Monday, May 14, 2012

Recapitulation: 2012 Open Studio

It's been a week already since my open studio in Lambertville, New Jersey. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed seeing my worlds collide there: artists, poets, musicians, neighbors, friends, a couple of passers-by -- altogether 65-70 people passed through, not including the children, so I was busy greeting and thanking, and a little bit of talking about the work too, for 5 hours. A few friends came from some distance to show their support for me and my work; a few have said some very moving things to me in response to what they saw. I am grateful.

The following days were dedicated to restoring my energy and keeping my spirits from flagging in the anticlimax -- just seeing my studio so organized and clean is galvanizing, and I immediately put all my worktables and easels back in place, not pushed aside to accommodate my guests. This week I am dedicating my discipline and energy to reconfiguring not just my space, but the structure of my days, in anticipation of a productive summer season. (More about that, anon.)

Here are a few pictures of my studio as it was readied for the event -- I am grateful that my studio allows me to hang the work as I wish it to be seen in a gallery. I hope I might make some inroads in that effort in the coming months. For now, the display of my recent paintings will remain until I need a wall emptied for my next wave of new work, so it's a good time for studio visitors, still. 

The hardest part was at the end, when I had to clear off my largest worktable; everything was ready but this. It was almost an archeology project - I found debris from my "Song Cycle" photocollages that I'd made in 2010-11, under a heap of other trimmings of materials in more recent collages. My hours for working had been too limited for me to expend them cleaning up after myself! But also, I think I was resisting the final transformation from work space to exhibition space. I spent about two weeks reorganizing and cleaning the studio when I really wanted to be painting! It's great now, I'm very glad to have a clean studio to begin this new season, and never would have made that effort if not for having this event.

This is how the studio looked to my visitors as they entered, tables pushed aside and refreshments at the ready:

On the wall to the right of the entry, I had hung a selection of some of my "quirkier" collages, ranging over time, from 2005 for the blue one to the right of center, through to the last month, in the diptych which I hung over a piece of black fabric at left. I think I will paint this small wall in some kind of neutral tone, as I realized it would be good to have a wall that isn't white somewhere in the studio.

Once I saw the two collages against the black fabric, I decided to also put black fabric under the textile collages I had put out on a board against another wall. [Click here to see these in an earlier blog post.] On this wall I had selected 6 of the "Song Cycle" photo collages to feature, with the 25 others in a portfolio on a table below [Click here to see more on my Facebook Page.]; and I hung just 4 of the watercolor/gouache paintings from my "Game Change" series of 2010 - two are visible in this shot below:

Below, the end wall of the studio, with work from my most recent exhibition (and a couple pieces that are also part of that series); [Click here to see my work in the archive at Galerie Cerulean/AbArtOnline.]  Additionally, I displayed three of my "3-D sketches," as they are something that are part of what I do in the studio, and inform my work, even though I haven't completed them to a state that would permit them to leave the studio, yet.

In the small room in front, the older part of the building, my husband helped to make a way to display my smallest panel paintings on a shelf high on the stone wall. I used the wall below to feature a couple of my larger collages, one from about 2007 (left) and the one on the right from 2011. There is a large collage on the wall of the passage to this room, at left, which is always there because I have no place else to put it! It is about 65 inches square. On the right in this room, a set of shelves where I usually have things I like to look at and small assemblages, I kept just a few of the assemblages and used the shelf at top to display some small collages mounted on museum board, from 2000, I think. On the stool at left, against the stone wall, a 30-inch painting on panel, also from my storage, of which there is more behind me as I shot this photo (to be seen in the next).

I used my organization for this event to finally move my flat files out of this small room (it's tighter than the wide-angle lens lets on), to facilitate the viewing of my stored work. There are three stacks according to the dimensions of the work, each piece fronted with large sheets of cardboard, and visitors were invited to "page through," and ask for assistance to remove works from the stacks for a view against the opposite wall. As you see, I changed my mind about which work to set on the stool at right; this is a piece called Annulose, from about 1997, oil on corrugated paper stretched over canvas. I tried to use the open studio to give air and eyes to work that often doesn't get pulled out even when visitors come, for instance this piece and the larger collages. Even so, I found a lot of work that there wasn't space or time to display. I sold four pieces from this room, so that made me quite happy, even though they make only a small dent in the backlog of stored work I have.

This piece (below) was hung on a narrow wall between a window and door at the front of the building. It is a triptych of 3 small paintings mounted on Plexiglas, with a wire for hanging in the back. This is from a series of work in which I was making something like a contemporary icon; it came out of a fascination with the early renaissance altar pieces that assemble a number of discrete but related images into one work, usually narrating some religious mythology; I wanted to find a more personal and contemporary way of using this device. This is 24 x 16 inches in its outside dimension, with two oil paintings on panels, and one watercolor mounted on a wood panel; the title is “Delicacy of My Innocence,” 1992. I have a few more in this series, so will put one in its place on the wall, since this one was sold the day of open studio. The pelican was painted from a pencil study of a dead bird found on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and I had brought this painting out of storage after the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico; the panel on the lower right came out of a series of works I made which incorporated all or parts of my own poetry.

Here I am, in a photo taken near the end of the day by one of my friends who'd come quite a distance to be there for me: exhausted, dehydrated, relieved and happy -- ready to start over making a big mess in my studio! Please visit if you're around or passing through Lambertville, New Jersey.