn’t.

 

An early version of the surface design for Gusher. Gosh, wouldn’t it be swell if oil really spewed out of that oil well? It should be straightforward to simulate with particle effects, right?

Whoopsy. That took a few iterations to fix.

 

Lately I’ve been toying with idea of a series inspired by the paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. You know the ones … the paintings where he has chicks hanging out on uncomfortable marble furniture by the water, waiting for dudes to come home on fancy-looking boats.

That should be straightforward to whip up, right?

Oh dear. Her legs are poking straight through her dress. Gee whiz, I can’t fix that in the software I was using. That means I’ll have to take the woman and her dress into a different piece of software.

Or … hold on! Change of plan! Instead of her wearing a Hellenistic dress, what if she has on a vaguely apocalyptic outfit? Think “Mad Max Visits the Mediterranean”. And, um, she’ll be waving a gun around. She hasn’t had her coffee yet and she’s annoyed about the guys on that ship in the background cruising around in her bay. When they clamber up to her marble gazebo, she’ll shoot them all.

Or not.

None of this is working for me. Guess I’ll go make some more naked guys with wings. Maybe that’ll be my new series. Naked Guys with Wings. It’ll be a gender swapped version of Victoria’s Secret angels.

This and That

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

GirlDragon1000

Tentative title: Do Dragons Like Cookies? (click image to embiggen)

This is the surface design for the newest quilt-in-progress, AKA the latest thing I’m griping about. And gripe I shall. When I stitch, those snowflake wings and the lace dress on the girl are going to give me fits unless I use what I call The Devil’s Thread: clear polyester monofilament.

 

GusherDetail

Yeah, I finally tried that stuff. I used some on Gusher, in the area with balls and cups and such. I feel like it was a devil’s bargain. Yes, I preserved the fine shading of the cups and styrofoam containers and I didn’t have to do fifty thousand thread changes. On the other hand, the texture of the thread itself is yuck, like something I’d cut out of a vacuum cleaner roller with a utility knife. It glistens. It doesn’t have the same soul as the thread I normally use. I know it’s irrational, but I’m terrified that it’s going to spring loose from the quilt and attack someone.

If I’m going to spend weeks or months hunched over a sewing machine, I want the end result to have some poetry to it, even if the quilt depicts a drowning polar bear or an automaton crapping out plastic cups. There needs to be a good reason I chose to make a quilt rather than printing the same design out on flags to sell at a roadside stand. The stitch needs to contribute to the design. Ideally it would be essential. I’m not so sure I’m accomplishing that with The Devil’s Thread.

 

GirlDragon10Wireframe

Anyhow … on to the surface design of the fabric. This is a 3D rendering. If you’ve followed my work in the past, you may be familiar with the process. Create geometry on a computer, barf some textures on it, set up fake light sources, and let the computer figure out what that might look like in real life. If you look at the wireframe, you can see that the scene is extremely simple.

This time I used some purchased assets (3D models) and posed them rather than making everything myself. The little girl is the Skyler model from Daz and the dragon is the Millennium SubDragon LE. I posed them in the Iray Worlds SkyDome.

Much like using The Devil’s Thread, using purchased models is something I wouldn’t have done once upon a time. Instead I would have laboriously spent days creating every blasted model myself, and I would have made sure that everyone around me was miserable while I did it. I also would have bragged about it afterward, and when the thing hung in a gallery, no one would have understood or cared.

Using the Daz assets was nice. I hate to admit that, because I think some of their marketing verges on pedophilia, and there are a couple of things on their site that I find obscenely racist. (Note the afro-wearing gorilla shown in one of the shots for this product. Seriously. Do we really need to go there?)

That said, sometimes it’s nice to grab a pre-made model and get on with it. Daz has a lot of models. Often they’re pretty darned cheap, especially if you consider the labor that goes into them. (Afro-wearing gorillas notwithstanding.)

 

LaceDress

Look at the lace on that dress. I thought I was being real clever when I created that texture. “Oh, it’ll match the snowflakes her wings are made out of,” I told myself, “It’ll be pretty! Visual poetry!” Yeah, it matches. It’s pretty. It’s also going to be horrible to stitch. Either I use The Devil’s Thread on it to hide mistakes or I spend the next two months hunched over it while I stitch with a magnifying glass.

Stay tuned.

 

blueHair

In other non-news, I dyed my hair blue.

