Category Archives: cats

The Big Reveal

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And now, the big reveal:  Starting today through September 2015, I will be showing and selling artwork at Natur-Tyme, Erie Blvd. East, Dewitt, NY.

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Maria Rizzo, Tom Huff and I are the premiere artists for this amazing experience.  Maria is the curator.  The store owner invested in the window space, purchasing a hanging system, partitions and hooks that make the art look fantastic.  The space is off to the side of the customer service desk and you can also see the art from the front window overlooking Erie Blvd.

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For those of you in the Nostalgic Syracuse group on Facebook (shout out!), it’s the old Goldberg’s Furniture store.  Natur-Tyme has been there for five years.  It’s not just a vitamin shop; it’s more of a healthy lifestyle kinda place.  They have food, a juice bar, cosmetic and hair care, a salon, fresh vegetables, vitamins and all sorts of things.  Even if you’re not in the market for art, I urge you to discover its many contents for yourself.  It’s like an oasis of bliss in there.

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Maria told me that she picked me because, aside from liking my artwork, she was impressed with the way I used social media.  She said she liked that this blog was not just to promote myself but other local artisans and cultural things.

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Isn’t that such a nice compliment?  You really never know when helping someone can lead to someone helping you.  I am very impressed with Maria as well.  She’s very young, but has this unwavering self-confidence and drive to succeed as an artist.  She uses social media wisely and has recently won grant money for a show of tree paintings.

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Framed prints of those paintings are available for sale at this venue too, in addition to other landscape paintings.  They are located on the left side facing the gallery area in the cubbies.

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I was meticulously measuring – doing that OCD Monk thing until I was satisfied.  It took me like 2 1/2 hours to completely install twenty-two paintings.  I have two that didn’t fit, which I will add once I sell two!!!!!

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And if I sell more, I will go over there and replace them with another series.

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These paintings of cats frolicking in geometric fields are from my series called Echolalia.  I just love the way they look when they are on display together.  I created them in 2005.  The last time they were exhibited was at the Rome Art Center in Rome, New York – in their library room – back in September 2008!  Since then they’ve been in my closet or on display somewhere in my house.

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It’s such a refreshing and exciting feeling to bring them out again. To see the light of day, as I mentioned about the paintings in my Sullivan Library show.

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As I was working to get everything up, a woman approached me and said, “Oh, are you the artist?  These are wonderful.  Very industrial!”  Said she’d be back to look at them again.  Whether she buys or not really doesn’t matter at this moment, because that feeling that she gave me – that thing where I realize that I am an artist.  I have a body of work that I don’t really go on ruminating about – you know what I mean?  It felt amazing.  I’ve been so busy with teaching and in my free time I’m basically doing mundane chores or exercising, or writing these blog posts.

I haven’t had time to sit down and make art.  I have this idea for a new series but stuff gets in the way or I don’t feel the passion.  I spent all day yesterday re-staining my 20 square foot deck.  Let me tell you, the idea of picking up another paintbrush anytime soon does not sit well with my sore shoulders, lol.

But put forth a compliment and I come to life like gangbusters.  I can’t wait for you to see the show. Please go to Natur-Tyme if you are in town and let me know what you think.  And if you want to buy something, I guess you just take it off the wall (get a sales associate to help) and take it to the register.  My paintings are only $200 each.

 

 

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Green

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My redecorating project is complete!  I ended up using the Benjamin Moore paint in Navajo White, Barely Beige, and Seedling for the kitchen; and the Home Depot paint in Leather Clutch for the upstairs and entryway trim.

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I love a green kitchen for some reason, but I’m all about neutral walls everywhere else.

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I love when the house is finally camera ready, but it is always a fleeting moment in time.  There is always something that needs putting away or another dish to wash.  It’s a never ending saga.

Honestly, I cannot believe how much work I did.  I was like some kind of crazy Tasmanian devil or whatever.  There was a bit in the middle where it was so overwhelming that I had a mini meltdown but that’s how I seem to accomplish everything.  Confidence then doubt and then push through it, and finally, completing the vision.

Tomorrow it’s back to the real world and to more art stuff.  Work. An art reception on Friday night.  And on Saturday, I’m judging an art contest.

Now it’s time for Orthodox Easter dinner at Mom & Dad’s.

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Texture Goddess

Yesterday was one of those perfect days where I did everything I set out to do.  It was kind of a thinking week and I finally executed decisions from the think tank.

Diana Godfrey

I was thinking about the Academy Awards.  In the past (read: up until yesterday), I scoffed at those who thanked their families for an award they received at work.  It seemed to me that the SHORT speech should reflect the specific aspects of the work and thanking co-workers was the way to go.  But then I had the flu and the subsequent bout with a debilitating sinus infection and the truth is that I could have never gotten through the week without help from Mom and Dad.  Mom for running to the grocery store to get me oranges, bananas, Jello, and meds, and sitting with me without any fear of getting sick herself, and Dad for helping me shovel/snowblow my driveway at least three times so that when I was ready to go out, I actually could fall back into civilization.  No matter what other successes I may have had otherwise, I owe so much of it to them for being there for me always, including supporting me and my decision to be an artist.  I am grateful they decided to get married when they were basically kids and are still going strong after fifty-three years of marriage.  So thank you, Mom and Dad.

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I don’t care if you call me a cat lady (at least you think I’m a lady) but I would also like to thank my two little indoor gin-gins for their companionship.  I tend to think they loved having me around this week.  My life was much like theirs.  Eat a little, dream a lot.  Go up and down the stairs and wonder what the hell I was doing up there once I got there, etc.  So thank you, Georges and Pablo.  Georgie is named after Georges Braque and Pablo for Picasso.  I’m kind of hoping they will want to help me make abstract watercolors this summer – I would love to see their polydactyl footsies stomping on Arches paper.

me and gin-gins

They are not my first multi-toed nutters.  I found a picture of Meet-zee and me recently.  He was our first cat.  We got him on Halloween when I was about nine from a house on Erregger Terrace.  I was telling the story to some students the other day and it did seem a little weird, like not something that would happen today unless scripted into an episode of Criminal Minds or something.

me and Meetzee 001

My sister, Kathy, and Anita Suritis and I were invited into the trick-or-treat house, went into the downstairs rec room and saw the orange and white kittens along with their mother in a comfortable cardboard box.  Their eyes had just opened making them about six weeks old, I guess.  We called Mom from the house and she came over in her bathrobe (not uncommon) and we got Meet-zee.  He only lived a year, hence no artwork.  Thought he ran away but only a few years ago Mom and Dad revealed that he was buried in the yard.  He’d been hit by a car over by where Kathy lives now.  Yeah, we used to let him go out at night and he would go hunting at Barry Park.

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So, back to yesterday, I re-joined Gold’s Gym, went grocery shopping, came home, gung-hoed on doing pilates, and went to an art show! Thank god for people like curator Anne Novado of Cappuccilli Fine Art, LLC!  She’d posted the event on Facebook, called Fine Art pairing at Wine 105 (105 Green Street, Syracuse, NY), and I had checked that I would be going.  Then the weather got all snowstorm again and I could have easily reverted to my specialty, staying home in jammies with a Duraflame log in the woodstove, but I did it.  I said I would and I did.  I ventured out (and I’m really glad I did)!

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I had a great conversation with the eternally youthful sculptor Arlene Abend and saw and chatted with Cheryl Chappell, Marna Bell, Sherry and Peter Allen, Linda Bigness, Anne Novado, and many others.

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I really love a captive audience so here it was – an art show at a wine store.  And I really, really love it when it isn’t a group show, when it is a one artist thing showcasing the depth and breath of one person you can truly fall in love with.  That person is Diana Godfrey.

Diana Godfrey (left) with Arlene Abend
Diana Godfrey (left) with Arlene Abend

Now, I’m not an art critic and I find that it isn’t really a job I want to have being that I am a colleague, a fellow artist.  With that said, I am completely head-over-heels for Diana’s work.  She is a texture goddess.  There were straight paintings, and paper collages – paintings on paper then torn and arranged in magnificent compositions on display, all framed by Cheryl Chappell from Edgewood Galleries.

