May Day May Day!!!! Peters Valley Open House and Studio Tours

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May Day can either mean May 1st,  a day to celebrate or  May Day May Day a distress signal.    Thankfully in my case it was a celebration, as in my line of work it could have gone either way.  Yesterday was the Open House and Studio Tours event at Peters Valley Craft Center and I was asked to fire the raku kiln as part of the festivities.

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Sharon Pflug-Moench (left) and I (right) doing the heavy lifting at the Peters Valley Raku kiln


Knowing my schedule would only permit me to make enough ware for 1 or 2 loads I reached out to teacher, potter, and good friend Sharon Pflug-Moench to make ware and join me in the effort.  She did not disappoint.  We had enough work between us for 6 loads, a full day of firing fun!


Sharon aka Lucy and me, aka Ethel with the ware waiting to be fired


Caught Instagramming- red handed!

Sharon and I are the clay version of Lucy and Ethel.  We’re soft-hearted tough cookies.  We work well together.  We get into scrapes.  We generate alot of laughs. To temper us and provide support were my husband Bill and her husband Paul- Ricky and Fred, although none of us could decide who was who of that pair.

True to form, like every other time I have raku fired at Peters Valley, it poured rain all day long.  You can set your watch to it.  You want rain?  Call me, I’ll either schedule an outdoor picnic or a raku fire at Peters Valley.  I’m so used to it I don’t think I’d know what to do if the sun was shining.

Joining us in the ceramic studio were director Bruce Dehnert, his wonderful wife Kulvinder Dhew, and fellow potters throwing on wheels, including Linda Garrabrandt of MudSlingers Pottery Works.


Kulvinder Dhew arranging Bruce Denhert’s work for sale, while Linda Garrabrandt of MudSlingers Pottery Works throws clay in the background

Visitors came and went and pots went in and out of the kiln.


Vases fresh from the kiln “steaming” until cool to the touch

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I was nervous about firing hot and fast in a kiln set up differently than my own, but it’s alittle like riding someone else’s horse:  the basics are the same I just had to learn its nuances and how to get along with it.  Everything worked out fine and the kiln saints and devils smiled upon us.  The pieces survived the firings, the glazes came out great and the humans came out of the experience unscathed, just filthy, tired and wet, but very very happy.


In terms of kiln saints, I brought the heavy artillery: St Michael the Archangel, Pinocchio and the little devil who, if the sun were shining as he is solar powered, would be dancing a little jig

I had the good fortune to meet many people touring through the studios, show my work, eat a great meal from a food truck (fish tacos with the most divine fries!) and even get interviewed by a reporter at the NJ Herald.  Look at me, I wound up the lead article in their on line edition the following day!

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For my next Peters Valley trick I will be teaching the 3-day raku workshop Raku Rodeo the first weekend in June.  Get out your umbrellas and galoshes and come fire with me!


Turn Milestones into Stepping Stones: SEND A KID TO SUMMER ART CAMP!!!

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Won’t you enrich the lives of a deserving child by giving them and their families the gift of art and culture?

It has come to my attention that on April 4th I will turn 55.  Even more shocking is the fact that on April 6th, Bill and I will have been married 25 years!  Do you know what this means?  This means something grand must occur to mark these tremendous milestones.  What do two people  whose lives are so full and blessed with an embarrassment of riches beyond our wildest dreams need?


In 2012, I taught pre-teens a 2- week clay class at MAM SummerArt Camp.  What I learned is that I am not the best teacher for anyone less than 20 years of age.  I also learned that the camp was in desperate need of economic and cultural diversity within the student body.  Minimalism is a great genre, but not when it comes to filling a class with students.  Creativity begins when cultures, races and others of diverse life experiences collide.

Bill and I have created a scholarship fund to accomplish this mission.  A gift of $900 will send 1 child to camp for 2 weeks.  To make things even more fun for them they will also get a lunch box, a gift certificate to a local art supply store and a 1 year family membership to the museum.

Imagine  if 90 people sent $10-  BINGO, a child’s life is changed!

