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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Unpackingness and the Virtual Move

(c) SZing  An enhanced photo of my keyboard....

As if I don't have enough going on, I've initiated the transfer of my domain from one service provider to a new one that has easier access to manipulate my website...so, for anyone trying to reach me, all of bohemianartcafe.com emails will be down for anywhere from 7 to 10 days.  Hopefully much less.  During the months of July and August, my website will be receiving a facelift.  I suppose it is what one might call a "virtual move"...like the real thing hasn't been enough for me, eh? Makes me want to sing a ditty revised from Finding Nemo..."just keep unpacking, unpacking unpacking unpacking...." and it begs the question...will it ever end?  Well, I have decided that I must always say I am working on unpacking because inevitably the moment I finish unpacking and love the way my studio is set up, the Universe conspires to move me on to the next great adventure...so no, it will never end.  I'm going to be unpacking forevermore...and the website is just one more manifestation of that unpackingness (yes, it IS TOO A WORD!)

Pretending these are "Flying Hands" working diligently to unpack my studio while I sleep.
(c) SZing "Flying Hands"

So, one might wonder what an artist does while one's studio is discombobulated (also a WORD, I swear it!)...this artist works on making background pages for journaling, practice doodling (it's astounding that anyone actually thinks they NEED practice at doodling!), cutting out favorite images, articles and words from magazines and sorting them into their appropriate new homes (my inspirations binder, my wisdom binder, and the word bin for collaging, respectively.  HAH!  Talk about your organizational skills...)  Also working on teaching proposals--just got one accepted for weekly classes during the "season" (October through April) and seeking out venues for selling one's work--have a line on at least 4 locations and now need to do the follow up/footwork.  And tomorrow, I'm indulging in a wire wrapping jewelry class so that I can make some different looks with my glass cabochons.  I've been experimenting with wire wrapping and will soon reveal some new rings I'll have available for sale....and reading art related books "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gorden MacKenzie and The Guerilla Art Kit by Smith. So, no, just because the studio isn't up and functional, does not mean one must starve for artistic outlets.  If all else fails, I can work on painting the cats and dog or at the least, gel-ling their fur into interesting configurations. 

Have a happy weekend.  Find a creative outlet.  Be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You Say You Wanna Have a Resolution....

Resolutions are difficult to keep when challenges occur that interfere with the accomplishment of said resolution.  That said, I believe the viruses and trojans are all resolved and I should be able to move forward with my blogging, listing stuff on Etsy and various and sundry other technological tasks and plans. 

 I'm in the process of migrating my web site domain to a new service provider so my website is down for the time being.  Then begins the exciting "web site renovation".  I'm sorta partial to how it has been but want to make it brighter and more dynamic for users.  We'll see what I'm able to come up with over the next few weeks. 

In the meantime, I've been working on backgrounds for a new art journal.  It is time consuming but I'm looking forward to having a new space to put my thoughts and inspirations.  Many of my new journal page backgrounds are simple painted backgrounds that I will eventually embellish. 

 The pictures posted here are collaged and altered photographs I've taken.

The unpacking of the studio is coming along.  I'd say I'm about 50% done with the unpacking portion.  Waiting for at least one table to be put together and in place and figure out where I go from there.  In the next week or so, I've got to get some enameling work done for the article I have coming up in September for Fired Arts & Crafts.    Progress photos coming soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Viruses, trojans and sucky programs Oh My!

Derailed in my blogging by technology challenges.  UGH.  I somehow got a Trojan and spread it to my laptop.  Have spent the past several days getting rid of all the damages.  What have I learned?

In my experience and opinion, McAfee sux.  This might be common knowledge to others but it allowed not one, but FOUR Trojans through, despite its regular updates and my maintaining regular updates.

My saving graces?  CCleaner for the registry. AWESOME.  My laptop hasn't run this quickly/smoothly for quite a while.  Vipre Internet Security for firewall, viruses, trojan hunting, and protection from malware and spy ware.  and AVG to do a secondary cleanup and sweep.  I'm keeping CCleaner and Vipre, they seem to be the most reliable from the reviews I have found and my own experience with it this past several days. 

Anyway, it sort of derailed my plans to keep up with my blog resolution (I still have time to write at least 3 times this week though) and my plans to work on updating my website and upload items to Etsy and Ebay.  Luckily, the deadline for my next article for Fired Arts & Crafts magazine was extended several weeks.  At least the damage was repaired before everything was too far gone.  May you have a virus, trojan and sucky program free day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Florida Museum for Women Artists

This past weekend, wanting to get out and explore some of the areas nearby, we traveled to Deland Florida.  It has a cozy, cute, charming downtown with a number of gift shops, antique stores and art galleries.  It also houses the Florida Museum for Women Artists.  We were fortunate to arrive a few days before they ended their current exhibits.  They were all fascinating and several quite playful.

