Images

School Stuff

The annual school fair is a visual representation of what teachers teach.  Which means that art is the most necessary of all subjects.  Without it, it is really impossible to showcase to the community a school district’s activity.

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Tonight is the school fair and for the last nineteen years I have put up an exhibit then taken it down within seven hours.  I’m off to visit the displays before they are a memory and do the dismantling right now.

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This is the first time I have ever documented the event.  Thank you, smart phone.

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BB & Hold the Banana

Banana Republic cardigan, BCBG Max Azria top, INC pants, BCBG Generations booties
Banana Republic cardigan, BCBG Max Azria top, INC pants, BCBG Generations booties

This week I did a lot of black on the bottom (BB).  So far, I have not done a single repeat in clothing or shoes.  I like the idea of planning what I’m going to wear for people to see because it’s kind of a fun way to look forward to going to work, so thank you to all of the people who liked my Instagram #ootd (outfit of the day) posts.

BCBG Max Azria sweater, Trina Turk leather skirt, Etienne Aigner oots
BCBG Max Azria sweater, Trina Turk leather skirt, Etienne Aigner oots

I went to a funeral this week.  My great aunt died.  I know how some of you don’t like being morbid, but I can’t help trying to see a big picture to life when someone I cared about leaves us for good.  I know, and I don’t even think about dying at all.  I think more about all the living I need to do and the existential quest of what I am supposed to be accomplishing, as though I had a plan before I was born.  I am supposed to find something or someone in a search for happiness, as if I had a bet with someone up there in the ether that even within the parameters of the life I was given, I’ve been challenged to still find it.  Whatever that may be.

Banana Republic blouse, Champion tank underneath, Banana Republic pants, Coach booties
Banana Republic blouse, Champion tank underneath, Banana Republic pants, Coach booties

It reminds me of the famous Robert Rauschenberg story of the Erased DeKooning piece.  In the video made at the time of the 1997 Guggenheim retrospective, Rauschenberg talked about how he had been doing a series of white paintings and he had conceived the notion of erasing a work making it white again (the paper).  The idea of the process backwards, you see?  It is such a cerebral notion for a guy who spent a lifetime laughing.

He decided he wanted to erase someone else’s piece since erasing your own would have this feeling that you already knew how it was made, so it would be a lot easier to erase your own work.  You know how much pressure you had placed on the pencil and how much elbow grease it would require to get rid of those marks.  That makes sense, right?

So he went over to DeKooning’s, a formidable guy even sober.  He knocked – the artist didn’t answer at first and he thought, okay so the idea has now died.  I tried and knocked and …nothing.  Done and done.

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But DeKooning answered, let him in, closed the door behind him and stood in front of it so that Rauschenberg couldn’t escape after announcing his query – in the back of his mind he thought for sure that DeKooning would beat the crap out of him.

But instead, DeKooning said something like. “Okay, I understand what you’re asking.  I’m going to give you something hard to erase.” He handed Rauschenberg a drawing made with charcoal and paint and other materials, and Rauschenberg spent months trying to erase it.

Banana Republic blazer, Bailey 44 top, Banana Republic skirt, Nine West boots
Banana Republic blazer, Bailey 44 top, Banana Republic skirt, Nine West boots

It was a challenge, and that made the idea more fun.  And as much as non-artists scrunch up their noses and think that’s not art with an Emperor’s New Clothes mentality, you really have to admit that it took loads of time and a lot of work to erase that art.  So in essence, it was and is artwork.

Art history scholars tend to relay it as a message delineating the changing of the guard from Abstract Expressionism to the new Pop Art establishment, but Rauschenberg himself insisted that was not his intent.

Bailey 44 top, Banana Republic skirt, Nine West boots
Bailey 44 top, Banana Republic skirt, Nine West boots

No matter what we do, people will put their own spin on things.  Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are Instagramming like clockwork, and they take the good and take the bad along with it, the negative-nellies who voice their harassment of the selfie variety, and can be very harsh in doing so.

