To WSW and (partway) Back

1WSW

Women’s Studio Workshop is growing!

I am sorry to have neglected the blahg-o-sphere but it couldn’t be helped: busy busy busy!  But pretty much all good, and am having a great time seeing old friends and making new ones.

awsw

It’s much more extensive than either of these photos show; there’s lots more going on behind the second house. Hooray!

I worked pretty much up till the moment I left Chicago; drove straight to the Morgan and dropped off the work for Revive and Renew, which (as I saw yesterday) is a Really Good Show and had a lovely dinner with Aimee and Velma, and then a fine evening and early morning with the Smiths at their peaceful sanctuary.

6WSW

The human press dance, performed enthusiastically by Teddy and Jean.

Then, the long long drive to a stellar week at Women’s Studio Workshop. I do so love it there at any time for any reason, and it was made even sweeter by a workshop that was sort of a dream class.  Everyone in it was a working artist with a considerable practice, who came to shake things up a bit. And everyone GOT it: that this five-day workshop was much less a place to focus on making Cool Stuff Right Now, but something to be used as a catalyst.  Everyone left with components for works to be completed, test pieces, the knowledge to be able to take things further, and best of all: ideas.  That all made me SO happy (in spite of the coughing cold that two of us developed early on that, for me, is still lingering, and the fact that one person had to leave to deal with a home situation after only one day: I hope you are OK). The collective spirit and tone of the class was happy, friendly with lots of exchange, industrious, and above all, one of discovery. I simply couldn’t have asked for more and I am eager to see what will come of things in the future. Many thanks to you all!

WSW_2014

Here we all are on the last day, minus one who had to leave: Andrea, some weirdo, Teddy, Jim, Jean and Donna.

The non-class time, too, was filled with excellent activities: a delicious dinner with Ann, Tana and Susan (whose class in the front studio filled the walls with colorful innovative prints), a lovely long visit and dinner out with Amelia who drove over from Connecticut, an afternoon of walking and mushroom-foraging with Tana, getting to hang out with the fabulous Chris (who helped locate and install some WSW ear-fungi on Saturday) and Sara, and two interns, Alyssa who was a HUGE help in the workshop and Mary who cooked up some fantastic lunches (and kindly popped some very tasty vegan leftovers into my little fridge).

Chris2

Up at the ArtFarm with Chris.

Early Saturday evening, after ears were installed and the car packed (with just what I needed for the night and morning left out), I did something I’ve wanted to do since I first came to WSW in 2009: walked the (expanded, but now restricted) rail trail past the eerie old mine shafts and then: out onto the tall, tall former railroad trestle that spans the little river valley over Rosendale. It’s been restored and is now open to the public.  I don’t really like heights, but have always wanted to get up there.  It’s gorgeous.

bwsw

Gorgeous views from the trestle…

Then I got up at 5 am, drove all day and got to the Morgan just as Aimee and Velma’s joint class was wrapping up; I got installed over at Tom’s and had a nice visit with him, Aimee and Velma, and then Velma and I got an all-too-rare treat, a couple of hours just to talk.  She’s headed back to the North Country now (safe travels).

2WSW

...but a long way down.

Even more good things happened:  Aimee’s article about the Morgan’s Eastern Paper Studio appeared in the Surface Design Journal, and one of my works was chosen to accompany it with a very lovely layout; the Revive and Renew exhibition opened at the Morgan on Friday, and it is fantastic, with a lovely catalog, and Ann Starr came to review the show but so enjoyed the Morgan that she wrote this, which perfectly captures the place (and I thank her for the shout-out as well). Now I’d better get over to the studio…

5WSW

I couldn’t resist this “collaboration” with Tana (even though she didn’t know about it).

The Processing Begins

Home! I got in Friday afternoon, and have been decompressing with happy Man and Dog: the Pack is together again (admittedly, one of the pack is not quite unpacked yet). This first summer trip has been (as Velma wished for me!) something of a watershed; wondrous.  Both my destinations far exceeded any good things I might have anticipated even in my broadest imaginings, and the road itself was rich, easy, calm and warm.

Chataqua

A short stop at Chataqua Lake.

There is so much to process, to write about and also to privately ponder and grow into, and a lot of portioning-parts-of-it-into-media, too: blogs are forthcoming here and at MakerCentric, plus website updates and a new page to be added as well. (I have just about a month’s break to do that in: foresight in planning, for once!)