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I met Diana for the first time last night and she had such a regal elegance.  I was born in Syracuse, lived two years in Florida – end of story.  I mean family is what brought and kept me here.  But Diana recieved her Master’s in Iowa and came here because her spouse had gotten a job at the university – not sure how long ago.  She spoke to me about the business of art and I loved that she could bridge both worlds – to be that talented and business savvy.  She makes a living selling art and well she should.

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I just love her sense of color and the texture in her work and the holy trinity of putting those together with the ease of rhythmic expertise. There is so much to see in her world.  It’s what I’ve always wanted in mine – a sense that once you are drawn in, you never want to look away.  You never want to leave.  Her prices are reasonable so you may want to head down there and pick up a few.  While you’re there you can throw in a few bottles of wine to enjoy while watching the female Superbowl tonight.  You’re welcome.

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Immortalize Me

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The above picture is the current state of my classroom blackboard.  We’re working on a portrait lesson in Studio in Art and these are some of the drawings I created as samples.  They all began as class demonstrations.

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The above is a self-portrait in the style of Gustav Klimt.  The portrait lesson has since transitioned from self-portrait in colored pencil to celebrity portrait in pencil.

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sleepy hollow Tom Milson

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young bill murray

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I can’t find the photograph I used for this 19″ x 22″ colored pencil on Canton paper illustration of Colin Firth or as I like to call him, perfection-in-a-man.  Created this one in 2004.  I can’t believe it’s eleven years old.

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Here’s a picture of the actor winning a SAG award.  I don’t think any of my sample actors are nominated for a SAG this year.  Too bad, because that would have made a way better blog post.

colin firth and wife

I’ll be watching tomorrow night anyhow.  The fashionista in me prefers award season over sporting events (I haven’t watched a Super Bowl in I don’t know how long), although you know I will be watching the kitty half-time show of the Animal Planet puppy bowl.  That’s just perfection-in-cuteness.

kitty half time show at puppy bowl

 

 

Into the Abstract Abyss

everything you can imagine is real

So, ten days into the new year and what have I done to achieve goals?

Um…..

In my defense, a migraine wrapped  its tentacles around my brain today.  There’s always an excuse to procrastinate and I will use that one.  Plus, I left the camera cord at work so I couldn’t upload the student artwork to my school website.  I had every intention of doing that today.

http://www.chittenangoschools.org/teacherpage.cfm?teacher=1596

And I really should watch what I say.  I bragged about being impervious to the cold then we went into a dumb deep freeze with below zero temps and it was soooo coooooold that all I wanted was to be the guy on that commercial with the sweater made of live cats.

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I haven’t worked out my issues with Shopify and this website yet.  I’m sure it is a minor glitch but you know how that goes.  Minor turns into major, and things take a ton longer than you think they will.  Really, how do I ever get anything done?  I seriously could not concentrate today AT ALL.

http://karen-tashkovski-visual-artist.myshopify.com/

Are things even happening?  Well, kind of, yes.

*Two of my students won awards at the regional Scholastic Art Awards.  A silver key for one of the encaustic paintings and an honorable mention for one of the cow paintings.

*I was asked to judge an art contest in April for the local chapter of the National League of American Pen Women.  http://www.nlapw.org/  I emailed with the liaison to confirm the date and time, and wrote it in my datebook.

*My blog post, Holding the Key, will be added to the blog on www.professionalartistmag.com.  It will be up some time next week.  The editor saw the blog after I’d posted it to their Linkedin group and thought it would benefit their readers!  I spent a chunk of the day searching my laptop for high resolution images of the pictures and popping the blog into a word document to email it all to her.

*I now have over 500 connections on www.linkedin.com, and more people are starting to endorse me for my art “skills”, as well as commenting when I post links to the various groups I’ve joined.

