Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Work

I am obsessively developing a new project that I feel will be the most important work of my life. I have never had a clearer vision or stronger conviction for a body of work. I have shown the sketches and life-size cartoons to several curators, and we all agree that the imagery I am working with is something that has not been seen before. Several people have told me, “you can’t do that!’, which, to me, confirms that I am really on to something. 

Difficult life circumstances have dictated series of small, intimate works for a while now, but, the past two years, I have also been researching and gestating the series that is now unfolding in the studio. The work is difficult, confrontational, and, after all the research I have done, I can say with confidence that some of it is unprecedented. Although there will be some fiber-based work, this series also marks my return to painting after a 6-year hiatus. The circumstances of the last 5 years have not been conducive to creating large paintings until very recently, when I was able to sublet a decent size studio for the entire summer at a very low price. The experience changed my life: I was finally able to start work on this series, and I realized that I had to find a way to stay in an adequate studio to execute all of these large paintings. This series will consume me at least through 2015. As 2 galleries showing my work have closed in the past few years, I will be looking for someone brave enough to show it, or I will do a pop-up show on my own. I am furiously writing grant proposals to fund the studio and some of the expenses of production... if the grants do not come through, I will resort to an art-based, vetted fundraising campaign. 

There are sub-series within the larger series. The first sub-series of 6 is close to completion. Here is a teaser:


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Vagina Dentata Purse is featured in this newly-released book, Cultural Encyclopedia of The Penis, written by Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University,
Christine Milrod, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist,  and Amanda Kennedy, MA, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Stony Brook University.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A mention of my work in the Columbus Dispatch, reviewing the "Enough Violence" show at the Ohio Craft Museum. Working intently on a bunch of new paintings, but they will not be released for a while. Will try to post some teasers this week. Very happy with the way things are going.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sneak Peek:  "Love Object For A Future Trophy Hunter" (working photos)


Needs better styling and the magic touch of my awesome photographer. Will make more sense in the context of this in-progress series.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Readymade@100" was reviewed in the Washington Post yesterday, with a nice mention of my work. Polishing/finessing a new piece that I hope to unveil soon.

Friday, September 05, 2014

"Readymade: Brass, with Lock", 2014, 13 x 6 x 3", brass lock, chain, cast High Density Polyethylene, will be part of the "Readymade @ 100" exhibition opening tomorrow at American University Museum in D.C.
I will likely be unveiling another new piece on Monday.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Studio, yesterday. Will begin painting this week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


"He Squashed Magic Like Flies" (working photos), 2014, 25 x 19", acrylic, gouache, Prismacolor on colored paper




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In-progress gouache & colored pencil on colored paper.
A strange week. One of my art heroes, a brilliant painter named Jennifer Wynne Reeves has died from brain cancer. Since I discovered her work a few years back, I have made trips to NYC every time she has a show. I have never had a such a strong sense that I needed to see work because I desperately needed to learn something from it.

I am working in my studio sublet every day, but I switched from my regularly scheduled project yesterday because I was so thrown by Jennifer's death. I simultaneously felt that her soul was so big that a huge presence was lifted from the earth, and that a part of her was infusing all the artists she knew, acting as muse yesterday.

I am struggling. Putting in hours in the studio, but spending lots of time tossing & turning at night trying to solve some really big problems regarding my work.... it is incredibly stressful.  I know what needs to be made, but there are parts that I haven't figured out yet, particularly because I have not REALLY painted with oils in 6 years, and I want to make some changes rather than going back to the way I have always worked. In addition to the painterly aspects, the imagery is also more challenging than any I have ever worked with before. I am convinced I am doing the right thing, I just feel like it is not yet on target. I have never danced on ice this thin before.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

study/sketch for new work

For the first time in 6 years, I will focusing on my work full time for an extended period. For the first time in 6 years, I will break out the oil paint. I have sublet a studio for the summer in D.C., and I am spending every weekday there until Sept 1st. Stay tuned....


