Monday, April 28, 2014

Art in Public Spaces

I'd like to introduce you to a new series here on my blog: Art in Public Spaces.  I love what curators gather in museum exhibitions, but I also love the art that's both sanctioned -- and unsanctioned -- and available for anyone to see without the price of admission. In this new series, I'm going to introduce you to some of the art I see in my daily life and travels that I spied while out and about, without going into a gallery or museum.

To start the series, I'd like to share a picture of  Invader's art that I spied while in Paris:

Invader (the artist's pseudonym) began his urban art "invasion" in Paris in 1998, clandestinely placing tile mosaics referencing the popular Space Invaders video game throughout the city.  Today, Invader's mosaics are in many major cities around the world, including London, New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Sao Paolo.  In addition to creating Space Invader-like tile mosaics, Invader also uses Rubik Cubes for indoor mosaic installations.

Some owners are thrilled to have one of Invader's mosaics appear on the walls of their building.  Vandals have been know to try to dislodge the mosaics in an attempt to sell a reconstructed mosaic on the Internet.  (Buyer beware: all such reconstructions are fakes because the original tiles cannot withstand the removal process.)  Other folks are not so excited about Invader's art.  In the Fall of 2013, a New York City building owner somehow received advance notice that Invader  had selected his building as the location for one of his newest installations; the building owner then worked in conjunction with the NY Police Department to apprehend Invader as he worked.

Whether welcome or not on the street, Invader's work has garnered him solo gallery exhibitions in Paris, Los Angeles, New York City, Osaka, London, Melbourne, and Rome.  It's reported that, when sold through galleries, his work can garner six-figure sales prices.  

Certainly there is a fair amount of mystique around Invader's work that propels purchase prices to high. Is mystique enough?  Would the response have been the same -- both in enthusiasm for the art on the wall and the pricing --  if Invader had not chosen to work with a symbol from a game / from childhood entertainment?  What if he had used a cross?  Why was his art noticed? Did Invader get lucky choosing to start when he did, at a time when the internet could help dissipate stories of the mysterious artist working incognito?  

Who knows.  However, I think I'm going to enjoy trying to find some of the mosaics closer to home in NYC.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In the Works

I have a few things in the works and they are all clamoring for my attention:

A color palette I've not used before, but that's saying "Pick me, pick me!"

Some silly sketches that are likely going to be part of a new project, and

A pieced background I'd like to use for quilting and mark-making practice.

I don't know where to begin, but I know it's all going to be fun.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Being a Kid

Most of the time I'm glad I'm not a child any more -- the pressures, the rigorous academics, the crazy extracurricular schedule.  But there are times when I think it would be fun, especially when I see some of the interesting things my children get to do in school.

My daughter is in an introductory 3D sculpture and design course.  Recently, the students in the class were "challenged to design and fabricate a volumetric mask based on a photograph of an animal. They closely observed the shapes and riveting of medieval armor while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These sculpture students then learned to make paper patterns for three-dimensional forms and to cut, cold forge, and rivet aluminum sheet metal" (per the school's website).

The teacher took pictures and here's my daughter's project:

I think I want to go back to school.....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seeing Folk Couture

A view of the main gallery for Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art
I made a quick trip into the city yesterday to see the American Folk Art Museum exhibition, Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art.  What a treat!  I am becoming more and more enamored with this little gem of a museum and their beautifully installed, thought-provoking exhibitions.

For Folk Couture, the Museum gathered together 100 works of art from its permanent collection and invited thirteen fashion designers to create a garment inspired by one or more of the items they saw.  The designers were drawn to twenty-three objects -- ranging from quilts, sculpture and photography -- from which they developed their own creations.

The Museum organized the exhibition in four sections -- Pattern, Disembodiment, Narrative, and Playfulness -- in order to create some structure in which to reference the connections between the garments and the various artworks from the Museum collection.  (I understand the underlying need to create some structure to the exhibition, but I didn't feel that this particular organization was necessary to my enjoyment of the art nor did it help me better understand the artistic dialogue between inspiration and artwork/garment.)   However, I found the installation design -- which did not necessarily follow the aforementioned groupings -- to be very compelling.  The folk art inspiration(s) are displayed alongside the contemporary garment, with a placard commentary from each of the designers about their inspiration and/or some element of their design processes.

Michael Bastian, New York,  Untitled
Inspired by Anniversary Tin: Man's TopHat and Eyeglasses (1880-1900) Artist unidentified,  Man in Top Hat with Cane c. 1890, Artist unidentified, and Archangel Gabriel Weathervane, c. 1840, Artist Unidentified (hanging on wall)

The wall color varies through the different groupings which provides great backdrops for the garments.  (I am gaining an appreciation for the well-placed colored wall in museum settings.)  The lighting installation was spectacular, allowing each item to be seen in detail on its own and in conjunction with its "partner".  Some garments were illuminated to cast intriguing and delightful shadows; many gallery corners were left a little dark to add another layer of visual contrast.

Jean Yu, South Korea, The Animal Human Dress
Inspired by Porcupine, David Alvarez (b. 1953)

Lovely shadow
Some of the garments are very wearable, such as Catherine Malandrino's hand crocheted cotton Handkerchief Dress

Inspired not by the quilt behind it, but by a remarkable cut paper artwork similar to scherenschnitte
and Gary Graham's Untitled ensemble.

Untitled stands before its inspiration, Ann Carll Coverlet: Blazing Star and Snowballs,
Attributed to the Mott Mill, 1810 

Other creations are not so wearable, such as John Bartlett's whimsical Elongated Shirt/Pant Two-dimensional Wall Hanging inspired by Man with Green Shirt and White Suspenders, Artist Unidentified, late 19th/early 20th century.

The exhibition also includes a design wall, with sketches and samples from various designers in preparation for this exhibition, as well as two videos in which the designers share their process.  I bought the exhibition catalog as reference and a souvenir.  I must say that the photography in the book allows for appreciation of some of the detail of the works but since there aren't any installation photos, the book lacks an element of the drama that's been created by the fabulous lighting in the exhibition. However, don't let that discourage you from buying the book.  The essays are thoughtful and well-written and the insights into each designer and their work is fascinating.

I strongly recommend this intimate look at artistic inspiration.  Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art will be on display at the American Folk Art Museum through April 23rd.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lessons Learned

The process of making les fleurs de coin led me to a number of interesting discoveries.  Here are two of the lessons I learned.

1) The background of les fleurs de coin was made with one of my eco-dyed fabrics.  You may remember that I began to dabble with eco-dyeing this past summer.  I was (and still am) intrigued by the possibilities of transferring color from my garden to cloth. In particular, I hoped that the luscious reds of my roses would come out on fabric.  Instead, what I learned was that fabric that starts out looking like this

fades/rinses out and changes to brown fairly quickly.

(with wrinkles still intact)
I was rather disappointed at the time and haven't yet found anyone who knows how to maintain the reddish hues that first appear. I suppose it makes sense that the brown emerges on the cloth since fallen rose petals oxide as they die;  I suspect the same process occurs with any transferred color.  The lesson learned here is that Nature will continue to do her thing whether in the garden or on the cloth.

2) I wanted the mottled fabric to represent the wall of an old stone building, but I didn't want the brown spots to be evident throughout the piece.  As I worked, I discovered that the areas with the most mottling had the hardest time accepting the water soluble crayon color.  For example, the color seemed to sit on top of the fabric in some parts of the lantern, which worked well to create the impression of glass,

but brown dots showing through the flowers made them look like they were dying.  In those areas, I had to color and wet the fabric as many as four times in order to get the water color to stick to the dampened fibers.

This was very unexpected. I didn't anticipate that the rose stains would be as permanent and impenetrable as they were.  The good news is that this suggests that the eco-dyeing results are more colorfast than I hoped.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Architecturally Inspired

les fleurs de coin
"les fleurs de coin" (the corner flowers) is my newest piece, created for FANE's exhibition of architecturally inspired artwork at Etui FiberArts in Larchmont, NY.  Members of our group have created 2D and 3D artworks that will be on display through April 30.  Look how lovely the collection looks:

Etui FiberArts gallery, photo courtesy Natalya Aikes
Please come see the artwork created by this very dynamic group of artists.  I'm thrilled to be part of this group.