Sometimes I hear people complain, and justifiably so, about becoming “invisible” after one turns a certain age. Let me tell you, when you go around with a head full of long blue (or purple or hot pink) hair, you are no longer invisible. People smile and chat with me when my hair’s blue. I get great customer service. My kid likes it. Sure, I get the occasional stinkeye and backing away reaction too, but that’s also fine. It lets me cull out the people who are superficial.

The main reason to do something like hair dying, though, is because you enjoy it. I do. I could care less about growing fingernails and half the time I don’t remember to put on makeup, but seeing blue hair when I look in the mirror cheers me up.

 

HerStory

Here are a couple of new works, celebrating the lives and hard work of Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Mary Blair. They’re slated for Susanne Miller Jones’ HerStory traveling exhibit, along with scads of works from other artists. It should be a good exhibit; the subject matter is juicy, and the other works I’ve seen have been creative and heartfelt.

I admire people who, to use a hackneyed phrase, “do things to make the world better”. It’s easy to plotz on one’s La-Z-Boy and complain, but quite another thing to conceive an idea and bring it to fruition.

Susanne’s doing just that. She’s conceived and spearheaded several exhibits on thought-provoking topics. That gives artists like me a venue to speak our minds, and it makes for provocative, interesting viewing. One of those exhibits, Fly Me to the Moon, is currently traveling the country.

 

MQU

MQU_2

The latest Machine Quilting Unlimited has a few of the works from Fly Me to the Moon. Yep, that’s my rocket in the second shot. Also, check out the articles about Betty Hahn’s work and on pictographic quilting, which are pretty darned cool.

 

OurStory

Susanne is currently accepting entries for a new exhibit, OURstory: Civil Rights Stories in Fabric. Its goal is to “tell the stories of disenfranchised people and their fights for equal rights”. This is another great topic, and very timely.

The deadline is March 8, so it’s coming up pretty quickly. Fortunately, all one has to do by that date is submit an idea, not the actual quilt, so there’s plenty of time to register.

http://www.susannemjones.com/ourstory-call-for-entries/

 

TORlogowhite500

On a related note, The Artist Circle, a group of well-known quilt artists, is accepting entries for an exhibit to “protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies”.

One only has to skim over the news to see matters of concern – climate change, fake news, education, racism, and on and on. This exhibit is an opportunity to speak out about those issues. The deadline for that is May 1.

http://threadsofresistance.blogspot.com

 

GusherTrim

This thing, Gusher, is finally stitched and faced. I need to do a little inkwork on it, but I think I can call it all but done. Not a moment too soon, either. I don’t know how many years I’ve been working on it. I could look it up, but hey, why don’t I not do that? The number is probably depressing.

The fact is, I’m not one of those gracious people who writes only sweet things or gushes about how many spools of thread they’ve used or how they were inspired by a butterfly tenderly sucking the nectar from a flower. I start projects because I believe in them. Sometimes I get tired of working on them and I finish only because of sheer cussedness. This is one of those projects.

I’ll leave you with a few gratuitous shots.

desk

My desk, or a portion of it. I also call this Still Life with Key Pad, Dust Mask, and Brain Pin.

Sometimes it’s fun to see others’ work spaces. I hadn’t realized how cluttered mine had gotten. It’s taking on a “Where’s Waldo” appearance.

 

Shoes

My twelve year old’s shoe on the left. My shoe on the right. Having your kid outgrow you is one of those rites of passage, I guess. Bittersweet. We want our kids to grow and thrive, and it’s horrid when they don’t, but it would be nice to hold the baby he once was just a few more times.

 

Endcap

Alright. This. (Another “click to embiggen” picture.)

I try to be a decent person. Hopefully I’m a better person than I was ten or twenty years ago, and that usually includes just walking by and not commenting if I see something that I think is nonsense.

I’m going to make an exception this time, though. This was an end cap at one of the local Michaels. It’s for “customizing” slime. Not making slime – there’s school glue, which is an ingredient for making slime, but no borax and no instructions, so I guess we aren’t actually MAKING anything, are we? We’re just taking glitter and plastic crap and mooching it inside a viscous polymer blob so we can, I don’t know, have it fall on the floor, get dirty, and throw it away?

I have clearly outlived my usefulness on this Earth.

Nida’s Nightmare

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Let’s do this.

It’s chilly here in Silicon Valley, where I make my home. I’m in the mood to gorge on the fruitcake I have hidden in the laundry room, fiddle around in the studio, and have a nice soak in the hot tub I don’t own.

