Monday, October 27, 2014

Great people live in Indianapolis too!

My life in the art studio has been dedicated to commissions.  I’m excited to have so many requested pieces, but now I have to bear down and create the art.  At the top of my queue is my “Summer Salad” revisitation.  Because the composition features a compilation of many small needle felted vegetables, it’s the perfect piece to take along as I patiently wait for the boys at their various activities.  Right now, that means Taekwondo, hip-hop dancing, and voice lessons.  Happily, I now have the full complement of cherry tomatoes, olives, mushrooms and all of the radishes (except for their little white tails).  
 I’ll be finishing those soon when I can wet felt again.  My finger just needs to heal a little more from the cut.

Hmmm.  You might not have heard about my exciting trip to the emergency room at the Bloomington hospital last week.  I was working on part of the set for the “Phantom” performance and I severely cut my left index finger with an Exacto knife.  It took several hours of waiting, but they finally declared me to be functional and glued the wound back together.  They gave me a tetanus shot, patted my bottom and told me to be more careful as they discharged me four hours later at 12:30 a.m.  I’ll be back at full strength shortly. 

Injuries give you a moment to stop and take stock of your life.  As I looked around me, I decided that the color of my current season is orange.  It just feels like there is a wonderful orange glow around the neighborhood right now.  At the farmer’s market I saw lots of orange pumpkins (one of which came home with us), and the orange helped inspire me to work on the orange carrots for the “Summer Salad” piece.  We have had some beautiful sunny weather and the changing leaves are striking—just more orange in my world.  The orange motif was reiterated as I drove to Indianapolis last week on a mission to look for a new camera.  I got to see lots of trees changing color along highway 37.  One of the best parts of that adventure was a long overdue visit to the Indy Upcycle store on Guilford Avenue in Indianapolis. 
 It’s a recycled craft supply store, which is the kind of place where I find all sorts of treasures for my work.  I systematically went through every bin that the proprietor had and found silver cord and thread, green felt and yarns, wire scraps and tiny little objects that will work beautifully in my underground scenes.  I found the cutest little pair of scissors and some scrabble tiles, which seems especially relevant since I spend a fair bit of time playing Scrabble with friends online and Tommie at home.  Yesterday morning developed slowly after a late night due to the cast party for the “Phantom” performance Saturday.  We sat, talked and played scrabble in front of a fire while Jim baked a cranberry/apple pie in the kitchen.  Yum!  Anyway, I had a delightful time in the store and enjoyed interacting with the proprietor.  I was delighted when, on Saturday morning, I received a package in the mail from Indy Upcycle containing two tufts of green feathers!  It was one of the things we searched for, and the person there mailed me some feathers she discovered after I left!  I would say she should move to Bloomington, but I’m glad she’s there when I visit. 

On the drive home from Indy I got into some crazy traffic on 37, which prompted the thought that I should take old 37.  I got into more beautiful oranges on the old highway, and I was able to stop in at Musgrave Orchard.  I reconnected with the orange-haired (!) Hamiltons, whom I haven’t seen in a very long time.  I was amazed at how big the children there had grown while I wasn’t watching!  I picked up four big jugs of apple cider, one of which didn’t survive the day when my boys came home from school.  I also brought home a nice selection of apples and squash for my family.  The whole trip left me feeling very happy. 

My family life has been extraordinarily busy, as usual.  I’ll summarize a bit to say that the Sounds of South performance of “Phantom of the Opera” held their penultimate performance last Saturday night.  Tommie did a stellar job in the chorus and handling the props and stage.  He just handles everything on stage with a quiet professionalism.  I had to smile when Tommie, during the auction scene, bid on the monkey I created using an auction paddle that I also made for the show.  He didn’t get the monkey, but he started the group bidding on the piece—way to support your Mom’s work!  Jacob ran the lighting, as he has for the whole show, and threw in a few of his own creative touches to make the performance richer.  I served as an usher while Jim stayed home and rested after hours of wood cutting and splitting followed by Taekwondo and sparring.  It was great to usher and meet people from all over the community coming together to support the SOS group.  Everyone went away impressed with the extraordinarily high quality of the performance. 

I will be out and about in the community with my art a few times over the next few weeks.  First, I’ll be at Spring Hill Suites on College Avenue on Wednesday the 29th from 5-7:30 p.m. for ArtNight, a one evening exhibition of my weavings, along with two other artists.   You can see my latest tomato piece with the myriad tomatoes I needle felted over the summer on my travels.  Spring Hill Suites has started carrying my notecards and Sweater Petals as well.   Next, I’ll be present for a reception for the new bigheaded ant exhibit at Wonderlab on November 7th from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.   
My final show of the calendar year will be at the combined Artisans Guilds show at the Convention Center on November 14th and 15th.  My ‘Looking at Water’ exhibit will still be there in the Rogers room, so stop in to see my new Re-Shirts at the show and my weavings nearby!

It’s been a long blog, but I can’t get by without mentioning the delightful Mutsu apple and cranberry pie that Jim made yesterday morning.  The next time he makes it, which better be soon so we can still find more Mutsu apples, he needs to know that the filling needs more cranberries!  I’ll have to do the experiment and see how I like this one a few more times, with espresso, to be sure!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Commission after commission!

This week brought closure to a delightful project I’ve been working on for some time.  It’s an elaborate, large format commission piece that features an extended path with trees and flowers.  It is personalized with fabric from the owner, including a rich purple cloth from their wedding houpa.  My rule is that I won’t show an image of the completed work until the patron sees it first, so I can only give a sneak peak of a small section with the promise that I’ll post the entire image at a later date when their home renovations are completed and they can accept delivery. 

Bringing that project to a conclusion means I’m putting more energy into the next two commission pieces on my plate.  The first will revisit a favorite piece, “Summer Salad.”  It involves creating a lot of detailed vegetable pieces to scale.  This week was devoted to assembling the sliced tomatoes.  I put the outside skin on the six slices I prepared, leaving the project of layering on the details of the meat and seeds in the cross-section.  The cherry tomatoes for the piece are almost as cute as the ones that are coming off the vines in the garden.   
There aren’t many actual tomatoes as I’d like, since some creature of the night is stealing all the big tomatoes and some of the little ones, but I’m getting a taste.  I’ve built all of the shapes that I need for the mushrooms from felted sweater pieces, over which I’ll needle felt soft grey carded wool to make the surface look realistic.  Ahead of me lie the radishes, celery, onions, broccoli and cucumbers.  I promised to complete the piece by mid December, so I feel like I’m on schedule with all my other responsibilities.  The sliced vegetables seem to have attracted another big-headed ant, though.  They asked me to create one more worker for the exhibit at Wonderlab.  
 The reception for the ant exhibit will be held during First Fridays on November 6th from 5 to 8:30.  The ants will be provided, but it will be BYOP (bring your own picnic!). 

As I scurry into new projects, my exhibit continues to hang at the Convention Center in the Rogers room.  I realized that I neglected to take a photo of one piece before I hung the show, forcing me to zip back in to grab an image of “Looking at the Water”.  I had so much fun making the lawn chair and posting it on Facebook before I attached it to the piece.  
 So many people thought that I had reclaimed an old seventies-era aluminum lawn chair by replacing the fabric.  When they saw the piece on the kitchen counter top for scale it became clear that it was a miniature.  Still, the piece seems to bring back fond memories for a lot of people. 

Life is building to another crescendo this week.  Monday begins the last week of rehearsals for the “Phantom of the Opera” show that begins on Saturday, October 18th.  It continues for two more Saturdays, and they’re trying to sell out the shows to help cover the extensive costs for the elaborate falling chandelier and hundreds of costumes, among other investments.  You can see the evil monkey atop the ornate music box and the dead body I created for the show too—it’s incredible how much has gone into this production.   
Tommie is a chorus member and Jacob is in charge of the lighting.  Grandma will come to town for opening night and Jim will watch, cook, and keep everyone calm, so it’s really a family affair.  Oh, and speaking of my sweet husband Jim, he made me two apple pies on Saturday.  One went to a party and was consumed, but the other provided a slice for my Sunday morning breakfast with espresso. 

I should also mention that last week was the public school’s Fall Break.  I needed a break too, so the boys and I drove south west for a day adventure to French Lick.  It started with a beautiful fall drive along winding roads.  The little towns, with their unusual names and cultures seem very different from Bloomington.  We started with go-kart racing followed by a stop in an arcade.  
The boys deftly played a five dollar advance into enough tickets to buy us all tiaras and moustaches, which became the official family attire for the trip.  We found a hole-in-the-wall pizza place where the waitress was a little taken aback by our attire.  Then we played a round of mini golf (still in costume).  We have a family rule that the winner buys the ice cream, which of course turned out to be me.  No ice cream place was in sight, so we decided to venture into the West Baden Springs hotel so the boys could see the grandness of the dome from the inside.  As we approached the front door, a sharply dressed fellow asked how he could help us. 
You might or might not think that tiaras and moustaches were appropriate attire for the fancy hotel, but he let us right in and even became our tour guide.  He gave us lots of details about the history of the place and the renovations that were done.  I’ve seen pictures of the place, but until you’re standing there to experience the scale and the grandiosity of the place it is hard to appreciate.   We ended up having ice cream at a parlor in the hotel before the boys found an ornate chess set and board that was actually an inlaid table.  They played while I wandered the hotel to get a better sense of the space.  All in all it was a perfect day out and a break in our routine.  But now it’s back to art!  And the Phantom!  He says that tickets are available online, so we hope to see you there!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weave and ye shall receive!

I spent a delightful evening Friday at the reception for my ‘Looking at Water’ exhibition.  The Convention Center set out an amazing display of hors d’oeuvres to snack on, including butternut soup, gouda mac and cheese, and pumpkin tartlets.  Elegant servers whisked through the well-attended show with glasses of red and white wine on platters.  There was even a harpist, which provided a beautiful complement to my visual art.  We decided that the harp was perfect because of the connection between the strings in the instrument, the warps in the weavings, and the collection of yarns and wires comprising the pieces.  The subtle intonations of the harp are reminiscent of rippling water, creating a beautiful atmosphere.  I’m very grateful for how much effort that Patti Russo, Talisha Coppock and the Convention Center personnel invested in making the reception and show a wonderful event! 

The show itself marks another turning point for me.  It felt great to have all the water pieces completed and hanging.  It gave me closure to that body of work.  The highlight was all the delightful conversations I was able to have with people at the reception.  Many were new to my work, but it was great to bond with long-term supporters I have in the town.  Many picked up on the new techniques and subtleties in composition that were developed for the water-based exhibition.  It was heartwarming to share my sense of pride in accomplishment as we talked about the cohesiveness in the show and distinctive features in each piece. 

The life of an artist, sadly, isn’t all receptions and celebration.  With so much time invested in creating pieces for the exhibit, much that is mundane was pushed to the back burner.  I spent most of this week trying to restore some order in my life.  I fixed the vacuum cleaner and ran it over much of the house.  I processed a mountain of laundry and generally cleaned the rest of the house.  I even devoted some time to creating the last of the props for the Sounds of South performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera.  
 I created an elaborate jewelry box for Carlotta and trays of beer steins for the cast members in the ‘Don Juan’ scene.  I made it out to Long’s Landing, and the supportive crew there donated large foam pieces for the phantom’s armchair.  I did just dip my toes back into the art world at the end of the week by adding colorful flowers along the walkway of my large-format commissioned piece.  I need some green yarn for a third commission in my cue, which will require dyeing various textured yarns.  
 I wound skeins of yarns in preparation for the big dyeing project.  I even did a little needle felting for a second commission in the cue, creating mushrooms and olives for the piece.  Last, I’m gearing up to make some more sweater petals for the holiday season at By Hand Gallery, as well as the upcoming Artisan Guilds ofBloomington show this fall.   
This year the three Guilds (Spinners and Weavers, Glass, and Pottery) will combine to show at the Convention Center on November 14th and 15th.  My ‘Looking at Water’ exhibit will still be there in the Rogers room, so stop in to visit both!

Of course family events are still proceeding at full steam.  The boys are both heavy into rehearsals (two nights a week) for Phantom of the Opera.  Tommie will be on stage, while Jacob was tapped to handle the lighting for the show.  It’s amazing to see how far they have come since the first rehearsals I saw in late summer, so now I’m looking forward to seeing the final, polished version on October 18th.  Parents have been charged with ramping up advertising, meaning putting out yard signs, posters, magnets for cars, and anything else we can come up with.  Tickets are available on line, and we hope to see you there!   
Still, the best part of the week might have been the raspberry pie that appeared last Sunday morning after Saturday’s farmer’s market.  I had a slice each morning this past week, finishing the last one this morning with espresso.  The weather turned cold, but I’m looking forward to the first fire in the fireplace of the season tonight!  I hope you stay warm too!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin