30 March 2009

Farm Chicks Mention My Work!

The Farm Chicks had a meeting with Celeste at Chaps and complimented the new foyer!
This is a very strange aspect of the internet...I'm blogging about a blog that links to my blog.  It's not as incestuous and self referencing as it sounds, I haven't met the Farm Chicks yet...but soon I will.  I'm going to their book signing at Chaps this Friday, giving support back to local women entrepreneurs, my favorite kind of people.  I love it when women have influence in the world and use it to help other women.  Here's the book:  http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?r=1&ean=9781588167293
Wow! Rewind.   If you've read the last post you know that I got to do the walls of the foyer of a wonderful local restaurant called Chaps, owned by Celeste Shaw.  It's been a fulfilling experience on a number of levels...I, like most artists, have a materials fetish that is long, dark, and deep.  Celeste's collections of stuff is endless and getting to wallow and commune and create in such a warm and welcoming environment, with such beautiful raw materials at my fingertips was what I imagine it's like to go to a day spa for someone who isn't me.  Both days of working at Chaps I would return home satisfied, spent, mind brimming with images and ideas for work, body encrusted with adhesive products.  Better than all of that has been getting to know Celeste.  She is warm, connected, authentic, thoughtful, present and compassionate.  Half of that would have been enough.  She has put on her thinking cap on my behalf, trying to figure out where and how I need to get plugged in to the Spokane community as an artist.  I've really been laying low since we moved here, focusing on my health, working on our place, nursing my old dogs and rehabbing my dressage ponies.  This spring just feels like the right time to start to spread out a little, meet people, see things.  I didn't really know where to start on a conscious level, but luckily my sub-conscious knew because it offered to do Celeste's foyer before I even had the chance to think about it.  In return, Celeste is having me share her booth at the Farm Chicks Show June 6 & 7 at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.  (yes, one more FC link:  http://thefarmchicks.com/show.html)
This is exactly the experience I needed, such a boost.  Having an event scheduled, especially one that is so well received, really motivates me and pushes me into that creative zone from morning until night.  This is my favorite phase of the process.   I've been bumping into walls, following my inner movies, watching stories unfold, that eventually turn into tangible things, like little paintings and pieces of art.  The horses treat me gently, as if I'm touched; I think I must be covered in wisps from the dream world, like a tree that was toilet papered on halloween, I sort of flicker in and out, pretty heavily soaked in imagination, Not All Here. Wandering around staring into space is what a work day looks like with an artist.  The escapist in me wants to stay in this phase forever.  I've often wondered if people become artists so they can be in this phase as a form of self medicating.  I've definitely seen lots of souls who stray from the path and get stuck in cul de sacs or potholes that mimic the art life; soothing their disturbed selves with compulsive, repetitive busy work crafts.  I'm pretty sure that our culture moving away from the home making crafts necessitated a market for prozac.  Anyway the dream state phase, where I get to drink from the well, doesn't last, it's not meant to.   The practical side will snap back into control and start performing the tasks that serve the creative side.  Things must be ordered, materials assembled, schedules organized.  Then the invigorating sights, smells and sounds of art industry:  melting wax, heat guns, hammer and nails, books on tape.  New brushes, melting snow, and Kate coming to tell me it's time to take our morning remedies.  If not for my vigilant stalker watch dog, our routine would be in tatters at my feet.

17 March 2009

Chaps Restaurant Foyer & the Miracle of Etsy

About a month ago I got an e-mail through my etsy shop asking "Are you really in Deer Park?"  It's a funny question because Deer Park is a sleepy little farming community north of Spokane, on the eastern side of Washington state, not the side of the state that gets a lot of attention, which is actually the way we like it, and probably why a lot of us live here in the first place. Since etsy is international, and enormous, it is more likely that I would get an e-mail from someone in Scotland than someone in Spokane.  Except for Brenda.  Hi Brenda!
So this e-mail happens to have been from Celeste Shaw, owner of Chaps restaurant and well known entrepeneur extraordinaire.  Fetish is not a strong enough word to describe Celeste's relationship to vintage.  She wrote to me initially about my silhouette paintings which I do on a background of vintage text collaged onto wood panel.  I went to Chaps to meet with her about the possibility of doing a few custom images for her in that style.  My first impression of the interior of Chaps can best be described as Buffalo Exchange (vintage retro cowgirl) meets Moulin Rouge with some spunky Powdermilk Biscuit Farm Girl thrown in for good measure.  This turns out to be not too far off the mark, as Celeste is friends with the Farm Chicks (http://thefarmchicks.com/), grew up in Montana, and at one point even had her own brand (before the word "brand" was absconded by spinmeisters to refer to corporate and product identity, a brand was a steel device with the shape of one's mark, which was heated up so that the image could be burned into one's property, whether that be the living hide of a cow or horse, wood furniture or leather goods such as chaps.  It was the forerunner to a logo, but also not unlike your mom writing your name in the band of your underwear with an indelible marker).
Our meeting quickly veered from discussing a commissioned artwork to a flurry of shorthand exchange, discovering a kindred soul.  Somewhere in there Celeste spoke of her desire to re-do the walls of the restaurant's foyer in vintage collage and I volunteered to help.  We would pull together materials and meet the following Monday, when the restaurant, like a theater, is dark.  The following Monday turned out to be the beginning of what has promised to be the last cold spell before spring.  It was snowing and cold and I chickened out since Chaps is about an hour from my house and I didn't want to get stuck in a blizzard away from my high maintenance animals. We got three inches of snow and had negative single digits for three nights in a row.  Eric slept with the dogs on the living room floor so they could be by the fire and I gutted it out under 80 lbs. of quilts, polar fleece and down, alone in our bed since it's too crowded in the living room for four.  Things were beginning to thaw again by the weekend and we've almost regained the progress we made ten days prior, in terms of thaw and mud and glop.   So yesterday was finally the big day.  I got to Chaps at 9:30 and Celeste had already painted the foyer ceiling in her signature gloss black.  As the owner of a small business that interfaces with the public and has employees, Celeste never has a minute to herself, even on a Monday when the restaurant is closed.  With the constant, necessary interruptions, she is always patient, present, kind and compassionate.  Throughout the morning customers came to the door, wanting to know if the restaurant was open, worried because they were meeting a friend.  All were invited in anyway, lattes were made, pastries were served.  They picked their way past the scaffolding, the paint trays and wet rollers, the piles of ephemera and maps and old songbooks, the heaps of displaced furniture and decor;  they had their rendezvous amidst the clutter and noise of industry.  I should add the kitchen was also being re-painted yesterday, in several coats of "Chaps Pink"  a more lightened hue but similar to "Schiap pink" pioneered by Elsa Schiaparelli  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsa_Schiaparelli  and known to this day in England as "shocking pink".  
We finished the first layer of the foyer and one of the gable walls upstairs.  Celeste has the most amazing collection of vintage ephemera, from maps and board games to sheet music and recipe books and literary compendiums.  I tried to layer with things that teased at the themes of her restaurant and life.  Since a lot of why she cooks and how she cooks stems from a childhood raised on a farm by her thrifty and inventive grandmother (and really, vintage is the most complimentary form of recycling), and a lot of Celeste's interest in vintage and ephemera is about feeling a connection with, and caring about, the people who cherished these items previously, I tried to create a vocabulary, not only of rhythms and textures and composition, but by editing and revealing content as I worked.  Some items were literal and sentimental and harkened to Celeste's past in Montana (western sing along titles, for example), other items were about language and history lost or obscured (shorthand text from the 1880's and this marvelous book I found that is the Minnesota state audit from 1887-88).  Highlights thus far are from sheet music Celeste found that someone had lovingly taped together in a valiant attempt to keep the frayed edges from disintegrating completely, and a delightful discolored old cook book with recipes for things like boiled coffee and weird meat dishes.  I contributed a ragged novel entitled "From Cattle Ranch to College" that seemed to provide an endless supply of appropriate chapter headings or random western sentences exactly as I needed them for the walls.  Celeste will have a chance to live with it for a week while it dries and sets up, and then next Monday we will put on the finishing touches and coat the whole thing with a layer of acrylic gloss medium.  If you live in Spokane (hi again, Brenda), stop by, say hello to Celeste, tell her you read about it in the blog, get your friends to visit, and I haven't even begun to talk about the food.....yum!  Cowboy or Cowgirl latte is a must, and oatmeal to die for.

Compendium Prints

I have prints of "A Compendium of Heroines"!  The images are 7x7" on 8.5x11" german museum etching paper by hahnemuhle.  This paper is heavyweight and really rich looking.  It soaks up the ink and they look so vivid!  I'm really pleased.  I'm offering them on etsy for $15 each or a discount for the whole series of nine.  
Before I sent the nine paintings "A Compendium of Heroines" off to blowing sands gallery, I managed to scan them.  I had been hoping to get them to Coeur D'alene to a place that has a really wonderful high end art scanning system, and offers a super price for multiples of the size I paint, but it was too tight of a squeeze to ship them off in time for Rebecca Devere to hang, so I thought I would do my best to scan them at home.  I did 4 scans of each painting at 1200 dpi and then pieced them together in photoshop and I have to say they came out much better than I thought they would, in fact the detail is much more sharp than paintings I've had professionally scanned in the past.  Yay!