Friday, May 23, 2014


New piece:

"Readymade: Brass, with Lock", 2014, 13 x 6 x 3, brass lock, chain, cast High Density Polyethylene

Made (purchased) this work in response to a call for entries for a ready made show... I couldn't help myself. They are meant to hang off the back of a large truck, so the scale is really odd when it is hanging on the wall. I love the idea of buying the piece from a place that sells them "for reals", and then subverting it... and they have a version with a chain and lock!

Looking forward to a really exciting summer. The life events of the past 6 years have left me feeling so thwarted, even though I have produced a lot of work. Although I technically have a lot of square footage of studio space in our home, the ceilings are quite low, and every time I have tried to start a new large painting, I end up feeling claustraphobic and frustrated... I stop, and go on to do something smaller. After planning a series of paintings for a year and a half, while executing a totally different body of work, I have solved the problem, albeit temporarily. 

I will be subletting a decent sized studio this summer, one that will allow me the space to start these large works that I have been planning. I feel confident that, once the works are started in a large space, I will be able to bring them home and finish them in the space that I own. Having the open space at the onset allows the work to be as big as it needs to be, without being constrained by the context of the studio space. 

I am so excited, I feel like I am heading back to grad school! Will be posting in-progress pics.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A great review of the "Stitch" show by Michael O'Sullivan in today's Washington Post.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The artist's talk I gave at Broward College has been posted on Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e4URAR5eUg

and "State of Emergency", a group show I am in at Davidson College (with Ai Weiwei!) was recently reviewed here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Busy Week

"Stitch" opened at The Reston Arts Center on the 16th, then I took off for Fort Lauderdale, where I was a visiting artist at Broward College. I gave a talk on Thursday the 23rd (they tell me they videotaped it and it will available on YouTube some time this week), and a condensed, 3 hr version of my Visual Voice Workshop on Friday the 24th.



I have lined up a 2-day Dig Deep: Visual Voice Workshop with The Art Armory in West Palm Beach for 2015, and a Publicity Hat Workshop that we are hoping to schedule for 2014.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Une Femme D'Un Certain Âge", 2014, 33 x 22", grey hair of many women embroidered on black cotton. Working photos. This work will be at the "Stitch" group exhibition along with 14 other works, opening tomorrow at The Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, VA. 
 


 This is the catalog for the exhibition, with a detail of "Heart Center" on the cover!

Labels:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In January:

Giving an artist talk at Broward College in FL on January 23rd, followed by a free abbreviated version of my workshop, "Digging Deep: Find Your Visual Voice" on the 24th.

Showing my silverpoint spoons at "State of Emergency", opening on Jan 23rd at Davidson College in NC. The show is curated by Lia Newman, and features the work of Ai Weiwei, Miguel Aragón, Mel Chin, Joelle Dietrick, Eben Goff, Naoya Hatakeyama, Miki Kato-Starr, Tatana Kellner, Matt Kenyon, Mario Marzan, Richard Misrach, Jason Mitcham, Matthew Picton, Robert Polidori, elin o’Hara slavick, Katherine Taylor, and Paul Villinski.

A slew of my newest fiber work will be at "Stitch", opening Jan 16th at The Reston Arts Center in VA. Holly McCullough curated this show with Orly Cogan, Suzi Fox, Rania Hassan, Pam Rogers, Erin Endicott Sheldon, and Nathan Vincent. I will be showing 14-15 of my mosr recent works, including the hot-off-the-press embroidery featuring the grey hair of dozens of women, and "Dacades of Dreaming of You", on loan from a collector in Miami.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

In-progress hair embroidery, made with the grey hair of dozens of women.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A really nice mention and image in The Washington Post last week:

"Kretz is in a category by herself. Working in silverpoint, an archaic drawing technique that leaves fine, ghostly metallic lines on a gessoed surface, the artist has created miniature pictures of tornadoes on the concave surface of two ordinary tablespoons. The images are barely an inch wide (you have to get right on top of them to see them), but their message packs a punch. That’s because of Kretz’s delivery, which harnesses the metaphorical power of an ordinary household object to domesticate nature’s fury.

The artist's point is less representational than conceptual. She's interested in disturbances that that aren't atmospheric so much as familial: divorce, dysfunction, and other transformative dynamics.

