Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Frank Connet: The Topography of Tension
at the Chicago Cultural Center

Untitled #41
Copper, encaustic 2013
15" x 13" x 12"
Electroformed shibori sculpture

I had the pleasure of discovering the work of Frank Connet during my recent visit to Chicago. 
The show is on view at the Chicago Cultural Center, in the 1st floor Michigan Avenue Galleries, through January 4, 2015.

Here's the write up from the Cultural Center's brochure for the show:
This recent body of textile and sculptures continues Connet's twenty year fascination with the process of the dye-resist technique of mokume shibori. Connet's new wall pieces approach a level of cartographic exploration, reassembling the compositions into abrupt transitions between pattern and deep indigo fields. 
[Photos of work by Guy Nicol. Installation shots by Lynette Haggard.]

Binnie Birstein and Pamela W. Wallace enjoying the work.

Connet's sculptures are motivated by the three-dimensional potential of the tension, density and compression inherent in the shibori process. Copper fabric is stitched and pulled into billowing volumes that are then electroplated, accumulating surface deposit and structural rigidity on the exposed edges. The sculptures exploit extremes—translucency and solidity, movement and stasis.

Untitled #46
Copper, encaustic 2013
16" x 11" x 8"
Electroformed shibori sculpture

Here is a description from Frank Connet:
My interest in natural phenomena—the action of wind on sand, the slow accretion of minerals, appearance of growth and decay—mirror my thinking around the work. The processes of indigo dying and the electroplating of copper, although very different, utilize a gradual, repetitive and time consuming deposition of material onto a substrate. 
I use the specific technique of "mokume" shibori for both the textiles and sculptures (not arashi). Mokume is the Japanese term for woodgrain. It consists of parallel lines of stitches. When dyed and the stitches removed, it produces the linear pattern you see on my textile work. 
The sculptures utilize the same stitch, same technique, only done with a copper wire instead of thread and using a very fine copper mesh instead of fabric. After the piece is sewn, and the stitches pulled, it is electroplated, often for several days, it becomes rigid, solid, in a sense fossilizing the movement of fabric. It is not dyed. 
Both processes can be difficult to control and often produce unexpected results. This collaboration with the process is important to the rhythm of the work, responding to the unexpected; editing, and influencing the next decision.
Untitled #50
Copper, encaustic
13.5 x 13.5 x 9
Electroformed shibori sculpture

Untitled #61
Copper, encaustic
12” x 13” x 10
Electroformed shibori sculpture

Installation view: 
Untitled #52, 10” x 8.5” x 5”, 2013
Untitled #57, 15” x 14” x 4.5”, 2014
Untitled #23, 9” x 7.5” x 2”, 2011

Untitled #41
Copper, encaustic
x 14” x 11”
Electroformed shibori sculpture

All of the textile pieces (below) are indigo and walnut dyes on wool, using Japanese shaped resist dyeing. (To learn more about Shibori, click HERE). The fabric is then cut and pieced and mounted on stretchers.

3rd Quarter Pearl
40” x 50"

Untitled #132
47” x 31"

Untitled #134
 48.5” x 45"

So both bodies of work start in a similar way, to very different ends. I've been working with Shibori and indigo for many years, but the sculptures come from meeting a California artist, June Schwarcz, who pioneered the use of electroplating in her enamel work. I met June about 3+ years ago, she is 96. She is an amazing artist, and generous and kind person. Here's a video interview with her.
You can read more about the Shibori Technique here. The metal pieces are all electroplated copper—both bodies of work utilize the shibori technique.

Thank you, Frank Connet for informing us about your process and work. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chicago Highlights from a Recent Visit

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millenium Park, Chicago

From Nov. 6-9, I had the pleasure of visiting the lovely and art-filled city of Chicago, with several other artist friends from all over the country. On Friday, I joined up with friends Binnie Birstein, Pamela W. Wallace and Jane Guthridge (Jane has some work in a the show, "Translucence" at the Chicago Art Source Gallery.

Photo via Jane Guthridge website

As we made our way to the Art Institute, we visited the Chicago Cultural Center, where we found lovely architectural detail and several interesting exhibits. The work that truly resonated with me, was that of artist Frank Connet, in The Topography of Tension show, which can be viewed in the first floor Michigan Avenue galleries through January 4, 2015. 

#46, 16” X 11” X 8" by Frank ConnetPhoto: Guy Nicol
Another stop was a visit to see the Papercuts show at Columbia College on South Michigan Ave. This show was organized by Reni Gower, professor of Art, Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. While we were in the second floor gallery, I began chatting with Steve Woodall, Director of Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College. He very generously offered to give us a tour of the facilities for his program. My next posts will include both the Frank Connet show as well as the tour. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Food for the Soul, Agnes Martin: Arne Glimcher in Conversation

This is an interesting conversation with some background that I found quite poignant about Agnes Martin, her life and her work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Joan Stuart Ross: SEATTLE

Artist Joan Stuart Ross
photo: L. McConnell

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work? 

I grew up in Roslindale, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and went to The Conley School, the Longfellow School and Boston Girls Latin School. I think my sense of ‘myself as artist’ began in kindergarten, when the teacher praised me to my mother for my profile drawing of an angel. I remember that I loved my second grade teacher, Miss Toland's, dress of red roses on a black background. In fifth grade I drew a mural of Little Bo Peep with colored chalk on the sewing class's blackboard (I was not allowed to take Manual Training/Woodworking because girls were required to take sewing), and, in sixth grade I won a commendation for a watercolor painting of a nasturtium.

The Vast Perhaps
12x12encaustic, collage on wood panel
I also remember making a 'Book' about a kitten who lost her mother in the forest. Girls Latin School deemed Art a "frill," but an art teacher came in once a week. In 10th grade I won an after-school scholarship to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Public School Art Program. On Saturdays, my Dad drove me into Mass Art for a mask-making class that I loved. I was thrilled to be in real Art classes!

An enduring influence on my visual development were childhood summers spent at White Horse Beach, south of Plymouth, MA, where my family had a cottage. I loved the yellow sun, the white sand and the blue ocean.

Je t'adore
11 x 15.25"
encaustic, collage on wood panel

Did you receive any formal art training?

At Connecticut College in New London, CT, I double-majored in Studio Art and Religion. I received a graduate scholarship to Yale Divinity School; I took Josef Albers' Color class and Gabor Peterdi's Printmaking class at the Yale Art School. In the mid-sixties, Yale was a bastion of male chauvinism, so — after a year I left to attend Art School at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. I'd heard about Iowa's Poetry Workshop and about its famous Printmaking Professor, Mauricio Lasansky. I received an MA and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking there, spent a summer at the Jane Burr artist's residency in Woodstock, N. Y, and then moved to Seattle, where I’ve been living and working for four decades.

12 x 12
encaustic and collage on wood panel

What is your current work about?

In my work I experiment with visual ideas in a manner similar to the scientific method. My work begins, changes and returns to its roots over time. Trial, error, chance and plan lead my eye and hand. I look for an uplifting sensibility in my use of materials and in my visual decisions. I examine the spirit of physical, mental and emotional places, their metaphysical properties and mysteries, and how we inhabit them. I create non-linear narratives that celebrate light in its dominion over potential opacity.

Pink Rose
encaustic, collage on wood panel
Some of my inspiration draws from the Great Basin’s windy “high lonesome,” the Northwest’s fog and mist, the ecstatic race of surf and spume and the subtext of items from personal history.

My work is obsessive and repetitive. I layer, carve, scrape, assess and reassess. I paint with encaustic, oil, and use the intaglio process in layers of medium, embedded collage, and incised expressive lines filled with color. Layers of tangents and trajectories connect, cross and convene to reveal what happens on and underneath the surface.

8 x 8"
encaustic, collage on wood panel
My current work has evolved from my interests in color dynamics, collage, encaustic and the acts of piecing and inlaying — all engage as subject matter and as the underpinnings for my imagery.

What is your workspace like?

In the Seattle studiophoto: B. Savadow
I have two studios, one in Seattle and one on the SW Washington coast. My 1000 sf Seattle studio is at BallardWorks, an artists' workspace building that I helped to develop ten years ago. The other is a 600 sf studio in Nahcotta, a village on Willapa Bay, on the southwest coast of Washington state. My husband, 5 cats, a dog and I go to and from Seattle to the coast when we can.

Nahcotta studio exterior
Nahcotta Studio Interior

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

BallardWorks, my main working community, has 20 individual artist's studios and two art-related businesses. It's a community that I helped to create and that I work with two other artist partners to sustain. We recently prevented the City's officials from rezoning our block and raising the taxes of our affordable artists' workspace building.

I'm also a member of Salon #1, a critique group of nine artists who have met once a month for 15 years. We discuss our work and organize its exhibitions. We’ve recently shown together at BallardWorks and at Baas Gallery, Seattle. We're scheduled to exhibit "Off the Grid" at the Columbia City Gallery, Seattle, this spring, and are presently applying to show at the Kirkland Art Center and the Bellevue Art Museum.

Mariposa II
encaustic, collage on wood panel

I taught Art at the college level for 42 years, and recently retired from 13 years as a tenured professor in North Seattle Community College's Fine Arts Department.
Prior to that, I was a nomadic professor for 28 years, running like a chicken, teaching part-time at 4-5 individual institutions, including in my own studio. I also worked as a waitress and interviewed for the Census Bureau. In the '70's I was the first teacher of Monotype Printmaking in Seattle, having attended a workshop with Nathan Oliveira where he printed several layers, one over the other. I carried that idea forward, using 30-50 layers. Now my original students' students are teaching this technique! I continue to mentor former students, artist colleagues and students.

This coming June, I’m happy to be invited to speak at the 8th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, MA as part of a Panel, “The Roots of Contemporary Encaustic.”

Thank you, Joan! You may see more of her work on her website.