I won’t let that stop me from continuing my journey.  I am having fun with the fashion stuff, which was heavy on the Banana (Republic) this week.

In light of the death, my parents were talking about buying their plots this week.  Preparing for the inevitable in a way to reduce our stress when the time comes.  My great-grandfather bought one extra plot a long time ago and Mom and Dad were thinking of trading it in for their two – but that spot is like my perfect spot.  It is a short walk from my great aunt and uncle’s graves, overlooking  the Comstock Art facility, which is next to Manley Field House at Syracuse University.  I kind of want to keep it for myself.  It seemed familiar, like a part of the puzzle that made sense but didn’t….

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It really is surreal to think of ending up there.  Like, what?  That’s all this was?  Me, dead, with a view of my art school, along with a giant oak tree and a huge gravestone marked MILLER?  What is that supposed to mean?  I mean, I know.

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Cardi Week

Someone on Linkedin.com asked me what the purpose was of a particular blog post, as if, perhaps, I appear as a scatter brain all over the place artist, like I have no purpose, maybe?  On the same day, a reader professed a non-stalker style (he assured) love for me and my personality.

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This all necessitated another one of my existential meditation quests.  Who am I, and what am I doing here?  I paint in oils with collage, paper collage, watercolors and encaustics, and have many different looks to my work – the symbology look, the abstract expressionism one….  I also like to draw realistically.

I am a visual artist who has had gallery representation in the past and is seeking it again, an artist who wants to sell my work in whatever/wherever the venue.  In this case, it is on the internet – on this blog, on shopify on redbubble and through other social media – my Facebook like page and now on Instagram.

I broke down and entered the new millennium, and purchased a smart phone.  Now I can tackle instagramming my head off, because I had read it is the place for savvy art business peeps.

I am also a person who loves fashion, something that seems to go against the rules of the starving artist.  I can’t help it.  I posted about Karen Bakke’s fashion illustrations last week and in a previous post, shared my sewing skills with costume design.

When I first started this blog, it was to share only my artwork.  Then it snowballed into the what-I-want-you-to-know-about-me more three dimensional me.  Kind of a let the chips fall where they may and by chips, I guess I mean the puzzle pieces of my persona.   I am many things and I can’t pigeonhole myself into being one person, place or thing.

Last weekend I was a judge for a juried exhibition of artwork.  It was sponsored by the local penwomen association.  I used my expertise as an art critic, something I don’t technically do when I blog about local art shows.  And I do that because I feel like you can’t just exist alone in a small city art community.  I’ve always believed that we Syracuse artists can be successful together as a team rather than going the lone wolf route.

I’m not being paid to blog, so why not blog about whatever art related topic is going on in my world or in my head, or whatever.  I love writing, and it seems like maybe that is what I’m doing here, to answer that linkedin woman’s question.

With that said, I’m really fascinated by the job of fashion blogger. That it is a job, I guess.  Something that would have appealed to me when  I was in college and still does.

Lord & Taylor cardigan, Banana Republic T, BCBGMaxAzria pants, BCBGGeneration sandals
Lord & Taylor cardigan, Banana Republic T, BCBGMaxAzria pants, BCBGGeneration sandals

Now that I am on Instagram.com (my handle is karen_tashkovski), I’ve decided to post #ootd, which stands for outfit of the day, if you don’t know the lingo.  Someone takes a picture of me so that I can post my head-to-toe fashion and in this way I am a fashion blogger too!

Free People Cardigan, Bailey 44 top, Trina Turk pants, Nine West booties
Free People Cardigan, Bailey 44 top, Trina Turk pants, Nine West booties

My favorite designer is Trina Turk.  She liked the above picture on Instagram as did shopBailey44 because I’m wearing a Bailey 44 top. Those likes totally made my life.  They really did.  Because it still fascinates me that the world has become so small that you can reach out to your favorite _______, whether it be designer, fashion house, famous artist or celebrity, and they will respond with a little red heart.