Carota TBalbosis

Finished just before I left: industrial vegetable, species Carota TomBalbosis

But first and foremost, HUGE thanks are due to the warm and wonderful folks along the road, without whom this would not have been the amazingly all-round positive experience it was. All were at places and with people who are touchstones for me, places that also feel like coming home, and there was one wonderful gamble as well.

BalboCastle

First, Tom Balbo and the Morgan. It’s always both comforting and exciting to walk into the Morgan, whether you’re going to be there for ten minutes or for weeks. When I e-mailed to say I was stopping by to pick up my beautiful new half-size bal (a gift from Paul, via Aimee’s work with her connections in Korea, shipped to the Morgan earlier) and wanting to get flax, Tom immediately asked if I wanted to stay overnight.  Oh, of course: yes please! That’s always a huge treat; just seeing what’s new in his ever-fluctuating museum / studio space on the fourth floor.  That would have been absolutely wonderful as it was, but Tom’s spontaneous kindness literally saved me from a faux pas of my own making, and allowed the entire trip to happen without what would  have been a major troubling glitch. I can’t (ever) thank him enough!  Here is a nice recent feature video about Tom and the Morgan.

BeckerBeater

New 5lb beater at Tom’s, made by the incomparable Helmut Becker.  There’s a window in the roll cover!

CompoundWSW

The soon-to-be WSW Compound is progressing nicely.  Kozo will be grown out front; beautiful.

The next day, I took six healthy young kozo plants to Ann Kalmbach and Tana Kellner at Women’s Studio Workshop; a gift between dedicated handmade paper producers and perpetuators, from the Morgan to the WSW ArtFarm. I was more than pleased to be the delivery person! I’d thought I’d simply be stopping for a night in one of WSW’s spare resident / intern rooms, but instead, I was surprised and very happy to be Ann and Tana’s guest: a delicious home-cooked (and much of it home-grown) dinner (with Anita Wetzel’s kind and witty company as well) and breakfast; with great, fun, wide-ranging conversation, and a long after-dinner talk about Scotland, looking people and places up online with Tana as they came up. Ann and Tana are there now, in a breathtaking, remote setting! I am so excited for them both (and I just received a gorgeous lichen photo from Tana, who’s already out hiking!)

ATanaLichen

Scottish lichen, uploaded fresh this morning: just…wow.

FerryFromFerry

The 12 noon ferry heading towards Vineyard Haven, shot from the 10:45 ferry from Oak Bluff.

I made it to Haystack on time, had a glorious two weeks, drove down to catch the boat and had another fabulous four days at Seastone Papers on the Vineyard: those experiences definitely require their own blogs, ASAP!  On Tuesday, lovely Sandy Bernat shepherded me to the ferry back to my car, parked in Falmouth, MA. I drove till I was tired, then pulled off to find a motel. That happened to be in Corning, NY: I slept long and deeply, and then spent a nice few hours at the Corning Museum of Glass. It was much better than I anticipated, fascinating with live glassblowing and flameworking demos (they do these on cruise ships as well!) by articulate, precise craftspeople with nicely miked headsets and a good broadcast system: I could actually hear them! And featuring some rather amazing innovations in glass, as well as its history, chemistry and stories, and a huge collection all housed (of course) in a very glass-y building, below. It was a most interesting, relaxing stop before the final two legs of the trip.

CorningMuseum

ChurchEntry

The Church Entryway

The last but never, ever the least stop, was with Kathy and Steven Smith: they call their place (wherever they are) the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pain And Suffering; that is, actually, not a joke. The calm, relaxed and peaceful – yet always intellectually vibrant – energy of the home they’ve so willingly shared with me so many times let me do the final Cleveland-to-Chicago run carrying that peace they create within me.  Once again with their encouragement, I stopped for an extra night, stretched, relaxed, and renewed my body and brain. A thirty-year-plus friendship through wild and sometimes rough times and now this ripening: riches.

And through it all, behind it all, at however far the physical distance: Paul. Missing me but encouraging and supporting me, happy knowing that I am happy, having my discoveries and adventures.  When I arrived, there was even a welcome-home gift: these handmade fiber-beaters, beautifully balanced for my hands, turned from hard maple.

beatersticks

One thing I don’t need to process: I know that I am a fortunate, grateful and wealthy woman.

churchOf

Receiving blessings at the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pan and Suffering 

Days of Thanksgiving continue

I’m home, and though I did take Sunday for an all-day, no-alarm Giant Thud, I still have a week of busy-ness and overlapping events (all of which I’m grateful for) before I begin truly settling in for the winter, and quietly begin to process all that’s occurred this year.

