Category Archives: printmaking

In-Your-Face

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The year was 2006 – I started working at the middle school after another teacher retired ten years into my career.  I would be teaching 8th grade Art and an 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art class, for which I had to plan a field trip to New York City.

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I followed the guide left by the previous teacher using the same bus company.  In addition, I planned every detail including the itinerary of visiting two museums and the cost calculations to include fees for the museums and meals from the school cafeteria.  It was a lot of work, a huge responsibility on top of preparing new curriculum and all that teaching stuff.  I was excited though, because I focused on all the cool things the kids would learn about art, all the amazing art and art history to see and experience, and of course the thrill of being in Manhattan.  My students all kept saying they just wanted to see a real live hobo.

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Finally, the day of the trip arrived.  It was November 10th, the day before Veteran’s Day. Everything was going at a good clip until about five hours in when the bus started having wonky problems.  It took us an extra hour to get from Macy’s in Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because the bus kept, like, shutting down-starting up again-shutting down, etc. at every stop light.  We arrived, spent five wonderful hours enjoying the Met and the American Museum of Natural History.  Instead of the company dispatching another bus, the driver returned with that faulty one.  Start-stop-start-stop-infinity until we made it to a Mobil station where we evacuated.  The bus driver put transmission fluid in then said he would drive around the block and come back for us.  He left us stranded for six hours, maybe seven.  We, kind of, became hobos.

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Luckily, it was a warm November night.  The children took it all in stride.  An adventure for them – they never felt in danger or scared.  Lol, I am pretty sure some of the chaperones are still traumatized to this day.  A one-day trip turned into an overnight ordeal.  Somehow the principal paid for us to take taxis to rendezvous with the dead bus now parked in a grocery store parking lot somewhere in the Bronx.  We made it home the next day via a bus dispatched from Quebec that had smashed both headlights in a collision with two deer on its way to save us.

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Those students are about twenty-five years old now!  Wow, that is just so crazy.  I suspect they are all doing amazing things these days and are not among the homeless faces exhibited in this art show.

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San Diego artist Neil Shigley has been working on this series of prints for about as long as I have had this memory in my head.  He interviews the subjects, photographs them then begins sketching their faces and transforms them into these larger than life prints.

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Each one looks to use two large pieces of linoleum; they are printed on two sheets of paper and mounted with large tacks directly into the wall.  The result is an in-your-face type of statement.  Making the invisible visible in terms of the scope of homelessness in our society.  Apparently, it is a vast and growing population in the San Diego area with people of all ages living on the streets and in parks, and just barely existing in this nomadic way.

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The exhibition is titled Invisible People:  Portraits of the Homeless.  The art reception was tonight.  It continues at Art Rage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse, New York) through October 27, 2018.  Shigley will talk about his work on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the gallery.  Call (315) 218-5711 for more information.  Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday noon – 4:00 pm.

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Land of the Living

According to the blurb in the SU Art Galleries’ newsletter,

Artist Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, featured at five Venice Biennales, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors is the recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.”

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She is a living legend in the art world, a kind of giant, a dichotomy of sorts because in person she really is quite delicate looking with slender features.  Her hands in particular, which seem a stark contrast to the sort of macabre drawings they produce.  Kiki Smith is my favorite artist’s favorite artist.  I read that somewhere decades ago.  Jasper Johns is famously tight-lipped to disclose the inner workings of his mind.  Smith is similarly private.  The language with which gallery director Domenic Iacono uses to describe Smith’s prolific career’s trajectory reminds me of this thing I read by a dating coach who insists women must keep men off-balance by speaking gibberish, like saying one thing and flipping it on its side to keep them guessing, lol.  Not to say that his words are not an accurate portrayal.

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Yes, I saw immediately via Smith’s slide presentation on Thursday evening, February 15, 2018 in the lecture hall adjacent to the gallery in Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University how the work relates to life from birth to death and how that relationship is reproduced in a type of modern allegory.  It’s just that the description gives the impression that the artist set out to make particular meaning in her work, that there was clear and deliberate intent to be a crusader of issues or whatever.  And so, this presentation was like a breath of fresh air to me because it wasn’t what I expected at all.

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There were around (or over) three hundred people in attendance, many of whom students searching for a road map to art success, a short-cut maybe despite their unique circumstances.  Penny Santy, Laurel Morton and I had a different experience.

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She said, “I don’t know” a lot.  My friends and I responded to the realness of her being. Kind of reminded me of the Star Trek TNG movie where they time-travelled to meet the guy who invented warp drive.  How they had studied him in school and expected him to be a type of god only to find him to have the same sort of trials and tribulations as any one of us.