However, before I sink into a total state of sloth and dissipation, I have a couple of announcements.

tff124

Issue 124 of Textile Fibre Forum is out. It’s been out for awhile, actually, but you can get a copy on iTunes or via PocketMags if you don’t live in Australia or didn’t see it on the newsstand.

This issue was Neroli Henderson’s last as editor, a fact I mourn and that will probably make her waggle her shoulders to get some stress kinks out. I’ll miss that relationship; she did a bang-up job as editor and was great to write for.

nidasnightmare

On that note, I have an article in this issue, “Nida’s Nightmare”. The story is a followup on the sorry mess that was Kathy Nida’s censorship debacle, with a new twist involving nonexistent penises.

Note the pullquote you can see above, Censorship thrives in secrecy and darkness. If we want to fight it, we need to keep shining a light on it. That’s the best way to keep nightmares at bay. Let’s all keep that in mind, both in terms of our artwork and our lives. I believe we’re on the edge of some extremely challenging times. We’re going to have to work hard to promote a sense of decency – and by decency, I mean things like combatting bigotry and having compassion for others. We’re going to need to shine that light and work hard to keep the nightmares at bay.

The issue also has an interview with Annemieke Mein and showcases a variety of wonderful artwork. Go check it out.

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One of my works, Odalisque with Squeak Toy, never made it back from Houston this year because it found a new home. I hope it’s bringing its purchaser and her loved ones great joy!

Yep, I made some more stuff.

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Whee! Look what the letter carrier angrily hurled on my doorstep! It’s the 2016 edition of IQF Quilt Scene! That means one of my quilts must be inside. That means I must rapidly thumb through looking for it – with great care, though, so as to not wrinkle the magazine. I want the magazine to look nice and crisp so that I can leave it out on the table and nonchalantly lure people over to look at it.

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Here we go – page 75, deep in the bowels of the Special Exhibits section. The title of this piece is Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8. It’s one of a collection of art quilts in the Fly Me to the Moon exhibit, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight and humans’ first steps on the moon. That exhibit will be debuting at IQF Houston soon.

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My particular piece commemorates the moment when Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders first blasted away from the Earth and headed toward the moon. They orbited the moon ten times, then returned to the Earth. Although they didn’t get to land on the moon, they were the first to make this particular trip; their mission was important in terms of demonstrating its viability.

The piece was executed in watercolor on soy-sized cotton, then stitched. I wanted to evoke something of the spirit of the works of Ando Hiroshige.

This is only one of the pieces in the exhibit, of course. There are, I think, 176 pieces total in the collection, a portion of which will be at IQF. They have a diverse range of treatments ranging from the literal, to pop culture, to folk art.

One can see a few more in the friends@Festival eZine, a publication of Quilts, Inc. The article is also well worth reading for its interview with Susanne Miller Jones, the person who thought of the exhibit and has driven it.

Also debuting at IQF Houston: Odalisque with Squeak Toy, seen below. It’s supposed to be in the digital art category, so do say hello to it if you’re in the area.

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Alas, I suspect it’s another of my pieces that no one will really “get”, at least in terms of understanding how the surface design was executed. On some level, that’s okay. People don’t necessarily have to understand how something was created in order to interact with it, like it, or dislike it. On the other hand, people often are curious about that sort of thing.

As a reminder, Odalisque involved things such as creating a computer-based 3D scene:Odalisque6

 

It also involved simulating the fall of the cloth throw that’s at the end of the chaise, “dropping” it and having my computer figure out what that would look like.

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Game Over involved similar activities, such as modeling the polar bear and the water it’s floating in:

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When I recently received a judging sheet for Game Over, there were comments about thread tension and binding. This is standard for work I create, unless it wins an award, so I am sure that the sheet for Odalisque will have similar comments.

Here is how I feel after I’ve spent countless hours on a piece and I get back comments which totally disregard the surface design and whether the stitching compliments it, in favor of issues which are difficult to see except from the back:

Moving on … just finished this piece, Chaos Contained. It won’t be going to any shows, so get your fill of it here.

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I made it from a variety of bits and scraps, such as fabric and yarn tidbits. The stitching is eccentric and messy, and would utterly horrify the people who congregate at quilt shows and run their ungloved hands over the backs of display pieces.

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(Click image to embiggen.)

I like it, though. Good enough.

The Annual PIQF Post

Friday, October 14th, 2016

I saw this when I went to PIQF this morning:

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I’ve been telling people it’s an award for not bleeding all over my work, but I think it’s actually for machine workmanship.

