(Program cover, featuring "Gilded Coral Nest" by ceramic artist Jennifer McCurdy.)
Our recent weekend in Evanston was planned to coincide with the American Craft Expo, sponsored by the Auxiliary of Evanston & Glenbrook Hospitals to benefit ovarian cancer research. Our three kids were born at Evanston Hospital, and my maternal grandmother and several friends lost their lives to ovarian cancer, so those aspects added special meaning to this benefit for me.
I took no photos at the show (not even sure if I could have, but bringing a camera just didn't feel right) so all photos below are images from the artists' promotional materials or websites.
We arrived Saturday morning at 10 when the doors opened. You always need a browsing strategy for big shows in order not to miss anything, and ours was to start at the back and work our way forward, row by row. Seeing all 150 artists took us 4 hours, and revisits took an extra hour.
Here are some of our favorite artists from the show, with links to their websites:
Fiber artist Sandi Garris. Very inspiring use of color & form, in both her geometric & organic styles. Her pieces are made of hand-dyed cottons, machine stitched, then mounted & framed.
Fiber artist Renee Harris. Love!!! My first time seeing her work in person, after admiring it online for years. Photos just don't do justice to her pieces. Fabulous textures & mixing of paper, cloth & stitches, beautifully framed.
Glass artists Peter Muller & Joe Peters. These sea creatures are created by Joe's borosilicate torchwork, while the portal bowls framing them are furnace blown and then cut and shaped by Peter. Incredibly detailed work. A perfect collaboration.
Ceramic artist Rick Hintze. We especially liked his earthy matte/crackle glazed vessels, but I couldn't find a photo of those. Great shapes and textures.
Basket artist Jennifer Heller Zurick. She harvests Black Willow bark and completely processes it herself. She then weaves it free-form into baskets, large and small. Extremely appealing pieces, very warm and intricately patterned.
Fiber artist Sally Jones. Sally had beautiful hand-screened silk tops and scarves. My favorite style isn't shown on her website -- her block-pieced silk scarves featuring 5 or more colors/patterns. She had sold out of the color group I liked best, and offered to custom make one for me.
Ceramic artist Larry Richmond. His work combines pottery with fiber and wood accents. Beautiful shapes, patterns and textures.
Jewelry artist Deb Karash. Deb is one of my all-time favorite artists. She's developed a process in which she applies layers of Prismacolor pencil to a patinated copper shape, seals it, and then mounts the colored piece with brass rivets to a textured sterling silver backdrop. Her pieces have all the elements I love -- a fanciful take on nature, distinctive hand-coloring & shading, a mix of metals, beautiful forms and impeccable finishing.
Fiber artist Chris Roberts-Antieau. This was the first or possibly second time I've seen Chris's work in person -- she may have exhibited at a Reston/NoVA Fine Arts Festival some years ago. Anyway, her "Night Birds" above is one of our favorites from Chris's strange and wonderful show collection. As with many fiber artists' work, photos don't do justice to the texture created by embellishment stitching on her pieces.
Wood artist Janel Jacobson. Her tiny netsukes and other small wood carvings are so lovely. Spring Song, the piece pictured above, measures only 2.2 x 1.3 x 0.8 inches. Incredibly tiny details!
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ACE was truly an inspiring and memorable show. We spoke with many of the artists, who were eager to share information about their inspiration and their methods.
What struck me over and over was the importance of layers in artistic work. The ability to think in and conceptualize the layers or stages of a creative process. The use of physical layers of raw material in the construction of the work itself, whether glass or fiber or whatever. The layers of meaning that the piece holds for the artist as maker, versus the public as viewer/ enthusiast/ buyer. The layers of past, present and future connected by evolving craft traditions and techniques.
My thanks to all the talented folks who gave us Friday Night Lights, which concluded last night on NBC after five fabulous seasons.
One of my favorite shows ever.
Who'd have thought that a series built around high school football in a small Texas town would totally win my heart -- especially since I don't even speak or really understand football.
But you didn't need to be a football fan to love Friday Night Lights.
This series courageously examined so many tough contemporary social and familial issues. It was insightful when it could have been cliche. It wasn't afraid to tackle controversial topics that sometimes resolved in realistically untidy outcomes.
The production quality and attention to detail was amazing.
And best of all, the acting was superb, in that you lost any consciousness that it was acting. The characters were remarkably nuanced, perfectly imperfect human beings.
I don't usually go in for series reruns on DVD, but I'll probably make an exception in this case. Once around with Eric and Tami and the folks of Dillon was not enough. It'll do my heart good to go back for another visit.
So here finally are the plant photos taken at my all-time favorite garden shop, Merrifield Garden Center at Fair Oaks, VA. I tried to post these from my iPad while I was in VA, but the formatting was misbehaving. (So far, I haven't discovered how to post directly to Typepad from the iPad; I have to use an intermediary blogging app, and it doesn't always cooperate.)
Anyway, just a few views of summer-turning-to-autumn from Northern Virginia:
Again, this is the seasonal perennials display bench, an ever-changing pathway of colorful temptations. Can't even begin count how many plants found their way home with me from here over the years.
As ever, bees found the rosy sedums (perhaps Autumn Joy? or something similar) irresistible. Blooming sedums = bee magnets.
And after feasting on the sedums, perhaps a bit of golden gazania for dessert.
Wish I could identify this plant. It had tall thin stems, with blooms about 5-6" in diameter. Absolutely glorious! It was growing in a big pot with other shorter plants at its feet. Merrifield makes up its own container gardens, and their plant combinations are always inspired.
Here, I was having a nostalgic bout of coleus envy. If there is one non-desert plant I wish I could grow in Phoenix, it's coleus. So many beautiful varieties are available now! They thrived in containers for me when we lived in VA. Our Phoenix garden centers do sell some, but so far I haven't found the right combination of sun/shade/water to make them happy here.
Merrifield Garden Center is an inspiring destination year-round. Outdoors in warmer weather, the plants and displays are spectacular. Indoors in cooler weather, the huge greenhouse is a tropical haven. And the home decorating shop is a pleasure in every season. Wish we had something comparable in Phoenix!
Northern Virginia, that is, our home turf for 17 years before Phoenix. It's still home for our boys, and thus I'm here visiting. I'd previously posted a longer version of this, but the iPad app for posting to Typepad has been giving me fits with mysterious formatting & malfunctions.
So for now, I'll just post this photo from Merrifield Garden Center at Fair Oaks, VA, my favorite garden center ever. I went there for a "fix" as I always try to do when I'm here. More photos when I get back to my laptop in Phoenix...
Finally, some photos from our tour of the Vatican. We were lucky to have a guide that does an early morning tour, so we saw the Sistine chapel in the company of perhaps 100 rather than 1000 or more people. No photos are allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so I was on best behavior and kept my camera turned off, though it was difficult.
Luckily, other areas of the Vatican are camera friendly, so here goes:
This is the painted ceiling of one of seemingly miles of Vatican hallways. The artistic effort involved in creating these spaces is almost beyond comprehension.
And of course, you know if there's a way to include birds here, I'll find it. These sculptures of mute swans done by the Boehm porcelain company were a gift from New York (city or state, I can't remember which) and they are exquisite.
This stained glass window of Madonna and Child looks almost like a modern interpretation of an older style.
Here's another ceiling view, this one in a sort of hallway alcove. The blue pigments used remain so brilliant.
The Swiss Guards in their colorful uniforms stood outside the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica.
This is the famous Pieta, completed when Michelangelo was 25 years old. It is now displayed behind glass, after being damaged by a vandal.
Finally, this is my favorite photo, showing the light streaming in through the high windows of St. Peter's. The arched ceiling's ornate carved decoration is covered in real gold leaf, and the Latin phrases around the top of the walls are done in fine mosaic tile. The artistry itself and the wealth needed to create it are mind-boggling.
I had no idea beforehand of the beauty and wealth contained in the Vatican Museum collections. In four hours of a guided tour, we barely skimmed the surface. It was simply amazing.
We're home now, but thought I'd share some Rome photos, since wi-fi wasn't to be found while we were there.
Sunday morning, we took a guided walking tour of ancient Rome.
First stop, the Trevi Fountain, where the incoming water from the ancient aqueduct system still runs fresh and clean after 2000 years. A tap for drinking is located off to the far side of the fountain.
At San Pietro in Vincoli, Michelangelo's Moses marks the tomb of Pope Julius II. It's amazing to see the delicate physical details, such as veins on the hands and forearms, that Michelangelo perfectly sculpted from a block of Carrera marble.
The Colosseum is so huge, it's difficult to capture enormity of it, but I loved this shot of its weathered ancient architecture against the soft summer sky.
This is the Temple of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, where the Vestal Virgins (who were actually female priests) had to keep the sacred flame burning.
Upon entering the Pantheon, this beam of light streaming through the roof opening was magical. The Pantheon is a circular building that dates to 125 AD and has an amazing poured concrete dome with the open center (oculus) as its source of interior light.
The Pantheon was originally a temple to the Roman gods, but in the 7th century it was converted to a Catholic church, Santa Maria ad Martyres.
On Sunday evening, we walked along the Tiber and found some mature wild fig trees (with fruit) growing out of crevices in the walls along the river. My guess is that they grew from seeds deposited in droppings of birds that roost along the wall's narrow ledges.