Guangxi / Guizhou China – Places

Last post was all about People from my recent trip in Southern China.  This one is pics about places.

There have only been a couple times in my life where I was somewhere and had the feeling that if I never left that would be ok.  The area around Guilin in Guangxi in southern China is one of the places.  For me – the karst landscape is unendingly beautiful.  I could look at it forever and never get bored.  I’m fascinated by the weird shapes of the mountains and the natural beauty of the area.  On top of that, the people are great and the weather suits me!  😀

I was fortunate many years ago to visit it for the first time but only for 2 days.  This time, my husband planned a trip that allowed us almost a week in the area so we could soak up as much scenery as possible.  It still is my favorite place, but we also visited many other beautiful spots on this trip.  Rice terraces, mountain villages, big cities and more.  It was a visual treat each day.  Here’s some pics, hope you enjoy and next blog we’ll get back to art!

 

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Guangxi / Guizhou China – People

Been a quiet the past couple of months here on the blog, but for good reason.  In April, took a trip to southern China and it’s taken a bit to catch up.

The areas we visited were the Guangxi autonomous region near Guilin and eastern / central parts of the province of Guizhou.  We were amazingly fortunate and had great guides to help us many places but most of all had the wonderful experience of meeting many many local people.

We met people from 5 different ethnic minorities often living in very remote areas.  We were invited into many homes and got to see their way of life.  Even more luck – several times we were invited to stay for meals!  Everyone treated us so well and not just the folks visited, but everyone around towns, in cities, everyone.  The people of China in our experiences are so amazingly wonderful, so warm, so helpful.

I’ve started learning Mandarin and though that wasn’t the dialect spoken many places we went – folks I was trying to communicate with were super great and helped me along.  We had a lot of fun with shop owners – one in particular who put me in a few traditional dresses and then wanted to take my picture. 😀 And a couple of ladies who were super tickled to help my husband find a shirt one evening.  All sans English, all super fun experiences with smiles and laughing from all parties.

I could write a novel about how much I love the people there, but still feel like that wouldn’t be enough.  I’m eternally grateful for the experience of having gone and am very thankful for my husband opening this door for me in the first place many years ago.  Hope very much someday to return to this ever fascinating place.

Here’s some pics of people on our trip.  Next blog, pics of places, after that, back to art!! 😀

 

Ontario Society of Artists 146th Annual Juried Exhibition

The Ontario Society of Artists was having a call for art for their annual juried show.  I figured it was a long-shot for me, but applied anyways and then got the super exciting news that my piece was accepted!

The show is an annual one that has truly run for 146 years, an incredible feat – almost the entire time Canada has existed as Canada.  The organization was founded in 1872 and is Canada’s longest running artists society.  They do a lot of good for supporting professional artists in the province and promoting the arts.

Oh goodness was I ever excited because not only was this just a great show to get into but also because it is being held in downtown Toronto!  My first gallery show in this major city!!!  Toronto isn’t too far from where I live, so we were able to go over in person for the opening reception.  It was a wonderful evening and the place was packed!

The person who hung the show did an amazing job.  They put my piece with 2 other black and white paintings, we made a great trio of achromatic art together.  😀 There were 37 artists accepted into the show, we found out later on close to 600 had applied which blew me away.  There was art from several different mediums, painting of course, some sculpture, mixed media like me, photography – including a really cool one where the photog had printed the photo on gauzy fabric, really amazing paper sculpture and much more.

It was a thrill, an honor, an amazing experience to be a part of this show.  I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and the other opportunities I’ve had recently.  It’s be so great to get out there, be among other wonderful artists, meet awesome people and show my work.

The show is currently on till April 26th, so if you’re in Toronto – be sure and stop by the John B. Aird gallery at 900 Bay Street for a look at a gob of fantastic art!

The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls, NY

Recently, I got to discover a new town with an super cool arts space and want to tell you all about it in case you’re ever in the area it is a must stop by and see!  😀

The Shirt Factory is this amazing huge old building that has a fantastic history.  It is located in Glens Falls, NY just outside the Adirondack Park about 1hr North of Albany.  As a side note – Glens Falls was a lovely town, they have made a real effort to preserve buildings and have a great main street area with shops and restaurants.  There’s a lot to do in the area too.  But back to The Shirt Factory….

The Shirt Factory was in fact a real Shirt Factory.  It is a huge 4 story brick building and was started in the early 1900’s employing many hundred of the townspeople.  The shirts were made under the McMullen label and were incredibly successful.  In the 1930’s, the company went in a new direction – in addition to shirts, they started designing and making dresses for women.  They were very successful with their dresses being featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines.  They even dressed celebrities, making custom pieces for many famous women.  One of their creations is even part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The company went through many changes during the mid-century but kept along making shirts till it finally closed in the late 1990’s.  It lasted as factory for nearly a century, employing many generations of Glens Falls residents.

In 1996, the current owner of the building bought it at auction and fell in love with it.  He chose to preserve and renovate this amazing space with high ceilings and beautiful windows and turned it into artists spaces.  Today the building has 77 unique studios with over 100 artists / artisans.

You can visit this super neat place most days – but if you go Thursday thru Saturday from 12-5, all the shops / studios / galleries on the main 1st floor will be open.  The rest of the studios keep their own hours, but you’re welcome to wander the halls, and if someone has their door open you might be allowed in to visit and see what they’re working on.

One of the cool bits about wandering around the building – they’ve got tons of historical stuff just around.  They have samples of the dresses in cases on the walls.  There are old sewing machines in the hallways that you can touch.  There are old photos of what it looked like, what the workers looked like and stories about their lives on the walls.  One of the ladies in a studio showed me in the floor where there were worn spots and she told me it was where an ironing station had been and those worn bits were from where the worker stood.  Just cool that this place got preserved, saved and given a new life incorporating its’ history and not just gutted or torn down.

So why did I find out about this place?  Well, it turns out, one of the tenants of building is The Shirt Factory Gallery, a beautiful art gallery who accepted one of my pieces into a show they were having.  The Shirt Factory Gallery has had an annual “smalls” show for about 7 or 8 years in a row now.  This year, I applied and was pretty thrilled that my piece Shiro Piegare 8127 got accepted!  We even went down and attended the opening reception party – it was PACKED!!  The party was such fun, it was great to meet and talk with other artists and see all sorts of neat work in the show.  This place is so wonderfully supportive of artists, it’s a great community and I was thrilled to be a part of it for a tiny bit.

It is such a cool side benefit of making art, that you get to find out about these neat places when a piece gets accepted somewhere.  If you’re ever near Glens Falls be sure to stop by and take look at this amazing place!

Cube & CAME

Still catching up posts from some events at the end of the year!  This past November I was lucky enough to have a piece of my work accepted into 2 group shows. One in my town of Ottawa at the Cube gallery – my favorite gallery in the city – and one in Montreal as a part of the Canadian Annual Mosaic Exposition.

Kuro Piegare 8126

The Cube gallery show was the Great BIG smalls XIV show, an annual showing of art all 12″ x 12″ in size or smaller. My contribution to the show was Kuro Piegare 8126, a 10″ x 10″ framed floating mosaic sculpture. It was such a cool show with over 50 artists and 200 works. The opening night party was packed and super fun, the best part being when I arrived my piece had already sold! It was pretty neat as most of the show consisted of paintings and mine was one of the few pieces that was not.

The Canadian Annual Mosaic Exposition (CAME) was held this year in Montreal. There is a lot of great mosaic talent in Canada and in the Quebec province in particular so competition this year was particularly high. Was so thrilled to have my piece Dispersion Northern Lights chosen to be a part of this wonderful show. Montreal is only 2hrs from where I live, so we traveled over for the opening night. It was a super fun evening of dinner and an absolutely packed party at the gallery. The Quebec folks really came out in support of mosaics and many artists from outside of Quebec traveled to be there in person. It was great to meet many new people and also see friends from before.

Dispersion Northern Lights


Being in these 2 group shows was the icing on the cake of an already fantastic year of work for me. I feel very grateful and lucky!

Achromatically Inclined

Kuro Piegare 8133

From late November to January of this year, I was super fortunate to have had a solo show for my artwork at the Trinity Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

It was an amazing opportunity that came with perfect timing in my life.  The space of the Trinity Gallery is beautiful and big with a lot of walls to fill!  When I first received notice of the opportunity in late December 2017, I was given about a week to come up with my show name and a short blurb of what it would be about.

I knew I wanted to show more than one set of work.  This was my first solo show and I wanted it to have a bit of range that hopefully would draw interest.  Decided that it would have pieces from 3 series in it.

Disk Overload

Data Reliance – This series stems from my time working in technology, my feelings on how it takes over our lives and where we’re moving with it.

Iro Piegare – framed floating sculptures combining Japanese paper folding and Italian mosaic technqiues

Birch Trees at Night – the beautiful Birch captivated me when I first came to Canada and has been a favorite subject of mine for many years.

So here I had 3 series, inspired by different things all in the same show.  How to tie them together?  Well – all 3 of them happen to be done in shades of black, white and grey, occasionally with a tiny pop of color.  I’ve long been a black and white girl, and have written about it here on the blog.  When I stumbled upon “Achromatic” with the definition “possessing no hue:  being or involving black, grey or white”, thought how perfect to describe my art and inclinations and thus Achromatically Inclined became the show name.  😀

View of gallery

10 months of crazy work later, we finally came to the opening of the show.  It was a ton of work to hang and thankfully I had my husband, who was a tremendous help not only in hanging the show but all the steps along the way.  Trinity Gallery is located within an arts centre that has 5 other gallery spaces (along with theaters and art schools) within.  They have Meet the Artist days when the galleries change their shows so it is a fun atmosphere with a lot going on and people going from space to space.  The event was awesome – even made sure my refreshments were achromatic themed! 😀 I was so fortunate to have family travel from out of town to come on this special day as well as having many lovely local friends come too.

There was a lot of great feedback on the work.  I even sold a couple of pieces!  It was so neat to talk to people and see it being well received.  It also was so amazing, such a gift, to allowed in life to see so many of my pieces hanging all in one space (that isn’t my home!).  Overwhelmed with gratefulness is how it felt.

Here’s some pics of the show up and opening day.  If you’d like to see pics of all the pieces on the show there’s a  page on my website that shows what all was included that you can view by clicking here.

Year of the Pig – Happy Chinese New Year!

It’s Chinese New Year and this year is the Year of the Pig!

For a little bit of fun, decided to create a murrini of a pig.  It turned out cute and got made into little pins to wear and celebrate the new year.  😀

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Pig!

恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái

Wearable Art – Mosaic Belt

I love the idea of wearable art, it is why I started making mosaic jewelry many years ago.  It’s a fun way to share the art of mosaic with a larger audience and also to wear a piece of unique art on one’s body.

Benz_Black Mosaic BeltLate last summer while working on pieces for my show that was to happen at the end of the year, I started thinking about what is in my closet that I could wear for my opening.  Then started thinking about how it would be really cool to wear mosaic in a larger sense, more than just as a pendant or ring.

I had seen some photos online of an artist (not sure who it was unfortunately) who had created a mosaic dress.  But this dress was a permanent fixture, it had a space for a woman to slide into it and be photographed “wearing” it but she couldn’t actually move around.  I wanted to figure out something I could wear and move in.

Started noodling on ideas and decided to start small and try and construct a belt of mosaic.  I’ve always had a love for anything Japanese and took inspiration from Japanese obi belts.  Thought about how an obi fits all around the body, usually a bit higher up and wide.

Mosaics are heavy and solid, so those are considerations to think about.  This wasn’t going to be a belt that was just wrapped around anywhere.  I had to fit it to my proportions so built a form of my body and then molded my base material on that.  I created 2 solid C shapes, then next had to figure out how they’d attach to one another.  Decided on a system of adjustable leather straps that wove in and out of the belt on the sides, slightly hidden under the arm.

Finally I mosaic’d my base form and chose to use the same palette of glass that I used in some of my actual art mosaics that would be on display at my show.  I’d match the art on the wall!  I wasn’t sure if I’d prefer a black or white version, so made a belt in both colors.  In the end, while wearing a black dress the black version won.  I’m keeping the white version to wear on a lighter color dress in the future.

It was a ton of fun to wear this mosaic belt at a few events.  It tickled me beyond belief that I figured out how to make it work, make it relatively light (it is ~1.25 lbs) and fairly comfortable.  It is 2 solid pieces so not as comfortable as a fabric belt but still comfortable enough to wear for many hours, even while eating dinner.  I’m already dreaming of ideas to create something bigger – corset or bustier type top maybe?

Murrini Monday roundup October – December

The last day of 2018 seems appropriate for posting the last of the Murrini Monday round up postings!  Murrini Monday was my 2018 resolution.  For it, I created a new murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) each week and posted it every Monday over on my Instagram account.   For those that don’t follow over there, every 3 months I post a round up here.

Murrini Monday has been awesome, the goal for me in making the resolution was to set a regular appointment to go get on the torch, create designs and to hopefully improve my skills.  Posting gave me accountability.  It accomplished that and more, gave me new goals and a new love for this form of glass art.  Here’s the final 3 months of this year-long project!  There’s some fun ones in here, my favorites – Salvador Dali’s face, 3 faces of Brrrr (the grey faces, supposed to be  guy that is cold) and the red and white dove for Christmas.  Decided to end with doing the thing I enjoyed making most this year, eyes.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and prosperous 2019!!

Happy Holidays!

Each year in December I like to make a holiday themed mosaic.  This year, while trying to decide what to do, I stumbled on this amazing little wood bezel that had been floating around the workroom for a long while.  Decided to use it and make a little micro-mosaic tree.  The tiny bits of glass measure between 0.5 – 4mm wide with the total size of the piece being 2.2 cm x 4 cm.  Originally I was going to put a pin on the back and make it into a broach, but the husband had a better suggestion.  He said I should turn it into an ornament for the big tree and each year going forward create a new micro-mosaic ornament.  In 20 years time, we’ll have a tree full of micro-mosaics!

Wishing you all a holiday filled with joy and a wonderful new year in 2019!!  😀