Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Because it feels so good when I stop...

It's Quilt National entry time again.  Already I've had four friends call or email for advice and/or commiseration -- not about their quilts but about the entry.  So I planned my afternoon around the process.  I am no newcomer to online entries so I do the regular preparation.  I get all the images properly sized and named and in a separate folder on my computer.  I find the list of things the system is going to ask for and type them out in a Word document so I can copy instead of type into the actual form.  I get my credit card.  This should not be such a big deal.

Well, I'll spare you most of the gory details and just give the highlights.  I realize that I've written pretty much the same damn rant twice before, after entering QN '13 and QN '15.  The same dumb features of the entry form, the same dumb password woes (yes, Virginia, you should start entering before lunch, because you know for sure that you have forgotten the password you gave two years ago and will have to wait for them to send you a new one which takes about a meal's worth of time to show up).  The same dumb system where you do entry #1, proceed through credit card checkout, and then return to do entries #2 and #3.

They have fixed a couple of things.  Now you don't have to type in the info like "Have you exhibited in any previous Quilt National?" three times; you can click here and everything you typed in for the first entry will be copied into the new form.  You still do have to type in the materials and techniques twice for each quilt, once on the full view page and once on the detail page.  And they still ask you for the month of completion, which I suspect 75% of people will make up rather than try to reconstruct from their work logs.

Something new: "Brief History of Exhibition and Publication.  Please indicate any public exposure for your work as an artist.  This includes shows and exhibitions as well as publications."  I think they allowed 500 characters in the little box, so yes, they do mean brief.  What are you supposed to put there?  I was passive/aggressively brief, told them a couple of big shows and then said "numerous shows and publications."  I wonder what they are going to do with this info.

don't you love it when the death icon shows up with no clue as to why the system is unhappy?  it only took me three or four minutes to figure out what it wanted

I had two klong moments, one where things came out right by accident, one where they didn't but I hope it won't be fatal.  First the good news: I didn't realize until after I had hit the submit button for entry #1 that they had never asked for my name on the entry form!  Of course they did on the credit card page, but there they wanted the name on the credit card.  As it turns out, the name on my credit card is the name I want my work exhibited under, but I bet that isn't the case for many people.  I'm sure you could get this kind of thing straightened out eventually before the catalog gets published, but why don't they ask for your name to begin with?

Now the (maybe) bad news: You upload your image, which is pre-named something like "fading_59-x-99_full" and when you come to the page where you're supposed to fill in info about the quilt, the name of the image pops up automatically in the "Title" box.  I stupidly went on to the second box and proceeded down the page, without erasing "fading_59-x-99_full" and typing in "Fading".  I realized my error only after I had submitted entry #1 and proceeded to #2, at which point it was too late to go back and fix #1.

Yes, I was stupid.  But yes, the entry system was stupid too -- why did it choose to autofill that box, knowing it was going to come up wrong, instead of just leaving it blank for me to fill in correctly?  I hope that if this quilt gets into the show somebody will notice that "fading_59-x-99_full" isn't your typical quilt title, and call me up for clarification, but again, why not set up a process that avoids such problems?

I'm not the dullest needle in the pincushion, and if I have so many frustrations I bet a lot of other people do too.  I say it every time, and I'll say it again -- why don't show organizers have somebody sit down and pretend to fill out the entry form before they open for business?  And then why don't they fix some of these glitches and stupidities?  Wouldn't it be nice if your customers would be able to write blog posts about how easily they did their online entry?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bluegrass Biennial 2

Besides the best in show, the Bluegrass Biennial had several more fiber pieces.

Lindsey Windland, Our Lady of Pricked Fingers (details below)

I loved this piece -- beautifully "drawn" with hand stitching and with a real needle and thread in her hand.  I liked the contrast between the beautifully crafted face and the crude bunching of vintage fabrics to make her patchwork skirt, between the precise hand stitching and the casual raw edge applique.  So frequently fiber art faces are too cute or overly Photoshopped, but this one is realistic without being sentimental.

Cathy Vigor, Flow (detail below)

This piece seemed very retro to me, reminiscent of the 1960s, when artists were newly emboldened to show fiber in its raw state.  Here's a combination of knitting, felting, and hanks of curly wool just hanging out.

More fiber art from the Bluegrass Biennial in my next post.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bluegrass Biennial 1 -- best in show

The Bluegrass Biennial, a juried, all-medium art show, is held every other year at the Claypool-Young Gallery at Morehead State University.  It's open to any artist living in Kentucky and always has a great diversity of mediums and techniques, especially "materials-based," "craft" kinds of work that are sometimes scarce among the paintings in mainstream art shows.  This week I went to the closing reception and was pleased to find that eight of the 37 pieces were fiber, including the best in show!

Best in show was this series of five embossed paper sheets by Deborah Levine (full disclosure: she's my close friend and art pal).

Deborah Levine, Destruct/Reconstruct (details) 

Each sheet is embossed with a swatch of knitting.  In sheet one, the swatch sits at top left.  In sheet two, a bit of the the swatch has been unraveled and the free end has been used to cast on and start knitting a new swatch at bottom right.

In  sheets three and four, the original swatch loses more and more yarn, while the new swatch gets bigger; finally in the last sheet, there's only the new swatch at bottom right.

I was struck by how well the paper took the imprint of the knitting (she used a nylon cord that didn't get waterlogged during the casting process) and how the story was so engrossing.  A beautiful piece.

Deborah has another piece in the show, also made from fiber.  This one had a bunch of cylinders made from wrapped and tied strips of fabric, made rigid with an industrial-strength plastic medium and mounted on a found board.

Deborah Levine, Huddled Masses 1 (detail below)

Her urge to narrative surfaces again in this piece, with the abstract wrapped forms taking on life -- tilt your head 90 degrees and they might be boat people heading for refuge on a tiny raft.

I'll show you more of the fiber works in the show in subsequent posts.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Steal this book idea!

Readers of a certain age may recall Abbie Hoffman, the 1960s counterculture and antiwar provocateur who wrote a book titled "Steal This Book."  I am going to steal his title and encourage all of you to steal this book idea.

Last week I wrote about a little book that I made from selectively reading the newspaper for two weeks, clipping all the words "early," "late," "earlier," "later," "earliest" and "latest."  Then I arranged them into lists and theme groupings, some of which started to feel like poems.  Several people left comments that they were intrigued by this approach, and one even said "I am fighting hard against the idea of stealing this idea."

Well, I'm here to tell you STEAL IT!!  I think this concept, which I'm going to call "newspaper poetry," is a neat idea and I would love it if other people would take it up too.  This is not the first newspaper poetry project I've done.  In past years I did several collections of haiku clipped from the newspaper (read about all my found poetry projects here).

I'm no stranger to reading the paper with a scissors at hand/  I've learned several practical things, such as keep a scissors right there, put your clippings immediately into a little envelope, and wait till after your husband has read it before you start cutting.  I've also learned that your subconscious mind starts arranging the bits into coherent piles long before you actually get around to pasting up the bok.

I love this artistic approach so much that I've already started clipping for two more books.  One is about questions (and after a couple of days I'm already amazed at how many times questions appear in the hearline, not just in the story) and the other is about explanations of how to pronounce something.

I'd like to put out a challenge to any readers who like text, and like making little books, or even to those who like only one of the two.  Find a theme, and make a little book!  Then send me a picture and I'll show it to everybody.

If you can't think of a theme, here are some that might strike your fancy or lead you to your own idea:

- the words "cat" and "dog" (or any animal at all)
- the words "better" and "worse" (or any other set of opposites)
- the words "bride" and "groom"
- the names of colors
-spelled-out numbers (this will  be easy up to "ten" but more challenging beyond that)
- pictures of animals, if the captions mention them (cut out the captions too)
- pictures and/or references to babies
- really stupid remarks (that wouldn't be hard in my local newspaper...)
- people with your own name or the names of your family members
- words that rhyme

Just cut out clippings for a week or so and see how it's going.  Worry about making the little book later.  Have fun!