Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Series of Convoluted Coincidences and a Book Art Workshop

This is Donna, knitting during a break. You'll have to read on to figure out who Donna Thomas is, and why she's in this post. (Sorry this is blurry, Donna)

This is admittedly a long tale, so bear with me (or not!). Close to a month ago, I got an email from my friend Judith Walsh, an encaustic artist in Oracle, with a link to Catherine Nash's newsletter. An upcoming bookmaking workshop at her studio in Tucson caught my eye.

In my past, besides being trained as a printmaker, I took 2 semesters of bookmaking at ASU taught by John Risseauw. This was way back when (1987-1988 to be exact). I love bookmaking and it ties in so well with printmaking. Since that time, I've taken some bookmaking workshops, and have incorporated bookmaking into the teaching of my various art classes. However, bookmaking has taken a back seat to my painting efforts.

So when I got this email from Judith, I thought why not? It was happening two weeks after the Oracle Artist Studio Tour (see previous post). I figured I deserved a treat. So I signed up.

Fast forward to the week after the studio tour. Jim and I work on a project about US Route 89. One of our sponsors is the law office of Snell & Wilmer. Part of the deal was to create a series of photographs along Route 89 for their offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Salt Lake City.

Phoenix and Tucson ordered a group of prints for their respective offices. The Salt Lake City office requested a photographic book in lieu of hanging prints.

Here's where the story starts to happen. I've done bookmaking, including a pretty large hard bound book of Jim's photographs. But it's been awhile. And low and behold, I'd signed up for this bookmaking workshop in two weeks, where there will be a few brains to pick regarding this rather large project I've committed myself to do. Until I signed up for this workshop, I had barely thought about bookmaking in months. And now I had a commission to create a book.

So, we went to Phoenix (this was last week) to pick up and distribute the photographs to the Phoenix office of Snell & Wilmer. While in Phoenix, I wanted to go to Burton Barr Central Library to check out a few bookmaking books. Whenever I visit this library, I always look at the exhibit in @Central Gallery, and then the display of artist-made books in cases on the first floor.

The bookmaking workshop I was scheduled to take the next week was being taught by guest artists Donna and Peter Thomas traveling to Tucson from their home and studio in Santa Cruz, CA. So here we were at the main library in Phoenix, looking at the cases of books, and lo and behold, I saw a book on display by Donna and Peter. Quite a coincidence.

Just as I pointed it out to Jim, I heard someone not 10 feet away saying that she saw one of their books in the case. It turns out that the couple right next to us were, yes, Donna and Peter Thomas. All the way from Santa Cruz, stopping off at ASU for a talk with one of John Risseauw's classes and then on to the library to see the Rare Book Collection. Now, in my book (hah, isn't this too clever), this is a truely convoluted coincidence. They are traveling the country for 8 months in their gorgeous, hand crafted Gypsy Wagon to spread the word about the joys of bookmaking with stops for workshops at various places along the way. And we just happened to be in the same place, at the same exact second.

The workshop was yesterday. It was fabulous. The second photo (above) is a shot of some of the participants gathered around Peter as he demonstrates.

Here's a close up of Peter, continuing to demonstrate the fine points of creating a Scrolling Book.

In this basin are the book boards and other parts for a miniature scrolling book.

Here's Peter helping people get started. Directly behind him is Catherine Nash, whose amazing Tucson studio is being used for the workshop. (sorry it's blurry, Catherine).

Deep into work, Mabel Dean, founder of PaperWorks, the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists, is on the left in the foreground. Quite a few of the other participants in this workshop were members of PaperWorks. They were all very nice, and I was able to pick quite a few brains and come up with some good tips regarding my book project for Snell and Wilmer. When my check arrives to its' destination in a few days, I'll be a member, too. I had no idea such an organization existed in Tucson, and am very excited to find such a vibrant and active community of book makers close by.

This is a display of some of the Donna and Peter's miniature books. The books are amazing tiny jewels of creative work, all less than 3" in each dimension. Maybe even smaller.

A blurry shot of one of their larger books, with handset type and an illustration.