For Kretz, a tempest in a teapot can be just as devastating as one on the open prairie."



Thursday, November 07, 2013

In-progress hair embroidery made with dozens of women's grey hair. The more contributors, the more power the piece will have. Please email me at kkretz4art_at_aol_dot_com if you want to mail me some hair and be a part of this project. Even if it is only 5 or 6 inches long, I can get a few stitches out of it !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Project. This is the THIRD time that I have stitched out the red guidelines, and the second time I have actually begun the hair embroidery. I think this one will work:



I am using grey hair gathered from many women. I am still accepting hair. Contact me at kkretz4art (at) aol_dot_com.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Portent" exhibition, curated by Twig Murray, opens tomorrow at the Athenaeum in Alexandria, VA, from 4-6. My silverpoints got a mention in the The Washington Post's selection of weekend activities.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For a long time, I have been lamenting the fact that my hair embroideries take 3 solid months of work to create a 2 x 3" work. The finished piece is easily passed by or dismissed as a drawing, but when people see a detail of the work blown up, they are often blown away. Today, I picked up my first archival large scale photo of a hair embroidery, face-mounted to plexiglass, and I am VERY happy with the results. It is clean and sexy, I have kept the victorian oval reference, and you can finally see all of the work that has gone into it. (the hammer is for scale)



Thursday, October 03, 2013






"Hag." and "unruly" framed ,  both:   2013, embroidery on human hair, velvet, convex glass, frame, 3 x 3", 14 x 14" framed.

My Vagina Dentata Purse will be included in an academic book entitled "The Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis", to be published in 2014.

Here are images of the Fiber Optics exhibition, current up in Ft. Lauderdale at 1310 Gallery.
Finally, uploading files to the printer for my first "museum-quality archival photo print, face-mounted to 1/4" plexi, cut to oval as shown, with polished edges, mounted to die-bond with a cleat for hanging". Blowing up the hair embroideries, looking forward to the results, and the possibility that more people will actually be able to see / feel what goes into making those 2 x 3" images that take 3 solid months to make. I feel as though this is the way that they were meant to be seen. The first one will be more like a circle, but the rest will be ovals. Clean and contemporary, but with a Victorian reference. They will be about 30" tall. Excited.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Enough Violence" opens this Friday night at The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart... I am looking forward to seeing the show. I will be there for the opening, and for the "meet the artists" session on Saturday afternoon from 1-3. 

"Fiber Optics", a large-scale exhibition of contemporary textile work opened last Friday at 1310 Gallery in Fort Lauderdale.

I am so thankful to be this busy.... starting to feel like my job is being a professional booking agent for my work!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Gazette and The Washington Post both reviewed The Trawick Prize Finalist Show, and had some wonderful things to say about my work!

Here are two new silverpoint spoons, Tempest IV and Tempest V.... they are likely going to be the last spoons I do, though I may do another ladle or two, I like getting lost in the floods.


I am teaching a painting class this semester, and I am unpacking the oil paint that I have not touched for 5 years, and setting it up to start painting again in my own studio. Here is an in-progress glazing demo I am doing for class, a circular painting of my sleeping daughter.


"Fiber Optics" opens tonight in Fort Lauderdale!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Radley Kretz, a.k.a. “The Goob”
April 15, 2003 – July 23, 2013

I waited my whole life to get a dog. I grew up in a dogless house; when I was old enough, I used to visit dog parks and dream about the day that I would have one of my own.  I knew I would name him Radley, for "To Kill A Mockingbird” character Boo Radley. I think I even practiced calling his name, out loud, to the air, when I imagined what life would be like when I finally brought him home. I had my heart set on a Boxer…. large, bumbly dogs that remain puppy-like their entire lives.

Once I got tenure, I knew it was time. Like any good academic, I bought and read 5 books on training dogs before I picked him up. I was a neurotic, first-time dog Mom, calling up friends anytime I had a question.

I had spent most of my life avoiding any commitments, and when I decided to begin my own family, he was the first one I chose. For a long time, it was just the two of us: he would ride shotgun on road trips, stay with me all day in the studio, and slept curled up in my behind-the-knee nook each night.




