Monday, February 24, 2014

Upcoming Art Events in Yakima

Though I don't seem to get much time in the studio this winter, there are a few interesting craft-based art events coming up in March.

Tieton Mosaics
This weekend Tieton Arts and Humanities is hosting a couple of events featuring mosaic work. Tieton  Arts and Humanities, the folks who bring us a variety of events at Mighty Tieton's Warehouse and lofts has apparently received an NEA grant to make some mosaic signs for the city. Saturday morning, March 1 from 10-noon mosaic artist Kate Jessup will be giving a free public lecture about the Tieton Mosaic Project.

In the afternoon on Saturday there will be a free mosaic workshop. The website lists two names for the artists, so I'll let you explore the original source yourself.

Wine Country Craft
Larson Gallery's functional art show, The Wine Country Home opens on March 7 with a reception from 5-7pm. This is a national juried show and I am optimistic that the media will be broad and varied. The card makes it look like that's the case.

Art Play
On March 9 Larson Gallery hosts "Art,"a Tony award winning play by Yasmina Reza. The play will be performed by Larson Gallery director, David Lynx and YVCC faculty Tim Jeske and David Huyke.  For tickets and more information, visit Larson Gallery.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Art in Downtown Yakima

This weekend I went for a walk downtown. I went for lunch but I also went to see the Windows Alive project. There's some pretty nice displays in those windows on the north side of Yakima Ave between 3rd and 4th Streets.

Sandi Drury's display window

I don't know all of the artists and there wasn't much biographical information about them, but the works were strong and they were set up well. I participated in a similar project in my hometown in Wisconsin but the windows set up for the artworks were parts of stores that operating. The Yakima version puts works in windows of business that have closed or were never open (to my knowledge). The lack of competing visual information meant that the Yakima Windows Alive project puts the art front and center and the focus and arrangement apparently can be controlled by the artist. Even the partial walls on which 2D work was hung were well made walls with minimal visual distraction.

display for work by Mike Ritch

Thought Windows Alive doesn't have a strong online presence (and I can't seem to find many pictures), it appears to be going strong. This is the second group of works and I have heard that there will be another call for artists in spring or summer.

Mike Ritch

Though this will disappoint my photographer friends, I didn't bring a camera with me on my walk. I had to go back the next day for pictures and only took a few. You'll have to go down yourself to see the show. The weather is pretty nice here in Yakima (sorry to my Midwestern and Eastern friends), so take some time this week or next weekend and go for a walk. There are even some shops and restaurants downtown that we sometimes forget about.

Lindsey Merrell

On my walk I also saw the Liberty Bottle chandeliers put up by Allied Arts. They were apparently painted by Naches Elementary students. The focus may not have been on the sound exactly, but they were blowing in the wind and making noise when I was down there.

 chandeliers blowing in the wind

I have been hearing or seeing a little about Allied Arts doing some "Art Scene" stuff downtown but I didn't realize what was actually going on until I got down there. Now that Allied Arts is building-less I get the impression they are "creating a new identity" for themselves. It should be interesting to keep an eye on their transition. I hope they increase their online presence so the Yakima arts community can stay informed.
Some chandeliers on North First

Monday, February 17, 2014

Apple Valley Elementary Clay Project

At the end of January I visited a local elementary school to lead a clay project. This was the second year of me doing this clay project with the kids, about 70 second graders. 

me telling them what to do. I look annoyed but I wasn't

The Apple Valley PTA has been organizing these events to supplement the nonexistent arts program at the school. Last weekend the Yakima Herald did a feature on the arts program. The images they show are from the sculpture project led by local artist Mindy Clark.

kids preparing the balls to go inside the bells

Four of my clay students joined me at the elementary school to help run the project. The PTA also brought in quite a few volunteers and the project went smoothly, for the most part.

kids adding slip to the scored edge of their pinch pots

We had the students make bells or rattles by forming pinch pots and attaching them to flat slabs of clay with small balls of clay inside to make noise. The whole group completed the project in less than an hour and most kids had a chance to decorate their bells.

kids decorating their bells

The lesson happened right before the Super Bowl and it looked as if they kids were in uniform, about half of them wearing jerseys and the rest in Seahawk colors.

a finished bell

Because of the timing of the project, there were also quite a few football themed bell decorations and I set my student volunteers to checking for strength in the field goal structures on top of the bells.

two finished bells

Back at YVCC, I had my class load the kids work into the kiln to bisque fire. My students were interested to see the clay was a different color and the volunteers told them how different the clay felt compared to our class clay.
I cut the kids faces out of the pictures because I didn't get consent from all of them to publish the pictures. The pictures with the kids are pretty cute.

My students at YVCC checked for strong attachments and made sure the kids all created pieces that would survive the firing without cracks or explosions. One of my students was surprised when she heard the internal ball rattling around inside the bell. They don't always make noise until after firing.

another finished bell
Next week the PTA volunteers will pick up the kids pieces and the kids will have a chance to paint their bells and take them home.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Considering Tasks for a Studio Assistant

Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed with how much work I have to do, I start thinking about what tasks I can give away. At times this is just idle mind-wandering while I'm avoiding something, but thinking like this can help me prioritize what I need to do and what can be done by someone else. Occasionally this thinking helps me identify a task I can give away, thus freeing me a bit of time and, more importantly, a bit of mind space.

At this point in my teaching career, giving away certain tasks can be good for more than just me. I have work-study assistants in the studio who earn money and gain experience when they take over studio maintenance jobs. Students in my clay classes also benefit from the experience of leading tours of the studio and showing visiting groups of children how to throw a bowl on the wheel.

throwing demonstration

When I delegate duties and tasks at work, I like to think that I am exhibiting good leadership qualities while also finding time to perform the pressing jobs that must be done by me. Ironically, I don't have much experience with delegating tasks in my studio at home, except to my husband (who graciously helps me clean bike parts, alter metal pipes and safety-wires sculptures) and my daughter (who will make up her own task if I don't find one for her). 

safety wired bulb

I always used to ponder what I would do when I became a rich and famous artist. I certainly remember considering, as early as high school, what jobs I would have an assistant do when I reached the elevated level at which one hires an assistant. At this early stage, I suspect the tasks I envisioned ran along the lines of someone to wash my brushes and cut my mats (I've always hated cutting mats). In college and graduate school the question became a bit more pointed as I was, more often, the assistant doing the tedious clay-mixing job for the successful professional artist who could afford to hire these jobs out. 
preparing clay

Now sometime in the last few years it began to occur to me that I am, at least sometimes, the harried, overworked professional artist who could use some help around the studio. I don't have a clay mixer in my home studio, so recycling clay, the obvious job for the clay studio grunt, is already one I hire out to Seattle Pottery. Lately a few more tedious jobs have come to my attention as possible to hire out. In Pasco, installing my show, I had some help (by which I mean Randy did it all) screwing in 100 L screws and putting up the scary high pieces in my wall installation. Recently, as I was discussing my frustration at taking professional quality images at my show (discussing with a professional photographer, I might add), I realized that maybe that's a place to delegate, too.

my installation shot

I'm not quite comfortable delegating in my own home or my own studio, but maybe that's worth a look. When I was a teenager, considering my future assistants, I'm pretty sure my visions of the artistic fame that necessitates the hiring of an assistant were a little loftier than my current status. Of course back then my friends were planning on marrying movie stars and royal heirs. At this point, hiring someone to take photos of my work and hiring someone to help clean up and prepare my studio is starting to sound like a pretty reasonable idea.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The End of Biomorph & New Images of Individual Wall Pieces

I drove down to Pasco this Friday to take down my Biomorph show. I also took my camera so I could get some quality images in the gallery with good lighting. Unfortunately, the midday lighting in the gallery didn't translate very well to quality images of individual pieces. I guess I need to wait until the weather is nicer and go back to my old stand-by image taking method.

Regardless, I got some images of the works hung on the walls and some of them turned out okay. I also picked up a CD from the gallery director but haven't had a chance to view the images she had for me.

My outdoor image taking method doesn't work particularly well for wall mounted work. I was hoping to have images of the new work, in particular, so that I could start entering new pieces in shows.

I ran out of time to get good images taken before the end of my sabbatical. I took plenty of pictures in my studio and while building, but these images all have messy and distracting backgrounds. The Biomorph show was installed in early January, days before winter classes began so I had, literally, zero days between finishing the works and installing the show. I don't really expect weather and my work commitments to allow me to take images outside until March (after classes end), so these will have to do for now.


I might have been able to get better images in the gallery if I had spent more time adjusting (or understanding) my camera settings. As it was I was worried about taking down the show, packing up the car, and getting a record of everything before it was taken down.  I didn't realized my flash was on for some of the pictures until I was halfway through taking images.

Of course, in some pictures where I didn't use the flash, the sculptures look so dark they are hard to see. Some of the individual wall pieces have the added distraction of shadows from other pieces and from multiple light sources. As a non-photographer, I want to believe that using a tripod will eliminate all other sources of error from a photograph of my work.

Regardless of the varied quality, I now have individual images of some new pieces and of some I never took installation pictures of in the first place (even though I've shown them before).

All of the works in this post (except the very first) were part of the Kekino wall installation at Esvelt Gallery for "Biomorph" January 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Last Chance to See "Biomorph"

This week is your last chance to see Biomorph at the Esvelt Gallery in Pasco. The show is open M-Th 8am - 8:30pm and then it's coming down.

This is your last chance to see this iteration of the Kekino wall installation.

This is also your last chance to see this iteration of the Ericano wall installation.

I don't know when you can see Laura Ahola-Young's paintings since she's based in Idaho.

The good news is that you can see my sculpture and my sabbatical work this April at Oak Hollow Gallery in Yakima. The show opens April 12, 2014. 

In the meantime, you can visit Oak Hollow Gallery on Summitview in Yakima and see Monica Lemmon's paintings and Jason Commodore's ceramics. The show is up now through March with a reception Feb 8 at 2pm.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Glass & Nail Polish

At the end of January I ran a clay lesson with a group of second graders from Apple Valley Elementary. I did this lesson last year, too. I didn't take pictures while I was running the lesson, but the woman running the event said she'd send some and I'll post them once I get them.

the original glass necklace

At the end of the event one of the volunteers asked me about my necklace and then told me how it was made. Like most of my jewelry, the necklace was a gift from my mom. I never thought much about how it was made, I just assumed it was cast glass.

the pendant, front and back

According to the woman, it is just a piece of clear glass with nail polish painted on the back. And, looking more closely at the piece, I can see that she's probably correct.

some of our pendants
Naturally this became the family art project for the weekend. We bought some clear glass "stones" (the kind used for filling vases at weddings) and collected the various nail polishes we had in the house. We set up the project on an old cutting board in the room with the bad carpet and started painting. My daughter and I each painted about five glass pieces before we ran out of energy and color options. (Next time we might need more than just glitter and pink polish.)

cardboard attached to the back shows through the glass front (and some of the polish)

We quickly realized that we could replicate a paperweight's decoration on a small scale by attaching a sticker or a picture facing the glass. The stickers worked particularly well and were pretty simple to attach with a bit of clear polish on the face and more polish over the sticky back.

my daughter's necklace and a sticker pendant

Then we used some memory wire and beads we already had to make a round necklace without a clasp. My daughter's bead choices on the necklace were more adventurous than mine.

my necklace and a painted pendant

I tried to copy the twisting metal bail that attaches the original glass piece to the necklace but I didn't have an appropriate gauge of metal and I kept snapping off the end. I decided to create a looser loop to attach to most of the glass pieces. The loosely looped bail also slides onto the necklace easily.

another painted pendant

I'm not sure I'm going to go into production with these, but it was a fun, easy project for a winter afternoon. And fun and easy is about all I have time for this winter.

three painted pendants and two with attachments: the top one had cardboard behind nail polish, the sunburst is a sticker with pink polish behind