Crane Takes Off
Cranes are some of the oldest birds on the planet there is a fossil found in Nebraska that is 10 million years old. It is identical to the birds that currently fly through that corridor on the way to their nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska. A couple of years ago in March when I wanted to change the energy in my studio I did a series of large drawings of cranes, birds with such graceful lines that they seem to sing. It had been a longggg winter. An entry in my journal for the middle of that month was simply:” melt… melt.. melt…” So I took my roll of beautiful blue paper and taped it to the wall in as many big pieces as I could make. I got 8 out of the roll with 26 x48 as the average. Then I projected the small pencil sketches of cranes I had been composing and let the lines sing to me as I got out my oil pastels and refined the while pencil lines that became my drawings. The energy changed! How could it not? with a flock of cranes dancing on my walls. Of the Original 8 I still have three including the one posted here. If you would like to see them they will be hung at my show that Opens on March 23 at the gallery of the Plymouth Congregational Church in south Minneapolis. Come witness a little crane joy.
I am finishing my new work for the show that opens March 23 at Plymouth Congregational’s Art Gallery. In this 1st week of March of the snow packed bitter cold, summer just seems like a dream, so I am leaning into Autumn for many of my images. I did the drawing portion of these pieces after a drive through Southern MN in November before the snows. The Landscape danced with gold grasses then. I’ve layered fiber and papers on to the oil pastel drawings to engender the textures that shimmied in the gold light at the edges of autumn days.
Please Come to the preview of this work at the 1st Thurs. Open Studio Event March 5 , 5-9 pm at the Casket Arts Carriage House #303 1720 Madison street NE Minneapolis MN
Here in the deep of winter I am calling up my visual joy with the colors textures and light the Midwestern landscape deposits in my imagination and trying to translate with my chosen mediums of deconstructed fabric layered onto deeply layered and carved oil pastels on paper. I have a show that opens on March 23 and runs through April at the Art Gallery of the Plymouth Congregational Church In South Minneapolis. The organizers of the show wanted my work as a part of their Earth Day recognition I would love if my work calls up for you what this bit of a Mary Oliver poem I heard on the radio yesterday “we long to be—that happy in the heaven of earth—” . Art as a call to action to love and care for the earth I am honored to be asked.
22 years ago I went looking for artists who like me identified their mixed media figure work as “doll” We gathered together for a show in a downtown Art Gallery and had such a good experience we kept meeting and showing together for 10 years as the Urban Dollmakers.
A terrific project we did together was The Dollhouse .We were 7 artists & we picked seven themes and built 7 dollhouses. The one you see here is mine with my interpretation of the 7 themes in my seven rooms. The wonderful thing about this project was the houses were re stack-able by theme or by artist. When we exhibited them, we had two openings. 1st with the houses stacked in their themes The Mad House, The House Of Change, and so on.., each themed house having a room completed by 7 artists, then mid show we would re stack and show the 7 houses with one artist expressing all the themes. It was an excellent experience both as a process of working together and how the work was received.
Then they went into storage for many years. I dug mine out this fall to free up space and re stacked them in my studio. And something marvelous happened! A patron came forward and is funding a new life for my rooms in a public space. They are moving to the state legislature building where they will over see the offices of people working on environmental issues. 1/2 of my themes were expressed with tree and water images now they have a new way of being in the world. Hurrah!
The land I live in was once oak savannah, rolling grassland fringed with trees by the water. Here in Minnesota the water is mostly lakes and wetlands interwoven with fabled rivers: the Mississippi has it’s source here, the beautiful St Croix, the Minnesota moving it’s waters in the valley carved by the River Warren, and the lovely Root River.
As a transplanted Iowan it’s the rivers I love. How they run ribbon like through the rolling land. If you stand looking at that ribbon in the rolling land you will be standing in a place that is mostly sky.
This piece was born on a trip west of here where the land still rolls like prairie not the patch work quilt of ordered farmlands. On a break from driving I stood as amazed at the vastness of sky meeting the golden grassy land as I had stood when I was a child in tall gold grass under endless blue sky at the edges of my grandfathers corn fields.
I have found that painting fluid acrylic paint onto raw canvas with a dry brush lets the sky have depth and distance,and using silks for the lands lets the light dance as it does off plants. It begins to look like it felt to be there. I invite you to see where we stand under endless sky.
River Sky 8
I had a visitor to the studio today and I was telling him about the trees that inspired this piece: a pair of elms that grew so close together that their branches intertwined and they formed one big gorgeous canopy. Dutch elm got them a couple of years ago. As I drove past their now empty patch of sky I missed them tonight. But a few moments later as I walked the path to my back front door I looked up & saw the branches of another elm I revere for it’s graceful canopy. Grateful for the beautiful branch lines in the sky I went into the house & found I had a perfectly ripe pear waiting for me. Trees are terrific gift givers.
Duet The Elms of 31st and Portland
February 7th is 1st Thursday 5-9 pm in the open studio universe of the NE Minneapolis Arts District. You will find me in my studio #303 1720 Madison Street NE working on a commission that I promised for next week!! I hope you’ll drop in.
I’ve spent a week nursing a cold in the cold and welcome the task of returning to my beautiful work space. If there were people to talk to as well, my week would be made. So I hope you find your way in the cold to our lit front door. I’ll tell you about the figure that will be an award to a woman who thinks sharing is the best way to operate in the world. Tea pot’s on. See you here 1720 Madison Street NE #303
photo by Donna Webb Studio #302 Casket Arts Carriage House 1720Map
While staying with a friend I won the breakfast bowl lottery one morning by taking a beautiful blue handmade bowl out of the cupboard to put my slices of fresh orange in. As I placed the oranges in I see it is inscribed ” to begin again”. I saw it as an instruction to begin again with grateful attention to the beauty of orange in a blue bowl, the light coming in the window, the scent of orange, the feel of the glazed pottery in my hand. Art comes from the ability to pay attention to translate the gifts of the focused moment into the communication that a finished piece of art can be. As I cleared my tables in the studio today I see the possibilities presented by my collections of materials and the resonance of my attention. I return from the holidays ready to begin again.
My portables have moved to the display wall at Art Materials in Uptown : 2728 Lyndale Ave. They will be hanging until the end of December. I hope you can stop in while they are there. They are mostly smaller than 11×14 and priced to be portable. There are several new pieces that I made after my trip to Iowa at Thanksgiving and was inspired by the winter light on the grasses, sedges,and freezing pools. This is a favorite that sold today!!
For most of my childhood my father worked for the Soil Conservation Service. This was a job that came into being as a direct result of environmental disaster created by weather and bad land practices in early 20th century. The Service was created by an act of congress in 1935 “intense and frequent storms swept the Plains in 1935. On March 6 and again on March 21, dust clouds passed over Washington and darkened the sky just as Congress commenced hearings on a proposed soil conservation law.” My father was 2 when this happened but in his early adulthood in the 1950s congress funded and expanded the service and he began a career that was steps away from the farms he’d grown up on. As a Iowa school child we did a ” unit” on conservation every year & the pamphlets and work books came from Dad’s office. As far as I was concerned the information came from Dad. But the substance of roots and soil and the layers that make up the rich earth he loved he showed us. Trips to the farm, drives in country showing us what he was working on, stories about farmers, what worked, what failed, he always had a story for it and he loved showing and telling. I hear his voice when I think about where I come from. I began these rooted pieces after Dad died last year, they are about the layers that make up good soil and the roots that will hold it in place while reaching for and filtering the water underground. They are my way of showing and telling thank you Dad