Midwinter approaches -- this one is called Chronos, and it is seasonal in that Chronos/Saturn had his celebration at midwinter in Roman times. It plays on the time-aspect of "chron" by means of a heavy watch rim around the image, and the whole thing is based on a page out of the almanac listing Killing Frosts and Growing Seasons. The turning point of the year, the longest night, moves toward the return of the light.
I've been living too much in the outside world lately -- events and committees and dramas are getting in the way of real life! Time to hibernate a little . . .
October 31 in Pipeline Alley between the National Transit Building and the Annex -- and in the studios. Artists are invited to set up installations, altars honoring their ancestors at noon on October 24. All Souls or Day of the Dead is celebrated all over the world with music, dance and special foods. Come in costume, and bring food, drink, music and friends!
From October 24 -October 31, there will also be a silent auction of donated art work in the basement of the Annex at 210 Seneca Street, future home of the Artists' Gallery. We have run out of funds to bring spaces up to code, so all proceeds will benefit the building fund. Artists who wish to donate work can contact Joann Wheeler 814-676-5303. Work will be on view every afternoon leading up to the All Souls celebration.
This year's Oil Region Indie Music and Art Fest had a good, good feel, very hands-on -- happy people of all ages playing and singing in corners, on stages, on the sidewalk. The guys who were on stage an hour ago could be seen playing with their fans. And it wasn't just hands-on music -- hands-on pottery, stained glass, chalk, ceramic tiles. . . lots of creative people expressing themselves all up and down the street and in the Open Studios of the National Transit Building. We didn't need any of our rain options (indoor jam areas), there was plenty of good food, thanks to the cooperation of the Northside Business Association, and the sun shone all day long. We couldn't have asked for a better day or a better crowd!
Long, long time between posts -- and lots of activity outside the studio in Oil City, PA. Next Saturday, join us for the third annual Oil Region Indie Music and Art Festival. We have moved it this year to Seneca Street and joined forces with the first Summer Saturday Street Fair. That means from 2:00 to 9:00 there will be food, vendors, stuff for the kids -- and original music all day on two stages. If you play and sing, pick a corner and set up and perform -- in the Transit Building, in the Annex, wherever.
Stained glass and pottery demos will be going on, reiki massage, a drum circle, and artists will be showing their work indoors and out. The event will be held rain or shine -- but let's hope for shine!
In other news, check out the new social networking site for Oil City artists at (look for a link to the right) www.nationaltransitstudios.ning.com .
A sample of why I haven't been blogging or making art -- things are hopping here! Still no photos of old work to post, I seem to spend my life in meetings lately. I'm posting this one because I think it will be fun and any artists who want to join us are welcome -- bring a favorite piece of work, finger foods, and a party mood!
The following weekend, May 2, the Transit Building will host the Oil City School District Art Show -- 2,000 pieces of work from every student in the school district. Come on down!
KORE RISING is a re-run, yes -- I still haven't gotten around to taking new photos, I'm afraid. I am posting Kore again, because this is the time of year she is intended to celebrate. Kore is Persephone, who spends half her life as queen of the underworld, and March 20, the vernal equinox, is the time when she rises from the underworld and starts the whole cycle of blossom and fruit over again. I posted her before for the New Year -- well, back in the day, this was the new year!
And in spite of the chill today, I have seen the speartops of the spring bulbs poking up, and the little birds that live in the ivy of the Penn DOT building have been screaming Spring since the beginning of February. Turns out they were right, as they are every year! I have bought a big box of baby arugula to celebrate the first return of green.
MILLENNIUM (12" x 20") is another assemblage in a styrofoam packing piece. It draws on several fairly conventional apocalyptic images: the last angel blasting the last note on the Last Trump is a Renaissance angel cut from a Christmas calendar with wings of maple seed "helicopters;" the scythe collaged onto the bottom is part of the face of a clock.
This piece was done as the Y2K heebie-jeebies were getting lots of attention, but since then, I've noticed that every couple of years, there is a new "The End of the World as We Know It is Near" scenario. The last election was high on some people's radar; 2012 is next, I understand. Somebody must be making money on it!
Open Studios today and tomorrow at the National Transit Art Studios, 206-210 Seneca Street, Oil City, PA, noon to 5:00 p.m. Come and visit -- I am in Studio E in the Annex!
PSYCHOPOMP is a 21" x 22"composition in a styrofoam packing case frame with a window in it. It is one of the attributes of the god Hermes -- it means the conductor of souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead. You can see the winged cap as he swoops by the window. There are dozens of little bits of glitter hanging in mid-air (mounted on pins, really) to mark his passage.
I recently talked with an old friend who is familiar with my work, and he asked if I was still dealing with death -- which took me by surprise. But when I went back to look at my work, there it undeniably is. And there this piece was, overlooked in my digital photo collection, waiting to be posted.
I didn't take new pictures last weekend as I had planned -- instead I did my taxes. Death and Taxes! The inevitables. I'd rather be artistically inspired by death than by taxes, though, I guess.
No photo tonight -- I have run out of photos, though not of work to photograph! I hope to have some time this weekend to shoot another batch of work. Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I did a series of small 3" x 5" paper photocollages, which I keep like a deck of cards and add to from time to time. There are over 80 at this point. It is a pleasure to do them, very quick and meditative, and not large or serious enough to make me postpone starting!
I also have a few pieces of larger work that have never been photographed or even seen the light of day for a long while. I'll decide when I dust them off if they warrant posting or not. And I am starting to work in my studio, though not as much as I would like to.
Thanks for looking so far -- thanks also to people who have dropped by the studio to see some of the work up close and personal. More to come soon, I hope!
SATURN CONJUNCT VENUS is a 29" x 29" paper photo-collage behind an old-fashioned, wood-framed window screen. When two planets are conjunct, it means that they are very near each other in the same part of the heavens from our point of view on earth, and they are said to influence each other.
Venus is, of course, the planet of love and Saturn is the planet of constraints and inexorables, like Time, Taxes, and sometimes, in the Grim Reaper role, Death. The romantic pinks of the Valentine collage give way to tones and images that are both fiercer and colder here. And whereas the other one can hang on any living room wall, this one is a more uncomfortable composition all round.
VALENTINE is a 25" x 36" photo-collage which I am posting to close the parentheses on the February 14 holiday weekend. We had a very busy time in the Transit Art studios Saturday and Sunday, welcoming visitors from the area and also those who came to take part in the three-day Bluegrass Festival.
This piece is built around a central image of Botticelli's Birth of Venus, fractured and superimposed over a heart-shaped, mysteriously whirling Kali-esque figure. The whole collage is covered with a layer of glaze and tissue paper, to blur the hard edges and add to the mystery. There are a lot of romantic pink tones, but the Valentine itself is smoky black and gray, very "noir" in spirit as well as in color.
OPEN HEART is a 5" x 7" assemblage deep inside a styrofoam end cushion for a big, old-fashioned toner cartridge. I've been saving it up for Valentine's Day! but am posting it now, because we have Open Studios in the Transit Art Center this weekend and it promises to be busy.
There are windows cut in each side of this piece, and each one gives a tiny view: a tranquil scene, a pair of dice. Inside the main chamber is a Kirlian photo of a child, the Tarot card representing the Lovers, and a little mirror. And at the front is a big piece of glass that looks like ice, melting away.
The ice jam on Oil Creek broke up and moved out into the Allegheny earlier tonight, so we won't have a flood here this year after all. Deep breath, relax -- how good the melting of the ice feels!
HISTORY OF THE AGE OF PISCES is a 15" x 15" collage/assemblage on a painted styrofoam base in a 4" deep custom shadowbox frame. That frame was a great extravagance -- I had a show at De Havilland Fine Art Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston, and I went all out. Since most of my work is what you may call self-framed, this is the only one that has this kind of professional presentation.
Pisces means, of course, fish and there are four fish images, one primitive, one with an East Asian feel, one Gothic-Renaissance, and one late Victorian. The Age of Pisces is supposed to have covered roughly 2,000 years and to have ended right about now. In the last image, the fish is cut in half and is spilling out the human adventurers into the air of the next age. Wheee!
ISIS RAISING is an 8.5"x 9.5" composition/acrylic painting on styrofoam and paper that superimposes the myth of Isis and Osiris on a modern background: there is an upright piano and a bed painted in the niches at the bottom, and a modern-day Isis weeping just behind Isis' winged shoulder.
It is the woman-as-rescuer fantasy -- we've all tried it at least once. When Isis finds her husband Osiris cut into pieces, she tries to use her magic to put him back together and raise him from the dead. But with a vital piece missing, Osiris cannot be revived.
Osiris' spirit rising out of the papier-mache mummy is the plastic package a tube of paint came in, transparent. The hieroglyphics are real, copied from the Egyptian book of the Dead.
SEE SAW (6.5" x 8.5") is a small composition on styrofoam, one of my first experiments with this material. It doesn't set out to say anything profound -- a little whimsical play on words and an attempt to capture movement, the picture falling off the wall and hitting the see-saw, which throws its collection of beads and broken china into the air. It sets the tone for using words and word-play as the basis for an art work. Often while I am working a phrase gets caught in my mind and I'll be embroidering on it the whole time I am composing the piece. While not ambitious, this little piece is one that fits itself in almost anywhere, and for that reason I like it.
WHEEL is an 8" x 14" painting/assemblage in a styrofoam box -- actually, the bottom portion of the box that formed the base for Open Doors. It consists of a Wheel of Fortune in front of a figure taken from the visual tradition of alchemy -- a man with the head of the sun, stepping through the spheres into the world of time and juggling planets in his hands. When we were growing up, we always ended up with Wheels or Wheeler-Dealer as nicknames (my brothers bore the brunt of that). This piece takes the last name to its mythological outer limit! It also juxtaposes blind fate and a figure which seems to have mastered it -- and truly, fate only goes so far in defining what happens to you, for good or ill. You also happen to it!
SELF-PORTRAIT is an 8" x 9" painting/assemblage on a styrofoam packing piece. Contained in the profile self-portrait are partial portraits of my parents. The glasses that show up from time to time in my work all came from a time when I worked in a human services agency located down the street from a rough bar in Cambridge's Central Square. On Monday mornings I would come in to work and harvest the broken glasses from the street in front of the bar! The large open eye is the interior eye, of course, the one that doesn't suffer from myopia or need bifocals! Intuition, the ability to see what is really going on, was something I was working on when I did this piece. You can't see it on the photo, but there is a little ledge under the eye and on it is pasted the rather mysterious quote from Scripture, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."
TURN OF THE CENTURY is a 9" x 12" assemblage in a shadowbox. I experimented again with painting and decoupaging on the glass to give it a time-stained look. It's an attempt to create a certain kind of Victoriana -- the fabrics, the china doll's head (actually fimo and sculpted by me), reflecting the old meaning of "turn of the century" just as we were collectively approaching a new turn of a new century. Y2K seems so long ago now! Anyway, it's just a little meditation on the nature of the passage of time.
I've always leaned toward the cluttered, comfortable "grandma's house" look, especially in winter, and most of my furniture, lamps, knick-knacks, etc. would feel right at home in 1910. This piece fits into that thrift shop decor almost as well as the flower arrangements under glass that were so popular then.
LUNAR ASPECTS (11.5" x 13.5") is composed in and on another styrofoam packing piece, using acrylic paints, transparent foil, and transparent plastic to layer the faces one over the other. The yolk of the egg/full yellow moon is a woman curled up in a dream state. The other faces in the egg may be the characters in her dream that are incomplete and hard to grasp -- like the faces we think we see on the full moon's surface.
The whole piece is about the gestational quality of sleep and dreaming -- how often does it happen that you wake with an answer to a question or a piece of inspiration that has come to you overnight? Last night was the first full moon of 2009, so this seemed a timely piece to post today.
OPEN DOORS is painted and self-framed in the 8" x 14.5" lid of a styrofoam box that once held test tubes. It is the piece of work that most consistently elicits pleasure in a wide variety of viewers -- I think it is hopeful and happy!
We look through a series of open doors in a gray, old-fashioned, and rather sedate interior to a door that is open to the bright light outside. Three mysterious glowing glass balls have rolled in along the floor to entice us outside, where a column of light waits just beyond the door. It is reminiscent of the house I lived in in Somerville, MA, but even more, it represents my slightly agoraphobic desire to hole up and hibernate, one that I fight every single day at this time of year!
Today the Oil City streets are covered with black ice and I slid my car into the ditch, so I inched my way back up the hill to enjoy a totally justified day of working from home. But tomorrow I will follow the glowing balls again -- that's, after all, why I imagined them!
FOURTH HOUSE is painted and collaged on a 15" x 42" mirror, and it leaves a mirror framed in the middle so that the artist can look at herself from time to time. It is a rendering of the fourth house in my own astrological chart, the house of family and home, beginnings and ends of life. It seems to make sense that when you look at yourself, you keep your eye on those things! You can just see the chart behind the curtain: the Sun and Mercury, Saturn and Neptune, all within a few degrees of one another. This piece is not for sale. Instead, I recommend that everyone make one of their own -- it can lead to some very interesting reflections, if you'll pardon the pun!
My work is both personal, in the way a dream or a memory is personal, and archetypal -- an attempt to match external forms with internal themes. See whatever speaks to you in it! Most pieces are for sale in the $100 - $400 range, but I'll consider any reasonable offer. Thanks for stopping by!