Feet First

When I was growing up, I really hated being different.  Ethnic.  Whatever you want to call it.  The long last name that no one could pronounce.  A first generation American with a family from a country no one had ever heard of.  The funny thing is my dad actually added a letter H to our last name (making it even longer) so that people would be able to pronounce it.

Tash * Cough * Ski

Not so hard.  Of course the accent can be on either of the three syllables, and when I say it really fast people are like – what?

As I got older, I learned to appreciate my individuality.  It obviously helped that the world seemed to be heading in the same direction.  Actresses like Renee Zellweger, for example, were using their real names and we learned to accept that.  I loved signing my last name to my paintings.  It made me unique.  Special.  I may be the only Karen Tashkovski in the universe!  At least I am the only one who comes up in a Google search.  But if you search Karen Tashkovski – Artist, you’ll get a different result.

There is another artist with my last name.  Vasko Taskovski is a surrealist artist (think Salvador Dali) who creates these epic landscapes.  I’m particularly impressed with his series of horse paintings.  They morph into sand castles, mountains, trees, oceans and skies with the kind of attention to detail that is really breathtaking.

http://www.vaskotaskovski.com

My work may appear less intricate in comparison, although there are several layers to it.  There’s the texture of the canvas, the drawing, oil painting, stenciling, and adding found objects.  The paintings are about my life.  My move to Florida was meant to be my escape, the way Dad escaped the Iron Curtain to come to America.  In theory, I would plant my feet on the ground of a new state and make a name for myself.

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I do have an unusual footprint, I think.  One that my sister referred to recently as a deformity because everything about her is so terribly perfect in comparison.  I prefer to refer to my feet as unique and special.  Well, something has to be, since it is not my last name, right?

We all need that – to find what makes us special, and embrace it whether or not someone else thinks it is weird or stupid, or freakishly different.  At this stage of my life, I honestly don’t think anything embarrasses me.  I really don’t care what you think about my feet!  Everyone’s toes are kind of ugly anyhow.

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I found the above illustration on the Internet.  It’s one of those pictures people always post on Facebook to get a conversation started.  I would say that my “roots” must be Greek, which is no surprise since Velushina, Macedonia is literally a hop, skip and a jump to the border to Greece.

My low toe is not depicted in any of those images but I did happen upon it somewhere else.

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Archeologists found this 1.5 million year old human footprint fossil.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/science/27foot.html?_r=0

It is supposedly a man’s size 9 footprint and not a woman’s size 7 1/2.  But it looks like my foot, doesn’t it?  No, really.  It totally does!

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Am I a time traveler?  Who’s special now?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

July 2014 @ Sullivan Library

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Here are pictures from my art exhibit at the Sullivan Library.  The paintings are in the Community Room section and will be up through the month of July 2014.

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The 24″ x 30″ paintings are for sale for $100 each.  They are all framed – gallery style in maple.

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Several of the paintings are from my Pompano Revisited series created in 1996.

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They are all oil & collage works with found object items such as sea shells, playing cards and dominoes.

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They open at 10:00 am.  The Sullivan Library is located at 101 Falls Blvd., Chittenango, NY 13037.  Email me at karentash@twcny.rr.com if you would like to make a purchase or leave a comment on this blog and we can connect.

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Art in Oz

It’s almost time for my annual art exhibition at the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, NY.  Actually, they said I could install any day now but the show is technically scheduled for the month of July.  It is located at 101 Falls Blvd.  My art will be in their Community Room.  This room is available for parties and club meetings as well as local events.  In November, it acts as a polling place for elections.  The decor is all things Oz, complete with various cookie jars and 1st edition books as well as plywood statues of the main characters.  The last time I was there, Dorothy and company were disguised with mustaches, which I deduced to be their Halloween costumes.

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The library is the old State Bank of Chittenango.  They converted the bank vault into a cool reading room for children.  You have to go through a Munchkin door to get to it.  It’s just really cute.  I’m assuming that you know Chittenango is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, but if you don’t, well, you’re welcome.

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I still haven’t decided what I will exhibit.  Hopefully I’ll get it together soon then post pictures.  No reception or anything but if you want to buy the art, contact me through this website or on my Facebook like page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Tashkovski-Visual-Artist/167509472886

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Life. Liberty. Happiness. (on a belated Memorial Day)

Life.  Liberty.  Happiness. (on a belated Memorial Day)

Karen Tashkovski, Life. Liberty. Happiness., 18″ x 36″, 1997, oil & collage, $675 – This is one of my favorite paintings. It’s the only one of the Messages from the Other Voice series that incorporates the flag motif, (liberty component) My father escaped from a communist country so that I could have this life, the American starving artist! – and I’m very proud and happy to be labelled with that moniker because I feel that I am lucky to be living a creative life. It’s definitely hard to let go of the work even though the goal is selling it. Paintings are like my children; as silly as that sounds, I am emotionally invested.

Cards on a Beach

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I think this is the first article anyone ever wrote about my artwork.  I exhibited in Sweet Babas restaurant in Armory Square, which is an area in downtown Syracuse, NY, referred to as the Karen section of town in the 1980s by my cousin Nick, when it was just art frame shops and antique stores.  I think I was the only one who ever went down there back then.

Sweet Babas was built between two buildings so the exposed brick from the facades was the interior walls.  I loved the way my paintings looked in that place – I think it was something like seven feet wide and so it was an intimate dining experience.  I sold the painting pictured for $200.  It was one of my first oil and collage paintings, called Jacks, with card jacks as well as the metal game pieces.

