Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NOLA Art & Gallery Love

When we arrived in New Orleans last week, it was 
the day before the French Quarter Fest

The festival brought in artists from all over the country, 
lining their work around Jackson Square and 
adjacent side streets.

This artist's work above, Epaul Julien, was among
my favorites. His photographs use a gold leaf/resin process.
I wish you could see the patina of the gold in the photos.
Simply exquisite.  The juxtaposition of the reclaimed
lumber frame against this rich texture was intriguing.

Next to him was an artist who did geographical maps on reclaimed lumber. Her process involves building a frame out of wood, painting and staining the planks, varying the planks by adding vintage fabric and then somehow adding the map to the top of the boards.  The map has a raised texture and 
I couldn't help but think this looked quite Anthropologie-ish.

I wish I could find her card.  
I probably threw it in a pocket . . . somewhere.

The piece below with the man and his kite,
actually moves.  It's as if you feel wind blowing.
 How someone could carve, paint, build
and then make it movable is well, beyond me.

I learned a new term, as it is known as 
a Mixed Media Automatron.  I fell deeply in love
with this artists work.  His name is Tom Haney, from Atlanta,
and the gallery in NOLA where I saw this is Red Truck Gallery.

My boss, Susan Jackson, alerted me to the next artist's work.
Chris Roberts-Antieau has her own gallery, and I'm not
quite sure you can categorize her art or her by simply 
saying she is a fiber artist.  Much of her art does involve
using a needle - quilted, embroidered, etc., but the vibe
of the gallery and the humor in the work is 
something extraordinary.

Take this squirrel with the mustache.  Part of an
installation called "Phantom Limb Illustrated."
Hanging from the ceiling are various false legs
with wings on them.  Below the legs, is a wooden
landscape with all types of taxidermy animals
like Mr. Maximillan Squirrel (the name I gave him).

There is a lot going on in this gallery.
I went back about 5 times.  This artist has a prolific
body of work.  I even got to go back in the offices
and in a behind the curtain gallery.

Chris had subject matters that just kept making me laugh
out loud.  Like "James Brown's Legs" and a piece
thanking little people in film with depictions of
a flying monkey, R2D2, Yoda, E.T., etc.

I could have shot 1,000 pictures just in this space.
You can find Chris' work at Antieau Gallery, which is at 927 Royal Street.  Chris is a woman, by the way, and has reddish hair.
Look for her, as she is often there, and is one of
those artist who doesn't tell people about her work.
She's more interested in what you think about it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Cure-All for Creative Blockage

Having conversations with artists and interviewing them, 
certain themes pop up on a regular basis.
Learning to "follow your intuition" seems to be
one of them.

When I walk by a place now that intrigues me,
I finally have learned to listen to the voice
beckoning to take 5 minutes and walk inside.

For a whooping $5.00 admission fee, you can peruse
a large room filled with these medicines and cure-alls
from times past.  Look at the packaging or
just marvel at how much science has changed.

Not much of a needle girl myself, but 
I'll take the leather case these came in any day.

I think I want a wall like this at my house.
I'd fill jars with beach water and sand, while labeling
 each bottle with the name of the beach and the date.

Lead nipples.  Oh my goodness.
"The sweet taste of lead," really?

The type styles, the packaging, the old bottles . . .
some people might get energized by a candy store
or a bakery - give me this set up any day.

I don't know about you, but I kept thinking about how
I could smuggle this glass piece and walk out with it.

Cocaine Toothache Drops - wow, yes, probably
a very instant cure.

Often, stopping in a place like this, creates a flow
of ideas for writing that otherwise would have laid dormant.
It's as if one part of the brain gets sparked and 
helps rewire another part.

For more information, packaging and bottle porn,
check out their website.  They are located at 514 Chartres Street,
which is not far from Jackson Square - about two blocks or so.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Today and Tomorrow

I don't have much to say today, but I have a lot to share.  I might have more tomorrow, when I post another Bathroom Diaries (hee hee). Because you know, this is my creative playground, and I can write about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g I find interesting.  And I guess you like it too, based on stats and comments and the hugs you give me.

The training for the AVON 39 has kicked up to official levels of lunacy.  I walked 30 miles this past weekend.  And saw that heart on the ground (pictured above) at about mile 18.  Thank God - I needed that boost.  The race is in two weeks btw.  Wish me luck.

My sister, Kathleen, who is an artist, had our family over for Easter Sunday.  Her house has all these interesting vignettes in it, not to mention flowers.  You could even say - flowers galore.

The woman Kathleen bought her house from was a master gardener.  And it shows.  Have you ever seen an iris that color?

Kathleen recently added bookcases in her Gallery to show her work.  She is also doing a show soon at Brookwood, if you want to try to catch it and see a large amount of her things at once.

Even the clover blooming on the grass in her backyard is
well . . . picturesque.  I used no editing in any of these photos,
that is how beautiful everything is at her studio.

One little girl even found a roly-poly who she became
instantaneous friends with and had a hard time letting go.

Some of Kathleen's work in progress for her next show.

And up in the corner, you can see my mom taking a stroll
around Kathleen's place looking at the flowers with Chuck.
Chuck used to work for Tara (my sister who was a florist) 
when she had large events.
He is an artist, and now collaborates with
Kathleen at times and is Kathleen's neighbor.
Surrounded by flowers, working with Chuck, I think Tara
would be pleased at how Kathleen's new life in Texas is working out.  Hope you had a lovely Sunday too.  Hugs.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kelley Devine - The Highs and Lows of Being An Artist

"There is no part of this job that is not a lot of work" was what kept ringing in my ears after leaving Kelley Devine's studio last Friday. The myths of being an artist, specifically a painter, swell in the minds of people - people who might want a different job and think all they are lacking to be a painter is talent.  They might fantasize about setting up a canvas and slowly painting the day away, much like doing yoga, while breathing in and breathing out.

But the life of a painter is something Kelley told me that she doesn't wish for anyone.  The struggles she has gone through to get where she is today are something any freelancer or solopreneur can understand and applaud.
"Think twice before doing this.  I love it, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I have a bi-polar life.  I'm not bi-polar.  My life is.  Welcome to the highs and the lows."

Here is an example of a low.  Kelley had a one night show in the gallery of her studio.  Her husband was flying in from out of the country to be at it.  200 people had replied they were coming.  And it rained.  It didn't just rain, it was a monsoon.  All that work - all that money she was banking on, now washed away.  And to top it off, she felt as if she was failing in front of the one person she wanted to see her succeed the most - her husband.  After this, her rule was no more one night shows.  

Here is a high.  Last year, her business tripled.  So much so, she was unprepared for the success.
"You have to do so much to get by, that when you do start making money, it's a surprise."

Quickbooks is now her friend.  She had to stop, while riding this exuberant wave, to buy it, learn it and set up a system.  Now when pieces sell, the exact amount for taxes is taken out.  Every artist I have represented has found themselves in this exact same situation. It's hard to be an artist, an accountant, a marketer, a photographer, and everything else it takes to be successful.
"Sometimes I give a piece to a place like MAX's Wine Dive and then I remember, I forgot to take a picture of it or make the label.  That type of stuff takes a lot of time.  I have to stop thinking like an artist and think of it as a business.  Then, when that's done, pick up my brush and think like an artist again."

When I ask her what was the hardest thing she did when starting this, but is now one of the easiest . . . it's something all creatives struggle with and that is talking to people about her work.  When people would show up at her studio or she had to talk at a gallery, she used to feel uncomfortable.  
"Took me awhile to get used to talking to people that came in the studio.  90% want to know the story behind the painting, and others just hand me cash and I get out of their way.  Once you do start talking to them, you have to learn to shut up.  You have to learn to read people."
Maybe selling water door-to-door in her twenties might have built up a lot of the muscle needed to read others and talk to the general public.  
"It's hard to put yourself out there and get kicked in the teeth.  And for no particular reason.  When I started I did not have thick skin, now I have (as she knocks on the chair she is sitting on) skin as thick as this."

Part of that skin thickening is having your studio accessible during one of Winter Street Studios open studio nights when the general public is walking through to see your work and meet the artist. People will come in, look around, say nothing and leave. Sometimes that might happen 5-10 times in a row for the first hour and as an artist sitting there, waiting, it can be excruciating.  

Meeting Kelley 5 years ago, I see the growth in her confidence not only about her work but the worth of her work.   Artists normally have two problems when it comes to their work:  talking about it and pricing it.  When I ask Kelley about that, she says . . .
"People often ask for discounts.  I don't give discounts. I now say 'This is what my work is worth.  If you love it, buy it.'  And I no longer hold my work.  People would come in and ask me to, and I would to be courteous, but now, I just say 'I don't do that.'"

Kelley is the mother to one boy, Nate, and one girl, Elle.  When I ask if they like to draw and if she encourages them to be artists, she says . . .
"Nate still likes to draw, more like an engineer.  He also does a lot of origami.  Elle normally draws things more socially oriented.  And I encourage them to be doctors. This life is not for everyone."

Kelley is also a competitive bike racer.  I've seen her fly around the track at Memorial Park at speeds where I think - one poor move by any biker and you are going to the hospital.  Yet, she thinks her art is more dangerous than her hobby.
Painting is like bike racing.  You can't slow down, because someone else will go faster.  It's really competitive, because there is no stopping.  Just because you got paid today, doesn't mean you will tomorrow.
Being represented by Esperson Gallery in downtown Houston has helped Kelley's work get noticed.  They were the link that got her pieces in the new Marriott downtown, an installation worth making the trip to see. Kelley was impressed with how the staff at the hotel is required to learn about the artwork.  When she walks into the lobby, people at the front desk say, "Hi, Kelley." 

When I ask about hiring help or an assistant, we look at how that would work.  What they might be able to assist with, what might take too long to teach or what might be too hard to teach.  An example of the hard to teach might be stretching her own canvas for all of her paintings, because if she buys it ready-made, it has to much 'give' to it and is difficult to paint on.  It's hard work, and on her best days, she can only get 3 canvases stretched in a day. 
Kelley's inspiration wall of sorts in her studio
There are two things I always love and admire about artists: their generosity and their candor.  When I first started doing this, I was amazed how they open up and tell me anything and everything. Kelley is no exception.  She clearly loves what she does.  But she doesn't sugarcoat the struggle of what it took to get to this point. Supporting two children on her own for many years (she is recently re-married) as a full-time artist, made her often think - I need to give this up and get a damn job - to I can never give this up and get a damn job.  I think we can understand her comments of having a bi-polar life.  Keep going Kelley.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bathroom Diaries - Bayou Bend & Raven Grill

I don't mind saying I like good interior design.
I'm not unusual.  But you know what is unusual?
Good Bathroom Design.
If you missed my last post on this, please look here.

And gentleman, please take note of the following when
creating bathroom design.  The Raven Grill has numerous
small touches I want to thank them for.

I don't know about YOU - but don't ya
think having a shelf like this to put your purse on
 in every ladies' room should be a law? 

Having a hook or a shelf, 
instead of the floor (yuck)
is always appreciated.

And a stool by every sink, so you don't have to 
hold your toddler up to wash their hands?
And get your dress all wet.  And theirs.

And a beautiful lamp next to the sink so
we can look in the mirror without fluorescent lighting?

And a mirror that tells us . . .
"You look very pretty!"

Whoever did this bathroom, I want to
give you a hug.  You are thoughtful.

And then over at Bayou Bend,
I want to covet their counter material.

I have never walked in and seen a better 
shock of surprising color.

This is the edge of the surface, which had me more confused.
I am in design showrooms a lot, but I cannot tell what
type of material this is - can you?

If you are unfamiliar with Bayou Bend or
haven't been in awhile, you might head that way
now, because the Springtime is the best time to see.