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golden sunshine

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"Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadow."  -- Helen Keller

September 30th and today was sunny without a cloud to be seen.  The temperature maxed at 83 degrees.  I was in heaven.  Though I had to spend much of the day indoors attending to bills and correspondence,  I managed a few hours in the sunshine. 

I wasn't the only one enjoying the fine weather.  The bumble bees were happy too.  Even Claude, one of several gnomes living in my garden, was looking happy nestled in the lemon balm. 

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The colors of straw flowers are synonymous with sunshine.  What makes them have that unique papery texture? I need to remember to clip some for drying.  Subtle reminders of summers past and future. 

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I always get a bit manic this time of year.  I know this weather perfection won't last much longer.  As the days grow shorter, my gardening list gets longer.  Finish the brick edge along the front rose beds. Hostas, day lilies and peonies need to be divided.  Should I replant the large planter with a small evergreen?  And mulch.  I need to get some mulch.  There is just so much to do! 


ribbons

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"I dream a lot.  I do more painting when I'm not painting.  It's in the subconscious."  --  Andrew Wyeth

Such a happy piece based on so many deaths.

John Regan's "Life is Short" is a tribute to 41 friends who have died from AIDS.  The exuberant color invites the viewer to touch, dance, and revel in the memoriam.  As you can see, people obviously did just that.  They rolled in it, picked it up, and draped it around them (something I didn't attempt as the piece weighs over 300lbs).  Children were drawn to it, fascinated by all the bows and braids.  The piece honors life and its power to ultimately out trump death.   His friends may be physically gone, but their spirits live on to touch us all.

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jumping off the high dive

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"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep." -- Scott Adams

My first foray into non-textile based work in 20 years premieres tonight at ArtXposium.  I am both pleased with the results and completely nervous.  I am out of my comfort zone.  I know what to do with a pair knitting needles and a bit of yarn, but curly willow and red encaustic...?
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The installation is titled "Varicose Veins"  and is comprised of 30 painted curly willow branches suspended from a line across the top of a window.  They were installed last Sunday.  With the warm weather, I am curious to see the effect of direct sunshine.  Is the wax intact or has it begun to melt? 
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The idea for the installation came to me several years ago while working at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.  The commute was 75 miles from door to door and took me through beautiful farm country.  Lining parts of the highway were bushes of curly willow.  Their structure is reminiscent of man's interior. The branches bend and move to bring nourishment to every part of the plant. 

I don't know where I am heading with this work, but I had fun making it.  And fun is always a good thing.

To read more about the exhibition, take a look at the following links:

Daily Herald
Chicago Suburban News - Entertainment
Chicago Suburban News - Homepage

exhibition schedule fall 2007

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"In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire."  --  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Safe Base -  2005, 20" x 19" with 7' cord and adult sized mittens,  hand-knitted mohair.

Public Art
Cool Globes - The exhibition continues through October 1st with an auction following on October 5th at the Chicago Theater.  There are over 120 globes installed along Museum Park as well as at Navy Pier and the Sears Tower.  You can spot my knitted globe, fondly nicknamed "Big Blue," installed on the front steps of the Field Museum.  Keep your eyes open for it while heading south on Lake Shore Drive.

Touring Exhibition: Twist and Shout

Pelham Art Center - 155 Fifth St, Pehlam, NY  10803  September 21 - November 3
A catalog is available for Twist and Shout with essays by the curator Michelle Tuegel and Sunita Patterson, editor of Fiberarts.  It may be purchased through Florida Craftsmen Gallery or at the Pelham Art Center.

Group Exhibition

ArtXposium - 103 W. Washington St., West Chicago, IL 60185  September 21-23
This 3 day multimedia art experience happens next weekend in West Chicago, IL, just 35 miles west of downtown Chicago.  Founded and curated by Anni Holm, it will feature local, national and international talent displaying work ranging from traditional painting and sculpture to interactive and multimedia installations.   I will be showing my latest work titled "Varicose Veins," a mixed-media installation comprised of curly willow branches, soil, and encaustic painting.

Other Good News

Look for the article I have written on emerging artist Dee Clements in the September / October issue of Fiberarts.
    
You can catch my lecture on the medicinal uses of beads around the world including their current use in chemotherapy treatment at the Bead Society of Greater Chicago on October 11th at 7pm.

On October 13 I will be participating on the discussion panel titled Cool Globes - Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet:  Artist' Work Offers Solutions to Global Warming. I will be joining
Wendy Abrahms, Project Designer for Cool Globes, Joyce Coffee from Chicago's Department of Environment, landscape designer Julie Siegel and fellow artist Carol Luc from 3-4:30 pm at the Wicker Park Field House, 1425 N. Damen.  This panel is co-sponsored by the Wicker Park Garden Club and Around the Coyote Festival.

The books Designer Needle Felting by Terry Taylor and Candice Cooper and Jewelry with a Hook by Terry Taylor are scheduled for release on October 1st.  I have work in both books with one piece featured on the cover for Designer Needle Felting.  Order your advance copy through Amazon or your local bookseller.

***** September 18 Update*****

Listen to curator Anni Holm discuss her development of ArtXposium on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, between 9-10am Friday, September 21st.  Her interview will be posted online after the show airs.     


garden inspiration

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"There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it."  -- Minnie Aumonier

See the rainbow?  I was jumping up and down as much as the toddler a few feet from me.   The cool nip in the air had me thinking of knitting, hats and my designs for The Red Thread Project.  A rainbow hat with a giant mohair tassle! 

As I continued my stroll, I saw hats in everything.  Talk about a great pompom!
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And wouldn't this hosta flower make a fantastic stocking cap?!
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A sunflower beret with a hat band of triangles.
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But why be exclusive?  Tiny hummingbirds can inspire as much as flowers.  Look at those beautiful iridescent feathers.  A jazzy beret for late evenings. 
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I came home with a hundred photographs and a head full of ideas.   


knitting inspiration

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"It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely" -- Cole Porter

Talk about having your cake and eating it too!  Cake and knitting in one form, I'm in heaven.  A friend sent me this link knowing it would be love at first sight.  They were designed and made by Lolo, a young and rising star in the food world.  You must check out the rest of the recipes on her blog VeganYumYum.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not only do these cupcakes look amazing, they are 100% vegan - no butter, no cream, no eggs.  Lolo is coming out with a vegan cookbook.  You may reserve a copy with Amazon or your local bookseller.  I am!


harvest fest

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"She was what we used to call a suicide blonde - dyed by her own hand." -- Saul Bellow

The weekend was beautiful with rain in the evening and bright sunshine during the day.  I had expected my dye plot at the local community garden to be a wreck after a month of neglect, but instead it was lush and ripe for harvesting.  Cosmos, marigolds, tansy, yarrow, and black eyed susans, everything was in bloom. 
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Kirsten Ackre (pictured below) is the resident green goddess of Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse and Community Gardens.  Did you know that a solution of one tablespoon of unsulphered molasses to one quart of water makes an instant organic fertilizer for plants?  Mix a bottle and spritz directly on the leaves in the cool of the morning.  The leaves will immediately begin to absorb the micro-nutrients.  I guess everyone including plants love a little dessert.
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My mad weeding binge was in preparation of our harvest festival held this past Saturday.  There were a dozen or so activities for adults and children.  I gave a natural dye demonstration.  I hadn't tried dyeing with orange cosmos, so I was curious to see the results.  With a cream of tartar mordant I had a lovely light peach.   Sorry, no picture. I was too busy being excited that I forgot. 

When I dye with marigolds, I usually use the flower heads, but as I needed to chop back several plants, I added the stems and leaves to the pot.  With a cream of tartar mordant I received an mellow yellow.  My goal this fall is to dye enough yarn to make a few gifts for friends and a sweater for myself - tendinitis of the elbows bending.   


tautology

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"To create man was a quaint and original idea, but to add the sheep was tautology."  -- Mark Twain

According to dictionary.com tautology means:

  1. needless repetition of an idea, esp. in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.”

For a funny visual definition, check out this video:


pavarotti

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"I think a life in music is a life beautifully spent and this is what I have devoted my life to."  -- Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti has died.  I am filled with an absolute sorrow.  I mourn for his family.  I mourn for the loss of such an incredible voice.  I mourn because I never heard him sing live.  It was one of the things on my list of 50 things to do before I turn 102. 

My first opera was The Magic Flute.  It was performed by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, a small but world- respected company.  My godmother had taken me.  We had second row seats, dead center.  The set and the costumes were designed by artist Louise Nevelson. I was 13, maybe 14, and it was love at first hearing.  Opera recordings are lovely, but live opera is magic.  Real magic.  That night I decided my life would some how always be filled with art. 

What I loved about Pavarotti was his full enjoyment of life.  He wasn't a purist, a music snob.  As I heard on NPR this morning, he only thought in terms of good music and bad music.  Here is a clip of a performance he shared with another one of "my men"  - James Brown.  It gives me goose bumps.

I'll be listening to all my Pavarotti recordings waiting with anticipation for those beautiful expanded high notes.  And in the meantime, I am going to look over my list and see what I can do now.  I need to grab life as fully as Pavarotti himself or I may miss another opportunity. 

The above photo of Luciano Pavarotti was copied from this Reuters article.


thousands of hats

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"Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers."  -- Howard Thurman

The Red Thread Project is scheduled to head to St. Louis in 2008.  St. Louis is my hometown, so I couldn't be more pleased.  In Terre Haute, 60 hats were made.  In Memphis the community made over 700.  Last year in Grand Rapids they made 2000.  And St. Louis....?   I wonder what the magic number will be.

There are so many aspects of this project which I enjoy.  I love to teach others how to knit or crochet, especially children.  For children, the process is magic.  "You mean I can turn string into a hat?!"  The activity enchants boys as well as girls.  At one boy's school in Memphis, knitting has become a regular part of the 6th grade art curriculum due to the project.  Younger boys couldn't wait for their turn to learn and insisted they have the opportunity.   

There is the awe of watching the hats mount up in the collection boxes.  I mean really, have you ever received a 35lb shipment of handmade hats?  They were strewn across my studio and around the house for weeks as I stitched them onto a 1/2 mile length of knitted cord.  And yes, I knit that cord by hand with the help of college studio assistants.

The performance is fun.  It's nerve wracking.  Will enough people volunteer to participate?  It is a beautiful and inspiring sight to see so many hats get worn and that crazy long red thread raise up off the ground.   

But what about afterward?  The hats go on display.  My jaw dropped when I walked into the Art Museum at the University of Memphis (see above image).  The hats and cord were displayed running from floor to ceiling.  The sheer mass of color and texture spread up two floors and across 20 feet.  It's then when you can really see the magnitude of the community's contribution.  Hundreds upon thousands of unique hats for eventual distribution to cancer patients, foster children, the homeless, and others in need.    

After 1 1/2 months break from knitting and crocheting due to tendinitis in the elbows, I am once again taking up the needles.  Just an hour at a time for now, but that is a start.  It feels good to have the "string" running through my fingers.  But my main focus will be on developing the project's website.  There is time for the cord and more hats.