Awards aren’t everything. They’re a polite gesture on the part of the show, and I’m guessing the judges have just a few minutes to make a snap decision about what grabs them by the gut. Get a different judge or have the same people look at things on a different day, and somebody else would have gotten that ribbon. Maybe most of the works in the show deserve some kind of ribbon, because they have good heart and it took the creators some guts to put their work out there.

Nevertheless, this week I got lucky. I really appreciate it. I’ve been in the dumps this week, heaven only knows why. Maybe there isn’t a good reason, other than spending too much time staring into the open running sewer that’s the current presidential election campaign.

I could have gone to the show yesterday. The convention center is six miles from my house, so it’s not as though it’s an arduous drive. Instead, I stayed home and repaired the floor in one of the bathrooms, because nothing says glamour quite like crawling around by a toilet prying up wobbly floor tiles.

Anyhow, went today. Glad I did. Couldn’t stay long, because I’m nursing a mild sprain, but I managed to hobble around the show for an hour. (Bo-Nash lady, I’ll have to come back Sunday to hit you up for fusible powder. You were being nice telling the lady ahead of me all about Angelina fiber, but my ankle just hurt too damned badly to stand much longer.)

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One thing I enjoy about shows is seeing how people interact with the work.

I have a couple of pieces in PIQF this year. One is the depressing, semi-apocalyptic piece on the righthand side of this photo, showing a plastic polar bear clinging to a plastic block of ice. The other is Why Knot.

Almost without exception, people tend to walk by the polar bear piece, Game Over, in favor of looking at Why Knot. That isn’t a knock on the viewers, by the way, but simply a statement of fact. Maybe the composition is just better, or maybe people relate better to children than they do to distressed polar bears who are about to drown.

Among those who look at Why Knot, there’s a group who look at it, smile, maybe study the workmanship, then move on. Then there’s the group who stop and actually read the knot names in the background. Once they do that, they’re usually stuck there for awhile. Let’s just say that I didn’t use standard knot names.

I’m not going to itemize all the work I saw at PIQF – there are plenty of other blogs that’ll do walkthroughs – but I did want to point out a few things that caught my eye.

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The first is this work, whose name and creator I unfortunately didn’t record. Sunday. I’ll go find out Sunday, just before the show closes and I pick up my work, and I’ll post an update. Anyhow – lovely abstract of cheerful colors. Sucked me right in.

If memory serves, the artist is from the U.K.. That’s one of the things I appreciate about the Mancuso shows, the fact that they have a sampling of works created by people from outside the U.S.. The work is often stylistically a little different or depicts subject matter we don’t see over here, such as poppies for Anzac Day or swagmen hanging out with their faithful Blue Heelers. You see, I’m of the opinion that we don’t need walls built around the United States, either physically or metaphorically. We need to instead look outside our boundaries and wonder and learn. Most years, when I go through the entries from the World Quilt Show, I learn something that’s a little new to me, then I come home and learn a little more. Alright. End of that lecture.

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This piece caught my eye, Le Chat de Mondrian by Connie Kincius Griner. It’s a nice crisp, bold piece with a good heart. I like her background stitching. There’s just enough of it, and it’s large enough to make an interesting, discernible texture without competing with the foreground imagery.

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This quilt is The Three Watchers, by Kathryn Harmer Fox of South Africa. It’s a huge, monumental piece, 72 x 56”, and is all the more impressive when one takes a closer look at her stitching.

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Look at that. I’m going to guess that she’s free-motion stitching on a zig-zag setting, but maybe not. However it is that she’s achieved this effect, it’s given the work a wonderful organic, painterly quality.

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Here’s one of Kathy Nida’s works, Part Time Oasis. Always nice to see Kathy’s work in person. I’m going to note that it includes nudity yet, astonishingly, I didn’t see any viewers clutching at their pearls and calling news stations, or any horses getting startled and bolting. Perhaps it’s because we’re in Northern California. The place is probably lousy with aging hippies, and no doubt a few of them quilt. I think I even smelled musk or patchouli when I paid for my admission.

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Yuja, by Linda Anderson. She’s done a great deal with wonderful economy. Look at the marvelous, skilled base painting she’s did, and how expressive the waves of notes cascading around the piano are. I think she won Best Wall Quilt for this, and it was well deserved.

