End of my show season

Last week, I finished the last of my shows for this year, and, boy, was I exhausted. It has been a good season: my inventory is the smallest I think it has ever been, a good problem to have. Thanks to all of you who helped to make it a good season. I’m encouraged to think that the economy may be turning around with regard to art.

I would refer would-be customers to my website, but I am woefully behind in photographing my newest work, so my work-for-sale pages are seriously outdated. In the downtime between customers when I work at Flux Gallery, I have at least started updating my (also long-neglected) photo galleries of past work. In the next couple of weeks, while I take a break from turning to finish the house remodels I have been putting off for much too long, I will set about photographing what remains of my newest work and updating my work-for-sale pages. And by January, I will be back in the studio, creating.

In the meantime, I’ve added a few pieces to the work displayed at Flux Gallery. In fact, all of us have just added or replaced work, so even if you’ve visited recently, it’s worth stopping in again.

Patagonia Fall Festival

I just finished the three-day Patagonia Fall Festival and am proud to say that I won the Jury Award for the “best example of artistry or craftsmanship.” The show is in a pleasant venue and is well organized, with wonderful administrators and staff and good support for exhibitors, and I recommend it for artists and crafters with a lot of work under, say, $100. Unfortunately for me and others—and this may well just reflect the times we’re in—there didn’t seem to be a lot of high-end buyers in attendance. Even so, doing shows like this one is affirming. I received two of the highest compliments I have ever received for my work: One customer confessed to wanting to cry seeing my work; another said that being in my booth felt “like home.” Touching people in this way through my art is why I do this. Namaste.

Flux Gallery

Nine of us Tucson artists have responded to the current economy by banding together and starting a gallery of our own. We’re calling the gallery Flux, to emphasize its changeable, fluctuating, fluid nature, and we have acquired space in Plaza Palomino, at the southeast corner of Swan and Fort Lowell Roads. We have our first show pretty much installed, though we’re still tweaking which pieces are placed where, and we’re preparing for our grand opening on Friday, October 16, 5–9 p.m. There’s a wonderful of variety of work to be seen, and we’re hoping to have a big crowd to help us celebrate. In addition to the art, we’ll have wine, water, appetizers, and music from a string quartet, so please mark your calendars and join us.

We’re a diverse and talented group that includes painters, sculptors, photographers, mixed media artists, and me! Here is who we are:

“Shidoni,” by Carol AnnCarol Ann: After eight years of painting semirealistic expressive watercolors, Carol began to experiment with collage, acrylic, and a more abstract style. This new nonobjective evocative approach anchors her work and has become her passion. Worldwide travel and the American Southwest, where she lives, continue to be her primary influences and inspiration. She loves the labor-intensive layering of paint and paper as she mines and refines her work to represent the concepts and the heart of the places her paintings represent.

“Deception,” by Lee Roy BeachLee Roy Beach: Throughout his forty years as a research psychologist, Lee studied, among other things, the neurological and experiential aspects of visual perception: how the mind creates visual representations of environmental events from partial and unreliable sense data. He found that this act of creation makes the representation both meaningful and compelling to the observer. As a result, he strives to avoid dictating the observer’s experience, providing only enough visual data for the observer to create his or her own artistic experience, thereby inviting participation in the creation of the work itself. The goal is for the observer to have an artistic experience that is both intellectually and emotionally stimulating and that is unique to him or her. He has been painting since the late 1950s but began his art career in the mid-1990s and has exhibited work in numerous shows and galleries.

“nonexiestance [sic],” by Bryan CrowBryan Crow: Bryan says this about his work: “I feel compelled to draw or paint every day. I try not to judge or filter what comes out; instead, I try to learn what I am going through, by letting go. Oftentimes I paint patterns and designs to get the creative process started. I enjoy making something concrete and meaningful out of the random mix of words and pictures that come to mind. When I watch my thoughts and pick out spiritual, psychological, meaningful, and arbitrary words, phrases, and ideas, I begin to put the puzzle together that results in the final image. When I put meaning to all that runs through my mind, I put meaning to my life.”

