Saturday, July 4, 2015

Miami Printer #VermontStudioCenter

Jennifer Basile! twitter
Inspired by nature and her camping trips, Basile spent her weeks at the #VermontstudioCenter carving giant linoleum prints of the forest. Her art immerses you in the landscape. The wall sized three panel print of the pine woods took her about three hours of constant hand rubbing to print. She also carved a wood panel with the Vermont maple and the state bird, the Hermit Thrush, to create a unique design for wall paper. To relieve her sore hands, Jennifer lit the stage at the Downtown karaoke night. She rallied everyone to play games and partied with a generosity of spirit that touched my heart. She is an artist from Long island who now lives and teaches in Miami. The girl is my homie.

Jennifer proudly displaying her creation at open studio night

Jennifer's studio wall

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Writer's night

In the course of our time here at VSC, the writers and the visual artists have comingled and tapped into a chemistry that both inspires and binds us. Writers appear at the life drawing studios, and along the riverbanks where artists are painting plein air. Community art making becomes the fodder for poetry read at the evening readings. At mealtimes the ideas and connections are shouted with glee. So it was with immense pleasure to the majority of us when the writers announced their own open studio evening event.
The Maverick writing Studio houses 16 writers. Among those we visited was Beth Roddy- who has literally and figuratively mapped out the last few months before her father's mysterious disappearance and death. Her studio was full of artifacts placed under blue taped headings such as: "last people to see him alive", "condolence cards" received organized by color, the history of "the crematorium" where the body was transferred and handwriting samples... She had a suitcase with her father's passport and belongings on the desk and a short power point which touched on the (in retrospect hauntingly) trivial actions she committed on the day she received the news of his certain death.
Next was Rosemary Graham working on her novel Simple Lessons in Irish, her work of historical fiction set in Ireland in 1914. Her walls were covered in research documents both real and fictionalized. At the end of the hallway was Su Smallen, author of Buddha, Proof, a collection of poems. She had her studio walls pushpinned with her recent daily life drawing sketches and the poems they inspired day by day. She also had a long musical/dance/ theatrical score written and presented accordian style, about a squirrel's frustration trying to build a nest with colored paper. It was interesting in particular because of the layout, the spacing and the way Su designed the words to sit on the paper.  I also visited the writing rooms of Gwen Mintz's (lots of crayon drawings done as daily exercises), Lindsay Wells, Katheryn Savage (who keeps individual notebooks of research and edits per poem), Nikita Deshpande (color pictures of domestic interiors in Mumbai India), and Amy Young (bird images and nature notes), Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo (art from resident printers lined her space) and as well.
Su Smallen showing Michael her thought process
Beth Roddy in her writing room
Rosemary Graham

Rosemary's notes on her door
Gwen Mintz thinking of her next sentence
After the tour I felt my mind stretched and needed some rest for absorption of the creative practices I saw demonstrated. Looking back at the building across the bridge in the night, I saw each window lit and filled with a variation of the same sort of wing-back chair. Ideal setting for so much magical thought and creative writing.

I'm ruined

It had to end. #VermontCenterStudio
The three main things to getting work done is space, time left alone, and meals provided. Boy, were they wonderful meals… I am afraid I have gained weight.  Every lunch was accompanied with fresh hot loaves of bread. Dinner with amazing deserts. Such a wonderful time, over the top, I am probably ruined for any other residency experience.  Thank you VSC. Today we say goodbye to Vermont, to the studio center, and to Michael’s kids.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Open Studios #VermontCenterStudios

Fabulous night spent visiting 55 resident studios full of the hard work and creative play culminating after a month's time here at the Vermont Studio residency. We have to pack up soon and go back to the real world/work. I am so full of gratitude for this time and these experiences. The place was beautiful and the support was grand. Here are just a few of the pictures I was able to get taken. Many studios left me speechlessly inspired and I am sorry not to be able to feature them all. In a few of them, the artists were there and able to pose for a shot:
Michal Hunter, from D.C., my neighboring studio mate
Melissa Allensworth, great new friend from CA
Jean Sbarra Jones, awesome painter and teacher from Salem MA

Trevor Corp, inspiring from Johnson VT

Nadia Huggins from Kingstown, St Vincent (the islands)
Kathie Lovett of NH, my studio neighbor

Jennifer Basile from Miami (via Long Island)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Museum of Everyday Life

Brilliant Claire Dolan has, somewhere in "the northeast kingdom" of Vermont, turned her barn into an exquisite display of curatorial genius.  She calls it the Museum of Everyday Life and visitors are welcome to turn on the lights upon arrival and close up when they leave.
the toothbrush sculpture was just out of the frame, closer to the road
Our visit overlapped with another couple of folks. We quickly bonded over the experience, the communion of a unique side road attraction. They were giggling with glee and the exhibit took us in as well. It was instantly obvious that we were in the presence of something really special.
Let me preface that last years exhibition must have been of the toothbrush. There was a giant wood and steel sculpture of one outside, and a few donated prison shanks (with letters from the makers) still on display right as you entered the barn. The printed manifesto on the toothbrush, "an object we put in our mouths every day", is worthy of framing for our own bathroom when we get home.
The entry way had a wonderful mini show of matches and pencils.
a roller coaster made up of thousands of matchsticks

the erotic matchbook collection for those 21 years and older

The current exhibition, and one you should not miss, is DUST. According to Dolan's manifesto: Dust, "the most ubiquitous  substance.. coats every surface of our homes, congeals in our nasal passages, floats across continents, settles onto the ocean floors, and rains down from the sky as a diaphanous reminder of the origins of the cosmos. The Bible reminds us it is the start and the finish of everything, and science agrees." The exhibition was full of the profound and the poetic nature of our relationship to dust. The signage is stupendous: "Dust also marks our time. Its inexorable accumulations make visible the minutes and the hours and years. As our bodies age, we witness our own parts turn to dust, as joints grind away, teeth crack and wear, hair falls out and becomes brittle. Watching dust slowly circulate in a shaft of sunlight can be melancholy or transcendent, depending on the moment and the thoughts in our head. Maybe that is because dust is essential, a basic ingredient in everything."
The barn has a thorough collection on display: a giant paper mache sculpture of a dust mite, a nook with fans swirling dust under glass domes, an interactive dust drawing table, dust from Katmandu, the twin towers, the moon, a microscope with slides of navel dust, and many items donated from the community. (Later in the same day we happened to run into the woman who loaned her duster mop and a jar of dust collected by not cleaning her house for 4 months. "Now five", she said.)

The exhibition is a must see unless, of course, you suffer from Amathophobia.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visual Poetry and Colin Chase at #VermontStudioCenter

An awesome human being, Chase approaches his work and materials questioning each part- what it is, what it was, and what it could be. As a sculptor, he understands that materials all have a history and he hopes tap into that and at the same time to encourage new meaning. He can re-purpose four basketball hoops to become a mystical icon. By combining different objects into a new whole, the sculptures resonate with wit and spirit. His work is elegant and full of word play.


Like my father, Chase equates living with learning. A lot of what he works with are games, codes, history, art history. He is a dumpster diver like the best of them, (including my father...) and I imagine he has warehouses full of collected parts that feeds his iconography in the right timing.
Living outside NYC, Colin teaches at City College and calls Home Depot and Lowes his jungle for roaming and attaining new ideas, resources, etc.
When he came to my studio to do the critique I found he was able to access the work, and understand what was missing and sense the trajectory I desired to be on. We had a great time and ideas soon flew back and forth between us. He talked about juxtapositions of different pieces that I have already made and that were hanging lifeless and isolated on their own. Together the works started to come together like poetry. It was all my language, I just hadn't put together the sentence. By stitching together smaller paintings I am able to create larger works. It is a method I used when the kids were little and I only had time to work small. I would create tiny paintings and put them in a shoe box until I had an evening when I could sew them together for a larger whole. They were fun to do, and held some dream like quality for me as they manifested themselves playfully.
It is all about showing up to do the work and then knowing when to play!
My work...Seeds: paint, embroidery, felt, plaster, burlap, paper, a found glove, plastic plants and apple on shelf
I hope this work of mine, SEEDS,  speaks tenderly of what it means to be human and cultivating a life of learning.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Painter Tomory Dodge at #VermontStudioCenter

A RISD and CALarts grad, Dodge gave a summarizing PowerPoint of his career path within hours of arriving from Los Angeles. Soft spoken and honest about his doubts, Dodge has always liked the precarious image and the, (his words) "materiality of paint." His large, (average 8 x 8 foot), paintings have transitioned from representation to abstraction since leaving grad school.
From Dodge's Space Junk series of 2008
Using a high contrast of lights and darks, crisp lines versus a soft-edge blend, and some nifty cartoon visual tricks, Dodge creates a foreground "figure" with receding windows and hallucinatory exaggeration. His work veers towards the philosophy of AbEx with a sense of the genius soul latent in every gestural mark and scrape, BUT he uses California candy colors- like hot pink and turquoise.
Only 40 years old, his work was early on snapped up by dealers. He is now in permanent collections everywhere ...
Berkley Art Museum, Berkley, CA
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL
Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, C T
and... represented by galleries in London, Los Angeles, NYC and Zurich!
He will be making studio visits until next Wednesday.
Dodge came to my studio first thing this morning and it was good to get a response suggesting that there is way more work to do. Having painted straight for three weeks, I am slowing down. I am getting tired. I am, to be truthful, starting to look forward to getting the hell out of Dodge next week.