I especially enjoyed Carolina Cleere's work (she is from Tampa).  Her wide eyed innocents with their very elaborate and symbolic surroundings were very intriguing and thought provoking. 

I also very much enjoyed the sculpture work and storytelling from Candace Knapp of Brandon Fl.  I could not decide whether I liked the egg child or "Francois" the best, but I think Francois will probably win out in the end because...he had sweet eyes and reminded me a little of my girl Athena.

Vivian Spencer of Pensacola has a very interesting display of a variety of collaged items which I personally adored because it resonated so much with my own belief that "there is no trash, only art supplies."  You just have to find the correct method of displaying the supplies, which Ms. Spencer did delightfully.

I am joining the membership of the Florida Museum for Women Artists and hope at some time in the not too distant future to perhaps have my own showing there.

If you happen to get to Deland, it not only has this art museum but the  Museum of Florida Art, the African American Museum of the Arts, an art gallery at Stetson University and a Cultural Arts Center.  It's just a thriving little mecca of artiness.  We plan to go back to see the other museums. 

We also highly recommend the Santorini's Greek restaurant on Woodland.  We got there a little earlier than the lunch rush (about 11:30, by noon, it was entirely packed and people waiting outside for seats.)  Fabulous home made Spanikopita, Hummus, and the Gyro platter was to die for!  I wasn't as excited about the lemon potatoes (they must be an acquired flavor thing).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Celebrating 50 years of Studio Glass Art

I am very sad that I am not able to attend the Glass Art Conference in Toledo Ohio this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Studio Glass art movement.  When we were living in Ohio just a few short months ago, I had intended to attend since it was only a five hour drive.  Sadly, that travel distance is now more than about 20 hours one way and just not "do-able" this time around.  I feel the loss of being a part of this keenly as not only are many of the icons of the studio glass movement going to be present, but there are many mini-classes that I wanted to attend which I will miss out on now. 

While much of the focus of the Glass Art Society is unfortunately focused mainly on blown glass, I feel it is important to note that fused, cast, stained and torchworked glass also has a role in this movement.  I suppose because blown glass has an enticing excitement and immediacy it is certainly more entertaining and visually intriguing in process to watch than the process of laying down frit or painting glass on glass or cutting, grinding, foiling or soldering glass panels are to an audience. 

It is a shame because there are some tremendous contributions from artists who are not primarily blown glass artists--Narcissus Quagliata immediately comes to mind for his astounding large scale fused and painted panels (a little misnomer as he paints with frit and finely ground glass, not paints), Richard La Londe, who I am desperately hoping to get to take a class from in the not too distant future and who also does large scale public art installations, and one of my own teachers whom I adore for his quirky sense of humor and his astounding skill with airbrushing glass on glass, Raphael Schnepf, all have made fused glass works that are every bit as gorgeous and astounding as a Dale Chihuly work (who is my favorite blown glass artist just for his artistic vision and ability to market himself and his work in an extremely successful manner).  You might, if you are a glass artist, recognize Raphael's work as being on the cover of the System 96 glass catalog. 

Raphael giving us our first lesson in airbrushing on glass. 

Raphael and Karen Reed (another of my FAVORITE fused and stained glass artists
and a delightful friend!)

Raphael showing us how to "paint" with glass.

Detail of the process of painting with glass.

Rene Culler, who has focused on fused glass and pushing the boundaries of the medium, and Judith Schaechter who pushes the boundaries with the subject matter she chooses, and Karen Reed who does astounding fused and stained glass artworks, are my three favorite female glass artists and I have great respect for all of them not only for the works they create but for striving to and excelling in yet another male-dominated work environment.  I have many more artists whom I admire and whose work I am fascinated by, but these are my top six non-blown glass favorites.

Besides missing out on the goblet grab, and the lectures and demos that surely would inspire me, the other activity that I am sorry not to get to partake of is the public auction.  While I have not yet won the lottery and cannot at this time afford most of these works, just being able to spend time examining the intricacies of these works is worth the time and cost of attending the conference.  You can see the pieces that will be in the auction here:  http://www.glassart.org/2012_Auction_Online_Preview.html.  Ah well, I hope that I will be able to attend next year's conference.  In the meantime, I need to go... unpack more boxes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reinventing an Art Studio

I think I deserve a little pat on the back.  I have, so far, kept my resolution to blog at least 3 times a week.  It's not so difficult, so long as I do it before I really get going with the day.  Also find that I have many ideas of things I can blog about...which is exciting.

