Thursday, January 31, 2008

On the nightstand:
In the small embroidery hoop:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Great Fringe Benefit of the Blessed Art Thou thing...

My husband emailed me this link (which I have never seen before), with the subject heading, "Did you do something to your hair....?"
Vanessa Beecroft Shames the Profession

Wow. New York magazine reviews Pietra Brettkelly's documentary debuting at Sundance, "The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins", revealing some shocking insensitivity in the name of artmaking and publicity-mongering. On one hand, I hope someone picks it up so we can see it, but artists really don't need this kind of bad PR.
hoggardb has posted a slide show of the 475 Kent St. eviction on Flicker.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oubliette II hair embroidery in progress.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Art World Truth #4, in progress.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

If you have not heard, 200 artists were evicted from a building on Kent St. in Williamsburg this past week. They were told that the building was a fire hazard. According to a post at High Lo and In Between, they were apparently given less that 24 hours warning to get everything out. Here is the NY Times coverage of the event. A source quoted in the Times claims that the eviction occurred only weeks before there was to be a hearing, converting the building to rent-controlled apartments.

The landlord, Nachman Brach, was cited for not maintaining the sprinkler system, and having an illegal matzo ball factory (kitchens) in the basement. This was not the first time he was cited for building violations, according to The Brooklyn Paper.

One tenant's open letter to the city, describing the absurd and harrowing conditions surrounding the execution of the ousting, is posted here.

I have artist friends in Brooklyn who live under similar conditions, and worse. Sellout has posted some interesting questions about security and non-security in the lives of artists: why so many artists constantly "live on the edge".

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reading Jerry Saltz's piece this morning inspired me to obsessively work on Art World Truth #4 today (it is achingly relevant), rather than the hair embroidery piece I was scheduled to work on. My sister is visiting this weekend, so I think I will be able to finish AWT #4 in the next few days while chatting.
God bless Jerry Saltz, for noticing the mid-career folks. In his recent New York Magazine piece, "Emerging, After All These Years" he reviews work by several Mid-Career Emerging Artists, a phrase I am beginning to hear with comforting frequency these days.

I remember sitting at a dinner party 4-5 years ago, at the height of the art world's youth obsession, with a curator/critic who was asked to define the term "emerging artist". His initial definition prompted further inquiry about the age range inherent in the term, to which he replied, "Well, they're almost all under 40, and a few rare ones are under 50". The host, a longtime collector of my work, shot me a compassionate glance.

Back to the article, Mr. Saltz calls attention to the work of John Miller, perceptively noting,

"Miller’s gaudy gold-leaf bas-reliefs look simultaneously like Schnabel plate paintings, the ocean floor, ersatz architectural artifacts, kitschy bling, and modern-day Dutch still lifes touched by Midas. They play a snarky, Quasimodo-like American cousin to Damien Hirst’s $100 million death’s-head bauble. But where Hirst goes with diamonds and death, Miller gives us soda cans, sunglasses, belts, and bras, in effect putting a clown nose on Hirst’s skull.

It’s not just nice that the market is allowing dealers to take a flyer on artists who haven’t had enough chances. Artists like Miller and Pensato are gaining relevance, as the art world consciously looks for ways to not attack the market as evil but try to comment on the system from within, without playing directly into the hands of commerce. (He doesn’t need to sell designer objets, for example, the way Takashi Murakami does.) Miller’s gewgaws can be seen as modern equivalents to Warhol’s dollar-sign paintings and Daniel Buren’s stripes—fetishes that have no inherent value in themselves but that externalize unconsciousness, destabilize our relationship to art, and are vivid symbols for their own status as placeholders for the rich. These paintings could easily be labeled stylish crap. Still, they’re ornery and raffish and show an artist being served by the market’s excess, our uneasy awareness of it, and artists grown tired of greatest-generationalism."

Very cool, despite the obvious maintenance issues for someone who dusts, oh.... say, every other month...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

American Craft Magazine reviewed "Pricked" in a somewhat unconventional fashion. If you can't make it to the show, click on the arrows below the image to start a little slide show of works.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So Many Art (and yucky non-Art) Tasks, so Little Time....

Today, spent the day adding lots of new downloadable reviews and catalogs to my website, something I have been meaning to do for a year now. There are still more to be added, but I need to started on my new hair embroidery tomorrow.
Earlier this week, I took down my "Requiem" drawing that had been hanging over my drawing table for the last 6 months.
Been playing a little in the studio.

While waiting for things to download, I worked on the latest Art World Truths embroidery.
I still haven't put the last one up on the website... I need to be walked through adding pages with the new website format.

