Friday, January 31, 2014

Powerful Isolation, Garifuna Woman, Joyful Art and Inflorescence



Well, art just keeps happening around here especially for Martha.

Since returning to town from our holiday adventures out of state and out of the country Martha has been busy as all get out with art projects, classes and planning meetings for even more such art related events.

Her newest art work includes some of the most powerful and dramatic paintings that I have seen from her for some time. One of these new works in particular just jumps right out at you and hits you with a real deep since of importance. It just screams out with a sense of awareness, thought and, I think, an emotion of ‘Isolation’, even before one truly grasps the subject. And, she has just finished a similarly powerful painting of a ‘Garifuna Woman’. Both of these works were inspired by our recent trip to Roatan, Honduras in Central America.

These works right along with and juxtaposed to some very pleasing and lighthearted horse paintings, a painting of girl with flowers and several paintings of nurturing mothers with children just goes to show the various styles and variety of emotional expression that Martha is capable of depicting in her art.

On the busy artist in the community front, she, just this week attended a planning meeting for the upcoming Art Lovers Sunday at the Pybus Public Market to be held on February 9th.  Martha will be one of the artists participating in the event as well.  She’ll have her newly created hand painted hand bags and a few small paintings for sale and will be offering a free self portrait / drawing class for kids while she is there.  

Also, this week she attended a planning meeting at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center for the new Youth Art Room which they hope to have up and running by this April.  And, if all of that were not enough, Martha was just appointed to be on the City Arts Commission for the City of Wenatchee which will mean monthly meetings and the opportunity to have a real voice in the planning of various art projects throughout the city.

I don’t know how she does it but this week she also taught an art class for a group of Brownies at the Sunnyslope Elementary School in Wenatchee and just last night held a small art class for kids here at the home studio. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it.

This week too we picked up her art from Lemolo’s Café in Wenatchee and a nice check as well for one of her works (“Inflorescence”) that sold while we were out of town. This past week I too had to pick up artwork from a long standing show at the Confluence Technology Center as they will be doing some remodeling and painting around the area where my work was showing. Some of these pieces my end up going into my upcoming show at the Black Bird Bistro in Leavenworth. I was to be featured in February, but due to scheduling issues my show was postponed till March.

This coming month Martha will be teaching an art sculpture class, ‘Modeling the Human Form’ CED 585, at the Wenatchee Valley Community College on February 11th and 18th from 6 to 8pm each night and will be teaching a ‘Confidence in Art’ class at the Icicle Arts Gallery in Leavenworth on February 8th from 12-4pm.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. So; keep being creative in every way you can and remember the words of Henri Matisse who said, “A work of art must carry within itself its complete significance and impose that upon the beholder before he recognizes the subject matter.” Wow! Now that is something to ponder.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Art shows, Pony Projects, Heavy Metal and Farewell Madiba Portrait



Well, the rest of November since I last wrote and the beginning of December  have proved to a busy and artfully fulfilling close to 2013 - our 21st year in the Wenatchee Valley.

As regular readers may recall when last I wrote Martha was in the middle of welding class at Wenatchee Valley College. After that last post I attended a couple of classes with her and together we completed her ‘Pony’ in a stainless steel ring. This was Martha’s second piece using the plasma cutter. The first being the ‘Mother and Child’ piece featured in our last blog and which has already sold. She was so proud of her pony piece... it really is a joyful work that I’m sure someone, perhaps a horse lover, would love to have.

On Nov 23rd, we had our home art sale as a fund raiser for the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center’s Youth Project Room. This was a great success. Everyone who came had a great time whether they bought something or not. We sold a mask, one of my photos, the ‘Mother and Child’ piece mentioned above and several of Martha’s oils and a small print by Jan Cook Mack. All in all a great day and a great event and the Museum was very pleased with the support shown by our local art community.

 As we adjusted to the changing temperatures the views from our retreat above the valley facing the Cascades was a joy to wake up to every day as winters white blanket approached ever closer.
Also, in November Martha continued her tile making and glazing experiments and even these works have now gone to the horses as she continues with her new found love of creating horse themed art.