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Smith sat in a corner until she was introduced then raced up and got caught up in the microphone’s battery, which messed up her hair and caused her to flop into position and, while struggling with the technology, to utter, “I’m totally discombobulated.”

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You can hear my laugh in a large group situation.  I really should get a job sitting in the audience during the taping of TV sit-coms.  It was this unexpected sort of absentminded normalcy that I fell in love with.  Because Kiki Smith was not there to teach us to be like her or offer advice on the inner workings of the international art world or art super-stardom.

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She was here to share her art.  It was her focus on the specific and unique problem solving issues related to art material and rudimentary technique that propelled her journey, which if plotted probably resembles a scribble rather than a connect-the-dot drawing.

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Some people think or expect that you should make the same kinds of art forever because it creates a convenient narrative…I want my work to embody my inherent contradictions.

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Art, she said, is not meant to be permanent and neither are we.  It is simply a thing we can do to make our marks.  It passes the time.  You can sell it or give it away to friends. This despite also indicating that 90% of her art is self-owned and in storage, which most of us can relate to, lol.  She acknowledged that she was priveleged; she mentioned her father several times as well-known sculptor Tony Smith.  She said she was a college drop-out who had an inkling to become a baker and chef but never really learned to cook.  So she began to experiment with cheap or rather, non-archival art materials to sort of replicate the braid strands in challah bread and from that her artwork evolved through the evolution of several decades to sculpture, jewelry making, tapestry and stained glass via printmaking.

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My father was a baker and chef so I was amused by this.  The internet is littered with people who chastise her, thinking her success is solely attributed to her father’s connections and not to her talent, creativity and attitude.  Had she and I been flipped at birth, I can safely say that her self-proclaimed lack of culinary skills would not be in jeopardy.  Parents raise you – they do not do the work for you.  Everyone knows that.  You and you alone create your life.

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Her journey has taken the New Jersey native around the globe – to Germany to paint on glass, Iceland where the tapestries take years to manufacture and, as mentioned, to Venice, Italy several times for the Biennales.  She has even worked on and off as an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia!  It was a sort of Alice in Wonderland type story where help became available when needed.  Experts in their fields there to assist in creating the vision so that she could maintain the integrity of her mark-making, revisit old drawings and turn, turn, turn leaving no stone unturned – flipping everything on its axis until an idea had/has been fully explored.

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It was this part that I just loved.  Naturally, the point to me is meaning.  Not meaning in her work, more like, the meaning of my own life.  I saw the seemingly disparate dreams I have come together.  I saw my own path and how I got to where I am.  I am a dreamer first and foremost.  That is abundantly clear to me.

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A writer, an artist, fashion designer, teacher, friend.  And within these categories, sub-categories (in the case of my art, I am across the board with watercolor, collage, encaustic and all that).  But I do see how it is all related and that is a beautiful thing.

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I am so grateful I had the chance to meet Kiki Smith and selfie with her too, of course!  It truly is all about our personal journeys.  We are all exploring the body, the muse and the spirit in an experimental way.  Smith relayed the bit about how her mother’s passing, as well as the death of a beloved cat affected her work while I have sort of been hibernating all winter, I guess you could say, dealing with my own thoughts of mortality.

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Many of you know that I have been absent from work.  I have another month of healing from a medical thingy and that includes slowly getting back to exercising in a couple of weeks and venturing outside my little corner of the universe.  Before you get all freaky with the I’m sorry-ies, I am totally fine.  Trying to be private and like, kind of forgetting that people have noticed that I have been out of the public eye.  I mean, I put myself here so there it is.

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I am discombobulated in my own way, but I decided that instead of hiding from the world entirely or walking around with a dumb old grimace on my face, I will choose to smile.  Smith said sometimes she is thinking about some weird murder movie while making art.  She doesn’t want people knowing what is going on inside her brain.  I tend to agree with the limits of what should and should not be revealed.  People are going to believe what they want to believe and say things about you and/or about your art and it really is not anything you can control.  But you can/I can control my own experience and I choose happiness.

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So grateful to her – an amazing artist – for coming to our neck of the woods to be herself in such an inspirational way.  We are all here together, in the land of the living, and that is a precious thing.  I appreciate the love I know I feel from friends, family, students and readers of this web-site.  All of you have shaped my world and I appreciate you all very much. ❤

Kiki Smith and Paper:  The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit was curated by Wendy Weitman and is here courtesy of Oklahoma State University Museum of Art until March 9, 2018.  Visit www.suart.syr.edu for more information about the SU Art Galleries including hours of operation.

