Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Question of Bloggin'

It seems everyone is doing it and there is the question. WHY? Why would anyone write stuff which can be read by ANYone around the world? Why would anyone read this stuff which comes off the keyboard like so much stream of consciousness writing? It seems the answer to 'why?' is as individual as both the writer and the reader and web-logs (blogs) are filling cyberspace with random thoughts . . . daily records . . . real communication . . . and even good business.

I read a few daily blogs. For me, they are like this row of trees at Puivert in France. Each day they are part of a whole: some have real texture to them, some are missing, some are skinny little things. On the lake's surface, their mirror image doubles their impact except where the water is disturbed. Like the trees and the lake, some mornings, the message is quite clear; other times, it falls on a ruffled surface (fuzzy brain.) But, along with my morning paper, each has a place in my day. There are many reasons why!

I am currently reading (and occasionally commenting on) these and a few other art blogs:
*Nita http://nitaleland.blogspot.com/ frequently talks about teaching and has recently reviewed a list of new watercolor books. I trust her knowledge and her reviews.
*Karen http://kajac2000.blogspot.com/ writes about process, where she's been and where she's going with her work.
*Robin http://artgirls.blogspot.com/
-----and *Martha http://artistsjournal.blogspot.com/ write about creative influences and business decisions which affect their work.
*Joyce http://hermitthrushstudio.blogspot.com/ posts a daily painting which she creates from her bicycle studio.
*Shelly http://cat-sidh.net/blog/ adds a whole new set of topics to my day and has taught me more than I ever thought I wanted to know about observing clouds (which made me know I had seen something special even though I didn't know what and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.)
*Robert's Letters http://www.painterskeys.com/ often hit the mark. Last week, his descriptions of clouds truly made paintings in my head.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Marking Changes

Over the weekend as I read and watched about the events surrounding 9/11, I have been reminded of photos in my files of a cold weekend in NYC more than 15 years ago. Some of my favorite images are stored in that box.

This is one of them from a winter business trip and a quick visit to the Statue of Liberty -- just a simple tourist snapshot with my spouse and the NYC skyline. Who could know what changes were on the horizon for all of us?

This week, the country marks the 5 years of 9/11. In November, my family will mark the 10 years of his death.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taking Five

When I finish a major judging event, I "take five" -- a little time to rethink the awards selections. I reflect particularly on what made the winners stand out and whether I would choose a different set of winners another day.

We each spent an average of 2 minutes per exhibitor to move throughout the show asking questions about process, touching and looking at the work and making notes for later comparison. We were not surprised that many said they had never had a judge even enter their booth, much less ask questions. Having been out there ourselves for many years, we had seen many judges walk past without really knowing what they were seeing -- were they afraid someone would think they didn't know 'everything'?

Although I have been judging for more than twenty years, evaluation helps me grow as a judge and gives me confidence in my ability to handle the task when faced with new directions, new technology and new ideas. Over the weekend, I was able to return to the show after the awards were announced to review the choices which Joanna and I made. I only second-guessed myself on one choice and, in the long run, I was satisfied with my work.

NOTE: With so few websites available for reference, I have added descriptions to the post from Sunday, 9/3. Since Powers is a traditional festival, many of the entries are traditional and the awards relect this, but most also reflect a unique use of the medium.


Both of us also had many friends in the show which is both a good thing and a bad thing. We get to see friends (good for us), but we know what their BEST looks like and that's what we want to see so we're tougher on friends (bad for them!) So today, I want to remind myself about my old friends and what I love about what they do.

Lucy Moore, Anniston, AL is a toy maker extraordinaire who greets everyone with a smile. Her stuffed animals and blankets have been in my house for almost than 30 years. Working in fur, she always has a new design or texture which excites her. And yes, our Lucy went home with a new mouse, but no, Susan did not bring home the L-A-R-G-E moose.
Charles Adams, Troy, AL shines a light on the world in stained glass and colored sugar. His famous brightly colored suckers, exquisite glass windows and lamps and wry sense of humor bring smiles everywhere. I've watched the subtle changes in his work for many years and he just gets better.
Brenda Harris Tustian, Ball Ground, GA is a hard working watercolorist who manages to look lovely and unruffled in any condition. Along with her floral paintings, she has developed a unique style of floral paintings and pet portraits. She has raised thousands of dollars with a series of Christmas scenes which she has created for various charities.
Kazuko Chiyo Sasaki, Birmingham, AL, has been creating sumi and watercolor paintings for longer than I have known her which is almost 40 years. Her quality is consistant, yet always fresh and her laugh is spontaneous and joyous.
Pam Snellgrove, LaGrange, GA melts glass rods to build tiny, elegant figurines with circles and loops and blobs. No one matches her control of this traditional craft or her eye for quality. She uses mostly clear rods, but occasionally adds some colored and painted glass.
Don McWhorter, Carrollton, GA throws large stoneware pottery which he decorates with intricate lacy designs. His pitchers look as if they come from Arabian Nights. He is often surrounded by visitors who just enjoy his conversations or his music.

