Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mosaic ATC Swap, anyone?

UPDATE: I have had a tremendous response to this post via email and a lot of questions, so please let me clarify. The 4 for 3 swap ends on the last day of March. The mosaic swap ends on the last day of April and is a 2 for 2. Participants need to email your intent to play prior to sending cards. I must have your mailing address for the database before you are officially entered.

Thanks....and have fun!


I am hosting an Artist Trading Card swap for an art organization and 36 people have signed up. Huge swap! My granddaughter, Maya, also plans to participate.

Stacy Alexander

Over the next ten days, I will be receiving these miniature works of art, swapping them out and sending them back to the artists.

Johnna Edmondson

This particular swap is a "four-for-three", so each artist makes four, receives three back and I get to keep one card for hosting the swap.
Franny Smith

I've written about ATC's before, but want to revisit the subject because lately when I pick up the mail, there are new cards, each unique and inspirational and I can't not mention them!

Victoria O'Neil

There are entire organizations devoted to ATC's and their exchange. Since the inception of the concept, the cards have spread across the world like wildfire.
Ann Tyler

People collect them, reuse them in their own art pieces, trade them, frame them and carry them around in plastic cases for instant art fixes while they are out and about. I used to keep a stack of them on my coffee table for use as conversation pieces or as a meditation aid. I have always loved looking at them over and over.

Marie Johanson

The cards can be made of virtually anything...metal, wood, glass, tile, long as they conform to the size regulations, anything goes!
Victoria Pfan

They are small and are sometimes referred to as "pocket art" card size...2.5" x 3.5". For this swap, I have received some real beauties...but the one card that my friend, Joanne sent from England (especially for me to keep) evoked the idea that I should host a mosaic ATC exchange. Here is the entire set:

Joanne Archer

And this it the mosaic card up close:

Joanne Archer

If you would like to participate in the mosaic ATC swap, please send me an email for the details:
bayarts4u at gmail dot com.

The swap will be two-for-two. You create and send two mosaic 2.5" x 3.5" cards on any rigid substrate, and you'll receive two of someone else's cards. You can create your card from ceramic tile, polymer clay, glass...whatever you want. Those are the basics. I think it will be fun!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ellen D. Stern - A Mixed Bag of Artful Enthusiasm

First things first....Congratulations to Lynne Mossiman, the latest Listen to my Art Beat blog art drawing winner. I will be mailing out a great DVD to Lynne that is about the 1,000 Journals project just as soon as I can get my act together and make it to the post office.

Speaking of freebies....a pal of mine from Creative Souls, Artist Victoria O'Neal, is giving away a very cool print on her blog. Go to this link and leave a comment to be entered to win:

Today's featured artist is Ellen D. Stern, someone whose fanciful creations are very cool!

Escaping Man
Originally from the Bronx, New York, self-taught conceptual artist, Ellen D. Stern, uses combinations of disparate objects, textures, and references in her work that are able to engage the viewers' emotions, humor and intellect. Her quirky and unique style is multi-disciplinary and therefore, offers something for most everyone. By looking at her work, one would never guess that she was an insurance company employee for nineteen years when she lived in New York.
Often feminine in theme, Ellen's mixed media works range from free-form basketry to mosaic art.

Homage to the Venus of Willendorf
Now residing in Michigan, Ellen attempts to show viewers the process of creation within each piece of art itself. She stated, “I see objects either in nature or man-made and they inspire me to create a piece of "found" art or else I just want to combine bright colors in new ways, or else I am affected by current events in the news. It's all an expression of how I feel.”

Portrait of a Man
“I hope to transmit to the viewer the same Eureka! moment that I experienced in conceiving the idea of the piece.”

I have embarked on many simultaneous missions:
I play God(dess), attributing characteristics to my medium and by being consistent within one piece, I aim to convince the audience of their validity.
In some instances, I find, recreate, ...


To see more of Ellen’s work, please visit HER WEB SITE.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recovered Memory - Drawings from Jan Wurm's Closet

drawings from Jan Wurm's closet

February 20 - March 27, 2009

Eddie Rhodes Gallery
Contra Costa College
2600 Mission Bell Drive
San Pablo, CA 94806

The nature of memory is fickle. Sometimes elusive, sometimes unrelenting, sometimes just not the way we remembered. The shifting nature of memory is intriguing. And when tiny fragments taunt us, we dig for more shards to piece together some reconstruction of something we may have retained only as a trace feeling or impulse.

In our efforts to document and hold on to experience, we photograph, record, and videotape. As a culture we erect monuments and memorials. As a community we sing songs and tell stories. All of these serve to build a shared history, a collective memory which is in constant flux. At times focus shifts, perspectives change, and the understanding and meanings change along with the altered memory of the moment. And as individuals we find infinite ways to mark our path: seashell, pebble, feather, a dried flower. Each serves as a touchstone for memories of childhood, travel, love and loss.

The drawings in this exhibition all address the evocative power of ordinary objects. The old towels were used in childhood on the back seat of the car to protect against wet and sandy bathing suits after a day at the beach. The old sheet covered a bed in London thirty-five years ago. The striped Indian bedspread lived in a student hostel. The leotard retains the tarnished dreams. The covering of the poker table bears the name of place out of time. Each object is a touchstone for memory and each memory the foundation for the drawn evocation of a passing moment.

How the drawings lightly rest on the surface, as if drawn up from the inner life of the object and ready to slip back at any moment, vanish without a trace, is a dance between statement and suggestion, expression and implication, inclusion and omission. A charcoal line traces the figure. Echoes of color allude to the form. The object is held fast to conjure the past. And this fills the closet with ribbons and ticket stubs and old perfumes. Unless, of course, we want to forget.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Painter and Mosaic Artist, Janet Kozachek - Content and Form

Janet Kozachek

Janet Kozachek’s blog is one of my favorite morning reads. Janet is a self-ordained eclectic artist who sports a diverse background that includes a three-continent arts education.
Beijing Central Art Academy

Janet writes, “The multitude of influences can make it challenging for those who would like to define me as an artist but it does make for interesting stories. I studied art and science at Douglass College in New Jersey and obtained my Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Parsons School of Design. In between New Jersey and New York I took a seven year detour into China and Europe. I learned how to become a Chinese painter at the Beijing Central Art Academy and how to be a ceramic sculptor at the State Academy of Applied Arts in Maastricht, Holland I have made my home and studio in Orangeburg, South Carolina for about fourteen years. “

In the 80’s, Janet's life in Holland proved to be less than the ideal feminist existence.

Janet made the painting above as a response to the conservative political climate there at the time, addressing a less-than-desirable Netherland's stance on women’s rights.

For more than a decade, Janet has been photographing and painting shacks, sheds, abandoned homesteads and other edifices that show exposure to natural wear. Her attraction to these lies in the intersecting planes of complex colors and the textures of vegetation that weave a tapestry around them. She is attracted to the various patinas , chipped layers of paint, and worn wood, all of which she finds beautiful in their erosion.

Her painting technique is one in which she merges tactile applications with traditional artist’s tools. The painted Blackville, South Carolina scene above is one she created for her exhibition last month called, “"Abandonment and Rediscovery: The Vanishing Architecture of Central South Carolina."” The exhibit will run through March 28, 2009.

“My painting technique was to use flat planes of color troweled on with a small palette knife. Details and textures were scratched through or applied with more knife strokes. Impatient with that after a number of days spent working on this canvas, I finally finger-painted in the rest.”’

"Abandonment and Rediscovery: the Vanishing Architecture of Central South Carolina," is now on view at the Rivers, Rails and Crossroads Discovery Center in Blackville.

"The space was a little smaller than I had recalled so I had to hang the paintings and photographs "gallery style" with two rows of pictures instead of a single row. I had originally intended to hang the paintings separate from the photographs in separate but once I started putting them on the walls, it seemed natural to intersperse them. In this way the actual view of the sites are juxtaposed with the painted interpretations of them.”

Having spent a lot of time in New Orleans, I find myself particularly attracted to Janet’s portrayal of the “shotgun shack” as they are called there. This South Carolina version is compelling.

“The "shot gun" name was ostensibly derived from the theory that a bullet from a shot gun fired through the front door would travel the length of the house and exit out the back window. The house was painted a robin’s egg blue with a more delicate azure blue trim. This blue, I am told, is called "shoo devil blue." Before moving to South Carolina, I had never heard of a specific color on a house having apotropaic powers. Whatever effect the color was purported to have on the devil, it actually attracted me. I could not help but notice it glaring out from the landscape - a bar of turquoise set in an otherwise understated palette of earthly colors.”

About her arts’ content and form, Janet states, “I know that people collect my paintings of sheds, shacks, small houses, and abandoned homesteads for their content. It is up to me to imbue that content with form. As long as the form continues to hold meaning for me this does not entail too much compromise of artistic integrity.

In the wrangling between painting for the joy of the form itself and the knowledge that a certain look or subject will capture public sentiment, I have come to the conclusion that there is value to both. The former fulfills my need and the latter, my clients', with some valuable overlap between the two and discovery along the way.”

I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I did not also feature Janet's unique mosaic work for all the fans of mosaic art out there. These pictures are taken from her blog and can be read about there. I am especially drawn to the pre-Columbian-influenced mosaic masks:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anita Feng - Builder of Buddhas

Anita Feng

The story goes that Siddhartha Guatama, sitting under the Bodhi tree, looked up early one morning and saw a star. Just then he attained enlightenment -- boom -- he and all things became one! This Buddha sculpture evokes that sense of oneness under the Bodhi tree. The leaves are part of the tree branch and also part of his skin. Is he sitting under the tree or is the tree holding him up? I don't know, do you?

Artist, poet and generally interesting woman, Anita Feng, has lived in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. She now resides near beautiful Seattle, Washington half way up Squak Mountain, at the edge of the Cascades where she creates fascinating raku Zen sculptures to sell in her online shop.
She strives to make clay Buddhas with a view toward bridging east,west and ancient with a bit of a contemporary twist.

“ I use altered molds for the faces, keeping some of the traditional features of a "Buddha" but adding a bit more of a nose sometimes, and other times making the figure more feminine. I love to throw on the potter's wheel and so many of my Buddha "bodies" are derived from thrown elements. But also, I use handbuilt slabs sometimes for a more rugged and even torn look. I have always liked to work in groups, or families, making two or three or four of a certain kind of Buddha. For example I recently completed a set of small laughing buddhas -- their generative technique was the same (same family characteristics) but each ones expression, posture and glaze was unique.”

When asked about the rich, beautiful colors inherent in her work, Anita attributed the results to the raku process, “…Really, the fire decides. I suggest, but ultimately it's the fire, the weather, the mood of all elements at large that make the final decisions.”

"I got started in the arts as soon as I was old enough to reach piano keys. Though the piano didn't quite work out, I tried nearly everything else....violin, flute, mandolin, recorders, painting, drawing, dancing, figure skating, poetry....everything except clay. I grew up in a creative household. My father, as I was growing up, was prone to burst into quiet rooms reciting the romantic poets or poetry of his own making. My mother made sculptures and 2-D artworks using throw-away crayon ends and soldering metals. Everyone played music. And the women in the family danced. Perhaps the artistic impulse was as much a part of my childhood as learning to read or ride a bicycle -- it was what was done. It was the way one lived.

I met my art form, clay, when I was 21, which I may as well say, was 35 years ago. I saw a clay fish that a friend had made. From where it hung on her kitchen wall, I was entranced by its boldly wadded scales, the bright and glistening glaze, the "aliveness" that had transformed ordinary clay into something extraordinary. That was it! I withdrew all my meager saving and invested in a potter's wheel, a kiln and clay and glazes...and I took a beginner's six-week clay in throwing on the wheel. I already knew that clay would be my life's work, and so it has been ever since. Largely self-taught, I made and sold musical instruments made from clay (ocarinas, drum and horns mainly) for the next 30 years. In the middle of that period, while getting a BA and MFA degree at Brown University in Creative Writing, I took advanced classes in ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design, and that was the extent of my formal training in clay. "

Anita’s mentors include her encouraging parents, Tim Colohan, a fellow Zen teacher in the Golden Wind Zen Order and Linda Davidson, someone Anita describes as “a bold and enormously talented visual artist in Seattle”.

When asked why she chose Buddha as the primary subject and focus of her art work, Anita stated:

“The special magic of this focus is very interesting. First of all, it offers an opportunity for me to synthesize my three life-long passions and practices: pottery, Zen and poetry. The following question came up for me in a very stubborn and insistent way: why are all our images of Buddha (i.e.-the awakened, calm presence of someone fully in the moment) imports or copies from the East? How can we begin to take these iconic images and make them alive in this world, and in this time? The most obvious way for me to find those answers was to try it out myself.

Another source of magic going on here (and this I learned from the craft of poetry) is that by limiting my focus to a specific theme/concept I find the creative explorations of one theme completely limitless and utterly liberating. I can wake up each morning and ask a question in the form of clay: what does Buddha look like today?”

In addition to her Buddhas, Anita makes clay musical instruments that she also sells online HERE.

A woman of many talents, she also writes books of poetry that can be found on

and (never a dull moment...) she writes a blog.

Stacy Alexander