Category Archives: art

The “Humanoids”

My friend Joyce introduced me to Ithaca brand hummus. I also take various vitamins and eat cottage cheese on occasion. The recycling began to accumulate and I thought, if we add styrofoam balls, we could make humanoid sculptures.

I kept thinking about the sculptures from Sharif Bey’s retrospective at the Everson Museum. His work represented his heritage.

It is so fun to create something new. A derivative of a contemporary artist based on found object materials that reflects cohesive themes. My sample was an angel (not pictured). I added the Ithaca hummus container lids for wings. It, sort of, resembled a Golden Globe award, so I added that concept. It would be the Angel on Earth award.

Students assembled their armature, used paper towels and Mod Podge for papier mache then used at least three different materials for texture and design. They considered themes based on personal interests and/or were inspired by classroom materials.

I had patterned papers with animal motifs and packages of fabric papers, Origami paper, African designs and Navajo-inspired designs. I also had actual fabric donated by the Home Ec. teacher last year and wallpaper sample books that someone recently shared with me.

In addition, I have a backroom stocked with old Barbie dolls that we harvested for parts. I brought a few things in from my personal art supplies (antique flag toothpicks, an extra lion head cat costume, assorted buttons, twine, peacock feathers).

Students were graded on construction, use of materials, theme and quality of papier mache application. Can you guess what award each sculpture represents?

P.S. Artists are 8th graders who have art class every other day for one semester. Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, NY 13037

Tinker Falls

From Jamesville, New York, drive about 20 minutes down Route 91 and you will find yourself in Labrabor Hollow. There is a parking lot off the highway – cross the street and now you are at Tinker Falls!

What an amazing experience. There are two components here – the treacherous climb up to the falls, the trail under the falls and another steep incline up, up, up…and then…a wide trail that continues up, up, up to a scenic overlook, which is a hang-gliding hot spot.

The brilliance of New York State all in one perfect day. The air is so fresh and the hike makes you feel so alive, so present, as if nothing else in the world matters.

It is a perfect place to stumble upon an angel or six. So grateful. <3

Bubo & Company

Be on the lookout for these little darlings. Yes, more owl rocks! This time I painted them with acrylic metallic paint. They remind me of Bubo from “Clash of the Titans” (1981 version).

First I used gesso. Then I painted on the faces, added color and did the detail work using a black Sharpie marker.

In addition, they are coated with Mod Podge in a matte finish.

They will be sent to a park nearby. Not sure which park yet. Stay tuned. <3

Kline-Dine Tash Mash

I call this project the Kline-Dine Tash Mash.

First I shared information about Franz Kline. He created large scale black and white paintings. These paintings resembled Chinese Calligraphy.

My students looked at Chinese Calligraphy resource pictures. They used black oil pastels to draw lines on a 12′ x 12″ canvas that were influenced by the Chinese characters.

Next, they added white acrylic paint using sweeping brushstrokes with a 1″ flat brush. They were encouraged to occasionally crash into the oil pastel to create some gray areas.

In the following class, they placed black acrylic paint over the black lines allowing some of the texture of the oil pastel to remain on the surface.

Jim Dine was next. We looked at his heart paintings. I gave them another canvas – a 4″ x 4″ one. They created heart stencils, traced them onto this smaller canvas then painted the canvas – either white heart with black background or black heart on white background.

Students then used colorful oil pastels on the heart and its background.

I had them choose a wood block, glue it to the back of the smaller canvas then adhere it to the center of the larger one.

I call it a Tash Mash because it is a mash-up of Kline and Dine but I use the heart motif in many of my own paintings as well, and I utilize the wood riser technique when mounting my encaustic paintings onto chalkboard painted masonite boards. And I invented the lesson.

I’m thinking about doing a series of encaustics in this style. Thank you, Franz Kline and Jim Dine for your contributions to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, respectively, and for having names that rhyme.

Giving a Hoot

My owls are almost ready to rock and roll. Yes, because they are rocks and they are about to roll into a New York state park. I will be hiding these beauties some time soon for you to seek, enjoy and well, they glow (under a black light).

Fluorescent paint!

My friends and I like to search for real owls when we are out hiking. We hear them hooting (or who-ing) but they often elude us. So I painted owls. They will be hiding in plain sight, much like their real counterparts.

I wrote www.karentash.com on the back, so if you are here because you found one, then congratulations! Someone suggested I sell them for $25 each. Is that a thing? Do people actually buy painted rocks? If so, then I have successfully found my new side hustle, lol.

But I think the fun is in the giving. Giving back to nature and giving the gift of a magical experience. That is the real pleasure of artistic endeavors.

They are not planted as of this blog post, but will be soon. Stay tuned. <3

The Harmony in Dissonance

Raymon Elozua: Structure/Dissonance is currently on view at the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202. The show continues through December 31, 2022.