Finishing off the month and leading into December, I picked up my photos including 'en Vino Veritas' from the Wine Thief in Wenatchee, where I was featured artist for October and November and Martha installed her paintings at Lemolo’s Café’ where she is the featured artist for the month of December. The show looks good there and when we stopped in people seem to be enjoying   the art.

And, while Martha is featured in Wenatchee at Lemolo’s, I have three pieces in the ‘Peace Through Art’ show at the Icicle Arts Gallery in Leavenworth. On December 6th, we attended the opening reception there.  We really liked the work of Denny Driver as well as a number of the other artists represented there. It was a really good time there enjoyed by all. Martha really thought my John and Yoko piece showed really well there, but it was my “A Land of Our Own” piece that received a lot of attention and compliments from other artists and some good discussion with a couple of young exchange students one of whom could read the Arabic on the piece and thankfully confirmed that my computer translation was correct… whew! That would have been bad if my translation meant something different than what I intended.

To top it off that night in Leavenworth was a medicine wheel circle complete with sage burning (at least I think it was sage as sweet grass would be hard to find in these here parts) for spiritual cleansing. This was a treat as I had not participated in one of these Native American based rituals in over twenty years… perhaps closer to thirty years when I interned at the American Indian Free Clinic in California during which time I attended a number of Pow Wows including the giant Navaho Nation Fair at Window Rock Arizona. That brought back some memories indeed. Thanks to Alicia McKee for organizing this event.

This past Saturday I volunteered at the Icicle Arts Gallery. It was great to see so many folks including tourists with kids come into the gallery, enjoy the art and participate in the free ornament making class. While there I learned about a French potter named Mijanou who offers studio time by the 
hour at her studio next to the Tierra Learning Center outside of Leavenworth. It was great to find out about this and all the equipment and glazes available to use there.

After I returned home it was back to work on my latest project… a commemorative piece in honor of Nelson Mandela. Look for more on this later.
As we approach the end of this year and come up on the next I am drawn to the words of my favorite classic French filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who said that “Art is not a pastime, but priesthood.”  Well, that is all for now and till next year.

Farewell Madiba - blessed be the peace makers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Clay Fired Horses and Plasma Cut Mother and Child by Martha Flores

Well it seems like forever since the last time I wrote one of our art blogs and in fact is has been over two months now.  And, so what have we been up too in that time.  Well, a lot as it turns out.  Besides the usual activities with the Two Rivers Gallery in Wenatchee Martha has been making forays into new artistic territory.

As many readers may recall Martha began painting horses for the first time a few months ago. Well, since then she has been she has begun making and firing clay horses and refining her glazing for these new creations. And, as if that were not enough, she began taking a welding class at Wenatchee Vlley College on Friday nights. Wow! Yes, I said a welding class… I’m jealous. I have kicked around the idea of taking a welding class for the last… gosh I don’t know how long.

For her welding class I picked up a cool new welding helmet for her that has a solar powered automatic lens/shield darkening system that turns dark the moment it senses the brightness of the welder. What is she doing in her welding class… well, that’s what is great. After her first effort a building a stand for a metal rooster, she designed a piece that is classic Martha Flores in content ,  that she then cut-out  with a plasma cutter and then welded to a large stainless steel ring and welded some rebar legs to for placement in the garden. I should mention that she was given a hand full of these stainless steel rings from our friends Rose and Al Lundberg out in Soap Lake. They are absolutely perfect for this sort of project.

What will Martha be up to next? Hummm…the next ring project… could it be a plasma cut horse perhaps.  We shall see.

Well, enough for now and keep creating and or appreciating art. And, just for thought, contemplate the words of Paul Strand who said, “The artist's world is limitless.  It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away.  It is always on his doorstep.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Oils, Sculptures, Art competitions, and the Art of Marchand and McConnell

Well, art just keeps happening all around us and inspiring us on with our own works of art.

While I have been spending a lot of time bike riding in preparation for a really big ride later this month, Martha has been rediscovering the joys of painting with oil upstairs in her oil studio now that it is cooler up there. And while doing so she has created some new twists on older themes of hers and variations on more recent themes in her work.  I love where she is going with this Venice Dream piece and the Spanish Dancers always delight anyone who sees them. There are other works in progress that I can’t show right now that are more experimental or provocative let’s say.

