Saying Goodbye to Art Group

Here is close to twenty years of notes taken on members of the Art Group. I would write down what they were showing and what they were saying. Amazing journeys that we all took over time. Most left for obvious reasons, loss of interest, loss of commitment to their ideas, and loss of life, to name a few.

Yesterday we, the final four, quietly just faded into dissolution. I will miss the meetings, deciding what to make for dinner, where to find something to make a centerpiece on the table, what wine to have on hand, whether I should put on earrings, laying my own work out for input, setting the table in the dining room and placing wine glasses and nibbles on the cloth pictured at the bottom of the stack of books that covered the board shear.

I will use that cloth to wrap the books for burial.

How it began.

After my time earning a MFA in the summer of 1999 I soon missed the solid critiques. I wanted input on what I was making and I wanted to see what mattered to others. At first because of the craft making area where I live it was somewhat more about “how” things were done and not so much about “why”. These were the guidelines for starting the group.

  1. An ability to articulate your ideas.
  2. A commitment to produce work based on those ideas.
  3. An ability to analyze and offer critique on members’work.
  4. A commitment to participate on a regular basis, usually monthly for a full day.

We did that.

This morning I went through the books to see who all had left and when the three other survivors joined the group. Such memories, such passion. A small nod of appreciation to all those who ventured into and out of Art Group: Barbara, Dee Dee, Liz, Barbara, Sharon, Tony, Nikki, Anna, Diane, Tina, Ted, Chloe, Melody, Lynda, Duncan, Steve, Colleen, Dick and others that I missed. Thank you being there to talk “art” with.

This was a hard commitment for some to make and for others to continue.

I received this note from an artist friend in the UK several years ago and found it tucked into the books to share with Art Group.

….so off to get a grip on these unruly hounds of accumulated knowledge, ideas, “dreams” and drive them, in an ordered way, to a resolution in a collection of satisfying work.

We worked hard to do exactly that and some of us are still at it.

Til later.

Random Thoughts and Work

After returning from Australia I noticed slight changes with Lee. So started the third hand of Responsibilities. Not only helping him take the garbage out but sometimes assisting with the tying of shoes, and reminding of teeth brushing. Emptying the litter box as he just does not notice it and using the hose on the vacuum cleaner. Plus he no longer drives anywhere, so I added his car key. Some days he can have no problems, and others, just a reminder can do. Here are the other two hands.

After sewing up the Meditation Journal, I decided to patch a jacket I bought about thirty years ago. Funny how you simply do not notice how things are falling apart and then that is all you see. Well I love this jacket so decided to just patch it up. I need to attach this patch to the back, not because it wore out there, but because I need some patches in other places.

Sleeves and pocket edges are the first to go. then why not just patch over all the spills? Another thirty years for this jacket is quite possible.

And I started on the bundling of the patriarchs. This is a copy from a slide made years ago….mid 90s. He was the strangest to wrap so he went first.

Teaching Stamina

There are several of this series but I am running a bit short of wrapping. Art Group comes later today and I think some will come with them. Otherwise the recycle store for old sheets is a trip planned for this next week. Once I finish all the “boys” I think I will shellac what I have so far.

On random thinking. These are things that I wonder about. How can a channel on TV run crime stories all day and night then when you turn it on in the very early morning there is a guy with dyed brown hair preaching the merits of giving lots of money to what appears to be a complying audience? Does god know these fellows are working so hard at filling their pockets with the savings of the gullible?

And another thought….who is it that climbs those trees and telephone poles to repaint the words, “Repent” and “Jesus Saves”? I never see anyone….only fresh paint….is there a miracle involved?

These are Sunday thoughts. Other days I never think of it. And another, do the evangelical women have some stock in cosmetic companies….especially eye makeup?

Okay, that is all I have today.

On a fun note, I told Lee this morning as we passed one pasture full of white cows, then some houses and another pasture full of black cows, that one of the houses was a paint shop that they all passed through to change color. On our return from the breakfast diner we noticed some of the black cows got past the paint house and mixed with the white ones at the other end. Both of us were amused by that.

Til later.

Catching Up With Trimming Trees And Sewing

Over Easter I trimmed all the Japanese maples and opened up the yard for it to be re-mulched and more pine straw added.  Things are growing fast!

Also back to stitching and finishing the Meditation Journal.

All eight pages sewn on both sides. They were turned into a book with a wrap tie. Making folios out of each “page” was too cumbersome. So here are some of the pages opened up.

Now I will finish up the long paper/cloth/stitch scroll of going to Australia and back. Here is the start of sailing off.

Then the land of sun and trees. Followed by seeds of ideas teaching workshops.

From there it goes to Tasmania and basket makers.

Into the outback of Uluru and Olgas.

And more of the Outback where Burke and Wills died.

And the final section of the return home.

A lot more stitching to be done on some sections with emu tracks meandering all through it and then it is finished. I still have some of these old Japanese scraps of cloth and might do something else with them….who knows?

I will photograph it when it is finished and before it goes to a framer.

Also need to get back to bundling the patriarchs. Almost all of them have been dug out but I need more wrapping materials.

Til later.

Burial Beginnings

I went through all the spare white fabrics that I had and tore them into strips for bundling the first of the artwork to be buried. And to be honest it was difficult in the beginning for me to wrap the first house.

But once the wrapping started, the care of each turn of a newly added length of cloth, it became easier. Explaining why to our son who came down for a few days visit was easier than I thought it would be. He felt sad about it. I asked, “What should I do with the pieces?” He only said that he wished there was a place for them to go. And I said, “There is a place and I am getting them ready.” I think he gets it now.

I used raffia to hold the wrapping cloth more tightly. It is a nod to my earlier basketry days.

House number two closed up and ready for wrapping. Here is a peek inside to the interior and the chair I left behind when escaping into the open. The interior wall papers were photographed images of inside the house Dolph Smith grew up in and copies of papers an artist friend had at the time. They reminded me of the wall coverings of my childhood. Another word for “childhood” I heard from my Indian cab driver in Victoria. He called it his “earlyhood”. I like that so much better because it does not always conjure up the idea of small children.

The last of the three.

All of them bundled.

And the goal of an empty box.

In the box was the house-shaped planning book. I could not wrap it up with the houses because I also used it to contain all my notes on a boat series that followed the houses. I really love all the thinking that went into working on how to portray what these houses meant to me…the houses of growing up. There are several quotes from Gaston Bachalard in this planning book. He had so much to say about the house in his Poetics of Space book.

What was very interesting to me was how often I changed my focus on what I wanted these houses to say. Were they only about escape? Weren’t they also about knowing there was a place to come back to? It seems that this little planning book was a great way to explore what mattered about doing this work and how it should look when finished.

At the time I made them I sure did not consider how they’d look the last time I would see them. Now it is just the shellac and a bit of rosemary tied to each piece. (The rosemary is because there have always been bushes of it outside my studio and I think it has something to do with memory.)

Shellacking won’t come until I get all the patriarchs bundled and that is going to take some time.

Til later.