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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Frida Day

Today is my personal celebration of Frida Kahlo.  She inspires me, inspires many women and especially women artists.  It is my hope her story also inspires many men.

Though she lived a life beset with enormous physical pain, she is best known for her self-portraits.  Kahlo's work is remembered for its "pain and passion," and its intense, vibrant colors.

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."  

She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."  

She was one of four daughters born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent. She did not originally plan to become an artist. A survivor of polio, she entered a pre-med program in Mexico City. At the age of 18, she was seriously injured in a bus accident. She spent over a year in bed recovering from fractures to her spine, collarbone and ribs, a shattered pelvis, and shoulder and foot injuries. She endured more than 30 operations in her lifetime and during her convalescence she began to paint. 

Her paintings, mostly self-portraits and still life, were deliberately na├»ve, and filled with the colors and forms of Mexican folk art. At 22 she married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, 20 years her senior. Their stormy, passionate relationship survived infidelities, the pressures of careers, divorce, remarriage, Frida's bi-sexual affairs, her poor health and her inability to have children. 

Frida once said, "I suffered two grave accidents in my life…One in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego." The streetcar accident left her crippled physically and Rivera crippled her emotionally.  During her lifetime, Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life, physical and emotional pain and her turbulent relationship with Diego. Fifty five of her paintings are self-portraits.

She was cremated after her death.  One account notes that as the cries of her admirers filled the room, the sudden blast of heat from the open incinerator doors caused her body to bolt upright. Her hair, now on fire from the flames, blazed around her head like a halo. Frida's lips seemed to break into a seductive grin just as the doors closed. Her last diary entry read: "I hope the end is joyful - and I hope never to return - Frida."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Richard La Londe Fantastic Fused Glass Paintings

I have long been an admirer of Richard La Londe.  He is a fused glass artist and glass "painter."  While he makes some smaller fused glass slumped vessels, the work I admire most are his large scale fused glass 'murals.'
(c) Richard La Londe, "Masked Intentions"

He has been a part of the studio glass movement since 1974.  He crushes glass and "paints" with that crushed glass, which he then fuses in a kiln.  His works appear in schools and public venues primarily on the West Coast.  He has been commissioned over the years to create 15 glass murals, including one located at SeaTac airport in Seattle.
(c) Richard La Londe, "Look to See"

He was one of the first fused glass instructors through the Bullseye Glass supplier, and has served as an instructor from his studio and at the famous Pilchuck Glass School.

What I have admired about La Londe's work are the brilliant colors and the intense amount of symbology he uses in his work.  While I am not certain how much background he has with Native American cultures, I find it in abundance throughout his works.  And I quite like it.
(c) Richard La Londe, "World View"

I have tried, without success, for the past two years in a row to get to his class on Whidbey Island.  It is still amongst my artistic bucket list to study with him.  Perhaps, assuming the world hasn't ended beforehand, 2013 will be the year I get to take classes with/from him.
(c) Richard La Londe, "New Beginnings"

I have both his books and have poured over them intently, studying the color combinations, the manner in which he constructed the larger murals and to just enjoy the overall works. While it has been a few years since he has apparently done any large scale commissions, I believe that his experimentation with the Bullseye Glass in the 80s was seminal work and that I, and other fused glass artists owe thanks to him for his experiments.

(c) Richard La Londe, "Mythopia"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Memorable Glass of Judith Schaechter

Two years ago I attended the Glass Art Society conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  There were a few parts that particularly stood out to me.  One was the auction--actually, just the set up for the auction--such a variety of spectacular pieces of glass art.  The other was the notable lack of speakers and presenters in the areas of fused, torch worked and stained glass art, despite an over abundance of blown glass representation. There were also several workshops I attended that have stuck in my mind.  One of those was a group discussion about the future of the glass art industry.

I'm sorry to say that I couldn't name the other panelists even if you offered me $1,000,000  (and believe me, that would motivate me to do so) off the top of my head--I could in fact, look it up I suppose.  But, without prompting, I do remember Judith Schaechter.  She was one of the few stained glass artists  featured as a speaker in a sea of blown glass artists.  And her work is phenomenal.

My personal favorite is her "Multiplication Table."

(c) Judith Schaechter, "Multiplication Table," used by permission of the artist.

When I view her work, I often see dark, dreamlike images. The people in her artwork are often distorted and stretched in a odd way.
(c) Judith Schaechter, "Agnus Dei," used by permission of the artist.

(c) Judith Schaechter, "Joan of Arc," used by permission of the artist.

(c) Judith Schaechter, "Mad Meg", used by permission of the artist.

(c) Judith Schaechter, "Sin Eater", used by permission of the artist.

In recent years, I've seen a definite turn with many artists toward dark, odd, sometimes unpleasant and occasionally downright disturbing subject matter.  Scheachter's work borders on the disturbing side in a near meeting of Alice in Wonderland meets Tim Burton dreamlike sequences.  Of special appeal to me personally, they often seem to have a spiritual bent to them as well.  And the detail she achieves is extraordinary.  Take for example, "Specimens" (below).

(c) Judith Schaechter "Specimens," used by permission of the artist.

Schaechter has quite justifiably earned several fellowships, has had numerous solo gallery shows and been a part of many group shows.  Most of those shows have been at less well known locations. It certainly seems to me that the world is ready for her works' unveiling at larger venues.  It is my opinion that the art world would devour (in a good way) this artwork in a feeding frenzy once they got wind of it.  She teaches, writes and clearly is a leader (however it might be reluctantly?) of the stained glass art world by creating modern, relevant, sometimes surreal glass panels.  She is sure to continue to be a force in the glass art world, shaping and guiding stained glass to include not just the traditional, but embracing modern design and subject matter. I anticipate seeing more of her work as her career continues to gain momentum, particularly with glass art collectors.

Text (c)SZing, 2012.  All photographs and artwork in this blog entry (c) Judith Schaechter, used by written permission.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oh the Joy of a Rusty Toy!

When I see rusty bits of metals, odd springs or screws, nuts and bolts or brass findings, I cannot help but sort them in my mind's eye into a semblance of something new and different than their intended uses.  Like one of my favorite found object artists, Michael deMeng, I am fascinated with rusty stuff.  When I first happened upon deMeng in 2009, I was already futzing around with found objects and creating unusual combinations or as deMeng calls it, "Oddification"--a term I find a perfect fit--the modification of odd items to make new 'somethings' (my definition, not his--you can find his at his blog.)

(c) Michael deMeng, used by permission.
"Urning Rubber"
In 2007, deMeng wrote Secrets of Rusty Things.

(c) Michael deMeng, used by permission of the author/artist.
In a sense, deMeng is a modern art Dr. Frankenstein--taking bits and pieces and bringing them "to life" in a new creation.  The moniker is fitting on the whole and taken from the perspective of the 'uninitiated'--my niece for example, who says the art pieces are "weird," "odd," "scary," "fun," "funky," and "bizarre," by turns.  I can't say how deMeng would feel about these labels, but as for me, I'd be thrilled to know my artwork provokes others.  Yet I do not in any way get the sense that his work is contrived just to get a rise from people.  Being that his star is on the rise, this becomes more and more a challenge as continuing to please "the people" can be consuming to artists. As an artist gains acceptance and an audience, it gets more difficult to create from the heart without regard to the audience.

(c) Michael deMeng, used by permission.  Archangel Michael.
Besides the details on how he combines unrelated pieces to create a new creature (or artwork), I genuinely found the stories that accompany the instructions and the art in his books to be fascinating. In fact, finding great "junk" is a necessity for an assemblage artist.  I already scheduled my calendar to attend one of the largest antique shows in Florida to scour the place for fun items I want to incorporate into my own assemblages.  When I read his stories, I felt that he must at some point truly get into "the zone" (you know the one I'm talking about) where he is working and immersed without being necessarily aware of the culmination of his creative thoughts into the actual work.

(c) Michael deMeng. Used by permission.  Diablo.

Secrets of Rusty Things was followed in 2009 with Dusty Diablos.

(c) Michael deMeng, used by permission of the author/artist.

His works are often filled with images and have names, if not directly related to deities, then at least reminiscent of a deity.  To me his work makes him a mundane reincarnologist--though he and the end result of his work are anything but mundane.  (Yes, yes, I know, I'm making up words again.)  As those who visited my "Recycled + Repurposed = Reincarnated" solo show last year know, I am all about recycling/upcycling and repurposing and most of my artwork is driven by the threads of the spiritual whisperings that are woven throughout my life.  As a result, deMeng's work speaks loudly to me and demands my attention.
(c) Michael deMeng, used by permission.  Dream Keeper.

