Society of Canadian Artists 51st Int’l Open Juried Exhibition

Was lucky to get another excuse to take a weekend get-away this summer – got into a show in Toronto!  The Society of Canadian Artists 51st International Open Juried Exhibition accepted one of my pieces.  It was quite thrilling to be in this show as I thought it would be a really long shot for me.  Turns out in the end I was one of only a few non-painting / non-drawing pieces – so kind of extra cool!

The show is in Toronto (till August 26th if you’re visiting there) at The Papermill Gallery (67 Pottery Road).  It is located on the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site which is beautifully set in a park.  It has two historic millers’ homes, one of them housing the Papermill Theater and Gallery.

On the drop off day – I strapped my piece to my back and trekked there on the train.  It is quite a process building a box that will securely house my non-flat kind of fragile pieces but I’m starting to get pretty good at building them.  Spent the afternoon after the drop off walking about 7 kilometers back to the train station through parks, along the Don River and exploring the Distillery District (such fun!).

We went back for the opening night and spent a couple days enjoying the city.  During that visit I explored Kensington Market, Queen Street West, Chinatown, Graffiti Alley and made a visit to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) where I got to see several China related exhibits that were fascinating.  One of my favorite parts of this visit other than the show – discovering Soma Chocolatemaker.  Oh goodness, they’re amazing – check them out in person in Toronto or visit somachocolate.com

It’s been a great year so far for me with art – a real thrill and honor to get accepted into shows.  It’s also allowed me and my husband some fun little trips and let me discover more in cities I didn’t know much about.  Really truly thankful for it all.  Here’s some photos from this show / trip, hope you enjoy!  😀

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A little luck…

I started studying Chinese a little more than a year ago.  One of my favorite parts to learn is the characters.  A lot of folks will start with just learning the pinyin but the characters fascinate me.  It gives me a serious thrill when I can identify one on a sign – so far it’s never more than one but hey you gotta start somewhere!

I like the history of how the characters formed and how you can see how the character for mouth looks like an open mouth 口 or how the character for person looks like a person walking 人. Or even the crazy complicated ones that don’t look like what they are, they’re just beautiful to look at, like 发现 🙂 They’re like little bits of art to me.

One of my favorite characters has become the character for Jí 吉.  I originally came to Jí 吉 when I was searching for a character that I could make in murrini that meant luck and could be used as a charm that was to be a gift for people we visited in China.  I wanted to be sure I didn’t mis-step even though I found the character and its definition in a reputable dictionary. I did a double check with a Chinese friend of a friend in Singapore to make sure it was an appropriate character and would be well received as a gift.  They assured me it did mean luck and general well being and that it was a lovely character and any Chinese person would be happy to receive it.

So off I went with the Jí 吉.  I made the murrini out of it (glass rod with a pattern inside) but it didn’t turn out quite as great as I wanted and I abandoned the idea of making the charms.

But the Jí 吉 still suck with me.  I really loved it and loved the shape.  After I returned from China and found out I got into the miniature show, decided maybe I could make a micro-mosaic pendant for myself to wear to the show.  I decided on Jí 吉 !

Then, the news came that a good friend of mine who is Chinese was scheduled to have a very very serious surgery that will require months of recovery where she won’t be too mobile.  I wanted to do something for her, so decided to make her a little good luck micro-mosaic charm of Jí 吉 that she could keep nearby.

Both turned out great.  My friend was really thrilled with her charm and hopefully it will bring her good luck during the recovery.  I happily wore the necklace to the opening of the miniatures show and think it will become one of my favorite pieces of jewelry to wear for quite some time.

Here’s the final results of both the pendant and the smaller charm.

Internationale d’art miniature in Levis, QC

Earlier this year we came across a call for a show with an interesting twist.  The Internationale d’art miniature 10th edition, where everything in the show had to be miniature size with strict rules on dimensions of the art (max size 12 sq inches).

Decided it would be fun to see what I could do with such a small parameter and got to working on a couple of micro-mosaics.  I really love creating the micro-mosaics, they’re challenging and eye-fatiguing but just love it.  The pieces that make up the mosaic are very small glass threads that range in size from about 0.5mm to 4 mm wide, with most of the pieces in the 0.5 – 2mm wide range.  In order to get glass this small or in colors I want, I take a larger piece and heat it in torch flame sometimes mixing colors together to achieve a new color.  When it is soft enough I grab a bit and pull to get a thin thread of glass in the size that I want.  Then I cut that down into tiny bits to make up the micro-mosaic.  This extra bit of connection to actually creating the material that is used in the mosaic – not just cutting up pre-made or pre-sourced stuff – it really does something for me, gives me an extra link to the piece, think it is one of the reasons I love doing the micro-mosaics so much.

I worked on 2 designs to submit – a silhouette of woman in black & white with color on her dress, the other a mini-version of a larger mosaic I made years ago – the view of a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) from behind showing the nape of her neck.

It was a fun challenge to undertake.  Figured even if I didn’t get into the show, it was ok as it was good learning to make them.  Luckily though – both pieces got in!  I was so thrilled!!

The show is amazing!  It is being held just across the water from Quebec City in Lévis, QC.  We made a weekend trip out of it and went for opening day.  The show has 350 pieces by artists from 23 countries!  It is wall art and sculptural – everything under 12 sq inches.  No photography or digital stuff allowed, all had to be hand created.  It was totally fascinating to see what other artists do and the incredible details they can create in such teeny tiny spaces.  The opening day was a full house, tons of people all vying to get up close to each piece.  They even provided hand held magnifying glasses to use when looking at the super tiny bits.

