Sunday, 29 June 2008

march of the red dragonflies

Thanks to the lino cut magic of Sandra Krumins I've been inspired to finally finish cutting my dragonfly lino block and do some printing.
I started off with a whole lot of blue ones (somehow the colour blue just fits with dragonflies in my mind) but then moved onto some other colours including this slightly dirty red colour. I like the translucency of the print above which I was able to create by deliberately not inking the blocks up to heavily. This lot have been done of paper but my next step will be to print them on fabric. However, I do have a one-of-a-kind paper print available in the shop in case you're in the mood for purchasing.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

lino creative

Ooooooh goodie, look who I found through Blanket Magazine: the incredibly talented, Sydney based lino cut artist, Sandra Krumins, aka Lino Creative. Look at the gorgeous collection she has in the Art section of her website! I love the way she works with the texture of lino cut prints and then manipulates them in photoshop to get her final look. She's inspired me to play with my lino cut dragonfly tomorrow. I've been meaning to try it out on some fabric I bought a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

lotus moon

I love it when you see an exhibition and something about it, the objects involved, the location, the subject of the exhibition or even the smells connected to it take you right back to another place, or as was the case for me today, another country and another culture. The exhibition I'm talking about is Black robe, white mist: Art of the Japanese Buddhist nun Rengetsu showing at the RMIT Gallery in Melbourne until Thursday this week (sorry about the late notice if you hope to get to it). Otagaki Rengetsu or Lotus Moon was an 18th century Japanese Buddhist nun who made beautiful ceramics (mostly tea bowls and saki cups) and inscribed poetry about love, the seasons, nature, joy, life, sorrow, celebrations on their surfaces. For the exhibition, the verses have been translated into English so you can really sink into the mind of a wonderfully creative woman living more than 200 years ago. The exhibition also includes her calligraphy on elegant scrolls.

I spent a lot of time drinking tea in Japan out of tea bowls that were so beautiful they held me spellbound. And I can say the same about the sake cups I drank from. There is something really earthy and soulful about the ceramics of these everyday vessels in Japan. As I walked through the exhibition today in Melbourne I was teleported back to Japan through the scrolls, poetry and ceramics I saw there. It was deeply moving and made me very homesick for my other home, Kyoto. Go see the exhibition if you can.

Further info about Rengetsu can be found via the National Gallery of Australia at this link.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

nikki mcclure

Goodbye New York. It's sad to leave but oh what a great time I've had!

Another great find of mine through Renegade (and being in the USA generally) has been the paper cuts and illustrations of American artist Nikki McClure. She makes exquisitely detailed paper cuts using black paper about domestic scenes or images of nature. Also, people tell me her annual calendar is one to watch out for. I was in a tiny shop in Brooklyn a few days ago and was lucky enough to see some of her cards. Absolutely gorgeous. Here's hoping I can snap up one of her calendars later in the year.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

handmade nation

Someone and something exciting I discovered by going to the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair last weekend was Faythe Levine and Handmade Nation. Faythe is a filmmaker, author, independent curator and creative director. In 2006 she traveled around the US interviewing more than 50 crafters and made a documentary film on the rise of DIY and the new wave of art, craft and design titled Handmade Nation. The film is set for release later this year and the following clip is a sneak preview. It looks really really inspiring:

Monday, 16 June 2008

renegade craft fair

Yesterday we braved the heat again and set out to find the Brooklyn Renegade Art Fair in the Greenpoint area. It was a bit of a trek but we found it in the end. The funny thing was the directions said that it was at the McCarren Park Pool but we didn't expect it to be in the pool itself! That is, the pool was drained of water and you stepped down into it to walk around and look at the stalls. I'm not sure if the pool is actually used anymore as it looked quite old. But what a great venue for a craft fair! The posters pictured above are screen printed ones advertising the fair over the past few years. They were really gorgeous.

Etsy had a prominent stall there which is good to see. And I also recognised some etsy sellers there like Tugboat Prints and Fun Cupcake. There were lots of really cool screen printed tees being sold and the vibe of the market generally was great. It reminded me of the Rose St Artist Market in Melbourne but about 5-6 times the size!

And we went to DUMBO in Brooklyn on Saturday, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass because it really is. It's also right near the beginning of the famous Brooklyn Bridge so I had to take a few pics of that. That's Manhattan in the background, in case you ever doubted it.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

printing in brooklyn

It's lovely to have a bit more green space around us in Brooklyn. We moved over here today (the very funky Park Slope area) from Manhattan because there's a lot going on in this neighbourhood over the next week that we want to get to. Also we have a friend who lives here and swears that this is where all the interesting stuff in New York is happening. So far it looks fantastic.

I was able to stroll down to Lotta Jansdotter's studio this evening for her interactive print session to launch her new book: Lotta Prints. What a lot of fun that was! Lots and lots of people came along to participate and as a printmaker, I think it's really, really inspiring that so many people are getting interested in printing by hand on fabric.

Quite a number of people were having a go at printing on fabric swatches using carved potatoes, lino blocks, and paper stencils. And others were checking out Lotta's beautiful products and books and standing around chatting and drinking wine. I bought one her new books and even have it signed :) Now how nice is that? I can tell already that I'm not going to want to go home in a week's time.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

met magic

We accidentally ended up at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) because the Whitney was closed on Tuesday unlike other major museums and galleries in the area. But oh, what a wonderful accident that turned out to be! The Met is an enormously beautiful treasure trove of art and I got to walk around in it for 7 hours. And the location (wow!) on 5th Ave, sitting on the edge of Central Park, is breathtaking from the rooftop garden (see image below).

One of our motivations for going there was to get out of the heat. It nearly killed me to take this photo on the roof. It was almost too hot to focus through the camera.

But back to inside the Met. What astounds me about this place, and the big galleries in Manhattan generally, is how they ended up with a huge slice of the world's most famous pieces of art. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about being able to see them at places like the Met, but it does seem a little unfair to the rest of the world that so many famous, big name pieces (there were whole rooms of Degas and Van Gogh) ended up in one city. It was like being on a tour of all the paintings from my art history class. And that's just part of the Met. Right now there's this huge installation of a real Egyptian tomb that was going to be flooded so the US bought it and put it in the met (see image below).

And there are many, many other wonderful installations, and exhibits of sculpture and photography to see. And the building itself is just pure joy - we sat and ate our lunch under these huge domes in the great hall.
One thing that seems to be lacking is the works on paper section of the museum. There are some big name pop art screen prints, but generally this section is quite small, which is the case in most major museums I've visited. Having said that I almost forgot to say that the first image in this post was a lovely discovery for me: a 1964 etching by Jim Dine, Bathrobe.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

subway art

If you live in NY or even just visit like me you'll spend a lot of time taking the subway from place to place. Being underground means you don't get to see all the street life around as you pass by on the train. Fortunately though, there is a huge amount of subway art to be explored, especially in Manhattan. The first image above is from the World Trade Centre station (or as the driver announced 'Ground Zero'). I really quite like the mosaic work in this eye. There are plenty more to be seen here. The artist is Jones/Ginzel and it's titled 'Oculus' and was made in 1998. The second piece of subway art is called 'CommUnion' and is by Emmett Wigglesworth, 1994, and is located on Union St near 4th Ave. If you want to see more NYC subway art go take a look at this wonderful site: the Subway Art Guide. Also this great article by Roberta Smith: The Rush Hour Revelations of an Underground Museum.

It's still very hot here making it hard to venture out and about in the city. Yesterday I saw some construction workers take a break and turn a street fire hydrant tap on with their spanner to release the water so they could drench their bodies in it. It was like a scene from a movie. I was almost tempted to join them.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

fabulous brooklyn

I braved the heat and humidity today and took the subway to Brooklyn to find myself in the middle of the Atlantic Ave Art Walk. What good timing! I found the just opened Fact and Fantasy where the lovely Kristen from Moontea Art has her block printed bags and pouches stocked (images above). Her work looked just beautiful there on the walls. Yay Kristin! The girls from Fact and Fantasy have a wonderful collection of hand made goodies and a sweet little shop too.

Another great find on Atlantic Ave was Artez'n who also stock a lot of local artists/crafters.

It was hot out there today and will be again tomorrow. If you can cope with the heat and are in the area check out all that great Brooklyn art on offer because it's on again tomorrow. A lot of artists have their studios open to the public too.

Friday, 6 June 2008

chelsea, ny

The MoMA was great yesterday but somehow all those famous paintings just started to wash over me after a while, despite the gorgeous building and location. Today was different though. I saw the woodblock prints of Zhang Huan at Pace Prints in Chelsea and fell in love with his work (see his print above). His works are large in scale (the one above is 40 x 67 inches) which any printmaker will tell you is difficult to do. He also works quite loosely and it looks like he carves on very large, rough pieces of wood, giving his prints lots of texture. The print above is just beautiful. And being a dragonfly devotee I was especially taken with it.

Finding the International Print Center New York was quite complicated as it's tucked away inside a massive building near the water in Chelsea. Once there I was extra happy because they had an interesting show on plus they had a flyer with a list of print galleries in New York for me to take home :) Do you know how hard it is to find print galleries amongst all those glossy, big scale painting and sculpture galleries? Not easy.

And for ceramic lovers I found Kai Tsujimura's work at Ippodo Gallery in Chelsea also. Kai's fragile, earthy ceramics and this gallery were lovely to discover because I developed quite an appetite for Japanese ceramics while living in Kyoto.

And finally a snippet of the view from a window at the MoMA. I still think you have to go there if you're in NY. The collection of all those big names in one museum is quite mind blowing.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

soho art

Yesterday was spent wandering the streets of Soho with a guide book (Memorable Walks in New York) loaned to me by a friend who lived here a decade ago. Enough said I suppose, but I just couldn't believe how much things have changed to the point where the art trail just wasn't going to work with about 95% of the places having moved or closed. But that's ok because a few great places like Artist Space still exist and was a lot of fun. And The Drawing Centre is still there too. The current exhibition uses a really wonderful way of displaying works on paper (image above). The curvy stand was designed by an architect and brings the work up really close for the viewer.I loved some of the streets in Soho: Prince St, Spring St, Sullivan St (so leafy and lovely), Elizabeth and Mott Streets. I was particularly in love with all those old buildings which used to be artist lofts in the '60's and 70's but now house very expensive apartments. Roaming the streets turned up some interesting finds like the Apple store on Prince St which has to be seen to be believed.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

wanderings in the city

Yesterday I visited The Old Print Shop in midtown Manhattan and it was a real treat for the printmaker and paper freak in me. The Shop has been there for over 100 years and has old botanical prints stored in antique drawers and cupboards. The second floor is devoted to contemporary printmakers and it was here that I discovered the work of Su-Li Hung. This is one her prints pictured above, The Apples, just delightful. I also loved one her prints called Silk, but the digital image doesn't adequately capture the raw quality of the real print. The staff at The Shop are really friendly and knowledgeable, particularly Michael Di Cerbo, an etching artist who has lived in NY for 40 years.

We also explored the gorgeous Grand Central Station building which has intricate architectural detail everywhere you look. And did touristy things like look at the view of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building. Too amazing for words.

Monday, 2 June 2008

manhattan beginnings

I've wanted to see the Flatiron Building for so so long and today I did! We're in Manhattan and boy is it fun. It's good to see the 27 hour journey from Melbourne to New York didn't kill my enthusiasm for the Big Apple despite lack of sleep and season lag (it's quite warm here after coming from autumn in Melbourne). Anyway, the Flatiron Building got my full attention this afternoon as I stood like a nutty tourist on the medium strip in the centre of Fifth Ave and photographed it. I thought the sepia tone I chose for this photo above worked to capture all that texture on the building.

And my heart skipped a beat when I discovered the textiles at ABC Carpet and Home . I was seriously shocked at the rug floor which takes up the entire 6th floor of the building. The rugs there are so beautiful, and there are so many! Those of Madeline Weinrib are seriously gorgeous and if I didn't live in a different country...... Some of her rugs from the Tibetan Carpet collection are pictured below although my favourites, just released, haven't been put on her website yet. When they are check out Mums Mulberry and Mums Coral (below), they're just divine.