deMeng is not hugely world renown (yet) but he and his works are something of a phenomena in the circle of crafters who attend arts and crafts retreats such as Art Is You or other workshops and retreats around the country (and a few outside of the USA).  He is the darling of the craft world and his classes rarely have openings in them.  He is also active in promoting the abandoned art movement (a stem of guerrilla artworks where artists anonymously leave art behind for others to randomly find and keep.)  
(c) Michael deMeng. Used by permission. "Our Lady"
While there isn't much known about him (very little available on Wikipedia, for example) his books are very revealing about his process and adoration of all things vintage, rusty, antique and upcyclable into art.  Many of his artworks are reminiscent of angels,  monsters or demons or mythological characters.  Almost all of them seem to be steeped in a spirituality that leads, in the end result, to a sense of sacred artwork.  There is a definite feel of a Hispanic sensibility in that many of his works play with themes often seen in Day of the Dead artwork of Mexico.  Having myself grown up surrounded in New Mexico by a heavy duty Southwestern Hispanic and Catholic influence, I find the works beckon me at a quite visceral level of connection.

I don't know how much of his artwork is shown at galleries or museums or how much he is concerned about having it appear in these venues.  I know he is enormously popular as a figure leading the charge in assemblage art.  Whether or not he will be able to transit from a sort of "cult pop icon" to a larger audience remains to be seen.  I think he fits somewhere between folk, whimsy, and modern art, but the labels are really not as important as the impact of the art. My greatest fears for his work are 1) that he may become such a cult figure in the craft world that he gets bored with what he is doing or 2) he loses the genuine feel of the work or 3) with so many students of his work, the "copycats" are bound to appear and overrun the market with similar works. My hope is that those who are "following" him find their own voice and method of expression.  I'd hate to see his work go the way of Kelly Rae Roberts and become the ad nauseum of rustic assemblage artworks.  I think deMeng's art makes a statement beyond that which it has been recognized for thus far by the "art world."
Text (c) SZing, 2012.  All photos and video in this blog entry are (c) Michael deMeng, used by written permission of the artist.

Monday, September 17, 2012

We are pleased to announce the September Give-A-Way winners!! We will send an email to each to request a current mailing address so we can send the hand crafted fused glass necklaces to each winner.  We thank all of our many entrants and supporters.  Keep reading and if you didn't win this time around, never fear, you can enter again in October.  Watch for details toward the end of the month in order to win a spooky, Halloween based gift in our Spooktacular Halloween Give-A-Way.  Based on the highest scores from the entries and random drawing from Rafflecopter the winners are:

Entry #425 Felicia C.

Entry #331 KH B.

Entry #60 Linda L.

Entry #388 Danielle K

Entry #398 Paula Z.

Congratulations to our September Give-A-Way winners.  Wear them in good health and in joy, Enjoy!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Public Glass Artist Narcissus Quagliata

Narcissus Quagliata is an Italian-born glass artist who is world renowned for his exquisite large-scale installations in brilliant colors.  My favorite is the piece he is probably best known for and which garners an enormous number of photographs by visitors since its 2007 installation. "Wind, Fire and Time" Dome of Light at the Taiwanese mass transit station is a show stopper. It has 4,500 glass panels with four themes: water, earth, light and fire. Respectively, these represent birth, growth, glory, destruction and rebirth.

 (c) Narcissus Quagliata

But he has other works that are equally gorgeous such as the 
at the "Divinity in Light" at the Santa Maria Degli Angeli cupola/rotunda.

and at the Discovery Center in Washington D.C. he created the
"Discovery Mural"

Quagliata has had his work featured by the Bullseye Glass company (one of the largest glass suppliers to fused/flat/warm--these are interchangeable terms--artists).  He has taught at the highly regarded Pilchuck School, founded in part by fellow studio glass artist Dale Chihuly.  He is regarded by fused glass artists as  the master of flat/warm public glass installations.

Video with Quagliata

For me, he is an inspiration and a mentor of sorts--his methods and techniques are of great interest to me and his ability to create such enormous large scale glass artworks is a feat which I'd dearly love to emulate.  It is a matter of practice and opportunity.  In the meantime, I can learn a lot form his artworks, his book, and his videos. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Horsin' Around Town

In North Carolina, artistically designed fiber glass bears dotted the main street of Hendersonville.  In Cincinnati, flying pigs are all the rage.  I'm happy to report that in Ocala, Florida, the Horse Capital of the World, artistic horses range across the city in their tenth year of public display.

For all of the photos below, I am unclear as to who owns the copyright, the artist or the owner.  I am also unclear as to who took the photographs.

