Now showing…

Out in the world are shows and shows and shows…first, here are some views of my part of Embarrassment of Riches at the NIU Art Museum:

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And some shots of this innovative installation of a single copy of (S)Edition (OK, a bookshroom) installed at Structures and Stories in the Bucks County Community College (Pennsylvania) Artmobile. I usually don’t like my work to be in cases, but of course this show literally moves, on wheels. I kind of love that the case itself is floating above the empty pedestal. It’s difficult to believe that this pristine space is the inside of a trailer.

aaMJC_mobileaaMJC_mobile1The Guenzel Gallery at Peninsula School of Art in Wisconsin hasn’t sent images, but they’ve published a wee slideshow of Unusually Natural on this page. The Braithewaite Gallery at the Southern Utah Museum of Art has not updated its website, but here’s what I am exhibiting in that show; and info about this upcoming exhibition in Minneapolis will soon be available.
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(Bookshrooms are of the proletariat, the 99%; they don’t care about no stinkin’ air conditioners or cords when they gather for their subversive conversations.)

And above is a sneak preview of my installation, which was the first to go up at Words | Matter, which opens tomorrow! It is in a lovely warm shared studio space; the library will take up a number of its many rooms. I loved the idea as soon as I was asked about it; I also truly love (and miss) “neighborhood” spaces. Huge, huge kudos to Eileen Madden (whose excellent printshop is located in the space) for her vision and hard work in bringing this together. Here she is, surrounded by just a small portion of book deliveries.  Aside from viewing works on the walls, you’ll be able to sit in the comfortable space and have any of the over 80 books brought to you, to handle, to read, to interact with: marvelous! I can’t wait.

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Not just yet, and farewell.

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We got just under 20″ of snow; the next day was beautiful, with dramatic blue sky, and bright sun on shapes honed by the windy storm…

An extra mid-week post: yeah, I write more blogs in winter.

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…including our temporarily-aerodynamic cars. One of them is back to its square-ish self now.

Those few seconds of viral-ity I wrote about in the post-before-the-last have now turned into two weeks; it’s slowed down some but hasn’t stopped. (S)Edition spores still spread. The e-mail has finally ebbed, but the deluge contained a few little gems of possibility; some nice things are under discussion. It’s been a fairly amazing experience.

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This exquisite pattern on the garage window didn’t last long in the light that showed it off.

I also took on a great summer project that comes with a small grant, and am working on an interesting set of interview questions. Those things weren’t connected to the internet activity; they sprang from other spores at a place I love. Just to keep things in perspective, I also was rejected from a fellowship I was invited to apply for.

The day after the internet dam broke, I threw out my hip somehow, resulting in lower back spasms that haven’t abated, limiting mobility. Last week I visited the medico / insurance conglomerate, which yesterday approved a new round of physical therapy, for which I am utterly grateful, and eager to begin.

All these things have cut a chunk into winter plans; something had to give, especially to make room for p/t. Farewell, house project.  I’ve lived with the awful wallpaper I’d planned to collage over for a long time now, so I guess I can ignore it till next winter.

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The led lights came down today but the green glass globe stays to capture the returning light.

Though I’m late, I want / need to note the recent passing of another wonderful, influential book arts person: Arthur Jaffe.  Though I never met him in person, he was an early supporter of my work, and we enjoyed some excellent e-mail exchanges. I was impressed by his his enthusiasm, expansive personality and wit, and I’ve always rather loved his description of why he collected the pieces of mine he did.  One of the many amazing stories about Arthur is what he did during WW2: he fired shells stuffed with leaflets into Nazi Germany. They exploded and papered the landscape with information on how to defect or surrender, which resulted in a steady stream of lives saved. Is it any wonder that he had a singular, expansive, and truly intelligent view of what a book can be, after experiencing such an example with all his senses? We’ll miss you, Arthur, and thank you. We need more like you.

Truly home, and balancing.

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I’ve been in the studio for the past few days. I said, In The Studios – both of ‘em!

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2014 wasn’t planned to be this way at all, but till now, every time I tried to get back to my work, something else happened.  It has been almost as long a hiatus as semesters had gotten to be during my final few years at the edu-corp. That’s just wrong.

