EARTH DAY AND WASTE AS A WAY OF LIFE

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Who knew?  Living on a budget because most artists have to, and to have to value creativity as an asset instead of money, does celebrating Earth Day elevate this?  Synchronicity is fabulous when one runs into it.

I remember the first Earth Day,  sadly being that old.  1970.  Another reference said 1978, but I don’t think so.  Remember the Whole Earth Catalog?

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Looking at this cover and the subheading of  “access to tools”,  it was.  But it was so much more.  1969!  First published a year after the “Crack in Time” of the year 1968, things were definitely shifting.

inside whole earth

Steve Jobs said that the “Whole Earth Catalog”  was the predecessor to the internet;  he was just out of the garage by then.   Buckie Fuller became famous through it.  And those of us who were around remember the cheap paper the catalog was printed on, just like we remember Mr. Natural and “trucking on down the line”.

mr natural

Those were the days, my friend.  Go back and click on the link at the beginning of this post.  This is where I ended up.  Click on “current issue” and go to page 24.

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LAYERS

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It would be so easy to start with a blank canvas and create a work of art.  Many do.  I have to sneak in the back door and react to some product or pattern made by another and then make it my own.

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What interests me is the spaces between things, how they relate or how they merge.

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This sculpture is very new for me.  I have always respected artists who make statements in a thinly orchestrated way.  These are the beginning of my effort to do that.

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The work above is more what one would expect from me, but looser and including no female figures.  There are those damn eggs though.  Here I am trying to use a very anal method to create an atmosphere.  I use color and value to position shapes in their correct space.  Some wool is used to contrast in texture.  Two elements,  printed fabric and stitches are layered together to arrive at a visual statement.

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The same is true in the above.  These works contain only machine stitches on the surface, and they are simply decorative.  The piece was made by merging very different fabrics physically together with a special machine, strangely called an “embellisher”.

pocket gallery

I am going to talk about all this stuff on Tuesday, March 18, and bring some works in progress.  Hope to see you there.

THINKING ABOUT GRAVITY

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Looking at a piece of art, we view it through the lens of what we know.  One thing we know about is the physical world in which we live.  We understand subconsciously what gravity means in our world.  We know how some things should look and interact because we live in ever changing compositions in a world dominated by gravity.

Since about 1980, my work relates to this idea about gravity.  The compositions are always heavier feeling at the bottom because of color choice or number and size of shapes.   It lives up to an expectation, when thinking about balance in a composition, and the piece does not have to fight a battle to stay alive.

That is not to say that a piece where the opposite is true cannot be equally satisfying.  That’s the thing about art.  There are often bad solutions to true questions that can be the most amazing visually.  Or the opposite. The deeper one gets into any discipline, the expansion of those gray areas as opposed to the black and white ones can create insanity in the most superficial of workers.

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Since teaching design in the last decade, I have wanted to make thinly orchestrated compositions.  The move is also due to the extreme amount of work necessary when stitching work in the past.  I am past that!  Below is a piece which adheres to my “darker shapes at the bottom” rule.

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In spare work, the elements are all very important because there are so few of them.

Comparing the two views of the sculptural piece above, I have questions.  Which composition is better, the first where the front window is parallel to the floor, or the second, where the back window is?

THE END OF THE SEASON AT THE POOL

Pretty soon, it will not be fun working with water outside.  Things need to be grouted up tightly at the pool.  Then I will begin with the shower in the new bathroom.  Its portland cement bottom is being created today by a real expert:  the man who taught me to lay tile.

White grout will be added here to this area that is slowly getting more beige (or whatever.  I think names for colors is just silly.  How can a name describe a color and value?).

This tile rug was created last week in an effort really to simply take up some space on a huge pool deck.  The outdoor table will sit here.  The flea market provided the jewels and I usually listen to the universe when she offers something up.

In all my work, whether textiles or this, I like to see a frenzy kind of settle down into strict pattern in places.  That is the reason for the little vignettes of rectangles here.

The orangey center of this rug will be grouted with a color called “malt”, half of it is now, in addition to about a foot of the white tile  around that center.  Then I will start in with white grout beyond.

So with the addition of the white grout, this whole area will get brighter as it works out and away.  And another subtle change is happening on those outer edges.

This tile is from the Crossville Tile Company of Crossville, Tennessee.  They have an area of experimental or damaged tile that they give to art teachers.  I often stop when going across I-40, and got these kind of screen printed examples there.  Breaking these up creates a subtle difference in the area surrounding the rug proper.