Banana Republic cardigan, Trina Turk blouse, Rachel Roy top, BCBGMaxAzria leggings, Ralph Lauren boots
Banana Republic cardigan, Trina Turk blouse, Rachel Roy top, BCBGMaxAzria leggings, Ralph Lauren boots

That positive energy blows my mind.  It is such a feel good feeling!

Free People cardigan, Trina Turk dress, Calvin Klein jeans, Nine West booties
Free People cardigan, Trina Turk dress, Calvin Klein jeans, Nine West booties

My work look is about layering.  I pretty much always top it all off with a cardigan (or blazer).  Long sleeves are difficult because my hands are in all sorts of things from clay and plaster to paint.  I’m constantly washing and drying them, so I usually remove the sweater and add an apron or smock and maybe a pencil or two behind the ear.

I worked five days straight and I can’t remember the last time that happened what with all the snow days we’ve had, the superintendent’s conference days without kids (technically still work, but you know what I mean), the bout with the flu and vacations.  I’m thinking of doing a dress or skirt week soon.  Well, as soon as it stops freaking snowing here in the ‘cuse.

Banana Republic cardigan and pants, J Crew tissue T with Champion tank underneath, BCBGGeneration booties
Banana Republic cardigan and pants, J Crew tissue T with Champion tank underneath, BCBGGeneration booties

No #ootd today.  I’m still in my pjs (Calvin Klein).

Fashion Queen

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Just got a new pair of BCBG sandals.  If you have never worn four inch heels, I suggest you buy this brand.  They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.  No pinching and the interior is fully padded so they are of the work-all-day-dance-all-night variety.

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Not sure if they come in a men’s size, one required for the posers of Karen Bakke’s fashion illustrations.  The show, entitled Queens of New York, at the Sue and Leon Genet Gallery at The Nancy Cantor Warehouse School of Design (the Syracuse University Building located in Armory Square) will be up until May 30, 2015, if you were not at last night’s reception.

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Karen Bakke was one of my professors at SU circa the ’80s when I was a fashion design major.  She taught me how to use a knitting machine among other things.  She’s retiring this year and going out with a fashion bang.

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Her artwork is really exquisite.  She uses charcoal to begin the drawings on Rives BFK paper.  Her lines are gestural yet confident. Deliberate, which I love.  Then she adds mixed media – acrylic, some paper collage and even actual makeup to add that whimsical touch of glitter.

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My favorite is the one above.  It is a gorgeous face combined with the unexpected man hand. They are all illustrations of men dressed as women, so it’s kind of a casualty of the experience.  Karen told me that she’s had people criticize the proportions because the faces are so beautiful, but it’s clear that she is a master technician and the sizes are accurate.

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You really have to see this show.  There is a fun interactive feature where you too can become a queen by sliding on a wig or two and maybe a boa and look at yourself in a faux-gilded mirror.  The pieces are really perfect when witnessed as a group and it is a testimony to a fashion artist who transcends the boundaries of time. They are timeless gorgeous-sos, which is the highest gorgeous I can give.  It goes gorge then gorgy then gorgeous-so.

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The gallery is located at 350 West Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY, 13202.

Oh, and P.S. – Mary Schalk of Mary Schalk Design did the flowers and I got to take one home.  OMG they are perfection in a shoe too!

 

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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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The Ambiguous Stage

Went to another art reception last night.  It’s called Gallery 4040 – it’s at 4040 New Court Ave. in Syracuse, NY, not far from my house. The people who frequent these art shows remind me of the actors in the movie Shakespeare in Love for some reason.  I guess because they are all friends of a certain age (my age) and all happy, quirky and incredibly interesting.  Each takes their turn in the starring role, in this case Marna Bell.  Her black and white photographs are purposefully  blurry to illustrate what’s missing from her life.  Her memory.  She is such a sweet person and yet she cannot remember chunks of her childhood.

4040 Marna Bell art

I find this fascinating.  I sometimes can’t remember what I am doing once I walk over to my desk at work.  Like a student has asked for an eraser and as I approach the desk I begin talking to another student and I’m all what-am-I-doing-here?  But I can remember my first kiss and other pretty embarrassing things that happened a long time ago, some things I wish I could forget because they play in my mind in a loop, over and over until I wish I could shut them off.

Ultimately, it is very brave to expose oneself, as Marna does with her revelation, and I admire her so much for it.  Her work looks to be film clips taken from movie stills in a way that suggests – yes, I know those people, but wait, what?

gallery 4040 postcard

There are some large paintings of nudes on the next wall of the gallery.  I am really too immature to be in the same room with nudey-nudes, because I am the type of person who will say something completely inappropriate (and after having a small cup of wine, I’m pretty sure I did).  The colors in these paintings by Lacey McKinney are gorgeous and combined with size and compositions that either distort or void out the woman’s face, they make me question who the audience is supposed to be.

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I guess I wonder if artists even think about the audience at all.  Do I? I’m not much of a business woman, so no, not really.  I think my paintings are more meant to be displayed in homes versus gallery and museum walls.  But how many people do you know who actually buy artwork for the purpose of enhancing their decor? Whatever number came to your mind, it really should be a lot more!

Why do people buy art?  I had a conversation with someone last night who suggested that the local art scene is being supported by its own.  Artists are trading art or outright buying each other’s art. We value it.  So there’s another question for you – how do we get civilians (non-artists) to value it too?  I’ve tried going the educate them route but for some, this is a hard sell.

So, back to last night -Juan Perdiguero’s chimpanzee drawings were the most fascinating to me.  They are in the back room of the gallery. Very realistic.  Life-sized drawings on photo paper.  Huge in-your-face monkeys.  I can’t even articulate what I want to say in sentences  because these pieces need to be experienced.  You want to reach out and touch them, even as you remember how chimps terrify you. They need to be in museum collections.  I’ve never seen anything like them – the technique, the commitment to the subject matter and overall experience being near them….

It was in this room that I met and chatted with Mary Giel.  Her effervescence really lit up the place.  She’s currently exhibiting in the annual juried show called Made in NY at the Schweinfurth Museum in Auburn, NY, having created a massive amount of tiny crocheted pieces that accumulate into floor and wall installations, which she creates in between rock climbing expeditions among other interesting travels.  The enthusiasm of her spirit is really breathtaking and made me realize that I need to find my way back to the pure spunk of it all.  The fun that is mark making.

http://www.schweinfurthartcenter.org/exhibits_details.cfm?id=62

So I’ve decided to begin a painting project – but not that kind.  Two hundred and fifty dollars got me enough latex paint and supplies to redo five out of the six rooms in my house.

I feel so DIY right now.  I just spackled up a hole in the kitchen wall and filled the crack in the bathroom wall with caulk as per the paint clerk’s suggestion.  I’m going to start painting tomorrow.  The last time I painted the interior here, there was no furniture or cats, so I’m preparing to have a giant headache over it all.  So much for spring break.

But since the weather has been so craptastic, it seemed like as good a time as any to do it.  Plus once I get an idea in my head, I really can’t let it go until I make it happen – it’s like having a giant monkey on my back.

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u Break It – u Buy It

Here is another meme photo I took for the school yearbook – #eatingmoney

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This boy is my favorite model because of his hair, of course. Unfortunately he got a haircut last week and so, I won’t have the opportunity to take anymore shots like this for however long it takes to grow a foot of hair back, which would put him in high school or college by then.

The photo represents a fleeting moment in time, one that can’t be replaced, although photographs can be duplicated, as long as you still have the image on a computer or thumb drive.

Karen Tashkovski, Dreamtime, 2000, oil & collage $500
Karen Tashkovski, Dreamtime, 2000, oil & collage $500

A few months ago I shared that I’d repaired my painting Dream Time, but what I didn’t tell you is that around the same time my friend Joyce visited from Binghamton, NY, and I gave her a replacement Scrabble tile for the painting I made for her from this series.  I didn’t want it to seem as though all of my paintings are falling apart at the seams – they are not, by the way.

The thing is that any additive sculpture or combine style painting utilizing found objects could come undone at any time.  It could be bumped into or it could be a simple case of fluctuating humidity in the space where the piece resides.

My last post generated an array of opinions about the destruction of art.  People in agreement with me and others so opposed to the idea that it was pretty intense!  This happened mainly on www.linkedin.com where I shared the blog post in about a dozen art groups.

I really love the passion people brought to the table.  I also love the comraderie of artists, that we all in one way or another are aware of the impact (or the hope of an impact) our art will bring to future generations.  I wonder now how artists feel about the repairing of damaged art?

Joyce didn’t ask me to repair her Karen Tashkovski original, but she knew I probably had extra tiles in my art supply arsenal.  I am not keen on repairing my work the way my cobbler fixes the heels on my favorite boots.  While I try to use the strongest adhesives I can find, often the whole shebang can be very experimental, and I can’t worry about how my art will be displayed once it leaves the nest.

When I’m making art, I do admit to thinking about the compliments I might receive once it’s done, which puts me in a positive frame of mind, but I feel extremely in the moment and present while I’m creating.  I’m not thinking about one hundred years from now.

The only time I do, ironically, is while working with encaustics.  The wax will eventually harden and become one with the wood surface (and by eventually we’re talking  a thousand years) and it will become the most everlasting type of artwork that exists.

Unfortunately, any time before then the wax is fragile and must be handled with care, something of which the art teachers who hung the Scholastic Art exhibit (in January of this year) and the visitors to the Whitney Building at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY were not aware.

My student’s silver key winning encaustic painting was terribly damaged during the show.  Whether it fell from the wall or was touched, or perhaps it was the humidity in the building – I mean I don’t know and I’m not suggesting blame, but it was tragic.

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The student does not take art class anymore, but I’m hoping she will be able to come in after school to rework it.  The entire neck is gone and the feather part is cracked, like the plaster walls in my house.  We used my personal encaustic materials so I’ve brought them back to school and will get to layering the uncolored wax on it to build the canvas back up and have it ready for Ellie when she’s ready to do it. The issue is that the wax takes time to heat up so it’s not a fleeting fix but a planned we-will-do-this-thing and make everything right with the world.

I think I took this damage harder than she did.  I felt responsible even though I could not protect the art when it was not in my possession.  She worked very hard on this piece and she was very proud of it!  Now she must rework it, like the fraggles on Fraggle Rock.  Whether or not she repairs the painting, it does not diminish the fact that she won high honors for it, but I think it’s difficult to accept that the art will not be the same the second time around.  The hope is that it will be better.  Yes, I’m ready to believe that!

Which brings me to the latest art tragedy:  a sculpture by Cy Twombly was just knocked over by a visitor to the museum in which it was displayed.

Cy Twombly sculpture toppled by visitor 

Conservators will be repairing it.  He died in 2011.  But if he were still alive, I can’t imagine anyone would ask him to fix it.

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Twombly is famous for creating these scribbly abstract expressionist paintings and my favorites are the ones done on chalkboard because they could easily be erased.  Have you ever seen the scene in I ❤ Huckabees when Dustin Hoffman’s character leans on the chalkboard painting in his office and he erases it with his jacket?  And of course, the irony is that he is supposed to be an existentialist detective!  OMG, I love that movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr-Kpvhq73s

I am always questioning why things are the way they are and how these disjointed circumstances will eventually weave themselves into the story of my life.  I even have an existential coincidence!

Now fashion, that is an art form that isn’t supposed to be everlasting.  Colors fade, fabrics disintegrate.  We are always looking for something new and fresh while still holding onto our loved possessions because of sentimentality or some such other unreasonable abstract.

I am now selling my art as fashion on redbubble.  So if this blog post has convinced you not to buy my artwork in case of damage and the subsequent wrath of Tash (you really haven’t lived if you haven’t received that tongue lashing is how it goes), then maybe some Karen Tashkovski original leggings would be the way to go.

Sage leggingwindow legging

You buy them, wear them, break them in.  Wash them, wear them, wash, wear infinity – until you throw them out.  No artist fix or conservators necessary!