The folks at MAM have made it really easy to donate.  All you need to do is click on a link:

Enter the donation amount on the first page (under the donation amount you can check a box in case you want to make the donation in honor or memory of someone, pretty cool..)  Just after entering your credit card info enter the coupon code SUMMERCAMP at the bottom and it will earmark your donation for the camp.  DON’T FORGET TO ENTER TO COUPON CODE!  Please do not delay, as the selection process for student applications is fast approaching. Please help turn our milestones into stepping stones for a budding artist.  Give them a chance to grow and create in a spectacular, nurturing, fantastic place.  Help add “let’s all go to the museum!” to their list of fun things to do.

Please share this post with as many like minded people you can think of, help SummerArtCamp go viral!

Session II Session I Exploring Pottery


Gallery Crawls: Paris, France, November 9 – 13, 2015 Centre Pompidou

Bonjour!  The next several posts will center on the City of Light, Paris France.  I accompanied Bill on his journey to Paris Photo at the Grand Palais.  What started out as a wonderful week of sight seeing, art viewing and gallery crawling ended sadly and abruptly (with a little scary thrown in) but we did manage to feast our eyes on many many visual treasures before most public spaces were shut down for the duration of our trip.  In my opinion, Paris itself is one enormous work of art, but I will try to bring you into the experiences we had at several art institutions that we visited before all public venues were closed down in the aftermath of the horrible terrorist attacks that took place on the evening of Friday, November 13.

Our first stop on the agenda was Centre Pompidou, as we missed it the last time we were in Paris in 2001 and vowed to make it a priority to visit.  I can’t help but experience this structure as the world’s largest human habitrail.  Built with its inner workings on display like an enormous exoskeleton, the Pompidou houses a vast Modern and contemporary art collection.  Forgive me but I was never much of a fan of post modern architecture, but I did appreciate the building as an emblem of its time in architectural history as a wonder.  Going up escalators in glass tubes would be more of a thrill if the escalators did not have a horrific screech of metal on metal every now and then much like having an ice pick thrust into one’s temple, and if the glass were less cloudy.  But as a voyeur I had a wonderful time enjoying the view and looking at roof tops and at Mont St Michel in the distance.


The World’s Largest Human Habitrail, Centre Pompidou

Vintage Hamster Habitrail, well???



Up the escalator in a giant glass tube


Enjoying the view on the escalator

The art works took me awhile to warm up to, but there was the most amazing show of an artist I previously had never heard of:  Wifredo Lam.  His paintings and ceramics spoke to me in ways I crave:  they contained raw emotion and energy in their intense imagery, color and texture.  The exhibition contained dozens of his works from small to monumental and I could have stayed in that one area the entire day just enjoying them.


Vases, 1975


“Chant des osmoses” 1965


La Jungla, 1943


The place is so big and has so many floors it’s hard not to get cross eyed looking at everything, and hard to not become desensitized by having so many masterworks together in one space, but there was my all time favorite


And a show of  works “Beyond the Vulnerability,” by artist Chen Zhen who died in 2000.


“Beyond the Vulnerability” by Chen Zhen

I enjoyed their childlike poignancy as well as the surprise discovery of a 1913 Chagall painting in one of the corridors not too far away that had a particular resonance to it.


“L’Homme dans la neige,” 1913, Marc Chagall

The Pompidou is enormous and vast, divided into large rooms with small dark corridors connecting them, all filled with art.  Some of the spaces did not exactly allow for enough distance to experience some of the larger works, and if I were an artist who had works hung in the corridors, with their narrow halls and dark tones, I would have felt like Charlie Brown.  But I did enjoy the outdoor spaces with sculptures in reflecting pools.  Between their serenity and the view it was a wonderful experience.  I also enjoyed this sign posted in one of the exhibition halls.


I sometimes wish there were warnings in certain rooms that read, “caution, bad art ahead.”


One aspect of the museum that I found absolutely striking was the dearth of works by women artists.  I saw maybe one painting by a woman and she was married to another artist featured in the same room.  It boggled my mind that there were no works representing the feminist artists in the 1970’s, or any other female artists for that matter.  Upon exiting the  museum we were stopped by a very nice fellow working for the museum who asked if he could have a moment of our time to answer some questions regarding our visit.  It took more than 5 minutes, but he was nice and trying so hard that we tried to be on our best behavior and not be impatient Americans.  One of the questions posed (it was a written list) asked if we had any comments about the collections.  I did my best not to get on a tear or unleash a rant but did my best to convey my dismay that women artists were so poorly represented and the fact that no feminist art was represented at all.  The poor fellow’s eyes took on that blank look I’ve seen men engage when in the company of a woman on a mission (I get that look alot.)




Gallery Crawls, September/October 2015: Denver, Colorado


Exploring fine art in Mile High City


Denver, CO:

My museum i.d. got a work out at the Denver MCA where we took in the Marilyn Minter show, Pretty Dirty. I am a huge fan of her work. I love her mash up of beauty and the grotesque as commentary on the fashion industry’s definition of the feminine ideal. She is a feminist after my own heart as she brings the average viewer to places they ordinarily wouldn’t entertain, to give them a glimpse behind the façade of beauty to reveal its hidden cruelties. I particularly responded to her videos and photo realist paintings.


Me in front of Marilyn Minter’s “Kicksilver,” 2009, Wallpaper at the Denver MCA.

Alas my i.d. did not charm the nice folks at the Denver Botanic Gardens into waiving the entry fee, but the visit was worth every penny. Flowers were blooming everywhere, each garden more spectacular than the other. A highlight of the visit was Deborah Butterfield’s The Nature of Horses sculptures placed throughout the venue. Their gestural grace and beauty translated in painted bronze cast from scavenged wood bring to my mind the ghostly “Performed Invisbility” works of Anna Mendietta.  There was a wonderful video of her making these magnificent works that is a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes for an artist to create work, from inspiration to execution.


Entrance to Denver Botanic Garden



The gardens were a riot of color



“Crane,” 2006 by Deborah Butterfield

The art scene is hopping in Mile High City. It seems you can’t throw a rock without hitting a gallery everywhere you go, but a great concentration can be found on Broadway and Santa Fe Drive.

We visited several galleries highlighted by Solace, a show of sculptural forms of household objects dipped in latex and shaped into wall hangings by ­­­­­Amber Cobb at the Gildar Gallery on Broadway. Cobb’s wall hung works, common household objects coated in latex and hung on walls were at times grotesque, mysterious, sensuous and evocative. Solace is a show worth seeing in my humble opinion.  Also on display were fanciful ceramic horses and other figurines one would have in a child’s bedroom that were dripped with white plastic. My favorite in this series was Transitional Figure 8, a figurine seemingly dripping in white plastic. I responded to the way the liquid plastic had dried on and off the piece, leaving what looked like sticky drips in columns off the piece that pooled around and under it. In my opinion the drippy, white plastic coatings of these objects evoke the sugar-coated, sweet, fond memories figurines such as these would evoke if one were to stumble upon them in an attic box or at a jumble sale.


“Transitional Figure 8” by Amber Cobb on view at the Gildar Gallery

We cruised down Santa Fe Drive, another gallery hotbed. There truly is something for everyone’s fine art taste on this boulevard. I enjoyed visiting Mai Wyn Fine Art. Mai Wyn Schantz was there creating one of her wonderful oil on stainless steel portraits of animals. She was in the process of setting up one of the steel “canvases” with masking tape and was very generous with her time and let me take photos of her studio. The gallery had many fine works to enjoy as well.


Mai Wyn Schantz preparing one of her steel canvases for painting an animal portrait.


Mai Wyn Schantz in her studio.

Whenever we are in the area we always stop in Space Gallery. Housed in an industrial style contemporary structure, the exhibition space and façade is as interesting as the art showcased within. The space is a great venue for events as well as exhibition space for fine art. This time I enjoyed paintings and sculptural forms. In particular I was attracted to paintings by Betsy Stewart.

To be totally biased, my favorite 2 stops were at abecedarian gallery for the Content: Artifact show, featuring one of Bill’s 3D printed sculptural works, “Celluose” on the exhibition poster, and Mike Wright Gallery, that had a show that ran from July until September entitled “Paperwork” that featured three of Bill’s large format panorama images from his Borderlands series. We had very nice visits at both galleries and it was so nice to see people as excited about Bill’s work as me.


Entrance to abecedarian gallery, note the image is of Bill’s 3D printed sculpture “Cellulose!” 😀


Works of “Danze” exhibit on view at Mike Wright Gallery during our visit.

Bill firmly believes that Denver, Colorado is the place to be at the moment for fine artists. It was fun having him squire me around and show me his favorite places.