These are large additive sculptures featuring ceramics, glass, steel and found objects, which culminate in an explosion of color and beautiful junk that satisfies the artist’s intellectual philosophy of “decaying industrial landscapes.”

This is not just a new series of work that takes a theme and runs with it. It is more like a half-century career retrospective. The bauble-rich sculptures make more sense in multiple because they sort of announce the concern of global waste.

Included in this show is Elozua’s personal collection of rusty enamelware. This is the part of the experience I loved best because I spent my entire summer doing something that was in the making for about seventeen years.

I bought a metal detector and searched the yard of my 1900s era home. There was so much there. The videos are on my YouTube channel. Now I just need to intellectualize these finds and incorporate them into art. The meaning? Unearthing the treasures that are right beneath you on your path. Most of it was garbage because back in the early 20th century people buried their trash in their own backyards. Isn’t that ironic?

We are always burying our hearts under the mask of reality. Making art is about building dreams. I want to build mine with all that garbage. And so does Elozua with his. I’d say that is harmony, not dissonance.

Big Bulbous Thingys

Experimenting with a technique has its rewards, just ask Rebecca Hutchinson. And you can ask her yourself tomorrow – Saturday, September 10, 2022 during her gallery walk (the work is in the Robineau and Malzman Galleries) from 11:00 am – noon at the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, New York 13202.

I met her last night at the art reception and I was delighted to make the acquaintance of such a spirited human being. She spoke of developing a technique where her large scale vessels are hand built upside-down using a series of paper strips dipped in clay slip, which is surprisingly strong. The pieces are not kiln fired and yet ,not fragile, which is intriguing.

Some of these enormous pods are decorated in botanical gestural paintings and drawings, like those on the long strips of rice paper located in the adjacent gallery. They are meant to represent the ebb and flow resilience of nature. This mark-making is what elevates this work from experimentally friendly bulbous thingys to big bulbous thingys with a meaningful message.

So cool!

Professor Hutchinson teaches ceramics at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth in addition to her role as a working professional artist and all-around art trailblazer .

Rebecca Hutchinson – Regeneration will be up through December 31, 2022. There will also be a workshop scheduled to learn her techniques. Call the Everson at (315) 474-6064 for more information or visit their web-site. www.everson.org

The A & C

The AmeriCU Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival has returned to Columbus Circle and surrounding roads in Syracuse, NY. It began on Friday and continues tomorrow from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Here is a sampling of the artisans represented this year. I was there today and mainly walked through the circle and down Montgomery Street.

Susan Shannon is a potter from Vermont. She had an incredibly cohesive display. All of her porcelain ceramics are handmade on the potter’s wheel – no molds! She said there is a beauty to the zen of creating a familiar shape and it never gets boring. The glaze is a type of high fire stain and the colors are wonderfully rich. This is the type of functional art that must be purchased in multiples.

It is all microwaveable and dishwasher safe. Really great! She is located in front of the church on the circle.

Her website is suchipottery.com. For more information call (970) 529-3029.

Charlie Sam has really upped his game since I first met him several years ago. Again, the word is cohesive. He creates these original graphic characters and represents them on T-shirts, sweatshirts, glassware, mugs and buttons.

He is from Syracuse. His booth is on Montgomery Street. Find him on Instagram and Facebook.

So great!

I enjoyed meeting the Hadfields of CH Woodcraft. Craig Hadfield creates these Americana paintings on pine. I love the flag motif! And of course, I work in “bear country”, which is what we call Chittenango. Love!

They are from Syracuse. The booth is on Montgomery Street. If you don’t make it out tomorrow, you can call (315) 558-0201. They also do custom projects.

Joelle’s Dolls are so full of whimsy. Joelle McAndrew from Lewiston, NY creates her own designs and patterns. Each doll has a backstory, which is so delightful. There is so much detail in the clothing! Everything is original.

This is another example of needing more than one. Someone should buy her whole collection.

Again, this booth is on Montgomery Street. Also find her at joellesdolls.etsy.com.

Johanna Wall is a lovely person! She is a retired teacher from Syracuse. She and her husband worked the booth today, which is located on Montgomery Street. Her collection includes jewelry and decoupage items – birdhouses, canisters, coasters and wreaths.

Call (315)382-5262 for more information.

John Oneal Heard is a man of many hats – professor, model, musician, art teacher and artist. He had a small collection of original paintings (I believe they are abstract paintings on glass mounted on canvas). He literally paints music. He said his favorite thing about meeting the public as an artist with a business is answering questions from children – it is rewarding to share his work with an audience.

Call (315) 992-3267 for more information.

And that is what this festival truly embodies – the spirit of the collective creative energies flowing through these business men and women and fusing with the community in such a joy-filled positive way. Hurray for the artists and art patrons of Syracuse, New York!

Really, really soooooo great!

In Scale

I’ve been reminiscing about Dawn Dolls. They were manufactured for only three years in the early ’70s by Topper. Dawn, Angie, Gary, and company. they were only six-and-a-half inches tall, so they were incompatible with Barbies because they were so small. But they were so pretty with silky long hair and “real” eyelashes, and of course, with very awesome 1970s fashions. I loved them and I love them still.