Also, not to change the subject, what is it with people wearing thigh-high stockings with short skirts or shorts? Is this a thing now? Am I just revealing that I’ve gotten past my sell-by date because I’m unfamiliar with this custom? I ran into another example of this yesterday; I’ll post it in a minute.

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Glimmer, one of Neroli Henderson’s lovely nudes. She’s done a number of photo-based nudes, printed on fabric and stitched.

Again – astonishingly – no one seemed particularly shocked or scandalized by the nudity.

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True Blue Mates, by Yvonne Chapman. She’s done a very nice job on this. She’s told a story of friendship with great economy.

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Look how she’s conveyed the water sort of bubbling over with the stitching she did around the rim of the billy can. That’s the kind of clever work she did throughout the piece. Oh, you say you can’t tell how nice it is because my photo kind of stinks? Alright. Come Sunday, I’ll see if I can hobble alllll the way to the back of the ballroom and get a better photo. Her workmanship deserves to be seen.

 

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So a minute ago – or, rather, a few paragraphs ago – I was grumping about the possible trend of people pairing thigh-high stockings with short skirts. This is where I first saw it, on a picture for a 3D model of a “trendy coffee shop barista outfit.” I’m guessing “trendy coffee shop” really means “Hooters with caffeine”, but perhaps that’s just the fuddy-duddy in me speaking.

I’ve been using more readymade 3D models lately, since I’ve been cranking out book covers that use a lot of human imagery. Oh, it’s not clear what I mean by a 3D model? Um, here. Maybe this’ll help:

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This is Michael 6, a Daz offering. Sadly, he has no privates. (Click the image to enlarge it, if you’d like to verify this for yourself.) He had a tragic encounter with a viewer at a quilt show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and that put an end to his aspiration of being able to digitally urinate while standing up.

I’ve usually made my own 3D models, as with the bear for Game Over and whatnot, but sometimes it turns out to be incredibly convenient to be able to download a model of a guy and pose him like I would a real human model. This is how I crank out tawdry book covers, for example.

Alas, some of the models get a little pricey. I’ve had my eye on the Scott 6 Pro Bundle, for example, but I just can’t bring myself to puke up $135 for the guy. He’s really dishy, though.

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Just look at him, holding his helmet. Oh yeah, Scott 6. You can hold my helmet any time.

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Here he is patrolling a subway car for manspreaders. I feel safer knowing that Scott 6 is out there with his digital gun, ready to shoot anyone who dares to use more than his fair share of seat space.

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He also moonlights doing surveillance, I guess. Ah, Scott 6. Is there anything you can’t do?

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It’s sad. I think I have a crush on a 3D model. However, it could be worse. I could have a thing for Harpoon Girl, who stands around in a bikini and a pair of stylized spats, thinking wistfully about stabbing fish.

Pulling Out Too Soon

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

One thing I’ve learned: if you create innovative, thought-provoking work, at some point somebody’s going to crap all over it. They’ll say things like “This is ugly; I want to see pretty” or “Somebody sure had a lot of time on their hands” or “You couldn’t pay me enough money to have that in my house.” It doesn’t matter how objectively good the work is. You can make a piece showing how people were transported on slave ships during the rum trade era, and somebody will whine about it because it made them think for a split second and their brains couldn’t handle it. I’ve seen it happen.

Works with nudity really get this treatment. If a piece includes nudity, real or imagined, somebody will have an apoplectic fit while they’re crapping on it. Sometimes, if the work is exhibited in a show, they’ll have their little fit all the way to the show’s organizers, then maybe hang out and wait for a TV news crew so they can be offended on camera. If they’re really good at being manipulative, they can scare the show’s organizers into taking the work down.

 

TFF

A few months back, I wrote an article on this type of thing. I interviewed Annabel Rainbow, Randall Cook, Kathy Nida, and a couple of other people who didn’t wish to be identified. Their stories of censorship are truly chilling.

The piece appears in Issue 122 of Textile Fibre Forum. I recommend checking it out, not only for their stories, but because TFF is a nice, crisp, high-quality publication. That issue also includes articles on the work of Grayson Perry, Charlotte Kruk, and others. Electronic back copies can be purchased on iTunes or via PocketMags.

 

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I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, © Kathy Nida

Alas, censorship has reared its hysterical, pearl-clutching head again. One of my friends, Kathy Nida, just had work pulled from AQS Grand Rapids because a viewer THOUGHT she saw a penis in it. Here’s her blog entry. ***

I happen to know that the visitor didn’t see a penis. She didn’t see a penis, because there isn’t one. I’m posting a photo of the work for yourself, so you can verify that there is, in fact, no penis in it. That’s right. We’ve reached a new level of censorship – having work censored for something that isn’t there!

