Tag Archives: cats

Crafty

Pumped, 16" x 12", watercolor, 2002, $95
Pumped, 16″ x 12″, watercolor, 2002, $95

So far, my entire summer has been a giant ball of butterflies in my stomach.  I’m happy – all the time, and excited about all the great things that are happening.  That WILL happen.

good things are going to happen

My little sister is a yoga instructor/interior designer/flea market furniture refinisher/furniture designer/a lot of other things!  She let me borrow a bunch of items to use to enhance my display  at the Craft & Craft function at the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St. Syracuse, New York 13202 this Thursday from 5 – 9 pm.

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This is what it looks like now all tossed into the trunk of my car.  Hopefully I will create a cute set up that matches my modern, vibrant watercolors with these brass vintage bamboo-patterned fixtures.

Dark Magic, 18" x 24", watercolor, 2002, $200
Dark Magic, 18″ x 24″, watercolor, 2002, $200

I just found out that I will be inside, rain or shine, in the Sculpture Court (main floor), so that is great news.  It’s just one table of unframed paintings in all different sizes and it will be a BOGO sale, meaning you will get two for the price of one but no half price onsies. You will have to buy two.  And see?  It’s a win-win.  You get two, and I have to say that my watercolors do look best in multiples, or you can give one as a gift!  I get to go home with less artwork, which is the goal.

Blue Star, 10" x 7", 2002
Blue Star, 10″ x 7″, 2002

Yes, making money from sales is an obvious goal but the one that really tickles me is the idea that people will enjoy my artwork.  That it will have a home where it will be loved, cherished, what have you, for many years to come.

Blue Mandala, 18" x 24", watercolor, 2001, $200
Blue Mandala, 18″ x 24″, watercolor, 2001, $200

I’m not sure if I told you about my cat situation, but my two knuckleheads had a falling out.  A couple months ago, Georgie got a plastic bag caught around his waist and was running around the house screaming up a storm.  He looked like a bull with a rodeo cowboy riding him as he tried in vain to buck off the bag.  Naturally, Pablo was chasing him up and down the stairs and throughout every room until I caught up with Georgie and helped him out.

pablo & georges portrait

This was approximately less than five minutes of our lives but it took its toll on the siblings’ relationship because after that Pablo wanted to attack Georgie.

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It got pretty awful.  For three weeks, I was living like the Sister Wives with my pets.  One spent twenty four hours living in the kitchen and back porch while the other had the rest of the house and a spot in my bed, and then the reverse.  I tried to give them equal time but whenever Georgie was in the kitchen, he managed to bust in using his giant thumb paws – and then the fur went flying.  Very stressful!

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I tried these $35 calming collars, but Georgie just ate his.  Finally, I brought Georgie to live with my sister and they ended up falling in love with each other.  I visit him and it really is all good.  Georgie just has a new home where he is equally loved, cherished, what have you for many, many years to come!

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Just me and Pablo here now.  So I am no longer a stereotype!  And to add to my sister’s list of attributes, great cat mommy is at the top of the list.

craft and craft

Hope to see you on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at Craft & Craft! $10 for members, $15 non members.  There will be food and drink and art – bring money!

everything you can imagine is real

universe talkAnd P.S.: for those of you who miss my outfits of the day on Instagram – I will be wearing a new BCBG Max Azria dress at the event.  Can’t wait!

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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.

Faith Ringgold and me 001

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.

Mona Lisa costume 001

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.

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