I am a firm believer in constantly learning and strive to improve my skills in whatever area of the fine arts I'm involved in at the given moment. From collage to book arts, I have taken many live workshops with wonderful instructors at the Center for Book Arts and at other art retreats across the country. This year I decided to try some on-line classes to learn some new skills. I checked out YouTube of course for free online tutorials and they are fun to view and try new things. Most are created by artists who wish to share their skills and are very adept at teaching and translating their skills and lessons to video. But, I really wanted to try some professional workshops and classes via Craftsy and some other sites. After checking out some of their topics, I decided to try an online class on Craftsy for wire weaving. I was delighted. The workshop instructor spoke slowly and demonstrated very well the technique and her explanations were concise and informative. I felt as if I was there in the class with her one-on-one. I viewed it once and have yet to do the project as I also am teaching myself via book with projects, but, I was so pleased that I signed up for another one on wire weaving. Most of the Craftsy online classes are priced economically and I had received emails for discounts which enticed me to sign up for the second one. Craftsy also offers some FREE classes for viewing which is fun to test out the medium to see if it is for you. There are pricier online workshops but most of Craftsy's offerings range in price from $12.99 to $39.99 which makes it an affordable option. I liked the website format which was easy to navigate and allows for note-taking on each video chapter and question and answer as well. The videos are well-lit and taped and edited professionally. Personally, this is another option I will be adding to my year-long adventure into wire weaving and other metalsmithing techniques. Have you tried online classes? What were your experiences and would you do it again? I think it's always interesting to explore new mediums of learning and I'm glad I took the chance. Happy Spring and keep learning and creating!
A few weeks ago on a lovely spring-like Friday, we ventured down to the new Whitney Museum. We were there to catch the Frank Stella exhibit but were stunned and entranced not only by the exhibit but by the building itself. With architectural outcroppings that house their selections from their sculpture collection, they afford breathtaking views of New York City in all directions. It is truly an architectural diamond. The Calder circus installed on the fifth floor is now eye level for three year olds and they stare in awe with opened mouths in little o's. The Stella exhibit is on the seventh floor with other special exhibits on the eighth floor. The permanent collection fills the remaining floors. The ground floor holds ticket venues and a cafe with an outdoor seating area. Couple that with the High Line running right into it, the new Whitney is a location must-see. Expect crowds. Go early or go late. Anticipate ticket lines. Kudos to the architects, exhibit planners and staff of the museum. Well done.
Black Friday and cyber Monday have passed. I did only grocery shopping. For me, I have a good idea of holiday gifts for the book lovers on my list as I have been window shopping for them as well as myself! I always enjoy creating and/or purchasing books for book lovers and artist books fit the bill. It is always handmade and just not any book. I always view Vamp and Tramp's website to view new offerings and check out their online catalogs which will feature books based on themes such as "home", "games" or "last ones". They also have their "$50. and Under" online catalog offering artist books $50 or less which I have been featured in. Yes, some shameless self promotion here. All of their catalogs are fun to peruse and they offer various price points. Fair warning though that once you start looking, a few hours may pass without you knowing it. Artist books are addicting and there should be a support group for bookies like us! :) www.vampandtramp.com
Another way to get some great gifts for this holiday season is to get them books about making books. My favorites are written by Esther K. Smith. They are easy to understand with simple directions and illustrations. Her titles are: "Making Books" and "Magic Books and Paper Toys". I own both as well as her book for brides entitled "The Paper Bride". They are all wonderful. Check out her work and her husband, Dikko Faust, at Purgatory Pie Press. www.purgatorypiepress.com. Her books are also available from www.amazon.com and major book stores.
If you are into gift certificates, check out the workshops at The Center for Book Arts in New York City. They offer such a rich array of classes and workshops in book arts, letterpress and other topics that will send any bookie into a swoon. Plus they offer great publications for sale as well such as broadsides, artist books, chapbooks and other great books about making books. So how can you not get your holiday shopping done with all of these fun recommendations. Now go do some shopping! Happy holidays and here is to a creative year!
