Permission to Take a Break

I’m not sure when I thought I would write this blogpost. Back in the old days, I would get up around 6:30, take my shower, get dressed, feed the animals I’m responsible for, grab a cup of tea and something that approximated breakfast, and I’d sit down at the computer and bang out a blogpost. I did that almost every day, Monday-Saturday. I took Sunday mornings off most week and the occasional other day, but pretty much this was how I cleared my brain for the day and dealt with any lingering anxieties from weirdass dreams and the previous day’s existence. Then I’d brush my teeth, take my meds, pack my lunch, and drive to work to teach all day. Come home, repeat the next morning. Work was a separate place you went to and although as a teacher, it’s really hard NOT to bring it home, at least it was at a different location and sometimes you’d treat yourself and leave the pile of papers and the work computer AT WORK, where they belonged. Permission to take a break.

Ah, no longer. I basically live in this one room of the house, venturing out only to pee and heat up my tea, with the occasional walk down the hallway just to move my legs. And here I am, at 10:30 at night, writing the blogpost I was supposed to write this morning. In the same place I sat all day. School starts earlier now, so I get up 15 minutes earlier, and granted, this was the first day of online school, so maybe I’ll get into a routine and there will be less morning panic about whether or not I have everything set up right (we didn’t. I was retyping a Google Question at 8:09 AM for a 9:25 AM class, which isn’t actually THAT abnormal, but I don’t like it). Two computers, three monitors, this is before the boychild brought in two pieces of wood that go across from the left desk to the printer shelf, notionally for the mouse…

Or also for a tripod that holds my phone, which is dialed into the Zoom class so I can show the chemistry demo.

That’s calcium chloride, cornstarch, and baking soda on the red plate. Don’t get excited. I didn’t blow anything up, although we had color change, gas, temperature change, and odor, all created in one fell swoop. Fun stuff. Totes would do this lab in person. Maybe in 2021.

School…exhausting teachers everywhere, every August and September, but especially in 2020. Rumor has it my school will be back in person on September 9. And my guess is that it will take about 3-4 weeks before at least one cohort is quarantined. Ah well. It is what it is. Kids will learn something this year. They will survive. I don’t subscribe to the theory that this is going to put them all behind. It might even drill some resilience into them. Some of them. It’s worse for the kids in schools that already struggle to bring kids up…losing a year when they’re already a few behind…but I believe some kids will still get it, they’ll still find a way to learn in the chaos of all this. And it’s not like we did this on purpose, invited a pandemic into our midst. Oh wait. Maybe some people are making it worse. Sigh. Vote dammit. Vote vote vote. Like our lives depend on it.

What else? I did iron the small Patreon piece together on Monday night…

Making small things is sometimes fun…

It didn’t have a lot of pieces and went together fairly quickly, in maybe an hour…

I got it ironed onto a background…

I’m hoping to get it finished this weekend.

I sold two pieces on Etsy, so that was also nice. I figure it’s about 30 decent bottles of wine.

I’m joking. I don’t need that much wine. Not yet. Give me a month and I might change my mind.

Then last night, I cleaned up and set up to iron the new Daughter quilt together. This drawing hangs in the background of my school Zooms, so I have to remember to pin it back up every day before school starts.

There’s boobs on that thing! Oh my. My office isn’t huge…I had two fans going last night, but it was still a million degrees in here.

The ironing board gets moved around and out of the way on a regular basis, then pulled back to the middle of the room for this stage. For reference, the desk setup I showed you earlier is to the right of the top corner of the ironing board. Like RIGHT THERE.

I got just about the first 100 pieces ironed, most of the first human figure.

I’m totally exhausted tonight and not sure I have the energy for any of it. I’d LIKE to iron. I just don’t know if I have the energy. It took about an hour after school started of just sitting there before I could think straight again. And then I did Pilates and book club, which is part of the tired, but they were both things I needed.

It’s still hot here…

Which explains the prostrate animals everywhere.

I think it was actually a tiny bit cooler today.

Definitely cooler out on the deck in the late afternoon…

But also buggy as shit and I was so tired, I needed a cup of tea to do Pilates.

The first week is always exhausting, wherever you are. My team ate lunch in a socially distanced matter, with my being dialed in on FaceTime. We talk about kid issues during lunch, so it was useful. I’m still glad I’m not on campus. I miss everyone, I miss my room, I miss my materials and my setup, but I don’t want to be there right now.

Getting used to early mornings again.

At least the sunrises are occasionally pretty.

I made this Monday. Still not airy enough.

But it tastes good, better than what I get at the store.

This is not the lizard that belonged to the tail from the other night…well, first of all, it’s a gecko, not a lizard…

Second of all, the lizard was tiny and this is not.

I have a fan who lives near where Form Not Function recently opened at the Carnegie Center for Arts & History in New Albany, Indiana. My piece I Can’t Be Your Superwoman is flanked here by Helen Geglio’s Wisdom Cloak: Invisible Visionary on the left and Tracy Taylor’s The Distance Between Us on the right…

Definitely prime real estate on that wall…

Wish I could’ve seen it, but these pictures help…

She won an Honorable Mention, which is nice. Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll get my act together and post pictures of the two newest quilts, one of which has been done since March or April, but it’s taken me and the photographer a while to get our acts together.

OK, let’s be real…it’s after 11 PM, I’m exhausted after my first day back to work, and I get to do it all again tomorrow. It’s OK if I don’t iron tonight. Tomorrow is another day. I really want to iron. I enjoy this part of the process…but this is also one of the hottest rooms in the house with the lights on…it’s possible I might be able to replace the bulbs in here for cooler ones, which will help, but also it needs to be cooler tomorrow (it won’t be, I don’t think). Ah well. It will be cooler eventually. And I will get used to the schedule and rally sooner. And more often.

So Thursday is for artmaking and Wednesday is for survival and then sleep, which is where I’m headed now…completely backwards to when I usually write. And Friday is just Friday, part of which is Not Here Yet. Man I’m tired. Peace out. See you later.

Quilt Visions 2014: The Sky’s the Limit

So I went to the Quilt Visions opening a few weeks back and this is what I thought: Wow. This is ABSTRACT. In fact, if you didn’t have squares or abstraction in your piece, you probably weren’t in this show. I can think of about 3 pieces that weren’t abstract, and two of them were abstracted. And another two were so close to the subject, that they read as generally abstract. It reminded me of the Visions of old, back up at the Oceanside Museum of Art, where I’d walk through and say, well, I don’t do squares and I don’t do abstract, so I will never get in.

Now in reality, it’s different jurors every year, so that does have an effect on the show. The three jurors are Patty Hawkins, Sue Benner, and Bruce Hoffman, two art quilters and one director/curator. The jurors stated that they wished for the exhibit to show that art quilting is fine art, and it shows a universality of artistic expression. They were directed to “assess the entries in the broader contemporary art context.” Benner admitted that “as a panel we tended towards abstraction.” I’m glad they admitted that. Hawkins claims they were “seeking outstanding artistry within the broad range of voices.” Hoffman mentions that “all art should be judged with the highest of criteria and should be true to great design, understanding of color relationship, secure in strong draftsmanship and the nuances of fine craftsmanship.”

I am glad that they said nothing about the show being innovative or the cutting edge of the art quilt world, because those things would be untrue. Let me be clear, there is some beautiful work in this show. There is some amazing work in this show. There are also pieces that are derivative and that I can walk right past without feeling a need to explore. Yes, that’s always the case, but I would hope it would be less so in one of the bigger art quilt shows. Much as I love having the Visions Art Museum in my town, it’s small…I wish it were a bigger space and that the Quilt Visions exhibit could also be bigger. Then again, I wish a lot of things that haven’t happened yet. And the theme? I saw a few quilts that hit the theme, but I don’t know that the theme is the point.

I would suggest you get a copy of the catalog if art quilting is your thang…you don’t have to MAKE them. You can just like looking at them. Here’s some that I thought were intriguing.

Melody Randol’s piece Still Waters is quietly beautiful. OK, maybe not so quietly with all those marks, but a stunning piece, really deep with wonderful mark-making. What’s interesting in looking at her website is that she has a lot of beautiful landscapes on there, but none that look like this piece.

Rachel Brumer’s 88 Constellations is another intriguing abstract, with marks and stitching representing an “abstracted vision of a turbulent sky,” interesting because it is mostly white. This doesn’t look like much in print, but is wonderful in person.

Diane SiebelsHead 3 was a piece I really loved. A flashback to crazy quilts, but without all the pieces, the stitching is full of movement and color. I have to say, this piece doesn’t fit into the show, but I’m glad it’s there (and to be honest, I wish there were more pieces that didn’t FIT into this show…it would be more interesting). Siebels has some interesting tree constructions on her website as well. I will tell you that I couldn’t see the heads on there on Chrome; I had to switch to Firefox. YMMV.

Maggy Rozycki Hiltner’s Red and White Quilt with Racist Embroidery is more interesting because of the thought behind it than the actual construction. Rozycki Hiltner added rescued racist embroideries from old textiles to a rescued red and white quilt, bringing up all those stereotypes of African Americans in our past, definitely a conversation piece. She has some very interesting and political (and some just amusing) pieces on her website, all echoing or appropriating the embroideries of the past, those dish towels and potholders and tablecloths.

Jean Herman’s Katherine a la Picasso caught my eye because it was one of the few figurative pieces in the show, yet highly abstracted. I’m still not sure I like it, but if I stand and stare at a piece for a long time, I would call it successful. The black line unifies it greatly.

Helen Geglio’s The Lost Art of Mending 3: Constellation is a quirky little piece that needs to be stared at. It has the look of the top of someone’s bed, but it’s the mending marks and hand-stitching that makes this an interesting piece. This is an abstract I can get behind. I would love to see more of her work, but she seems to not have a website.

Emily Richardson’s piece Swiftly is a subtle piece, but so beautiful, with the depth of the silk and the color shifts across the piece, plus the hand-stitching. Richardson doesn’t seem to have her own website, but here is one gallery that represents her.

Vicki Carlson’s Points in Time is another piece where the hand-stitching has made it interesting. The color movement in the repeated circular shapes where they overlap creates a lot of interest. I do think this one also reads better in person.

There were other pieces that were executed well or looked nice, but they just reminded me of other pieces I’d seen about a million times. And there were some, like Shin-hee Chin’s piece Ryu, Gwan-Sun where I was intrigued by how the piece stays together…it’s interesting to look at in terms of construction, and I do love how she is experimenting with making faces in different ways.

And then there were a few that I thought, why is this in here? This is not what I would consider fine art, to quote the jurors. And yet, I know that looking at a million pictures of things that look better in real life and trying to make decisions for a coherent show must be difficult. I also wish that if the jurors were only going to focus on abstracts that they admitted that beforehand, so the figurative people could decide if they wanted to make a donation to the museum, because that’s what it is when the jurors go that way. I guess they could have realized their tendencies after that fact, but it’s amusing to me that there’s never been a show that hasn’t been heavily abstract…and even if I were the juror, it is the way with art quilts that the entries would probably be mostly abstract…but can you imagine picking a Visions or Quilt National exhibit one year that is almost all figurative work? That might be interesting…in a whole ‘nother way. Hey, I think I suggested a show like that to SAQA, and they told me I needed to find a gallery that would do that (ahem. hello.).

Anyway, the show’s worth seeing. Most of the bigger-name shows are…even if it’s just for the 3 or 4 that rock your socks off. Seeing fiber art in person is always better than on a screen or a printed page. You’ll see a lot of abstracts, things that you feel like you’ve seen before. There was a lot of hand stitching this year. The food at the opening was great and so were the people. I love meeting artists. Someone told me this was “the best Visions show they’d ever seen.” Um. Not for me. I’ve seen more exciting and interesting shows…I’m thinking of I think it was the last one at the Oceanside Museum of Art, with the huge pieces they could hang there. It had a wide variety of work from abstracts to calm landscapes to bright and vibrating florals. It rocked my world. This one? Eh. Go for the few pieces that make you happy.