For some reason, I really love that this article is plagued with typos.  You know how it goes – when you think you’ve finally “arrived” as a force to be reckoned with in the art arena, that you think you’re a big fish in the small sea of your local town – it’s just funny.  The artist Linda Bigness once told me that I would have to paint for twenty-five years before I’d get any real recognition (something like that) and in a way she was right.  It took me about twenty-five years to decide to create this website!

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The above article is from The Syracuse New Times, from around the same time because at the bottom where it says Art Around Town, they list my Sweet Babas show.  I’ve always loved captive audiences because they do not come for the art but they may fall in love with it and that emotional attachment can lead to a sale and even a life long patron, which is why I used to (and still do!) solicit for shows in restaurants and coffee shops, and libraries.  In this article, the author responds to the Goodyear blimp in my Pompano paintings as atomic bombs.  I have mentioned this to my students during lessons on art criticism.  Interpretation in the art criticism format is what you think the artist was trying to tell you – like why they made the paintings.  Maybe my playful Florida landscapes contained this ominous item and meant that life is fragile.  In a way, my life in Florida had its demise so maybe there is an underlying truth to her interpretation, but let me be honest and say that clearly, I was not that “deep” when I painted them.  The blimp is simply another device in my repertoire that reoccurs throughout the years.  You can take the girl out of Pompano but you can’t take the Pompano out of me.

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Karen Tashkovski, Deerfield Beach, 36″ x 48″,  1990, acrylic & collage, $1,000

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Karen Tashkovski, Pompano Beach, 36″ x 48″, 1994, oil & collage, $1,000

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Karen Tashkovski, White Pompano, 36″ x 48″, 1998, oil & collage, $1,000

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Karen Tashkovski, Three Crosses, 36″ x 48″, 1995, oil & collage, $1,000

On Pins & Needles

I’m on Pinterest now.

It is very addicting, especially when you start to see all of your boards come together.  I found pictures on the site to illustrate found object items I use, like game pieces and fabric.  That was fun.  I still need to figure out how to add the widget to this site and all of that computer speak in order to successfully link the two, but I am working on it.  The site is a business site rather than a personal one so it will feature primarily art and art inspirations.

The paper collages I recently “pinned” haven’t been uploaded to this website yet so here they are –

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

 

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

I created these in February 2001.  This was around the time my maternal  grandfather passed away.  I was living in Eastwood in a two bedroom flat where there was not much space to make art.  These could be constructed while sitting on the sofa.  I cut up some abstract oil paintings created on paper canvas.  Some of them have abstract watercolor hearts as well and so, these pieces combine literally all that I am as an artist!  Sewing, drawing, collage, painting, and two of my favorite motifs – hearts and kittens.

Karen Tashkovski, 40 Days, 11" x 7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, 40 Days, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Karen Tashkovski, La Tete Me Tourne, 11" x  7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, La Tete Me Tourne, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

 

Karen Tashkovski, The 5th, 11" x  7 1/2", 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50
Karen Tashkovski, The 5th, 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
Karen Tashkovski, Rhythm, 11″ x 7 1/2″, 2001, mixed media paper collage, $50

 

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

 

 

 

 

Hello…hello…hello…(hello)….

I spent part of the day photographing my Echolalia series – twenty-four 18″ x 18″ paintings I created in 2005.

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I began these oil and collage paintings by gluing rough textured canvas to the stretched canvas then applying gesso to the surface.  I used pencil to draw the composition – I used two different stencils (I drew) of cats as well as a ruler to create the geometric field.

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I always draw thumbnail sketches before I begin the actual paintings to map out the direction of the series.  I used chalkboard paint in both black and green, and oil paint.  Then I added the collage items, which included text, coins, starfish, ribbon and wooden toys.

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A rune is a mystery and echo alludes to the repetition of the devices.

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You can see more of these works – I uploaded the entire series – in the portfolio section of my website.  They are for sale for $200 each.

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A Watercolor Welcome

Black Walnut, 12" x 9", 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Black Walnut, 12″ x 9″, 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Lilacs, 10" x 7", 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Lilacs, 10″ x 7″, 2001, watercolor + colored pencil

I should have done this a long time ago.  Well, here I am!  I recently took pictures of some of my watercolor paintings.  These are not framed – I’m selling them for $50 and $75 each – they are 7″ x 10″ and 9″ x 12″ and constructed on Arches watercolor paper.

Iris, 12" x 9", 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Iris, 12″ x 9″, 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Ocean, 12" x 9", 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Ocean, 12″ x 9″, 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Bulb, 10" x 7", 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Bulb, 10″ x 7″, 2002, watercolor + colored pencil

My favorite thing about these paintings is they represent how my hand moves.  I would say I’m a formalist since these paintings are abstract expressionist in style; however, they do evoke a feeling of bliss, happiness, joy…and so, I am very connected to them emotionally.  I still remember what I was feeling and thinking when I made them (between 1999 and 2002)!

Daisy, 10" x 7", 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Daisy, 10″ x 7″, 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Blue Star, 10" x 7", 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Blue Star, 10″ x 7″, 2002, watercolor + colored pencil

Hopefully I will be able to navigate my way through the wordpress directions and have this website up and running within the month.  I was going to say within the day but I’m not that computer savvy.

Doorway, 12" x 9", 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Doorway, 12″ x 9″, 2002, watercolor + colored pencil
Box-16, 9" x 12", 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
Karen Tashkovski, Box-16, 9″ x 12″, 2001, watercolor + colored pencil
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