While riding with buddies up to Leavenworth the other day we stopped in at the Black Bird Bistro so they could get a good look at my show there. It was so funny that just as I was pulling up to the corner by the bistro, my cell rang and when I answered it, it was Terrie the owner of the bistro. She laughed when I told her I was right outside. I had intended to ask while we were there when I could
pick up my work as it was the end of the two month show. We both laughed at the coincidence of the call and made plans for me to pick up the work later.

The guys all liked the art and each found a piece that seemed to speak to them a bit more than the others. Co-incidentally one of our riders who had been the communications officer for the recent Eagle Creek fire had been in there several times and noticed the art but was on a mission to inform the owners of all the local business of the fire conditions and so had not had time to fully appreciate the art and was glad for the chance to see the show more casually before it came down.

Later that day we changed out our art at Two Rivers Gallery. Martha included a variation of her Dancing Zebra for the new show there and then we headed up to Leavenworth to pick up the art from the Black Bird Bistro. That was a busy and fun day all around.

On an earlier ride I got a chance to stop in and visit with a representative of the Pybus while getting a good look at the newly completed clay sculpture of E.T. Pybus by Lance Dooley. Soon Lance will begin work on the molds for final bronze sculpture of this seven foot giant of a piece.  It was fun that the bike rider I was with had been one of Lance’s early art instructors when Lance was in High School. He had some stories to tell, but I won’t mention those here.

Between bike rides I was able to submit art to a couple of juried art shows one in L.A. and the other in Orange County, CA. Sadly, I know that my work didn’t win at the L.A. Center for Digital Art.  The winners still have not been announced for the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. We shall see on that.

Sunday, as Martha and me were to do some real work up near the Wells Dam area, we made a point of stopping at the Beebe Springs Natural Area to check out ‘The Chief’ a giant metal sculpture by Native American artist Smoker Marchand. Martha is planning to take a welding class soon in preparation for some metal working art projects she has in mind for next year (more on that later) and so she was interested to see Marchand’s work up close. While there she got into a little sun worshiping or something I’d say. We were both impressed with how he creates the sense of three-dimensionality, as seen from a distance, for the parts of this work that are essentially flat surfaces. The inclusion of other symbolic or iconic images in the white space cut-outs of some surfaces was very cool as well. There was a lot to learn here from just this one piece.

This week I got a chance to visit with Dan McConnell, the featured artist for Sept. at Two Rivers Gallery. It was interesting to see the mix of playful and serious work that he has done. I liked that some of his art has social or political themes and other are homage’s to people he admires like Joseph Albers. He explained to me how he was impacted by Joseph Albers and his color theories.  While looking at the Albers portrait, Dan explained that he had decided to place the square in the center with the image of Albers in color there as Albers was noted for his use of flat geometric planes of solid colors to demonstrate how color contrast creates optical effects such as making the exact same color look quite different depending upon what other color it is placed next to.

Also this week, I got over to The Wine Thief to check out the show there of Terry Johnsons art. I had seen all or most of these works at Terry’s studio but hadn’t seen them set up yet. Some of the works are where they will be for First Friday which is coming right up and others will be spread around throughout the venue for better presentation on Friday. All in all in was a good selection of Terry’s recent works. I liked it.

Well that’s probably enough for now. And, so I leave you to think on the words of Joseph Albers who said, “Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature.” Have a very artful day.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Art Presentation, Video Postings, Art Show Submission, Classes and the Andre Breton's 'Manifesto of Surrealism'.

Well, it’s been a busy and artfully fulfilling couple of weeks since last I wrote for both Martha and me. With all the work we’ve been up to our ears in with our remodel project it’s a wonder we’ve had time for anything else, but somehow we have.

Martha, for starters completed the series of classes she was teaching for the Icicle Arts Gallery in Leavenworth at the Barn Beach Reserve. She loved doing it and the students really had a great time and a lot of budding artist got some good exposure to making art and getting in touch with their own creativity.

At the same time she got her flier out for her upcoming class to be held September21st in Soap Lake for the Art Guild there at the Las Brisas facility and folk started calling about it this week.