"Celebration"  Artist John Breen

"Luce diPinto" Artist: Kent Weakley

"Wild Abandon" Artist:  Brynn Barnett

"Ocala Luna"  Artist: Diane Cahal

"Old Glory"  Artist: Kimberly Samson, brought in $85,000 at auction.
 Ocala's "Horse Fever" originally unveiled 53 painted and decorated horses in 2001.  For the ten year anniversary, 31 horses were created.  Their stately and highly colorful forms have graced parks and lawns around the city and are included in a "tour" from the Marion Cultural Alliance.  Not only do these glass ponies brighten up the city, but in 2001, the auction of the horses raised over $850,000 for 27 charities.  The 31 horses auctioned in March of 2012 raised $208,000, half of that going to charities and the other half benefiting the Marion Cultural Alliance.
"Quarterhorse"  Artist: Gene Hotaling

More than the financial benefits from the auctions, the beauty of these delightful equines attract visitors to the city.  The artists continue to garner acknowledgment from visitors and the local community.  Some of the artist's statements are available here.

"Mask herd rade" Artist: Lisa Russo
As an artist, I get a thrill each time I find one of these creative animals in my travels throughout the city. I also am thrilled that the public has access to this form of public artwork.  It is my hope that I will get a chance to participate in the future sets of horses.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ingenuity and Surprise in Art

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim 1959.6
 © 2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / ARS, NY

As an artist, it is always a challenge to figure out a way to do something unique, to find that "something" that no one else has ever done before.  It is also a challenge to surprise the art world.  Jackson Pollock was able to do this more than once.  While I know traditionalists revile surprise and change, exploration or experimentation (yet they must recall that even their most favorite forms of art came about as a result of all of these!), I personally find that I tend to gravitate to those artists who are more inventive and interested in exploring.

While his early studies were with Thomas Hart Benton, Pollock's main body of work is a far stretch from the type of technique and style he learned under Benton.  His "drips" were the first surprise.  His method of painting was a second surprise--he worked with a canvas on a floor, using non-traditional tools which included a cooking baster and sticks.

The third surprise may very well have been discovered earlier--but if it was, there is no discussion of it prior to 2009.

The third surprise is...his name embedded within the painting.  Can you see it?  Look at the black lines.  If you start in the upper right, you might be able to decipher "son."  Working back from there, you can find the Jackson.  Then look below.  It is an extremely stylized font, but you can discern the Pollock, hidden in the paint.  Read the article about this discovery.

Marianne Berardi, wife of art writer Henry Adams, author of Tom and Jack: the Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, was the first person on record to identify the letters.  Some critics deny that the name is actually part of the painting.  The most likely (to me) theory is that Jackson Pollock painted his name on the canvas and then painted around that work.  I have used a similar method to hide text within a painting.  I have also painted words AFTER I painted the background but the effect is different and the words are much more plain to the eye.  Of course, in the painting below, for example, I wasn't intending to "hide" the words, as I believe Pollock meant to do. This is the reason I believe he put the name first and painted around it.

(c) 2005, SZing. All rights reserved!! "Characteristics of God," Egg tempera on Bristol.
I have admired Jackson Pollock's work for years, before I ever knew anything about him.  What always attracted me was the energy and the colors.  Now, knowing more about him and his methodology, I still consider him a genius.  What I love most is this quote by him:

My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.
I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.
When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.--Jackson Pollock, My Painting, 1956

His approach was a definite departure from the accepted methods of his time.  It is a shame that his alcoholism and perhaps, as some suggest, bipolar disease, caused this unparalleled art talent to die at the young age of 44.  I cannot help but wonder what else he might have done and how else he might have impacted abstract expressionism and the modern art world. Learn the basics about Jackson Pollock to increase your appreciation for his works and ingenuity.

P.S.  Don't forget to submit your entry for the give-a-way which ends on the 15th!!

(c) SZing. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Balloon Hat Experience

It's controversial.  Is a balloon hat a work of art?

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.

In the Balloon Hat Experience, a single balloon and an entire gallery of photographs of those confections may both be considered art.  Perhaps the "performance" aspect of the process is also artwork.

Addi Somekh is no birthday-balloon-hat clown. This California-based balloon virtuoso and New York photographer Charlie Eckert collaborate to document the wearing of balloon hats. In 2008, the two began traveling and shooting photographs of people wearing hats, which, I assume, Addi makes. They have gone to at least 34 countries.  Over 10,000 photographs are the result of the project.  I have no data as to how many balloons have gone into the creations.