First, the art that happened in Vermont:

Here’s where the ear was installed (just one, because I’m not sure my bit of structural jury-rigging is going to keep this one any more stable than the first).  Initially, I wanted them to be on dead trees only. I was at dinner at one point, thinking aloud about how I was to differentiate between dead and live trees in late November. Vermont Studio Center co-founder Jon Gregg was at my table and said, “You are in Vermont.  People drill into live trees all the time.” And so I spent Wednesday afternoon hanging out over the river, grateful for all the tree-climbing I did as a child.  I was too good with my dyeing, and the ear side blends into its setting, making it quite difficult to discern from across the river.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.

I might like this a little better this way, but still remain somewhat unconvinced.

These two are in progress still, a few more things to be added to the tall one, structural work on the smaller.

I packed the car up Wednesday night after open studios, documented the ear location Thanksgiving morning, then had a lovely, sunny drive, skirting the Canadian border to arrive at Velma’s warm, wonderful North Country sanctuary. The day was just perfect: sunny, not-cold, a spontaneous meadow milkweed harvest, a tasty dinner for four with even tastier conversation (which I could hear ALL of; excellent after a month of meals in a room with 50+), and Velma and I talking, talking, talking late into the night and resuming in the morning. Just: wonderful. Also to see so much of her work in person! I wanted to stay.  I left with generous gifts of milkweed, flax and cedar fiber, a perfect packed lunch and this:

my own ‘witches’  brew’ – eco-dye bundles (my first ever!) of linen and paper –  to be opened in a few days, to extend the day’s warmth and friendship whenever I look at them.  On a rainy drive heading south to be funneled onto interstate blandness, I marveled at the connections the internet allows us, once again.  In an earlier life, Velma and I would have been neighbors (just before our paths diverged, and I chose art school, a partner I am still friends with acquired acres in the North Country and built a house there, where he lived for many years).  And yet, Velma and I met anyways, for which I am very grateful, as well as for meeting her sweet, smart, intrepid companion Wendy: border collie love and wistfulness on my part (she is a bit camera shy up close).

I hit some nasty weather, lake effect snow/hail and nasty winds coming off Lake Erie, all the way down from Buffalo NY to Cleveland.  At one point, a long line of us were doing 25 miles an hour with flashers on, and I decided I was being stupid, and that I would stop as soon as I saw a motel, but by the time I did, it had cleared enough to just become an annoying, no longer dangerous drive. I gratefully arrived at Cindy’s late, and we, too stayed up late talking, talking, talking, and made some tentative summer plans.  She didn’t see my note asking to be woken next morning, which was ultimately good; I slept a couple of hours longer than I would have, which I was thankful for during the drive home.  Then: the bank, to FINALLY deposit the check that had sat uselessly on my desk all month in Vermont, a quick stop at Busta gallery to pick up my (thankfully packed) work, and a visit and lovely homemade-by-Lady lunch and talking, talking, talking at the Smiths‘ (where I forgot to retrieve my hearing aid case, which is thankfully a reason to return – as if I need one!)  I really, really wanted to stay at Velma’s, Cindy’s and Smiths’ (and to stop at the Morgan and stay too) but I was also very, very grateful to arrive safely home, and for the fact that I’ll be staying put for a good while now.

Yesterday, I delivered the work to ZIA gallery for this: the opening reception is on Saturday, the same day as the Ragdale holiday party (where I’ll go, quickly, first). ZIA gallery director (and artist) extraordinaire Anne Hughes was packing things to be shipped to Miami for this…and a portion of (S)Edition is attending!

Lupe can also be camera-shy up close, but she has not left my side for more than a few minutes since I returned.  And now, today: I’m sending some things off to Australia, hanging up the wee seasonal lights, and The Bro arrives for a week of Our-Own-Early-Winter celebration: more abundance to be very thankful for.

Much ado, and Adieu.

Another excellent but very different class is finished; I’ve had today to sleep in a bit, regroup, do laundry, say most goodbyes and write this blog in little quiet chunks.

I’ve been so happy to be back at WSW.  But last night, I was left wondering about a phenomenon that’s occurred both times I’ve taught dual classes here. The first class (which is technically the second, because it is created from the waiting list for the one that fills up first) truly bonds as a group: someone creates an e-mail list before the class is half over; people go to eat or shop together, and at the end, everyone eagerly wants a session to look over and document all the work that’s happened, including the taking of multi-camera group photos of the people it’s happened with: new friends.

The second group simply doesn’t. It’s not as if there’s antagonism or unfriendliness; there’s  banter, work and laughter, but everyone remains separate somehow, with much less interest in what others are inventing with the same resources, or rather, the interest is there but is not unanimous; inevitably, several people are sadly disappointed that others just want to pack up and go. (And it’s not as if the earlier group is any less focused on their individual work, either).

It seems odd to have had the pattern repeat twice. I teach the same in both sessions, (which is pretty much the same as I always do).  There are two differences in circumstances. First, the earlier group is the only one here that week; the Summer Arts Institute hasn’t begun in earnest, so they are the sole class at lunches with staff and interns; so perhaps they spend more time talking to each other, and the next group to folks in other classes. Secondly, there was a much wider age range in the earlier groups.  In the second groups everyone was hovering somewhere in the vicinity of middle age.  That makes me wonder: is there an age at which, culturally, we just stop expecting that we will make new friends?

During the week I invited a couple of folks from other classes out to dinner; they accepted, and then at the last moment, backed out. Because of the difference in my classes I briefly wondered if there might be a similar contributing factor, as in, ‘I have enough friends in the field.’ Then I simply concentrated on having a nice (solo) evening out.

Personally, I still love meeting new people (and getting to know briefly-met people better), even though I need to do that in different, smaller ways than before my deafness. My reluctance to join large gatherings and my inability to effectively participate in group conversations are often read as indifference or hostility, and I must constantly work hard to overcome that perception, something that’s difficult to do with exhausted-from-teaching ears, so perhaps that was a factor as well.

Yet, I have to admit that during the past two weeks, I turned down multiple invitations from WSW folks to go on daily group swimming trips, and, well:  I wasn’t honest about why.  I need to swim deaf; hearing aids can’t get wet.  Water gets in my eyes and then I can’t see either, so I crash into people and things, and I hate that. I only feel confident swimming alone, in a roped-off pool lane, wearing goggles. I don’t know why I didn’t admit this, why it’s easier to write about than to say, but it is.  So most likely, all these musings are moot, and there are things other folks don’t quite know how to say as well, that make for less cohesive groups.

I truly enjoyed both classes, and each of the individuals in them, both years, but I have to admit that, as groups, I liked the earlier classes just a wee bit more, simply because they appreciated each other so thoroughly. That enthusiasm is simply contagious.

Tonight, I had a nice dinner and great conversation with incoming instructors who did accept an invitation: Dorothy and Catherine. I only heard oh, about a third of the talk over the noise in the cafe, but what I heard was lovely and rich.

I’d like to stay at Women’s Studio Workshop for weeks more, and I’m sad to leave.  I inevitably come away with much more and very different insights than I anticipated. Maybe it’s time to apply for another residency. But for now: I’m back on the road.

Today’s images are only three of the works by Merike Van Zanten, an artist I first met at PBI in 2010.  It was great to see her again in the second class, and especially to see the many, many fascinating things she came up with: experiments, finished works, and prototypes for new work as well…it will be very interesting to see what happens when these materials are incorporated with her already formidable palette.

 

What A Week It Was!

 This just has to begin it: Lisa’s abaca-dipped bra.

And another piece by Lisa Cirando, who made a lot of great things, including all of our kozo shades in the previous post, and a glorious abaca-dipped book I loved.

Last week was jam-packed, and it didn’t stop this weekend, beginning with a Saturday morning flood in my bathroom, most likely caused by two of us having long showers while a third person did laundry, and going on to the excellent time I will end this post with a tiny glimpse of.

Barbara Landes’ fantastic use of the pattern on an old rusty heating grate, found in a gutted house next door that now belongs to WSW (for which there are exciting plans!) and below, an exploration of ongoing themes in dyed kozo and abaca, perhaps contributing to her upcoming thesis work (sorry for the bit of blurriness):

Today, Sunday, was up and out for  studio prep and fiber-beating and e-mail answering and the rather dismal local laundromat (in all but its name: Tiny Bubbles). And then, meeting almost all the next class at dinner – it all begins again tomorrow!

Ceci Cole McInturf’s cast back, done in very thin flax, and her big, lovely loose amate exploration – done with our kozo and some of the elusive bleached kozo that Carriage House sold out of before I got to Brooklyn to buy some a couple of years ago – Ceci gave me some to mess with!  (Thanks!)