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But it’s over: now I’ve made paper (some with a new quickie deckle box cobbled together from scrap crate-building stuff) and have spent long blissful hours casting, dyeing, shaping, sewing. Tuesday, I wrapped up this piece slowly (glue, sew, wait to dry, glue, sew, wait to dry), and then literally, to be FedEx-ed out in the morning.

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Dogbane things…

The first book piece of this year. It’s been so good in the studio, I had to post these photos, hoping you can feel the peace and flow…ultimately, what I live for, the rest temporarily fading to background noise that doesn’t interfere with the music of making.

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Alas, the next wee while is full of non-studio tasks. But not for long: lots of early July studio time planned. Lots! By choice, the next show will be almost all new work on my part, exciting for me.

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Oh, the milkweed…

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I’m really looking forward to to seeing images from both Denver shows opening tomorrow, and I admit I am a little wistful that I can’t be there. At Abecedarian, Alicia Bailey has written a lovely intro to the show, and is exhibiting the largest grouping of the diaristic books I’ve been making since 2009 that have ever been shown together, along with (S)Edition, Manifest, O and an earlier work, Blood: Simple. I’d love to see Mary Ellen Long’s work with it, and the many friends, former colleagues, or just plain People Whose Work I Like in the Reading Room. Then, just across the street at CVA, are three larger, ‘non-book’ installations, one that has never before been installed by someone else, with a highly interesting group of artists I’ve not shown with before now.

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But home it is: and there’s great comfort in knowing that every step I’ll take this week will lead me back to the studios: truly home.

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(And on the other side of the country, some sweet fruits of the seeds spread by traveling, teaching…)

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Magnus’ Opus

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Snow and stored spring seeds, to summon:

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Another day, another winter storm…I rescheduled a not-very-important doctor’s appointment and some other errands, so as not to have to drive to the burbs in it: luxury. I’m very, very glad I spent an entire day delivering work to ZIA for this weekend’s so-aptly-named show opening and running other higher-importance errands on Saturday. Now I can afford to spend a snug snow day with Paul, Lupe and Chance-pup, who had an important breakthrough over the weekend: no more bed-time crate tantrums! (Well, at least not till dawn, when he thinks we should all rise and play). He’s still – and will continue to be – deliciously puppy-rowdy, but we are learning his language bit by bit, and he is learning ours.

I can’t stop posting pup pictures: getting big, tiring out Lupe:

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But to today’s main story: I don’t miss much at all about my long-ago kollidge position, nor many of the (very) few long-time colleagues who survived to remain when I departed, but Jenny Magnus is one person I truly do miss working with, and seeing regularly.  She is absolutely brilliant as a teacher and as a tremendously multifaceted artist and I am thrilled that she is finally, as this wonderful article says, getting some of her due. If you’re not near enough to attend any of the performances, you can get yourself a bit of Jenny’s brilliance here; I just ordered my copy. I’m calling this book the captioned version, and fondly remembering a stellar spontaneous solo performance in the men’s washroom when Jenny was a guest in my Visual Environments class.  I know that just reading the words can’t possibly deliver all that she is and does, but it’s going to be a great and tasty deep dark slice. Kudos and congrats, Ms. Magnus!

Gravity and Expansion

I’m a bit disappointed in myself for losing the link, but I read a great piece recently about ‘creating gravity’ – how an artist can work long enough to achieve a time of having things gravitate towards her.  Lack of reference (and credit) notwithstanding, that has, wonderfully, been happening to me lately: stuff – very good stuff – has just been coming in, and I am loving it. I hope to share news of some of it soon (and throughout the year).

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Which is good also because I am immersed in early puppyland, and loving it.  Chance is a smart little guy, already almost completely house-trained, and watching him learn is fascinating. Two cases in point: after the first two nights of howling, whining and barking in fear and rage over being penned in at night, he’s learned (after a nightly decreasing initial tantrum) not to ‘cry wolf’ – to only use his voice to wake us when he needs to go out. Sunday night was very cold. I took Chance out to relieve himself before bedtime, and he didn’t like that (neither did I, truthfully). So, he’d dodge me and run up the back porch stairs to the door, I’d pick him up and bring him back down and we repeated this multiple times, until he finally did his business.  When he woke me to take him out later that night, he relieved himself immediately, then ran to the porch, put one paw on the bottom stair, stopped and looked me in the eyes, essentially asking, “OK? Can I go up now?” Love! Then there is Lupe. Puppies need to chew, and to learn what to chew on, and redirecting Chance to appropriate chewy-things has been keeping us busy. At one point, he began to chomp on a throw rug Lupe likes to lay on. I said, “Chance! No!” but before I could get up, Lupe (with, I swear, a look of supreme disdain) went to the dog toy basket, pulled out a huge rope toy she used to love, dangled it in front of Chance until he grabbed it, then walked him away from the rug. All of this is admittedly mundane, yet at the same time hugely compelling to me.

