I must confess, I am sort of an addict. I like clothes. However, I hate shopping, generally. Once your closet gets too full, you have to either give it away or sell it. Enter eBay. Now, I am an addict for eBay. I shop at Goodwill for the most part. I like the idea of recycling, but I also love a good treasure hunt. I can walk past the rows and rows and spot a finer fabric among the cheap stuff. I have an eagle eye for fine tailoring. Also, being an artist who is… well, you know.. challenged in the bank account, I can feed a fetish cheaply.

I have always been a huge fan of Project Runway. One year on my Facebook, we had the option to click a button and it would tell you the top words you used all year in your status updates and how many times you used them. My number one word was Project and my second was Runway. Now, if I would only take the time to learn to sew.

Lately, I have been going to auctions. It’s a sealed bid auction. The merchandise is all in these big boxes or bins on pallets. You place your bid, basically what you are willing to pay, and hope yours is the highest. You turn in your sheet and check the website the next day. I think the people who put together the pallets have a wicked sense of humor. Sometimes, it’s obvious that they put one good item (like a Euro-foam mattress) in with a lot of junk (like one half of a hammock). I speak from experience. Or sometimes you see this: This is a bunch of steel pipes with the complete season 1 of “Game of Thrones”

I like to bid on clothes, looking for the ones that are ‘new with tags’ that sell pretty easily on eBay. Sometimes, it’s because I see something I want (my motto is love it because you might get stuck with it). Sometimes, it’s just about what I think will sell. I bid on a box with some Bebe stuff with tags and ended up with a $550 Zac Posen runway dress that I stupidly threw in the washer with my towels. However, it is still a fab dress and if you watch Project Runway too, you might need to pick your chin up off the floor right now.

I avoid, as much as possible, lost luggage. I don’t really want to deal with that. But those people who prepare the pallets are smart. They know you can’t go through the whole box, so they throw some ‘new with tags’ on the top. They got me good this time. 2 full boxes of lost luggage. It breaks my heart, really. Goodwill is full of clothes and things that have been surrendered willingly. Lost weight, gained weight, kid grew, Grandma downsizing, etc. But lost luggage is connected with pain. The stress of the loss, the worry of what to do without your bag and then the paltry amount of money offered to you by the insurance company for the airline. This place is all about damaged freight from insurance claims. The claims are settled, now what to do with the ‘stuff’? Here come the bidders….

These last two boxes were full of sad stories. I am sure one was a very tall soccer player from the LA area. He still had Starburst candy in the pocket of his hoodie. He went to New York and the t-shirts he bought for his girlfriend never got there. Then there’s the lady who shops a lot at Talbots but always puts her make up on before she puts her shirt on. The plus sized lady on her beach vacation, the trendy LA girl at the ski slopes. The most painful was this woman from Turkey, I think. How hard this must have been to arrive in America without her handmade clothes. Either she was devastated that all her traditional clothing was gone, or she was delighted to get a whole new set of clothes. Either way, now I get to deal with it…Somedays… easier than others..

Clothes from Turkey

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Posthumas. What to think?

Sitting in a darkened movie theater the other night, a trailer for a new movie on the reclusive photographer Vivian Maier splashed across the screen. The movie looked good, as did her work. I am a huge fan of Diane Arbus as well as Cindy Sherman and some of Maier’s work seems reminiscent of their work. Except that Maier’s work was discovered after her death by a man who won her trunk of negatives at an auction. Viewing the work and finding it intriguing, he not only printed and sold the work, he also set out to find out about her life. She was a quiet person, according the the website and spent most of her adult life working as a nanny to three children who eventually supported her financially in her last years. Her 100,000 plus negatives were auctioned at a Chicago auction house and purchased by John Maloof, who states the purchase changed his life forever. She not only took stunning selfies in mirrors and department store windows where her haunting, ghostly image was reflected with her classic box camera…

Selfie by VIvian Maier

Another selfie by Vivian Maier

She also shot thousands of poignant photos of street life in New York City. Sometimes of the three children who were her charges and sometimes complete strangers engaged in the business of life…

