Thursday, March 10, 2011

Two parter-Life, death,and rituals and creating videos .

This is a two part post. It didn't seem appropriate to put the first post with this post.  The first post is about James Koehler and other  losses. This post is about my life and times in the studio and trying to keep it all together. 

 This Dog is done. I am ready to start my next piece.I thought I would never finish this piece. It's only 5 by 7 inches, but it took me way too long to weave and way to many start overs.  Last time I wrote my blog I was just tearing out some out of sync soumack. It’s gone and I don’t think I am going to add the lines back. Makes me feel very omnipotent. I just wiped out a whole town on Lolo Pass without a passing thought of guilt only relief.
I have already photographed and sent it into a juried show that I am sick of entering. It’s always something with them and me. My only disappointment in this piece is-- Again,  I have woven something that is almost impossible to photograph. Mixing colours such as orange and blue, yellow and purples and of course greens and reds grey out in photo's badly.I love the complementary contrast and the contrast of warm and cool colours within a given colour especially in a weft bundle.  In person the weaving creates an active soft  active grey from a distance that you can still see the individual colours in the optical blends, but disappear in a photo.
       On top of that I may have just tied up several pieces that I really need for a group show in June. Now I need to weave double time if I am to have enough pieces for those shows I do want to enter. I seem to be such a glutton for punishment.
mottled Mayflower

      Like a good little camper I finished Dog, photographed, and promptly mailed it and several others to be juried in a particular international show.
        Now I am really kicking myself and wondering at my mind set. I keep asking myself how many times do I really need to be in this particular show. By the time I thought it through I had already photographed and sent Dog into a juried show that I am sick of entering without thinking it through. It’s always something with them and me.
      After the last 2-3 years of fiasco, why did I enter? There is always a problem when I enter this show, which at this point will remain nameless. Again, it boils down to why does one enter shows and getting ones ego involved. Much better to think of it as a game-win some loose some.  I get in to this particular show, but something always happens or goes wrong-bad advice from their office, damaged frames in transit, lost work,  CD’s that won’t open, bad colour in their magazine, not publishing all entries, their policy of a piece never having been published anywhere, won prizes and then been disqualified, etc., etc., etc.,  etc.
And, finally,  Et Al. I have been in it 14 possibly more times in the last 20 years or so. I keep telling myself that I am going to re-think why and the logic for my entering this exhibit every year, but always forget until too late. 
 OOPS!!! I am ranting again-so sorry! Need a disclaimer! I am turning into such a grouchy old lady.
      On top of that I may have just tied up several pieces that I really need for a group show in June. Now I need to weave double time if I am to have enough pieces for those shows I do want to enter. I seem to be such a glutton for punishment.
OOPS!!! I am ranting again-so sorry! Need another disclaimer!

Camellias in bloom
detail of Camellia 

Peachy coloured Camellias
Mayflower slightly different
The one show this summer I am very excited about will be at the Corvallis Art Center. Actually, there are several others such as Passages(ATA) and Fantastic Fibers 2011. "Oregon Weaving-The Tradition Continues" Exhibition date: May 28 - June 18 or 25*, 2011. Now I just need to find several of my students and or people who think I have influenced their weaving who would like to put their work in the show. I have no idea who to ask-again my shyness is hindering me. It’s a little like suppose I give a party and no one wants to come. It seems like such a personal question to ask someone “Have I influenced you with my teaching or the work that I do.  So perhaps if your reading this missive and I have taught you or influenced you and you want to be in an exhibit with me. You could maybe contact me-please, before I chew my arm off worrying.
I am excited about the new piece I am beginning. It’s a dog-not a mental dog, but an actual dog-Chene.  It’s the first time I have woven an animal since I was at OSAC in 1979 and wove a frog from the unicorn tapestries. I am not even sure that counts. It was copied from and not original. Occasionally, I Wish I had a picture, but I sold the tapestry in 1980 to buy more wool for the next tapestry
and in reality I hope it never resurfaces. It was so long ago and  I so needed to learn so much more.
      I have woven a face-human- and 3 caricatures of faces from several time periods and a Portrait of Pat from a shared project.
Mary of the little dark cloud
Same Old Same Old
Portrait of Pat
That I haven’t done more animals and faces is really rather odd because I began as a cartoonist and was always in trouble for my caricatures of -well-people I shouldn't have been drawing caricatures of doing not very polite things. Basically what one would expect from a teenager-so its been awhile. - way before I knew about tapestry other then needlepoint and embroidery.
If Mary could have....?
The word cartoon according to Wikipedia-“The original meaning was in fine art of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it referred to a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting or tapestry. In the 19th century, it came to refer to humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers, and in the early 20th century it was sometimes used to refer to comic strips.[1]. In more modern usage, it commonly refers to animated programs for television and other motion-picture media.”