Based on this event, I think there’s some confusion about what a penis looks like. This worries me a little, because about half of all mammals have them. Chances are, no matter how sheltered you are, you’ve seen a penis. Dogs and horses don’t exactly walk around in tighty-whities, and most women have had husbands, boyfriends, or at least changed the occasional diaper.

However, I will concede that it’s possible this woman had never seen one, given the state of sex ed in Michigan’s school systems. Apparently it’s optional, and is given to things like pro-abstinence speakers.  Therefore, let’s have a little chat about what a penis looks like.

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Mr. Happy

Here is a representative penis. I call it “Mr. Happy”. It’s a nice, non-threatening toilet paper holder and Kleenex dispenser that I made it for an art show a few years ago. I thought it was apt because it’s rendered in fiber. Maybe the AQS visitor was confused about what a penis looked like because she was looking at fiber-based artwork.

Mr. Happy depicts some of the standard characteristics of a real penis, such as being longer than it is wide and getting shorter and longer. (One adds and removes rolls of toilet paper to achieve that effect.) It even has furry testicles. I will admit, though, that the eyes are not true to life. If I saw eyes on a real penis, I’d probably flee as fast as my legs would carry me.

I hope that helps clarify things a little.

 

Show organizers, your censoring of works has gotten old. Real old. Even if the woman had seen a penis in Kathy’s artwork, so what? There’s been nudity in artwork for the past 50,000 years or so.

You know what I do when I see a piece I don’t like? I move those funny pink blobs at the bottoms of my legs and I walk past it. Personally, I found the picaninny quilt that was exhibited at PIQF a few years ago deeply offensive. And it won a prize. (Evidently it was a kit quilt, too – what a marvelous world we live in, when you can buy your very own kit for making racist quilts!)

Show organizers, you need to get clear on a few things.

What type of show are you running? 

Are you holding what’s essentially a bigger version of a county fair exhibit, where people gather and look at patchwork and say things like “Look, Paw! That shore is some plum purty stitchin’!”? Or are you going to support the growth of the medium into an art form? *

What type of work do you allow in your show?

Do you allow in artwork? Can the artwork include nudity, or just stuff like kitty-cats popping their heads out of pumpkins? How about you get real clear on your policy, and be up front with exhibitors like SAQA and the rest? **

What is your policy on pulling work out of the show? 

If it’s met your openly stated standards for being exhibited, are you going to do that? Are you going to pull work if someone complains about something imaginary? Are you going to deprive the rest of the paying visitors the right to see a piece of artwork simply because somebody else didn’t like it and didn’t have the self-control to walk by?

Allowing in artwork, then getting scared and pulling it when someone blanches and clutches at her pearls, isn’t working out. It’s bad for all of us.

Also, the next time someone threatens not to come back to your shows because of some damned thing she imagined, maybe just say “I’m sorry to hear that,” politely wish her well, and consider yourself lucky to not see her again.

 

* Edit: I now see that this paragraph implies that patchwork can’t be art, which isn’t true. However, I’ll let it stand, since that’s the way the majority of people have seen the post.

One of commenters also made a good point about my using “country speak” in a ridiculing manner. She’s right. Probably I shouldn’t have done that. On the other hand, “country speak” comes natural when you’re a first generation descendent of hillbillies and rednecks, and have used an outhouse more than a few times when visiting grandparents.

** Another clarification: I don’t want to revile AQS or any other show if they really don’t want to get in the business of displaying art. If art-lovers aren’t a key part of their business, so be it. But clearer guidelines would be useful for everyone.

*** Kathy has written a second blog entry which shows some of her base drawings and analyzes a variety of things which could be construed as penises. I think that from now on, whenever she has an umbilical cord in her work, I’m going to squint at it and refer to it as a penis.

 

Update as of Monday, 8/17: Per Kathy, “So AQS made the decision to pull my quilt I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket with the nonexistent penis from QuiltWeek in Chattanooga and Des Moines. They are now considering whether my other piece, Fully Medicated, which has zero complaints, should also be pulled (still no penis). Please let them know how you feel about either decision at the link below.

I am so disappointed and frustrated by their actions…please share this if you think it will help. I appreciate all your support…”

Here’s AQS’ contact form.