 

Delavan Holiday Party!

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My friends and I had a lot of fun in the journey of traveling through the labyrinth that is the Delavan Center.  It is a building west of Armory Square that houses artist studios.  There was open house last night.  The party continues today until 4:00 pm.  The Delavan is located at 509 W. Fayette Street in Syracuse, New York, 13204. (315) 476-9001

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You will find lots of treasures!  Artists are selling paintings, ceramics, sculpture, clothing and jewelry – buy something for yourself or to give as gifts this holiday season.

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So fun!

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Tiny Voice

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I ran into a friend who told me about an amazing restaurant in downtown Syracuse, New York called The Fish Friar.  She planted that seed of desire in me and within days I was seated in the outdoor dining space enjoying a fish sandwich (sans bread) and two sides.

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It was a perfect summer night, the fresh breeze in the air turned a gorgeous sunset into a Prussian blue sky.  The food was soooo good, the chef created a work of art on my plate, and so, we are talking phenomenological encounter here, which to be honest, is the only way I can possibly live my life.  The present moment is exquisite.

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Everyone there seemed to know everyone else and we delighted in sharing Gia DeLaurentis style verbal soliloquies of how the food tasted.  So fun, and yet, I became distracted by a message thing-a-ma-bob on my pages manager app, which kept directing me to my like page on Facebook, Karen Tashkovski-Visual Artist.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I clicked on everything and still the 1 was left staring at me.  I scrolled the messages for the umpteenth time, all read, and came to the bottom of the queue.  Yes, I had read this last message when it was sent in 2014.  But when I read it again – aloud – it was as if the late Michael Moody was speaking to me now.

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Hi Karen

Like all artists, your art is evolving. I can appreciate your art because I know you personally and because you’ve been painting for a long time which shows your drive, desire and dedication.

I don’t attend all of the art openings but I do go to some to show support for other artists. I never see you anymore. I know that you work, so you’re busy and might not attend openings because of this. But this makes you invisible to much of the local art scene. Perhaps our paths just haven’t crossed but if not, then it’s time for you to leave your little bubble and rather cloistered life (If that’s the case) and mingle with other artists!

Some of your narration sounds like you’re still looking for approval and acceptance from those hoards of non artists that you’d like to buy your product. In your mind, body and spirit this attitude must cease to exist!

I’ve been in some shows simply because other artists have recommended me or just dropped my name. Think about it! There are also many new artists that would see you as a mentor or master simply because of the years in your craft.

Enough said! Come out, come out, from wherever you are! Show more zest for your craft by being there among your peers. No one else counts (give or take).

…and don’t publish this! lol
Michael Moody
…and thanks for mentioning my name in your narration!
07/29/2014 11:22PM

Karen Tashkovski – Visual Artist
You’re right that I don’t want to mix and mingle. Absolutely right, lol.

Ya gotta change that babe! u can do it put ur back in to it!!! How else can your artistic peers get to know you and remember you!

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Back then I was kinda-sorta still in a funk about direction in my life. I had started my blog and was slowly re-emerging into the local art scene.  Fast-forward to now, and last night, where I was greeted by so many artists at John Dowling’s gallery on Hawley Avenue – everyone so wonderfully complimentary, telling me that they love my posts on Facebook and love reading my blog; that I am always smiling and positive, and all these nice things.  I was told I am beautiful too.

Crazy, right?  How time can change one’s perspective.  How it only takes baby steps to get us back on track heading in the right direction in life and that those steps can lead us to such amazing things.  It is such a gift to be a part of a group of like-minded souls who feel compelled to practice the art of making, sharing and selling art in such a cohesive way.  I am incredibly grateful for my journey and where it leads and where life will continue to take me.

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I was talking to John Dowling about the possibility of exhibiting my angel and heart paintings, if that theme works.  He said he hadn’t thought of a themed show and so, I reminded him that his show dedicated to Cuba was one and this current show is as well.

In this case, the theme is size related. The pieces are 6″ x 6″ or 8″ x 8″.  I LOVE a square canvas.  And these pieces are deliciously inviting.  Mini canvases in the artist’s styles, many you can recognize without needing their identification monikers – Hon Go’s modeling paste built geometric textured works, Diana Godfrey’s hauntingly rich abstract landscapes, John Fitzsimmons’ tiny-version portrait studies, Judi Witkin’s wearable art/steam punk jewelry turned collage art….