This post contains two images of everyone’s work from the week, with big apologies to Laurie – I tossed out my class list in a cleaning-up frenzy and lost her last name! (Please e-mail me, Ms. Kosogompi, and I will correct this!) The images are  no indication of the volume and variety of the experiments, and I was really disappointed that a few photos I really wanted came out blurry, but this is a taste, anyways.

I loved Jackie May Hiller’s short-handled rake, one of seemingly hundreds of strong pieces she made; below is a hanging piece incorporating just about everything.

The week also seemed to begin Interview Season, which is fantastic; they’re for an oddly, pleasingly diverse medley of publications and purposes, and all surprised me hugely.  I did one in the evenings, another in person, and a third will happen in the evenings this week, while the in-person one will continue by e-mail. I’m feeling incredibly dang lucky, in spite of regurgitating showers, nut attacks, and washing machines that tear holes in favorite shirts. Those all have their part in whatever this story is, at any rate.

Above is a bad photo of one of Laurie’s curiously appealing winged figures; the other is a marionette.  This one had squishy rubber hands and feet, and intricate guts made from an incredible $4 haul at the local salvage store; below, her early experiments:

This was a most excellent group of folks to spend a week being pulpy with.  Or longer! I will hook up with Lisa again in August: we are both taking Aimee Lee‘s class at the Morgan! And, best of all: this won’t end here.  The work done in these quick classes is just the beginning, and these folks truly understood that.

Here are some intricate abaca insects by Stephanie Garmey, who teaches at MICA. I’m  eager to see how this all intersects with her current body of precisely cut 3D paper  objects and installations.  Below: big beautiful abaca water lily prototypes (and she left with three re-usable armatures and pulp,  ready to make many more).

I spent a delightful afternoon chez Richard Minsky on Saturday, complete with a big, delicious lunch and even tastier company and conversation. My thanks to Barbara, Richard and George; I so enjoyed time with you all.

My GPS said the address didn’t exist, so I had a bit of an odd time following Richard’s excellent directions on my phone while driving.  Then, I pulled into a curved drive; the house, which I had a photo of, was blocked from view but I saw these:

…and knew I was in the right place.  And I truly was. What a perfect way to end a wonderful week!

Nuts! (Good and not so)

Seriously nuts for 3D!  L to R, front: Stephanie, Jackie; back: Joyce, me, Lisa, Barbara, Ceci, Laurie; tres chic cast kozo  eyewear made for us all by Lisa.

Whooo, what a week!  A 99% fantastic one, jam-packed and intense and vibrant.  My first WSW class ended tonight and it was fabuuuulous, seriously so.  I’ll post some of the work as soon as I can, but I was disappointed to see a lot of blurry images in my collection when I downloaded them tonight. This was another stellar class: six motivated, engaged, innovative and freely-experimenting women who all got along wonderfully well with each other and with me.  I am feeling mighty lucky this summer; the folks who are coming out to classes are superb!

The tiny insect in the balm of the week was an odd experience I haven’t had in years and years, and hope not to have again. At lunch yesterday, I took a small spoonful of a tasty rice-based salad, ate a couple of bites and then saw: A Peanut. And then Another.  I have That Allergy, something that came on suddenly and violently many years ago with full-blown anaphylactic shock, causing me to grocery shop at a snail’s pace from then on, reading each and every label, and to be annoying at restaurants and parties, but successfully avoiding any hazardous encounters till yesterday. I saw The Peanut and thought, ‘O NO!’ and then, ‘Well, maybe the allergy ‘s gone after all this time, and anyways I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually eat one…’  But no; I now know the allergy is still there, and mere proximity of peanuts to something consumed will produce a milder but un-ignorable reaction.  I had to leave the class to fend for itself (which they did admirably) while I knocked back some full-strength Benadryl which knocked me flat on my back for the entire afternoon into early evening. I escaped with a couple hits on my inhaler, room-spinning dizziness, itchy swollen eyes, a bout of hives, and hours of antihistamine coma…followed by a full recovery but a seriously disrupted sleep schedule, which is why I’m telling you this.

That’s why I’m going to bed instead of posting photos and raving about my class and WSW (everyone here was wonderful, helpful, understanding and concerned) the way they all so richly deserve. Maybe tomorrow, OK? Goodnight!

Vote! Please Vote!

Starting tomorrow, and every day in December, PLEASE VOTE for Women’s Studio Workshop’s ArtFarm project…you’ll vote for sustainable materials, widespread education about them, and you’ll support the only visual arts residency program dedicated to women artists in the US…and you won’t be spammed.  Thank you!