Cartoon 5 by 7 inches
Two photos of Chene
 that I combined
to make a cartoon

I have been fascinated with the idea of weaving a dog after seeing tapestries by Kathy Spoering and a Tapestry by Ruth Jones that was in an ATA Bienale a few years ago. Ruth Jones was based on a  design of a dog  in a millefleur and,  of course,  Dogs are all through  historical tapestries...The main difference I see in weaving a Dog and what I normally weave is it has to look like a dog. Everyone knows what a dog looks like and you can't fudge it. Unless you can convince the world that your really working in abstract or an  impressionistic styles. But, Somehow I don''t see Chene as a cubist dog.

Videos: The Care and Feeding of Bobbins-5 short videos with video 4 being in two sections. SO there are really 6-4 has a b section.
        Pat (Spark)an I have been doing something that really fascinates me. Well, parts of it does. Pat is so meticulously patient with the process and getting better everyday with the process. BUT, there is so much to learn and search out just in the doing.  The process of Pat's doing is fun to watch, but I think the skill of using the program is more then I can do, which is one of the reasons of many that Pat is such a good business partner for me.  She has her stuff and I have my stuff that I do.
        We have been working on a series of 5-maybe 6 short video's about the care and feeding of bobbins. The reason they are 5 or 6 and not 1 is that Pat noticed that anything over 5 minutes in length creates a certain ennui in the watcher and can be difficult to download depending on dial up connections and computers timing out in when downloading.    I find the process fascinating both personally and technically. I enjoy watching Pat edit the videos, because it looks and sounds like magic.

       On a personal level it's interesting too and sometimes frustrating to realize that I have fallen into some very  lazy speech patterns using words like okay, that, this, and okay as an affirmative that whatever was done was understood. It's also interesting to see and hear how ones teachings might be perceived by others and seeing all of the ways and things that one should be doing better.  So my goal is to stop using the word okay and do things a little more audiovisually for those that I teach that learn audiovisual. Which is really hard/challenging-okay?(gr)
       Pat has/is downloading the videos to Facebook on her channel at Care and Feeding of Bobbins to which a person can subscribe. We will be  linking the videos to  the FFP blog and this blog to the videos.  Tommye Scanlin and Pat Williams are embedding them into their tapestry share blog at Hopefully they will pick up and embedd the next 3.

My Dad/ Grandpa Todd

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about rituals and ritual behaviour in weaving and life in general. . I  have always considered myself  a spur of the moment type of  person. After the last year or so dealing with the older people in my life I have realized that I am not. When I weave and begin to weave I follow the same process. Cup of tea, butting Chene in his basket with a chew thingy, straightening threads and bobbins,  check warp tensioning, laying out threads for the space I am weaving, placing tools in order, cutting ends from the day before,  and a few minutes of only  looking at what I did before and then I weave. If I don't do this before I weave I feel disjointed and out of step and am more prone to choosing the wrong colours or just not interpreting the cartoon correctly.  Ritual behaviour is not a bad thing over times many of our rituals become by rote and give one a sense of safety and a place where things are right or feel right.  In watching my Dad as ages and forgets things I have noticed that those things he does well follow a ritual. When he shops , drives, fixes a meal, or takes his medication if I interfere with the ritual he becomes confused and disjointed and forgetful  and closes down. Edith and Marge were both the same way as long as I didn't interrupt the ritual of weaving they could weave
Solar Flash 
        Some where in one of the books I have read by Joesph Campbell he writes about our creating rituals for those things we do not understand and cannot comprehend. I have begun to notice and remember from teaching several of my older students that they could continue with certain processes because they could remember the ritual of doing and the mind  had created a pattern that they could follow without thought or hesitations. In many ways it makes understanding and dealing with My Dad easier.

From A Joesph Campbell interview; "The purposes of rituals are varied; with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, social and moral education, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one's affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event—or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself."

Cheers and all, 

Thoughts on James Koehler

The last 6 months has really been  extremely sad in some ways and extremely thought provoking in others.

People I have known some I deeply respected-James Koehler, and some I have loved deeply-Marge Cruger have died and some I had just met Sonja Wendt, but knew of.

A week ago was the 25th anniversary of the suicide of a women- Karen Zimmerman- who was my best friend and the Gramma, Aunt of my family. She never understood the hole in our life’s that she would leave when she died. She didn’t hear us when we tried to tell her how important she was to us. Marge who died in August  understood what her death would mean, because we had the chance to tell her how much she meant to us and for her to tell us how much we meant to her. I wonder if and what James knew about how we all felt about him and his life's work. Sonia was at the end of her life when I met her, but I enjoyed having her in my class even as I realized it would probably be the last class and the last tapestry she would weave.

I had only a very brief passing relationship with James.

James Koehler was a man I deeply respected and often enjoyed when I would serendipitously run into at  him at conferences and talked to him at conferences died. I didn't know him well-barely at all. I wish I had known him better.

He was generous in allowing us (FFP) to use his work in the book that Pat edited and I wrote. The first time I ever really spoke to him was when Pat and I were writing Lines in Tapestry in 2004-5.  I had seen his work many times in various shows and exhibits I had been in, but had never met him  or talked to him. The first time we talked ended up laughing so hard over a silly mix-up it has stayed with me for years, which often times is so rare. The conversation began when called James to ask if we could use a picture of one of his tapestries in the book that Pat(Spark)and I were writing and publishing.  At the time I had never met him and had put the call off for what seemed forever, mostly,  because I am in so shy about talking to people that I don't know. We had a really bad phone connection. He asked me what the book was about and I told him lines in tapestry. He said, “But I have never woven a lion”. I said,” but you weave Lines in your work all the time.” He asked if I was sure that I had seen his work. Perhaps,  he could suggest another weaver who had woven a large cat. We eventually straightened out the confusion and published a photo of one of his pieces- Oaxaca Stone VII woven in 1999 in Line and Tapestry.  But, what a treasured memory. He was still teasing me about writing a book on weaving animals last time I talked to him at CNCH where we were both teaching next door to each other. I wish I had  more chances to know him better.

James was 58 years old when he died.

When we discussed the book that I want to write/finish called Colour Movement in Tapestry a year or so ago, he generously offered me the use of photos of his work.  He encouraged me by saying that someone needed to write a technical book of techniques relating to colour usage in tapestry. He encouraged me by telling me it should be me and to stop worrying about whether...well, so many things and just do it. I didn't really know James, but I valued his opinion, kindness, his words, thought of him as an extremely capable teacher and his work.I never took a class from JAmes, but I have taught people who have studied with him and been amazed by the knowledge he had imparted to his students.

 James was a master technician in using hachures and hatches and combing them with chene’s and mélanges to produce unique optical blends of colour. He was a great teacher because he seems to have always made his students feel they had a voice and could use it in tapestry.

 I have been reading what seems like dozens of memorials and anecdote's about the life he lived. He was well loved, liked, extremely intellectual, a sharer and a giver of knowledge. He’s a great loss to the tapestry world and the world in general.

There is a certain rituals that happens when people die we all participate in these rituals. We create remembrances and  memorials  and try to remember all of the great things the person did for us in his life. Great and important rituals for the living left behind, But, I always wonder if we remembered to tell him/them how special he/they were to us while he was alive and if he believed it. So in honouring James go out and tell some weaver or weaving instructor how they have influenced you and perhaps helped you. Don’t wait for them to die. Celebrate life, because I am sure James did from the little bit that I knew of him!