It has been just so exciting to be included in the show and have discovered this whole world of miniature expositions.  Maybe it will become a new direction for me.  😀

If you’re up near Quebec City this summer – take the ferry across the water to Lévis and go see the show, it won’t disappoint!  It’s on till September 1st and held at Centre d’exposition Louise-Carrier, 33 rue Wolfe in Lévis and is open every day of the week. More info click here

For my 2 pieces in case you’re curious of the size – the lady in silhouette is named “Delphine” and she measures in at 3.3″w x 2.5″h while the “Maiko (apprentice Geisha)” is 2.5” w x 3.3” h they’re each set on a 6” x 7” background.

Here’s some pics of the show on opening day and our visit to the area…

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!

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.

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?

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!!  😀

Taking a breath….

Whew!

That’s how I feel today, the first of November, like I can finally sit back and take a breath.

It has been crazy quiet here on the blog this year and in most other aspects of my life as well.  No trips, no visitors, no going off with friends or long talks on the phone, not many dates with the husband – the reason, an insane amount of work!  But exciting work – it has been a thrilling if stressful 11 months and with the work finally finished I’m coming up for air.

Ever since I started in mosaics I knew it was what I wanted to do full time if I could, it took me a long while to get brave enough to put my art out there in the world and about 1 year ago I started applying to juried shows.  It was very fortunate that at the end of last year I received notice of acceptance to a dual show with another artist (this past spring’s Duplexity) but also a solo show for this coming November / December.

The gallery for my upcoming solo show is a beautiful space with a lot of walls to cover.  Both shows were going to be a huge undertaking, not only with planning what to go in them but also execution.  Mosaics are a slower process than other kinds of art – at least for me – and materials (the kind I use) not readily available at local art stores.  But since mid-December last year till October this year, I managed to create 26 new works and really flesh out 2 series ideas that I’d had for quite some time.

I loved working so intensely every day.  There were moments of frustration – as there always are  – and it was stressful for sure, but I would do it all again in heartbeat.  It could have gone either way, it might have totally burned me out on mosaics and creating art, but it didn’t – instead it makes me yearn to do more.  There are too many ideas in my head now, too much work that I want to do, too many designs created but not yet made.  My husband keeps telling me that I need to take a break now and just relax and do nothing for awhile, but think that will be very hard.  I liked the work, liked the crazy pace, liked having the really big goal and really liked seeing it all come together and come to life.

It also was a super learning experience.  I learned all about putting shows together, the marketing, how to hang things, etc..  I re-branded myself and created a new website focusing just on my art – with my jewelry becoming a separate entity.  I had failures happen during the year with some of the projects, but couldn’t wallow and had to find a solution quickly as there was no time to waste.  As a result my work is better.  My sculpture structures stronger, my techniques improved.  The husband helps me frame things and set them up, he’s developed faster better techniques for doing that too!

As a major bonus to all this – I was recently accepted into 2 group shows in addition to my solo show.  This means during the month of November my work will be in 3 galleries at the same time!  Don’t know if this will ever happen again so I am relishing in this very awesome feeling right now.

I’m so grateful for these opportunities.  Every single day, I say a mental thank you to the universe for allowing this to happen and allowing me to be in the position to do it with a family that is supportive.  Hope very much that more opportunities will come.

Will be writing more here on the blog now that time allows and catching up with reading your blogs as well.  😀

Not showing any completed bits of my new work today, just snippets.  You’ll have to stay tuned, I’ll show it later this month after the show officially opens on November 22.  😀

screen shot from my website, so thankful to get to list 3 upcoming shows!

Duplexity

It’s been quiet here on the blog this year because several things have been happening to keep me busy with mosaic work and leave little energy for much else.  But that’s a good thing, it always was my hope to one day be this busy with work that needed to be done rather than just done for my own self.

Installing frames

The first of these great things that have kept me so busy was getting accepted to dual show in a gallery with another artist.  It was really an honor to be chosen and the jury paired me with another local artist who is a painter.  She had created a series of paintings that had a “mosaic” type feel to them.  We were a great pairing together even though in different mediums our pieces were complementary to each other. 

We decided to name our show Duplexity.  While the look of our respective collections went together, our themes or inspiration behind the works were quite different.  We decided to pick a name based on the idea of two of us rather than try to merge very different inspiration points together.  Hunting for a fun, memorable word took some work, but alas Duplexity was found and it was perfect as it had a meaning of double or twofold.    

The gallery where we were shown was in the offices of the AOE Arts Council (soon to be renamed the Ottawa Arts Network).  This organization is amazing, their entire aim is to be of service to the Ottawa arts community and to support the growth of emerging artists especially.  They were absolutely great and so welcoming to both of us and our show,.

Loaded car on the way to the show!

This show was a huge deal for me as I needed to produce enough work to fill half of a fairly large space.  In the end I created 10 new pieces for the show as well as bringing in 4 previous works.  It was a huge undertaking as mosaics can be (for me sometimes) a slower process.  Also if you mess up there is no easy undoing what you’ve done, you can’t simply paint over a mistake and start over.  Once those bits are set in cement it is set!

It was also a huge deal as it was the first time I was learning about what else you need to put together for a show.  I learned so much about creating all the documents necessary for the show, promoting, coordinating it all, putting together things to make for a fun Meet the Artist afternoon event and more.  As a great bonus, I even sold some work which was really the icing on the cake!

All in all, it was a great first experience putting together a larger exhibition that will serve me well in the future.  Especially given that I am now hard at work for my first solo (!!!) show in a gallery later this year… 🙂