Sunday, September 28, 2014

Looking at Water

My exhibition is up!  The primary focus of the past two months has been creating pieces for my “Looking at Water” exhibition.  Its first exposure will be at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center, 103 S. College Road, in the newly remodeled Rogers room.  The room is a little secluded, but you’re welcome to stop in to see it.  The pieces will hang there until mid-November, and on December 1st it will move to the Bloomington Bagel Company on North Dunn for two months. 

One feature of the exhibition that I consciously worked toward was to incorporate some design or conceptual element that allows each piece to transition into the next.  I hung the exhibition with the thought of going from a small droplet of water to a small stream of water and on through rivers and ponds and ending in vast body of water—a scene where you don’t see anything but water around you.  One recent notable addition to the exhibition features a bluegill in a pond.  I spent a little time with fish images to ensure that the colors and subtleties were accurate. 
I’m also pleased with “Heading for Open Water”, which was inspired by boating trips to Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.  We loaded Grandpa’s boat at Gambil’s Landing and drove through the seemingly endless rushes and cattails heading for walleye fishing on Saginaw bay of Lake Huron.  We passed by numerous turtles sunning themselves, dragonflies flitting around, and egrets scanning the shallow water for small fish.  As we broke into the open water of the bay we headed for deeper water, scanning the horizon for packs of boats that often gave away the places where fish were biting.  Far out on the bay you can see the towers at the mouth of the Saginaw River, the shore along Pinconning and Linwood, and the line where water meets sky to the east.  I know Canada is out there, even if I can’t see it. 

Another piece that I’m proud of features single droplets of water and is called “Water Sprout.”  When I water the garden I’m fascinated by watching the water come streaming out of the sprayer head on the hose or watering can.  I feel a certain satisfaction when I give small plants something they need to survive and grow.  The piece I created celebrates that water spout as it nurtures a little bean sprout.  It contains some stainless steel wire wrapped on an old wooden spool that Grandpa gave me at least ten years ago.  I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, because he handed it me accompanied with that serious look that meant ‘stainless steel wire’ was something special that needed just the occasion for use.  My “Water Sprout” features droplets of water created from blobs of hot glue extended from pieces of stainless steel wire from the special spool.  The wire that I used to create the roots of the bean sprout came from recycled spiral notebooks.  The math problems on the pages of the binder may be long forgotten and the paper recycled, but the spiral binder lives on in the weaving. 

I hope you’ll come join me for the opening reception of the show on Friday, October 3rd from 5-8 p.m. during Gallery Walk.  There will be a harpist from IU playing to add atmosphere.  If you live too far away to come, I made a short movie to capture the room and the feel of the pieces in the exhibit.  With the show hung, I feel as if a huge weight has been removed from my shoulders.  Luckily, the weather is warm enough to sit outside on the veranda and have dinner again.  Two nights ago we had pesto with some grilled butternut squash and a delightful bottle of wine, with some shared brownie treats from BluBoy for dessert.  We lit the candles to remember spring and early summer dinners enjoyed on the veranda.  I intend to have a little pause from art creation for a few days to catch up on other things I’ve neglected.  This morning I fixed the vacuum cleaner, and I woke to the smell of baking raspberry pie from berries that Jim secretly bought at the farmer’s market.  I’d say things are looking up!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weaving an Exhibition!

This is has been an intense week of artwork for me.  I’ve been getting up at six a.m. each morning and going straight into the art studio to weave.  I’m steaming along on pieces for my exhibition titled “Looking at Water.”  My goal is to have sixteen new pieces, and I feel like I’m on track to reach my goal.  I have eleven completed, but I have four more in progress and a sketch for the last piece.  In some cases I have the weaving largely assembled but I’m still lacking a featured animal or physical structure, such as a fish, turtle or a dock.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many open books!  My attention is now is focused on a second weaving featuring a dock that I’m pretty excited about.  
 The inside of the weathered dock boards are felt from army blankets that came to me in my treasure hunts.  That continues the strong connection to my father-in-law’s old army blankets that supported so many pieces, but the wool from them is mostly gone.  As each piece comes closer to completion I feel better about the show.

My desire to do this exhibition came in part from a very successful exhibit I did early in the year at City Hall and Meadowood, "Portraits of Trees."  The show featured trees and lots of fresh spring green.  It felt great to see the pieces together on the wall after a long, cold winter.  Around that time I decided I wanted to assemble pieces for another exhibit built on a theme.  The idea transformed into the “Looking at Water” themed exhibit scheduled for October at the Convention Center.  Thinking about the shows reminds me that while I lack formal training as an artist, I seem to learn about the art world from unexpected places.  I’m not a television watcher, although I do watch Project Runway religiously.   
At the end of each season the surviving artists create collections that determine the winner.  I love the continuity in the collections the designers create, where theme elements connect the pieces—it might be a style, a fabric or a color.  One piece speaks to the next, not as a reiteration of the composition, but as a spark to begin the conversation on the next design.  I’m consciously trying to replicate that concept in my exhibition.  I’m looking forward to hanging the show as a linear story of “Looking at Water”, with design ideas and materials that flow through the exhibition.  The broader concept is still solidifying in my head, even as I have now mentally created all the pieces.  Come and see the exhibition and we can see how the story unfolds!

My other big art news is the completion of the bigheaded ants last month, which were finally delivered to Wonderlab.  This past week they invited me to participate in laying out the ants in their new home.  They are going to be crawling over the wall up to the sign that introduces the bigheaded ant exhibit.  After laying it out it became clear that they needed one more ant on the back of the sign.  As soon as my water exhibit is complete I’ll create one more worker ant.  Then I’ll re-launch on all my commissions in progress to bring everything together.  I have the large “Garden Path” piece to complete, and that’s my top priority.  
 I also finished weaving and stretching out the background for the “Summer Salad”commission.  That means I’ll be felting lots of vegetables for the foreground.  Sliced tomatoes, here we go!

On the family front, Jim and I celebrated fifteen wonderful years of marriage together.  It’s hard to imagine a life before marriage and my family.  Jacob grilled salmon for the celebratory dinner, which came out beautifully.  
 There was also a new peach pie, but the boys (and I) again made short work of that.  Then, somehow we managed to walk right past the raspberries at the farmer’s market on Saturday!  With the peach pies so fleeting, shouldn’t another pie appear very soon?  I know there’s fruit in the freezer!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My world of water comes back into focus!

I was awake at 3:30 yesterday morning, unable to sleep as I mentally went over my inventory for my upcoming ‘Looking at Water’ exhibition at the Convention Center in October.  I spent a big chunk of my day locked in my art studio weaving water and creating cattails.  The only thing that brought me back to the computer to produce a long overdue blog post was the dire threat made by Jim that I couldn’t have more than one pie per post.  I enjoyed the first peach pie of the season two weeks ago, so I knew I better start writing!  Now I'm getting way ahead of myself.  I’ll try to catch you up on what’s been happening. 

My ants are finally done!  I delivered the colony to Wonderlab this past Thursday.  We’ll have a meeting this week to discuss the display, which might involve making one more ant.  Along the way, I feel like I learned a lot about the anatomy of ants, what distinguishes the species and which morphologies are shared.   
I came to love my ants, but I’m glad they’re out of the studio.  At Wonderlab they’re talking about painting or stenciling ants along the wall that leads to the exhibition, which sounds fun.  If they do that, I really think the last stenciled ant should be an intermediate between the stenciled ants and the first three-dimensional creation.  That would make it look like the last ant was crawling out of the wall.  I think that would be interesting, but it would mean making one more half-ant.  I invite everyone to the opening reception on the first Friday in November.  There will be a fun kids project to create ant parts by wet felting fleece into balls to produce the body segments.  These will be connected with pipe cleaners.  I have just the most perfect brown noils from Sheep Street that I will donate to the project.  This is just the ideal material to learn how to felt color-appropriate ant body parts.  Come and see!

Of course Labor Day means the Fourth Street Festival.  It was a very successful show from my perspective, with no major incidents.  The weather wasn’t ideal when the show opened Saturday in steady rain, but Sunday turned into an absolutely beautiful sunny day.  The humidity was low with some clouds, and over 33 thousand fair attendees came out for the two-day event.  Happily/sadly I sold one of my water-themed pieces I intended to show at my upcoming Convention center exhibition that I described above.  I think I’ll be able to replace the piece and come up with a full complement of sixteen pieces for the exhibition by the end of this month.  
 The ‘Looking at Water’ concept means that you’ll see any and all forms of water, from a drop falling from a faucet to small ponds with aquatic life and on to vast lakes.  So much of our lives revolves around water that I just had to think about water and express it in my art.  I’ll hang the show in late September and the opening reception will coincide with the first Friday’s gallery walk from 5-8 p.m.  Please stop by and say hello at that reception too!

My life is never so simple as to allow me to focus solely on my own art.  I’ve been dividing my time to help with the Sounds of South group’s ginormous production of Phantom of the Opera in late October and early November.  I have always possessed a passion for the theater, having regularly attended theatrical productions, opera and plays with my father.  I fondly remember having season tickets to the Stratford Festival performances in Stratford, Ontario.  When Tommie auditioned into Sounds of South it opened the door a crack for me to get involved.   
Earlier this summer I made a set ofskirts for the performance, and last month I finished repurposing an evil monkey on an ornate music box that is central to the performance.  I made an ornate hat for the diva in the performance, Carlotta, and it matches her extravagant gown and personality.  I added a reticule to her outfit, which is now also a new word in my vocabulary (thanks David Wade!).  I was also charged with making the body of Buquet that is hung from the rafters by the phantom.  I’ve never made a dead body before.  Heck, I’ve never made an alive body – well, except for my sons! 

My life was also filled with big personal events.  Jim and the boys tested for their black belts in Taekwondo on the 16th of August.  His brother Tim was the ‘bad guy’ for self-defense and got thrown around a bit, and Grandma came down to see the performance too.  It was a very emotional test all around.  Jacob was praised for his power and precision in his forms, Tommie for his flexibility and graceful high kicks, and Jim for just making it through the whole process.  We had a big reception at our house after the party where it was nice to just sit and relax in peace and quiet with food from the Owlery, cakes and cupcakes from Blu Boy, and a beautiful personalized cake from Esperanza Hogan.  
 Oh, and I did get a peach pie, a rare treat this summer with so few peaches, as a reward for finished my ants.  I know as soon as I get this posted I’ll get another pie.  Type, type, type!  Start rolling the crust, Jim!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin