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I was recently selected as one of 14 artists to submit work for one of four New York City subway stations. I submitted my proposal two weeks ago and I am waiting to hear back soon (fingers crossed everyone, and send good karma this way). The project is quite large requiring 140 horizontal feet of artwork! I can’t fit the whole work on this page, but here are a few “snippets”. My design illustrates a world where diverse individuals (the flowers) live together without prejudice or intolerance. In this world, every flower is unique and varied and thrives in harmony with its neighboring blossoms.
To get my own feel for Astoria, I walked around the 30th Avenue neighborhood. This community is a true melting pot of humanity. Stand on a street corner for five minutes, and you’ll hear a half a dozen languages. Watch the pedestrians, and see headscarves, yarmulkes, turbans, and Mets caps that only hinted at the mélange of different cultures that live in the area. It seems that everyone here has found their place, and that place supports the tolerance of others.
Designs and Metaphor:
The fanciful design of my diversity garden represents the Astoria neighborhood. The wild assortment of flowers pose as the diversity of nationalities, religions, and cultural traditions existing in this community. These differences complement each other and it is the vast variety of the botanical species that make the garden so appealing. Metaphorically, my garden microcosm celebrates a post racial/bias world where differences and similarities are celebrated and supported by all members of a community. I believe Astoria is growing into such a community. The ribbons weaving through the flowers suggest the connectivity of the residents in this urban neighborhood and the many ways they touch each other’s lives.
I created the flowers similar in size to the subway commuters. As people walk by the blossoms, I hope they feel that they too are part of this colorful garden, just one more welcomed flower in the tolerant landscape of Astoria.
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For the last ten years, I have been deeply involved with an amazing organization called the Roundup River Ranch, located in the mountains of Colorado. One of Paul Newman’s SeriousFun Children’s Network camps, Roundup River Ranch enriches the lives of children with serious illnesses and their families by offering free, medically-supported camp programs that provide unforgettable opportunities to discover joy, friendships, and confidence.
Roundup River Ranch celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and is commemorating the event with a huge mural to be displayed at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The mural is an assembly of tiles painted by those individual that the camp has touched in some way (campers and their families, camp counselors and staff, volunteers, donors, and many more individuals). As a board member, I was given the opportunity to contribute a tile to the mural as well.
Roundup River Ranch is a place where sky, earth, water, and fire intersect into a special microcosm of Colorado’s natural beauty. I was assigned “Sky” as my element and the task of illustrating “what camp means to me”. What I love about camp is the joy that fills everyone who is involved in its mission. Camp is a place of friendship, acceptance, discovery, and joy. So for me…“Roundup River Ranch fills my heart”. I depicted a happy sun in a blue Colorado sky filled with love.
If you would like to learn more about the Roundup River Ranch and how you can become involved, check out their website here.
This weekend, I visited Storm King Art Center with my husband and friends. Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art is located only an hour north of New York City and provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time. I’ve included photos of some of my favorite sculptures with partial descriptions lifted from the Storm King website.
“Gazebo for Two Anarchists” is one of several works Siah Armajani has dedicated to twentieth-century anarchists—in this case, brother and sister Alberto and Gabriella Antolini, the latter of whom was imprisoned for transportation of explosives in the Youngstown Affair in 1918. The open lattice, or truss-work, suggests incarceration. The two gazebos at each end of the structure appear to symbolize the brother and sister, who are separated but nonetheless connected by the bridge. Each gazebo encloses a large chair with armrests that recall thrones or electric chairs. They are facing one another, suggesting an act of communication.
Chakaia Booker works almost exclusively with recycled tires—slicing, twisting, stripping, weaving, and riveting rubber and radials to create and exaggerate the textures, prickled edges, and torqued forms of her radical refashioning. Booker transforms tires—iconic symbols of urban waste and blight—into extraordinary compositions of renewal. Discarded and now re-used, the tires are metaphors for the modern cycle of industrial manufacture and waste in an era of global expansion. “A Moment in Time” alludes not only to environmental degradation and decay but also to the possibility of transformation and redemption through the artist’s own brand of environmental spiritualism.
George Cutts’s “Sea Change” is composed of two identical, slender, curving, stainless steel poles that turn slowly in opposite directions. The poles are anchored to motorized disks that are sunk below ground and encased in a concrete box. The slow, synchronized rotations of the poles produce fluid, undulating movement as the poles seem to sway and flex, blending the mechanical with the natural. An experienced deep sea diver, Cutts has noted that he intends this lyrical, kinetic sculpture to evoke the motion of seaweed as it moves with the flow of ocean waves and currents
Zhang Huan’s work engages with Buddhist philosophy and rituals and with the artist’s notion that the contemporary condition is continually revitalized through an engagement with the past. Three Legged Buddha—a copper and steel sculpture standing twenty-eight feet high and weighing more than twelve tons—represents the bottom half of a sprawling, three-legged figure, one of whose feet rests on an eight-foot-high human head (a self portrait of the artist) that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth.