Radley pointed me the man I married. I had been with another man for four years, one I was madly in love with, but my increasing desire to have a child was not one that he shared. The on-again, off-again breakup was difficult, and even long after we separated, he was the one who drove me across the state to pick up Radley, knowing how long I had waited to get a dog, and wanting to share the excitement with me.  The Goob rode across Florida in my lap while S drove. 

A few weeks later, I talked to S on the phone, and relayed that crate training was going well, but Radley had just had an accident on the carpet. “Good luck with that…” he replied dryly, before he said good night and hung up. A few weeks later, after I started dating my future husband, it happened a second time. “I have a carpet steamer… we can take care of that, no problem!” was his response. Clearly, a keeper.
 
Radley was a good dog, one who never rolled in anything smelly, never chewed any shoes, only got into the garbage once, and always went to his “place” when told. He acted like a puppy until a few days before his death: he was so relentlessly happy and enthusiastic, it was always hard to tell when he was sick. He used to love to stand up on his hind legs, his paws on my shoulders, and dance with me. When he gave kisses, it would always be one quick little lick, at the bottom of your nose. We would tease him by whining like a dog, and he would cry in empathy. His mouth made an "O" when he howled, “roooo-rooo-rooo” whenever he heard an ambulance. Both my husband and I used to fake him out by saying “Where’s Kate?” or “Where’s Kevin?” when the other was other gone, to send him dashing to the door, looking to and fro for the missing parent. He had a huge personality: it inspired me to make up at least 5 songs about him, I used to sing them to get that tail going. Ironically, my daughter had just started singing the Radley songs, insisting that we make up songs for the other family members as well. 
 I am still bursting into tears a few times a day, even 6 weeks later. The relationship I had with this dog was more constant and physical than any other relationship in my life. I work from home 5-7 days a week, and he was always by my side. He lived in my studio with me. 
If I sewed, he was there:

When I stretched a canvas, he helped:

When I got a scaffold, he watched me from his studio couch:
If I lived with a man who was literally with me 24 hours a day, leaning against me, wanting constant contact, he would be shown the door pretty quickly. Much like one misses the physical details of a lover, I find myself missing parts of him…. his round little fuzzy chin, his expressive eyes, his stubby tail wagging back and forth at 200 RPM. I long to scritch behind both of his ears simultaneously… it is a gesture that is indelibly burned into my nervous system.

Through the tremendous personal difficulties of the past five years, Radley was constant, likely happier than ever that we went from living in a 4,000 sq foot house to being tightly packed in a small two-bedroom apartment with 2 grown-ups, a newborn baby, and a cat. Through several moves, 5 months of six-hour drives (with a newborn) every weekend to NC to pack up a house, and yelling at him because he was underfoot in the tiny apartment, he was just happy to be with us.

And now, since we had to put him down, he is teaching me again. I have always been a workaholic, but my life before the recession–based-shit-hit-the-fan was one where I fluidly moved from working on furniture projects for the house, to sewing something awesome for myself or my niece to wear, to “real” art projects and back again. I was blissfully happy, and I knew that each thing fed the other and opened up new possibilities. But once my husband was laid off from Labcorp two weeks after I became pregnant, I gave that life up, and have been living in “survival mode” since. Five years of relentless pressure put me close to a breaking point: I slept less, worked up to three jobs at a time, was a mother to my daughter, and every spare minute I had was spent working on my art & art career. I have always been driven, but I was determined that I was not going to “disappear” once I had a baby, despite the fact that our circumstances had changed dramatically for the worse. When we finally moved into our present house, other than preparing a nursery for a now-one-year-old daughter, I decided that there was no time to paint rooms, work on the lamp, or paint the couch the way I imagined it in my head, even though it pained me every single time I walked into my living room, seeing only the gap between my vision and the reality.