Street shot by Vivian Maier

The work is breathtaking, certainly. However, as soon as the trailer was finished, I was conflicted. I remember years ago viewing the work of reclusive Chicago custodian Henry Darger. Another hermit whose massive graphic novels were discovered after his death by his landlords who subsequently sold off portions of it since his passing in 1973. I remember viewing Darger’s work at SOFA Chicago a few years back. The graphic novels have been the inspiration for other graphic novel work as well as films and even a song by Natalie Merchant. One of the novels, the largest, is called “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion”. I saw pieces of it in real life. The drawings are sometimes disturbing with soldiers in French revolution-style uniforms pursuing children in an effort to torture and sometimes murder them. Especially disturbing was the depictions of little girls, sometimes naked, having penises. Granted, the work is all fantasy and Darger created the work as he saw fit. Such is the gift of an artistic license. However, I remember walking away from the exhibit with a feeling of dread. Not of the content, but of the act of exhuming a person’s private work, intended to be private, open for all to see. What to think of this? If a person engages in an artistic practice for the sole purpose of their own satisfaction and does not wish to share it with the world, any part of the world, is it fair to expose it after they are dead? I wonder if Miss Maier or even Mr. Darger would approve of such practices.
I know a friend of mine in recent years destroyed much of his early work for this reason. Heating years of pieces that no longer met his personal standards and tossing them at 1000+ degrees into a barrel of water knowing they would shatter into unrecognizable bits. This is one way to control your work going forward.
I have been to museum exhibits where early drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo are proudly displayed next to the finished, final work. I wonder about this as well. While I find it interesting to examine the process of great masters, I wonder if they would be horrified to have it displayed in the same fashion as the masterpiece.

What do you think dear readers? Is this a fair practice to pillage an artists’ early and/or private work without permission? Given that, what will you do with the works you now call ‘the steps you took to get where you are right now’?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Nelson-Atkins Gallery is Closed on Monday AND Tuesday for the past 5 years

On some level, I am continually doing this to myself. If I would take a moment to check the hours before making the trek!

This week, I had the honor to host Claudia Trimbur-Pagel, a German glass artist from France who came to teach in my humble glass school this past weekend. I had great hopes to show her the world class art collection housed at the Nelson Gallery here in Kansas City before she had to head off to the next part of her journey in the US. Much to my surprise, the Nelson is not open on Tuesdays. Lucky for us, the Kemper Museum was open and welcoming. We were able to view the current exhibition entitled “Dressed Up”. It was a delightful collection of work from 4 artists. I love the Kemper because of its smaller size, you feel you have time to ‘consume’ it all, without rushing, fighting crowds and you really have time with each piece to examine it fully.
Claudia’s favorites were from an American artist from New York named Hope Gangloff. I would have to agree with Claudia that her work was fresh and thought provoking. Here is a photo of Claudia with one piece, so you can imagine the scale:

The paintings are large and each canvas is filled with the image of a Caucasian woman with luminous skin. The images seem pensive, the subjects lost in their own thoughts. My favorite is the artists modern version of Salome:

Salome by Hope Gangloff

This new Salome has all the historical and biblical references you would expect for an artist tackling this narrative but I love the way she cleverly understates the knife. It is on the outer edge of the canvas, easy to miss as the subject contemplates the messy business she is about to carry out. The beheading of St. John the Baptist. Her breast is slightly showing to foreshadow how she intends to convince the King to make her deadly request happen.
I also liked Gangloff’s Vio et Livres. Her subject is slightly curled up in a chair in what appears to be a personal library. The books arranged in a hap-hazard manner, just like at home. Claudia mentioned that Anglo-Saxon books have the title printed on the spine in the opposite direction as in France. So, the library is likely owned by an English – reading person.

Vio et Livres by Hope Gangloff

The exhibition also included some work by Nigerian born artist Marcia Kure. She now resides in New Jersey. Her work is compelling because she uses hip-hop images with pop culture or personal photographs to make a skewed look at fashion iconery. (If there is such a word). Here is my favorite:

Dressed Up #1 by Marcia Kure

Lastly, a photographer, Indian born but based in London, Neeta Madahar exhibited her photos of her friends in thought provoking situations, mostly with flowers and called her ‘Fiora’ series. The images were well done but somehow less impactful as those of photographer Daniela Edburg (The ‘death by’ series). Edburg is one of my favorite of this genre and I found it hard to give Neeta Madahar a break. Her work is good, just not my cup of tea. Here is one of the best:

Lee with Fuchsias by Neeta Madahar

“Dressed UP’ at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is now through April 27, 2014
More info here:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello my little neglected blog…..

She walked up to my booth, husband in tow. “We read your blog” she said with a little twinkle in her eye. As if some unspoken secrets had magically passed from my brain to hers. She and her husband had purchased a large piece from me the day before. They were adorable, and I remember them from years before. I didn’t know what to say… so I stumbled around and finally said “I am honored you read my blog!” …..So, I had to go back and look at my sadly neglected blog and review. What obnoxious things did I say?? I don’t get much in the way of comments on my blog, it seems most of the commenting happens on Facebook, so I am left to wonder sometimes if I am standing on my little soapbox proclaiming to no one but the bots in Latvia. Maybe not. Maybe people are content to read and then smile slyly when we meet.

I had been wanting to talk about my experiences in New York recently. Especially about the Rene Magritte exhibit at MoMA. I didn’t get any quick iPhone snaps as I was keeping an eye out for my Russian friend El. We had decided to meet up there at the last minute. I had given her my subway pass and said goodbye the night before as I had made the decision to sleep in and enjoy a little relaxation before my afternoon flight. Then, when I awoke that morning, I overheard the waiter at breakfast tell a couple how to get to Manhattan from the hotel. I thought I was nuts for being lazy. I talked to him, he handed me a subway pass from another traveler unable to use it and I contacted El and asked her to meet me there. Anyway…. there I was, top floor of MoMA, waiting for El and deliciously taking in the Magritte exhibit. You might know him from this work:

The Son of Man - Magritte

There were other more disturbing and fascinating pieces to be found in the collection, but I neglected to snap any iPhotos of them as I was worried about missing El.
I must admit, I like how he thought:

Hehe… okay, big deal. A little silliness on my part.
I was interested to find that he struggled to make a living at his art and did things like design wallpaper and started an ad agency with his brother in Belgium. The most intriguing detail was that he was reduced to forging Picassos, Braques and banknotes in order to pay the bills after his gallery contract ran out. That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Someone like Magritte, clearly on the edge, remembered by art historians as seminal and reduced to copying in order to eat. I won’t go see what price his last painting sold for at Sotheby’s because I think it might just make me sick.

I have no solution for the fine line between ripping off your teacher and being influenced by them. I always encourage finding their own voice, but honestly, some think changing the color is all they have to do. All things being said, food is a big motivator. We all like that tasty morsel. I admire the work of Magritte, even after finding out he was a bit of a scoundrel. Admire? Yes, in some respects. I am sad he was not heralded enough in his day to survive. This copying business does taint the water a bit.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Glass Secessionism – The first Gathering

It all started with a thought.

The Gathering photo by Tim Tate

I joined a Facebook discussion group called “Glass Secessionism”. It was spearheaded by an artist I have mentioned before, Tim Tate. I thought it much like the small group of artists in Germany 1905, they were painters who called themselves Die Brücke (The Bridge). Sometimes they were called The Fauves. The point of the group was to express high emotion through the use of unnatural color. I made that mental jump just because like the Fauves, Glass Secessionism wishes to establish a new world order, as it were, and throw off existing ideas and norms in the world of glass art. In an effort to further that end, Tim organized an impromptu meeting to be held at SOFA Chicago this month that he called “The Gathering” The meeting was interesting and quite intense. Just as any meeting of diverse individuals without a published agenda might become. To further understand, I am including the explanation from the Facebook page with a link to a longer article on the Washington Glass School’s website:
“The intent of this group is to underscore and define the 21st Century Sculptural Glass Movement and to illustrate the differences and strengths compared to late 20th century technique-driven glass. While the 20th century glass artists contributions have been spectacular and ground breaking, this group focuses on the aesthetic of the 21st century