The holiday season will soon be upon us and NYC is ready! Although the tree at Lincoln Center isn't lit, museums get their exhibits ready for visitors to the Big Apple early on to give travelers optimal time to plan their time in the city. MOMA has the record-setting attendance already with Picasso's sculpture. Timed tickets are required but this is not a show to miss. Head downtown to the new Whitney Museum of Art to catch the Frank Stella retrospective. Go early or go late as the new Whitney is attracting record crowds as well. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will have the beautiful Christmas tree and creche up...always a holiday delight. The Jewish Museum is open Christmas Day and serves hot chocolate for those waiting in line to get in. Get tickets ahead of time and keep in mind that crowds will abound. All in all a great time to visit the city that never sleeps.
Fall is here and the leaves are changing color. Nothing more glorious than an October weekend in New York City. This past weekend showcased what a splendid fall weekend in the city can entail. From the vibrant costumes of people attending the New York City Comic Con to the long Columbus day weekend, everyone was out and about. Chelsea was full and the galleries were packed with people and escorted groups learning about the latest trends in art. Check out Frank Stella at Paul Kasmin Gallery and Banksey at the Taglialatella Galleries. Both are great shows to walk around and browse and both were crowded on a Thursday when we were there. Head on over to 20th Street to the building housing the Kim Foster Gallery. Currently on view is Sarah Leahy who does paintings on plexiglas which are luminescent and resemble photographs. ACA Gallery and Denise Bibro Gallery always have great exhibits and check out Andre Zarre and Ricco Maresca as well. They are in the same building and always worth a peek. We do the entire building as it has great artists whose works never fail to surprise. If you head over to 10th and 18th, check out the Lori Bookstein Gallery and a retail store named "Story" who changes their entire store display every 6 to 8 weeks. Don't forget to grab a coffee or chai and head up to the High Line. One of our favorite ways to spend a glorious autumnal afternoon walking above the buildings of Chelsea. In the evening, get tickets for "Fun Home" or "Hamilton"...or some off-Broadway tickets to "Black Angels Over Tuskegee" or "Stomp" always a great show. Enjoy fall in the city and don't forget to check out the Lower East-Side and Uptown for fun exhibits and happenings!
This past weekend I attended a workshop at the Philadelphia BeadFest. Traditionally a collage and book arts person, the foray into metal is always challenging for me. There is something very satisfying with pounding, torching and bending something malleable that will conform to your will (hopefully without breaking which is a good metaphor for life). Last year's first adventure at the same event I had the wonderful experience of taking a workshop with Mary Hettsmansperger whose class covered miniature metal books and pendants and gave me the bug to explore more media and methods in metal! The pieces were fun and I was so excited and enthusiastic that I made six pendants as compared to the normal three! I was hooked! This year I took a workshop with Richard Salley and had another wonderful time learning more methods of cold connections involving NO FIRE! (I am dangerous around fire, I will admit.) The Philadelphia BeadFest has expanded and now includes more mixed-media workshops incorporating various materials. The workshops I took could be translated into books and that was my primary interest. But, again, these workshops challenge me and expand my skills in different media that I don't normally work with. The BeadFest has two events. One in the Spring which is scaled down and the one in August which is the premier event on the East Coast. You can see and view past and upcoming workshops at www.beadfest.com. As I always preach, it's great to take workshops to expand one's skills in areas that will take you out of your comfort zone and stretch and challenge your brain in thinking in new ways. Enjoy! And, I'm going to go do some hammering and bending now!
