This is my second full day home from my teaching trip to Peters Valley Craft Center, near Layton, NJ and Milford, PA, close to the Deleware River, in the middle of the Deleware Water Gap National Recreation Area (owned by the National Parks Service.) It's in a very rural part of northwestern New Jersey, in a very wooded, rolling landscape, where five of the nine various fine craft studios are about two miles away from the main area, on a hill called Thunder Mountain. There's a really good tour of PV in pictures you might want to see, on their site. But here is my own tour of the place and the people who interacted with Peters Valley's cultural landscape this last week:
Whether you come from PA or from NJ, you first get to this Hens Feet Corners crossroads, where the Peters Valley office sits behind this sign, which is the only clue that you've arrived at a fine craft center in a national park, not just to a little country village. Inside this historical building, the staff of PV make it happen for all of us. The new director, Kristin Muller, the registrar, Jennifer Brooks, and the rest of the staff, work year round to maintain and improve our experiences in this natural microcosm of beauty and ART TIME.
I don't remember this large, waterproof signage being in front of the office, when Jimmy and I used to teach here. We taught about four times, when Kerr Grabowski was the fiber studio head. Then Kerr moved on, Jimmy quit teaching with me, and I hadn't been back for a long time. This sign tells some interesting stories about how the place got its name, when it was settled, etc. I always like reading historical facts about a place, and it gave me feelings of deeper connection with the spot. All the buildings now used for classes, eating, meeting, sleeping, etc, etc, were once the small village's homes and stores, and one church. The whole park area of 70,000 acres, 40 miles, was bought by the government, to create the Tocks Island Dam, for hurricane flood control (after tragic destruction by a 1955 hurricane), but the dam project never happened, due to a big citizens' effort to save their homeland, referred to as the Minisink. Dennis Bertland wrote a 200 page cultural history of the area, that largely turned opinion against the project. Now the huge Recreation Area is all still owned by the government, but they lease out land to groups like Peters Valley Craft Center.
The original Frank McKeeby store, shown in the plaque above, is now the Peters Valley store and gallery, which is a wonderful resource for buying fine craft items made by nationally known artists. The store manager and gallery coordinator is Brienne Rosner.
the second floor of the store is the gallery, which had its summer faculty show up. This is my piece in the show: "Magic Lama," one of my Obama pieces from Spring, 2008. It's 86"h x 80"w, which is not as big as I'm working now, but big enough! It has lots of stories from the time of the wild and woolly Democratic primary races last year. And it's the Timer/Hanged One piece in my Kitchen Tarot deck.
This isn't as good as the group picture I hope to replace it with, that Kerr took with Cathy's camera. I think my flash was off here. Sorry. From left: Judybeth Greene, Mary Ardan, Silvia Souza, Tina Marie Rey, Stephanie Unger, Robyn Oakes, Cathy Neri (hiding), Lori Glessner (the fiber studio head), me, Dori Tighe (above me), Martha Hall, Lisa Imberman, Alexis Kiriazides, and Cara Giusti (our studio assistant).
In my classes, the group creates a long list of theme possibilities on the first day, and we democratically choose a theme for each day. Here's Alexis with her painting for the Friday, first day's theme of Fish.
Our second day's theme was Women, and Mary created a story about when her grandmother and she made a blueberry pie together. And a gigantic green worm popped up out of the filling, before they could put the top crust on the pie. Little Mary screamed, and her granny didn't miss a beat: She grabbed the worm and threw it away, then closed the pie up and baked it. Good going, Granny! Julia Child always did stuff like that! And Mary lived to tell about it!
I gave one-on-one airpen lessons all day on the second class day, Saturday, and just before class ended, my dear friend Kerr Grabowski (former fiber studio head), came to visit and take me over to Sussex, where she lives now. I got her to try my airpen before we left. It wasn't her favorite experience, and I think she's going to stick with silk screening and using a syringe to write on her art.
OK, now we're in Sussex, about 40 minutes east of Peters Valley, and Kerr's across the street, holding my backpack, standing in front of her building, which used to be a parachute factory during WWII, and which has an antique shop in the first floor front space now, with Kerr's studio behind that. She's right on Main Street! Her upstairs living quarters are wonderful! Look at all those side windows and the big ones in front!
Once I learned how to activate the timer on my camera, we had fun. Here we're posing with what I thought was a poster of the Eiffel Tower, but is in fact a tree with the Obama logo on it. Yea!
And here we are in one of about six pix we posed for, of us wearing some of Kerr's excellent hats. I had one picture of us with her cat Olive, whom I remember from way back, who's 20 now! But we didn't look so hot in that picture. We both look pretty good here! :) Did I tell you that we both have little granddaughters now? My Eva is nearing five and her Daze is almost three! I told Kerr about the Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine she has to buy, as a granddaughter magnet!
This is Kerr's old house at Peters Valley, well, where she lived after they made her get out of the big trailer up at Thunder Mountain. She had both Olive and Kiwi here. Kiwi has passed on, though she was younger than Queen Olive. Now Lori Glessner, the new fiber studio head, lives there parttime, as she also owns a house in Philadelphia, where she teaches at a university.
This is Lori, Lorraine Glessner, who's new just this year at Peters Valley's fiber studio. She's running it very well, and I enjoyed visiting her studio behind the classroom at Thunder Mountain. Here she is with some of her encaustic paintings, which include hair drawing. I think she developed this technique, of carefully and intricately moving single human hairs around with a dental tool, to create delicate and subtle lines in her work. I love seeing work that doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before, so I was really fascinated with Lori's art.
They asked all the teachers for our session to donate art to the weekly auction at the Valley, so I made a drawing of Lori and her husband Todd, sitting on the porch of the little house she's staying at, and watching the big thunder and lightning storm show that happened Saturday night. I included a wash line at the fiber studio on Thunder Mountain, and the turtle that Lori stopped her car, so she could move it across the road on Sunday, the day I made the drawing.
Here are my students Cathy, Robyn, and Mary, outside of the fiber studio on Thunder Mountain, getting ready to go on one of our class's Walkabouts. I split going to see the other studios at work, over two days, and we had some great adventures in a total of two hours. We got highly inspired, and still managed to make a ton of work of our own. I suggested to Christen, the new PV director, that they start including a Walkabout time, which most craft schools and art quilt class programs do. It's just great to see what else is going on, and what the other teachers are actually teaching.
Elizabeth Whyte Schulze was sitting and working on a coiled basket in her class in Hilltop, when my class arrived for our walkabout tour. Two of my students, Mary and Robyn, are in the second room of the weaving studio, checking things out. We all felt so comfy with this sister group of fiber artists, we wanted to stay and stay in their homey and peaceful room, where they were making really great and earthy art pieces. But we had to move on! (Elizabeth, from Worthington, MA, and her daughter Chloe were two of my housemates at PV. Chloe was taking the metals class, while Elizabeth taught.)
Then we went down the road and hiked up the hill, across from the office, into this ancient building called simply Greek, to check out the watercolor class taught by Lorraine Niemela. Sorry to say my pix from that didn't come out, since my flash was off. The class was going out each day and painting at various locations in the fields and woodlands and hills nearby. Ahhh! They were making beautiful work!
This is the view from the top of the hill, at Greek, looking down at the office, and to my left, the store/gallery. That's Cathy coming back up the hill.
We enjoyed visiting the ceramics studio, where Paul Wandless was teaching surface design on clay. I was a serious potter for several years, and got out of it, due to missing my painting and storytelling. I didn't expect to get so sucked in, to his techniques, but man, I coulda been in that class, happy as a clam! They've developed new methods to get detailed drawing, writing, and color onto pots, and I could easily be there! Only I decided long ago to stay outta them places and stick with my own stuff.
Here's an interlude to have my student Martha show off the Fiber Studio tee shirts, designed and silk screened by Cara. You can buy them with either yellow or purple printing on the olive shirt. Highly funky and super fine!
Here's the back!
When Jimmy came with me to teach at Peters Valley, he'd drive, so we didn't walk anywhere much. This time I flew into Newark, so I walked a lot, though Lori and Cara gave me rides up to Thunder Mountain, coz that's just too far to walk, if you want to get anything done. And we were on a very tight schedule all week. The view above is at the Guest House at Hen's Feet Corners, and that building is mostly storage right now. When you walk up the hill, you get to the dining room. Good idea.
Voila! The dining room and kitchen, the social hub of Peters Valley!
Here's Andy Schmitt, the photography studio head, who must have gotten volunteered, when he was out of the room, to check names at two meals a day, all week. He was really nice, but he never could learn our names! I suppose I'd be the same.
Here I am, sitting out on the cooler screen porch, hiding from the mosquitoes (it didn't work) and ready to eat my breakfast. It's sure nice to not have to cook, when we're hard at work on all kinds of crazy studio deadlines all week. Thank you to the cooks and kitchen staff!
This is a crummy picture of my Fish Pie piece for Jimmy, which I tried to get done that week, but didn't quite make it. The bottom of the border is below the picture, and there's lots more writing to do yet. It's already quilted, as I had to demo my weird way of quilting, for the classs, but I can put a press cloth over the painting and heat set the final airpen writing from the front. And I still have to do my hand stitching around the edge, put on my Green Temple Buddha Boy bead, make my shrink art label, and do the casing and d-rings. I'll get to it. I'm teaching so much this year, I'm growing a whole new pile of UFOs! Yikes!
MY house at Peters Valley, was Loyd. Yep, its name is Loyd. Just Loyd. It used to be the director's house, and I remember when they held a Martin Guitar making class and did a jam session one night in this house. That was great, as it reminded me of our old commune, the Needle's Eye in Wooster, where lots of people came each Friday night, to sing and play guitars together til late ino the night. This included Rich Brown on our coveted fretless washtub bass.
Right now, Peters Valley only has wifi in its office. I NEED wifi. Some people have iPhones, so they can get online via satellite anywhere, but not us Verizon customers, who are to be pitied, rathr than censored! Here are my student Lisa and her housemate Frances, who brought me in off of the porch at their house at PV, Lower Treible (pronounced like Tribal, an adjective...) and had me use the funky fresh livingroom to do my email. They were so sweet, they even suggested that I could move from Loyd, a block or so away, into their house, but by then, there were only a few days left.
So I brought iSally, my Mac, in from where I'd been doing email on the porch, and saw this beautfiul decor - way fancy Jetsons! The kitchen was also big and funky, with great colors, but the wifi from across the street in the office wouldn't go that far. Just one wall made all the difference. Wifi is very touchy!
This is the other fiber assistant Melissa, who works at Hilltop, the weaving studio. She brought her beau up to Thunder Mountain one night, when we were working in the surface design fiber studio. They're a very sweet couple!
Judybeth worked really hard on her dancing piece, especially after I took away her scissors. Can't wait to wear my two new Obama Mama tee shirts she made and gave to me! Over in the corner, ou can see my Obama, Sphinx, and Lawrence of Arabia all watching her work away with that airpen.
Martha, Stephanie, and Alexis are happily using the airpens, three at once. I LOVE to see three students writing away on their work at once. I love it when the students are waiting their turn to get to my special airpen table and do their thing!
So one of the airpens ran out of paint and needed to be cleaned and filled, and Tina volunteered to teach Stephanie how to do it, since I'd already taught her and a few other students in the class. I kinda listened to the conversation, and they did really well. I was so proud of them! This is pretty fussy stuff, but if you get the hunger to be an airpen artist, you work it through!
And then Stephanie was back at work, writing on her powerful mermaid woman piece. Yea!
Tina got so into the airpen, she seemed to forget that she'd told the class that she really didn't have anything to say in writing on her paintings, and that she'd be using the airpen just to doodle. She wrote circles around us! Here she's showing us the piece about her and her mother, who had said that Tina is her apple, and that she (the mom) was the tree. Tina used this for both the Women piece and the Aprons piece. They're scrapbooking together.
Robyn is really good at shading her paintings carefully, as she's used to painting. She made these pieces about her family, and behind her is her wild Woman piece, Moh Du Bee!
Silvia's Women piece is about women in her family, making trips back to their places of origin, so there's a map interwoven with the women's portraits. She hasn't written on this piece yet, but she was busy writing on several others of her paintings. This class really put out a large amount of well-resolved artworks.
Dori's beach scene, for the Fish theme, got a lot more writing on it, after this photo. Remember that everyone in the group had to work directly on the blank fabric, without tracing or slavishly copying from their initial sketches. They were allowed to peek at drawings, but the original drawing marks on the fabric were permanent marker and airpen paint. I get my students to love their work, the way little children making art do. No judging, just being thrilled with what they bring into the world!
This is "Apple Pie #8," one of the small paintings I sold to my students this week at PV. Judybeth bought it, and I customized the writing on it for her.
Here's Cathy, talking about her work, which is on the wall behind her. She has such a peaceful look on her face, and that hands gesture is almost prayerful. I love Cathy Neri!! She's so enthusiastic.
So, because we did our Walkabout and visited Beth Ireland's woodturning class, Beth offered for us to do a collaboration for the big Fall Auction at Peters Valley. She was making a box elder bowl, and suggested that my class and I could draw all over it. So here she is, when she brought it to our class. The woodturning studio is up on Thunder Mountain, too, just across the meadow from the main building. Their spot is almost new! And she had a class full of new wood workers, and they were making things like a mallot and an awl, tools for future wood projects. They were all handling those fancy new lathes like smarties, too!
I chose a Peters Valley landscape theme for the bowl, and we all added our drawings to it, singing our personal work. I used airpen first, but most of us used Rub-a-Dub, as it soaked into the wood really nicely, leaving a very rich black line. Cathy is adding peace symbols to the blank parts here.
I drew the young black bear, that many of us saw hanging out in a tree out by the studio, and also added some landscape behind him. Tina put all our names in for tree bark texture. Cara drw an owl. Looks like everything from bears to volcanoes are for Obama! Yea! It's on the bowl - It must be true.
From the bottom of the Thunder Mountain Collaborative Art Bowl, you can see many landmarks around Peters Valley, especially the wood studio and the fiber studio.
Beth and I are very proud of the artsy PV bowl! She'll give it a finish and submit it for the Fall Auction. Don't you need a bowl like this, so you can sit around and admire our great work, that honors Peters Valley AND Obama ... and that little black bear?!!
Cara sits back in the corner of the fiber studio, in her amazingly efficient little cubbyhole studio. Sometimes she's knitting or crochetting, when we don't need her, but just as likely, she's squeezing in time to work on a silkscreen pattern on one of her lovely tote bags, tee shirts, or other amazing garments, etc. Her etsy site is Chewy Tulip. You gotta get over there and order your own funk and flash from a very unique up and coming textile designer, fresh out of college.
Yep, these are some of Cara Giusti's Chewy Tulip tote bag designs, hanging in the PV store. She's just about ready to discover Dharma Trading Company's ready to paint/dye clothing, so get ready to spend all your hard earned cash on some hot Chewy Tulip dresses, tops and pants, and melt-in-your-mouth little girl clothes, coming soon!!!!! Maybe go tell her what you want and NEED now! Get on her wait list for some dreamy custom outfit, made just for you!
This is the beautiful sign for the Peters Valley store and gallery, right there at Hen's Feet Corners.
I'm sure one of the blacksmiths at PV made it, but does anyone here know who it was?
Time to start prep for my next class, at Valley Ridge Art Studio in Wisconsin, Aug 12 - 16. That class will be more intimate, as my class will be the only thing going down that week there. There are still some openings, and I've got a blog entry that talks all about it, from June 10.
Maybe I'll see you at Valley Ridge, where we'll be doing the same stuff we did at PV, but will be making smaller paintings that we can start to turn into a book, while we're there.
See ya. So long, Peters Valley. See you next time, in two years!
Friday, July 31, 2009
My Class at Peters Valley July 23 - 29, 09
Posted by Susan Shie at 2:23 PM
Labels: my art, my classes, Peters Valley Craft Center
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Susan, thank you so much for posting all about our workshop. I had so much fun and learned so many things, and not just about the airpen and diary paintings either! Can't wait to meet up with you again some time! If your ever in Northeast PA gimme a hollar!!!ReplyDelete
Wow! what a great blog about your time at PV. I really enjoy your work and am glad you felt your clay side stir a little when you visited the ceramics studio. was a pleasure to meet you and I'm sure our paths will cross again.ReplyDelete
Paul Andrew Wandless
That was a great account of the week. I had a wonderful time and am glad your class did also. Hopefully people will understand the unique quality of original work and bid high at the auction for the bear bowl. The money goes toward creating wonderful weeks like ours.