we now resume our irregular broadcast

Photo: Peninsula School of Art

I’m back. The folks at Peninsula School of Art sent these photos of the current Book As Sculpture show and its opening. It’s nice to see it all finished and to see some works that were not yet installed when I left. The gallery put our artists’ statements and info onto open books attached to the walls and / or pedestals.

Shawn Sheehy’s pop-up book pages with corresponding prototypes. Photo: Peninsula School of Art

There’s not much I will say about what recently occurred in the personal realm, except that it was huge, and requires ongoing adjustment. Also, a great deal of good luck was involved and things are essentially quite well, in a “this-could-have-been-SO-much-worse” way. I thank all my friends who sent private messages: it helped during the worst of it, very much.

Dan Essig. Photo: Peninsula School of Art

So it’s a little like my own plans were a jar of sand that was picked up and shaken; it’s all still there, but its topography has been reconfigured.  I did not go to Ragdale as planned; instead, I’ll have my month-long residency in the late fall. I had to change the ending date of a show to be able to do that, but it all worked out well (thanks, Regin and Carey). I got the Texas show packed and shipped out at the very last minute; the good folks at Gallery Shoal Creek are installing around where the work will be till it arrives. They also made this nice page about the work and gave a lovely shout-out to the Morgan (thanks, Judy).

I love this image of appropriately dressed people with Mike Stilkey’s work. Photo: Peninsula School of Art

Before the new residency, I’ll have work in this show, which is work from the museum’s permanent collection (so all I need to do is attend the opening: lovely). I’ll be in another show to celebrate a new book arts studio in Chicago, in the upcoming benefit auction at the Morgan, and I will be doing an exciting site-specific installation which  I’ll wait to tell you about till it’s announced. Just before I head to Ragdale, the slightly re-scheduled solo show will open, and last but not least: I am offering a few fall workshops and a six-week class at Evanston Paper and Print.

Me, Dan Essig, Mike Stilkey. Photo: Peninsula School of Art

And that’s that.  With the bulk of the recent crisis over and all the rearranging taken care of, I’ve nearly three full weeks to go before I head down to Austin, then back to Door county. So today I’m finally finishing the unpacking (I’d left a lot packed in anticipation of the now re-scheduled residency; it was to begin last week) and getting ready to get back into my own studio…ahhhhh…

One of Brian Dettmer’s book excavations. Photo: Peninsula School of Art

Life Intervenes (blog suspension)

Where I left it.

Here are photos I took on Wednesday and Thursday in Wisconsin, when I went up to install at Peninsula School of Art.  Door County was beautiful (though crowded with the summer tourists it is famed for and by), the gallery space, the curator and staff were all wonderful, and my hostess was lovely; I had a good time (and the show looked great).

Guenzel Gallery

Yet, I woke Thursday morning with an overwhelming desire to just finish my installation and drive straight home. I had planned to stay, to be a tourist myself for a day, and to attend Friday’s opening. Instead, I acted on that inexplicable pull; I finished installing in the early afternoon, said goodbye, and hit the road.

And so, I was home on Friday the 13th, and able to help when an instantaneous life-change occurred for someone I love, in the form of a medical event.  I’m suspending the blog indefinitely (a week?  a month? I don’t know…) to continue doing that.

Breather (sort of)

A book of handmade lace swatches that Susan Kelley showed us at the Morgan; it came over to the US with a friend’s ancestors. I thought I would show it for knitters / spinners / crocheters.  I don’t do that, but was still fascinated.

The first two days home, Tuesday and Wednesday, I took delicious afternoon naps in addition to sleeping till I woke…but when I attempted that again on Thursday I woke after about 15 minutes, which seemed to me to indicate that I had finally caught up on sleep.  That was surprisingly fast. It’s so good to be home, to be with Paul and Lupe, even though it is decidedly temporary and I don’t really feel like I’m back in Chicago, nor do I have the time or energy to properly re-enter; that will have to wait till October.  I’ll be gone again in three days, and I’m as busy as usual setting up the next shows: e-mailing and e-mailing and e-mailing, doing final editing and admin (when I first saw this post, I said, “Oh, I don’t think I’ll have 50 feet” – but I nearly do: 48.), booking plane tickets, a haircut and shopping for rental trucks, estimating shipping schedules and costs, hooking up with two lovely hostesses and an interviewer, and trying to find shipping containers that might remotely fit the work (but, it looks as though I will be building boxes out of other boxes yet again)…all things I could sure use a permanent assistant to help with, if I could only afford to pay someone. And so it goes.

Though you can barely see it, I finally upgraded the scale in my studio; its first job was to weigh out this gorgeous homegrown Iowa kozo from Tim B, via Tom; I traded some Thai kozo for it and can’t wait to use it.  I got the better part of the deal and I’m sure Tom knew that! Because he’s great.

I will be sooo glad to land at Ragdale: soon, very soon!  Yes, I’ll be working there, but I know that working on my own work exclusively is as restorative as all those naps put together. And I will stay in one place for an entire month, too.

In all the rushing around, I forgot to tell you that this early piece above will now become a part of Special Collections in the Penrose Library at University of Denver; many thanks to Alicia.  And I’ve been very pleased to have received some lovely e-mails and photos from folks who were in the summer’s classes, and a wonderful snail mail piece, too.  A couple of folks have blogged very nice things about the classes and/ or shown some of the work they made; here are posts from Velma, Margaret’s brand-new blog and photos of Merike’s ambitious book.  Thanks, thanks, and thanks!

Marvelously Meteoric at the Morgan

Lauren Sammon made this great image of (S)Edition in its entirety, from her own fabulous shots of the show. I love it.

The tip of the iceberg: approaching the Morgan on 47th street.

This entire summer is a whirlwind, moving so fast that I’ve only been able to lightly skim its varied surfaces here on the Blahg.  And so it is with my three (not four) days at the Morgan, a place that I’m more and more impressed with each time I visit.  It’s the people: Tom Balbo, its executive director, first of all, and Susan Kelley and Lauren Sammon and everyone else there as well. Like Women’s Studio Workshop, it has incredible, positive energy, and manages to feel like home at the same time.

I love this photo of Aimee sitting in her newly-built traditional-style Korean vat:

I got in late on the 29th (after a grueling thirteen-hour ordeal in Chicago the day before) and wrote the last blog; the next morning I woke and began overbeating fiber in Tom’s studio, just behind the kitchen.  Tom came to fetch me and we began another load in the sturdy red cast-iron powerhouse of a main studio beater at the Morgan. Aimee was there (ray hoo!) and almost immediately my old friend Jo stopped by to see the show and we both got to see and handle Aimee’s hanji in all its manifestations, a revelation after seeing the photos over the last two years; amazing material, incredible variety!  John was making watermarked Morgan sheets in the paper studio, and when I took Jo over to observe, he generously had her make a few sheets, something she’d never done before. I think she’s hooked; she was late to work! During it all,  I took care of my class prep, and then Aimee and I went out to a big Vietnamese dinner and catch-up fest; so lovely.  I drove her back to her hosts in Shaker Heights, and then got back to Tom’s studio around midnight.

Saturday, up early and over to the Morgan an hour before class; two participants (who had driven in from Michigan) were already waiting when I got there.  I put the first pound of kozo on to cook, and then met the diverse group of 12 people in the class: a person who had never made paper or any kind of artwork before, established artists, papermakers, teachers, professors, medical doctors, book conservators, art students…a broad, eclectic but highly enthusiastic mix!  Lots of demos the first day, a papermaking session, and then only a couple of hours for experiments, but a surprising range of them occurred.  While class was going on, Aimee and Morgan folks were working on the hanji studio, Morgan board members and representatives of Cleveland and Cincinnati arts organizations and other folks came through: bustling!  And the class flowed on, intently active amid all the other activity.

Some of the first day’s experiments drying.

Six vats and draining stations for twelve folks: very nice! Makes a lot o’ paper, fast. (Shot Saturday after everyone went home).

I had an errand to run on the west side after class, so I took an hour to be deaf, and drove two routes through town, experiencing the strange layering of time I always do in Cleveland; without really trying, I passed nine places I had lived. When I returned, the amazing Tom had all of Pamela Paulsrud‘s portion of the Listening show down and packed!  So we ate dinner from the Morgan lunch fridge, and I began packing my portion of the show, with Tom helping; then he drove Aimee back to Shaker while I stayed packing, and he came back to help and to get me back to the studio, as there was some problem with the security system.

A great surprise: friend, Guild of Bookworkers officer, conservator and book artist Chris was in the class!  She’s also taught at the Morgan.  It was a blast to see her and catch up, and I liked the kozo mask…it’s to become part of a book project.

Sunday: up and in and some class folks were already there again, making paper!  We looked at the previous day’s experiments, I did the last demos (dyes), then hung around to answer questions and help as folks went to town, using the entire final day to do whatever they wished to with the materials.  Everyone was utterly busy! And that left me with some time to shoot photos. Even though it was Sunday, still there was an amazing amount of other activity going on around us.  About two hours after lunch, the questions had dwindled off, so I told folks to come to the gallery and ask them when they had them, which they did, while I began taking down the rest of the show.  At 3:30 we wrapped up and cleaned up in another whirlwind, the class left and everyone at the Morgan pitched in and zoom!  The show was packed and loaded into the big van, the materials were sorted and mine were packed and loaded into my car, Susan and I figured out how to work a wee sheet-metal brake for the hanji project, and Aimee and I had fun brainstorming a different solution by drawing all over the protective paper on one of the big class tables, just like our old times.

Then in yet another layering of time, Aimee and I went to visit Cindy Barber and then the three of us went out to a fun (if odd, food-wise) dinner with a bottle of Australian Shiraz, then I dropped Aimee off in Shaker where we said goodbye (snif). I drove a different memory-laden route back to Tom’s studio, and packed up the suitcase I had there.  Monday, up and out and I followed Tom and the van across Ohio and Indiana, he followed me through Chicago, we unloaded my work and he followed me up to Pamela’s house in the northern suburbs where we unloaded her work and had home-made, home-grown rhubarb pie and then said goodbye for now; Tom went to pick up some type cases to take back to the Morgan the next day and I went home to a very happy dog and large man.

I took some kozo shots in the thriving Morgan garden: first harvest will be in late fall!  It’s beautiful at every stage, and bugs love it: my ankles are covered in bites.

Regrets: I did not have time to do all I wanted: I did not get to visit Jeff, see the Smiths or DCB, and I so, so wish I could have stayed for Aimee’s hanji class.

Today, little else but unloading the class stuff, a delicious nap and this long but still only sketchy blog. I’m home for a whole week, to get ready for this:

…PLUS this.  And while there was no review of Listening, someone sent me this blog, and there was a blog at Publisher’s Weekly (of all places!), and then Crain’s Cleveland Business picked up on that one (final item) – too late for people to go see the show! The whirlwind continues, and though it is a tad chaotic, I have to say: if this is the New Life, I am liking it even with its uncertainties.