Summer in New York City can be a joy or a disaster! Depending on heat, humidity and all other factors combined, New York City is still a city worth seeing and visiting in the summer! Regardless of weather, this writer always has on comfortable shoes, lightweight clothing, sunglasses, an umbrella and most importantly, water...the bigger the bottle and colder, the better. Step inside stores for a quick heat break or grab an iced coffee or soda and rest a bit. The heat reflecting off the buildings and streets can make the temperature 5 to 10 degrees warmer! So take it easy and relax. Subways are air-conditioned in New York City! Take them or walk on the shady side of the street! Get out early and take it easy during the hot afternoons. Check out the Yoko Ono exhibit at MOMA. With a variety of her artworks on display, there is something for everyone. From artist's books, performance to collaborations with John Cage and even some interactive performative pieces, it's a great span of her life and works. Another fun exhibit at MOMA is the Gilbert and George exhibit showcasing their start and work throughout their careers. Included are interviews, installation and performance work. Also, check out the Jacob Lawrence panels of "The Great Migration", the movement of blacks from the South to the industrialized North between 1910-1970 at MOMA. Great stuff! Another great afternoon can be spent at The Met, the new Whitney downtown in Chelsea or the Guggenheim. All have exhibits for the summer that can be enjoyed on a hot summer afternoon. If in Chelsea, the galleries are winding down their exhibit schedule so they may only be open during the week or by appointment. Check their website for times and exhibits...but the Pace Gallery has Lucas Samaras and the Paul Kasmin Gallery has a curated exhibit on the word and the book. Of course, the High Line is always fun and great to be on and seen on during the day or early evening hours. Another great way to spend time in the city is checking out some great Broadway shows. Our favorites for this summer include "An American in Paris" and "Finding Neverland". Both have ticket availability for matinees and evening performances. Sitting in a sidewalk cafe, or strolling or sitting in Central Park is another favorite summer past time of ours. It's never boring and it's always free! So, go ahead grab your most comfortable shoes, your sunglasses, hat and water bottle and get some culture! New York City is at its finest and truly is hot, hot, hot!
Summer arrives on Sunday which is also Father's Day and a great reason to buy some great artist's books and plan on doing some creative projects over the summer. With reduced work days during the summertime and increasing daylight hours, this writer takes the opportunity to create and produce. But, let's cover some fun Father's Day gift ideas. Take a look at Vamp and Tramp's website for their online catalog entitled Body Parts: Book Pages. Here's the link: http://vampandtramp.com/html/home.html There are some great ideas if Dad loves special gifts that can be read and enjoyed time after time. Each one is unique and contains a body of information (couldn't resist that wordplay!)...also, check out their other online catalogs of $50. and Under for some other great gift ideas for Dad! Another great book to get that special Father is a gift certificate to your local bookstore or a magazine subscription to his favorite publication. Books and magazines make the best gifts for avid readers and they can pass the books and magazines on, or peruse them at their own pace. And, for the bookmaker at heart, try out some of my favorite authors for their great publications: Esther K. Smith, Gabrielle Fox, Alisa Golden and Gwen Diehn. All are available through your local bookstore or at amazon.com. Also, for more hands-on experiences, check out some of the local book arts centers like The Center for Book Arts in New York City, NY, Pyramid Atlantic, Baltimore, MD, and The San Francisco Center for the Book in San Francisco, CA. They all offer great weekend and weekday workshops and classes with great teachers. I've taken many and have learned through a classroom environment as the students bring a great wealth of knowledge and insight. Another fun-filled way to learn book arts is to check out YouTube for videos by various artists and bookmakers. These little videos show some great structures for free and can be paused and replayed to learn in the best environment, your own studio or home! That's if for now, so enjoy the longer days and warmer weather ahead! Happy Father's Day to all those great men and women in our lives!