Six weeks ago, after we put my sweet puppy into the ground, for the first time in my life, I was incapacitated. I have made work through a major breakdown in my 30's and through various episodes of depression and anxiety over the course of my life. When my father was in hospice this past Spring, I sat by his bed, playing music and movies he loved, while working on a hair embroidery. But, this time, I could not bear to go into the studio without my companion. I spent about two days sleeping and crying after the hour of buoyancy required to get my daughter off to daycare.  I watched a movie or two. People gave me permission to be kind to myself. I decided that it was finally time to paint the lamp and the couch. For several weeks I devoted myself to making beautiful things, things that were NOT going to be immediately shipped off to a gallery or an art fair the minute they were made, but objects that would give me joy EVERY SINGLE DAY by sharing my space…. just like Radley.

This was a life lesson that I needed to be reminded of, and it would not have happened without the tragedy of Radley’s death.  He has shown me the path out of a very bad rut.

I have never had much use for organized religion: I don’t know what I believe about the afterlife, but I finally understand a bit more about why religion seems to be a necessity for many people, and why we have developed platitudes about death. This year was the first time I have lost beings that I was really close to: it changes you in dramatic ways. I want so desperately to believe that I will see Radley and my father again, and that they are happy now. I understand what people mean when they say, “He will live on in your heart…”, because he does, right next to the hole that his death created. I am shocked to find that my mentality has been reverting to that of a five-year-old. A few weeks back, it was raining really hard, and I wept because, three feet under the ground, he was getting wet in the backyard. He didn’t like to be wet; he loved coming in from the rain and being toweled off, ferociously. In my worst moments, I make angry demands of the universe, screaming to no one in particular, “I want him BACK! He’s MY dog, and I want him BACK!”  










Wednesday, September 04, 2013

This Friday, The Trawick prize winners will be announced. Lenny Campello gave me a vote of confidence in his blog recently, as he mused about who might win this year. I'm just trying not to think about it too much and move forward, working on more grant applications, a number of projects for the house, framing my newest hair pieces, and getting ready to set up an oil painting studio after a 5 year hiatus. Been framing and shipping work all over creation for shows opening in the next few weeks:

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards Exhibit
Gallery B, Bethesda, MD
Sept 4-28, 2013


Hirsute
Curated by Amanda Cooper
Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL
Sept 14 - Oct 27, 2013

Fiber Optics
Curated by Lisa Rockford
1310 Gallery
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sept 21 - October 11, 2013

ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out
Curated by Kate Lydon
Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA
Society for Contemporary Craft

(traveling)
Sept 27, 2013 - Mar 22, 2013

Fiberart International 2013
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA
November 6, 2013 - January 19, 2014

Portent
Curated by Twig Murray
The Athenaeum, Alexandria, VA
Oct 24 - Dec 8, 2013

I will be present at the two Trawick openings, and possibly the Society for Contemporary Craft show in Pittsburgh. Keep your fingers crossed for me on Friday the 6th.... no one except those close to me know how dramatically this prize would change my life.








Saturday, August 24, 2013

A few weeks ago, I put down Radley, my studio dog of ten years, and it just about broke me. After a few days of simply taking drugs and going to bed to get through the days, I started working on projects around my house, because I cannot bear to go into the studio without him. Here is a couch I inherited from my deceased mother-in-law:

Before:


and After:



I used to sit on this couch with The Goob, so I turned it into a beautiful Klimtian field of flowers. He slept with me until I met my husband, and was not allowed on any of the furniture until he was diagnosed with lymphoma 8 months ago, then I insisted he be allowed on this one couch so I could pet him all the time.

I have also done two new pieces, both about 3" around, embroidery on human hair. Both will be mounted on black velvet and framed with ornate round silver leaf frames.



"Hag" and "Unruly". I have 6 group shows in the near future, so it is a busy time in addition to going back to school and teaching oil painting again for the first time in years.

Monday, July 22, 2013

in-process gessoing this weekend. When my dad died a few months back, I embroidered by his bedside while I talked to him. Tomorrow, I have to put my dog Radley down, and, for the first time ever, I don't feel like working.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today, I am sanding and gessoing all of the pieces. I cut up some emory boards to get into the tiny spaces.
Here is a planning map of the middle layers: