I had an short but sweet trip to Chicago over the weekend for portfolio reviews. I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton and was amazed by the lobby. The historic hotel first opened on September 26, 1871 only to burn down less than two weeks later in the Great Chicago Fire. The hotel was rebuilt in iron and brick, and was advertised as "The world's only fire-proof hotel." It was amazing to know that I stayed in the same hotel as Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain (well, the same location at least).
Not only was the lobby ornately beautiful, it was also full of interesting people - from a huge wedding and the National Roller Derby Competition. Never have fish-nets tights and helmets looked so good in freezing weather.
Everyone knows that my house is full of books. Yves and I turn stacks into nightstands, coasters (eek!), and decorations for the walls. We have an addiction - healthy but cluttering. So we solved the problem by buying yet another bookshelf. . . and purchased more books to fill it. Three of my new favorites are:
1. The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones
I wish I could time travel to shake Jones' hand. Such a beautiful collection of patterns.
2. Indian Miniature Painting by Anjan Chakraverty
A wonderful collection and history of one of my favorite styles of painting, covering the Buddhist palm-leaf manuscript illuminations of the 11th - 13th century and the "Company" paintings made for European patrons in the late 18th and 19th century
3. Edge of Desire by Chaitanya Sambrani
A must have book featuring a collection of the most dynamic contemporary artists in India
Every once in a blue moon when a good friend comes to visit, I'm able to become a tourist in my own town. Somehow (when I'm hiding in my studio), I forget how many wonderful things there are to do in New Orleans. Here are a few of my highlights from an amazing break from studio life.
1. A visit to the Audubon Zoo . One of my favorite places in New Orleans, the Zoo has incredible landscaping to match its spectacular animals. I especially love the spider monkeys.
I am now one of thousands participating in the 2011 Sketchbook Project. I chose the theme, "Help!," and I look forward to working through a sketchpad again - playing with pen, watercolor, and collage. The sketchpads will be part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library.
2. Indian Garlands: natural forms in general spark my interest: cells, flowers, pods, and trees. The shapes are fascinating.
3. Bower Bird Towers
4. Japanese patterns
5. Japanese prints: Like other artists before me (Van Gogh, Hundertwasser), I am inspired by the line quality and composition of Japanese prints.
6. Chaos : All of my paintings have a sense of ordered chaos. I stack shapes and colors to construct piles or towers. I find myself destroying canvases, rearranging, and creating new compositions, new microcosms.
7. Fairy Tales/ Faerie Tales and Folk Tales/Poetry
8. Hanging chandeliers, Posies: Any form that holds its fragile, yet elaborate, pieces together
9. Fabrics/papers/patterns: stripes are my current obsession
10. Architects with natural forms in mind: Hundertwasser, Antoni Gaudi, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
I'm convinced that I was a (male) Bower Bird in another life. Male bower birds build massive intricate towers from twigs and branches surrounded by a collection of random objects: cans, paper clips, seed pods, flowers, and anything shiny. The male bower birds use these structures not as a nest but as a courting space in which to woo a female. Who needs colorful plumage when you can decorate?
Check out the incredible spread from National Geographic (July 2010):
The UGA grad and artist Zuzka Vaclavik adds a refreshing twist to Modern Graffiti with her playful and complex landscapes of shapes and letters. It's pop art with a calming color palette.
An International artist, Vaclavik teaches and works in Italy, Costa Rica, and Germany. In her artist statement, she says: "In my new works I make post-graffiti, bio-morphic, automatic gestures. I want to create intimate new worlds of wonder where culturally familiar tags of decay mix with a micro/macro flip-flop, pulling the viewer into their world- tumbling from familiar references into other strange passages of bio science fictions. "
We all have secret obsessions of one kind or another. Mine just happens to be homes. . .very small homes. Doll houses.
Queen Mary's Dollhouse is a marvel in the world of miniature homes. It was built in the early 1920's (it took four years to complete) for Queen Mary as a present from her cousin Princess Marie Louise. The Princess recruited well-known artists and top craftsmen to add their expertise to the replica of Windsor Castle.
"It was made to a scale of 1:12 (one inch to the foot), is over three feet tall, and contains models of products of well known companies of the time. It is remarkable for its detail and the detail of the objects within it, many of which are 1/12th replicas of items in Windsor Castle. These were either made by the companies themselves, or by specialist modelmakers, such as Twining Models of Northampton, England. The carpets, curtains and furnishings are all copies of the real thing, and even the light fittings are working. The bathrooms are fully plumbed; that includes a flushable toilet and miniature lavatory paper." - thanks Wiki
Over the weekend, I was given the pleasant news that I was honored with the Forum 35 award at ArtMelt this year. Being the starry-eyed artist I am, I was oblivious to this fact (the results were announced three weeks ago). Thank you for the honor. My work will be displayed through August 28th at the Louisiana State Museum of Art.
A reminder that the closing reception for my two person show with Tom Lorio at Community Gallery will take place this Friday from 6 - 8pm at 427 Laurel St. Come take a look at my new work.
I came across the Omo Valley people a few months ago while researching nomadic tribes. German photographer Hans Silvester spent six years documenting the sophisticated patterns, color palettes, and natural embellishments of the Surma and Mursi tribes. They are permanently on display - walking canvases. These beautiful people will certainly be an inspiration for future paintings.
"In this region of East Africa, the rivers that run through the dry savannas are home to abundant flowers, papyrus, and wild fruit trees, and this luxuriance becomes an invitation to creativity and spectacle. Within hand's reach, a multitude of plants inspire fanciful and ephemeral self-decoration, and the Omo react spontaneously: a leaf, root, seed pod, or flower is quickly transformed into an accessory. As in the West one might don a hat, people create caps from tufts of grass. As one would knot a tie or scarf, they ornament themselves with banana leaves or a stem laden with flowers. These decorations are embellished with butterfly wings, buffalo horns, boar's teeth, colorful feathers, and the like, and are further enhanced by body painting with pigments made from powdered stone, plants, berries, and river mud." - book description from Amazon, "Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration From Africa."
A photo series can be found on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLR8wEvRfQ
Athens, Georgia is just one of those towns that everyone finds enchanting. Old quirky buildings, a gorgeous campus, blooming magnolias, a well- rounded arts and music scene and an excellent selection of food are just a few of my favorite things about the town. It also helps that I grew up just a few minutes down the road, and graduated from UGA. So I returned home for the 2010 Athfest to exhibit my pieces and listen to 184 local bands!
I was honored with second in show, and met several amazing artists during the three days. I liked one artist's work so much that I bought my first piece of art - starting my own collection. I also met another charming artist who is about to venture to Germany for love. Such a small world.
I was invited to participate in the 2010 Art Melt Exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge. Art Melt is the largest multi-media juried exhibit in Louisiana which showcases artists from around the state. The opening preview party will take place on July 15 from 6:30 - 10pm. The works selected will hang in the Louisiana State Museum for 6 weeks.
I am in love with the marketing materials from moo.com. A year ago I came across their mini - cards at an art festival in Athens, GA. The cards, half the width of normal cards, fit nicely into a card holder from your key chain and stand out for their unique size. The quality of moo's products and professionalism of the UK based company keeps me coming back for their products again and again.
A month ago, I had the pleasure of working on a commission for a local New Orleans family. The charming couple (and proud parents to a beautiful new baby boy) live in a recently remodeled home that has so much personality and tasteful style that any interior decorator would be envious. They requested a diptych to add color to their living room full of earthy tones. I chose a scene of a woven world brimming with elephants, stacked homes, and colorful patterns. I am thrilled that my painting is now part of their collection.