Here at our home studio her students have been making progress on their clay animal figures and Martha has really made some great forays into animal sculpture with the two horses she has been working on. I really like the bust of this horse.

Meanwhile, I have been getting a few things done myself.  I finally got the video of the Artful bike ride of the Apple Capital Loop Trail submitted to Go Wedia the local video sharing site where most of the likely viewers will have the opportunity to see it. And, that just days after I posted a very short video clip on Facebook of folks running in the Color Rush fundraiser over the weekend which I took while riding again on the loop. That was a surprise and kind of a hoot coming off of the Pipeline Bridge only to find a bunch of crazy looking people running and walking with colored flour all over themselves. People tell me they were intrigued by the video clip but were really wondering what in the heck was going on… can’t blame them. I was wonder myself as I shot the video.

But, of greater artful significance for me was my getting my submission into the Orange County center for Contemporary Art this past week. I really hope they accept one or more of my works for this show which is titled ‘Compass – Navigating the Journey to Self-Identity.  Amy V. Grimes, who has degrees in both Art History and Psychology, will be the guest curator for this show. For inspiration she offered this quote from Andre Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism 1924:

"So strong is the belief in life, in what is most fragile in life - real life, I mean - that in the end this belief is lost. Man, that inveterate dreamer, daily more discontent with his destiny, has trouble assessing the objects he has been led to use, objects that his nonchalance has brought his way, or that he has earned through his own efforts, almost always through his own efforts for he has agreed to work, at least he has not refused to try his luck (or what he calls his luck!).  At this point he feels extremely modest: he knows what women he has had, what silly affairs he has been involved in; he is unimpressed by his wealth or his poverty, in this respect he is still a newborn babe and, as for the approval of his conscience, I confess that he does very nicely without it. If he still retains a certain lucidity, all he can do is turn back toward his childhood which, however his guides and mentors may have botched it, still strikes him as somehow charming. There, the absence of any known restrictions allows him the perspective of several lives lived at once; this illusion becomes firmly rooted within him; now he is only interested in the fleeting, the extreme facility of everything. Children set off each day without a worry in the world. Everything is near at hand, the worst material conditions are fine. The woods are white or black, one will never sleep."

That being digested and politics being one of the described subsets to Identity that were described in the prospectus, I decided to submit three of my Peace Art works.  The exhibition will take place in October and November at the OCCCA in Santa Ana, Ca.  The days to physically submit and accepted works coincides with the time we will be in the O.C. for family events; so the timing couldn’t be better. Let’s hope Amy V. Grimes appreciates my work. 

On a much lighter and entertaining note, last night Martha and I went to Soap Lake to the local Art Guild’s 3rd Wednesday event at which I was to be one of the three presenters for the night. The other two being Wally Kluver an Abstract painter from the town of Wilbur and David Michaelson a photographer who has taken on the chore of photographing what he described as the ‘passing history’ in rural Grant, Adams and Lincoln Counties. David is also and author of fourteen books including a cook book, a children’s book and several mysteries. Both were very entertaining presenters talking about how they went about their art and told some funny stories along the way.

I was the middle presenter of the three and was able to make what seemed a pretty coherent description of how my art has progressed from simple nature photos to abstract but untouched (no Photoshop) creations to embracing digital photo alteration to the extent of using it as a means to create digital paintings using my own photos as the palate from which I paint, to even returning to brush painting and physical collage based upon designs I created digitally.  

The folks in the audience many of them artists and photographers themselves were very interested in what I presented and came up and asked many questions during the break and at the end of the evening. Some even described how my talk had given them some new inspiration or how they had experimented with some similar
techniques. All in all it was a rewarding evening both as a presenter and as an audience member listening to the other presenters and chatting it up with so many interesting folks. One might even help us redo our websites to be more accessible to phones and Ipads and such.

Well, that’s probably enough for now as I really need to get out there and Help Martha with painting the trim of the house. Have a very artful day and if you have time reread that quote by Andre Breton.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bike/Art Video, Awards, Classes and More



Oh what a busy and wonderful few weeks it has been for art and artful living for Martha and me. While I have been riding my bike like crazy but still getting art into that activity as well… more on that in a bit, Martha has been teaching art like crazy and other art projects have been progressing… some slower or faster than others.

From July 8th through the 12th Martha was up at the Barn of the Barn Beach Reserve in Leavenworth teaching her ‘I am the Earth’ art class to a great bunch of kids and her two helpers as well. Some real talent may be developing in this group. After that from July 22nd through the 25th she was teaching clay modeling, painting and drawing at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Wenatchee. And, as I write she is preparing to teach more classes in Leavenworth today.

On the 17th of July we headed on out to Soap Lake for the Soap Lake Art Guild’s Third Wednesday presentation for which Martha was invited to come to be one of the presenters. There, we met a tremendously talented young artist who was also presenting that night by the name of Michael Bosnar. We expect to see and hear more of him in the future. He is not only a wonderfully creative visual artist, though, admittedly still developing as to his own style and focus; he is a very good presenter and public speaker. On the way back from Soap Lake we stopped in Ephrata to get a glimpse of the large movie themed mural he is in the process of doing on the side of the movie theater
there. Later that week I rode my bicycle from East Wenatchee to Ephrata to get a photo of the movie mural… it was worth the ride in the heat.

In the middle of the month we went out to Prosser for the first time in order to meet Carol the owner of the 6th Street Art Gallery, who was in charge of the art walk portion of the wine and art walk event they were having there. We were invited to participate but we had too many obligations to prepare for that, but will likely participate there next summer and Carol wants to exhibit Martha’s art in her gallery in the meanwhile. While there we visited with David Vasquez who has moved out that way and was participating in the street event.

One of those slower art projects referenced above was the production of a movie of the video clips and still shots I took on the day of the Two Rivers Gallery Plein-air Paint-out which I took from my bicycle. The paint-out was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Apple Capital Loop Trail. The video was completed yesterday, and it is now up on Youtube  It took a bit of editing to get 27 minutes of video down to a manageable 4 minutes or so and get the right mix of action while still showcasing the artist and the great venue that is the Loop Trail in our valley. And, of course the rock’n music pulls it all together.

And, on a related note, the day of the paint-out I had a print made of a digital art piece I had created a year ago of Dr. Ed Farrar riding his hand powered trike on the Loop trail. This I matted and framed and delivered to him at Arlberg’s Sports Center where Ed keeps his trike. He and all the ‘B’ Team riders were very happy with the water color like digital photo.

Later in the month on the 28th of July to be precise, we took a few of my photos out to Soap Lake to enter into the Art Guild of the Soap Lake Area’s Smokiam Photography Show 2013. Then, on Friday August 2nd while attending the First Friday reception at Two Rivers Gallery in Wenatchee, we bumped into Rose and Al Lundberg of the Soap Lake Art Guild, and Al dropped a hint that he might have to ‘mention my name’ at the award ceremony for the photo contest the following night. So; of course we made sure we made it out there on Saturday. As it turned out we walked in the door just as Al was announcing my name as the winner of the Best Traditional Award for my 'Pelican' photo. Hey, that was great and what timing.

We had a grand time visiting with the other artists like Brent Blake and the great young photographer Gavin Seim who as it turns out has an interest in opening a gallery in Leavenworth. Best of luck Gavin on that and please keep us updated on the progress of that too. Later Al and Rose invited us out to dinner at one of their favorite local restaurants and we were treated to all the latest updates on the progress of the Giant Lava Lamp project as well as a fine dinner – Thanks, Al and Rose. I really hope that Lava Lamp project happens. From what we heard, it seems that they have made some serious progress on design, engineering and drawing up contracts and gaining rights etc… It just comes down to the mayor signing the final contract. WOW! There could be a giant 60 foot Lava Lamp in Soap Lake’s future yet. That would really put Soap Lake bake on the map.

Then, on top of everything else Soap Lake related, the Guild have invited me to be one of their presenters at the August 3rd Wednesday presentation. So; I will be showing some of my traditional and digital photo art and the progression from one to the other and how I am now doing in some cases digital painting using my original photos as the palette from which to paint.

Well, that probably is enough for now as it is time to hit the trail and pick up my training for my grand tour bike ride… more on that at another time.  So; bye for now and have a very artful day and keep in mind the words of Oscar Wilde who said, “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If, he did, he would cease to be an artist.”