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!

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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… 🙂 

Enough

The past two months have been a whirlwind of tremendous things happening one after the other.  Life is kind of ramping up at the moment for me, but in a good way.  Hope it is the sign of more to come.  🙂

I’ll share with you over the next few blogs all of the great things happening. Today’s is about a piece of mine that was accepted in a juried show!   The show was a special one to get picked for as it was the 1st year of the Canadian Annual Mosaic Exhibition.  It was such an honor to be a part of the inaugural year.  It was held at the Flagship Gallery in Hamilton Ontario during November, and there were more than 30 stunning works in the show.

The piece of mine that was chosen is a micro-mosaic called “Enough”  This technique is a little different than traditional mosaic, all the pieces in her are very tiny and have to be set using tweezers.  They range in size (width-wise) from 0.5mm to about 4mm.  All her glass was melted and pulled to size by me in a flame at GSS Flameworking.

her special murrini

I also created a special murrini (glass rod with a pattern inside) in black and white to go in her dress.  The tiny pieces take quite a long while to put together, when most are between 0.5 and 2 mm wide it is time consuming to fill even 1 square inch!

So why is she called “Enough”?

In today’s world we’re constantly connected, bombarded by so many demands on our time, so much negativity, unending terrible news stories in the palm of our hand.

A couple of folks getting up close for a better look at her tiny bits!

A feeling of frustration at this constant connection and negativity inspired to me create an abstract drawing of woman in a beautiful dress looking down with eyes closed, hands to head, having simply had enough of all that was going on around her.  The drawing laid around for months till finally she came to life as a micro-mosaic.

She is smaller (the actual mosaic size of this piece is 5 x 7, overall size 8 x 10) and floats surrounded by a background of swirly darkness representing conflict.

Really came to love her a lot and was so thrilled she was chosen for the show.  Her bits are so tiny, included below are some pictures but for best viewing click to make them larger.  I also made a little time-lapse video of her progression – if you’re interested it is at the bottom of this blog!  Be forewarned though, it was my first time doing this so it jumps a little.  Next time I won’t kick the tripod out of place so much!  😀

Murrini madness!

The whole reason I got into working with molten glass at GSS Studio was to learn how to make my own murrini (or millefiori ) and to pull glass into stringers in the colors and sizes I wanted for micro-mosaic pieces.

starting a murrini

the start, 2 layers of glass so far!

So what are murrini anyways?  Most likely, you know what it is – or you know it by the name millefiori.  It is slices of glass, cut from a rod that has a pattern in the cross section.  It is most famously made on the island of Murano outside of Venice Italy.  Often you see it in jewelry or on decorative vases or paperweights. The pattern can be anything – when it is a flower based pattern it is called millefiori (a thousand petals) other patterns are called murrini, though many would use the term millefiori loosely for any pattern as it is the more well known name.

Murrini are complex to make, involving many layers of molten glass being put together and shaped, then heated up till red hot and finally pulling the hot blob by hand into a long rod.  You have to be careful to not twist or turn the blob of molten hot glass when pulling or you risk messing up the pattern created inside!  After the rod has cooled, it is cut into slices revealing the pattern in the cross-section.

img_7417-480x640

rod just after it has pulled

I buy commercial murrini made in Italy and use it in my micro-mosaic jewelry.  So why would I want to learn to make it?

While I love the murini I can buy, I just thought it would be so cool to create unique patterns myself.  Then if I’m using my handmade murrini in my handmade micro-mosaic jewelry designs, it makes the piece of jewelry that much more unique, that much more “one-of-a-kind”.  Truly, no one else in the world will have anything like it.

Most of my murrini patterns so far are abstract (my ultimate love) or geometrical.  There will be more complex designs as time goes on but so far it’s a good start!  Here’s some pics below – look for some of these in this year’s holiday collection of jewelry coming soon!  😀

Remixin’ it up!

In Ottawa each year there is a neat festival called Remixed.  It is held in Chinatown and pairs local businesses with artists for 1 month.  The idea is to “remix” the businesses and neighborhood.  Bring art into groceries, restaurants and shops where you might not expect to see it and draw in art lovers to some of these same shops they might not know about.

It’s a fun and different vibe with businesses all along the main drag of Chinatown participating.  On opening day there is a big festival atmosphere.  All the artists sit with their installation in the business they’re paired with as visitors walk around stopping at each location to collect a stamp for a chance to win a prize.  There’s fun stuff happening outside too, along the route you’ll find various performers, demonstrations, or large scale artists working.

Art House Cafe building

The festival is a juried entry and this year I was lucky enough to be one of the artists chosen!  😀  In another but of luck, I got paired with The Art House Cafe, a great business that opened this year in Ottawa and is a hub for artists and art lovers alike.

Three of my mosaics went up on their wall and will stay there for a month.  During the opening day I had a 2hr time slot to do demos.  It was a hot day but that didn’t stop a steady stream of folks from visiting.  I’d taken a project to work on during down time but didn’t have any so only stuck a few bits on!

Roman-Byzantine-Modern Mosaic styles

For the demo, I’d set up a little “history of mosaic” table showing different styles of mosaic ranging from Roman to Byzantine to Modern.  There was also a table with examples of materials and backings you can use, some fun tools and several books with amazing mosaic pictures.

As an interactive bit for visitors, I offered to let them try out cutting a some glass with the traditional tools of the hammer and hardie.  The hammer is heavy and it shocked everyone who picked it up, but they all did great making a cut and had fun.

It was a great day, so much fun to share my love of mosaic and my art with others.  I am so happy to have been a part of this wonderful event.  If you’re in the Ottawa area visiting, the art is up throughout Chinatown till October 16.   Find a map of all the locations on chinatownremixed.ca