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Kristina Starowitz told me that she has only just entered the sharing-her-art-mode and this show enabled her to experiment with ideas without committing to larger canvases.  Her passion is evident in a tribute to the time-lapse of nature and its infinite beauty.

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Tiny voices from big hearts.  They are all priced to sell and offer this wonderful way to begin an art collection.  You will be able to find space in your home or office for these pieces.  It would be so cool if someone stopped in and said, “I’ll take one of each, please!”

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Thank you, Michael, for reminding me of what is truly important.  For knowing me better than I thought I knew myself, and for forcing that app to malfunction (which has now mysteriously fixed itself) in order for me to hear you again.  You are da bomb.

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P.S.  You really did want me to share this message, after all. ❤

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Rage of Love

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The artwork presented by storyteller artist and quilter Vanessa Johnson is an extension of her being.  The outstretched arms of this humanoid fabric art are inviting, welcoming and loving, connecting the women they represent, the artist and the viewer in a heart-warming embrace.  She is honoring women as she visually interprets their struggle while contemplating her own life journey as an African American with roots in Ghana.

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Vanessa begins with the bodies – sewing cloth to cloth, much of it found in West Africa.  This becomes her canvas and from it sprouts limbs, heads and the detailed decoration of meaning that produces emotionally-charged and animated floor-to-ceiling quilts.

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Last night was the opening reception for Unwrapping Vanessa at ArtRage, 505 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, New York.  The art exhibition continues through March 25, 2017. ArtRage is a gallery that focuses on social issues.  They hold several exhibitions a season and coordinate them with other events – lecture/discussions, musical performances and poetry readings, film screenings and theatrical plays.  There is a pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 5, 2017 beginning at 9:00 am.  On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Vanessa Johnson will give an artist talk at 7:00 pm.

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Vanessa has been creating art quilts for over twenty years and has exhibited her work all over Central New York.  She displayed work at the Chittenango Middle School library a few years ago!  Since then her work has evolved considerably.

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There is so much raw emotion to be discovered.  Of the love of identity, of the power of friendship and of the joy of knowing a world where so many women of color are respected in their achievements.  She is certainly inspired by these women and by the strength of the community in which she lives.

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The artwork is combined with stories, text in quilted books and woven into the tapestry.  In addition, pouches of soil from her homes here and in Ghana are lovingly added as a type of talisman.  She calls them “gris gris”.  It is this narrative that blurs the lines between artist and artwork, iconography, environment and inspired action.  So much beauty in the richness and flavor of her life! ❤

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ArtRage is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday noon – 4:00 pm.  They are available for school tours as well, and are always seeking submissions from artists for future exhibitions.  For more information, contact info@artragegallery.org.  Their website is www.artragegallery.org.

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Educational Camaraderie

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The gist of the art exhibition currently residing on the walls of the SU Art Gallery at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York is the sense that art matters.  It was a factor in business in the 1930s, as artists worked in tandem with corporations to promote products and lifestyles.  A mutual admiration society of people helping people.

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Thomas Hart Benton is at the core of this show, an artist a bit more well-known than others (with the exception of Grant Wood; he is now a household name to most of my students). They used Benton’s clout to generate sales for all the artists in the stable of a company called Associated American Artists.  Prints were sold to customers to bring art to every wall in American homes with lesser known artists being carried along for the ride of capital gain.  The company closed shop in 2000.

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The conscious acknowledgement of and respect for artists is what I walked away with from this exhibit, a system that worked and should continue to work. I would love to see artists promoted by local businesses in this way – perhaps a group showing of work based on local and regional products that would catapult said products into the national spotlight.  It’s a  mutual win-win.  Artists would maintain their stye and sense of freedom in the creation of the art and still create work that represents a company’s point of view.

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Syracuse University does an outstanding job curating this gallery.  It is remarkable how different it looks from the last show they had and how well more than one hundred thirty objects of art fit into the space.  I like to think I am well-versed in art history but … I learned so much tonight.  A truly educational experience.  I would expect no less from my alma mater!  Loved it!

This show, titled Art For Every Home (Associated American Artists, 1934-2000) came from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.  It will continue through March 19, 2017 with a gallery talk by one of the curators, Elizabeth G. Seaton. Ph.D, curator of the  Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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Sascha Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University, will give a presentation on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm.

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The gallery is located in the Shaffer Art Building on SU campus.  Gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  The gallery stays open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays.  They are closed during university holidays.  Call (315) 443-4097 for more information or email them at suart@syr.edu.

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