The object of the Glass-Secession is to advance glass as applied to sculptural expression; to draw together those glass artists practicing or otherwise interested in the arts, and to discuss from time to time examples of the Glass-Secession or other narrative work. This movement is modeled after Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secessionists and how they redefined photography.

It was said of Stieglitz” What, then, was this secession from? It was not only from artwork that had gone stale through the copying of Victorian, conventional styles, but more importantly from the dictatorship of the entrenched institutions, galleries, art schools and professional art organizations that enforced or at very least sanctioned copying or imitation.”

Members are encouraged to post and share examples of 21st century glass sculpture and open discussion topics regarding this issue. Please do not self promote, but feel free to show others work.

Here is a link to the full article dealing with Glass Secessionism.

The meeting was intense and I have waited a few days to digest it. It is also interesting to hear others views on what happened there. I do admire American Craft Councils’ education director Perry Price for trying to moderate the event which was not an easy feat. The room was full of makers, students, educators, journalists and historians. The meeting, without an agenda swiftly became a debate with one very young student stating that she didn’t ‘give a shit’ if anyone liked her work as she was going to make what she wanted, to a long time collector of glass stating that artists still needed to make things that collectors would want to collect and have in their homes. Then the discussion veered into what is being taught as traditional glass instruction in schools to do we acknowledge and appreciate deskilling. I don’t think any of those passionate subjects had much to do with the initial intent of Glass Secessionism but I found the thoughts to be interesting. At one point I did sort of expect Micky Rooney to jump up and say “Hey, I know! Everyone, let’s put on a show!” but that would be my own expectation of the absurd manifesting itself.

In closing, I would say that I admire anyone to stand up and plainly state his or her opinion and then say ‘what do you think’ as in the case of Mr. Tate. I will also say that I am interested to see where this leads. I do like seeing the examples of work that (in the opinions of the members of the Facebook group) emulate the Glass Secessionsim ideals. Some of it is interesting. Some not. However, any movement that opens the doors to creative freedom works for me. So, hey everybody! Put on a show!

My own photo of the panel from left to right: Tim Tate, Perry Price, William Warmus and Jennifer Scanlan

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ode to Ren

Ren Farnsworth doth speak my name.
Not in hushed tones like a shy miss at the high school dance.
But bold as brass on a hot summer day
when the wind makes the flag fly stiff and straight.
She doth speak it out loud.
She says:
Remember that day
When we gathered ’round our friends’ table
Fire hissing
Glass melting
Telling our mothers’ stories.
Remember this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glasstress – an exercise in collaboration

I was lucky enough to visit two parts of the exhibit Glasstress both in Venice and on the island of Murano last week. This event, happening every two years is the efforts of Adriano Berengo to entice artists worldwide to work with glass as a medium when they have not used glass in their artistic efforts previously. The biannual event, in it’s third year, is housed in two different parts of Venice and one part in Murano. Part of the appeal for me beyond the art itself is to see the buildings in which they were housed, a spacious palazzo near the Academia Bridge and a former furnace in Murano. Some of the work was stunning and inspirational. Some of it was, well, not. You can skip the glass poured over engine parts. I won’t waste space showing you those. I am sure it had some deep philosophical meaning but it was lost on me. Some of the pieces were brilliant and intriguing. One called East of Eden by Mat Colinshaw was noteworthy.

The piece looked initially like a traditional Venetian mirror with sinuous glass appendages and a ‘mirror’ that was actually a surveillance mirror with a hard drive projecting the image of a snake undulating through the mist. It was a little Harry Potter-ish and would have looked nice in Voldemort’s bachelor pad, but none the less interesting and worth seeing. I apologize for the bad photo, it was the best I could do.

