Benicia Open Studios

Today was the second and final day of Open Studios in Benicia. The weather was great, so I hopped on my scooter and rode down to the Benicia Art Gallery. On the way there, I stopped in my first studio. The artist’s name was Joe Martino, and he had created a series of 100 sketches with a Sharpie on used coffee cups that he had unpeeled and opened up. Every morning, after his ritual coffee, he went somewhere and sketched a scene. He drew a companion sketch on the disk from the coffee cup bottom, too, and then mounted the coffee cup pieces on an assortment of board and other background materials that he had found lying around his studio. What a great guy to talk to. He was so enthusiastic about his work, which I found fresh and spontaneous and joyful.

On to the gallery . . . After looking around a bit, I grabbed a map, and then I went upstairs to see Ann Baldwin, one of my favorite artists. She is such a great lady. Everytime I see her and we get a chance to talk, I always learn something.

She had lots of different styles of work on display this year. On one wall, she had an exhibit of smallish abstract photographs that she had taken, printed on paper, and mounted on a lightweight board . They were so intriguing. She said that someone who had come in earlier had assumed they were aerial photographs. They do have the quality of looking down at something and not being sure of what you’re seeing. She had captured beautiful patterns, textures, and colors from nature- a path carved by rivulets of water, the damp mossy roots of a tree, circles of dampness left by the bottoms of soda cans on concrete- simple, yet mezmerizing. They looked georgraphical and anatomical at the same time.

Over the past couple of years, Ann has worked on developing her skills as a photographer and is taking pictures to use in her collage art. In my mind, it has transformed her work into something more modern than previous collages, which were infused with memory and nostalgia. Though there’s still some of that present, I think her new work feels more contemporary and immediate, and theres’ much more imagery from nature and architecture, which I love.

We talked about copyright issues for collage artists and she told me this was one of the things that lead her to use more of her own photography in her art work. She told me that she recently discovered that in order to photograph (for showing and selling) a more modern building, you have to get permission. It’s even illegal to photograph raptors such as hawks and eagles without the permission of some raptor association. How can a bird be copyright protected?!

One of the things I really like about Ann is that she always asks me about my own artwork and how I’m doing with my altered books. I swear I could talk to her for hours, but I don’t want to monopolize her time when there are other people coming in and out who want to speak with her as well. So I reluctantly said good-bye and headed on my way.

After I left Ann’s exhibit, I went to see an old student of mine who makes jewelry. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

New Altered Books on Exhibit

The Children’s War

Today I spent about four hours working with my new artist friend, Phil, at Arts Benicia hanging this year’s Arts of the Community Show. I learned so much today. I was partnered up with Phil since he is the pro and I’m a newbie, and he did most of the work while I held the paintings and tried to keep up with all the mathematical calculations.

The idea is to keep the center of a pair of vertically hung paintings at 56″ from the floor. So you have to add the length of the two paintings (or three, or one), add two inches to four inches for the space between them, divide by two, find the center, find the measurement for where the wire hangs and . . . well, you get the idea. Even with a calculator, I’m still mathematically challenged, so I was lucky to have Phil there to help me get the hang of things. I learned that the larger of a pair gets hung down at the bottom so the top doesn’t look heavy. And that you have to hang a pair so that they’re centered with the paintings beside them. I know it sounds complicated, but it’s not so bad, really. The best part was getting a preview of all the amazing art work, although I didn’t get too much of a chance to look around. The exhibit runs from January 21 – February 26, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to stop by and have a look. You can find directions, hours, and other info at the Arts Benicia web site.

This is my third year (I can hardly believe it!) showing art work at the community art show. Every year I’ve shown something different. The first year I had two pieces that were assemblage and collage on book covers. The second year I showed three of my Reliquaries. I got a lot of positive comments about those. There was nothing like them at the show.

This year I made three book sculptures; they are different from anything I currently have on my web site. They are pretty dark and serious. I used a lot of found objects, burning, tearing, painting. They were so much fun to make but very time intensive. My husband doesn’t know what to make of them, and my youngest son says they creep him out. My oldest son says they’re”sick,” which is supposed to be a good thing. So overall, I’d say response from the family has been fairly positive!

