Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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An Artsy Weekend in New York

Over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, we ventured to New York as part of our Christmas gift to each other. The primary reason for our visit was to see Alan Rickman, one of my favorite actors, in the Broadway play Seminar.

Our visit started with dinner at a favorite restaurant Fig and Olive.

The Guggenheim

On Saturday we visited the Guggenheim Museum, a first for both of us. The main exhibit was Maurizio Cattelan’s All.

Guggenheim Art Museum

Cattelan is an Italian artist who uses the exhibition format as a mode of expression. All is a site specific installation which suspends Cattelan’s entire body of work in the center of the Guggenheim rotunda. As the exhibit brochure states, this method of installation is “disorienting” and makes the work seem like a “haphazard mass in the center of the building’s Frank Lloyd-Wright designed rotunda.”

Indeed.

Maurice Cattelan's Exhibit "All"

Love Saves Life

Untitled Gelatin Print

Mother

Felix

Not Afraid of Love

Untitled

It was an interesting exhibit. One that if you looked at it long enough you’d see items you hadn’t seen on first pass. We also checked out the other galleries at the Guggenheim and had lunch at the museum

In the evening we enjoyed seeing Seminar. On our walk back to the hotel, we passed by Rockefeller Center and the skating rink.

Ice Skating at "The Rock"

It certainly looks quite different in January than it does in September.

Rockefeller Center at night

Sparkly Lights

More Artsy Fun

It was cold the weekend we visited. On Sunday, we visited another museum, the Morgan Library and Museum. The Morgan is comprised of Pierpont Morgan’s own library, an annex, and Morgan’s mid-19th century brownstone.

The Museum holds the vast collection of artistic objects collected by Pierpont Morgan. This includes drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens, medieval and Renaissance texts, Gutenberg Bibles, letters and manuscripts by Dickens and Twain, musical scores by Mozart and Beethoven, and Near East carvings.

On Sunday evening we enjoyed seeing Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the BAM-Harvey in Brooklyn. (Be sure to click on the first link to see a video synopsis of the play.) This was a complete surprise. Spacey was amazing on stage and I’m still basking in the thrill of seeing another favorite actor on stage. Seeing Shakespeare performed live is always a treat. It can be a little tricky to follow the original Shakespeare, but you’re sure to hear several familiar phrases that we continue to use today.

It was a lovely weekend. We came home on Monday filled with new and interesting art experiences.


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Blow My Mind Glass Art-The Dale Chihuly Exhibit

This year the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) hosted a wonderful exhibit of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly. I admit that I have not been a big fan of Chihuly’s artwork in the past. I was familiar with his work, primarily the large glass chandeliers. While those are fantastic pieces, in general, I haven’t been taken in by his work.

Earlier this year I started experimenting with more abstract artwork in polymer clay, such as my polymer clay focal disks. The more I played with these shapes, adding various protrusions and projections, I found myself more drawn to Chihuly’s work. I found a deeper appreciation for his sensual shapes, sinewy spikes, and amoeba like disks.

I also learned a bit more about Chihuly’s past. How he lost sight in one eye due to a car accident. That he had studied glass making with the masters at Murano in Venice, Italy. And how water has provided great inspiration for much of his work.

When the MFA announced plans for the Chihuly exhibit, I couldn’t wait to see it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever gone to an art exhibit twice. And each time I found a greater appreciation for it.

Please enjoy these pictures taken during my two visit to the Chihuly exhibit.


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From Inspiration to Creation: Taking an Idea & Making It My Own with a Little Help from My Friends

I’m always on the lookout for sources of inspiration as I work on my new line of work with polymer clay focal disks. A recent source of inspiration came from Ford and Forlano’s O’Keefe pin.

O'Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin - The...

O’Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin – The… (clipped to polyvore.com)

I love the shape and construction of their pin. I thought to myself “Self, that would make a very cool focal disk.” And then I thought “How the heck did they do that?”

My intent was not to replicate Ford & Forlano’s O’Keefe pin. There is no way I could do that anyways. Rather, I wanted to figure out how to create a similar shape with my own style.

The shape and design reminded me of a ribbon. So using that as my starting point I rolled a thin strip of clay and wrapped it into a rose-like shape resulting in experiment #1.