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And, as of yesterday, I am now even able to simultaneously get work done on those great things that are rolling in and still do the puppy-monitoring. 2014 life is good.

Here’s something I’m quite impressed with. I don’t share the enthusiasm over the original referenced book, which is always, tellingly, referred to as being ‘seminal’ to the field, but I love this take on it. Huge congrats to Susan Mills and Women’s Studio Workshop: a place so very much more – and so very much better – than seminal!

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 When I get the most work done…after pulling out the camera.

…and again.

 

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This one is titled Required Reading.

Here are the one-day installations that happened at Ragdale on Sunday.  It was a great time: so good to see old friends, meet new folks, learn more about some excellent work, and share excitement over new plans together with poignant stories of Ragdale’s past.  For me it was also an opportunity (as was St. Louis) to try some new things, as well as just a huge boost, feeling a bit of what is in store: my fast-upcoming lovely long residency.

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Two shots of its interior.  I may be doing more with this…

Overall, I’m pleased with how these outdoor works are developing. The pull in this direction has been strong.  Though I’ve heard (and read) the term ‘interventions’ quite a bit, always in a ‘good’ context, I’m not convinced that’s what they are.  To me, interventions are works that recontextualize what is available at the site: think Andy Goldsworthy.  I suppose these do that in some ways, but in a long, long loop of using often imported plant materials; when they are left to decay, they bring in very little that is unusual to the sites, contributing mostly more cellulose to the soil. But when new and still fully formed, they are definitely, intentionally foreign within the site, gentle intrusions. I like them best when there are no labels, when they simply appear without fanfare. Perhaps they’re better termed ‘apparitions’.

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aMT2This piece was originally made to be part of a series, titled Mirror-Touch, to be installed in St. Louis. I abandoned it for the last post’s lichen reprisal piece when the necessary installation method came into question. With Ragdale’s solid cooperation, I tried it out here.  It will likely go further, soon.  

Below are two of several works by Margot McMahon, who had a fascinating story to tell of her early interactions with Sylvia Shaw Judson at Ragdale, well before it became a residency program; that influence is so readily apparent in these works.

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There was also a sound installation by Shawn Decker, some of which was recorded on the prairie, and a reading by Dan Vera, who was in residence. (I had met him last week while gathering my bundle of milkweed). And the conference room was filled with wonderful work by Jane Fulton Alt, including photos, encaustic works, and two beautiful books (one published commercially, and another fantastically effective handbound collaboration with Teresa Pankratz).  All the work was based on the annual controlled prairie burns; and a video was continuously showing above the conference room fireplace. All the works had such a direct connection to this place, showing its enormous influence.

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I also brought That’s Life back home; it was created here.  During my brief talk, I forgot to also point out a piece that Alice bought to be permanently displayed at Ragdale, which lives just a few steps away.

Alas, the substitute camera I’ve been using gave up the ghost just after I shot Margot’s works; it took a great deal of sheer stubbornness to later extract these photos.  I ordered a new one yesterday!

And that was the last of the 2013’s public tasks until ZIA’s group show opening in November. I’m breathing in, sleeping more, and planning harvests and new experiments: five weeks of bliss ensue soon!

 

 

Doubly Honored

I’m going to be cutting my self-imposed six months at home short, but only by a few weeks, and for a very good reason: I’ll be attending the first Haystack summer residency. I’ve never been to Haystack, but had promised friend and mentor Marilyn Sward I would go there someday; this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a thorough introduction.  Not to mention the fact that it’s in Maine. On an island!

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The wonderful Nora Maynard has done an excellent interview with yours truly for the blog section of the literary magazine, Ploughshares.  She’s currently working on a series on book arts, and I loved her first entry, featuring a place (North Branch Projects) and person (Regin Igloria) I admire very much, so I am especially honored to be the second in the series. Just published this morning, the interview is already traveling around. Thank you, Nora, Ploughshares, Haystack!