Monday, August 31, 2009

Katrina Doran from Dallas, Texas

At Doran Studio in Dallas, Katrina and Denny Doran (pictured above) produce works of art in a variety of media. Katrina, will be the focus of today's entry. Her professional background includes working as an interior decorator, a gourmet cook, a costume designer and performer for special-event production companies. Katrina now focuses her time and attention on mosaic art and sculpture. She teaches mosaic classes and workshops at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas, TX, at the Visual Expressions Creative Arts Studio in Cedar Hill, TX and at other spots in the metro-Dallas area. She is a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, the Texas Sculpture Association, and is a Board Member for the Texas Visual Arts Association.
She names Sonia King as her mentor and teacher and is inspired by Sonia's work which she describes as being, " like maps to landscapes both familiar and unknown. Beautiful creations using natural materials." (More than one of us would agree with this assessment.)

After many years and several careers I had the inkling to try mosaics again. In my own studio with a few books for advice, I attempted to reinvent the wheel of shards. Luckily, I had promised myself, earlier that year, to work with people who were skilled and knowledgeable about what I was willing to take on. So, I signed up for a mosaic workshop with Sonia King at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas and never looked back.

Avian Table

In her artist statement, Katrina writes:

"I am interested in creating curious objects that seem magical, that seem as if they are from another time and place, or might have been something you once dreamed. I gather many types of materials: rusted metal from the street, rocks, glass, dishes, toys, beads, mirror, marble, minerals, fossils, shells, smalti, gold and copper glass tiles, tempered glass, bottles, paints, powders and inks. I want to select what for me are seemingly incongruous things and assemble them into something new and memorably beautiful."

When Katrina was in high school, she created her first mosaic, a depiction of an owl in flight that was constructed of marble and granite. She experienced the same fear that many of us felt when we grouted our first pieces...that she had ruined it. She states:
"My dad says he still has it somewhere in the deep recesses of his garage, but we’ve yet to locate it. I’d love to see it after so many years and see what a bit of acid wash could do to bring it back to life!"

Among her different styles of mosaic is a series of assemblage and memoryware:

Katrina is currently one of three mosaic instructors at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas and the only mosaic instructor for
Visual Expressions Creative Arts School
in Cedar Hill, TX. She says she is fond of the following quote and uses it as a place to stand for her own life and as inspiration for her students.

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be, brilliant, or just talented, or fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

Lotus Fountain

"My work as a mosaic artist allows me to explore my own self-expression. What has been most useful to me as an individual is to work solo, exploring materials and techniques and then working with various communities to create something larger than what I can accomplish on my own. The interplay between knowing myself alone and knowing myself through others is the richest form of play I could ever imagine."


For example, in 2008, Katrina enrolled a group of mosaic artists into creating a group of pink flamingo sculptures for the State Fair of Texas. She designed and carved each sculpture herself while the participating artists added their own artistic interpretation in mosaic to each one. Rebecca Collins filmed a YouTube video of the project, which is where I initially found her

(Please click HERE if you are unable to see the video above.)

The group's mosaics are featured in the latest promotional video for the State Fair of Texas.

Katrina adds:

"...whether I am creating work to please myself or to explore a technique or idea, I love sharing the creative process with others. This includes teaching, creating large community based projects, individual commissions, and mosaic fine art pieces shown through gallery settings."

Aiyana Eternal Blossom

Katrina is interested in the use of symbols throughout history and through cultures. She writes, "... My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I find myself drawn to the study of what we make things mean and how the symbols of meaning are then interpreted through art. We, as human beings, often have it that we are alone, that the thoughts we have are unique. How is it then that the symbol for an eye is used in cultures all over the world as a talisman for protection? Who had the original idea? Who said it offered protection? The eye symbol is used on the Seal for the United States of America, it is found in Africa, Greece, Turkey, India, Tibet, and in the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and even Voodoo religions. "

Doran Studio is a work in progress.

"We consider the entire space a place for honoring what creates. The exterior is slowly being covered in mosaic as a community-making project. We look forward to setting up a schedule for our latest project: 110 Cole Street - where people from various communitites come together to create mosaic patches representing places of inspiration from all over the world. These mosaic patches will be attached to the front of Doran Studio and will become a symbol of what's possible when we all honor creative self expression."

Katrina is currently working on a series of images related to the Tree of Life. Not only does she find this image appealing to her eye, she is once again interested in the use of this symbol through history, culture and religion.

"The materials I use and am fond of are varied. Smalti, marble, natural stones, fossils, hand-made ceramics, pebbles, glass, rusty metal are all materials with unique characteristics. I truly enjoy bringing them together. Perhaps mosaics are my way of demonstrating how we, as human beings, are all related, how we all fit together to create a rich and fascinating world."

Please visit the Doran Studio web site HERE.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Daniel Edwards....Bad Taste or Pithy Social Statements. You Decide...

Since I am originally from Oklahoma, a bit of Oklahoma art news caught my recent attention. I learned that a statue made by Daniel Edwards was destined for the Central Oklahoma city of Norman, home of the OU Sooners and the University of Oklahoma.

Edwards' work addresses celebrity and pop culture in ways that evoke controversy. He is most noted for his proclivity toward making statues of nekkid famous people I'll be surprised if they actually allow him to cross the state line. We'll see!

The statue in question is a nude portrayal of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding twins. (My mother is probably packing to move to another state as I type this.)

The statue, called “Landmark for Breastfeeding,” will be unveiled in Mainsite Contemporary Art next month, on September 11, 2009, before moving to London later this fall. For Edwards, the piece is meant to inspire people to accept public breastfeeding, using the naked bust of the exalted Hollywood mama-of-many to normalize the act in the minds of onlookers.

What follows is an excerpt from a documentary that was produced about the project. If you are unable to see it, please try clicking

Born in La Porte, Indiana in 1965, Edwards' works include a sculpture of the disembodied head of Ted Williams, a life-sized statue of Britney Spears giving birth while nude on her hands and knees on a bearskin rug, Opera in a sarcophagus, and a nude Presidential bust of Senator Hillary Clinton.

Another Edwards creation that has resulted in a lot of raised eyebrows is his sculpture of a tiara'd Paris Hilton, lyind dead on an autopsy table, companion chihuahua looking on.

The tableau, created by Daniel Edwards, reminds potential prom queens that no one is impervious to the pitfalls of drinking. Recalling Miss USA's recent battle to keep her crown through alcohol rehab and Princess Diana's untimely death due to drunk driving, a skewed hotel heiress's tiara serves as a grim reminder.

Edwards’ artwork has been reviewed by the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, The Los Angles Times, and amongst many other articles nationally and around the world. Often vilified for his use of celebrity, Daniel’s artwork has also been seen as prophetic and constant in its ability to humanize social issues the media and public have trouble addressing.

The artist does not limit his shocking art to American subjects. He is creating quite the stir in the UK right now, as well, as he unveils a statue of a deceased Prince Harry lying before the British flag.

The piece represents Harry's willingness to sacrifice for his country, and the sympathy for his disappointment of an unfulfilled patriotic aspiration. The memorial is dedicated to the brave at heart. But the brave men and women Prince Harry inspired to enlist for combat following his announcement to serve six months in Iraq are not forgotten.

I don't know, folks. I think Daniel Edwards might be goin' ta hell.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gary Aagaard - Row away from the rocks

"Call on God, but row away from the rocks."
Hunter S. Thompson

Twitter….another internet networking tool that has exposed me to a plethora of talented artists across the world. American artist, Gary Aagaard is one of them. His highly acclaimed social realism images reveal a wry sense of humor marked by an intelligent concern for society’s contradictory fundamentals. His work was perfectly characterized by Seattle curator, Michael McGivaren, who described it as being a "2D amalgam" of the writing of Hunter S. Thompson.

(self portrait)

Gary began his professional career shortly after becoming a Society of Illustrators Scholarship Award winner in 1982. Since that time, his fine art paintings and illustrations have served as trenchant graphic commentary about notable incidents and public figures from a jarring, yet intelligent, perspective

Neo – Conned God

His work has appeared numerously in such notable publications as The Village Voice, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Philadelphia Weekly, Barrons and many others.

’99 Bottomline

The artist states:

“My work is the product of my environment over the last three decades. Generally, I've had a positive experience yet tend to be irked by the frequent political and religious hypocrisy, general apathy (relating to war, the environment, fact-challenged pundits, etc.) and dogma of any stripe that leads to social and spiritual tunnel vision. These themes are prevalent in many of my paintings although are often explored using satire and humor as opposed to a sledge hammer (granted, I do use that on occasion, too). That said, during those infrequent times I step off my battered soap box, I paint pieces which will hopefully provide edification or simply a chuckle.”

Model Citizen

Before his 2001 death, David Swift, American producer/director/writer wrote to Gary:

"Gary - Your illustrations are shattering. Some leave a lasting shock. They are certainly not easily forgotten. Don't know the context of their origin but it would certainly tempt me to read the article they illustrate. Had you been born 50 years earlier, you would have been memorialized in the Saturday Evening Post and similar contemporary magazines of the time. You have a marked talent and I would like to work with you. First project I get launched, we will talk."

Religious Right Makes Might

The Ward-Nasse Gallery in Manhattan permanently holds a decade's representation of Gary’s work (with solo shows there in 2005 and 2007) while Klaudia Marr Gallery in Santa Fe, NM exhibits select original oils.

Ma Nature : This Time It's Personal

A particularly notable accomplishments was Gary's portrayal of twelve African American writers who appeared on stamps in Ghana and Uganda.

I borrowed this from Gary’s web site:

“On November 13, 1997, the "Great Writers of the 20th Century" stamps were officially issued in a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. Most of the living honorees and families of the authors attended.

Excerpt from the Washington Post (November 14, 1997) - "My heart stopped....I was bowled over," poet Maya Angelou said yesterday, glimpsing her image on a stamp from Ghana. She was among 12 African American writers honored at the Hirshhorn Museum as Ghana and Uganda unveiled the stamps.

Also seeing their stamps for the first time were Charles Johnson, Rita Dove, Mari Evans and June Jordan. "I have had two thrills today: being on a stamp is one and to sit next to Rita Dove and Maya Angelou is the other," said Johnson, who wrote the acclaimed novel Middle Passage."

Giant on Holiday

In addition to receiving recognition from the Society of Illustrators (NYC), the Society of Publication Designers, Gary has received awards from Print, the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, Aphrodisia II and RSVP. His paintings have been displayed in the Museum of American Illustration, Gallery-Henoch, the Smithsonian, Klaudia Marr Gallery, Xpo Gallery, Mendenhall Gallery, Ward-Nasse Gallery, Gallery Nucleus and was part of the Museum of American Illustration 2000-2001 Traveling Exhibition.
Beginning this month, his work can be seen in several Pacific NW venues starting with Seattle’s Elysian Fields at 542 1st Avenue and in City Trees Furniture and Gallery, 4616 14th Avenue, NW, through September. I am excited about being in Portland in December because it will be there, in a group show at the Beppu Wiarda Gallery, 319 NW 9th Ave. m and I’ll get to see it up close and personal.

God According to Voltaire (inspired by Voltaire's quote, "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.")

His original art and limited edition, hand-signed/numbered giclees are available for sale.
Interested parties can view a price list of his available art HERE.

Yo Mama

Although Gary requests that Amway and Insurance Salespeople disregard this notice, he can be contacted HERE for further information:

Grange Gangsta Gothic

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Kim Larson-Amy Blackshaw Wall Mural

My good friend, Kim Larson, has already told this story over on her blog, but, gave me permission to post it here as well since some of my readers aren't subscribers to her blog.

Here goes....

A couple of years ago, I met Amy Blackshaw, with her two children, Maya and Milo. We started chatting, and immediately hit it off. (We have a Maya in our family, too, so that's how the conversation began...) A week or so later, John and I ran into Amy at our favorite restaurant in downtown Oakland, and we all promised to stay in touch.... but then we all got busy with our lives and didn't....until recently.

Ok...speed ahead a couple of years.

When our daughter, Sarah, announced that she was pregnant awhile ago, I went onto Freecycle recently to try to find a breast pump for her...and lo! It was Amy who offered one. We were happy to reconnect and began an email exchange.

Amy is a mosaic artist, as am I, so naturally, our conversation turned in that direction. She told me she was searching for someone to help her mosaic a mural on a raw cement wall in her back yard and two of the Bay Area's best mosaic artists, Kim Larson and Delaine Hackney, immediately came to my mind, but as I knew Delaine was very busy at the time and probably couldn't help, I contacted Kim who subsequently introduced herself to Amy. They met, felt they were compatible, and decided to team up and take on the job.

Kim, with her graphic arts background, did the excellent design work and headed up the whole project with Amy as her assistant.

This is what the wall looked like before the "Kim Larson treatment"...

Amy was interested in learning the whole mosaic mural process from start to finish and Kim agreed to teach her...because Kim is good that way. :-) Soon, they were up to their necks in tile and glass and nippers and grout and were on their way.

Amy had nothing but good things to report about Kim's teaching abilities, and I'm not surprised. Kim is an excellent communicator and quite competent.

Among other things, the design included a variety of flowers, bees, dragonflies and a likeness of the family cat, all of which Kim made on her own specially designed substrates at home. She then took them to the site and set into the mural before filling in the background.

Kim's design is playful and full of color, energy and movement.

Maya helped her mom with the grouting process:

The finished mural is stunning! From the first glance, all I could do was smile. (Amy's husband came outside with a camera and snapped that first photo of all of us.)

So now, Kim Larson is off to a new re-start on a project that she began a couple of years back...a series of mosaics based on art from the American Southwest. She originally started by cutting the substrates for longhorn bull skulls and has since added other Southwest pieces to the collection. It will be fun to see what she comes up with!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sewing With Stone...

A few years back, I had a conversation with Laurel True's mother about a mosaic "throw rug" that she wanted installed in her home. At the time, she mentioned that it would be great if someone could make one that she could move around, but that she was afraid she was going to have to have it set in permanently in her entry hall. I'd seen these rugs on Ebay, but had never seen one in person and wasn't aware that they were created in a flexible form that allowed them to be rolled up and carted around.

More recently, I received an email from a woman in Israel, Ronit, with whom I correspond from time to time, asking how to make one of these rugs. I referred her to a few sources of information, and today, she sent me this article about them.

If any of you are aware of the type of resin that is used in this process, please let me know and I'll insert it into this entry:

(Above - Tiziana and Corinna preparing a carpet-mosaic)

MOSAIC CARPET: a floor covering suppported by flexible resin and fiberglass mesh.

Mosaic carpeting is a new concept in mosaic art. The flexible structure of the carpet allows for rolling up, thereby facilitating transport. However, the most extraordinary aspect is that the piece becomes an object of design which has its own unique character, and like a carpet can be placed in any part of the house and later moved.

When placed on an uneven surface, the carpet takes the shape of the underlying surface without being damaged in any way. The mosaic carpet, like a normal carpet, does not require any particular fixing or application, and therefore there is no damage to the floor nor need for any special means of fixing it in place, unless one wants to place it permanently in a particular location. This art work is suited to either indoors or out, and is not affected by external weather nor temperature conditions.

Opposed to normal carpets, this art work is made of mosaics and is therefore, created from marble, stone or "glass paste" (unsure of translation here, folks.) The carpets can be manufactured in different shapes depending on where they are to be placed, and they can picture any modern or antique subject. The art piece is protected by solvents and is guaranteed against any loss of mosaics. The protective covering also acts as a defense against stains, while the glues used to position the mosaics insure that the pieces are firmly imbedded in the underlying structure. The mosaic may be washed with normal cleaning products, and using cloths, brushes or vacuum cleaners. For best results, excessive blows or rubbing should be avoided, as should be direct strong heat in contact with the support.

Stacy Alexander