Monday, July 26, 2010

Bloomington in the Hot Summer

Summer in my town means many things. This week it means art camp for the boys at the John Waldron Arts Center. The place has been taken over by Ivy Tech, and the place is a beehive of artistic creation each weekday morning. There’s kind of a school year feel to the mornings at home—everybody has to get up, dressed, fed and have a snack basket put together. At the camp, the boys have had both teachers before. Both are well liked, so it’s a good experience all-around. Tommie started off making a bowl that expanded into a serving platter, so in a proud-mom-sort-of-way I’m looking forward to having another addition to our collection. On the down side, the morning weather approached steamy last week, with morning ‘lows’ in the eighties. But that doesn’t deter an artist! Down in my basement art studio it’s cool and comfortable, and I got three glorious hours to myself each morning to focus all my energies on weaving.

Did I say weaving? I’ve thrown every spare moment at making new art pieces. I started weaving a piece that was commissioned at the Columbus Arts Festival. A woman there liked my chameleon piece, but she preferred the red-eyed tree frog among fern fronds that I made and sold last year. I got to bring the chameleon home, although he found a new home in Madison... To make the fern leaflets, I got out my brass flashing and started cutting. I snipped out more than I’d care to count, but they sound nice and jingly when you pour them into a pile. I think the leaflets even look quite cute before they’re covered and assembled into ferns. They seemed a little naked, though, in comparison to the lush jungle setting of our backyard—it’s been so hot and wet that everything is overgrown. To cool off a little and reconnect with my Canadian roots, I also finished a piece I’ve been working on called, at least for now, “Four Birches by the Lake.” I think the heat wave has gotten me yearning for a cool northern lake to sit by. I really like the depth and sparkliness of the water that I was able to achieve. As for the name, we have a running family story, where when I finish a piece I often ask my family to help me name it. For example, when I made a piece with a single tree next and a lake, a very young Tommie wanted to call it “Lake by the Tree .” He’s a literalist when it comes to naming art, and the trend has continued.

The weekend routine has been a little disjointed, with Jim and Tommie going on a road trip to Lake Erie to do some fishing. Jacob and I spent some quality time together, and he even made me breakfast one day! He’s such a good fellow. We went to the Farmer’s market to supplement the container of blackberries that we got from the CSA. They’re juicy and tasty, and the berries would be WONDERFUL in a pie. Are you rested up yet, sweetie? We’ll see. While they were gone, Jacob also discovered a new art form called ‘Pixos!’ They’re tiny balls you arrange in a pattern and then mist with water. The surface liquefies and the pieces fuse with their neighbors. Given a little time, the pieces do harden and can’t be manipulated. Or perhaps more accurately, they don’t fall apart when you try to play with them too soon. This ‘waiting’ element in the process is a key factor that Jacob has slowly come to accept, although grudgingly. The pieces seem like they’ll make nice Christmas gifts and tree ornaments…watch out Grandma! The fishermen came home late last night, so completeness was restored and perch dinners are in our near future. Hmmm, I wonder how perch goes with blackberry pie?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Madison 2010—the aftermath

Did I say I had a great show in Madison last week? I’m still reeling from the experience. The harsh reality of selling twelve pieces is that my booth walls looked pretty sparse by the end of the show. With two more shows coming up this year and a traveling exhibit I’m thinking: ‘Yikes! I need more art’! I decided to calm myself by visiting the beach. For me that means pulling out my two boxes of yarns in all the variations of sand colors. Then I pulled out my sea creature collection and did a little sorting and planning. I started with a beautiful sea star to use as the centerpiece of a weaving. Then I laid out a collection of sand dollars and seashells around it to fill out the piece. I incorporated these into a weaving, then the little kid in me popped up again and I just sprinkled ALL of my ‘shells with holes’ collection over the pattern I created. I sewed these onto the piece to finish the creation. If you look carefully you can still see the structured shells underneath the chaos, which I like to think of as a metaphor for my life these days. When the weaving was complete I stretched it out into one of my sand frames. This is one of my wood frames that Tom Bertolacini makes for me, drilled with holes to allow presentation of the piece, but coated in beach sand to give it that extra ocean feel.

It’s been a steamy week here, which makes weaving in my basement art studio very comfortable. I did get in a little pool time with the boys at the Bryan park pool this week. My younger son Jacob made some major advances in his waterbug training this week. He’s always been a little skittish about the water (that didn’t come from me!). Even after lessons he wouldn’t put his face in the water. This week he not only put his face in the water and did floats, but he dove down to the bottom to retrieve things and even sat on the bottom for a while. It was so impressive I invoked the ice cream reward system, so we’re going out to the Chocolate Moose for a cold and refreshing treat this week to celebrate.

The other big news of the week, at least in my world, started Wednesday with our delivery from our CSA (community supported agriculture). We got a big load of green Lodi apples. They’re a little tart to eat, although we did try a few. Friday night Jim peeled 20 apples for pies. Some went into the freezer, but a big batch ended up in a deep-dish pie that was baked in the cool hours of Saturday morning. Yummm! I even had some for breakfast this morning with a cup of tea. How delightful! Yesterday was farmer’s market day, but I felt I had to keep weaving so Jim and Tommie went on the mission for more vegetables. They came home with corn, new potatoes, cucumbers, peaches and a yellow watermelon. We feasted on local vegetables last night, which was a real treat. The yellow watermelon isn’t as satisfying to my palate as the red version, but the summer peaches and corn were first rate.

Some of my crew is still asleep, but I’ve read the paper, had my pie and tea, and it’s time to leap into action and, as my husband advises, ‘weave like the wind’! I hope you’re in a cool spot today, but if you’re out and about, stop in at Bloomingfoods, the By Hand Gallery, or The Venue to pick up one of this year’s t-shirts for the Fourth Street Festival. It’s only a few weeks away. Yikes—I’d better get to weaving!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Madison, WI 2010

I just got back from a fabulous long weekend in Madison, WI. It would all feel like a dream if I didn’t have the booth walls laid all around the house to dry out. On Thursday afternoon I packed up all my available art into the 15 passenger gray rental van that the boys named the Stardust Dragon. We sped off to a motel in Urbana with an outdoor pool to spend the night, and the boys and I happily splashed around there as the sun set. Friday we stopped in at the Bradley Art Gallery in Stoughton Wisconsin to check the place out and visit some of my pieces. Stoughton is a quaint and friendly town on the outskirts of Madison, and Laura the charming owner gave us the tour. It truly is a wonderful gallery with an eclectic collection that includes lots of fiber, which I found welcoming and inspiring. It’s definitely a good place to visit if you’re in the Madison area. We left the gallery in the early afternoon and positioned the van for rapid art deployment when the square closed down and they let in the artists. My block captain and her helpers, whom I remember well from last year, were friendly, thoughtful and capable. We whisked the art and booth into place and the show was set up in no time. The boys scootered around the area to entertain themselves, while Wendy and Duane, our hosts for the weekend, helped us set up. So far so good! Then we drove out to the secret location in Hollandale, about a 40-minute drive from the show. It’s a beautiful trip through the country at sunset, and we were greeted by Bear and Jamie. They’d like to be guard dogs, but the house is just too remote for anybody bad to find it.

The show, and my weekend, started with a bang on Saturday morning. Jim deposited me at the fair a little later than I’d like, since the streets were already bustling half an hour before the official show start. Saturday was an intense day, and eager fairgoers and art buyers filled my booth. I sold eleven pieces, which is a record for me, and I had to endure praise from friendly and engaged fairgoers just about the whole day! I even got a Teddy Wedger veggie sandwich for lunch that the support crew brought me around noon. I met too many wonderful people to begin to mention, like the family with the young boy who sketches all the time according to his mother. He spent a huge amount of time in the booth, made a second visit, and decided that he wanted one of my weavings for a Christmas present. I’m so honored!

After a long day in the booth, my boys, along with Wendy and Duane, rescued me and took me to their remote hideaway for a lovely grilled salmon and fresh-picked greens dinner. I even celebrated with a local beer and a glass of wine, which is normally off limits during a fair. The meal concluded with a fresh pie from hand picked berries from the yard—what a treat! We enjoyed the utter darkness and quiet to be found in the wilds of Wisconsin, where they seem to have extra stars out night and no streetlights. That takes some getting used to, because when it’s dark at night here, it means that there’s no power and the basement is probably filling with water because the sump pump isn’t running. Anyway, big thanks to Wendy and Duane for keeping all my boys happy and entertained over the weekend.