Today I'm sharing the excruciating and exhilarating process of setting up a new studio.  The difficulty with this set up is that the interior is already full up with the boxes of art supplies and because of timing of moving, I didn't have the chance to put in flooring, insulation/walls, paint, lights or electric yet and they will be done a bit by bit over time.  What a challenge.  Of course, I've always liked challenges.
So here is the new Bohemian Art Cafe, where we serve art, not food.TM

This will be the new studio in Florida.  It is outside of our home.  I will miss being a part of a studio conglomerate.  Am reinventing where and how I get my work seen and sold. But have already gotten two locations where I will be showing and selling my artwork and have a contract for teaching starting in the fall.  Will also be able to offer small classes (4 to 6 people) here for fusing glass, stained glass, and enamel work.  Might even be re instituting my Tuesday Night Art Socials since we will have large tables outside and if the weather permits would be able to seat about 20 people inside and out.

 I also will miss my enormous window but I might be able to convince my sweetie to install a big window at some time in the future.

One of the first things that had to get done was to install air conditioning.  With the temperatures outside around 90+ degrees Fahrenheit and humid and only going to get hotter, it just gets stifling inside the studio space.  There will be two A/C units which should keep things cool.  We will be adding insulation and wall covering a bit at a time.

Hmmm.  Depressing.  Lots to do and all crammed together.  It is a slow, slow process of set up.  Even getting the space "finished" will be piece meal.  I will be doing the floors with a black and white industrial rubber tile, insulating and covering the walls and ceiling, painting the walls and ceiling, and putting in additional electrical outlets and lighting, plus some additional shelving space.  Can't wait to see the "FINISHED" product.

I've allotted June to get unpacked.  I hope I have enough time allotted, considering it is already a third of the way gone.

Ahhhh, is that a path I spy????

The counters are installed and clear--ready to receive materials.

And the chemicals/toxins cabinet is now reachable and ready for items.

*sigh* Blessed organization beginning to appear finally.

Watch for weekly updates on the process.  I find that I get overwhelmed after about 4 hours at a time and have to take a break.  If I don't take the break, I end up just moving stuff from one box to another and going in circles.  Best to leave and get a clear head and start fresh.  I won't have an "office" in this studio but will use the PC and printer/scanner in the house to do any design work or proposals I'm putting together.  It really is exciting but wearying to create a new studio.  I also miss doing artwork--but of course, I'm working very hard on not making new artwork until I can get some of the work I already have completed sold.  Mostly, I will miss the flow of artists and visitors and the interaction/exchange of creative energy and ideas.  I will rely on the blogging community and the local art league heavily for this.

Well, ta ta for now.  It's time to....go unpack some boxes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've been going through my art magazines--trying to cull the herd, as it were.  I love to cut out the pictures that inspire me or intrigue me and keep an inspiration binder, as well as articles and biographical stories of artists whose work I admire.

As I mentioned in my blog Exposure a few days ago, it's pretty interesting to see what is trending and considered to be "art" by the "art world" which, for many of these magazines seems to be limited to New York City and the influential/critics (to reiterate--who do nothing truly creative and yet "we" as artists have invested them with the decision making as to what is good, bad or neutral.  Okay.  Also ugly.

Public domain artwork
Composition VII, artist unknown

Over time, the boundaries of what is even considered art has expanded exponentially to our global communication abilities.  We are a highly visual society with our multiple in-house televisions, computers, glossy magazines, book readers, et cetera.  I believe it is due to a combination of the global access and the technically enhanced visual environment that our definitions of acceptable art have exploded.

However, this being so, there are still some basic questions one must ask:
1.  Just because you can make art with excrement and urine...should you?
2.  Does every piece of art have to have a meaning?  If so, should that meaning be obvious, obtuse or somewhere in between and how do you decide?
3.  Are artists desperately seeking "the next big thing" to make a name for themselves, start a new movement and, of course, appeal to the money?
4.  In that attempt to create "the next big thing" are artists sacrificing honesty and integrity for schlock and shock? 
5.  Just because something is shocking or large does that automatically make it good?
6.  Just because something is schlocky or shocking, does that automatically make it bad?

and I'm sure there are many more questions.  However, I've not yet had my coffee today so this is all my starving brain can come up with at the moment.

