LET’S START WITH THE BLOG

We are thick with work.  It must move.  And all ways of selling work, I hate.  Entering shows, paying jury fees, shipping work off on a little vacation and then back, usually the worst for wear, never again.  Paying a gallery half of the sales price, no more.  Craft shows??  NO.  I have done all this and it is a new day.

We have a gallery half-built.  Personally, inviting friends and acquaintances to come and look is just embarrassing.  Money sucks.  Really.

And then there is the tool of the web.  This is difficult too, thinking about “views” and “tags” and algorithms.  Very frightening.  I see what my artist friends are doing with this, and it can be good.

Yesterday I stumbled on a list of ten things to do to increase views in your Etsy shop.  I have one and have never mentioned it to anyone.  Totally unsuitable for this kind of blowing of one’s own horn, we will give it a try.

One point on list of ten things is to blog.  Well, I have a blog (obviously), and know how to do it.  What a perfect starting point.  Start with what you know.  The genius of the list says to talk about the work, show the space where you make it, all that.

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So here is work sitting on pedestals laying on their sides, reaching down the length of the gallery.  At this point, we have one screw in the wall to support hanging for photography.  It does not work for all sizes of this work made from wooden windows.

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Above is the gallery space in progress where the ceiling is partially in.  There are five windows, much like the ones from which I am making this work, down both sides.

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This piece is called “Green Square” and it is a deep relief projecting from the wall.  To catch the depth, I also catch a part of a window.  It’s always something.

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Only the side walls and ceiling on the second story of this barn have sheet rock.  In the front and back there is just space.  You can look down to the first story.  Definitely no parties until Glenn makes his proposed steel banisters.  Glenn had this little bar, and behind it is an old art fair screen from many moons ago.  I love what light does through the slats, but would never hang a work of art on something like this.  This must have been from Glenn’s high school years.

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Here is what the front and back walls look like.  Bare.  We are standing in Glenn’s studio looking up at the new gallery space.

Finishing off, here are more views of the piece called “Green Square”.

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Aside from the windows, the piece includes a printing block (the green square) a china cup and dowels.  Color exists here in the paint used on the windows in their former life, sanded in places and varnished to keep the history.

And my Etsy shop is  https://manipulatedrust.etsy.com .

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A LEAN AND HUNGRY LOOK

Went to a meet and greet  “all the arts”  interface at a private home recently.  It functions as a way for people working in the arts to kind of cross pollinate with other artists whose projects they may have not known about.  Some simply advertise as to what they are doing and invite others.   This took place the night before most of the Columbia, SC artists open up their studios for a well advertised self-guided tour and sale.  This event has been building for the past few years, and we cannot participate because we don’t live in Richland County.  Some in our situation rent spaces in downtown Columbia for the weekend so that they can cash in on the possibilities.

We met a dancer there that looked exactly like Selma Hayek  when playing Frida Kahlo.

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There was a tiny opera singer there, a very fancy person.

There were magazine publishers there, and wives, and many “assistants” who ran the event and tried to sell the art on the walls.  I was able to meet and thank the publisher who just included an article on my recycling in his magazine as an Earth Day story.  There were journalists, filmmakers;  my raison d’etre.

It felt false.  I put some postcards in my purse, but did not give any to anyone.  I have two jobs right now and do not feel pushed in any way.  What about finishing my pool, my gardens, laying brick, sanding old windows?  We just created a gallery on the top floor of the barn and cannot find time to paint it.  What about my upcoming hike on the AT?

The life comes first, not the art.  If the life is artful, then the art will come.  Do not confuse the two.  The visual artists from last night looked lean and hungry.  Darting eyes.  I have been in that place and it is an uncomfortable and heavy place to reside.

I had a dream last night.  A good friend, not an artist, was making MY art and doing it better.  I tore off the fabric which made up my art from its stretchers, and found that the structure supporting the work was interesting.  I decided that the support structure would be the art instead.

It looked very much like this, only all the lines and shapes were contained within a square perimeter.

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One of my current projects is to create two new embroideries,  something I have not done in years.  One is finished, and it was easy to slip into that old obsession.  It is my only thing where the expertise is unchallenged.

MANY SMALL WORKS

I first met Janet Kozachek years ago at the old House of Pizza in Orangeburg,  one of the only places to have lunch in that small town back in the day.   I was immediately touched.  She looked exactly like a character in one of my childhood story books.   It was about the golden goose, and how townspeople (in a long sticky line)  exhibited their greediness for gold by being unable to unhook from the chain of folks who tried to pinch a golden feather.  It is an old Russian tale.

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Janet looked just like the girl who was directly attached to the goose in my book.  It was stunning.  Russian in extraction, her almond eyes, and her Chagall-like wisps of hair connected me intimately with this old memory.

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Janet came to us with amazing recommendations:  she was the first non-Chinese person to earn a certificate of Graduate Study from the Bejing Central Art Academy (1985), and a graduate degree from Parsons School of Design (1991).  She studied ceramics in Holland in 1986, and also later with the granddaughter of Maria Martinez.  In 1999, she was the founding president of the Society of American Mosaic Artists.  And her work is just as broad as this mosaic of an education.

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All of this background is represented in her exhibition of small works opening at the Orangeburg Arts Center on February 11, 2014.  In most of the works, one can detect the influence of multiple academic experiences, but clearly created by western hands.

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The series of little vessels (there are seventeen), done in acrylic,  stand boldly and aggressively on their trimmed ground, allowing examination of their surface creatures.  One can find small worlds  pictorially within these vessel walls.  The grounds on which the vessels sit seem likewise worldly-influenced, and all nervously vibrates.  Janet creates these little wonders by paint removal and scratching as much as paint application and calls them painting/monoprints.

Tango dancers done in quick calligraphic-like lines exhibit Janet’s Chinese self, again combining a fertile gene-mixing of her history and coming up with a hybrid.  To some Janet has added Chinese cartouches,  containing characters saying (in translation) “Chinese tango”.

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The most unsettling and evocative works are a series of paintings of troll dolls (yes, the ones from the late sixties), the doll shapes again dominating the clipped ground.  The surfaces of these examples are brilliant and shiny, completed in oil made with Renaissance techniques.  The detail and description of the dolls is masterly, including both fronts and backs.  But why troll dolls?

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In a way, the brilliant colors used in the dolls seem like pure light and heat that needs to attach to something.  Simple, geometric, vibrating Amish quilts come to mind as similar in color “heat” if not in visual language.  The trolls can be spooky, but their description is not.  Here’s why they exist:  Janet was very ill when the group was created.

Janet has suffered through an undiagnosed illness for some years.  During the time the trolls were created, she was at a low point, could barely leave the bed, and could lean up to paint just sometimes.  These dolls were collected by her, at hand, and she could lift them.  Therefore, she painted them.  That simple.

Could one make an allusion to the boomer experience with these paintings?  Maybe, who else would even know about these strange beings?

In general, this exhibition is a tribute to the healing nature of art.  All these small works being done during the years of her illness, it is proof that the time she has had to be quiet was not lost.

THE ART OF JANET KOZACHEK

Janet Kozachek created and gave this painting to me in 1993.  The artist in her studio, but not making art.

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Glenn and I hung her current exhibition of small works at the Orangeburg Art Center last week.  What fun!  The following is Janet’s description of the show.  It opens February 11, 2014 through March 31.  Read about it in Janet’s own words following:

http://kozachekart.blogspot.com/2014/01/hanging-exhibition-of-small-works.html

THE HOUSE ON BOSWELL STREET

Glenn gave me a painting done by our friend Janet Kozachek for Christmas this year.  Had seen it a couple of times in her Etsy shop, and in the flesh at her home.  It is a wonderful painting.

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Click on the link above and wait until a single image of a house appears.  To readers not in the Deep South,  I imagine difficulty in comprehending this kind of shelter.  This is the house on Boswell Street.  Wish I could have captured a straight on shot from this site, but my skills are not high.

It has been a while since she completed the painting.  She told me that part of the stunning gate in the painting has fallen away now, and you can see it in the Google image.

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Janet is a Renaissance painter in terms of her medium.  She often paints on wood, and the wood for this piece is almost an inch thick.  She prepares the surface of her support with material that includes marble dust.  She creates and mixes her own paint.  In some of her work, the surface of the painting shimmers like a Northern Renaissance detailed jewel.  The description, in paint, of the shapes and masses in her compositions are deep and layered, complex with under painting, gutsy and refined at the same time.  Color has not the simplicity to stay local.
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We are going to make our own frame for it:  hardwood, fallen-away, with the wooden painting mounted in a box rather than framed with a box. There will be a “moat” around it.  It will have room to breathe.
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(We just had a pique of excitement.  Janet told me the house on Boswell Street was for sale for only a couple thousand dollars, and that of course would only be the land.  Any house is an “improvement” on the land.  We could have moved the improvement and resold the land!  What a fine addition to our acreage it would have been.  Oh, well.  Turns out the sign was for the house across the street, and it is only for rent.)
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If you want, give.  Janet wrapped up a little gift for me when Glenn went to pick up the painting.  Referred to this ocarina in a former post:
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IT SEEMS STRANGE, BUT

As you know, South Carolina is not an asylum, because it is too big  (James Pettigrew).  In 1981, coming here to teach at Columbia College, my colleague said to me:  it seems strange but the SC State Fair is a great place to get your art seen.  Enter the thing.  Costs nothing.  Did it, won some money, but never tried again.

My husband, new to the state, missed the deadline last year.  I heard myself say the same thing to him that my colleague had said to me years ago.  Do it, it costs nothing.  He did, won some money.  How easy is this?

Maybe easy to score some money, but not easy to appreciate art in this venue.   There is something just so wrong about pegboard.

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That base brown color and those round holes can destroy any work that does not possess superior inner strength.   You cannot NOT see pegboard.  It carries associations.  The back of my father’s workbench, on which tools are hung, for one thing.  Everything visible around an image factors into it.

Below in this image from a couple of years back, the entry numbers are smacked right on the picture plane, when  there is a nice information card right below the image.  Put the entry number on the card, or better, on the back of the piece. This is just rude.

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The SC State Fair gives away several tens of thousands in prize money every year.  Why not go cheap one year and purchase some panels that do not destroy the spirit of the work that has been done?  And this is to say nothing about the way that the sculpture is being shown this year.  Below is Glenn’s winner, photographed in a way where the shape relationships can be seen.

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Below is the work displayed at the front of our house.

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In the case of the front porch, the work cannot be seen as in the professional photograph; other elements on the front porch have their say as well.  But the sculpture is elevated on pedestals, and one can see the work from all sides.  Being placed on the front step removes the work a bit from the body of the porch population.  They have more power.

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Here is our prizewinner amongst all the juried entries.  On the floor.  And even when not structurally necessary, the pegboard is there.  And who is responsible for this red rug??