And the Christmas tree should be taken down tonight, and we (actually, Kevin) is ripping apart the kitchen. I finally got to the 7 Up series on Netflix, and I am hoping to watch the first one tonight after my chores are done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Artist Relocation Program

Have you had it with renting? Are you sick of painting at your kitchen table?
Relocate to Paducah, KY. Own your own property with 100% financing. No, I'm not kidding.
Here are the incentives:
  • Lowertown is dual zoned for commercial and residential use. This enables residents to have gallery/studio, restaurant/ café, etc. and living space all under one roof.
  • 100% financing for purchase and rehabilitation of an existing structure or the building of a brand new structure.
  • Basic loan package is 7% - 30yr. fixed rate up 300% of appraised value.
  • Free lots for new construction as available.
  • City will pay up to $2500 for architectural services or other professional fees.
  • National marketing of Lowertown Arts District and Paducah.
I have spent the day scanning reviews & catalogs, converting them to pdfs, and uploading them to the reviews section my website. Tomorrow I will do a bunch more. The goal is to get the complete collection up there, at least the reviews of solo shows. Then I also have pdfs of everything to email to people & put on the discs that I send out.

Also prepping for some hair embroidery and painting...

Monday, January 21, 2008

James Kalm filmed two Lower East Side openings last week, and the second one in this video is "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" at 31GRAND.
There is a special place in heaven awaiting Ed Winkleman. Today, he discusses the conflict of interest that runs rampant in the art world and calls for a new code of ethics.

And at sellout, more talk of an artist's union.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some funny and wise financial advice for artists from Pretty Lady....

Friday, January 18, 2008

I just spent some time reading the new blog Sellout, another fantastic resource for artists. I am adding it to my list of daily must-reads.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Following Up & Following the Breadcrumbs

As I said before, the trip to NYC was great, incredibly productive. Here are a few shots from the opening at 31GRAND.

Here I am with Heather, one of the 31GRAND gallerists, and Carol "Riot" Kane:

Here are a few installation shots of my work before the crowds got there.
Dogs, female warriors, and my handsome brother:
For pics of the opening in full swing, you can go to Carol's blog.

It seems that during the last few business trips I have made, opportunities have sprung up out of nowhere, and I accomplish far more than I had previously planned. Back in November, I had seen on the NYFA website that there were 50 minute career consultation sessions (called NYFA Live) available during the days I was going to be in NYC, so I lined that up ahead of time. I can't recommend them enough for those of you in NY. They were extremely informative.... how often do you get to write down specific questions about your career and get all your questions answered?
I saw Orly Cogan (showed with her in KC a few months back, then at MAD, now we are both in the show at 31GRAND) at the gallery, and she asked me to join her at MAD the next day to talk about my work to a curator who was walking a group of collectors through the show. Over the 4 day period, I had several other meetings with friends where we exchanged lots of information: I came home with a full Moleskine.

It is so rare that I come back from a trip without another trip lined right up behind it, or an impending deadline. It was great to be able to come home, go through all the information I collected, and follow up right away with everything: thank yous, follow up emails, packets. Most times, I do the urgent followups, but then let the less urgent ones get pushed aside, and they are done only after the next deadline passes or the next few trips are over. I have been so jazzed to follow up and start on ideas for new work that my blogging has become sparse and lame, and for that I apologize.

After the that work was completed, I moved on to what I call "following the breadcrumbs"... an often stream-of-consciousness activity that tells me what needs to be made next. It involves reading, working in my sketchbook, paying extra attention to dreams, watching films, etc, paying attention to overlaps, and following when one thing leads you to another. Serendipity plays a large role in reaffirming my gut instincts about future direction. Through this process, I divine what comes next in my studio, or, at least, figure out what I need to play with that will lead me to my next work.

This time, I did something I have never done before: I went through my sketchbooks of the last few years, including all the little moleskines I carry with me everywhere. Combing through them, I determined which ideas or fragments of ideas were relevant to me now, and created a concise list. It turned out to be 8-9 pages of one-to-two line descriptions: sometimes the description is about imagery, sometimes a concept, sometimes, materials. I am tremendously excited about this process: I have always had way too many ideas for new work: often, different ideas overlap, and I believe this process will help me distill and process the ideas to make the strongest possible work. It is an organizational process that will not take the place of "following breadcrumbs", but will help flesh out that process.

