Monday, July 28, 2014

Alphabet City, New York


Alphabet City
There is a neighborhood in the Lower East Village of Manhattan that is known as Alphabet City. The neighborhood gets its name from the 4 lettered avenues that run easterly from First Avenue to the river. Avenues A, B, C and D are the only streets in Manhattan to have single-letter names.

I lived in New York in the early 80's and the name Alphabet City evoked images of burned-out buildings, housing projects, garbage-strewn lots, squatters and drug dealers. For me, it was a "no-go zone", it was bizarre, scary, and seemed very dangerous.

Today this same neighborhood is sprouting up high-priced condominiums and luxury rentals. The area is more likely to be called the 'East Village' or 'the Lower East Side', as there seems to be a conscious effort to erase the history of what used to be the sleazy underbelly of the city.

This piece is an homage to what was Alphabet City, New York.



An 1800's dovetail drawer (found in a dumpster in Santa Monica), contains various vintage wood pieces depicting a neighborhood that once was. 
A printer's block, a clock's mainspring, vintage yard sticks, and mirror tell the story. Under the printer's block is a glass cigar tube containing marbles and yellow bingo balls. A ceramic mask has been papered in words and music and washed in gold paint. A glass chemistry rod added for effect.
A drawer pull has been added on top. The back of the drawer is papered in vintage dictionary text, and overlaid with brown and black stripped tissue, and an image of a bird on a wine bottle.

The piece may be displayed tabletop or wall hung.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Things They Carried . . .

"The Things They Carried"
 I love collecting old interesting wood pieces. Carved chair parts, vintage frames, drift wood, wood hangers, yard sticks, boxes, . . .The older the better.  It does not matter if the wood is painted or unpainted, carved or plain, I find wood to be delicate and exquisite and strong and worldly, with many stories to tell.  The older the piece of wood, the better the stories.

I just can's say no to a beautiful piece of wood.

I have had this idea that I wanted to construct an art piece using multiple and various pieces of wood from different origins, of all ages and with varied textures and patinas. I wanted to cut the pieces of wood and fit them together, like a puzzle and let their texture and their beauty speak for themselves.

This piece is my first attempt.

Some time ago while perusing blogs, I came across the quote "A lot like yesterday, a lot like never". The words resonated with me and I thought that at some point I might use it in one of my Scrabble pieces. After adding the quote to my 'list' of quotes, I printed out a copy and hung it on the inspiration board in my studio . . . so I could see it everyday.

In researching the quote, I discovered it is from a book titled "The Things They Carried" written by a Tim O'Brien, the book contains a number of short stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Using a piece of pine as substrate, cut pieces of redwood, fence board, clothes hangers and various other wood types are pieced together to form a whole. Embellishments include found metal pieces and bits of bling along with a small convex mirror and the head of a colorful rooster, formally a napkin ring holder.
The piece is finished in a frame made from a vintage yard stick with with bright blue lettering.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Penelope

"Penelope"
I had a very pleasant visit this afternoon with a new friend named Michelle. Michelle is a student attending Chapman University, in Southern California.  I met Michelle a few weeks ago, when she and her mom came by my studio during our open studio event.

She sent me an email telling me how much she enjoyed visiting the studio and the time we spent talking about my work.  I am always up for talking about asemblage to anyone who will listen, so I invited her back "anytime" she was in the area. . .  . well today she took me up on my offer.

I showed her some of the pieces I have been working on. She said she had been collecting 'a few things' since her visit to the studio and that she couldn't wait to start making something on her own . . .  well that's all it took.. I suggested we start making something for her today . . . . 

Michelle proved to be very eager to learn and quite capable at putting things together.  We came across a few 'challenges' like how to attach the porcelain doll's head to the wooden block, but we figured it out, and 'made it work'. In no time Michelle was even using the power drill.  
 

In no time, we put together this small wall-doll for her.  All the pieces 'came together' beautifully. 
I had a lot of fun.

 Meet Penelope (Penny to her friends) and Michelle (she's the one on the right)

Vintage printing block, electric organ stops, silver chain, brass bells and a sweet porcelain doll's head.

Michelle was very happy with Penny, she even signed her on the back. . .  I guess that makes her the newest member of the Assemblage Art Society . .  . Congratulations to you both!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do Better . . .

"Do Better"
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece, titled "Do The Best You Can" on this blog.
I was working on it during my 'open studios' weekend, and one of my early visitors said, "please call me when this is finished, I want to buy this piece to hang in my office . . ." 

Well, wouldn't you know, on the last day of open studios, another visitor fell in love with the then finished piece and bought it. So the following week, I got busy and made a new one for the first customer.  (she said she like the color purple, so I used more purple colors on her piece).

Then, I decided to make a third piece to hang at the gallery.  Here are all 3. All are similar, but each is one of a kind. 

The quote, by Maya Angelou: 
"Do the best you can (un)til you know better, then when you know better, do better."

"Do Better"


"Til You Know" 

"Do The Best You Can"
1" thick piece of oak butcher block covered in bits of text, images and tissues is the substrate for these. Scrabble tiles framed in wood spell out the Maya Angelou quote. A vintage wooden hanger tops each piece and a metal embellishment finishes each one.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Which Way Should I Go . . . ?


"Which Way Should I Go?" ●  
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" asked Alice.
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
Alice – "so long as I get somewhere,"
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, if you only walk long enough."
These words from Lewis Carroll's, Alice in Wonderland have always resonated with me.  Maybe it's because I have always been a planner and a goal setter.

Every time I read this quote I am reminded of the reason why I set goals and make plans . . . Simply because I don't want to find myself 'getting somewhere' where I don't want to be . . . 
How about you? Are you a planner and a goal setter?

A rustic hinged wooden box is covered in iconic Da Vinci images, including Mona Lisa on the front and a fallen angel on the back, Inside are vintage text and an image of Alice, appearing to ask Cheshire Cat for directions (note the cat's tail extends past the top of the box). Porcelain drawer pulls for feet, and a brass pull on top. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Liar, Liar - A Buried Treasure . . .

It's buried treasure time again.  Seth Apter from The Altered Page is hosting this really fun event again, and I am in!  Seth has been carrying on this tradition for the past 5 years, and although I have only participated once, I can tell you, it was a lot of fun.

This year, I'm sharing a post of an art piece is made last year, titled "Liar, Liar".  One of my all time favorite finished works. I hope you enjoy seeing it again, as much as I enjoyed making it once.
***

Original Post dated: Tuesday, May 28, 2013



"Liar, Liar"
The book used in this assemblage is a vintage copy (1926) of Charles Darwin's "Origin of the Species".  Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has become the foundation of modern evolutionary studies.

First published in 1859, "The Origin of Species" provoked outrage from many as it implicitly contradicted the belief in divine creation. Darwin's critics were, and still are, numerous, vocal and very doubtful that observed biological complexity, especially in humans, could have developed simply.  Many of his critics still believe Darwin to be amoral and to have made up all his collected data.
Although Darwin’s theory has been modified over time, it remains fundamental to the study of life sciences. And the controversy still exists today among the Christian mainstream.

Although not readily accepted by the scientific community of his time, since it's publication, Darwin's concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection has become central to modern evolutionary theory, with the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s. Today it is the unifying concept of the life sciences.

With this piece, my purpose is not to support or reject either argument surrounding the theories of  'divine creation' or 'evolution by natural selection', but rather it is to raise the questions again, about how the human race, as we know it, has come to be.

What do you think?

Mannequin head covered in papers, text, sewing patterns and embellished with clock gears.  A vintage "The Origin of the Species" sits on a wooden stand supported by brass drawer pulls.

July 6, 2013 UPDATE
I moved into a new studio last month, an artist community contained in a wonderful WWII building, originally used as army barracks for troops.  There are about 30 artists who have their studios here, and yesterday we held our 'First Saturday Open Studios' event.

This was the first experience holding an open studio.

Pictured below, is Morgan Ray, she stopped by my studio, and I was thrilled when she decided to take "Liar, Liar" home with her.   Thank you Morgan!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Do The Best You Can


"Do The Best You Can"
Dr. Maya Angelou passed away last month. A few weeks before her death, I started working on a scrabble art piece with one of her quotes, a favorite of mine. I finished it last week.
"Do The Best You Can (Un)til You Know Better, 
Then When You Know Better, Do Better"
 ****

Dr. Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 -May 28, 2014,
A remarkable woman who lived a remarkable life.
I started this post a week ago. There is so much that can be said about the life of Maya Angelou, a truly amazing human being. The post became long and repetitive, soon I realized there was little I could add to what has already been written about her life and the lessons she taught us.
In the end I felt I could not do justice to the extraordinary life that was Dr. Maya Angelou.

Instead I will attempt to live my life in a more meaningful way by remembering her words:
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry;
to get my work done and try to love somebody 
and have the courage to accept the love in return.”

Rest in peace, Maya.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

First Kiss


"First Kiss"
Another tribute to wine county.
"We are all mortal, until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.  ~ Eduardo Galeano
Wine colored scrabble tiles with white letters spell out the quote.  On the front of the wooden cigar box frame is covered in tissues and text and embellished with 2 metal grape leaves.  On the back side, soaring birds overlaid with pattern tissues.  The piece is ready to hang.





AVAILABLE: $175 plus shipping

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Middle Child



 "Middle Child"
The experts say that middle children often feel left out and invisible, a contrast from their older and younger siblings. While older children get the benefits of all of the “firsts” a child accomplishes, younger children benefit from the emotional impact of being the baby of the family, often being spoiled and coddled. Middle children, however, often feel as though they have nothing special that is just “theirs.”
Over the years I find that I can often correctly identify a person's 'birth-order', by certain behaviors or traits they exhibit as adults. 
Myself, I am the youngest of 7 children, and I can say that even today, I clearly identify with the younger, coddled baby of the family, and thankfully a more independent, confident adult..

Which one are you?  YOUNGER?                    MIDDLE?                                        OLDER?
  
Vintage sewing machine drawer covered  on the inside with hand made papers and tissues. Three porceline doll heads representing the older more confident child, the younger, more independent child and the  middle child who often feels left out or treated unfairly.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Birds on Wheels



"Birds on Wheels"
A sweet wall hung piece depicting two birds on wheels. Foundation is a wooden plaque that has been covered in various papers.  The wooden birds have been painted with bright acrylic paints and perched slightly above wheels that spin.  Scrabble tiles spell out "Birds on Wheels".





Saturday, May 10, 2014

"The Things We Left Behind"



"The Things We Left Behind"
Mixed media assemblage, a collection of things, flotsum and jetsum of a life lived.

Wikipedia describes "jetsam" as things that have been voluntarily cast into the sea by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while "flotsam" are goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck.

Either way, as we make our way through life, there are many things we touch and hold dear. A doll, a marble, a ball . . . Eventually, some are cast away, having served their purpose, are rendered useless, while others are somehow lost and forever missed.

This piece was created a few years ago, and although I liked the piece I was never completely happy with it.  Because of this, I never entered it a juried show or exhibited it at the Sebastopol Gallery, where I show my work.
Instead I kept it in the closet, hidden, untouched, and unseen.  For some reason, I felt this piece was an 'experiment', something that went in a completely different direction from where I typically go.  It was a stretch, a concept, a test, a trial run . . . 

Recently, I was invited to submit work for a juried show titled "Evolution / Revolution".

I felt I did not have any pieces that fit the theme - then I remembered this, almost forgotten piece. So I dug it up, and dusted it off and tentatively entered it in the show. . . .

And wouldn't you know?  It was one of the pieces selected for the show! I was pleasantly surprised.

Just goes to show ya! You just never know what the jurors are looking for . . . .


9/2/12 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Island Time



"Island Time"
I've had this small wooden ship in my stash for about a couple of years. When it came into my studio, it did not have any sails and some of the small wooden pegs around the ship were broken.  But it was pretty, and it was well made, and I liked it's small size, and I thought it would be something someday.
When I moved into my new studio in February, there was a lot of construction going on all around me. The great part about all of this was that the dumpster was always full of wonderful things that were thrown away and deemed useless by the construction crew.

Everyday was like (still is) Christmas. I go to the dumpster and find wonderful pieces century old wood planks, or vintage EXIT signs, one day i found an old couch with beautiful carved wood panels and lovely carved feet. All waiting for me to take.
Well that is the long way to tell you about the wonderful saw blades I used to make this piece.  I found several of these in that dumpster. Apparently they become dulled and must be replaced periodically.  I took these 3 and cleaned off the grease, and then prayed them with a thick coat of varnish.
And look what they became:  Masts for my ship.


Inspiration for this piece came from an art exhibit I saw at the Sonoma County Museum a couple of years ago. The show was all about art made from vintage tools. Really an amazing show. One of the artists whose work was featured in this exhibit was a fellow named Richard Bronk. Richard is an artist from Wisconsin whose medium is fine woods, and primarily makes furniture and some sculptures, like the one pictured below.

 

 This piece is titled "Ship of Tools". 
I so loved this piece I knew that some day I wanted to make my own interpretation.

Found objects, a wooden box lid, a toy/model ship, salvaged reciprocal saw blades, string and fishing line. The background is blue tissue overlaid with an image from a magazine with the words "island time" handwritten in a circular pattern, hence the name.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Small Girls

Aurora
Gwyneth

Lucy
Ronda
Sally Blue
Wanda
"The Small Girls"
Aurora: Known to her friends as the Goddess of the Morning.  She is always bright, hardworking and sometimes intense, but she is always loving.

Lucy: She's a redhead and she is wild.  Nothing more to say about that.

Gwyneth: She possesses a deep inner desire for travel and adventure. She sets her own pace and isn't governed by tradition. She is creative, always drawn to the arts and enjoys life immensely.

Ronda: Always finishes what she starts. She is tolerant and like to help humanity. She is warmhearted and gives freely of her time and energy. She is frank, methodical and believes in the system of law and order.  She is wise, intuitive and reflective.

Wanda: A wanderer by nature. She is excellent at analyzing, understanding and learning.  She is a mystic and a philosopher and tends to be quiet and introspective. Her solitary thoughtfulness may make her seem aloof and sometimes even melancholy.

Sally Blue: Although considered a princess by some, Sally is strong and independent. On first meeting, her shyness can make her appear distant and secretive, but she is actually very anxious to be liked.  Deeply attached to her familial and social values, she likes to make others happy, she cannot bear violence or aggression.

In anticipation for 2 weekends of Art @ The Source Open Studios, (May 31-June1 and June 7-8) I decided to make a few 'smalls'.  This year's batch are called "The Small Girls" - small in stature, big in personality. Fun to make and fun to play with.
"The Girls" will be on exhibit, along with several new pieces. If you are in the area, do stop in!


All smalls are made with scrap wood, layered with tissues and other papers, then embellished with bits of this and that.