Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios

This weekend was Larson Gallery's Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios. My house was on the Tour and my work was spread throughout the interior of the house, the front porch and the garden. I also had several artists showing their work at my home including Monika Lemmon, Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield and several of my clay students from YVCC. 

my house, ready for action

Monika Lemmon

Monika Lemmon is a Selah artist and painter. Most of the works she had on display at my house were her paintings. She does beautiful work that is fascinating, surprising, intricate and impressive. 

Monika's paintings in the living room

I loved having her paintings in the house. I really enjoy looking at the pieces. I had seen a few of her works before and loved them. Monika has work in the permanent collection of Larson Gallery and three of her works are installed in the room on campus where I usually eat lunch. I have also seen some of her tall figures in shows at Larson Gallery and Allied Arts in Yakima.

two of Monika's paintings and some ceramics by various people

My favorites of Monika's works are the ones where she seems to hide and reveal different layers. She does this often in her figures, such as the birds or people who seem to be partially dissected or taken apart. She also does this in her landscapes and she sometimes combines the two subjects.

I love the color, and patterns inside the body and the feathers

I see similarities between Monika's work and my own, in particular in the hidden and revealed layers, complex and varied textures, busy surfaces and even in the gears seen in my SRAM sculpture and Monika's standing male figure. Unfortunately I didn't take good pictures of all of her best work in my home. Two of the paintings I spent a good deal of time staring at before and during the tour somehow were missed or photographed badly, so I have to go to her website to see them now. (Look for "Dissection" and "Buried" in "Portraits and Figures.")

I love the contrasting blue lines and dark sections. I also love the red veins.

When we were setting up for the tour, Monika brought several works and indicated she had more at home, so I sent her back for them because I like having a lot of work on display. I was surprised by how much I liked her landscapes and even her painting of corn. Since I liked the figures so much I just expected to be less impressed with her other work, but I was impressed and the work held its own at a smaller scale. 

The color seems to be dripping out of the cloud buildings

Monika's color choices are bold and there is a sort of repetition of textures, lines and patterns in her surfaces that I find rewarding to look at for long periods of time. Her images are complex and reward the viewer who invests time looking at the work.

This one looks better in person; the patterns are more visible on the right

We set up most of the work the day before the Tour while my daughter was at school. When she came home, my mother, who had come to help get the house ready for the tour and help with preparations and staffing (and moral support) during the tour, brought her through the house to show her the work and help her understand the importance of being careful around all the art. 

The grays of the tree and sky make the bird's subtle color pop.

When my daughter got to the living room, she looked at the work above the couch. She said that she liked it because the woman was partially hidden behind the water and the water looked like it had sea creatures in it. She also liked that she could see the woman through the grey areas of the painting. Monika agreed to trade the work with me, so I now get to look at this piece every day. The piece is large and complex and the copper sections in the hills seem to change depending on the lighting or time of day. Some people don't notice the figure at first glance.

my new painting! "Lithosphere"

And if this wasn't all enough, Monika brought some metal work from when she was an undergraduate student. My favorite was the lizard skeleton with flexible joints and fine detail. The piece is about eight inches long and just as amazing as her other work. 

metal skeleton

She brought several other pieces with fine workmanship and detail, including a working "Ear Guitar" with an amp and several hinged containers, like surreal lockets made of hearts and teeth.

playable ear guitar with hinged back

Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield
The only other independent artist at my house for the Tour was Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield. This past year she showed paintings at Larson Gallery from her time teaching art in Kuwait. The show, Abaya and Beyond, featured paintings of women in Abaya (full body covering) and paintings of pomegranates as well as photographs of men and women in Kuwait. Yvonne also wrote a book about her time in Kuwait, entitled "Suitcase Filled with Nails." At my home she exhibited some of her ceramic works.

chest plates and masks cast from a fountain (with the water off)

YVCC Clay Students

John Peterson
I also had several students from YVCC clay show their work. After I bullied him into showing, John Peterson brought five intricate and complex sculptures. Bizarrely I only have a photograph of one, though I showed them off and spent time looking at them during the tour. (I am hoping some one will get me photographs of the others and maybe I can add them later). Though John takes clay classes with me occasionally, he trained as an artist and is not really my student in the same way the other students are mine. John's work is much more sophisticated than undergraduate work and incorporates a variety of media. Each of his sculptures have a story behind them, like the mechanical heart transplant or the Orville Redenbacher Lander. Visitors on the Tour were fascinated by his work and by the stories that he told them about his work.

in search of a popcorn planet

Grace Keller
The rest of my clay students who showed work at my house began their clay careers at YVCC with me. In the room with John Peterson were Grace Keller, Timer Harrison-O'dell and John Harrison-O'dell. Grace is an advanced clay students. She makes functional work and has a small studio in Glenwood Square in Yakima. She set up her work like a dinner party on the dining table. Unfortunately her work was not for sale during the Tour, as it was already promised to other people, but she does take commissions. Grace has a casserole in the DoVA show at Larson Gallery which won an award and was on the cover of the DoVA postcard. 

Grace's plates, bowls, mugs, casseroles and salt and pepper shakers

Timer and John Harrison-O'dell
John and Timer are intermediate and advanced pottery students respectively, though Timer has also taken a hand-building class with me.

Timer's sculptures and dish and bowl

Timer and John set up Timer's fountain and animals and John's functional work as a forest tea party at my daughter's little art table in the dining room. Timer's fountain was running throughout the day and the display was sweet. John's focus has been in making functional work, including vessels for cooking. Timer's work has ranged from functional to sculptural. Timer and John both have work in the DoVA show at Larson Gallery. Timer won a design award for her purse inspired by Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield's "Abaya and Beyond" Exhibition.

Timer's fountain, owl and skunk; John's teacups, saucer, bowls and casserole

Katie Schnieder
Katie Schnieder is now an independent study student in clay. She has taken all my clay offerings at YVCC and is becoming a very strong artist. Her work ranges from functional mugs and bowls to sculptural vessels to free-standing sculpture. 

Notice that the Zombie is coming out of Bosch's hell

Katie took her first functional pottery class with me and came back later for her second. In her second class she suddenly started making sculptural work in addition to her functional work and her work took off. She can hand-build or throw large work and some of her most successful pieces are those where she alters the thrown form after throwing it.

Katie's large hand-built and thrown vases

Katie has also taken my hand-building class and is very comfortable sculpting realistic figures and animals. Her Tyrannosaurus Rex won the Best of Show award at Larson Gallery for the YVCC Department of Visual Arts Student Exhibition

zombie gnomes, of course

Katie, Grace and Shannon Hoptowit, as well as Monika, will be showing their work at the upcoming Emerging Artists Exhibition at Oak Hollow Gallery in June.

Shannon Hoptowit
Shannon Hoptowit was unable to be at my house for the Tour, but she brought some of her work. She started working with clay as my work study student for over a year before she first took a pottery class. When she finally started to throw she already knew about clay, firing and glazing and had watched other students' successes and failures. She has now taken at least four throwing classes and is currently in independent study with me.

Shannon's planters, bowls, and vases

Shannon's work is functional. She is able to throw large quantities of clay and make large pieces. She has also made several multi-part planters, including a strawberry planter she had at the Tour. Recently she has been focusing on carved surfaces on medium sized vases.

Shannon's strawberry planter

Shannon and Katie have also collaborated on several of these carved works, Katie throwing the vase and Shannon carving the surface. Few of these are glazed and fired yet, but I had them bring the works-in-progress for the Tour.

bisque-fired carved vase

My Work
I also had some work in the Tour. Normally my studio is designed so that the work is stored away in cupboards and on shelves on the edges of the studio, with the oldest work stored highest, lowest, and farthest back. The newer work is out on the shelves in front and at the middle level to be available for shows (and so I don't forget I have it. The work in progress is out on tables and counters because I am working on it. 

In photos all I ever see is the carpet, but theres some work in there too. It's like Where's Waldo

For the Tour I pulled all my pieces, almost everything, out of cupboards and off the floor and out from behind things. Instead I put all my tools and clay and glazes away in the cupboards and out of sight. I brought the work out into the main house on the coffee tables and end tables in the living room.

The only picture I have of the coffee table includes a blanket and half-eaten waffle from my daughter's breakfast.

I installed some work on the wall above the oven last weekend and on the wall and the high shelves in the laundry room. After clearing out the laundry room this past week, I installed some more work on the windowsill in that room.

laundry room shelf
An army of small creatures protecting the house from invaders.

Of course my studio had every surface filled with work. I brought out all my old work, not just the work I made in Yakima. I turned on some old fountains I had made in Iowa or Wisconsin before or during graduate school. Most of my pumps appear to have died of old age, so I was only able to turn on a few fountains. I also discovered my hands have grown since 2005, so I was unable to reach inside the small openings of some fountains to adjust pumps I know I adjusted in the past.

A fountain at the right with an array of work behind, in my studio

I brought out my raku fired work which came mostly from my senior show at Coe College in Iowa. A few raku pieces were done after college or maybe during graduate school (though the school raku kiln at Wisconsin was a beast to fire).

raku work on my wedging table

My mom helped me arrange some work when I reached the point where I could no longer make decisions. It helped to have someone else take over some aspect of the decision making, even though she had also helped considerably with cleaning the house and putting out flowers in the rooms.

my mom's installation

When people entered the clay studio especially, they mostly commented on how much work there was. I was pleasantly surprised; I feared they would all just laugh at the strange carpet on the walls of the studio. Plenty of people also commented on the walls, but it wasn't the first thing they noticed.

my more recent work, and a very old painting of a clay table

I had work out from graduate school too. I still have wood fired pieces and pieces from the lawn installation of my MFA show. Before the preparations for the Tour kicked in to high gear, I had been preparing our home garden with my daughter. I put most of my remaining "lawn sticks" out in the garden or in the planter on the porch. I also hung some work from my MFA show around the house.

lawn sticks and mug planters

Of course I had recent work made in the last few years. Last summer I didn't make much, because my bike part project took so much time, but I had one bike part piece (one is at the Student and Faculty Show at Larson Gallery and the other went to the fundraiser event in NYC). I also had work from the last seven years in Yakima--or maybe the last five or six years, I don't remember making much my first year or two here.

work right beside the studio door

Since my summer last year didn't result in a vast quantity of finished work, I showed a vast quantity of unfinished work. Only about a third of the pieces I made for my Daily Mini Sculpture Project last Spring were finished. The rest are fired and partially underglazed so I arranged them on one of my work tables and let people see them as they were. I hope to finish them this summer or during my sabbatical in the fall, though they aren't a top priority. 

unfinished mini sculptures

I had one more set of unfinished work and those are the beginnings of an installation for my show in January 2014 at the Esvelt Gallery at Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, WA. This installation is similar to one originally called "Ericano." I have installed iterations of this in galleries, condos, homes, and offices in at least four states. I just installed one above my own clay studio door for this Tour. The work for next year's installation is far from complete, but I wanted people to get a sense of the future installation pieces, not just the older raku work that is up in my home.

bulbs for "Ericano" installation

The tour was exhausting, but I think the day went well. Over the course of the day we had more than 130 people in the house for the tour. For me, since I had so much old and new work out, it was an interesting chance to take a look at what I have, where my work was and where it is going. I think just going through the massive effort of moving everything out, arranging it for view and deciding where I put something out (or not) forced me to introspection. I decided not to price my work, in part because there was so much of it, but also because sales were not my focus. It's nice to have a job and therefore not be required to make work to sell. My work isn't appealing to everyone; the freedom from pleasing allowed me to tell more of a controlled story with my work grouped, massed and hidden in and around the house.

My daughter's work was also featured on the Tour.

Of course an entire day spent talking about work, listening to people talk about work and comparing ideas with other artists naturally results in comparisons, ponderings and ridiculous things overheard, but those thoughts are for another post some other day. If you came this weekend, I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn't, I hope you enjoy the pictures and if you helped, I greatly appreciate your time and effort. 

Special Thanks to Sean, Mom, Monika, John, Timer, John, Grace, Katie, Shannon, Yvonne, Randy, Lori, Keegan, Linda and Kathy. Thanks also to M R, Jeff, Kim and Jack. Sorry if I missed anyone. The tour was a tremendous effort and I appreciate all the assistance--even if I'm too exhausted to remember it now. 

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