I’ve been stalking them on the Internet – Ebay, Etsy and Mercari mainly. I don’t really want to buy them, do I? I want to be the Dawn doll. Haven’t I always? So funny that my hair resembles hers now. All I need is an Alice & Olivia dress and I am good to go.

What struck me as I viewed Sharif Bey’s art exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art is that he too seems to be enamored with doll collections albeit his are quite large scale especially the necklaces!

Like Vanessa German’s work and Vanessa Johnson’s too, Bey has added his take on the African experience by way of the doll.

This show is housed in two of the four upstairs galleries and spans the artist’s thirty-year career. I mean, he’s only forty-eight, which indicates that some of the pieces in this collection of works were created when he was only eighteen. It is a lot of work – from functional ceramics to these large figurative pieces and finally the accessory wall. It is incredibly impressive for sure.

These necklaces in particular are really something. In the accompanying pamphlet prepared for a Junteenth visitation, it is revealed that he used toilet paper over glaze in the kiln to manifest the charred pattern on the “beadwork”. It is genius.

The scale speaks volumes about who this man is as an artist and as a human. It is a combo of continued visual exploration and ethnic pride coupled with a desire to both learn and teach.

Bey is a professor at Syracuse University in the Art Education department. The brochure professes to take children on a journey to discover themselves as he serves to explore ideas to carry him on his own path.

The exhibition is titled “Facets”. It works so well here because the Everson has always been first and foremost a ceramics museum. Knowing that these massive pieces are also fragile lends itself well to that idea that we are all fragile beings in a way, always seeking that strength of character in our true identities while harboring thoughts of doubt, worry and stupid fears that can easily break our spirits.

I wonder if that thought crossed his mind? No matter what doll one identifies with – big or small, black or white, etc., etc., we are all that creative spirit looking for a way to connect and feel that blessed feeling of validation as we develop our crafts/psyches in order to continue the ascent through life.

The Everson Museum of Art is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY, 13202. Call (315) 474-6064 for more information or find them at www.everson.org.

Sharif Bey: Facets continues through August 14, 2022.

Studio & the Barn Watercolor

Our last Studio in Art project – watercolors. I gave each student a sheet of 300# watercolor paper. They created drawings of barn landscapes from resource photos. I graded this portion on rendering/detail and composition.

Next, I gave them smaller sheets of watercolor paper and taught four techniques –

*saving the white of the paper

*wet-in-wet

*glazing

*dry brush

I graded the rest of the project based on how well they utilized these four techniques in the final product.

They spent several days practicing and when they were ready, they began painting the barn. Students sat in groups of two sharing a set of Koi watercolors and a large mixing tray.

The results are these incredible paintings. Remember, they are 8th graders and for the most part, had never used such quality materials. The hardest part, I think, was getting them to stray from conventional ideas – like, just putting brown in the brown spot, you know. I shared some Wolf Kahn paintings and explained how his brown trees had flecks of violet and orange in them because he used a secondary color palette. This style embraces rhythm.

I am really pleased with what my students accomplished.

Our last class together was a bit of silly mayhem. I played a game with these buzzers I have that are fun to use. They had to buzz in answers to questions about what we learned this year during class – about art and about me as a teacher as well as about specific things that happened during class that made it memorable.

The funny thing is that students who were the silliest in terms of behavior remembered the most stuff. When my 8th period kids started singing my India Ink song (memorized, lol – I don’t even have it memorized), that was just over-the-top.

What happens when I am living in the present moment is that I forget that I won’t be teaching them any longer. They are headed to the high school. So, here it is two days later and I am feeling incredibly sentimental.

At the end of every school year I do always tell my students that I will always be there for them. I am an email away or a bus ride from the high school to the middle school to visit me during 10th period. But in a couple of years, I may retire from teaching so that I can devote myself to my own dreams. I will still be here in the social media realm though and I will never stop wanting to know how they are doing with regard to the arts.

Relationships are a strange thing. You never know who you have affected in a way that will catapult people to the place they truly want to be in their lives. And they really don’t know how much their presence has made a difference in my life.

I am working on a watercolor poem/song. I will try to finish it this weekend and maybe I will put myself back up on TikTok. Last week, a 7th grader was listening to something with his secret ear bud. It turned out that he was listening to me recite my Gamer rap song – like really? Of all things, you want to hear my voice in your ear? Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around stuff like that.

Yes, there will always be some students who express dissatisfaction and negativity. The trick there is to be the ear bud that voices positivity back, to not get caught in the debris field of that negative energy but instead push forward and allow the universe to embrace the magic of dreams. And a lot of the time, that magic is harnessed via the arts.

Studio in Art students, it has been a privilege working with you this year. Best to you always. Have a great experience at the high school and beyond. And keep making art. <3