Experiment #1 "Toothy"

Ribbon Disk Experiment #2

Uhm, well, those are interesting but not exactly what I had in mind.

Scratch head, look at picture of pin again, and give it another go.

Rose Disk #1

Rose Disk with Striped Tentacles

Okay, this is a slight improvement but the walls are still too high and I think the clay strips still too thin.

Time to call in the posse, er, my friends. Another set of eyes (or two or three) can be helpful. Maybe they’ll see something I’m not. I ping the folks on Polymer Clay Central. I talk to Dayle and Paula, Karen, and Judy. Everyone has different interpretations but also some similarities in the construction. This is good because I’m getting insight from folks who work in polymer clay, pottery, fiber and mixed media.

Out comes the clay again to experiment. We experiment together with the clay, commenting and making suggestions on how to manipulate the clay. Ah ha, I think we’re on to something here.

Purple Focal Disks

Oh yes, this is much closer to what I had in mind. Thank you dear friends for your input and suggestions.

Since those little purple disks were created, I’ve been experimenting even more, adding my own spin on things, letting the clay lead me and including texture, protuberances, and, of course, faces.

Untitled Striped Disk

Amoeba

Birth

Solitude

I can’t wait to pair some of these disks with encaustic backgrounds. It will give them a completely different look. Stay tuned!


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Polymer Clay Boot Camp One: Introduction to Polymer Clay

This fall I offered my first studio based class, Polymer Clay Boot Camp One: Introduction to Polymer Clay. The class was held over four consecutive Saturdays. In this class, we discuss brands of clay, how to use a pasta machine, basic tools, and safety; how to condition clay, how to cure the clay, and finishing: sanding, patina, and buffing the clay. We dive into several topics: the Four Fundamental Canes, Exotic Wood Grain Metal (Mokume Gane), and the Fantastic Faux.

Each class topic includes several samples, handouts, and visual demonstrations of several techniques. The classes can be fast paced and packed with information.

My first studio class included three lovely students, Eleanor, Naomi, and Chris. Each had some familiarity with polymer clay, however, these sessions gave them the opportunity to explore and play with polymer clay in a safe, supportive, encouraging environment. We problem solved, experimented, laughed, and challenged ourselves.

The final class is an open studio class where students are able to complete a project of their choice using any of the techniques learned in the previous sessions.

Here are the results:

Eleanor's Bangle Bracelets

Chris's Magnets

Naomi's Switchplate & Beads

And here we all are together:

Polymer Clay Boot Camp One 2010 Class

Thank you Naomi, Eleanor, and Chris for a great teaching experience. Your enthusiasm was contagious.

Coming next spring: Polymer Clay Boot Camp Two: Advanced Techniques in Polymer Clay.


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Art Class Reminder: Polymer Clay Santa Ornament

Polymer Clay Santa Claus Ornament

This Thursday, November 4, from 10:00am to 2:00pm, I am teaching my Polymer Clay Santa Claus Ornament class at Ink About It in Westford. A few seats remain open for this class. Get a jump start on your holiday decorating or gift giving and join us for this fun ornament class.

In this class, you’ll learn how to use a burned out light bulb to create a polymer clay Santa Claus ornament. We’ll discuss how to prepare the light bulb for polymer clay, and then create the surface design for, and assemble, a signature Santa Claus ornament. You will also have the option to sand and buff your ornament to a natural sheen using wet/dry sandpaper and a muslin wheel. Fee: $45

Materials: All materials provided by instructor. However, if you have any of the following, please bring them with you: a hand crank pasta machine, pink or flesh tone blush, needle tool or thin knitting needle (1.25mm or 2mm), tiny star cutter (Kemper cutters with plunger).

To sign-up for this class, call Ink About It at 978.392.0321 or stop by the store and sign-up in person. Hope to see you there!


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Polymer Clay Santa Claus Ornament Art Class

 

Polymer Clay Santa Claus Ornament

 

In 3 weeks, I return to Ink About It in Westford to teach my Polymer Clay Santa Claus Ornament class. This class is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, 10:00am to 2:00pm

In this class, you’ll learn how to use a burned out light bulb to create a polymer clay Santa Claus ornament. We’ll discuss how to prepare the light bulb for polymer clay, and then create the surface design for, and assemble, a signature Santa Claus ornament. You will also have the option to sand and buff your ornament to a natural sheen using wet/dry sandpaper and a muslin wheel. Fee: $45

Materials: All materials provided by instructor. However, if you have any of the following, please bring them with you: a hand crank pasta machine, pink or flesh tone blush, needle tool or thin knitting needle (1.25mm or 2mm), tiny star cutter (Kemper cutters with plunger).

To register for this class, call Ink About It at 978.392.0321 or stop by the store.

Hope to see you in class!


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Puppetry & Storytelling Exhibit

Earlier this year the New Art Center in Newtonville, MA had a wonderful little exhibit: Extraordinary: Puppetry, Storytelling, & Spirit. The exhibit featured puppets, marionettes and characters created from a variety of materials. It was an interactive exhibit that allowed visitors to manipulate several of the puppets and invited children (of all ages I assume) to create and play with hand puppets and put on your very own puppet show.

Here are some pictures from the exhibit.

First up: Puppets from Bread & Puppet in Vermont (did that sound redundant?)

 

Bread and Puppet

 

Next, paper dolls on rods in a slide theatre. These were fun because you could move the dolls and create your own story.

 

Slide Puppets

 

Jeff Sias’s “Victor Contained” is a puppet theatre contained in a vintage RCA television.

 

Victor Contained: TV Puppet Theatre

 

Here are marionettes by Donald Saaf and Julia Zanes. The marionettes are part of the Bluebird Theatre.

 

Bluebird Theatre Marionettes

 

 

More Bluebird Theatre Marionettes

 

Next are amazing puppets made by Ashley Bryan. Bryan crafts his puppets from detritus he picks up on walks along the beach. These puppets are homely and magical at the same time.

 

"Odion" First of Twin

 

 

"Oinwokhu" Second of Twin

 

 

"Natambu" Man of Destiny

 

 

"Babutu" Peacemaker

 

And last, Tolu Bommalata shadow puppets from India

 

Shadow Puppets from India

 

 

Tolu Bommalata Shadow Puppet

 

This was a fun exhibit because it brought out the child in everyone.

Do you remember the first puppet you ever made? I think mine was either made from a sock or a brown paper bag.

What is your favorite shadow puppet to make with your hands?


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Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks and Art Tags

The samples for my bookmark and art tag class have been delivered to Ink About It. The class, Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks & Art Tags will be held on Friday, October 1, 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Here is the class description:

In this class, you will learn how to create bookmarks and art tags with liquid polymer clay. First, you will learn how to use liquid polymer clay as a resist with rubber stamps to create art tags. Then we’ll explore how to make polymer clay paper with multiple thin layers of liquid clay. We’ll stamp, color, and embellish the polymer clay paper to create personally inspired bookmarks. You will leave class with several art tags and bookmarks.

And the materials list:

Most materials provided by instructor. Please bring a Staz-On ink pad (black or brown; gold if you have it), 3-4 favorite rubber stamps, scissors, apron, or smock, and basic tool kit. If you have the following, please bring them to class: 3-4 light color alcohol inks (Pinata or Ranger), 3-4 acrylic paints in squeeze bottles (Lumiere or Ranger), Mod Podge or gel medium (regular/soft), an acrylic brayer.

Cost: $40

Here are samples of the bookmarks and art tags we’ll make in this class:

Bookmarks with polymer clay paper

Art Tags with liquid clay resist

Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks and Art Tags

You can register for this class by calling Ink About It or stopping in and signing up in person.


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Artist Demo, Art Exhibit and An Interview

Artist Demonstration

On Sunday, June 13, I am demonstrating how I create my artwork in polymer clay at Fruitlands Museum as part of Fruitlands 2010 Artisan Series.

I will show you how I create my Klimt and Craze Collage patterns as seen on my business card cases, perfume pens and wine bottle stoppers. I will also demonstrate how I sculpt both my primitive and more realistic spirit messenger heads. To help me explain the sculpting process, I put together this storyboard.

Head Sculpt Storyboard

The demonstration runs from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

I will also have free mini-bookmarks for people who stop by and a listing of my current workshops.