All of these artists are solid, creative people. They along with their families can be seen at major festivals and craft shows throughout the Southeast. I am pleased to call them friends.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Strutting Your Stuff

Yesterday's winners at Powers Crossroads Country Fair and Art Festival, Newnan, Georgia can also strut their stuff.

Joanna and I took a full day to look at each of the almost 250 exhibitors - checking for attention to detail and a personal interpretation of the medium. It was a hard decision in some cases and an easy one in others. Finally, we presented this list of 14 for recognition. Some of the artists were overwhelmed and grateful; others were ho-hum. Neither should have been.

NOTE: I have added some comments since very few of these artists have a web presence.

Fine Art Best of Show
Mark Edwards, Hudson FL - metal sculpture -Edwards
Mark's large metal sculptures are like three dimensional abstract paintings with a perfect balance of shape, texture, space.
Awards of Excellence
David Gill, Richmond, VA - watercolor painting - Gill
David's highly detailed interiors make beautiful use of the juicy and transparent characteristics of watercolor.
Tim and Erika Peters, Winter Haven, FL - porcelain
Tim and Erika handle porcelain clay like no one else - carving into the dried clay pots or painting on a flat surface and then glazing in just the right places.
Maurice Cook, Birmingham, AL - acrylic painting - Cook photo
Maurice uses acrylics to paint stories filled with people and colorful shapes in a primitive style which sits just at the edge of outsider art.
Honorable Mention
Kathleen Green, Groveport,OH - oil painting
Kathleen uses layers of traditional oil pigment to tells stories of silent empty spaces filled with light and shadow.
Suzanne Bellows, Valrico, FL - batik/mixed media
Suzanne's beautiful silk batik creates the basis for such diverse pieces as jewelery and framed designs.
Fred Draper, Knoxville, TN - photography
Fred's photography covers a variety of subjects from found landscapes to interesting studio work but all have strong composition.

Craft Best Of Show
Connie Nabholz, Pensacola, FL - mixed media/beadwork
Connie Nabholz strings beads into exquisite abstract designs, into tiny little purses and amulet bags and into copies of her own paintings.
Awards of Excellence
William White, Jacksonville, Beach, FL - clay sculpture
Bill sculpts intriquing and humorous figures in layers of variously textured clay.
Robert Howell, Moultrie, GA - wood carving
Robert carves and paints fish leaving the suggestion of delicate movement.
Robert T. Roller, Bowden, GA - kick-wheel pottery
Robert uses a kick-wheel to throw his pottery which he fires in his own unique glazes.
Honorable Mention
Jeff Zaffino, Rossville, GA - mixed media/wood
Jeff creates intricate and amazing pictures using sheets of wood and a scroll saw.
Jerry Zefft, Statenville, GA - wooden puzzles
Jerry's wooden jigsaw puzzles appeal to both children and adults with color, shape and clean lines.
Janice Kirkland, St. Mary's GA - clay garden sculpture
Janice begins with a beautiful red clay and creates a wide variety of simple garden sculpture.

Another note: In case you think judging is simple and that a peacock would win over a rooster hands-down, take a look at the scraggly old peacock in the picture. The rooster gets my vote.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Influencing the Influence

When I research artists for my BioGem pages, I am often surprised at the influences which turn an artist toward one direction or another. Sometimes it is on a personal level; others times it happens to whole bunches of us at once. In art, sometimes it is even hard to tell which is the influence and which is the influencee.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who said, "I had to get back to what I do best; my work had gotten too crafty; I was adding too much junk." I knew what she meant; I had judged a show and was surprised to find her name attached to one of the collaged entries. We both wondered why she had gone in that direction.

The 20th C was filled with artists who invented new ways of expressing themselves. We thought they were in a class by themselves. Today, I see a whole realm of creative impulses out there which seem to be influencing the making of art. There are admonitions as non-specific as to "follow your muse" and "dream with color," to instructions to "take a bit of this, add a little of that, tear an edge, glaze over, try some texture, float in an old photograph, make a line with these new markers. . . ." And I am beginning to see a fading of that fine line between abstraction, altered books, contemporary painting, collage, assemblage, and scrapbooking.

Is this a good thing? Gotta think about this.

Robert Indiana was influenced by signs and LOVE.