I made a quick trip to Charleston, WV, last week and saw some stellar shows.
I always have to stop at Annex Gallery inside Taylor Books downtown. I had a solo show there a few years ago of my What Will Her Kids Think? series (right, sadly I don’t know why it’s so blurry!) of collaborative drawings with my kids. (See more on Motherhood series page.)
I got to see Hannah Lenhart‘s clay creations last week, not my typical art but so fun, unexpected with a retro feel, these dynamic forms, colors and patterns in ceramics! Love both the functional and decorative – wish I could afford!
Upon reading her artist statement, it seems we have a commonality – our artmaking is a calming and comforting process, as is the curation of art in our home. During COVID, she found herself in her studio more often, “failing over and over again, but through those failures I became a better maker and for that I’m very grateful.” YES! Feel those feels! [image left from her website]
[Random: reminds me of Alanis Morrissette’s old song The Only Way Out is Through]
Check out Annex Gallery, connected to Taylor Books! Such a sweet, well done shop. Wish we had one in Morgantown.
Speaking of wishing we had in Morgantown – en route I stopped at Tamarack Marketplace – a huge craft shop and gallery in Beckeley WV – most of it is crafty but always love checking out their gallery and finding my local faves like Leslie Norris / Sugar Pop Press and Fierce Sonia (right from webside OMG need to buy one of hers). Love the use of collage mixed media with the figure and the bright colors!!
[Some of my favorite work is collage. Feminist artists have used the media as a disruption of the traditional “high art” for awhile. Like Hannah Hoch, one of the Dada artists, or Mary Beth Edelson, fabulous 2nd wave feminist artist. I’ve made some collages recently myself – I love to play with text, my drawing, coupled with clippings from art mags. It’s just so much fun to play with form, shape and meaning.]
This is one from my recent series, “Into the Weeds.” You may recognize some of the clippings from artists Judy Chicago (central figure, walking around in one of her Dry Ice installations), Joan Jonas (two smaller figures, still from one of her performance videos) and Joan Mitchell (left, one of her Orange paintings). The text is just grabbed from a magazine, and I love the play with layers/generations/various media of feminist art, along with my own self portrait drawing and the text which speaks to the complexity of feminism….
Anyway….print is also one of my fave media!… my favorite being Wanda Ewing – I wrote a series about her for her blog a few years ago. Here’s the first post.
I own several prints by Leslie Norris, always love her fun poppy style (left from her website)!
Love how printmaking has a mass way of reaching people – ok so does social media – but print keeps the physical aspect! And seeing masses of a different print (obvious one is Andy Warhol less obvious but more amazing is Nancy Spero) can multiply the impact…
So…back to Charleston…
I also stopped by Clay Center and was excited when I parked in the packed lot, oh wow, more people are visiting art on a random Tuesday morning!…Upon entry I was reminded it’s also a Children’s Museum…which was packed. The art museum part, upstairs was completely empty. Ah well – more intimate visit for me!
What was up: Material Pulses: Seven Pulses and Stitching Our Story, and Drawings by Ric Ambrose. I wanted to love the former, had wrote-off the latter (another white man) but ended up loving it.
[Women and minorities have been written off since…since. So I feel ok writing off white men…I love men! Just it’s other people’s turn….]
Material Pulses: Seven Pulses and Stitching Our Stories were fabulous exhibitions of huge intricate and diverse quilts by some amazing contemporary artists from across the state and nation. I appreciate the craft and ingenuity of these artist and I’m so grateful they are making work and love that they’re successful in doing it. But for me, I miss bodies and loose expression. My faves: the double sided Veiled Connections by Jane Willoughby (left, Side A, always love doubled sided works!); and the playful ceiling hanging touchable work by Christine Mauersberger (below).
But Ric Ambrose’s drawings just made me swoon. Took me back to drawing class in undergrad; the love of just pencil to paper (remember having arguments with other art majors about the “best media” – drawing. Hands down!). You can see the passion in his lines. I love drawing’s ability to portray emotion just through lines.
Above: The Art of Artifice, 2019, from his website.
This is graphite on paper! Art within art! People! Action! Jenny Saville! Oh how I love it!
Left: Sketch for a Quarantine Portrait, 2020, from his website.
Those faces, the sketch of the sketch! The pencil, that portrait in the background, the food…the action of those lines…just love!
Another random thing is that he was a Museum administrator for decades and recently came back to creating. I am in arts administration and would LOVE to “just” make art someday…so this gives me hope!
Last shout-out to the Museum of American Glass in West, WV. Holy cow SO MUCH GLASS! Not just dishware but sculpture and random knick knacks and keepsakes…I loved the collection of collectible Smurf glasses from McDonald’s from the 1980s, and this incredible glass dollhouse, with miniature glass furniture, art and even an outdoor fountain! That’s the house below and that’s the interior – see the bar with wine and glasses, and the kitchen through there. Incredible!
Meant to be quick but guess it got lengthy! Thanks for reading! Up next….Omaha! ….to open a show at Petshop Gallery / experience Benson First Friday again, and visit for the first time (wasn’t there last time) Moonrise Gallery!
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