Art Exhibit

Sunday will be a full day. After my artist demonstration, I head over to the Nashoba Valley Winery for my art guild’s artist reception. The Bolton Artisans Guild has a new exhibit, Summer Dreams, on display at the winery. Summer Dreams captures the colors and memories of summer in the several mediums, including photography, fiber, polymer clay, paper, watercolor, and jewelry. The exhibit runs June 6 to July 5, 2010. The artist reception is Sunday, June 13, 3:30-5:00 pm. Light snacks and a wine tasting will be provided.

An Interview

Last Monday, I was interviewed by the Bolton Common for their Uncommon Conversation feature article. The interview appeared in this week’s edition and is available to read online here.


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New York, New York-Tim Burton Exhibit

This past weekend we took a quick trip to New York. We visited MOMA for the Tim Burton exhibit, caught the theatre production of “Fela! The Musical,” and visited The Frick Collection.

The exterior entrance to the Tim Burton exhibit included a time line of his work written on the wall and his name on the wall in big black letters with giant black and white arrows pointing you to the exhibit….

…where, after they took your tickets, you walked through this facade:

The first room inside the exhibit was all black with black lighting. On display were some of Tim Burton’s paintings on black canvas, a merry-go-round like sculpture that reminded me of “Beetlejuice” and the infamous Oogie Boogie in a glass display case.

The exhibit featured costumes worn in “Edward Scissorhands” (on a Johnny Depp-like mannequin), “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Batman,” and “Planet of the Apes.” Several of the claymation characters from the Oyster Boy series, Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas and Mars Attack are also on display. I had great fun looking at these pieces for their materials, construction, and size. It was stunning to see Jack Skellington and all the heads that were sculpted for each facial movement and expression seen in the movie.

The exhibit also includes a lot of Burton’s early work, including super 8 films from high school and college, a composition assignment from his early years (really, who keeps schoolwork from junior high and high school?), lots of sketches that lead to formal ideas for movies, work from his time at Disney, and even a handwritten note to Johnny Depp regarding the character development of Edward Scissorhands.

And, of course, where any music was playing, it was by Danny Elfman, Burton’s longtime music partner.

Outside the exhibit on the basement level were posters from many of Burton’s movies, his large Polaroid prints, and a theatre showing select movies. On the main floor, we were greeted by this blue, bulbous character:

One of my favorite series of drawings, however, was a study Burton did using the numbers 1-10. Using ink and watercolor, he created 11″x15″ drawings for each number and included a little poem or verse about each number. For example, in his drawing for the number one, one is lonely and sad, but by the time Burton drew number 10, number one was happily paired with zero and now one was two.

Burton also has a great way of taking simple phrases, idioms, and interpreting them in his drawings.

It was great fun to witness to Burton’s creative process and to see the development of his work over all these years. What struck me was how he creates these complex looking characters from very simple shapes that become distorted or inverted or stretched. It was also great to see the number of young adults and school age kids attending the exhibit. Remember how you felt as the “odd ball” in school? The kid who was different in dress, interests, or perhaps just not the social butterfly? Burton’s work and his background seems to reach all of us “odd balls” on some level.

Other sites at the MOMA:

Performance Art by Marina Abramovic

I admit that performance art is one form of art that I usually don’t get. I’d love to see the grants people write to get funding for these events. But that is the beauty of art; all the forms and the freedom to enjoy or not. Below is one of the live “performances” Abramovic was doing during our visit to MOMA.

Abramovic is in red. The other woman is a visitor to MOMA. Apparently the “performance” was to sit across from Abramovic and to stare at each other silently. On the 6th floor was another live installation that included naked people sitting on chairs. We didn’t get to the 6th floor.

We did visit the 4th and 5th floors which house some wonderful paintings and sculptures, including “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, the American Flag by Jasper Johns, Rothkos, famous splatter paintings by Jackson Pollock, a wheel sculpture by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup can series, and these bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse

The first two sculptures at the far end, created over three years, were realistic representations of “Jeanette.” Here Matisse worked with a live model. The three remaining sculptures were broken down into more abstract components as a representation of the face. Matisse said he was organizing the head into simplified chunks to “reveal the essential qualities” of his model.

It is hard to tell from this picture but the line of large noses made me laugh. I also felt good knowing that even Matisse had an appreciation for large noses and that my sculptures shouldn’t feel too embarrassed by their large proboscis.

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