Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fourth Street Festival approaches!

Each year, Labor Day brings the busiest weekend of my world, the annual Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts.  I’ve been sitting in my art studio over the past two weeks feverishly turning out a few more new pieces for my booth.  I’m pleased that I’ll have several fresh pieces that have all come together after my last summer show in Madison.  My inspiration largely came from thinking about all the summer road trips this year.  We saw lots of water, birch trees, and a very lush, green landscape.  The cool wet spring was certainly embraced by the plant life this year.  At some point I realized I needed to make a Summer Birches piece, after all the highly successful Winter Birches pieces I’ve done in the past.  I used some of the birch leaf clumps I made on my last trip to Michigan.  I wanted to create a deep birch forest with a cool feel.  The background has some darkness but both the canopy and the understory are light and cheery.  The colors and the trees really make me feel happy!  
 Next I wanted to finish the Cattail Marsh piece that I wrote about two weeks ago.  I initially wanted lots of cattails in the foreground, but for me it’s an internal struggle to get the balance between too many and not enough.  I certainly didn’t want the water to get lost in the background and I think I achieved that.  I also find the photograph of the piece interesting.  The image flattens the piece out considerably.  The foreground itself extends forward close to six inches.  It’s common for my pieces to look either more or less dimensional when captured in a photograph, and this is a good example of the latter. 

In my push to finish pieces in progress for Fourth Street, I finished a piece that also features birches, this time by a stream.  I incorporated rocks from both North Carolina’s Topsail Island beach and Katy Abramson’s driveway on Jordan Avenue in Bloomington.  I was just matching rocks based on color and size and the two sources turned out to be a good match.  About the time I finished that piece, my boys reported that they were having a laundry crisis.  Tommie announced that none of his favorite four shirts were clean (yes, he’s in full teenager mode, turning thirteen on Monday).  When I get focused on art I just try to keep on top of household stuff, which is in reasonable shape.  We do have dinner every night, often thanks to Jim last week.  Along the way I’ve had plenty of meetings and the boys have had many taekwondo classes.  That gives me plenty of time for needle felting tomatoes.  
 I recently finished the last tomato for a piece, which includes lots of tomato varieties.  There are heirlooms with yellow shoulders that never ripen, classic red tomatoes and even little cherry tomato clumps.  I really miss having the little cherry tomato volunteer plants in the garden, which came from Jim distributing compost around the flowerbeds full of rich soil and tomato seeds.  It took a few years but Jim slowly evicted them in favor of flowers—I’m not sure that was a good trade!   At least I get to have lots of them in my weaving.  The final component of the tomato piece was the stems and calyxes.  That’s a lot of detail work, but I did manage to finish them this week as well.  With the piece assembled, I’m really delighted with how it all turned out!  When we went as a family to the Farmer’s market this morning and saw all the tomatoes for sale it reminded me of my piece. 

This week has been filled with furious art making, since I set a deadline of today to finish art and put on my show director’s hat.  I had an idea for a willow piece by a pond that came together over the past few days.  It features willows, made out of Grandpa’s old army blanket, that stand next to a bench overlooking a pond.  The willows and the army blanket remind me of Grandpa, who loved the old willow trees around his back yard.  The piece is going to be called Sitting with Grandpa, which seems appropriate as you look out over the water from the bench.  Grandpa loved to fish, but he enjoyed thinking about fishing and planning new trips at least as much.  

There were a lot of family things happening too, but I can’t remember too much from the past two weeks.  I do remember going to the pool last Sunday evening with Jacob and his friend Lara.  The water was a little too cool for my tastes.  Jim and Tommie made a trip to Lake Erie and brought home lots of perch, so we feasted over a fish fry with my Zumba instructor Liz.   
She’s leaving town to start her career as a dietician in Cincinnati, and I’ll miss her a lot.  The boys probably did something to earn a Nobel prize in some category, but I was too busy weaving to notice.  I’m sure they’ll tell me soon!  I did notice that there was another pie, this time a peach pie, which was a delightful breakfast treat with coffee over several days.  What more could I ask for?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pie in the art studio!