Going to the artists’ reception for the show is crazy. The gallery is pretty small and it’s always packed with people. You have to nudge your way around the room. It’s a good time to schmooz and meet new people–not really my strong points, although I’m really going to make an effort this year.

After I look at all the other art work, I like to hang-out non-chalantly by my pieces and eavesdrop on peoples’ conversations. I love hearing reactions to my work. This year should be the best. I’m sure there will be a variety of lovers, haters, and people who are just plain puzzled. I can’t wait!

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Yesterday I woke up at 6:30 a.m., which is what time I usually wake up during my work week. I don’t like to sleep late on the weekends because I use my precious Saturdays and Sundays to cram in all those things that I’m too busy to do during the week days. My perfect daily schedule would be to wake up early, stay up late, and take a nap in the middle of the day when my batteries start to run low.

So I woke up early, had some coffee, and started cleaning. Saturday was laundry-dishes-floors-pay bills-general straighten-up the house day, all in preparation for SUNDAY!, the day that I’m determined to dedicate to working on one or more of the dozen altered book and collage ideas that are pressing on my brain.

I did take a couple hours off from my housekeeping duties to get down to the library book sale. Yippee! And I had a wonderful impromptu lunch out with a friend who was working there. I filled three bags with books and paid $19.50. What a bargain! Of course, these new books have given me even MORE IDEAS for things to create, so there I go again, making more trouble for myself.

On a sad note, I received an email from the woman who bought Anatomy of Paradise, and she’s having buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately, her dog got sick and she’s having to spend tons of money on vet bills and wants to return Paradise. She said she loved it, but can’t afford it right now. While I totally understand and am willing to take the book back, I can’t help but feeling disappointed that things turned out this way.

Now, off the computer and onto an artful Sunday!

Altered Books Take a Journey

I mailed out three altered books today. It was sad to see them go. I shipped two books to the show in San Luis Obispo, and Anatomy of Paradise to a new home in San Jose. I am hoping the kind woman who purchased the book enjoys it as much as I have.

I had never really given much thought to how I was going to ship one of my wall hangings, especially this one. With the Reliquaries, I just wrap them up in copious amounts of bubble wrap and everything is fine. I couldn’t do that with Paradise because there were so many fragile three dimensional elements. I was worried that the flowers and vines and other paper parts would get squashed. So I decided to surround the altered book with those styrofoam peanuts that everybody hates receiving. I placed the book inside the box and buried it in foam popcorn until it disappeared from site. I just hope that Anatomy of Paradise has a safe trip to San Jose.

Accepted! and Rejected!

Saraswati Reliquary

Well, I’m batting one for three so far. During August I had submitted entries to three juried shows. First I got rejected for the Book Arts show in Oregon. I was disappointed, of course. But then, about two weeks later, I got a call saying that two of my pieces, Saraswati :: Saraswati Reliquary and Contemporary Wall Sculpture :: The King’s Garden had been accepted for an for the San Luis Obispo Art Center. The artist reception is October 15 from 6-8, and the exhibit runs through November 13th. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to get accepted into my first show. Now I have to figure out how I’m going to package The King’s Garden and send it down there safely.

Wall Hangings :: The King's Garden

Having been accepted into that show softened the blow of the rejection letter I received the following week from the Roseville Art Gallery. They turned down my three Dia de los Muertos altered books.

Last time I wrote about being rejected for a show, I had so many nice people write to offer their encouragement and support. Thank you all so much for that.

I’m heading to Reno this weekend to watch the Grand Finale of the 2000 Supermoto Bike Series. It’s not exactly my first choice of events to attend, but my son and husband are into that, so I’m going along for the great seafood platter and ciopinno they have at the Atlantis Hotel where we’ll be staying. I’m not the gambling type, but if I can find a $1 blackjack table, I’ll play for hours. Do they still have such a thing??