travel

Pentaculum 2018: Red, for Sorrow and Renewal

In November 2016, Gatlinburg, Tennessee suffered a devastating fire that destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses and tree-covered acreage.  As news broke on social media, we watched the unfolding story as it related to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, a beloved crafts school with a network of artists, fans, and workshop attendees spread across the globe. The stories of escape from quickly advancing flames were horrific. We were frightened for Arrowmont’s staff and families, and we worried that nothing would remain of the school. When morning came, the dormitory I’d stayed in just one year earlier while attending a Surface Design Association conference, was one of two buildings destroyed in the fire, but the rest of the campus had mercifully been spared.

So, when I was invited to attend Arrowmont’s Pentaculum 2018, a gathering of 80 artists and writers working in clay, metal, fiber, 2-d, and wood, I felt both delight and reverence. I wanted not only to inhabit this loss but pay homage to renewal. I’d make a piece in my Tarp Series, in which I position my expressive textile paintings as metaphorical tarps. I see tarps as protective, versatile and adaptive. I’d start with drawings on campus, translating them to cloth, then photograph the piece outdoors in select settings.

Upon arrival, inevitably I recalled a much earlier connection to the Great Smoky Mountains. During very formative years as a 19 year old, I spent two months at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, then known as the Maryville College Environmental Education Center. It was 1973, and I leaned into the wildness, leading school children on hikes, learning about material culture, foodways, harp singing, launching myself into the art making and community arts career that has been a part of me ever since.

At Pentaculum 2018, we did not anticipate the very unusual cold weather, which made outdoor drawing impossible and photography challenging. But I let my eye be “open,” with doodles and observations on walks and out the studio windows.

The imagery in the resulting piece, Sorrow and Renewal, is more representational than is usual for me.  Colors are black, grey, —and red. Red for pent-up passions, energy, sorrow, fire, joy and heat. But it is in the context of the forest, streams, rocks, gnarled trees, that this red makes the most sense and feels right.

Scouting photography locations in 13 degree weather, I explored the woodpile of huge downed trees, there perhaps not from the fire but adjacent to the hill where remains of the fire are visible. And also there, grapefruit sized piles of bear scat from visits to nearby dumpsters. But it was a place along the river that truly allowed this piece to find its singing voice. Renewal is apparent, gratifying, and not to be taken for granted.  Pentaculum 2018 was a wonderful experience. And Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts continues to be a magical place.

Oaxaca Tales: Printmaking Collectives & Museums

Printmaking Workshop Passport

One of the unexpected surprises of the International Shibori Symposium in Oaxaca was the exciting proliferation of small printmaking collectives. Most of them are focused on large scale wood- and lino- cuts, often in political themes. I visited many of the ones located in Oaxaca centro. For this, I used a “Pasaporte Grafico” walking tour guide containing a map, something about each of the ten venues, plus an opportunity to receive a “stamp” at each venue visited. Passports are available at each venue.  The entire walking tour was easy to accomplish and inspiring in its discoveries.

The Instituto de Artes Graficas was founded by famed Mexican artist Francisco Toledo, who also played a hand in many other Oaxaca cultural institutions, like the Ethnobotanical Garden. The Instituto has an exhibition space, gathering spot, library, shop and more. Taller Oaxaca Grafico is located near the Instituto de Artes Graficas and focuses on showcasing prints by founding members Edith Chavez, Dario Castillejos, MK Kabrito, Alberto Cruz and Ivan Bautista.

Insitituto Grafica, Oaxaca
at the Instituto Graficas
Courtyard connecting exhibition space, gallery, work space and libraries at the Instito de Artes Graficas

 Espacio Zapata “arte popular” is awesome and exciting for those of us who have done printmaking and screen printing. It has mutiple rooms and includes a small restaurant. On the walls are wood or linocuts used for printing, some nearly 2 meters long. It seems more a working space; the “sales” area is smaller by comparison and has a T-shirt shop feel. Its mission is “a political graphics production workshop for artists who consider and utilize art as a tool to support the struggle of our people.”

Espacio Zapata

 

restaurant at Espacio Zapata “arte popular”
Large scale woodcut substrate mounted on the wall at Espacio Zapata “arte popular”
silkscreens ready to use at Espacio Zapata “arte popular”
The scale of these woodcuts is awesome, at Espacio Zapata “arte popular”

At Estampa, I spoke with with H.L. Santiago Martinez, a painter. Estampa was once home to multiple artists, now just two and is evolving into more of a community arts space where conversations about graphic and visual arts promote national and international artists. It has a coffee shop. Later this month, it will host a book arts event.

At Estampa, painter H. L. Santiago Martinez

Gabinete Grafico has a wide range of work displayed in a way that is easily accessible for viewing and sold.  A very small space with one press and one work table, it makes excellent use of walls and loft to display an exciting array of work. When I was there, one of the artists, Celi Irving Herrera, was working on cutting a woodcut. Visit them on Facebook.

At Gabinete Grafico
At Gabinete Grafico

I also visited Oaxaca Subsuelo, which exhibits and sells local Oaxaca art work, and Taller Siqueiros Gallery, mentioned as a space “dedicated to spreading Oaxaca and international street art.”

Not on the passport, but noteworthy is the current exhibition at Oaxaca’s cultural museum, the  Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, located in the converted Dominican Abbey next to Santa Domingo and the Ethnobotanical Garden. It featured a huge show of graphic art by Leopoldo Mendez.

In addition to hundreds of prints, we also got to see Leopold Mendez’ original linocuts, tools and letters.

Travel Chile: ceramics at Tallervillaseca, Santiago

P1010595

One of the joys of traveling is discovering local contemporary artists in the neighborhood. In this case, it was a pottery class attended by an overseas family member that brought me to Tallervillaseca in Santiago. Taller (“Studio” in English) is operated by four artists: two potters, one jeweler and one sculptor, all of whom have workshops in this former home, now studio.

P1010599

Tallervillaseca specializes in classes, supplies, finished goods with a small retail sales area. Santiago is a high desert type of climate, a place where year round cactus gardens are possible, and in this space, the addition of cactus/pottery installations is charming, like a living art installation. The small goldfish ponds is an immediate kid-draw. Tallervillaseca is located on the street called Dr. Pedro Lautaro Ferrer 2586, in Providencia, Chile.

 

P1010602
Bisque firing is done electrically; glaze firing by gas, at Tallervillaseca.

 

P1010596
The inside cactus garden at Tallervillaseca.

 

 

P1010610
Pottery at Tallervillaseca includes press-molded sets of shakers on serving trays. As seen elsewhere in Chile, style is European-influenced.

 

P1010607
Wrapping purchases at Tallervillaseca.