Yes, I enjoyed a beautiful slice of warm blackberry pie with my family in my usual working space.  Tom Bertolacini, my frame maker and photographer, dropped off fourteen oak frames, including one for my next piece of a non-traditional size.  It will be a re-interpretation of my ‘Tap Water” piece for a patron in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Tom also left behind some giant cucumbers, zucchini, squash, two generous quarts of blackberries, and one tomato that Patty was willing to part with.  
 Jim transformed the berries into an awesome pie.  On Monday evening the boys brought the creation down to the art studio and we all feasted before dinner.  I was on my way to the annual BloomMagazine reception, and although there was food I couldn’t possible go without trying the pie!  Dawn Adams and I had a wonderful time.  I got to see the most recent issue of Bloom and I was delighted to see a large photo of me from the local artist showcase event that Bloom puts on in the winter.  If that wasn’t enough, the ad for the Fourth Street Festival also features a giant image of one of my pieces, Summer Salad.  It was a good evening for me!

With the annual Fourth Street event coming up over the Labor Day weekend, I’ve been trying to spend as much time in the art studio as humanly possible.  I even make the sacrifice of eating pie for breakfast (with espresso) in my art studio!  
 I’m currently working on a northern pond piece, which is really the home for my loon.  I have completed the background, the cattails and the accompanying leaves.  I made them out of used paperclips that I straightened out and wrapped with yarn.  I found a nice brown chenille to make the actual cattail heads.   
They recall a warm, fuzzy memory for me, since in Czech the word for cattail is ‘cigar’.  I remember as a child trying unsuccessfully to light them.  I’m also working on tomatoes for a piece, and I am eight tomatoes shy of the completed work.  I still have to make some of the stems and leaves, but I have several meetings ahead of me.  That translates into plenty of tomato poking time.  I hope to have the piece completed by Labor Day.

I got to work on the components of the Tomato piece because we made one last trip to Grandma’s before school began on Wednesday.  We had a delightful trip, and in addition to making tomatoes on the drive, I made progress on a number of other fronts.  I had been thinking about making more underground pieces.  I was looking for memorable and rusted objects that evoke an emotional response.  Pieces that trigger a memory of something forgotten that used to be a regular part of your life.  While Jim and Tommie were off fishing, Grandma, Jacob and I went off to an antique mall across the street from our lunch spot.  I found a tintype photograph of two army officers that I knew I wanted to incorporate into a weaving.  I also found rusted old metal cars and a rusty fishing lure, among other treasures.  Grandma said she had plenty of those old rusty lures out in Grandpa’s pole barn.  Sure enough I found plenty of those, as well as a trove of other rusted treasures.  While I was there, Grandma’s neighbor Kathey Gibson came over and saw what I was doing.  That brought on an invitation from Ben Gibson to dig through his garage.  He had years of rusty history in his garage!  I found old keys, antique welding goggles, rusted tools, and treasures of all sorts.  I have two big bags to sort through some quiet day this winter. 

As I sit to recount my memories of the past few weeks, I realize how jam packed the whole time has been.  We brought back two big bags of transparent apples from Grandma’s prized tree.  They became three freezer pies, uncounted tupperwares of frozen chunks for muffins, and a big bowl of applesauce.   
The boys wanted to go on one last kayaking adventure, so we went to find the place Cindy Creek, the boy’s first grade teacher who got us started on kayaking, called Crinoid Beach.  We paddled across the lake to find the ‘beach’ – they are really more of limestone outcroppings.  I’m not sure that we landed on Crinoid Beach but we landed on a beach with lots of rocks with holes in them – perfect for incorporating into weavings, so for me it’s now the Rocks-with-Holes-in-them Beach.   
The boys got to swim and we all had lots of fun splashing around and having our lunch.    

And on Friday night, Jim tested (and passed!) his test for half-red, half-black belt in Taekwondo.  We’re so proud of him! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin