Category Archives: sculpture

Needles & Glue

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Today, on Orthodox Easter, I did, technically, go to a church.  Kirkland Art Center occupies the architecture of a former house of worship in the quaint town of Clinton, New York ( 9 1/2 East Park Row, Clinton. NY 13323).  The place looks like the set of the naughts TV series Gilmour Girls!  I’d been invited here several times, but this was my first visit to this amazing little venue.

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Penny had a show there last month, so we took the road trip to get her paintings then stayed for the new exhibit.

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Needles & Glue features the work of mixed media artist Pamela Crockett, sculptor Stephanie Garon and collage artist Steven M. Specht, Ph.D., NCS.  Of the three, only Specht was in attendance today.

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Specht, a Psychology professor by day, sold two pieces, which were very reasonably priced.  There is so much satisfaction in these little gems.  Pictures are garnered from vintage magazines then arranged as narrative utilizing techniques he learned in an art course.  The collages are really quite intelligently crafted.

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The exhibition continues through May 24, 2019.  See the website for more information –  hours of operation and future events planned at the center including musical performances and dance! ❤

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Rebecca Taylor jumpsuit, Coach bag, Calvin Klein booties
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Peek-A-Boo

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In the 1950s, the artist Dorothy Reister and her husband purchased land for a summer home in Cazenovia, New York.  They added acres when land became available then turned the place into a sculpture garden, creating hiking trails, as well a sculpture studio attached to their mid-century modern A-frame home.

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The property transformed into the incorporated non-profit Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, recognized by National Geographic magazine as one of the top sculpture gardens in the nation, and home to permanent and temporary sculptures by such renowned sculptors as Rodger Mack and Emilie Brzezinski.  Now the home and art studio on the property are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is open to the public to enjoy.  Today was the perfect day to hike the trails and fall in love with the hidden sculpture gems playing peek-a-boo around every corner.

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I am on vacation this week, Spring Break.  I spent a few hours investigating several trails and breathing the fresh air of this space with my high school pal Suzy, who is a fellow teacher.  There was really no one else around – it was a serene and wonderful experience.

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I highly recommend coming here, especially if you have kids at home this week and are looking for something to do.  I brought students to Stone Quarry Hill on a school field trip a few years ago and they loved it.  There truly is a surprise around every corner!

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Suggested donation is $5 at the front entrance.  If you wish to donate to the upkeep of the park or volunteer, there is more information on their website – here  

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Several events are upcoming – kite flying, an art exhibition in the indoor space, and a YMCA summer camp experience.  All information is on their website – here.

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315-655-3196

office@stonequarryhillartpark.org

3883 Stone Quarry Rd., P.O. Box 251, Cazenovia, NY 13035

Secret Chamber

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I have always been drawn to the exquisite beauty of all that is Ancient Egypt.  I took an Egyptology course at University College while teaching at Bryant & Stratton back in the ’80s to answer a student who questioned why and how Egyptian fashion was selected as the first chapter in the costume history textbook.

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The answer lies in art, because all of our history to do with ancient cultures comes not from the written word, but from pictures – in this case hieroglyphics, tomb murals and, of course jewelry, as well as the remnants of clothing made of linen fiber.

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I learned that Napoleon’s French army invaded Egypt in 1798.  They rediscovered the antiquities and were the first archeologists to investigate the area.  It wasn’t the painstaking attention to delicate detail that it is today or even remotely a respectful handling of human remains.

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Many mummies were burned as fuel for steam engines, which is just so tragic.  Later on, in the following century, Egypt became an exotic vacation spot for wealthy Americans who enjoyed purchasing the baubles, scarab beetle decor, and mummies!

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They held mummy unveiling dinner parties back in the States, stuff like that.

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Howard Carter uncovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.  This significant find catapulted Egyptian archeology in terms of the level of importance, the regard for history and the sheer magic in attaining this priceless treasure.

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Somewhere in the middle, during the Victorian age, Cazenovia Public Library benefactor Robert James Hubbard and his son accumulated a collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts including an intricately wrapped-in-linen mummy for the purpose of creating a museum.

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And so, yes, there is a mummy in this library.

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Yesterday, Janine and I visited Cazenovia, New York; first stop, Cazenovia Artisans, second, Common Grounds and next, to the library to see this exhibit.  We ended up at Empire Farm Brewery for lunch.  Janine had never been to any of these spots nor had she an idea this breathtaking collection even existed.  So, my thought is that not many of you know about it.  You’re welcome!

