Spending two weeks in Venice, Italy, is my idea of a heavenly vacation. Plus, among the many museum and palace collections of fine art we found two intriguing contemporary shows on exhibit. One was the work of Russian artist Grisha Bruskin whose large-scale tapestry project combined multi-media interactive displays with the tapestry itself. His enigmatic work involves mysterious alphabets and strangely beautiful figures evoking saints and sinners. He equates text with texture and weaving in a fascinating view of the mysterious universe.
Another show we happened upon just off St. Marks Square was a retrospective of the Fluxus artist’s book movement. Works ranging from those of Dieter Roth, John Cage, Yoko Ono and many others graced five rooms in a small gallery space, while a show of contemporary book artists working in the Fluxus tradition was located across the canals close to where we were staying in L’Acadademia.
Along with the art, we had great weather and delicious food the whole time. It was a memorable break….
My weekend started with a jaunty private workshop at Olivia’s beautifully-appointed apartment and studio in Pikesville, Maryland. Olivia, Meg, and Paula, all artists in their own right, spent the day with me honing their paper engineering skills and creating a pile of pop-up models. Olivia provided us with a wonderful lunch, and we ended the session with a “class” portrait of their completed works.
On the agenda for the next day was the Hagerstown, Maryland, Literacy Festival where I was one of some 15 authors signing books in the public library. A group of four teens was a highlight, wearing their favorite works of fiction, singing “These Books are Made for Walking.”
Immediately after Hagerstown, I drove to the Howard County Fairgrounds where the Sheep and Wool Festival was in full swing. I managed to get there in time for the border collie sheep herding event, and my husband Henry joined me for a walk through the pens to see the sheep, buy a broom for our farmhouse porch, and purchase seeds for the garden.
This unusual combination of events made for an exciting weekend, ending with the planting of kale and beets at the farm.
A small but impressive exhibition of origami sculptures is currently on display at the Japanese Information and Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. This past Tuesday I attended the opening lecture and demonstration by two well-known origami artists, Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander. Both men have extensive experience in this Japanese art form, and have published numerous books on the subject.
The lecture highlighted origami history and some exceptional examples of contemporary pieces. Afterward, we were treated to a lunch of sushi rolls, and participated in hands-on demonstrations by both gentlemen, making an origami border collie and an origami butterfly.
Book, Paper, Scissors, the annual artists’ book and print fair sponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book, was held at the Parkway Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia this past weekend. I was one of twenty artists who showed and sold their work. It was so much fun to see many of my friends and former students during the day’s event. I especially enjoyed sitting next to Tara O’Brien, and I bought one of her delightful little travel books featuring loose pages bound by into a tyvek cover with colored hair elastics. (See her Etsy page). Fellow paper engineer and Philadelphia resident Collette Fu also dropped by.
Beyond the book fair events, my friend Patty Smith and her daughters Sarah and Erin enjoyed several outings over the weekend. Patty and Claire Fouquet’s piece Crowds and Barriers was showcased at The University of the Art’s Merriam Theater, featuring performances by dancers and the bucket ensemble Rumble. We also went to the Italian Market for a Sunday breakfast and shopping. Patty, Erin, and I are pictured here with their purchase of a beautiful little Christmas tree.
The second day of the book fair was as exciting as the first, with several friends passing by our table. David Marshall and Michael Durgin stopped by, along with Krystyna Wasserman from the National Museum of Women and the Arts, Jackie Coleburn from the Library of Congress, and Georgia Deal from the Corcoran School of Art and Design. Another tiny press was demonstrated by Pilar Nadal, this one mounted on the back of her bicycle. Pilar is from Portland, Maine, where she runs the Tired Press. Sarah, Esther, Dikko and I had a memorable lunch at the Lucy Ethiopian restaurant in Silver Spring, where we feasted on raw lamb, lentils, cabbage, and several other dishes served on the traditional spongy injera bread.
The biennial Pyramid Atlantic Fair of Paper, Prints and Books took place last weekend, and Henry and I had a house full of artist guests in town for the event. I shared a table with letterpress book artist Sarah Bryant, now living in the U.K., and Esther Smith and Dikko Faust of Purgatory Pie Press also stayed with us for the weekend. The fair was well attended, and we had a constant flow of interested visitors looking at our work. I gave a hands-on demo of paper engineering techniques toward the end of the day. Also of note was The Print Factory’s small backpacker press, being demonstrated in these photos Kansas City artist Jesse McAfee.