Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TAG Gallery, Cornwall

Forty-four artists, 88 works in a variety of media. I am pleased to have three Cityscapes in this juried show at the TAG Gallery in Cornwall, Ontario.

The gallery is located at 168 Pitt Street, Cornwall. The show runs from January 31 to March 6, with an opening reception at 2 pm on Saturday, January 31, when prizes will be awarded. Visitors are encouraged to vote for Viewers' Choice, which will be announced at the close of the show.

Gallery hours are Wednesday - Saturday, 10 - 5.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Kinston Barn, Cheryl Gerhart

While in New York, I dropped in to St. Peter's Church, a masterpiece of modern architecture on Lexington and 54th Street. On display there was Square, a show of some 80 small works in fibre, put together by The Textile Study Group of New York. I learned about the show when it was listed in Fiber Art Now magazine.

Rider on a Pale Horse,
Julia Kiechel

Here is a selection of some of the works that caught my eye. They happen to be in a more neutral palette.

Always Watching,
Christine LoFazo

I was impressed by the way the show was hung, precise and professional.

Zoom In,
Robin Schwalb

Each of the works was mounted on a 12 x 12 cradleboard, and this made for a consistent presentation, despite the variety of palettes, subjects and techniques.

The works were hung in alphabetical order, by artist surname.

The use of vinyl, self-adhesive lettering was clean and polished.

The small chapel of the church offered a contemplative space and a wonderful, sculptural assemblage.

The organ of the church was a thing of beauty in itself.

St. Peter's Church offers a busy program of social and cultural activities, as well as a drop-in centre and a lunch program.

Sometimes it is when you go off the beaten path on your travels that you make the most memorable discoveries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Still Life: Re-visited

Come Sit with Me, Patrick Caulfield
I am delighted  to participate in a juried group show at Galérie Beaux-Arts des Amériques, 3944 rue St-Denis, Montreal.
The show, titled "Still Life: Re-visited" will feature 40 works by 40 artists, all in a 16 x 16 format and all with a fresh take on the theme of Still Life.
The show runs January 29 - March 15, with a vernissage on Saturday, February 7, from noon to 5 pm.
Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm with extended hours on Thursday to 8 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Delighted to report that this piece sold!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The life of an artist in a changing world

Vincent Van Gogh,
Self-Portrait as an Artist
Two items in the media have recently come to my attention, and I would like to share them here.

In the December/January issue of the Atlantic, William Deresiewicz writes an article titled "The Death of the Artist - and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur". You can read the article on-line here. Note that the discussion is focused on the Western tradition of music, literature and visual art, and that the masculine pronoun is assumed.

Deresiewicz traces the evolution of the artist's identity from the Middle Ages, when essentially the artist was an Artisan. He went through a long apprenticeship, and his value was in the execution of his craft, not in his ideas or his innovation. His status in society was lower than the merchant, and he was largely supported by the Church. This situation evolved during the Renaissance to the point where individuals who had achieved an exceptional mastery of their craft were given individual recognition (Rembrandt, for example.) Many of these painters supervised a crew of artisans in their workshops, who produced work approved and then signed by the Master.  Still, the work's conformity to the tradition of the Academy was more important than the display of individual creativity.

With the age of Romanticism, the artist came to be seen as a solitary Genius, in touch with a higher plane of thinking, unsullied by commercial considerations. If he was lucky, he would be taken on by a dealer or a patron. If not, he could starve in his garret while waiting for the world to discover him. Slowly, innovation came to be valued and the standards of the Academies shunned.

After the second World War, art became more institutionalized. Cities vied to have the best collections in the biggest museums, artists applied for grants and went through MFA programs in universities, often gaining teaching positions and fellowships. They became credentialed Professionals, seen to be "working very hard" and explaining to the cognoscenti exactly what it was that they were trying to do. (Hence, Artspeak.)

And now, since the turn of the millennium, we are in an era of the Artist as Entrepreneur. The institutions that supported the Artist as Professional are struggling and contracting. Writes Deresiewicz,
"Everyone is in a budget squeeze: downsizing, outsourcing, merging, or collapsing. Now we’re all supposed to be our own boss, our own business: our own agent; our own label; our own marketing, production, and accounting departments. Entrepreneurialism is being sold to us as an opportunity. It is, by and large, a necessity. Everybody understands by now that nobody can count on a job."
To understand the implications of this shift, it's helpful to read the Atlantic article. But when the customer is king, and the internet has made everyone a critic, it is likely that art will become "safer" and that quality will suffer. Artists are more likely to work in multiple media (poet / dancer / filmmaker) and orchestrate community involvement in collaborative projects. Less important than putting in the 10,000 hours needed to master one's medium are the 10,000 contacts in the artist-entrepreneur's network.