At the bottom of the image above you can see the screen printed tile.

GOOD BONES

A little crazy recently about clear coating most of our collection of old lawn chairs and gliders, I have been spending too much time with a wood chisel eliminating dense and easy rust for the upcoming application.

Playing mind games while working and wondering why these old chairs mean so much to me, I thought about other collections, including those of my husband.  He wears a fedora (has many), listens to music from the forties and collects old suitcases, and loves old trucks both toy and not.   I have collected old dinette sets, hammered aluminum tableware, those multi colored aluminum tumblers, aluminum chairs from WW II submarines, and gawd knows what else.

As a child, we did not own those tumblers.  Or hammered aluminum.  But they are very evocative and comforting to me.

Andy Warhol put frames around mundane things to elevate them to symbolism.  Could the things themselves be canvases?

We did have a dinette set.  You know the ones.  Tubular, sometimes with a great insert that tucks away underneath, and always with that pattern.  This pattern is stunning to me as it is so evocative of my youth.

I  stared down this surface every day while waiting for my Chef Boyardee or Cream of Wheat.  I ended up going into a field of art that is totally organized around pattern.  Pattern, the way to understand the world.  Pattern, my comfort.

In art history class, in discussion about non-objective or non-representational art work, I urged the students to forget about the “middle man” of subject matter, and and to look at this work as representative of pure emotion.  You don’t have to paint, for example, a man being sad to express sadness.  You can simply paint the sadness.  The pure emotional form.

Now, working on these old chairs, the question is whether or not these chairs could be a canvas on which emotion can be layered.  Their shape is evocative, their layers of paint are history.  Can I modify these surfaces at will and make an artistic statement?

I HAVE BEEN POSTING, JUST ELSEWHERE

Last time any serious stitching was done around here, “Woman-Flower” was one of the results.  Hearing what you are thinking, yes, the relationship to Picasso’s famous portrait of Francoise Gilot cannot be denied. This series of works started out without a plan, and the need to be more spontaneous than my normal mode of stitching.  The work, mostly because of its orientation, started to remind me of that painting, so I encouraged it.

Another from that series which is mostly about eggs and fertilization and such is below:

A collector from “off’ as we say in the South, requested images of work that is for sale.  You, dear reader, know that I am playing outside as a construction worker these days, but he did not.  The older I get, the more outside I stay:  ass-backwards, eh?

So on a new blog called ” Lee Malerich New Work” there is a post called “embroideries” and five additional  from “Post Two” to “Post Six”.  There are full images and details of work still in the studio.  It feels great to have a tool to which people
can be referred.  Of course, the name is a misnomer because there is no new work on this blog!  It is all old work.  Still trying to learn to photograph well the new work which in addition to being made of tile, dishes and found objects, it is getting sculptural, and involves that whole “depth of field” thing.

So the address is leemalerichnewwork.wordpress.com.  Thanks for looking!

PROGRESS AND JUSTIFICATION

Creating things is my driving life force.  The urge dominates things that have to be done, and even other things that are appealing ways to spend time.  The older I get, the more this is true.  That is what is wonderful about blogging.  If other venues are not working correctly for one reason or another, a post with pictures and explanations can always be created.  Blogging is a wonderful tool to take the angst away of not creating.

This is an urge that has been constant for me. It heals me when broken.  It justifies my existence (and that is really not normal thinking).   I don’t talk much about my textile art with which 30 years or more was spent.  I made images with stitches.  Very, very anal.  I was stitching the energy of my life into those works, and received some notoriety from them.

Each one of those pieces was as much work as this deck, but smaller, more sensitive, and not as easily seen.

With the two images above, not only was I stitching my life away, I was helping to heal myself from metastatic colon cancer, which is deep in my history, and occurred a long time ago.  Topics for these works were like a storyboard developing alongside my life.  My children, my marriage, my cancer, all took their turns.

This stitched work was started in undergraduate school, and satisfied me for a great while.  It was noteworthy, and better than current work, but small.  Americans don’t like “small”.

My new work, big and made of found objects and discarded objects satisfies the kind of “trash sensibility” that I like to see in the objects around me.  I often tried to incorporate the “trash” Lee into the “stitched” Lee.  It never worked.

Business lunch guests just left.  When showing my range of work, I miss the fact that the stitched work is no more.  I doubt myself.  But maybe it is time to let the “trash”  Lee get more exercise.

NEW AND OLD SURFACES IN A RECYCLED HOUSE

Moving and renovating  this house is the most creative thing I have engaged in.   And an experience like this one was one of the oldest things in my memory.  When a child in Denver, maybe five years old, a house was dropped in big chunks down Colfax Ave.  It seemed those chunks stayed in place for weeks, and whenever we drove by, they looked like some kind of a mark of death to me.  It was impressive.

Always having remembered this,  I did not think about it long and hard until my own house was moved,  realizing then what primal place in my being moving a house was.  I even saw a mansion being moved down the Inter-coastal Waterway in Florida one time.  Man, that was a double-take, but the story made the papers and television the next day, so it was not a dream.

Below is the house that we moved over three miles down the road.  You can see the traces of the new foundation in the sand, and the house is being placed over it.  The roof, in good condition, is what saved the house from the elements.

This house was originally built in the tongue and groove style, and we saved all that we could in the interior.  When the house was purchased, we had no idea that the walls and floors and ceilings were ALL tongue and groove.

Below is what we saw in places:

Or this:

These three patterns plus many more were installed in layers over the tongue and groove floors.  Asbestos, probably, and we had to remove all the layers.

In the image above, you can see some fine 1970s era indoor/outdoor carpeting as well.  If you know about pattern, you can tell the decade in which the lino was bought.  Oldest nearest the floor.  I cut two by two chunks of each example and saved them.

When we got to the actual floor, there was some good wood and some not so good.  There had been a bad fire in the kitchen fireplace (which was non-existent when we bought the place), and the floors and ceilings were burnt and scarred.  I went through all the wood, saving the good stuff, tossing the bad.

How did the former owners deal with redecorating the walls of the house?  Same way.  I scraped layers and layers and patterns and patterns revealing some really nice tongue and groove walls.  That statement should be taken within a certain context.  I like walls, floors, gliders, whatever to show remnants of their history.

Many of the walls in the interior of the house were removed and not replaced.  Most of the openings in the last two images were made larger.  This house is really built for one person, and the only existent doors are for the bathrooms.

Some problems were bigger than simply requiring sweat and labor.  At the front of the house, a shotgun, the  door had been covered over, intact with sidelights, by plywood to create an interior bathroom wall.  Plywood was applied to the outside and inside.  The door and sidelight were removed by us, to use in the laundry, leaving a gaping hole.  A custom window was ordered, cement board was installed, and I started creating a composition.

GLIDER LADY

Around my home “city”  (more like a community as they call it here;  to us, it is a crossroads), I am the art lady.  The center of this organic place is the “Solid Waste Collection Site”.  The trash heap.  Remember, this is South Carolina.

They don’t call me that to my face; it is my reference.  Perhaps because at the solid waste collection site,  sometimes I am more interested in acquiring trash than delivering it. And it is a good place to exchange all kinds of information about others.

So this art lady started this blog to talk about her work, and maybe sell it, and when writing about my ten gliders, the “hits” go way up.  Now maybe I am the glider lady.  More than once help was given me to take an old glider out of the dumpster.  One time, up in the biggest city near here, I was refused help and refused the glider.  Said those were the rules.  Once the thing is in the dumpster, it stays.

I have a solution to this art vs. glider problem, and would do it if it were possible.   I would weld eccentric elements on gliders and call them “art”.  Can see it all now; it would be wonderful.  But not being a welder, the job is too big for me.  Have tried to interest my husband in this, but he is allowed to have his own art.  It would not be fair for him to do mine.  He IS a welder.

The picture of the fine glider shown above is one a friend sent to me.  Her grandfather made it, and she learned through the blog that what she had was a glider, not a swing.  It had been in the basement for forty years when she rescued it.  What is wonderful about it is that it shows its various painted history.  The colors represent its decades of life.

Of course another stunning feature is the circular structure on both ends, securing the system that allows it to glide.  This example is made of wood.  It is a family piece and should go on forever.  Good that it is under a roof.

Think about gliding on a front porch ( wish I had the one my grandmother, Mattie, had on her front porch in Decatur, IL).   Gliding is like a heartbeat.  It is rhythmic and it calms everyone, not just babies.  Admitting my history in textiles, I know for sure that weaving on a floor loom does the same thing as the beater bar establishes a rhythm.  Of course, rhythm is predictable, we know what comes next, and is therefore soothing.  It is through rhythm, otherwise stated, pattern, that we feel more comfortable.  Its resemblance to a heart beat cannot be overstated.

This is a swing on my front porch.  It precedes in the collection all the gliders, and is fun to have, but maybe not as expressive as a glider.