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.
The two have been traveling across the globe designing fantastical shaped balloon hats and snapping photographs in a wide variety of locations:  Nigeria, Ghana, Louisiana, Florida, Turkey, the Amazon, Norway and others.  The photographs are beautiful--not just for the settings but for the incongruity of colorful, whimsical balloon hats on what often are somber faces or the smiling faces of uniformed professionals.

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.

While the article I first saw about the project in the July/August 2012 issue of Mental Floss stated they found that people couldn't help but smile while wearing a hat, the photographs clearly indicate that is not necessarily the truth of the matter.  Additionally, in some photographs, only a single person is wearing a hat while a group of peers seem to be either unaware of or derisive of the hats and perhaps the person wearing it.   I tried to imagine some of the people I know wearing them.  With a few, it was a no-brainer fashion statement with which they would adore being adorned.  For a few others, it is absolutely impossible for me to imagine them putting even the most beautiful of the hats on and of course this led me to wish that there was a morphing program where I could try out different balloon fashion statements on different people--not unlike the paper dolls I used to enjoy.
(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.
One example of the lone hat wearer and the group attitude is the photo of the man in East LA wearing a wild hat--not only does he look less than thrilled, one has to wonder what sort of razzing he received from his friends later when the art team had left.
(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.
While I find the photographs fascinating, more interesting to me is how they went about seeking out the people featured in the photos and what was the conversation leading to their agreement to wear the hats and be photographed.  Did those chosen to wear them understand what they were or why they were going to wear them, much less have a photograph made while wearing them? Did they find it a strange American thing to do?  Did it impact them in any long term or positive manner?  I couldn't help wondering how people who were living in quite poor conditions and very likely struggling just to survive would greet the "need" to wear a balloon hat.  Was it a bright moment in an otherwise bleak life?  Or did it seem frivolous and ridiculous in the face of more serious concerns?  Did anyone say no to wearing balloon hats?

(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.

While I have not seen the 10,000 photographs, I hope they will be put into an affordable book (hey Addi, if you're reading this--I'd love to help you design and put one together!).  I'd buy it if it was reasonably priced. As for the hat wearers, it is my hope that more of them were given a happy spark than a feeling of having to do something that made no sense to them.

While it may seem in some way humorous or about creating happiness, the project itself juxtaposes what appears silly or childish with some serious facial expressions and environments. The artwork excites and invites further dialogue and discussion about the process and the outcome.

I especially find it intriguing that Charles' work portfolio is newsy and fairly serious, even though some of those photographs are quite 'artful.'  It seems a bit of a departure for him to photograph balloon hats on first blush.  In retrospect, his ability to capture the human face is quite impressive and astounding.  To see more of Charlie's work, check out his Portfolio.  His stated goal "is to continue to make art that opens the lines of communication amongst different people."
(c) Addi Somekh and Charles Eckert, Used by Permission.
Addi is also a member of a balloon band called The Unpopables.  Still think they aren't serious?  Addi provides workshops and has a client list that includes O Magazine, Disney Networks and Wired Magazine.  And he's worked with the Martha Stewart Show.  More of the Balloon Hat Experience can be seen here.  My hat is off to both Addi and Charles.  Let's face it.  It's hard not to smile when you see someone wearing the colorful balloons on their head.  In the end, it turns out, I'm a fan.

Text (c)SZing, 2012.  The photographs and video are (c) Charles Eckert and Addi Somekh, 2008-2012, Used by permission of Addi Somekh.  Martha Stewart video (c) Martha Stewart Show.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The obscure artist...

Wellll, today was going to be a day when I waxed philosophical about Vincent Van Gogh.  I had written my blog and was just preparing to add links and photos when....zap.  The power had a fluctuation and my blog did not save.  It was, in fact, upon re-entry, a blank canvas.  Perhaps that is the wisest thing an art blog can say about Vincent Van Gogh.  As inspiration...may you fill your blank canvas today with rich textured paint strokes, vibrant colors and pastoral images. Be true to yourself.

The Other "Starry Night". By Vincent Van Gogh.

(c)SZing. 2012.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Introducing the Start of 

September Give-A-Way!

 FIVE lucky entrants will receive a fused glass necklace by entering the Give-A-Way. 

 Log in in the entry form in the side bar for your chance to win. 

 The more points you get, the better your chances to win. 

 These are the necklaces that will be given away:

Winners will be posted here on September 16th!  

The more points you get, the better your chances of winning.  
One entry per person.
Please be sure to include an email address in your entry so 
we can get in touch to arrange shipping.
Sorry, this is open to USA citizens and for USA shipping only.  

(c) 2012 SZing all text and photos.  All rights reserved.