Sculpture by Steven Derks 
Steven Derks: Finding and collecting curiosities in thrift stores and junkyards is a lifelong preoccupation and a passionate experience for Steven, rather like going to church. Three or four times a month, he visits one of Tucson’s four junkyards. Steven walks around alone, looking at the forlorn piles of bent, twisted and rusted metal lying all over the place. Now things start to happen very fast; everywhere he looks he begins to see metal transformed into finished sculptures. Most of his sculptures are conceived right there in the scrap metal yards, where he finds both the vision and the ingredients for his work. Most of the time, during one visit, he is able to locate all of the actual metal parts that will be necessary to complete many sculptures, but occasionally an exciting piece of rusted metal will languish in his studio yard for months, waiting for the day he will find the piece or pieces that are missing.

“Beech Tree, Handcolored,” by Karen Dombrowski-SobelKaren A. Dombrowski-Sobel: After a 15-year career as a designer in large New York City architectural firms, Karen turned her lifelong hobby of fine art photography into a new profession. That was twenty years ago. Having developed and printed her own black-and-white work for many years, she started selling her work in galleries in New York, the Hamptons, Sag Harbor, and Carmel. In addition, she created fine art portraits for many NYC and Long Island clients. Being a painter early in life, she used those skills first in her hand-painted black-and-white photos and, more recently, in the digital work she creates with Photoshop. She moved to Tucson in 2005, after traveling around the country for a year. She is concerned with environmental issues, and her recent work centers on the landscape, and trees, in particular. Her wish is to create with her work an intimate relationship between the viewer and the subject, to inspire more thought and care for our wildlife and natural habitat.

“Burning Bush,” by Peter EisnerPeter Eisner: Peter currently has his studio at 801 North Main in Tucson. His work includes both freestanding metal sculpture and woven metal wall pieces. Peter’s work is currently being shown in Tucson at Gallery 801, the gallery at the restaurant Elle, Flux Gallery, and Art Marketplace.

“Tuscan Poppies,” by Maurice Sevigny 
Maurice Sevigny: Maurice is originally from Massachusetts, where he majored in art education, ceramics, printmaking and painting at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Ohio State University. He taught studio art and arts education at Western Kentucky University, then served as the director of the School of Art at Bowling Green University (1977–1986). He was department chair and Marguerite Fairchild Centennial Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin (1986–1991). Since 1991, he has lived in Tucson, where he served as dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona for 18 years. He did postgraduate studies at Harvard University and completed a summer residency internship in figurative realism and painting at the La Napoulle Foundation, in the south of France. In 1998, he completed a sabbatical teaching and studio art research residency at the Rohampton Institute, London, England. He has exhibited frequently and his paintings are in many private and corporate collections.

“Prelude,” by Shirley WagnerShirley Wagner: Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Shirley obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Youngstown State University and lived in New York City before moving to Tucson in 1983. She now resides with her husband and three sons in the Tucson desert, about which she says, “What appears at first to be harsh and desolate terrain carefully reveals a partnership of dynamic forces working together to survive. I am inspired to create a living plane to chronicle the harmony of these extremes.” She was a visual arts specialist in Tucson’s public schools before dedicating herself full-time to her wood assemblage work. Shirley was nominated for the Arizona Governor’s Art Award in 2006, in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She has been featured in various local publications, including the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Lifestyle, and her work is in various private collections throughout the United States and Germany.

“Mother and Child,” by Lynne YamaguchiLynne Yamaguchi (me!—pardon the third person . . .): Seven years ago, acting on a gut feeling, Lynne quit her career as an editor and book designer to become a woodturner—giving notice at her job before she even knew how to turn. Now an internationally known turner, Lynne uses traditional lathe techniques to create nonutilitarian, sculptural vessels that are deeply informed by her Japanese heritage. In 2007, she was a fellow in the International Turning Exchange, an annual eight-week residency sponsored by the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia. She has demonstrated and taught woodturning techniques across the country and sells her work through galleries and art shows, and online.

Tu Scene: Visual Art in Tucson

Artist Steven Derks just introduced me to a new blog, Tu Scene, dedicated to the visual art scene in Tucson. The woman writing the blog, who I understand is a newcomer to Tucson, is doing an amazing job of pulling together a detailed calendar and info about what is happening locally artwise. Check it out. I have added it to the blogroll list to the right for future convenience.

Facebook and general update

I have just joined Facebook, so if you are already a member, please find me and invite me to be your friend and become a fan of my page. I am new to this whole social networking thing, so please be patient with me while I learn the ropes. I joined because I’ve been hearing from many sources that social networking is the new wave of art marketing, but as a bonus, it looks like I may get to reconnect with some old friends as well. I very much look forward to that.

I also realized that I have been blogging more than I knew—just not in this blog. Instead, I have been posting updates to my home page, when I could have been doing it here instead. Realizing that will make me come here more. In addition, I will be figuring out how to integrate this blog into my Facebook activities, so there is added incentive to write more often.

I have neglected my art business this year, as I have focused on fixing up our new (to us) house. As I near the end of the major tasks, though, I find myself turning back with renewed drive. I am determined to be more disciplined on the business side of my art this year, beginning with my online presence. I am also bursting with ideas to try out on and off the lathe.

If you haven’t seen them already, here are some new-ish pieces that might hint at some of my new directions.

“Assent, Ascent”



Done! (for now)

After being glued to the computer for 10 days or so, I have finally finished updating my work-for-sale pages. “Finished” is, of course, a relative term. There are about a dozen pieces I need to rephotograph before I can post them, but for now, I’m declaring I’m caught up, so today I get to go back into the studio!

I have so many pieces I want to make. Forcing myself to sit at home and work on my web site has required discipline. These tasks are not the ones you imagine when you think about being an artist. But if you don’t do them, you have to find another way to pay for your artmaking—or at least for your food and shelter.

I will blog more later. Now I’m off to make stuff!

smARTist Telesummit

This post has to be brief, because I have too many things to do, but I did want to update you all on some of what I’ve been up to.

I took the plunge a couple of weeks ago and registered for the smARTist Telesummit, an event that gathers 13 experts covering various aspects of making a living as an artist. The presentations are done over the phone and recorded—some 15 hours’ worth. The timing was bad for me, as I have been busy preparing for my upcoming show and coping with a major change in my family, so I was not able to listen live, but the recordings, which are available online, make it possible for me to let it all unfold at my own pace. Thus, though the event is technically over—that is, all the speakers have spoken—I am still engaged in it.

I have to say I have been impressed with the abundance of information provided and the range of topics covered. I will go into more detail as I soak it all in.

I’m sorry I didn’t share this ahead of the event, but registering was a last-minute decision for me, and I did not want to seem to endorse something before I had checked it out. Do check it out now, though, if you’re interested; I suspect the recordings and handouts may be made available at a later date.

Preparing for a show

I have a major show coming up in just a bit over three weeks, so I’m trying to get in gear and get productive. This is just one of the business aspects of trying to make a living as an artist. It requires a different mindset than simply creating what is in my heart. Unlike many woodturners, I don’t have a production line, which means I don’t make the same item or type of item over and over. I do have to consider the marketplace, however, and make sure that when I do a show, I have available a wide range of vessels, in terms of price, size, shape, style, etc.—mostly so that I can offer customers choices, but also because variety makes for a more-inviting display.

Variety also, of course, keeps the creative process fresh for me. Even when I am focused on producing a lot of work efficiently, I still want every vessel to be uniquely itself. I want the process to remain one of creation, not one of mass production.

The upcoming show also means that I need to put off solving some equipment problems I’ve been having—chiefly with my chucks. The spindle on my old lathe was 1 inch; that on my new lathe is 1¼ inches, which meant that I had to change the insert on my old Teknatool Supernova chuck. The insert had seized, however, and in removing it, I appear to have damaged a jaw slide, as the slides no longer meet snugly at the center (and jaws don’t close properly either). The damage isn’t readily identifiable, however, and I’ve already spent one afternoon trying to pinpoint the problem. That chuck used to be perfectly centered, with perfect repeatability when I would remove and replace pieces. My new chuck, a Supernova 2, isn’t perfect, but I can’t spare the time right now to tweak it either. I’ll let you know what I figure out when I finally have time, after the show. In the meantime, I just have to make do. To quote Tim Gunn, “Make it work!”