*I am up to over 3,700 followers on Twitter!  And not all of them are there because of the cats, although a lot of them are, lol.  I’m getting more re-tweets and favorites, which may or may not lead to sales, but it seems like progress. https://twitter.com/karentashkovski

Oh, and movie star Taye Diggs is following me!  That’s my new claim to fame, my new middle name, as in Hi, I’m the artist Karen-Taye-Diggs-is-following-me-on-Twitter-Tashkovski.

Karen Tashkovski, Devices, 1998, 24" x 48", oil & collage, collection of Sophie Tashkovski
Karen Tashkovski, Devices, 1998, 24″ x 48″, oil & collage, collection of Sophie Tashkovski

*I also spent a bunch of time thinking about devices I will use for the Futura series of paintings.  I will start thumbnail sketches soon.  I’m using my painting, Devices, as inspiration.  It is one of only about four paintings that have survived from my 24″ x 48″ series of works from 1998.  I destroyed a number of them for no really good reason except that I didn’t think they were good enough.  Eventually, I will resurrect the canvases with the new series, but it will take a bit longer to work everything out (I have nothing, if not all the time in the world to make it happen).

*I purchased a couple of lottery tickets for the Powerball jackpot.  I could be two hundred million dollars richer by tomorrow morning.  A girl can dream.

Can you imagine?

 

 

Holding The Key

So many bloggers are out there offering positive affirmations to help you make 2015 the best year ever.  Things akin to believing in yourself and following your dreams.  I can’t believe how many advocate quitting your job to follow your passion.

Karen Tashkovski, Key, 30" x 30", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675
Karen Tashkovski, Key, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $825

Please don’t quit your day job, people.  There is plenty of time to make things happen after work and on weekends.  It’s all about time management.   Art is something everyone should be doing in one capacity or another.  Or maybe I should just say being creative, because that is what the world is looking for – creative thinkers.  Outside the box and all that.

Karen Tashkovski, Rhythm, 11" x  7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, Rhythm, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

I have a lot of goals for this year, but I have to say that 2014 surpassed my expectations in so many ways.  I faced fears and made decisions that really changed my life.  I’m proud of myself that I took those necessary baby steps.  I feel like life is just some kind of a roller-coaster ride, and once you realize that you are strapped in, you can just go with the flow.  Let the ride happen.  When you start worrying about stuff, you end up like that guy in Vegas who got stuck on the zip-line and had to be rescued.  It’s great that there are people out there who will always help you when you get stuck, but being a damsel in distress is the stuff of fairy-tales, and in reality, it’s way better when you can just save yourself.  Or better yet, be a person who doesn’t need to be rescued at all.

Echo-4, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Echo-4, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media

Is life a roller-coaster or a dream?  I wrote down some very specific things I wanted for myself this year and they happened within three months.  It was freaky in a way, like I had the skeleton key to the universe or something, which explains why I wasn’t completely successful in bringing everything to fruition (I got a little cray-cray).  This blog and website, putting my artwork out here in cyberspace, getting financial stuff in some semblance of order and other private-life stuff that I’m still trying to process….

Welcome, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
Welcome, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media

Maybe I should throw out more desires and see if they boomerang back as a manifestation of more dreams.  I want to sell my art.  I want to fill my passport with stamps to at least three countries in the next three years (France, Scotland and Greece come to mind since they are the ones illustrated in my heart-quilt paintings).  I want to fix the roof on this house before it is beyond repair.  I want to live an even more creative life and spend a lot more time laughing, and making art and…I don’t know.

The Way, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
The Way, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media

Maybe I should quit promoting my art altogether and just blog about my cats.  I have spent several hours a day this vacation on all the re-tweeting and tweeting I’ve been doing on Twitter.  I mean hours of contemplating what to tweet that will bring visitors to this website and ultimately sell the art so that I can make more paintings and enjoy the benefit of financial success; be able to live the life I’m sure I want.  Just for fun, I tweeted a picture of my cats – my favorite picture taken months ago, but as you know when you have two cats, it is nearly impossible to get a good picture of both of them at the same time.  They’re very wriggly.  I’ve taken hundreds of shots of them just to get this one good one.  So, I put it out there and it went sort of viral.  The kitty tweet that went around the world or whatever.  Favorited by probably a hundred people and re-tweeted so many times I was like, what-what?  Are you kidding me?

pablo & georges portrait

Now, if I can only get half of those people to purchase some of my cat motif paintings, I’ll be in business.  I will literally have a business.  Lol…you have to laugh.  You really, really do.