Sunday was a totally different day, with one weaving sale, but still plenty of the warmth of the Madison art fair crowd. I was a little shocked when fair officials came by and gave me an invitational award for next year. Hooray! That means I get to come back near year. In the late afternoon, rain did come to the parade, so I slowly started taking down a few things before the close of the show. My roadies came a few minutes late, but we were picked up and on the road by 6:30. We headed south to Rockford to spend the night, then on toward home. We made a couple of stops, first at Papa Del's in Champaign for world famous pizza. From there we stopped in at a wine shop to pick up a few new wines to try that we can’t find around home. Then we headed straight for home and had frozen but homemade kluski for dinner. It felt really good to be home and sleep in my own bed. It was a memorable trip, made possible by a lot of good people that I care about.

And Madison, I’ll see you next year!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July traditions, old and new…

Yesterday was the farmer’s market, blueberry pie, the Fourth of July parade and fireworks. What more is there to say! I suppose there’s still art, so let’s start there. I made the tenth piece in my ‘Pieces of Life’ felt tile series. I tried to create a tropical jungle flavor within the same color palette, using a hint of an animal print and a large tropical leaf. I’ve met my goal for the series, but I’m still having fun with the design and creation phases of the project, and so I suspect that more will come…. I’m finishing both a dandelion and a fossil-fish piece for the Madison art fair this coming weekend. The dandelion piece is another tribute to the hardy, ubiquitous and sometimes beloved lawn flower of today, while the stone fish piece contains fern fossils from my friend Rudy Turner. Maybe ferns were the hated plant in lawns during the Jurassic, even if there weren’t people around to be upset about them. The piece has crinoids in the background that really determine the color palette for the piece. They have lots of ambers to rusty reds and orange tints, which gives it a warm feel. I also like the contrasts in the piece, such as between the soft fibers and unforgiving stones, or the new fibers versus the ancient rocks. I’m really excited about taking all my art to Madison, since it’s kind of like Bloomington on steroids. The people are just fabulous, the show is well organized and run, and I feel very comfortable there. And finally on the art front, I have work on display in Valparaiso, Indiana. I shipped off a sub-collection ofShhh... the Trees are Sleeping’ pieces and a load of notecards to the rTrails gallery. It’s having a soft opening this weekend and I’m happy to be a part of it. My Columbus show “Touching Summer’ will migrate there on August first, so stop in and check it out if you’re in Valparaiso.

I’m a day late in posting this week—it was the Fourth of July weekend, after all, and there’s so much to pack in! My sweet husband got up early and baked me a terrific blueberry pie (did I say I like pie?). I got to have it with freshly ground espresso and vanilla ice cream, since we were out of whipped cream. The only down side was that when he turned the oven on, it still had a piece of flat bread in it that jumped off the tray the last time he baked. The kitchen filled up with smoke, but far more importantly, the smoke came upstairs to the bedrooms and woke me up. So the pie wasn’t as much of a surprise as he wanted. Then it was off for a quick trip to the Farmer’s market to get corn, new potatoes and peaches for dinner. That’s always a summertime treat that everyone in the family enjoys. From there we scampered to the Fourth of July Parade and watched the town go by. The hula hoop group was entirely unexpected, and we’d never seen anything like it. Their passing show was talented, fun and even artistic. To pass the hot afternoon, Tommie patrolled the back yard for butterflies for his photo collection. The garden is in full display and the butterflies are plentiful, even if the weeding has fallen behind. From a distance though, it just doesn’t matter. I’m really proud of Tommie for not harming the butterflies—he catches them, takes a picture, and sets them free to go about their business of brightening up summer. I’m also proud of Jacob for spending a couple of hours reading his book on dragons, which is presently a big thing. After dinner we headed for the Fairgrounds to catch the fireworks. They moved the display out of town this year due to construction on campus. Sadly, it wasn’t the best decision for us. We left early, but ran into traffic backed up on 2nd Street far past 37 towards Bloomington. We crept along and watched most of the fireworks through the trees as we inched toward the show. When we finally got into the fairgrounds the finale was going on. We managed to get just inside the gates when all the traffic turned to leave and we got stuck there too! We made it home right at midnight, carried Jacob to bed, and everybody crashed. We never even got to enjoy our sparklers! I guess I can’t complain though—it was still a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin