Tah-dah! There you go…sticks and stones….that funky twig-covered plaster and brick-filled Goodwill box doing its thing supporting the fused plastic bag that I entered in the CBAG (he-he) All Member Recycled Art show… Think about what the bag would have looked like without that display! No question the bag benefited by its elevated status. My sleep benefited knowing that the bag wasn’t sagging over or wondering if the handle was posing in an awkward position or if the whole thing may have just flopped right off the pedestal somehow.
There were some interesting pieces in this show and I was curious to know more about the artist and the pieces – what they were made of, why did they choose those items, is there a story behind it? Some were kind of obvious but others begged for more information. Instead, gallery protocol called for a piece of paper with a list of the following information –
- a number (which corresponded to a sticker on the piece)
- the artist’s name
- name of piece
Now, I must admit, I have never been much of a gallery girl. This is really the “why” of Art in Real Life. Don’t get me wrong. I love looking at art and definitely appreciate fine art but I have found the whole gallery experience, sometimes, to be a little dry. Sterile. OK, boring. Maybe even pretentious. Nothing wrong with solitude and quiet contemplation especially in the presence of awe-worthy masterpieces of historical significance or sensitive subject matter.
However, for the everyday person who enjoys the expressive nature and creative talents of real people, not unlike themselves, who have managed to find a way to channel that nature, the gallery environment can tend to come across as detached and disconnected. There can be, in my experience, a separation of the viewer from the art in that environment. Of course, I am not suggesting that every art show should be a keg party and I totally get that not everyone feels the same way or that every gallery is the same, obviously. I am talking about the customary gallery experience.
I am just letting you know, Art in Real Life is all about good art, for sure, but it’s more about fun art not necessarily fine art. Breaking down the stiffness of the gallery experience by taking art off of the “pedestal” so to speak (ha! – that’s ironic!) and inspiring a spark in those who may be thinking “I could never do that!’ For me, It’s just art – it should be fun! There. I said it.
I fudged the non-info rule a little by incorporating a tag on the piece to share something about the materials and my website. The show is up for the month of December so I am curious how anyone who wanders in would know anything at all about these pieces.
Therefore, allow me to share some of the Art in Real Life experience about my bag here (see Part 1 about the stand here) – turquoise, yellow, red and black. Those colors just jumped out at me from my hoarded stash of plastic bags. Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper sleeves as well as my favorite turquoise bags from a surf shop in Virginia Beach and red Target Christmas bags make up the exterior body. The black is recycled curtain material from my fabric stash I’ve had since I was sewed curtains for a living back in the day. It was turned inside-out so that the printed pattern doesn’t show. The fabric has a nice heavy hand and gave the bag the weight it needed to elevate the feel of the plastic. The feathers are all hand embroidered with thread that I have kept for well over 20 years when I was doing embroidered samplers and cross stitch. Mounted at a slight diagonal, one feather has a buttonhole and acts as a closure along with a recycled button from one of my mom’s classic trench coats.
This is the only photo of the bird on the strap, so I am including it, because the feathers on the bag relate back to my brown foil coffee bag bird and his turquoise wing. Unfortunately,there are a few pictures shot in a “soft focus” effect because I got a new camera (yea!) but I am still clumsily learning how to not change the settings accidentally(boo!!) or film unintentional videos!! We’ll move on now…The text that is on the handle was created using a technique printing on muslin fused to freezer paper.. Inside, where you can’t see here, is a pocket with a sepia version of the photo on my “About” page peeking out.Personally, there is something about the mix of the fabric, thread and plastic that just makes me happy. Mixed media, baby!. Just like the black painted wood, the natural look of the twigs and the shiny black glass rocks. Love the combinations. Come to think of it, a good casserole gets me going as well!
See that cool framed piece on the far wall? That is the fabulous work of my sister artist Tresa from Art Junkie @ Rockstockonline.com. Check out her custom stamped stone trivets and coasters there, as well. They suck! (moisture, that is, from your glass….like a coaster is supposed to!)
How cool is this!? Her whole piece was a collection of samples of the many wonderful leather cuffs she makes from recycled leather belts. She can customize the color, the width, the metal, the words, any of it for you. She’s got great stories about how she uses her talent to help raise money for charities. Pretty awesome! The frames are from Goodwill and the hangers are more belts, obviously, connecting the two frames together.
She was able to sneak a little information in her piece, too. We never were good at following the crowd.
This art quilt did have an explanation of her piece pinned to it. It was awesome to read why she chose the images she did and how they all came to be put together in this piece. (Rule breaker!)
The bag on the table was by the same artist. I think she may want to talk to someone about her display. Just saying….
There were paintings with driftwood, shells and nylon line embedded in them, jewelry made from pieces parts of collected items cleverly displayed hanging on a painting…
…yachts made from rolled magazine pages incorporated into paintings…. Lots of creativity and I am sure some very interesting stories.Walking on with the art…. the next gallery was a bit more lively probably because there was wine! The gallery was showcasing the work of students from the workshops that had been taught there over the past year. Nice idea.This lady was drawing pastel portraits in exchange for a $5. donation to the Colonial Beach High School Art program. She had a presence and stories. She told us great little tid bits about her husband and her drawing circle that meets on Thursdays at this gallery to figure draw with a model….clothed, of course! She wanted us to know…(note the return of the “soft focus” effect. Dang it!)Next we hung out at a pottery studio down the street. There are all different kinds of artists and crafters who rent spaces there – jewelers, stained glass artists, painters, potters.The live music set a Christmasy mood and there were lots of things for sale -jewelry, stained glass, wood, pottery and……duct tape purses. My niece’s favorite! They were really cute – the purses and my niece! As we headed out to the next venue, an Art Deco style motel, probably from the 60’s, we heard music in the air. We had heard it earlier and couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from. Not the spots in town where bands usually play but somewhere totally new. It sounded like some place we might want to be.The motel front office was a tiny space and it was cram packed with art and people. The manager happened to be the artist. She was a lively fun person you could tell. Her art was encaustics and paintings. That’s her in the hat.Then there was art hanging in a room of the motel behind the office that you accessed by walking through a store room of sorts. OK, interesting if not awkward…definitely not pretentious and stiff. Good way to show the rooms in the motel, I suppose…Back outside, that music was still playing and the
wine decorations were making us feel a little more festive as we art walked on.There were a couple of more stops on the tour including this shop and a gallery next door.Tons of food and candy with a lot of people packed in this tiny space. Almost too crowded to enjoy but it was nice. The owner is an artist of some local acclaim and a member of the Guild. One cool feature of Colonial Beach is that it is a golf cart community, so we climbed back on our ride and headed out. That music was still playing and really calling us by now so we headed in that direction to see what it was.And look what we found! A full out blues band – Big Money – playing in the parking lot of a new venue that was not on the CBAG (he-he) list! Populuxe! Who knew? It was a kitschy, lively, crazy stylish, FUN venue that was holding court on this side of town.
Cool curated vignettes everywhere…Okay, I really have to apologize. These photos are pretty bad because they were taken with my phone. Of course, my camera battery died and I was freaking out at how cool this place was. I needed pictures! Great mood lighting, but not for cell-phone-tography! One advantage of bright overhead fluorescent lighting in a government meeting room, right?That’s Dominic, a DC attorney, tending bar and Charlene, his wife, who opened in this location recently. They were both very welcoming and they obviously had their own unique style and point of view. An artist friend of theirs was taking pictures and she had work hanging in their shop. (That’s a piece on the wall beside Dominic) She and her partner stage the photograph with models, clothing, hair, etc. and then create these unique wooden pieces. I could not photograph it at all with my phone but they were cool. Again, it was nice to hear the story about how they conceived the idea and what went into them.
Our hosts were pretty busy and there was so much going on that we only had a few moments to talk but they used to be down on “gallery row”, I’ll call it, where we just were – but found they felt more at home in this location. There is a story there, I feel sure. They also have founded a blues society in Colonial Beach and are planning events for that!
Another artist, unrelated to Populuxe, as far as I know, has a studio in the same building, but his gallery was not open this night. There is definitely some art mojo happening on this side of town. A different vibe…intriguing..
Little Colonial Beach, VA with a rocking Art Walk! Who knew? I have been a visitor there for the last decade but this was my first Walking Art experience. The scope of venues and art was wide-reaching. The people all interesting and unique.
2013 holds lots of promise!
Thanks for coming along…