And here's the same book in its' case.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of a set of shelves in Catherine's studio. I think you could spend hours looking at and trying to figure out what all this interesting stuff is.

So that's the saga of the book coincidences. The workshop was a wonderful experience. I came away with new acquaintances, two scrolling books, lots of information and renewed enthusiasm for the fine art of bookmaking.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oracle Artist Studio Tour: Lots of Nice People and One Old Fool

It was a challenge to figure out how to display my work in my studio space for the first time. If you scroll back to the previous blog, you'll see chaos. The reason for displaying the work was the Oracle Artist Studio tour, which happened last weekend.

First step was to figure out where to put extraneous stuff. I started with the small items (pencils, scissors, well just about everything that was loose), and tried to figure out where they belonged. This started the domino effect, in which I went back to square one and did some basic reorganizing of drawers, shelves, etc. Which caused even more chaos. When I finally got the loose stuff out of sight, I started to move around tables and shelves. Then, I began to look at the less cluttered space and think about what paintings I wanted to display and how to do it.

This brings up the perennial artist's problem of old work versus new work. Alyson Stanfield, art marketing guru, just wrote and article on her e-newsletter about where to put older work on your website. Well, where to put actual older art on an actual wall and whether to put it on view at all, is a similar dilemma.

Over the years, my style has changed. It's also true that during some periods of time, I've done a better job of showing and selling my work. Other times, it's been all I could do to create work between teaching full time, being a mom and a wife, etc. So, yes, there is older work stored away that doesn't really fit with the new series I've been working on. And the older work is made up of a variety of other tangents I've gone off on. This is not to say that the work isn't good, because I think it is. It's just not cohesive.

This brings us to the old fool part of the blog. Yes, you guessed it, I'm the old fool. In the back of my mind, I had hoped that a museum curator or big time collector would stumble on the Oracle Artist Studio Tour event, see my work and voila, I've made the leap into the big time. And if that happens, what work would I want this elusive person to see? This just added to the agonizing about what and where to hang the paintings.

Well, I compromised, and showed both older and newer paintings. Here is some work from the current Nooks & Crannies series. I hung some same-sized paintings back to back from the ceiling with chains and S-hooks. Thanks to Jim for his help with this.

Here are the paintings on the other side.

These two (sorry they're kind of blurry) personal pieces about my Mom and Dad attracted the most attention last weekend.

Jim displayed some of his gorgeous photographs and the US Route 89 project next door in the unfinished garage. He did an amazing job of transforming that space. I'm kicking myself for not taking any snapshots of his set up to include in this post. And now the installation is all put away. The "pod" (teardrop trailer) was parked outside for people to see. I got so wrapped up in talking to people that I also forgot to take photos of the crowds of people who visited.

It was a fun weekend. The weather was perfect. Jim grilled hot dogs, and made lemonade all weekend. I made many batches of chocolate chip cookies. I met so many nice people. Visitors were generous with their compliments on my work and my space. We both really appreciate the friends, neighbors and out-of-towners who took the time to visit us, and to visit the other Oracle artists who were participating in the tour.

And no, that elusive curator/collector didn't appear (at least not that I know of). Maybe next year!

And here's Breena, worn out from all the socializing she did over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A One Year Anniversary and Upcoming Oracle Artist Studio Tour

One year ago today, we got the keys to our new home. Above is what my studio looked like before it was remodeled.

And here it is today. Admittedly pretty messy at the moment, but definitely a fabulous and functioning studio space.

Last year, the annual Oracle Artist Studio Tour happened to be scheduled the weekend before we got the keys to our home. We took the opportunity to visit all of the open studios over the course of Saturday and Sunday. It was great fun, a perfect opportunity to meet many of the artists living and working in Oracle, and a way to get a peek into some amazing homes and studios.

This year, Jim and I will be participating in the 18th Oracle Artist Studio Tour on April 17 and 18, coming up in just two weeks. There will be 6o+ artists showing their work in 23 spaces. A welcome center will have maps available and a sampling of the artwork on the tour. Just follow the signs when you get to Oracle. And be sure to visit us, we're #17 on the tour.
If you click on the link above you'll see the map and listing of the artists. Come for a visit!