The two simple forms of Menashe Kadishman’s “Suspended” engage in a gravity-defying balance that belies expectation. Seen from a distance, atop one of two adjacent hilltops, the sculpture’s balancing act is surprising. Viewed up close, the massive scale of the steel work becomes apparent and its structural viability even more difficult to comprehend. With no visible evidence of the engineering holding the sculpture up, the mass seemed to float freely in space.
In a second sculpture by Kadishman, he focused on nature, particularly on tree and forest themes, and worked on an environmental scale. “Eight Positive Trees” reveals this ongoing fascination, which harkens back to his youth, when, like many other Israeli children, he planted trees throughout the new country.
Grace Knowlton created “Spheres” out of materials including concrete, clay, copper, steel, and iron. All bear subtle and unique imperfections that evidence their hand-crafted origins. The spheres—of widely varied scale—seem to walk a fine line between natural object and work of art when placed in Storm King’s environment. She initially set out to make ceramic pots, until, as she has said, “I got so interested in closing the pots, in making a secret space closed off forever, that it caught me and I never went back.”
Viewed from above, the undulating swells of earth forming Storm King “Wavefield” appear to naturally rise from and roll along the grassy terrain. The seven nearly four-hundred-foot-long waves, ranging in height from ten to fifteen feet high, proceed at the same scale as a series of mid-ocean waves. The resulting effect recalls the experience of being at sea, where sight of adjacent waves and land is lost between the swells.
The individual pickets of Alyson Shotz’s “Mirror Fence” share their shape and height with picket fences enclosing front and back yards all across the United States, but Shotz’s fence is reflective and extends in a straight line, enclosing nothing.
The artist is interested in making objects that change infinitely, depending on their surroundings. The light at different times of day, the weather … what the viewers are wearing, all these are just some of the variables that will make the piece different every time one comes in contact with it.
When conceiving of “Free Ride Home”, Kenneth Snelson first created a small maquette of metal tubes and knotted strings, envisioning what it would be like to walk under and through its silvery linear forms. One of the arches began to take on a descending fast plunge and it reminded her of the shape of a bucking horse. So, Free Ride Home, the name of a race horse, became the name of the sculpture. Inspired by anatomy, cables function like muscles and the aluminum tubes like bones.
“Day Game” slithers, loops, and rises from the ground, its form suggesting an animated quality, as if the steel were electrified by a charge of dynamic energy. Its calligraphic qualities reflect Stoltz’s training as a graphic artist.
You can find out more information and sculptures on the Storm King website. Which ones are your favorites?
Today is the last day of the LIC Arts Open and LIC Open Studios. At my studio today (12-6 pm), I will be giving away monotype notecards. I will also be demonstrating how I make these monotypes and the many layers it takes to create one. Please stop by to get your FREE notecard. Here’s a glimpse of some cards I made yesterday during the open studio tour. Reis Studios, 43-01 22nd Street, Studio 225, Long Island City.
Here’s a look at my printing demo set up (while it’s still clean!) Come by and try your hand at printing too!
Almost two months ago, I started a painting commission and I wanted to share the process with you. After getting approval on the basic composition from some simple sketches, I worked up two small studies with very different color directions.
The client picked the orange study but he wanted more orange, less red on the bottom, wasn’t fond of some of the black, and eliminated any ink “doodles”. Armed with a better idea of my client’s taste, I began work on a larger canvas. Here are several stages the painting went through along the way, incorporating the changes and preferences of the client’s each time. As my process incorporates many layers of paint and hand-printed collage paper, adding more layers only enhanced the final painting by adding depth, texture, and complexity.
Though the final painting loosely resembles the original study, it took on a life of its own through the collaborative process to its finish. It was really fun to work together to create a painting we are both happy with.
Avalanche, mixed media, 36″ x 36″
In adddition to painting, I also like to do other crafts. My eldest daughter has a great selection of fashion scarves that she wears all year round. However, she lives in a small Manhattan apartment and accessible storage is always a challenge. It was her idea to use ladder upon which to hang her scarves. Luckily, I have access to a woodshop, so I constructed a colorful six foot tall ladder that she could use to display her collection. This girl is not afraid of color. Doesn’t it look great against the wall in her apartment?
Patz, salaamata, huag totoka, rauha and taika all translate to “peace” in different languages (in order here…Spain, Ethiopia, Fiji, Russia, and Lithuania). In Sanskrit, “shanti” means peace and is often chanted three times in a row during meditation. The newest painting in my yoga-series is titled “Shanti”. I started the painting by gluing down broad areas of paper that I had hand-printed on translucent deli paper. The layout is almost symmetric with light on one side and dark on the other.
Next, I added stenciled and hand-painted designs on both sides to connect the opposing sides with some commonality. Isn’t obtaining peace with others about recognizing our similarities while respecting our differences. I finished the piece with three stacked circles to represent the “chanting” of shanti three times.
“Shanti”, Mixed Media on cradled panel, 20″ x 16″, $600