 

Faith, Fate & Fashion

This was a crazy busy weekend what with everything that I usually do and the whirlwind of art events I mentioned last time.  I found the irony in meeting some Facebook friends for the first time at the Edgewood Gallery opening on Friday night so hilarious.  It was like a Saturday Night Live skit or something.  “I know all about you,” is what one woman said to me, along with insisting that I was stalking her on social media.  “You paint cats,” she said.  It was just so funny.  Later she spoke about her dream of meeting Faith Ringgold, to which I responded that I had met the artist.  Here’s the picture to prove it in case she thought I was totally lying.

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Faith Ringgold shared her art journey at Light Works at Syracuse University in 2007.  Her visit coincided with an exhibition of her work at the Community Folk Art Gallery here.  Faith is an incredible person – so inspirational and positive, and lovely.  She autographed her book for me and we chatted for a significant amount of time considering that she’d been signing books for a couple hours and there was a long line of people behind me.

https://www.facebook.com/drfaithringgold

https://www.facebook.com/faithringgold

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faith-Ringgold-Books/429143970457474

Faith is on Facebook – her daughter posts updates regularly.  She’s currently working on an app that is based on quilting, which is geared to the elderly and can help improve memory function.  I feel like if I can have just half her energy and attitude I will someday make a difference in this world.  But I am always vacillating – that confident vs. insecure yo-yo mindset that grips just about every artist from time to time.  Did I make the right choices with my life?  Am I even good at what I do – artist, teacher, etc.?

When I was in college, Frank Goodnow, my painting professor, was surprised to find out I was a fashion design major.  “You are a painter,” he said. I think about that a lot when I wonder if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing if one believes in fate.

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I was reminiscing about this with Laurel Morton, a former classmate and current assistant professor in the fashion program at Syracuse University.  I visited her studio at the Delavan Center on Saturday and we chatted about the past.  I haven’t thought about those dreams in years and so it resurrected that whole road not traveled thing.  Had I moved to NYC  and taken that job at Ralph Lauren, would I have eventually become Marc Jacobs famous?

Statue of Liberty 001

I don’t know.  Maybe.  At SU, you took foundations courses in art as a freshman at that time (not sure how it is now) then you re-applied to your major.  I had originally planned on going into advertising, but only because I thought I needed to have a reasonable art career to satisfy my worried parents who were spending all of this money to send me there.  I was the eleventh person chosen for the competitive advertising program based on my freshman portfolio but at the last minute I chose fashion design, which had no such competition.  I thought I could see myself doing that.

Medusa costume 001

I eventually found my way back to painting and art, and teaching.  I mean, I can still design clothes.  But these days I only do it to create Halloween costumes.  My specialty is coming up with something that relates to an artist, art movement or culture for a costume that goes with an art lesson at school.

Indian costume 001

Frank Goodnow was right- I am a painter.  I really cannot imagine my life without mark-making.  Designing clothes is just another thing I can do.

Japanese outfits 001

http://archives.syr.edu/collections/fac_staff/sua_goodnow_f.htm

The Edgewood Gallery show of work by Amy Bartell, Linda Bigness and Todd Conover will continue until January 2nd, 2015, btw, if you want to see it or buy something.

http://edgewoodartandframe.com/

 

 

Jasper’s Legacy

There is this book called Why Cats Paint.

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Cats-Paint-Theory-Aesthetics/dp/0898156122

In it, the author presents a number of cats throughout the world who put their paws in paint and create abstract art.  I bought the book as a joke.  I had it for several years before I sat down and read the text.  What’s great about it is it’s written in a serious manner, like a master’s thesis, with various theories and evidence of proof to support them.  It’s hilarious but also brilliant, especially the part where the author convincingly suggests the cats are actually painting representationally.  That if you turn it all upside down you can spot clear contour line imagery much like they do on that show Ancient Aliens when they are trying to convince you that some stone mountain in South America is really an Egyptian sphinx.