Yesterday, after completing my list, I pulled out two xeroxes I found in my sketchbook that I wanted to reread. One was excerpts from an interview with Marion Woodman (hearing her speak a few years ago was the closest thing to a religious experience that I have ever had), and the other xerox was one chapter on textiles from the book New Feminist Art Criticisms.

Last night, I had a great inspirational dream. I will spare you the complete details, but the setting for the dream was a kind, benevolent, but eccentric professor's office. It was like a library room lined with shelves of books on all sides, and he was conducting a type of graduate seminar in there, very informal, with all of us in easy chairs scattered about the room. In the center of the room was a very large table with strange objects on it: it was impossible to keep myself from picking up these seductive objects. Some of them were amorphous and lumpy, like coral or sea creatures in texture (note to self: go look at the underwater sea creature book that you ordered a while back because the forms & light seemed so inspirational, the one you have not yet had time to really look at), and some were like palm-sized flat snowflakes or crystals, but with no center, so they were wheel-like with decorative borders, about an inch thick, made from beach glass: all the objects, whether opaque or translucent, were beautifully colored.

This morning, I read the xeroxes. The Marion Woodman piece had all kinds of great wisdom on creativity and "freeing up the soul so that it may act in union with your creative instrument", but the phrase that I added to the end of my eight page list was "God (whatever your definition) can be manifested though light in matter... that's what the Impressionists were trying to paint, and that's what the Romantics were trying to write music about." (reiteration of one of my central themes, light....). Next, I read the chapter on textiles written by Janis Jefferies in New Feminist Art Criticisms. One of the pieces illustrated there was an amazing metal and red velvet piece (not the piece below, but another one.... red velvet.... one of my obsessions),
done by Cathy De Monchaux. I looked her up for the first time. The piece in the xerox was old, but some of her current work looks amazingly like the pieces in my dream last night. Some of it even has hair:
There are no large images of those pieces to show you, but there are large portfolio images of other great work here. All books & catalogues on her seem to be out of print : (
The De Monchaux google search led me to this interview with De Monchaux, conducted by Ana Finel Honigman, which addresses some of the issues I am grappling with at this particularly busy moment in my career. And so it goes....

Today, there are ice storms in North Carolina. I am hoping that the rain will stop this evening, and we can go out for a walk and take pictures of the ice-covered trees at night.

Parting words : "I will make this clear as I speak: The tax money that is being withdrawn from arts programs in schools will be spent on prisons." - Marion Woodman


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Have Always Wondered How This Process Works....

So.... The Museum of Arts & Design has a terrific PR person, who sends us almost daily PDFs and references to reviews of the current exhibition we are participating in. Today I received a very lengthy pdf of a piece that was published on a members-only trade website. The company that published this huge grab page on its site is described as "the leading global service providing online research, trend analysis and news to the fashion, design and style industries. XXXX is based in London and has offices in New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Tokyo."

The eight page pdf was composed mostly of extreme detail images of the artworks in "Pricked"... "a great exhibition for directional ideas". The dozens of close-up images were taken out of the meaningful context in which they were created, but showed some cool "effects" that you will soon be seeing on designer clothes and home textiles in a store near you. The closing comments on the image bank of our work reads, "The 'Pricked' exhibition offers endless inspiration for textile and surface design (emphasis theirs), particularly in relation to our womenswear trend directions for autumn/winter 2008/09 - Disturbed, Elusive and New Frontiers."

I am happy to send a copy of the pdf to anyone who emails me.

In the Artforum diary, it appears that Rhonda Lieberman begins to see through Emperor Koon's clothes.....

Monday, January 14, 2008

So bummed that I will not be in NYC for this:

Outsider Art Fair at The Puck Building in New York City.
January 25, 2008 - January 27, 2008

Here is a link to the NYT review of last year's show, and here is a blog posting about that same show from Madsilence, a posting that succinctly articulates my own obsession with outsider art.
While I am crafting a longish post, please check out some of my newer links, right.... I have been discovering some great ones.

Friday, January 11, 2008

In New York, for (a very busy) 4 days. A few fruitful meetings, meals with friends, eating cupcakes with my niece while watching dinosaur movies, looking at art, a packed and exciting opening at 31GRAND, an impromptu lecture to some art lovers at the Museum of Arts and Design, and a trip to one of my favorite places in NYC, MOOD, to get some gorgeous fabric for some new pieces. I took some pics, to be posted upon my return. I have never been so excited to get back into the studio!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

If you are up North... stop in to 31GRAND Gallery on Ludlow St. in New York tonight (Thurs) for the opening of "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". I peeked yesterday: it looks like it is going to be a great show! The opening is from 7-9, and all the info is here. I will be there, celebrating my first group show in a NYC gallery.... yipppeee!