From the ethereal creation of a butterfly robe hovering in midair to the concrete stable foundation of an artist's book of a cathedral, Liz Mitchell's creations defy and amaze. Liz is one of four book artists who are part of "Crossing the Delaware: Miller, Mitchell, Pisano and Riker" on display in the Simon Room, Skillman Library, Lafayette College, Easton, PA. She has spent her creative life exploring a wide range of subjects, materials and processes encompassing painting, printmaking, fiber, collage and combining them into her book arts creations. Her love of art, science and psychology charges her work with spirit, emotion and the sublime. She explores the nature of humanity, its dreams and spirituality and the creation of myth and fairy tale. From simple constructed artist's books to installations, Liz's work takes time...time to visually wander, ponder and consider. Her works are special to behold. In her words: "My attempt is to transcend recognizable materials into time worn, organic surfaces through processes such as cutting, tearing, painting, printing, waxing and layering. Thoughtful decisions are made regarding materials as they relate to content and context. Metaphorically these processes represent the changes that occur through the passage of time and experience, sharing her memories and experiences through her art." She incorporates her rich memories of childhood of growing up in a large Catholic family in a small town and its intricate fabric of family dynamics and relationships; she uses paper, hair, fabric and clay along with writing, research and experimentation with materials and processes to create one of a kind works that demand time and contemplation. Beginning in 2001, Liz Mitchell complete a limited edition artist's book at Lafayette College's Experimental Institute and returned two more times as an artist in residence. Her first work at EPI documented her family's involvement in the building of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. Since then, she has continued her book and printmaking experience at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey. Liz is not just artist. In 2006, she curated "Meraviglia: Innovations in the Book Arts" at Lafayette College at the Williams Center bringing together book artists from all over the country for one of the finest exhibits in Pennsylvania on artists' books. Her works are included in many private and public collections and has presented at the annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium at Rutgers University.. She will be part of an artists' panel on Wednesday, March 25th at 4:15 p.m. discussing her philosophy and processes on the creation of her works. It's worth the time and travel to view her wonderful works. The exhibit will be on display in the Simon Room of Skillman Library through May! Stop in and check out her website at www.lizmitchell.net.!
Special Collections, Skillman Library, Lafayette College in Easton, PA has curated an exhibit around four New Jersey book artists. All of the book artists have either taken, taught workshops at Lafayette or are/were artists in residence for book arts projects under the direction of Curlee Holton at the Experimental Printimaking Institute or EPI as it is locally known. The exhibit curated by Diane Shaw, Director of Special Collections and Pamela Murray, Rare Book Cataloger/Project Archivist is entitled "Crossing the Delaware: Miller, Mitchell, Pisano and Riker" runs from February 1st through the end of May. One of the artists, Mary Ann Miller has a diverse background and brings to her book arts, a painterly approach along with her wonderful poetry. Trained as a painter, Mary Ann has had many exhibits of her outstanding paintings and came to book arts in 2000 at EPI. Along with her book arts she also has worked there assisting and eventually printing her own works. I have had the privilege to view many of Mary Ann's earlier works and can see the processes and philosophies that have informed her book arts practice. Her poetry has been published by PS Books of Philadelphia and is entitled "Locus Mentis" and continues to work at EPI as their artist in residence. In her own words: "MaryAnn L. Miller has been the Resident Book Artist at the Experimental Printmaking Institute, Lafayette College since 2001. Her work is in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and other special collections. Miller has curated book arts exhibitions and given accompanying workshops at SUNY Geneseo , Universidad Autonomia Metropolitano, Mexico City, University of Costa Rica, and the Noyes Museum of Stockton College, NJ. Miller has been a presenter and exhibitor at the NJ Book Arts Symposium, Rutgers, Newark, NJ. Her work encompasses the rudiments of human existence, our biological identities, who we are genetically and culturally. Also a poet, Miller is published in print and online journals, as well as her full-length book of poems: Locus Mentis. She publishes hand-bound artist’s books through www.luciapress.com." A very talented lady,artist and poet, indeed.
Maryann J. Riker, owner of JUSTARIP Press is a mixed-media artist who delights in designing and creating artist's books and creating collaborative book art projects as well as viewing other book artists' work. She definitely enjoys the process!