Friday, January 22, 2010

Savannah finished, and other adventures Nov - Jan

This is my "catch-up" blog, as I hadn't written here since mid November.  I was finishing Jack Walsh's piece "Savannah: Two of Cups," doing the holidays, and working on smaller art pieces (like my "Obamaland #3: Nobel Peace Prize," see further below.)  We opened the WAGE (Wayne Artists Group Effort) annual show this month, too, so life has been busy!

"Savannah: Two of Cups" is the commission I just finished for Jack Walsh.  You can see two large images of it and read my long statement about Savannah on its page in my site's gallery.  And you can see lots of pix of it on my Facebook page, even if you're not a FB user.  I made a blog post about the painting of Savannah with my airbrush, which showed all the steps of creating the large image, before I took months to write the airpen stories all over it.  There are MANY pictures in that blog entry!

"Savannah" is 90"h x 89"w.  I began it in August and finished it in late December. It's a combination of my version of the Two of Cups card for my Kitchen Tarot deck and of Jack Walsh's life story.  Jack wrote many of the stories I used on the piece, from a history of his company Waltron (which makes instruments to measure water quality) to yarns about his grandfathers.  So I consider Savannah to be a collaboration with him.  Jack is a wonderful writer and is good at delivering on long essay answers to my questions about his life.

To record the long and wonderful history of Jack's company Waltron (was Bull and Roberts), I needed the little house, the tall building the house sat on, all the pies (I use pie images for blessings and gifts), and the large sink. As I would run out of space on one object for writing, I'd send you to the next object I was going to continue the history story on, so that you wouldn't get lost, as the reader.  When I make my pieces, I know some people will never read any of my small airpen writing, but I also know some will try to read it all eventually.  It has to work both as a design element and as the information I want to share.  Even those who focus in on only one small story here will enjoy this vital life tale of a very caring and noble person.

I'm supposed to tell you that it was all my idea, not Jack's, to make this piece be about his life.  He just asked me to make an art quilt for him, with water in it somewhere. Jack is very humble and had to be talked into having his life made into an artwork.  I put his daughter Kathy and his granddaughter Zoe into it, but you have to really read the stories to figure out that the piece is about his life.  I really, really enjoyed making this piece for Jack, who managed to get Savannah included in a show called "Art Quilts: Contemporary Selections from the Collection of John M Walsh III" at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, a few days after I finished and shipped Savannah.

In the detail shot above, you see a little water pump, given to Jack for his volunteer help in bringing fresh water to countries in Africa. My favorite part of this piece is my "magic realism" trick of making the water (Tarot symbol of love and kindness) flow from the pump, through the sink, out the faucet, into Kathy's cup, into Zoe's cup, and then Zoe's petting her grandfather, giving the love back to Jack.  The cycle of life and love continues, and Jack is very much a part of making the cycles strong and growing.

In Savannah I depicted Jack himself as a cat, and added his twin brother Frank, as another cat.  Above you see Jack standing on the U. S. Nuclear Ship Savannah, which was part of our nation's Atoms for Peace program in the 1960s and 70s. Jack worked with her intensely for the ten years of Savannah's active seagoing life.  Besides supervising the engineers who ran Savannah's reactor, Jack sailed on the combination passenger/freighter ship to many foreign ports, as the Savannah sought to promote nuclear energy for future oceangoing vessels.  Savannah was the world's first non-military nuclear-fueled ship, the product of President Eisenhower's dream for helping to promote world peace. The ship's name came from that of the first steam-powered ship to make a transatlantic voyage.  I thought that was a good fit for Jack, considering that his company (then called Bull and Roberts) had begun in 1903, to make water quality devices for steamship boilers.

I also thought the Two of Cups, the card from the Tarot deck I'd already chosen to work with next, was a good fit for making a piece for Jack, because Cups in Tarot is the suit of water, symbolizing love and compassion, and its interpretation has to do with people working together in kindness. In my Kitchen Tarot deck work, which Jack was already familiar with, I had completed the 22 major card artworks and had begun working with the 56 minor cards.  This is my third minor card piece, after "Salt of the Earth: Ace of Potholders," and "First Lady: Queen of Paring Knives."

Starting in 1998 and probably working the rest of my life on this project, I love putting politics, social commentary, specific stories like Jack's, and my own diary into each piece, besides its Kitchen Tarot theme. In the Kitchen Tarot, Cups are specifically green Pyrex measuring cups.  Coins are potholders, swords are paring knives, and wands are wooden spoons.  I chose the kitchen for the focus of my tarot deck, because I feel it symbolizes nurturing and working together in giving each other love. You can pre-order my 22-card Kitchen Tarot deck, published this summer by Hay House, on Amazon now. I'm really excited about that!

Note: Sunday, Jan. 24: Today's New York Times Metro section art review is about Jack's John M Walsh III Art Quilt Collection show at the Morris Museum, and it includes Savannah!!!!  I've only seen it online, but I heard that it's a full half page article!  It's got the BEST title:  "The Quilt as Canvas"!!!!!  WOW!

Last Fall our friend Duane Hart, the all-round expert on lots of stuff we need to do or to fix or to get, found a snow blade and winter back tires for the 1965 Wheel Horse lawn tractor that Duane fixed up and gave to Jimmy earlier in the year.  Here they are, admiring the new get-up!

Jimmy and our dear friend Vikki Reinhardt (next to me) have birthdays very close together in November, and we always get together to celebrate.  Here are me, Vikki, my birthday sister Jane, and Vikki's daughter Kendra, whose birthday is between Vikki's and Jimmy's.  I was having each of them choose one of my new paintings of Ome on the Washer.

Here's #3 of the Ome and the Washer paintings.  They're acrylic paint and paint marker on heavy paper.

And here's #2 of the four.  I gave one to Vikki, one to Jane, and one to Kendra, and I kept one for myself.  I installed mine in my laundry room.

this was one of the rare times when Otis (orange cat) joined Ome on her laundry room penthouse.  He's got the dryer, as the washer belongs to Ome.

Jimmy turned 56 on November 26, and here to faithfully celebrate with him is Otis Earl Hawkins, who gets up on the table every morning, when Jimmy sits down to read the newspaper.  Otis wants his paper rub, which is when he pushes himself under the paper, and Jimmy rubs him back and forth with the rustling paper.  Otis can do no wrong!

We had a great time up at GEM's for Thanksgiving, which was also Jimmy's birthday this year.  Gretchen and Kristi made an amazing and nutritious meal for us and all of Mike's family.  Eva drew this card for Jimmy and I did the writing.  It's Jimmy and Otis going fishing.

This is the first picture I took with my new iPone, in early December, when Jimmy and I both got them.  Poor Jimmy had to send his back, because calls always got dropped in his studio. So now I'm on AT&T and he's back on Verizon. I'm hoping to be able to use my iPhone, instead of taking along my big laptop, when I travel to teach.  Mine's named Panny, and Jimmy's was Poppy.  We both miss Poppy. :(

The iPhone takes really nice pix, considering that it has no flash. When I try no flash with my digital camera, the picture is terrible. You just have to have enough light to get a good iPhone picture. But if you get the lighting right, you get really nice shading, very natural looking.

My cousin Candice and her husband David came and stayed with us for a few days of family fun in December. Candy's working on some Shie family genealogy (thank you, dear Cuz!!!), and here she's holding the most amazing picture. It's our Grandma Shie, when she was 18. Here are the Blackstone siblings, from left: her little sister Melissa, then Emma (Grandma), then their brother Wayne, and their older sister Almeda.  They really look cool, with their beautiful instruments and the victorian clothes.  I know my dad took violin lessons when he was little, so I guess he was going to fit right in!

Candy got another customer to take this picture of me, Candy, David, and my sister Debi Ondrik, after we did Candy's must-do pilgrimage to a chicken restaurant in Barberton, when she and David were here.

On December 15, all of the above thrill seekers and my brother Jimmy, whose birthday it was, went up to Cleveland, to see the Gauguin Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  In this picture, my daughter Gretchen Shie Miller is showing the huge model of the museum's construction project to Candice and David, before we saw the show.  On her breaks, Gretchen was a very gracious tour guide to us, tho her job is Registrar for Loans.  The museum's building project is massive, started in 2004 and going til 2014! But some of the new galleries are open now, so that we could see a lot more than just the main event show.  It's amazing, and the museum will be so stunning, when it's all done!

Here are Jimmy, Debi, Candy, David, and a huge Gauguin show poster, on our way out of the museum, in the lobby.  What a great show it was, and what a great time we all had that day!

This is my "Water Goddess for Patty Hawkins."  I began it in the class I taught for Front Range Quilters in September and finished it in December for Patty.  She got it on her birthday!  Yea!  This piece is 20"h x 23"w, brushed on fabric paint and writing done with my airpen and black fabric paint.  I mostly machine quilted it, as usual.

Here's a detail of the bottom left area of "The Water Goddess."

I think this picture of Eva and Santa Claus looks like a Norman Rockwell piece!  GEM actually found the same Santa they'd taken Eva to the year before.  :)

Christmas Eve at Mama Wanda's with Wally and Teddi.  Wanda is Jimmy's mother.  It was a very good get-together, with all of us there.

It was the Shie family's turn to host the annual Snyder Christmas at Oak Grove Mennonite Church Fellowship Center this year.  This group is all my mother's sibling group's families.  Here are Olivia, my sister Debi's granddaughter, and Eva, after they unwrapped their matching new Barbies that Debi and I got them.  They spent the whole time, besides eating supper, tearing around the room together and playing with a few other cousins. But for Eva and Olivia, this gathering is one of their chances during the year to see each other.

My son-in-law Mike and my nephew Jacob were rocking out at the Fellowship Center on the piano, and Jake's son Caleb seemed to be into it, watching Mike's hands with great interest and copying what he saw. Caleb was about 6 months old at the time.

We gave Eva some watercolors for Christmas, and Jimmy took some pix of us happily working together with them  We really had fun, but I need to find us some good Prang watercolors, as these weren't so good. Next time, Eva!

I had explained some of the stories in "Savannah," my piece for Jack Walsh, to GEM the night before, and when my cousins and Uncle Charlie came over to visit, five year old Eva launched into a very detailed explanation of Savannah's meaning, to Cousin Lauren.  I was amazed!  Eva really remember what I'd told them about Jack and his life!

I was so happy that Uncle Charlie (seated under Lauren here), Tom (Lauren's dad and my first cousin), and Lauren were able to come up from Houston for the Snyder Get Together this year.  Lauren's almost 14 now, and Eva just adores her.

This is my most recent finished art quilt, "Obamaland #3: Nobel Peace Prize," which I finished on January 6th. It's 48.5"h x 35.5"w.  It's the last piece in my three-part Obamaland series.  You'll find my gallery pix and story on this piece in the 2010 gallery on my site, and the gallery info on the first two Obamaland pieces in my 2009 gallery.  They are "Obamaland #1: The Inauguration," and "Obamaland #2: Speech in Egypt."

Above is a shot I took of my work in the "Earth Walk" exhibit at Wayne Center for the Arts here in Wooster, the day we hung the show. Twenty six artists in our WAGE (Wayne Artists Group Effort) local arts group participated this year, working steadily toward our theme, like we do every year. We installed 75 pieces in two galleries.  Here you can see all of my installation shots from the hanging day.  The show opened on Jan 14 and will be up through Feb 19. See the art center's site for more info, including the list of artists in the show and hours for viewing "Earth Walk."

Happy Birthday, Dear Michael!

And now I'm going to start sketching for some Haiti artwork.

I'll try to blog shorter blogs, more often, like normal people, for a while.

Peace, Susan