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When I taught elementary art at Bridgeport Elementary School in our district, I decided to add a few lessons on Ancient Egypt culture to the third grade curriculum, because I had this knowledge I wanted to share.  I created a cat mummy sculpture lesson.  Naturally, no pets were harmed.  Students’ sculptures were made of an armature of plastic bottles and styrofoam balls.  They were void of remains, unlike the actual cat mummy at this museum.

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At Chittenango, it is the sixth graders who study the ancient civilizations in Social Studies.  They do take a field trip to Cazenovia Library, as the village is adjacent to our school district via Route 13.  I highly recommend a visit.  It is free and really quite extraordinary.

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The library is located at 100 Albany Street, Cazenovia, New York 13035.  It is open Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 – 5:00 pm.  They are closed on Sundays.  Call (315) 655-9322 for more information.

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The museum space is also home to a gallery for rotating local artist/art organization exhibitions, as well as a wonderful exhibit of birds and plumage in fashion.  They also have many interesting activities for children including puzzle clubs and such.  Yesterday they had a hot chocolate and cookie station available.  Set in a Victorian mansion, this is truly a quaint and lovely experience that really packs a secret chamber punch.  So special!  ❤

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Dozens

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I thought it would be fun to create trompe l’oeil donuts.  We made them from an armature of aluminum foil, paper towels and masking tape.

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Students then applied Mod Podge with a brush to paper towel bits, adhering them to the armature.  They really looked like glazed donuts – so cool!

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Cell-u-clay was next.  It is a paper pulp that is applied wet in a sort of oatmeal consistency.  This was the frosting.

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Each student (in two of my 8th grade art classes) created a dozen donuts.  Because I didn’t think six was enough, lol.  They painted the Cell-u-clay with acrylics and added decorative details.

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Some students glued their finished pieces to foamboard and others placed them in boxes provided by the local Dunkin’ Donuts.  The projects are currently on display in the library at Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, New York.

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I just loved this project.  I think everyone loved it!  Students in the 9th period B day class even came in during their study hall to become “donut fairies” – they helped the A day group!  Everyone helped each other and it was truly magical.  So fun! ❤

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In Bronze

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Syracuse University has wowed us yet again with another fabulous art exhibition at their art gallery in the Shaffer Art Building on S.U. campus.  This time a collection of bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) fills the space.  The art is actually owned by the Iris and Gerald Cantor Foundation – they organized the show as well.

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Penny Santy and I attended the opening reception tonight – it was the perfect thing to do on this back-to-school night, an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the visual stimulation of an artists’ life work and then discuss it all with my fellow artist friend. The kind of discussion that catapults our individual journeys as we sort of translate what we see into how we see ourselves as artists – our respective places on the path.   It is just so incredible how modern this body of work really is – how this master artist took things a step further, editing body parts to emphasize movement.  Doing things because he wanted to, because it was necessary for his own growth without crumbling in the face of criticism.

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Innovation always comes with critics riding shirttails, doesn’t it?  People can be so limited in their thinking and so, when I see a show like this, I see that Rodin’s confidence and trust in what he knew was right is what influenced and still influences artists one hundred years later.

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Inspirational thinking.  So, so amazing!

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Rodin: The Human Experience will be on display until November 18, 2018.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  In addition, they are open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays. (315) 443-4097

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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.

 

Pigs for Sale

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You may have noticed the development of pig sculptures – I’ve had them on the counter as background in my #ootd pictures.  The project had a couple of components.  Students created armature with paper towels, masking tape, aluminum foil and a recycled bottle of juice or iced coffee (I have tons!).  The sculptures were engulfed in Pariscraft then painted.  Once they were done, the artists took their pigs to a secret location somewhere in the school and using their I-Pads, photographed them in a composition.  It was a really fun project.

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My Facebook friends inquired if the sculptures would be auctioned off.  I mentioned that to the students and a few got the professional artist bug, lol.  So, some of the pigs are for sale.  Proceeds will teach students a valuable lesson about their time and effort.  All pigs are priced at $50 each.

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These eight pigs are available.  Artwork can be collected at Chittenango Middle School.  Email me at ktashkovski@chittenangoschools.org to make arrangements to purchase.  All proceeds will go to the budding artists.

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