Public domain artwork
K. Morimoto, "Hiroshima"

As an artist, I am exploring for myself my definitions--even if those definitions may not stand universally:

Good = Something that I like myself and would put in my own home or be proud to give as a gift to someone else.  It doesn't necessarily follow "the rules".

Bad = Something, not unlike behavior, that I know innately isn't good.  This could be subject matter, colors schemes, technical expertise, material quality, composition, et cetera.  The worst art is a combination of two or more of these problematic qualities.

Neutral=art that is neither good nor bad nor ugly but which is just...boring, uninspiring, technically perfect (or at least proficient), and usually includes artwork made with subjects and or colors that are designed to try to please someone other than the artist's preferences.  I suppose in the long run, this makes anything neutral bad art.

Ugly=art that is repellent from subject matter, color scheme, discordant composition, warped perspective, et cetera.  Just because something is ugly, does not automatically put it in the bad category.  Some ugly art is extremely intriguing and interesting.  If it arrests my attention and causes me to explore it further, then it's probably leaning toward the good side.

Butcher's Stall with the Flight into Egypt
1551, Aertsen, Pieter, public domain image
Is it good?  Is it bad? Is it ugly? 
Would I put this up in my home or give it as a gift?

Of course, I don't truly believe that artwork can be so simply labeled and pigeon-holed.  We live in a technicolor world with thousands of variations so trying to think in black and white when defining artwork doesn't really work.  While I would cringe at the suggestion, I am sure there is some crazy art critic out there who has some sort of "Pritchard Scale" (from the movie Dead Poet's Society) for art. Art is intended to be visceral and to be appreciated based on an individual basis?  Art for the masses, is, I believe generally called "advertising", not that there aren't artists and their works who/which have gained enormous popularity.

Ultimately, it's impossible to define artwork satisfactorily for all audiences.  Perhaps it would be better if a 'movie rating' was imposed just to warn off anyone.
FA = fine art as it is academically imposed
CR = craft when compared academically with FA
OS = art that refuses to be defined
SHXX=shock art simply for the sake of shock and monetary gain as a result of being 'trendy'

Public domain artwork
Seurat, Georges
1887-88, Model

I'm sure, if I had some coffee, I could come up with more ratings.

In the meantime, I'm going to get my coffee, then go visit the Appleton Museum where I plan to simply enjoy the art.  All of it.  The Good, The Bad, The Neutral, and the Ugly and everything in between.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Frustrated Quilter Gains Inspiration

As a frustrated quilter, I have always loved looking at quilts.  My fused glass artwork frequently is evocative of the textures and sometimes the patterns of art quilts.  So I recently have been reading a book, Twelve by Twelve The International Art Quilt Challenge. 

Cover art used by permission of
Brenda Gael Smith for
Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge

 These twelve amazing artists chose twelve themes and each one created a 12" x 12" art quilt for each theme. The artistry is spectacular.  I love reading about each artist's techniques and story, as well as seeing the photos of their creative spaces.  Since my art studio is not currently, um, shall we say, up and running (i.e., in boxes waiting to be unpacked) this is a nice jolt of creativity to inspire me.  You can view these works at http://www.twelveby12.org/.  Truly Paducah Quilt Museum worthy!  I believe I can call them inspirational--quite a number of them caused me to intake breathe in amazement and wonder at the exquisite colors and textures.  Who knew a sewing machine could elicit such beauty!

This is "Dandelion" by Art Quilter Diane Perin Hock. (c) Diane Perin Hock,
see her blog at www.goingtopieces.blogspot.com

I think there is crossover between all mediums if the artist is willing to look for the connections.  I often use photographs of quilts as an inspirational cue when beginning a new art glass piece.  I also draw upon abstract expressionism and even Henri Matisse' collage cutouts to help me design my work.  It seems to me that human creativity really has no end.  Though I've often heard people say that everything that's been written has already been written, I don't believe that is true.  Each story, each piece of glass, each poem, each painting, each quilt, et cetera, is uniquely its own, even if it draws upon similar themes as other works or even borrows heavily from other works.  The end result is a unique creation.  We seem to have a strong drive toward creating and our creativity pushes the limits of what we've done previously...if we will allow creativity free reign.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lost blog

It's a sign.  I'm just supposed to be as concise as possible and get on to my project.  I just wrote my daily post, went to preview it and lost it all.  So, instead, here's the plan.  I'm off to go take photos of my new studio space and get to work beginning the process of unpacking.  This is an important birthing process of recreating my studio and my art life here in Florida.  Wish me luck.  P.S.  If you have created a separate studio/art work space, I'd love to hear about the triumphs and heartaches you might have encountered and especially love to see photographs of other artists' workspace.