Sometimes the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park’s animals make art that they auction off to raise money and there is a tiger who is an abstract expressionist master.  Her name is either Tanya or Tatiana – huge paw prints with the perfect juxtaposition of complementary colors.  Crazy, really.

Sunday was Jasper’s birthday and next Tuesday is his death day.  He was fourteen when he died.  I grew up with cats as pets but Jasper was the first pet I took care of all on my own.  He represented almost my entire career at work at that time (save the first year) and as well, he was the same age as the students I had just taught that school year.

He had cancer and I had to put him down, something I thought I would never ever do to an animal.  Never wanted to do.  It still haunts me.  He was alive in my arms when I kissed him good-bye and then I had him killed.  Everyone said I had done the right thing.  I saw the MRI.  Cancer appears as white spots on it and his whole body was pretty much snowflakes.  He was very ill.  He’d stopped eating and although the specialist said he was not in pain, I knew that pain was imminent.  I didn’t want him to suffer.

I just loved him so much.

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I found him at the Humane Association on Taft Road in Liverpool, NY.  I had called ahead looking for a tiger tabby.  I already knew I would call him Jasper after Jasper Johns.  He had been brought there one day prior and was sitting inside a milk crate.  If you have ever been there, at least it was like this in the ’90s, you would know that the cat area is one large room with cats of all ages roaming freely.  Smaller kittens were in cages.  Jasper was a kitten too but he was fifteen weeks old and about four pounds.

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I didn’t see him at first because I was busy trying to get a giant monkey-like black cat off my back.  It was clinging to my wool coat with monster claws.  I managed to escape and walked up to Jasper.  I picked him up and said, “Are you my kitty?”  I put him down and waited to see what he’d do.  I kind of walked away and he approached  me.  When other kittens his size did the same (I believe they were his brothers because I was told he came in with four others from his litter), Jasper hissed at them forcing them to scatter.

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I walked to the exit and checked to see if he would follow me.  He did and that was that.  Because I noticed that he had target markings on his fur!  Definitely a sign that we were meant to be.

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Karen Tashkovski, Roi, 30" x 30", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675
Karen Tashkovski, Roi, 30″ x 30″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $675

I made the bulk of my artwork during the Jasper years.  The cat paintings from the Echo/Rune series and Dream Time series were obviously peppered with Jasper references, both Jasper the man and Jasper the cat.  Lots of target markings and neutral colors, as well as stenciling and found object additions.

Rune-11, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Rune-11, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media, $200

I created hundreds of watercolors too.  Growing up I had a cat named Tiny who planted his foot in a watercolor painting I did in college, but Jasper never once wanted to paint.

Echo-3, 18" x 18", 2005, mixed media
Echo-3, 18″ x 18″, 2005, mixed media, $200

He was extremely feisty.  That hissing incident when we first met was not an isolated one.  He used to hiss at everyone except me.  Once he jumped on my sister’s friend (as she sat on my sofa) and bit her on the head.  The technician at the vet’s told me that she and Jasper were “blood-brothers”.  Yep, he did bite a lot too.  A lot a lot, and I was not the exception.  I still have scars on my arms to prove it.  Scarification, it turns out, was his art form.

Touch, 9" x 12", 2001, mixed media
Touch, 9″ x 12″, 2001, mixed media, $75

I have two cats now.  They are very cuddly and loving.  They do not hiss or bite.  More docile than feisty for sure.  I don’t know if they will turn out to be artists.  They are polydactyls, Georges (named for Georges Braque) with six toes on one foot and seven on the other and Pablo (Picasso, naturally) with five on each and both with nails intact; so with those giant tootsie paws they could well become the stars of the next Why Cats Paint if there is another edition planned.  They are already turning the wicker baskets into deconstructed confetti heaps, so, maybe sculpture is their thing.