Complementing this essay in the Atlantic magazine is an interview on CBC with playwright and performance artist Darren O'Donnell. He admits that, as someone who has chosen to make his living as an artist, he spends most of his day on e-mails and writing grant proposals. He says that the romantic notion of the autonomous artist is outdated, that such a person no longer exists. Further, he suggests that young people who are drawn to this idea of becoming an artist should be cautioned, and should consider other careers as ultimately offering more opportunities for creativity.

This rings true for me. When I look back on my years as an elementary school teacher, I see that there were many daily decisions and interactions that called for creativity. Dealing with individual differences in learning styles, pulling together materials to teach concepts and skills within a chosen theme, working with colleagues on activities for Reading Week or the Christmas musical production, shaping the space in the classroom to foster learning: all of these aspects of being a classroom teacher called on creative thinking. I think that many jobs require problem-solving skills, whether in construction, management, research, or being a full-time parent. Young people looking at career options would be well-advised to consider broadening their definition of creativity.

What do you think? Some of you reading this will have had experience in non-arts careers. What is the reality of creativity in the workplace? in the day-to-day life of a full-time "creative professional"? Please comment!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Beards for Babies

In the spirit of celebrating innovation with fibre, here is a link to the website, where you can find these free patterns designed by Ashlee Prisbey. The beards give the young ones a certain gravitas, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Art Holiday, NYC

Looking forward to a few days in New York, and "making my list, checking it twice". Here are some of the art shows I hope to see:
Matisse, The Snail, 1953

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, at the Museum of Modern Art,  until February 10, 2015.

Having recently seen the documentary about this late-life stage in Matisse's career, and the mounting of the show at the Tate Modern, I am very eager to see its installation at MOMA. I have always loved Matisse and his bold use of colour, and I can particularly relate to his collages. He is said to have taken great joy in being able to "cut directly into colour" and that is what I experience when I cut into cloth.

Amy Sillman, Untitled (Head), 2014 

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, at the Museum of Modern Art, until April 5, 2015.

Peter Schjeldahl, opens his review of this show (The New Yorker, January 5, 2015) with two quotes from T.S. Eliot: "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" He observes that in today's world we are constantly "distracted from distraction by distraction".  The curator of this exhibit, Laura Hoptman, assumes that art is in a "post-Internet condition", in which "all eras seem to exist at once", leaving contemporary artists no option but to adopt or re-animate familiar "styles, subjects, motifs, materials, strategies, and ideas."

This exhibition of seventeen contemporary artists (more than half of them women) is the first large survey strictly dedicated to new painting that MOMA has organized since 1958. Writes Schjeldahl, "Hoptman strives to shoehorn painting back into a museum culture that has come to favor installation, performance, and conceptual and digital work." I am reminded of the Peter Doig show staged at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts one year ago, and how exciting it was to see a contemporary painter given such recognition, in a time when painting has lost ground to more contemporary art forms. Indeed, Doig's work strongly references painters like James Wilson Morrice and Tom Thomson, active 100 years ago.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,
Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret,

The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters, at the Museum of Modern Art, until March 22, 2015.

Over 100 of his best-known works, organized thematically, exploring five subjects that together create a portrait of Lautrec's Paris.

Pablo Picasso,
Portrait of Helena Rubenstein,

Helena Rubenstein: Beauty is Power at The Jewish Museum, until March 22, 2015.

"The exhibition reunites selections from Rubinstein’s famed art collection, dispersed at auction in 1966, featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Elie Nadelman, Frida Kahlo, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse, among others, as well as more than thirty works from her peerless collection of African and Oceanic art. Other highlights include Rubinstein’s beloved miniature period rooms, jewelry, and clothing designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Paul Poiret." 

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait 
with Peacock Waistcoat, 1911 

Egon Schiele: Portraits at the Neue Galerie, until January 19, 2015. (extended to April 20)

Schiele is considered one of the twentieth century's most important artists. The approximately 125 paintings, drawings and sculpture are organized in six groupings: Family and Academy, Fellow Artists, Sitters and Patrons, Lovers, Eros, and Self-Portraits and Allegorical Self-Portraits.

Paul Cezanne,
Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair
c. 1877

Madame Cezanne, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, until March 15, 2015

Featuring twenty-four portraits of Hortense Cezanne, in graphite, watercolour and oil, completed over a period of twenty years. His wife was Cezanne's most frequent model.

Fernand Leger,
Composition (The Typographer)

Other shows include Cubism: The Leonard Lauder Collection at the Met until February 16, 2015 and...

El Greco,
View of Toledo (detail), c. 1598-99

... El Greco in New York, also at the Met, until February 1, 2015.

