Friday, March 16, 2018

Rauschenberg-inspired Coptic Journals

Robert Rauschenberg's energy and whole-hearted investigation and engagement with colors and materials still buzz in me, and I felt I needed to newly investigate and engage with colors and textures in the book form. These journals seemed a perfect place to combine acrylic painting and some leftover fabric scraps I had originally printed for my quilts. I kept to Rauschenberg's colors: white, black, and red. Well, pink crept in, too.

They're small and sturdy. Perfect for carrying with you. 
Great for writing or drawing in tight spaces like diner counters or on a subway.
Nice Strathmore Drawing paper inside.

A little preview from a quilt I'm working on now in these with the cherry blossoms printed from a linoleum block and a peek at the letterpress printed poem.

This one has maps enfolding each signature.
A piece of printed cloth from Housework here on the back.

Textured red and white, with little white accent ties on the spine.
A fragment of the cherry linoleum cut on the back.
(Another peek at my upcoming quilt: Almost Cherry Season.)

If they appeal to you I've put these new Coptic journals up at 
nevermindtheart, my Etsy store.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Star 82 Review 6.1 Is Now Live!

"Still here, Captain." I hear Scotty's voice from Star Trek in my head each time I release a new issue of the online and print, art and literary magazine, Star 82 Review. And here's another! An interesting, thoughtful, and heartfelt blend of distinctive voices, just like always, but somehow this time even more so. Each piece is short and can be viewed or read when you have a moment here or there, enjoyed like a good snack. Of course you can dig in all at once, too.

Easy access!

6.1 web is here.
6.1 print is here.

You can keep up-do-date with the news from the magazine and read the found poem created from the first two or last two words from each written piece at the Star 82 Review FaceBook page here.

Happy Reading!

6.1 Contributors
Claire Ahn
Kathryn Almy
Dan Alter
Micki Blenkush
Chris Bullard
Marion Cohen
Tommy Dean
Carol L. Deering
Salvatore Difalco
Jaimee Hills
Richard Kostelanetz
Jessica Lawless
Kali Lightfoot
Doug Mathewson
Angelina Oberdan
Deonte Osayande
Tammy Peacy
Alejandro Pérez
Jenn Powers
Terese Robison
Valorie K. Ruiz
Tim Sharman
Cathryn Shea
Alan Simmons
Michael Dwayne Smith
M. Stone
Debbie Theiss
Landa wo

Monday, March 12, 2018

Conversation: A New Art Quilt

After seeing the Robert Rauschenberg exhibit at SFMOMA, my head was buzzing with ideas. One was to sew cloth together that first had been pleated. I had no idea what would happen after that. This is a little quilt that spoke to me as I went.

I began with some scraps from other quilts, inspired by Christina Kim. Last March, I had seen a wonderful textile exhibition, Scraps, at Cooper Hewitt Museum, and was particularly enchanted by how she and the other two designers used what would otherwise be waste material from the garment industry. A book that gives you nearly the same feeling as seeing the show is the exhibition catalogue, Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse: Three Stories of Sustainable Design. Kim in particular created one line of clothing, used the scraps from that to make the next, and down the line until all that was left were little amulets. At each stage she sourced the production to local people. I have a little bag with scraps that I have printed, so I began with those.

As I ironed and pressed the scraps I heard the words in my head, "folded many times thick." I knew it was part of something Thoreau wrote because my friend quotes it, usually when I am talking about layering, but I couldn't remember the rest. It turned out even better when I found the whole thing. At the full text is in a letter from Henry David Thoreau to Ralph Waldo Emerson, July 18, 1843:
In writing, conversation should be folded many times thick. It is the height of art that, on first perusal, plain common sense should appear; on the second, severe truth; and on a third, beauty; and, having these warrants for its depth and reality, we may then enjoy the beauty for evermore.
I had my title: "Conversation." It is tabletop size: 20"h x 19"w.

Pieces are from these quilts: Seraph; Where Is My Passport?; What Are We Becoming; Hope Rants; Nightlights by the Bay. The white rectangle has a crease ironed down the center like a book. Actually, all of the pieces reference the book form, either by the accordions, the printing, or the page spreads (Thanks, Velma, for planting that idea).

The quilted stitching draws connections from one panel to another. Thinking about Rauschenberg's materials in conversation with each other, too. Common sense, truth, and beauty. Worthy goals for any artistic endeavor.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Robert Rauschenberg Buzz

In college I had a kind of first "art mentor," a fellow student who was a couple years older than I was. He drew and wrote constantly, listened to punk music, and introduced me to a variety of artists and musicians I am still interested in today. For all of his cultural introductions, I thank him, Richard Herring, still painting in California. One of the artists I learned about from Richard was Robert Rauschenberg. 

Rauschenberg's work fascinates me. It is bursting with color, texture, and experimentation, technical skill, interesting composition, and curiosity. A friend asked, What about content? and for a moment I was stunned. What about content? But then you look to his questioning the hierarchies of materials and his transfer drawings from the current newspapers, and you find political commentary, particularly of the 1960s. You look at the various projects he set up and you see was devoted to social change through art, whether it was exchanging artwork for health care for other artists in need or working with artists and organizations around the world to encourage conversations and peace. 

If you are not familiar with him, in his own art Rauschenberg is the one who did the assemblage "Combines," the all-white paintings, the black textured paintings, the printed tire track, asked Willem de Kooning for a drawing he could and did erase (he particularly wanted one that could be considered valuable), set designs for Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown, among many other things. For his time, Rauschenberg pushed and pulled at his materials, tested, and reorganized, mixed genres, including dance and voice, and seemed to have a most joyous time of it! 

Before I went, I was surprised to read a review in the NY Review of Books, "The Confidence Man of American Art" by Jed Perl, an art critic I have in the past admired, in which the tone seems to disparage Rauschenberg as a "trickster, showman, and charmer" and sees his work as "megalomaniacal output" luckily with "embarrassments" left out of the show. But Jed Perl also believes in an old style of artist in which the artist searches for "perfection" even as he is looking outside his main medium, in order to revitalize "a particular discipline." With this in mind, I wondered if something in me had changed. If I would see, too, what Perl sees. Or feel it.

I did not. Perhaps because I believe that an artist has the freedom to change media whenever she sees it will enhance her own growth, expression, or message. Rauschenberg's work has an energy, perhaps a spontaneous one, that is different from the technical virtuosity of highly detailed work. His is a virtuosity with combinations and materials. Sometimes the beauty is in what is there and how the parts are in conversation with each other, sometimes in what is left out, sometimes in how it is cropped or framed. You can see Black Mountain College and Josef Albers' teaching in the opposites that appear, such as: light/dark; soft/hard; messy/clean edges. The catalogue for the show, Robert Rauschenberg is a wonderful keepsake, but if you can see the show in person, I recommend it.

I took a few photos while I was there.

A textile piece with layers and transfers (1970s? forgot to note, possibly in the Hoarfrost series?):

A painting that employs paint, jeans, and a handkerchief:
Untitled, 1958

Selections from a piece made from 97 sheets of handmade paper (63 feet long: it lined three walls of a room), collage and transfers that is connected by zippers meant to be rearranged every time it was exhibited:
Hiccups, 1978

Combination painting and sculpture:
Winter Pool, 1959

An interactive set design for a dance performance, here as a portrait with my friend:
Minutiae, 1954

And a large painting with a funhouse mirror embedded in it.
(Life and art, past and present combined: can you find me?)
Charlene, 1954

The current Rauschenberg exhibition, "Erasing the Rules" at SFMoMA was that "call to action" I wrote about in January. My body was buzzing, and I couldn't wait to get back to the studio and make something.

Much imagery at the Rauschenberg Foundation website here, including a book.
Wonderful SFMoMA Essays about Rauschenberg's work here.
By Sarah Roberts:
Essay about the white paintings here.
Essay about erased drawing here.
Essay about automobile tire print here.