Other pieces, like this piece called Full Body Scan. Next! by Guo-Qaing Cai also used a video projection system to show a man, woman and child in the ‘body scanner’ while faceless mannequins with transparent glass bombs attached to their stiff nameless, faceless forms waited to be scanned. Interesting piece but no big surprises here. It was pretty straight forward with it’s commentary but a good effort, at least.

I was more interested in the traditional chandelier above it in this former palazzo. Not a part of the exhibit but really beautiful! Sorry for the photo again!

Traditional Venetian Chandelier

The last piece of note for me was again something using a hard drive and modern technology. This piece was housed at the exhibit on the island of Murano. And just a note, you have to take the vaperetto into Murano to get to it. If you take the free boat offered by the big glass factories, they only take you to their facility and showroom and put you back on their boat to Piazza San Marco. Better to pay the few euro it takes to have the freedom to really explore this enchanting island! (My little bit of advice.) Anyway, this piece would insult you in English when you walked into the room. The large and small faces were both projected onto the glass and was an ever changing rhetoric for the viewers.


I loved this piece but I ran out of room on my iphone and sadly did not get the title or the artist. It reminded me a little of Tim Tate’s A View From Above:

A View From Above

Except Tim’s is a table top version and the one in Murano was life-size and filled the room. Just a note, Tim’s work is not included in the exhibit. I saw Tim’s a SOFA last year and this one in Murano reminded me.

Overall, I think the exhibit is worth seeing, especially if you plan to visit there anyway. Despite the engine parts covered in molten glass, I like the idea of non-glass artists experimenting with a material that is new to them. Collaboration often leads to exciting results. The website says:

Glasstress 2013

Glasstress. White Light / White Heat, collateral event of the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice, now in its third appearance in the lagoon, will be opened to the public from May 31st to November 24th 2013.

For more info go to their website at:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

History Lesson

Well, I am back home to my own ecosystem where families need things, dogs and cats need things, dishes to do, laundry to finish. Plus the opportunity to curl up in a cocoon and steep in the safety of home. It’s in this space and room to breathe that evaluation takes place. Yesterday, my son pondered the change and evolution of the type of work I have done over the years. Nothing stays the same, that is for certain. Moving forward often gives rise to the opportunity of change. Change can be frightening and daunting, or it can be liberating and cathartic. However, if you have no clue where you come from, you have no foundation on which to place your house of cards.

Today is Andy Warhol’s birthday. I am not fan. I never really was. But I admire the kind of dent he put into popular culture. He stood up and made his presence known. I look at that aspect in our own tiny glass community. Just being at a show this weekend in San Fransisco brought this idea of community and history into sharp focus for me. Do people in the beadmaking community appreciate and understand the importance of Suellen Fowler’s contribution to modern glass formation? I wonder if people even remember her. I wonder if people remember David and Shari Hopper of Paradise Paint or Orient and Flume. Do they remember their contributions to the early beadmaking movement in the US? I sort of doubt it, just from the number of hits on my Facebook page when I posted their photos. I think people don’t even know who they are….. I think this means nothing to any of these pioneers. Their lives seem full and happy. But on some levels it bothers me that the people who form the foundation of the community are now lost in collective memory. There are a few who will remember. There are a few who are grateful. But mostly, I think people have no idea.

Today dear readers…. you glass working fools….. take a moment to ponder history that existed prior to the day you ordered your own torch. Be grateful all those people before chose to share what they learned in their own studios with you. Be appreciative of how that generous spirit helped you move up to where you are faster……after all, you didn’t really have to invent this wheel yourself. You really are not ‘self-taught’. You are an observant and lucky recipient of the collective of flameworkers of the past……..And if you have the chance to meet them, just say thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History

I have been thinking about this quote and it’s relation to a recent trip to our own Nelson-Atkins Gallery to view the Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera exhibit. The Nelson is a world class institution and hosted the exhibit well. Although I have to admit I was never much of a Frida fan. I was more interested in Rivera’s work with it’s elements of social commentary. However, now, having visited some of her work in real life, not on a coffee mug or a mouse pad, I have a new respect for her.

I especially liked this painting:

The sumptuous images of cut fruits, colorful and jagged looking with an unreal doll-bride peering over has sensuous and sinister qualities without being overly graphic. It’s beautiful with a dark undertone but so much less overtly painful than some of her self portraits with fetuses. I found it breathtaking but I wonder if it had more to do with the surprise at seeing the piece, unknown to me before because I never saw it in the Frida calendar or on a book bag. It is sort of sad that somehow Frida has become the poster child for following your own inner voice and as a result become a sort of mass marketed icon whose image is so ingrained in popular culture that all you have to do is mention the uni-brow artist and people instantly recall something about her. From what I understand, this would have bothered her as she was always intent on being different from others. Standing out was important to her, but her image is so over-used now, she is mainstream. Not exactly what she was striving for with her work.

That brings me to this quote “Well behaved women…..” Yet another iconic phrase that has become part of the pop culture. This phrase originally appeared in an academic paper in the journal “American Quarterly” in 1976 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. It was part of a paper on ordinary women whose endeavors were heroic but none the less forgotten by history because they were so well behaved. No witches or starlets in this group of virtuous women who birthed babies, raised families and were pillars in their communities. It’s funny to think how it’s been twisted into an anthem for the rebel rockers of femininity. The author finds it amusing.

Kahlo, not exactly well-behaved in her time, still deserves a spot in history for having the courage to communicate her personal pain (the infidelity of her husband, Diego Rivera and her inability to have children after a horrific bus accident in her youth) into her work, carving a space into the artistic timeline of enlightened society. I am still not a huge fan of her work, but I still have great respect for her fearlessness and tenacity.

I think the exhibit is worth a look before it travels on to it’s next destination. Not only for her work, but that of her husband and other modern Mexican artists work. Here are some images to entice you!

A study for Christina, Frida's sister (with whom Diego Rivera had an affair by Diego Rivera

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wheaton Village, Adrenaline and the New Student Work

Wheaton Village in Millville, NJ is an enigma. It looks like a little frontier town tourist thing…it just has this old style furnace. That seems to set it apart from your average frontier town tourist center blah, blah, blah. It also has quite the glass museum in one of those western type buildings.

The Glass Garden at Wheaton Village

Walk to the Hot Shop at Wheaton Village

Most importantly, they hold this event.. called Glass Weekend. Major galleries from all over the US are there representing their artists. It’s like a mini-SOFA Chicago. The Heller Gallery, Pismo Art Glass, Amy Morgan Glass Gallery.. just to name a few. I was convinced, because Pismo was repping me at this event, that I should be there. The stars aligned (and some arranging on my part) and I was able to attend. It was a good thing. I was able to catch artist Judith Schaechters’ keynote address and it was excellent. You can access it here:
Judiths’ Blog
It’s worth a read. I also saw some fine craft that would knock your socks off. It looked like an excellent and profitable weekend for the galleries and in turn for the artist..

Erica Rosenthal

[caption id="attachment_449" align="aligncenter" width="1936" caption="Ronit Dagan"][/caption]
Worth the experience, every moment. If only I had not left my Kindle in the rental car…….argh!
Student work
While I was in Milwaukee, I ran in to a student, whose work was included in the competition, “Bead Dreams” She took my class last year. She was influenced by the technique but you have to look really hard to see it. She did exactly what you should do when it comes to taking class and making it your own. The technique I taught her is buried deep in the bones of this awesome piece. You might be able to see it, or maybe not. I had to look hard. Either way, I think the work rocks. The piece deserved first place in my eyes. The only problem was her competition. An oriental rug out of seed beads and a hard one to ignore….

Susan Blessinger’s fab necklace

No rest for the weary here… now on to the next stop! Take care dear readers…..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment