Sunday, May 31, 2009

Work on Sunday

This vase may be what happens in the center of the chandelier. Needed red and I remembered this vase. Will ask the chandelier man about putting a cup or ledge in the center to hold the vase. Could then leave it as an 'urn sort of icon' or put fresh flowers in it. If one could drill a hole through the bottom of the vase without breaking it, it might be wonderful to have a center light bulb like the pistil of a flower. The red is good and the shape of vase/urn lends a serious note.
A dear friend saw the chandelier late yesterday afternoon before we went to supper and became tearful. She said it seemed 'so right.' Whatever did it suggest to her? Whatever, I consider her response important. It means that this chandelier is evocative and good. I'll carry on with it and wait impatiently for the parrots to arrive.
The setting of the vase within the chandelier was the first thing I did today. The other thing I did was remix and glue down a photo collage, making it darker and denser than it'd been before. I've got it under heavy books now as the glue dries overnight. Will take a look at another unfinished collage and see where it goes.
Tomorrow is a busy day of phone calls, again lining things up for the exhibition space, for tables to be made by others. My list is long.
I am beginning to feel 'in the zone.' This feeling may save me and I hope I'll continue to stay in that place by just working steadily forward. Doing the next thing and then the next thing after that. Focused and steady.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chandelier Underway

This is how I left the new chandelier today. I think it's beginning to take form though cannot figure out how the center will work, though it looks great with a bunched up bit of red velvet. Hung some more crystals too and I think with lights (Whatever kind of bulb? So many choices?), they will sparkle plenty.
Have turned the studio lights off and am going to dinner and the theater with a friend. I am tired and headachy, but it's been a good day.

Outlandish - That Would Be The Hope

Spending time in the studio today - when I'm not sitting in front of this computer - working and reworking on ideas for the new chandelier. It's the same process as when I crochet or make a collage, which is one of mixing and matching, looking, stepping back, returning, remixing, looking, looking. All the time open to those new ideas that jump into the mix like sparkling gifts from where?
A documentary photograph won't do the ideas or process justice, so here are bits and pieces of the whole. They better represent where I am headed. And I do not know yet where that is. But I know when I see something that I like, meaning, it works.

Among Artists

Second Seating artists are beginning to email one another about what we're all working on. Six artists (and there may be more soon) are contributing to this installation. Here's a bit of our correspondence:

Mary Margaret, and dear friends:
I want to thank you again for inviting me to be part of such a grand group of artist,
I live in Capula, Michoacan. where I have an old adobe home and a studio, everybody is invited to come and visit any time you feel like, MM has already been here, and it is an inspiring town, where everybody makes a living with their creativity and hand work.
my collaboration for Second Seating, is like you mention, some paintings on napkins that have been embroider by old and young women of the town, I am asking them to sing with thread theirs, it is lovely work,
then I am painting plates, that even though I have tried to keep in mind food and delicious mexican treats, from time to time political abuse and injustices get on the plates and on the writings, that I always use around the images.... hope that is ok.
as soon as I can, I will include some pictures of them, you are right MM. they can easily be hang with sewing needles...and will feel more like tapestries, the work of many hands!!!! which is the part I love!!
Thank you again !!!!
and I will be in Houston the first weeks in august,maybe a good tome to all get together for a visit..
un gran abrazo
Mercedes Fernandez

Wonderful to hear from you and know more about what you are making for Second Seating. Come stay at my house in August. We will all be in the throes of production. Aggie Eyster is coming to Houston on June 9 for some days to see the exhibition space. Her table ideas with etched sheet metals are coming together. We'll show more when we have some images. I am going over to TSU next week to see the oversize ceramic coffee cup that Jesse has ready to fire for a center piece on his table. Visited his garage yesterday to discuss progress on the coffee buffet. He's going to paint a mini-mural on the buffet table top and is exploring glues and epoxies for use in affixing all the collected coffee mugs into the sides of the buffet. Has anyone used a particularly good glue for adhering ceramics to wood?
Today, I am working on the chandelier that goes over Banquet Insitu (may not be its final name). Spoke with Sandra Garcia this a.m. at La Victoria Bakery about the many tiered fantasy cake she and Rosie will make for this table. Hope it's four or five feet high. It will be styrofoam so it will be durable for the length of the show.
Ted, do you still own that long painting you made for your parents and which hung in the first management district office? If so, I am thinking of it again for Second Seating, as a scrim overhanging the tables and chandeliers. Have asked Jesse to think of doing a similar painting to hang across the ceiling too. Let me know. Jose, let me hear form you. I was in the Greater East End District offices two days ago and saw again, your wall piece that they use for a 'sun logo.'
It is wonderful and I am dreaming of pieces like that for small chandeliers. Do you have any other pieces from that era that could be converted into light fixtures? I remember on the wall of your Grimble Stamp Co. studio that you had 4 or 5 pieces and I loved them.
All the best to each of you. Work on.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Chandelier - A Flower, A Bird Cage?