Ta ta for now.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Last night I was reading through my ARTNews Magazine www.artnews.com which okay, I admit, I get it for the pictures. While looking at not only the photos related to the articles but the advertisements, the question arose, "Why are these particular artists featured?  What about their art is extraordinary or world class?"  The answer is still forming and the questions also arose, "Is the work extraordinary or world class or do they just happen to be where they are getting exposure or know people who know how to get them exposure?"

Is what makes one artist renowned more about location, location, location than anything else?  Artists who live in large art meccas like Paris and New York have a lot more competition, but they also have a greater chance of being seen by the "right" people who are controlling the sway of the art world--let's face it, people with money buy art and you have to have money to live in a big city.  (I've had friends who lived in New York and paid $1700 to $2000 for a one room studio and I, myself, used to pay over $1200 a month for my apartment near Washington D.C.)  The affluent, who may or may not actually create art (mostly not), critics, gallery owners and of course other artists are abundant in a large city.  The fact that an artist lives in New York (for the sake of argument) doesn't make their art more worthy or better.  It just makes it more accessible.

Some of the "greatest" (i.e., best known) artists lived in large cities.  Often they hung out together and were around the same affluent and influential buyers, marketers, gallery owners and critics.  Their work was not necessarily "better" than someone living in say, Middletown, Ohio or Ruidoso, New Mexico.  It was just more available to the masses and to the "art world."  That isn't to say that someone from Middletown or Ruidoso can't become known, but to do so means that they will have to expose their artwork outside of their particular world and somehow catch the eye of those from the "art world" that sets the standards for what is good/bad, desirable, collectible, etc.  This is why artists try to get their artwork seen in places like New York, in magazines, and to be represented by galleries in places that are known to attract large numbers of art buyers.

Yes, of course, there are artists who have no desire to be seen beyond the scope of their local neighborhood and they certainly enjoy some level of celebrity in their hometown.  And yes, there are even artists who claim not to care whether or not they sell any artwork (yet they put price tags on the work and rather than giving the art away they want to see it sell). And there are artists who don't show or sell anything and do actually just give away what they create.  Every one of them has a chance that they may also become world renowned and world class.  But the chances of that are far less than an artist who is in the "right" places and know the "right" people, or have access to large scale exposure. 

In viewing the pictures in my magazine, I pondered what I thought of each piece.  Some were what I would call very good--technically proficient and followed design/contract/color theories.  Some were arresting, in that they caught my eye and made me look more closely.  Some were discordant or almost too obvious in their message and some elicited humorous responses.  Were they exceptional art?  Not necessarily.  They were mostly accessible--in large cities, or exposed through large galleries who have the means to market their gallery and the artwork they show.

I can't help thinking of myself and dozens upon dozens of other artists I know who currently do not reside anywhere near New York or a large art mecca.  We have put ourselves at a disadvantage in terms of exposure.  And that I believe, is one factor that makes one artist better than another in the 'art world.'  If you don't know I exist, how can you think my art is good, bad or otherwise.  Exposure is definitely a significant factor in an artists worldwide success and whether or not collectors want the work.  Collectors may collect "unknowns" but they go out of their way to get the artworks of artists with exposure. 

I can't help thinking of Dale Chihuly, a blown glass artist whom I admire greatly.  In the glass world, many glass blowers speak ill of Chihuly (whether they have personally met him or not) and his artwork.  Some call him a "sell out" (uh, yeah, I'd like to be a sell out artist!  That means my bank account is full and I have the means to do more of what I love--art).  Some call him a hack.  Some believe his art is no good because he's "over exposed" (and, um, IN DEMAND!).  I personally think that these artists are really just jealous of his exposure.  He not only is a very creative artist (I love his blown glass chandeliers and also the pre-production paintings he makes to design what he is working on), but clearly he is a genius as marketing himself and his artwork.  He somehow figured out the "magic" key to getting his work exposed to the world.  Those artists who poo-poo him, interestingly enough, are often seen attempting to emulate the bowls and blown structures that he creates--most not nearly as well as Chihuly and his team do.

So ultimately, when I look at my art magazines, I have to keep in mind that what I'm seeing and the artists I'm reading about are just the tiniest slice of the artwork that is actually out there and available.  It does not necessarily represent reality.  It is just what the "art world" has been exposed to so far.

When I win the lottery, I've always planned to hire a well known, large-scale marketing team--to help get my artwork exposed.  And that leads me to my next blog...the good, the bad, and the unlabeled.  Stay tuned...