(Detail, Crying Man III, showing at 31GRAND this month)

If you are down South... you can see several of my largest, most time-consuming paintings at the Palm Beach 3 art fair this weekend. My work is at Chelsea Galleria in both 20D.
(detail of "Requiem for Wassily & the Ineffable", showing at Palm Beach 3 this weekend)

Hoping to remember to take pics tomorrow. Will be heading to MAD to take shots of the hair embroidery installation this weekend as well....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Today received my copy of TYR. It is a journal in book form published once a year, and they asked permission to use "Blessed Art Thou" to accompany a great essay on consumerism called "Cipherspace", written by Thomas Naylor. Naylor is the author of Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic, a book I loved, so I was thrilled to be associated with his work. I am looking forward to reading his essay on the flight to New York tomorrow. Radley is mopey tonight while I am packing.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Vagina Dentata in the News

Apparently, on January 18th, the movie "Teeth" will open in New York & Los Angeles. I have heard murmurings of this film for quite some time, but my friend Mary just sent me the link to the website... apparently, it is finally being released. The website even presents some research on the myth of the Vagina Dentata. Alas, it is too late to send my Vagina Dentata Purse for the star to carry to the premiere.

Vagina Dentata Purse, 2002, hand sewn, hand dyed velvet, wire, thread, shaped shells, purse frame, 10 x 14 x 7"

I remember showing images of this work during a powerpoint lecture at a small private college in the South. The boys in the audience were horrified. When it came time for questions, one wide-eyed, terrified young man slowly raised his hand and asked, "Uh, how did you get the IDEA for the vagina purse?.....", as if I had dreamed up this incredible concept myself.

I did not just think, "Oh it would be fun to create a castrating vagina purse...." I was in the middle of creating my Psychological Clothing series when I was invited to participate in "The Vagina Show" art exhibition in Atlanta a few years back. So I made this purse specifically for that show. (I made this piece for "The Penis Show" the year before).

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Ed does it again, with a thread on post-exhibition blues. And at ArtWorldSalon, a thoughtful consideration of pushing art & commerce boundaries at Murakami's exhibition.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The New York Enemies/Allies Project, via a post from one of the nominated allies, Ed Winkleman.
Yet another way that the democracy of the internet is empowering artists.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It was just a matter of time before it happened... artists using television.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I'm Still Here, but Wondering if I am Sexist.....

I apologize for the spotty blogging. I have been feeling burnt and in need of recuperation to an unprecedented degree. I am beginning to come to the conclusion that something has to change in the way that I make art. The focus on my work is so tight towards the end of each project that the rest of my life falls by the wayside, which leads to exhaustion and the need to pick up the wreckage after each project is completed. The "life balance" that so many people seek feels so far away and impossible to me whenever a project is getting close to its realization: I become myopic. Then, in the aftermath, I am left to tend to 2-3 month's worth of middle-to-low-priority mail, back issues of art magazines and New York Times, piles of stuff in my studio that were thrown in a corner in the heat of making and now have to be organized, resume and website updates, catching up on the art world online, hanging up the clothes thrown over the rocking chair, and paying back my husband who covered a bunch of my household chores in the final weeks of the project. I have applied for a few grants to hire a studio assistant in order that I might work more efficiently. I also am hoping that the next paintings that need to be made might not need to be so large.

A new friend from Germany that I met in Miami (still haven't told Miami stories.... I know) invited me to join an art networking site, and I just spent some time filling out the profile. The first essay question starts out "I am...."

"I am..... a product of a large, poor, highly dysfunctional but creative family. I lived in France for a year when I was nine, attending French public schools. I returned to Paris when I was eighteen, working as an au pair and attending the Sorbonne. I put myself through undergraduate and graduate school, working 30 hours a week as a framer while attending school full-time. I had a brief stint as an Art Director at an advertising agency: I hated the job and it made me physically ill. I was an Associate Professor at Florida International University for ten years, teaching drawing, painting, and visual thinking. I was also BFA Director, getting BFA students ready for life in the real world and helping them mount their final exhibitions.

The hardest thing that I ever did was leaving the tenured position that I worked so hard for to try and make art as a full-time career. The decision involved moving from Miami to rural North Carolina, where there are very few distractions, and very little culture: I have been able to focus almost completely on my work. I travel quite a bit for exhibitions and visiting artist gigs, and see as many exhibitions and films as I can when I am away from home. I really miss my large community of art friends in Miami. I spend the days working in my studio with my dog, blogging about my current projects, and keeping up with the art world through the internet, podcasts, The New York Times and The Guardian. Despite my isolation, it seems that I have made the right decision, as things are finally starting to happen after 20 years of making and exhibiting my work.

Last year, I made a painting of Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart, entitled "Blessed Art Thou". It became quite controversial, and proved to me that I did not have to fall off the face of the earth just because I live in the middle of nowhere. The obsessive nature of my work is my "ism": without it, I would surely fall prey to one of the other "isms" present in my family. My work keeps me sane, but I frequently fear that, sustained at this pace, it will eventually kill me."

Then we were supposed to list our favorite artists. Granted, it was late at night when I filled out this part, but I started my list.....

"Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Ann Hamilton, Anne Wilson, Tracy Emin, Marilyn Minter, Stella Vine, Miranda July, Tilleke Schwarz, Annette Messager, Kathe Kollwitz, Doris Salcedo, Lisa Yuskavage, Helen Chadwick, Cornelia Parker, Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Julie Heffernan......."

and it occured to me that they were all women. I had to get into a different mindest this morning to round out the list with some men:

"Chris Verene, Brian Ulrich, Anselm Kiefer, Llyn Foulkes, Ed Keinholz, Jim Goldberg, Banksy, Andres Serrano, Ivan Albright, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Peter Greenaway, Michael Snow (who, I understand, is FINALLY getting some recognition)"

I have an acquaintance who runs a fairly well-known art blog. I enjoy checking in on it from time to time, and I think that the author is a brilliant thinker and writer, but the blog itself tends to be a closed circle of (mostly male) artists steeped and stuck in a rather traditional Modernist and Formalist philosophy. They were once discussing Louise Bourgeois, and none of them seemed to think much of her, wondering what all the fuss was about.

I immediately jumped in and told the story of how, when I was in graduate school, I volunteered to run the slide projector while the faculty was reviewing applicants for the graduate program. The faculty at that time was about 75 - 80% male, and , at this particular screening, for whatever reason, none of the 3 female faculty members showed up. The process involved looking at slides first, and only if they were interested would they inquire about resume and/or recommendations. I remember quite distinctly that there was one (female) applicant who I thought was amazing, and the 10 second consideration of that candidate went something like this:

- "great painter...."
- "yeah, but I don't really 'get' the subject matter..."
- "right, me neither"
- "next"

(Impulsive and self-righteous as I am, I put an anonymous letter in the female faculty mailboxes, not realizing, of course, that there were only two grad students present at the screening, and they could easily determine my identity.)

Anyway, after I told this story to the guys on the art blog and suggested that something similar might be at work in their current discussion of Louise Bourgeois, I was admonished with a referral to a pre-written blog guideline suggesting that it was lame and unacceptable to accuse anyone on the blog of sexism. But the fact that the first 15 artists that I could think of were female has me thinking about my own framework and biases, or at least my sensibilities...

Time to embroider while watching a movie I have had in my collection for a year but not yet consumed: "The Saddest Music in the World". Oh, and at 2:00, Patricia Malarcher, the editor of Surface Design magazine, fellow New York Textile Study group member, and a wonderful lady, will be speaking at nearby Elon University. So we aren't SO culturally bereft here after all....

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A day of catch-up surfing turns up a review of Liz Craft's work as a lesson in risk-taking.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

The last of my guests left yesterday at noon... spent the rest of the day a bit shellshocked. It seems as if things have been happening at a breakneck pace for for months now, even years. Since I started "Blessed Art Thou"... no, since I moved here. Ironic to move from a major metropolitan city to rural NC, and have the pace of my work life pick up so much. Making a commitment to full-time artmaking, particularly with the caveat that it could only be continued if successful after a limited period of time, made me push harder than I ever have before (and if you you know me, you know that is a hard RPM to amp up)

I said when I was working on BAT that, when it was finished, I would be taking some time to read, catch up on some films, work in my sketchbook, organize and gestate my ideas a bit. That never really happened. So the plan right now is to start a new hair embroidery or two, but concurrently map out several hours each day to read or play in my studio and see what develops. I feel it is rather critical to make time for this process right now.

I will break the new routine briefly to head up to NYC next week: SO looking forward to the group show opening, "The Heart is A Lonely Hunter" at 31GRAND Gallery in New York. (It should be a fantastic show... I will be showing embroideries... hair, and others as well.) Will cram as much art seeing as I can into that trip, then come back and resume the schedule. Hope that your 2008 is amazing!