It's high time to work on that chandelier base I had fabricated a month ago. It will hang over the banquet table that is covered with a 10 x 14 foot patchwork of fabrics salvaged from Hurricane Ike flood waters. I want to carry the theme of the salvaged fabrics up into the chandelier. This afternoon, I cut long bias strips from yet another salvaged length of striped brocade. Sewed a loose machine stitch down the center of the strips and then ruffled them.

Tried wrapping one ruffled length around a portion of the basic structure. Then began to wrap simple lengths of fabric around the bars. I liked both, but both need to be refined and I have to live with the whole thing for a day or two. And what sort of light bulbs will go in this piece. I am now leaning toward those long slender tubes that will mimic stamens in a flower. Maybe the whole thing can look like a flower?

Have no idea how all this will work and I suspect I will disassemble the whole piece many times, give up in despair at least once and then finally, something will look decent or maybe even exciting. When that happens, I'll act quickly with the hope that the chandelier will become wonderful.

At the moment, it's almost embarrassing to show these photographs. There is nothing finished about anything I've tried. It's all thought, concept, experimentation - what works, how to fold, what to ruffle, where to hang the crystals.

I have to keep in mind my friend Virginia Avery's advice: Excess is never enough. This chandelier has to look and feel over the top. I've ordered ornamental feathered birds for this chandelier, thinking they will reference the feral parrots that fly over the East End these days. Also because the basic structure of this chandelier lends itself to the concept of 'bird cage.' Note: I in no way want to cage the feral parrots. Off to bed. I can see this post is deteriorating because of the fatigue of its author.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm Back and Off For Turkish Tea

And I am ready to draft new lists, send emails, make calls - and make the art work for this exhibition called Second Seating. It's gotten short shrift for a couple of weeks, except that I noticed chandeliers where ever we travelled. I photographed them and examined how they were constructed. But other than that? I've got to get busy. Media packets were mailed the day I flew to Istanbul and surely they've been received by now and all are thrilled to have a potential story or a calendar listing. That would be the hope here.
It may take another day or two to get back in the groove. I suspect I may have to go to the Turkish store in Houston to buy a Turkish tea pot and a pound or a kilo of Turkish tea. My sister says I write about it as if it were rocket fuel.

And so it was during the trip to four cities in Turkey over nine days. It was served morning, noon and night in little glasses that came with two lump of sugar. After a day or two in Turkey, I couldn't have done without it. Love it. It is rocket fuel. Red Bull beware. Is there a way to incorporate it into Second Seating, except to drink it while installing the exhibition? That should bring the magic out.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chandelier Inspiration in Instanbul

Of course. There are chandeliers in Istanbul and the great mosques and churches that I want to bring home for Second Seating. Yesterday I fell in love with Hagia Sophia and could have spent hours there, from early morning until evening watching the light, walking among the columns, staring down from the balconies to the great space below. The chandeliers were magical. Some were resting on the floor, temporarily felled by scaffolding and repairs. I liked their darkness and mystery, like giant wreaks in need of reclamation.

Later in the afternoon, we toured the Blue Mosque and once again, I was enchanted by the lighting and the way it was designed and constructed. Ideas for the chandelier man in Houston who is constructing chandeliers for Second Seating. All the lighting is so low - just over our heads. Perhaps ten feet in the air. And then the domes stretch upward, far beyond us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Progress: Pictures are Worth 1000's of Words

Not much time to write, but time enough to share some new photos Laurie Perez took of the pieces for Second Seating that are complete or almost complete. The Clorox bottle chandelier looks ethereal and it's scale is fairly overwhelming, quite frankly. The Houston Dynamo soccer ball chandelier is unexpectedly wonderful - of course, I knew it would be wonderful. The banquet table with its patchwork tablecloth made with fabrics salvaged from Hurricane Ike flood waters is 10 x 14 feet BIG and gorgeously overflowing with a plethora of vintage objects and trash and treasure from the East End community.

Second Seating is four months out. Press kits have been assembled yesterday and today. Thank you, Kathie Easterly. They'll be in the mail tomorrow and totally done by Thursday. Then it's back to making art and checking with all the other artists who are producing beautiful stuff for this show.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Unrelated Collages

Sometimes it just works to go into a studio and spread photos and scraps of photos all over the floor and simply begin to place them, side by side against backgrounds of other photos. These collages have nothing to do with Second Seating. Yet, they have everything to do with getting into that state where images are made.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lots Accomplished

Such a good day yesterday. Let me count the ways.

1. Found another underwriter for Second Seating who is passionate about recycling and cleaning up our bayous.
2. Approached an East End glass company and asked if they'd contribute a heavy glass table top for a sculptural table base that will mirror the steel arches on Post Oak Blvd. They said yes.
3. Drafted a follow-up email to the president of a Texas foundation and yes, she said, my proposal is on their May agenda. I am happy indeed. That ended fundraising for the day and I took myself to the studio.
4. Spent time there in the studio assembling fabrics that need to be cut into bias strips for a hoola-hooped shape chandelier that will also be encrusted with crystals and roses and a few birds. Parrots? Blue birds? I don't yet know. The frame is already made and and hangs from the frame that my garage door rolls up and down on. Hope it doesn't bend it with its weight.
5. Spent more quality time in the studio mixing and matching photos for a series of collages. Helps to work on many at once.
6.Bought some simple plates at Fiesta and some tubes of gilt paint at Texas Art Supply for making patterns on these plates which are intended for the table described above.

Today's not so bad either. Had the good or bad fortune to awake at 4:00 a.m. and so I reviewed the drafts of a generic press release, project overview and calendar listing that Kathy Easterly helped me with a couple of weeks ago and they are about ready to go into packets and on to as soon as Cole and Daniel finish their part of getting a new page ready for uploading.
Laurie and I have scheduled another photo shoot for this Friday at my studio space on Harrisburg so we'll have several press prints for download and for the packets.
After Pilates I slipped into The Guild Shop and found a tray, a coffee pot, rooster salt and pepper shakers and a decorative plate - all for the banquet table. Enough already.
This afternoon I'll work on another application and get into the studio to take another look at yesterday's collages See if they're up to the mark.
The day is hot, almost 90 degrees, but breezy and flowers are blooming.

The 'Houston Factor' and Second Seating

The Houston Chronicle published Ed Wulfe's op-ed piece yesterday and it sure takes me back to the days when Ed was on the Greater East End District board of directors. "Make (the) most of the Houston factor" is vintage Wulfe, an optimist, salesman and visionary like few others. I used to call him when a hard vote was coming before the district board and urge his attendance because his spirit could move the room in what I considered the 'right direction.'

Ed always said you never gave up until you'd asked at least seven times and I've found that a sure fire way to get things done. In fact, that's why I am writing about Ed's op-ed. It explains why 'Second Seating' is working so well. This art installation is definitely a Houston kind of show. 'Second Seating' is enterprising, based on commerce and industry. Houston's a business town, built with oil, yes, but built by developers who had visions of what it could be.

'Second Seating' is a lot like Houston. The idea was a vision that appeared shortly after I left my job as president of the Greater East End District. I knew a lot about East End businesses and the people who ran them. It seemed a natural thing to turn their products into art, thereby promoting the East End community I've grown to love.

It also seemed natural to ask for their help. I've spent a year asking for it all: money, in-kind services, advice, product and collaborations. Never doubting that in most cases, their answer would be yes. And the answer has been yes, far more times than I've heard the word no. And when I do hear a no, I simply wait awhile and think of another way to ask. And ask again. That's following Ed's 'seven times' idea.

'Second Seating' is working. I raised almost enough money to do just about anything I need to do for the exhibition. I've engaged half a dozen other artists who are skilled in painting, ceramics, assemblage. 'Second Seating' has partnerships with Houston Community College Eastside and with Ripley House-Neighborhood Centers, Inc. I found a studio space up on Harrisburg in which to work. I got a grant from The Idea Fund, a program of Diverse Works funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation.

And I found reasons that inspired well over a dozen East End companies to partner with me to make 'Second Seating' a reality. Who could ask for more? Is it hard work? You bet. But, it's also like playing a wonderful game, racking up points, securing a position, relying on others, fostering appreciation, giving lots of thanks to all the players. There are so many that are making it happen.

Here's what Ed wrote and I agree with every word. It works for me.

"Positive energy and passion go a long way — the Houston Factor. So, what’s your mindset? Are you working on expanding your network? We live in a friendly and open city. Now, more than ever, you should be reaching out and growing your relationships and contacts in your field and in our civic and cultural community.
Houstonians know how to work harder and understand that you must be aggressive and make things happen. They know they need to add value. That’s the Houston Factor. They understand the need to get out there and concentrate on what you’re doing and on your business, whether you are an employee or employer.
Houstonians believe in themselves, their business, and their city. They are leaders and innovators who are eager to learn more and grow as a person. Now is when you must become better informed and better equipped. Build your skills. Volunteer and help others. Be a team player. Be both responsive and responsible. That’s the Houston Factor. Besides your business and job, are you marketing yourself? Most people don’t look at themselves as a brand. And they don’t consider how to market that brand. We all should be doing that and, at the same time, marketing the Houston Factor."

Ed Wulfe askes, "Are you envisioning what’s next? Visioning is a big part of the Houston Factor. Where do you want to be when this ends? Because it will end and we’ll be back in new ways for exciting times. Houstonians are always ready to seize the moment. We have the Houston Factor on our side. Are you capitalizing on it?"

Yes. That's my answer.