Vasily Kandinsky,
Landscape near Murnau with Locomotive, 1909

Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901 - 1911 is at the Guggenheim until April 1, 2015.

Will I get to all these shows? Maybe not, but I hope to be able to share whatever I do see in a future post.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Arts Ottawa East

Open to anyone living within 150 km of Ottawa, membership in the AOE Arts Council offers many benefits: calls for entry, professional development advice, help with grant applications, networking opportunities and much more. Visual artists, musicians, performing artists, writers, media and multidisciplinary artists are all welcome to join this 27-year-old organization.

Applying to Arts Ottawa East has been on my To Do list for more than a year. With an annual fee of $30, I figure it will be worthwhile to see whether membership in AOE works for me. I like the idea of exposure to the Ottawa-area market, and the possibility of showing my work in their exhibition space at the Shenkman Centre in Orleans.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fibre Art for a Cause

Well-known art quilter Virginia Spiegel has once again organized “The 100 Fundraiser to Fight Cancer” to be held on February 4, 2015.  The idea is unique and pretty simple.
Virginia invited 100 artists to make a piece to donate to the fundraiser.  The first 100 people to donate $100 each will be sent one of these pieces, chosen at random.  The goal is to raise $10,000 in one day.  Pretty cool idea.  Here is how it works:
1 Day – 100 Artists – 100 Patrons – $10,000Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Opens 10 a.m. Central

1. On February 4, the first 100 people to contact beginning at 10 a.m. Central will be given a link to donate $100 by credit card directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause. (Please note your donation to the ACS will be credited through the Forest Lake Area Relay For Life.)
2. Each donor will receive an artwork from one of the 100 generous and talented artists listed below. Assignments of artwork will be made using a random number generator. Artwork may appear on artists’ websites or other social media before the event. See also our Pinterest board.
3. The artwork may be any size as long as the minimum retail value is $100. Artwork smaller than 8″x10″ will be mounted to 8″x10″ or 9″x9″. The artwork will contain fiber and may or may not be stitched. The artwork may or may not be made specifically for this event.
3. Each artist will receive her/his patron’s e-mail address to arrange shipping. Artwork will be shipped directly from the artist. Please note this is an international roster of artists. Please thank the artist for not only donating the artwork, but also shipping it to you.
4. Each artist would love to receive a low res photo of the artwork in situ from the new owner. This is not required, but the best photos may be shared on-line after the event.
Questions? Contact
Special Note: The goal of $10,000 will make Fiberart For A Cause’s donations to the American Cancer Society a nice even one-quarter of a million dollars over the years and FFAC will be happily retired.  Virginia deserves a huge thumbs up for all her efforts to raise so much for such a good cause!
The 100 artists are:
Carol Larson
Susan Lenz
Eleanor Levie
Susan Purney Mark
Jeanelle McCall
Judy MomenzadehSusie Monday
Carol Moore
Gail Myrhorodsky
Fannie Narte
Kathy Nida
Karen Stiehl Osborn
Frieda Oxenham
The Pixeladies – Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki 
Valarie Poitier
Yvonne Porcella
Cate Coulacos Prato
Daren Pitts Redman
Wen RedmondSue Reno
Lesley Riley
Karen Rips
Lora Rocke
Kristin Rodriquez-Girod and Janelle Girod
Beth Schillig
Norma Schlager
Susan Friedman Schrott
Sandra Sider
Cheryl Sleboda
Carol Sloan
Lura Schwarz Smith
Mary Ruth Smith
Kay Sorensen
Sherrie SpanglerVirginia A. Spiegel
Cynthia St. Charles
Terri Stegmiller
Melanie Testa
Jeanette Thompson
K. Velis Turan
Larkin Jean Van Horn
Mary Ann Van SoestGordana Vukovic
Terry Waldron
Judy Warner
Laura Wasilowski
Vicki Welsh
Leni Levenson Wiener
Kathy York 
Vivien Zepf
Judy Gula and Eleanor of MeinkeToy:
Our Safety Nets
in case of unforseen circumstances.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Textile and Fiber Art List

In January I often sit down to review my commitments for the coming year, and make a big To Do list. Do I want to submit a piece to a particular call for entry? Will joining this group help with the marketing of my work? Should I apply to that facility for a solo show?

As busy as I was with various shows in 2014, there were still a few items on last year's To Do list that never Got Done. Some of them will be carried over to this year's list.

And 2015 has begun with a Bang for me: I have joined TAFA, the Textile and Fibre Art List, a juried group of over 500 members, representing 44 countries. This site promotes all kinds of fibre-related businesses, and offers support to members in the marketing of their work.  A blog is offered to the membership to share information about shows, workshops, and opportunities. TAFA may be just what I need to finally push me into using Facebook! To see my TAFA profile, please click here.