Saturday, March 29, 2014

Summer comes to Meadowood!

This time of year, signs of spring pop in and out of view all over town. On Monday, my ‘Portraits of Trees’ exhibition at City Hall is coming down.  They have to hold on until the Farmer’s Market opens next Saturday for spring to reappear.  If you missed the exhibition, on Tuesday the pieces will resurface at Meadowood Retirement Community for their peek into Summer.   
Meadowood is on the north side of town, on Tamarack trail north of the Unitarian Universalist church.  It will be on display in their gallery for a month, and I’ll be in attendance to enjoy an opening reception and dinner on Friday, April 5th.  

My art focus hasn’t changed much—I’ve been beavering away at a very large format commission piece.  It is a giant weaving featuring a spring path with flowers—hints and bursts of purple, yellow, gold and pink line the path.   
I’m so ready for the full arrival of spring that I have thoroughly enjoyed imagining the grass turning to some shade of green and the colorful flowers to follow.  I sifted through my stores and picked out all of my crunchy green yarns to combine into leaf clumps.  I then dug through my dark brown fleeces to find one that I bought at the Fleece Fair a couple of years ago.  I just washed it and it’s ready to needle felt.  I love the contrast between the crunchy greens and the dark earth tones when I lay my materials out in the art studio.   
 The garden path and the tree trunk contain more of Grandpa’s old army blankets in them.  I just cut into the last of the blankets, but I see it more as a rebirth than the end of an era.  Grandpa’s old treasures that had meaning for him provide a different emotional connection to me as I create my art.  

One aspect of the piece that I’m particularly pleased with is how the green background gradient turned out.  I wanted to have the path fade into paleness in the distance, and you can see a hint of that in the background weave.  The trees in the foreground and background will anchor the piece and bring dimensionality and depth.  Right now I'm waiting for the custom frame to arrive so I can stretch the piece and start combining the dimensional elements. 

Despite my best intentions to get back to a weekly blogging schedule, last week brought spring break and a trip to New Mexico to see Jim’s brother Tim and wife Bobi (and Lucy the dog).  We had an awesome time, featuring a ride up the world’s longest tramway to an elevation of 10,378 feet on Sandia Peak.  
 It was an exciting ride up and even more dramatic coming down with forty mile an hour winds buffeting the tram on the last descent of the day when they deemed it too dangerous to keep transporting people.  We feasted at the restaurant at the peak, watched the ravens take wild rides on the gusts, and enjoyed searching for fossils on the top of the mountain.  Unfortunately, the peak is an old shallow seabed that became limestone, so we found the non-exotic crinoid and geode mix that we find all the time in our back yard.  Rock hounding at the base was more interesting because the formation there is granite.  I collected lots of interesting things at the bottom, including some pretty green travertine that will be moss-covered rocks along a forest path, and some bubbly, chocolate-y lava rocks that seem perfect for cross sections through dirt in some of my pieces. 
 In New Mexico they crunch up the lava rocks for winter traction on the mountain roads instead of sprinkling salt.  Tommie discovered that some cacti have sharp thorns and can pierce leather shoes—ouch!  The whole crew drove to Santa Fe for dinner and shopping—what an amazing place for pottery and jewelry!  Grandma and I had a wonderful time poking around in shops looking at jewelry.  I managed to find a delightful pair of very simple silver earrings.  Most of the work is hugely ornate, which I appreciate but know that it isn’t my style. 

When we returned home, my sister Edita visited for a longer weekend.  That meant more dining, more shopping, more wine and chatting.  It was a great spring break!  I even got a tart cherry pie!  It had been so long that I thought Jim forgot how to bake them!  It was delightful, however.  It was a little piece of summer to get me ready for trips to the Farmer’s Market this year. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Summer comes to City Hall!

My week in a nutshell:  the exhibition is up!  It’s time for a new project.  It feels a little surreal to walk into the Showers building and see the massive body of work I produced over this winter displayed all together.  On Friday Jim and I stopped in around noon for a peek and to make sure all the details survived the transport and hanging process.  The most enjoyable moments came from watching people interacting with the art.  One woman walked down the stairs past the pieces very slowly; she would stop and become completely enveloped by each piece as she came down.  It’s fascinating watching people explore and experience my art.  It will be up at City Hall for the month of March and then it will travel to the Meadowood Retirement Community Art Gallery for the month of April.  I’ll be at the opening reception on the first Friday of April doing a demonstration, enjoying dinner, and talking with the residents. 

Of course I can’t sit still for too long because there is more art to be made!  I did some sketches for my next commission piece and the patron gave the go-ahead to start the piece.  It’s going to be a very large format piece, with outer dimensions of 50 inches tall by 30 inches wide.  I’ve already contacted my frame maker, Tom Bertolacini, to build a special order oak frame.  The weaving itself feels like a light spring piece, with lots of purple, pink, and yellow flowers.  I’m planning on making the stones for the flagstone path from the last bits of my father in law’s old army blanket.  I also talked to the patron about making it more personal by using a piece of her purple chuppah to create some of the flowers.  The loom is warped and I’m off! 

The week has been a juggling act to keep all my peeps on track for all their activities.  Jacob has had extra rehearsals for his hip-hop performance that took place Friday night at the Buskirk-Chumley theater.  He and his troupe, the JayWalkers (formerly Footnotez) did an amazing job as part of the Hip Hop ConnXion ‘Set it Off’ program.  He was cute as a button in his dress shirt and red bowtie and did an awesome job.   
His moves were spot on, his facial expressions showed that he was really into it, and his enthusiasm for dance really came through.  To celebrate we had dinner at the Owlery followed by a chocolate ganache and carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting cake from Bloomingfoods back at home.  I’m so proud of my little pumpkin!

We’ve had several visitors over the past week, both of the two and four-legged variety.  Dr. Bob and Beth just left this morning after a weekend visit to see their son Noah and friend Lita, my sister Edita was here last week, and Zeus, the ginormous black standard poodle, has been here since Wednesday.   He’s been gracing our floor with his magnificence and trying to grace the sofas.  The boys have enjoyed walking him and playing catch with him in the yard.  The whole adventure reminds me how much I like dogs, but it’s also nice to just have them visiting.  The only down notes are that Jim and Tommie both had colds and I didn’t get a pie.  I’m really concerned that Jim won’t bake one before spring break because we have two half cakes in the fridge.  It might be time for drastic measures!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Come see Portraits of Trees!

February?  Sorry, but there just wasn’t enough time to blog!  I feel badly that I couldn’t find a little time to sit down and share some stories about my work and life.  I really have been spending every free minute in my art studio trying to complete the artwork I promised for my ‘Portraits of Trees’ exhibition scheduled to go up on March 4thin Bloomingon's City Hall atrium.  If you live in town or are passing through, I hope you can stop in and see it!  I’m really looking forward to seeing all 15 of them together and experiencing the story that they tell as a group – a family album.

I think the most fun I’ve had creating this exhibition has been bringing together the last few pieces for the story.  One of them is a piece called “Working Trees.”  I think everybody goes through times when they are working to save money, which made me think about stringing the laundry out to dry on a clothesline behind our house.  I created a line between two trees, then repurposed some of my family’s old clothes to hang on the line.  The T-shirt is a little piece I sewed out of one of Jim’s old favorites.   
And as long as he doesn’t know which one it is I think I’ll be OK saying that.  Tommie produces fabric for me to use all the time.  In this case I made a pair of jeans from a pair he ripped apart at the knee.  Luckily they were also a little too short for him, because the knee rips are now stylish and it’s harder to get him to part with his treasures.  I add a pair of red socks (from a felted sweater) and create a laundry basket to complete the composition.  Oh, and I had to play around a little with fabric stiffeners to get the clothes to hang the way I wanted.  I tested several brands against swatches to get a sense of how they behave.  I quickly found one that gives the effect I wanted on all the fabric types: wet clothes hanging on the line in a breeze. 

Last week I finished my “Flowers by the Tree” piece for the show.  I’m still working on that name, it's just a bit too factual.   I desperately needed a little spring color and memories of summer.  When it got so cold and nasty I just started making some colorful flowers.  I created a few colorful clumps and decided I needed some spiky liatris for a structural contrast.  
 I started out thinking about spring flowers, but as the piece came together the flowers turned out to be from the summer season.  I really like the bright red roses that I created from some bits of satin cording.  The piece also features a fence that I made out of used (and washed) Popsicle sticks that I stained to look like aged fence wood.  The staves are narrowed sequentially to create the forced perspective of the fence.  I could go on describing pieces, but it would be easier if you would just stop into City Hall and check out the show sometime in March!

A whole month passing means a lot happened in my family.  The highlight was Friday night, when my sister Edita came to visit.  One of the great things about being on Facebook is being able to reconnect with family and friends living in distant places.  This was so true this week when I saw that my sister, whom I haven’t seen in almost ten years, was flying from Chicago to Indianapolis for a workshop.  I reached out to her just before she reached out to me!  She ended up coming to Bloomington for a couple of days.  The first night we decided to stay home for dinner, then have a nice glass of wine by the fire and catch up.  It was great to sit back and share memories that were long forgotten by one of us.  It’s about time, since we’ll both turn fifty this year.  We agreed to stay connected and try to be a part of each other’s lives. 

The boys have been very busy too, with Jacob doing extra practices for his Hip Hop performance next Saturday (March 8th) atthe Buskirk Chumley theater.  His dance troupe, called the Footnotes, will be playing with the Hip-Hop troupe, ConnXion.  Tommie went off to Butler University with the Jackson Creek Science Olympiad team and came back with two medals - we’re very proud of him!

And...I’d like to note, though, that there hasn’t been a single pie in ALL of February, which is UNACCEPTABLE, especially given that there are four pie fillings waiting in the freezer.  It may seem like winter is going to last forever but it isn’t.  Lastly, I have some fun pictures of the boys to share.  Tommie wore shorts and flip-flops on the day it reached well into the sixties, and Jacob is very proud of his new Minion hat (thanks Peg Dawson!).  

Life. Is. Full. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin