Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mistakes and Repurposing

I've had ups and downs in my studio - some spectacular failures, some quiet ones that didn't reveal themselves till a few years down the road (those are the worst because then you feel like a bit of a fool).  I've made work that is out of step with the zeitgeist, received copious rejection letters; it's all a little painful when you're a consummate people-pleaser like me.

I'm not really sure how other people fare.  We don't seem to often lift up our shirts and compare the thousands of tiny scratches.  Maybe other artists don't suffer those little cuts as much as I do, or maybe it just doesn't make professional sense to be constantly revealing your soft pink underbelly.  I find myself wanting to distance myself from those feelings even as I write this.

Like any good story about weakness and failure, this one has a redemptive ending.  

Twelve Little Mistakes, 2012, oil on canvas, 34" x 46"

Twelve Little Mistakes is in the 56th Mid-States Art Exhibition at the Evansville Art Museum in Evansville, Indiana.  The juror for the exhibition is Peter Plagens - one of my most favorite painting / art critic / curmudgeons ever. It was his involvement that made me want to submit for the show. Cherry on top?  Mistakes won an award!

This work was born out of disgust with a series of paintings and I like that it has a second life as an illustration of frustration.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Printmaking Possibilities

Meanwhile back at the monoprint.  

I took one printmaking class back in the 90's and spent the majority of the time flirting with the guy I had a crush on and trying to subtlety shock my printmaking instructor by putting my block prints on underwear and carving curse words into my etchings (nothing looks dorkier than the word "bitch" with one of the letters reversed). 

So it's been a bit of a revelation to get back into it at this stage in the game.  After taking Kevin Harris' monoprint/drypoint workshop at the Dayton Printmaker's Co-op - stencils! selective wiping! I was hooked.

After Kevin's workshop, artist Ryan McCullough generously offered to put together a little monoprint session, and taught me a very sensible method for doing multi-run monoprints.  It involves mat-board and masking tape and is so common sense that it hurts my head a little.  So today was the second time we got together, along with the lovely Janelle Young who was doing fancy printmaking with white ink on a dark ground and Shannon from the gallery at Stivers who was working on a magical multi-layered feather.  

The image above is of my favorite print of the afternoon. It's not a color balanced photo; it's actually on a light coolish gray ground and the pink is Barbie Dream House trim color.  It was of course the first one and took the least amount of time, but I really like the jaunty awkwardness of it.  Also, the sentiment is something I've been feeling a bit lately what with all the different irons and different fires.

Incising text into ink is such a different feeling from constructing it in a drawing or painting; cleaning something off instead of building something up.

Working in tandem with other artists is fun and freeing.  We're really on a roll! (printmaking also  opens up the pun possibilities).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Fairtastic (yes, that is really the slogan for the state fair this year)

It's thirty-four days, eleven hours and ten minutes until the Ohio State Fair swings open its gates!  

I'm glad to say that Dayton artists will be represented in the pavilion including: Francis Schanberger, Amy Kollar-AndersonRick Jurus, and Lloyd Greene.  Go Gem City! I'll be showing "Fun in the Sun" and "Twelve Little Mistakes."

Fun in the Sun, 2012, water-soluble oil on canvas, 22" x 28"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Magic Beans, aka my ode to Easter candy will be on view!

I was trolling around on the CAA website, opportunities listings (that's a fun Friday night in our household) and came across an exhibition op that looked promising.    Abstraction - check, painting - check, artists in the Midwest, including Ohio - check.  Wait a second, where is this place? Downtown Dayton? What? 

So anyway, that's how I found out about Distillations a show of contemporary abstractions, at Tejas Gallery that is attached to K-12.   I love the name of the gallery, especially since I have a soft spot for the years I spent in Texas.  I always have to do a double take and remind myself, that indeed this gallery is right down on Third Street and not someplace back where I came from.

I talked to Rebecca Sargent, the Tejas Exhibitions & Programming Coordinator when I went to drop off my work.  She admitted that the show was painting heavy, now I seriously can't wait to see it!

Check out the May exhibition at Tejas: Distillations: contemporary abstractions. Opening reception: First Friday, May 4, 6-10 pm.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


It should come as a surprise to no one that I'm in this show!  Since cake frosting is a major inspiration for the majority of my paintings (and my life), it seems fitting.  I was glad to note that dessert was highly represented in the work I saw when I dropped my drawings off at Rua.

Hope to see folks at the opening on March 24th!

My melty ice cream friends will be on view.

Ice Cream series, gouache, colored pencil, gesso on paper, 2010

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Georgia ( or What it Takes to Show Work in Another State)

Back in the rosier days pre-economic meltdown, Montgomery County used to give money to artists in the form of an Individual Artist Fellowship, a grant distributed to artists who demonstrated a strong, innovative  body of work.  The last year I applied for this fellowship, in fact, the last year they were awarded, I was one spot shy of receiving funding.  I received a copy of the breakdown of the judging in the mail after the process was done.  The nine top artists were deemed the strongest and were awarded five thousand dollars - I was number ten.  I guess everything has to have a cutoff point, but it's painful to be right on the brink. In the comments section of the results, the jury panel suggested that I needed to expand to show my work more nationally.

It was a critique that resonated, and it's been a goal of mine ever since. 

Most of my exhibition experience has been here in Ohio both in the Columbus and Dayton area.
I love to show regionally for a number of reasons:
  1. It's easy to deliver and install work, I often want to be hands on with installation and like to be able to change my mind about things at the last minute.
  2. I know the venues, and how they fit or don't fit with the style of my work.
  3. I can go to the opening and invite friends, the social act of being an artist is important to me and I enjoy the buzz of preparing for an event (and I can take cupcakes).
But ever since the grant that slipped right out of my fingertips, I've been working to expand my resume to include shows on a national level.  It's been a bumpy ride.  I started my plan of national domination in the same way probably a lot of artists go about it.  Looking up calls for entry on the College Art Association website, in the back of Art Professional magazine, pretty much where ever calls for entry were to be found. Many of these applications resulted in polite and succinct rejection letters one or two months later.

And now to the point of this monologue...

Finally, I have started seeing some success from my national push.  A call for entry from the CAA website resulted in my inclusion in a juried exhibition in Georgia; the 25th Annual National Juried Exhibition at the Cultural Arts Center in Douglasville, Georgia to be exact.  The acceptance letter was an exciting one to get in the mail and it wasn't until a week or two later that I began to consider the practical implications of shipping a 40" x 40" painting across the bottom half of the country.

Thank goodness for help!

 My first resource that I consulted was the excellent Art/Work by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber.  This book is a handy and current volume that gives professional practice suggestions for artists.  The information found there was invaluable.  My painting has an impasto surface, so just boxing it up could be potentially damaging.

Wuthering, Wuthering, Wuthering with special shipping frame

So, I bought some relatively thin and light strips of wood and begged? pleaded? with my husband Francis to use his wood working skills to help build a frame for the piece. After the frame was completed I attached some slightly sturdier pieces of wood to the back of the frame to act as a brace.  I drilled a few short screws through the brace and into the stretcher bars of the painting from the back.  The screws helped to stabilize the painting so that it wouldn't fall forward out of its frame.

You can see the backboards attached to the special shipping frame

Close-up of where I attached the back board to the stretcher.

After all this constructing, I channeled Dexter the serial killer and wrapped the whole thing in plastic, stapling along the wooden frame as I went.  This was my favorite part of the entire enterprise.


After the piece was all plasticed up (Laura Palmer!!) I loaded it in the back of the Subaru and took it to UPS.  They were able to pack it and construct a box without too much expense.  The box is sturdy enough that I can reuse it again.  I paid for shipping both to and back from Georgia.  Ouch!  There has to be a better way.

Paperwork and plastic.

Of course at the end of the show, the piece was shipped back to me, to once again inhabit my studio. 

I wonder if there is some key to this puzzle that I'm missing.  It seems inefficient to go through all that trouble and expense to get a line on my resume.  I didn't even get to see the show! I'm curious about other artists' experiences with showing nationally and internationally.

Do you only do far away shows that have a stipend for shipping?  Do you go to the venues where you will be showing?  Do you avoid juried shows altogether (it seems really rare for me to sell a piece from a juried show). 

I think that folks sometimes forget that artists are constantly constructing their own careers.  I get a lot of "that must be fun" when I mention that I'm a painter.  I would certainly say that I enjoy painting to a great degree (and sometimes I hate it) but overall it is just one component of "being a painter."  Building frames and carting around giant paintings is a part of it too, as is searching out opportunities. The most difficult thing for me is trying to navigate the murky waters of my own ambition. Do I fight or succumb to the desire for validation outside of my own personal barometer for success in the studio?  Then again, if I wanted a job with an obvious and straightforward path, I probably shouldn't have chosen this one.

Thankfully, the upside to being an artist is - sometimes you get to wrap giant things in plastic.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Violent Peach

Francis took this photograph while documenting some of the room arrangements for Pot Luck.

This was by far the most eerie image of the bunch!

I love this violently peach room at the High Street Gallery.  The color is strangely acidic for what is considered a traditionally sweet hue.  The room is also fairly small, so it feels enveloping when you walk into that much vibrating peach.

There is something William Eggelston-esque about the color interplay and the areas where you can see the paint has been patched.  In this photograph, the room itself has an down-beat institutional feel with the linoleum floors and the small details of grate, wall socket, smoke detector and can light.

The fact that the floor is tilted to a slight degree adds to the vertigo (although that could have something to do with the glowing crazy painting on the wall too).

All in all, I love this photograph. Thank you Francis for the strange and perfect documentation.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I feel incredibly fortunate to have crossed paths with Jessica Roller and Michelle Blades - two amazing artist friends in the Dayton / Cincinnati area.  Jessica harbors a love of Modernism that I share, and Michelle and I clicked immediately while installing our two-person show Cavort (which Jessica coordinated) in Yellow Springs last spring.  

So, it is with great excitement that I announce our upcoming group exhibition called Pot Luck - a title coined by Michelle to help convey the post-holiday free-for-all this experience is sure to become.

The reception which will be held at 48 High Street, will have a pot luck theme.  I'm bringing pigs-in-a-blanket.  Any intrepid viewers out there that want to bring something to share are more than welcome.