Karen Tashkovski, Ruby, 11" x  7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, Ruby, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

 

Karen Tashkovski, Play, 18" x 24", 2000, oil, latex & collage, $500
Karen Tashkovski, Play, 18″ x 24″, 2000, oil, latex & collage, $500

 

 

 

 

Christmas in July

I am on summer vacation from my teaching job – full swing.  It’s been a week of staying up late but still getting up early because I have two pets to feed.  They are not interested in having a summer schedule.

The art exhibit at Sullivan Library will continue through this month and possibly next.  I only say that because last year I had student work up in July and there was no one scheduled for August so I was able to keep the work up until school started and that was really nice.  I personally prefer a two-month run at a captive audience style venue – libraries, restaurants, etc. because it gives people enough time to eventually venture over there and see it.  I sometimes exhibit at the East Syracuse Free Library and when I took the last show down, (honestly, I can’t remember when – two years ago?) a preteen approached me and told me that she came to the library nearly every day that summer and she enjoyed the time she was able to spend with my work.  Yeah, that really happened.

I invite four artists a year to exhibit artwork in the library of the school and we have had so many phenomenal local artists in the past four years, among them, two who have passed away – Yolanda Tooley and George Benedict.

Yolanda was someone I met over twenty years ago when we volunteered on the Visual Arts Committee affiliated with the Cultural Resources Council of Onondaga County here in Syracuse.  She was always such a positive force in my life.  She told me that I was very brave to create artwork that has such a personal meaning to me and I think about that any time I feel like I should revise my thought process and make art that caters to some unnamed consumer.  She was a photographer who used colored inks to hand color her images, many of which were done in collage to create her own personal visions of landscapes from her many world travels.  This one is of Venice.

yolanda tooley art

Mr. Benedict was my Studio in Art teacher circa 1976-77.  I could never call him George even as an adult (which probably means I will always be Ms. Tash to some people, I imagine).  He was the very first artist to showcase his landscape oil paintings (see below) at the school library.  He pretty much taught me, in that one year I spent working with him, everything that I know about teaching.  He was always so proud of me, and all of his former students for that matter, and made sure to stay in touch for many, many years.

george benedict art

They both had cancer, which brings tears to my eyes every time I think about them because they loved life, lived it  creatively and fully, and there is just never enough time for good people.  Cancer is evil.

I’m not sure if either of them made significant money selling art.  I know that Yolanda’s family sold much of her work at a retrospective after her death.  It kind of makes me wonder what the hell will happen to my stuff in the aftermath of me.  Will someone sell it, give it away, trash it?  Is it meant to last way past my expiration date?

Do people buy art to appreciate it for what it is – a visual representation of an image or idea?  Or do they buy it because they think it will go up in value once the artist kicks it?  I guess it depends on the buyer.  I was a little troubled by the fact that when I asked my Studio in Art students to tell me what they learned from viewing those art shows this past year, someone said something like – if you want to be an artist you have to take another job because you won’t make a living at it.

I can blame myself for that.  The comment was most likely directed at me as I was the second artist to exhibit, which I do on occasion when an artist cancels on me.  As you can imagine, many people think teachers teach because they can’t be successful in their respective fields, which as you all know, is not true at all.  I think we tend to work harder to pursue our hearts’ desires while still managing to encourage students to pursue theirs.

Selling art is as much about marketing as anything else and what I find difficult about it on a personal level is that although I have a job where I talk a lot (some may even say too much), I really am an introvert. I should have pursued more shows, gallery representation, grant money – stuff like that.  But I just didn’t.  Part of it was not knowing how to parlay one experience into the next, not having a business head on my shoulders, having that pesky burden of occasional self doubt.  You name it, and I will use it as an excuse.

My goal this summer will be to expand the scope of this website and hopefully reach people who are interested in my work.  Not that I plan to leave my job any time soon if money starts falling out of pockets and dropping into my lap, but it would be nice to nip that you-can’t-make-a-living comment in the bud. I don’t travel like Yolanda did and aside from my abstract Pompano paintings, I don’t create landscapes like Mr. B.  The landscape of my life is pretty much art and family.  So in the spirit of my mother’s favorite TV network, QVC, I will leave you with some Christmas in July.  Here is my mom reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to my sister’s best friend’s kids.