a new technique…

I’m loving this. Cross stitch with yarn on reclaimed pegboard. I did a sign for my new shop, Pinky’s Boutique, to try it out. I kept thinking, “Wow, acrylic yarn is good for something besides yarnbombing!” and “This is WAY better than doing my dishes right now”. While I was stitching this, my toddler was sitting on my lap at times, saying, “You made this? Cute! That’s very cute!” and playing with yarn scraps – “I do this too!” Yay!

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Unfortunately, the idea of cross stitching on pegboard goes into the category of “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?” — so simple yet genius. I saw it today on this blog.

That being said, I’m not going to feel bad about working with this technique because it has probably been done by somebody else besides the author of the blog I saw this morning. And I don’t want to Google it because every time I do that I end up paralyzed. So, I’m just going to do my own thing. I definitely like the possibilities of this technique and I will be exploring it further. I’ve been wanting to make larger pieces lately so this is a great way to stitch bigger!

Today I’m going to cut up a bunch of pegboard and start creating some imagery!

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The Library — with children…

Before Kids:

Library as sanctuary — a place for the mind to be composed and vibrant. You could appreciate the smell and the hush. It was so dependable. You could really count on it. What could be better than wandering the stacks, searching for the perfect volume? Only curling up with a book in absolute concentration, neurons sparking wild. Thoughts and ideas abundant. A place you feel at home.

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After Kids:

Library as classroom. You want to show your children the magic of this place, but they don’t understand yet. They play and you try to read but are interrupted by a thousand cries for MOM! Still, you enjoy those brief moments when you can read a sentence or two because it is more than you could expect to read at home. Story times and activities, board book after board book that gets stomped on or thrown across the room, bathroom visits, and small talk with moms who think you’re weird. Trying to take the child into the stacks with you — wanting a few minutes of that old wandering and searching — but your toddler is pulling books off the shelves and banging on the step stools and laying on the floor screaming. You get scowls and sulk back to the children’s room. You find yourself jealous of the 13 year old girl who passes you with a small, compassionate smile. She seem to understand a bit. She has all the time in the world to wander and read and you hope that she claims all the time she can before life takes too much of a hold. You were that girl, and you know you will be that girl again, someday. But now, you are just trying to jot down a few notes and your 2-year-old is tugging at you, “PEN PLEASE PEN PLEASE PEN PLEASE”. You know you should appreciate how little the kids are. You know it goes too fast. You feel guilty for wanting the time to yourself even though you haven’t had an hour alone for years. You fondly remember story time when you were a child, sitting on the little carpet mats in the basement of the tiny library, your friend’s mom is reading a book and it is very important to be quiet and listen. You didn’t understand then but there was an impression.

The impression affected you to your core.

This thought makes you feel better. The library magic is working under the surface. Because, of course, the library is dependable like that.

New Space, New Direction

So originally I was just going to open a semi-private art studio on the 2nd floor of our building downtown — and I’m still going to do that — but as my husband knows me so well and knows how much I love creating art spaces he finally convinced me that I should open another storefront. And he’s right — that’s exactly what I need and what I’m good at.

What I learned from Eclipse was that I need help. I will be hiring employees for sure. Doing it all on your own is too stressful and also left me no time to focus on what matters most to me — my kids and my artwork.

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My new space, Pinky’s Boutique, will be a little bit of everything I love. Art studio, gallery, shop filled with handmade goods and vintage finds, a kid’s art area, workshops and classes….and eventually a garden art area overlooking the Rock River, a small coffee shop, and hell even a wine cellar are in the long term plans. I also want to paint a mural on the side of the building.

But it will start slowly, modestly….I’m not good at baby steps but you have to take them.

My goal is to be open by November but sometimes things take longer than you wish them to.

Please follow my new Facebook page for updates about the new space!

 

 

 

Volume IV of The Wandering Uterus coming soon

Those of you who have known me awhile, know about my fitful zine, The Wandering Uterus, which I started in college. I haven’t had much time to make zines or mail art for the past couple years, but was inspired again when hearing about the upcoming Fluxfest Chicago on the weekend of February 23rd. If you go, the tradition is to bring an edition of 50 or more of something…so I’m making #4 of my zine and crossing my fingers that I can get away from it all for a day and head down to Chi town with my husband — THAT would be a feat of amazingness!

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DSC_0010This edition is minimal and in keeping with my fiber art. It is one sheet of paper, machine stitched, folded into a small zine. The concept and design is an edition of 50, although each piece is unique.

So, hopefully I will see you at Fluxfest Chicago!

Announcing the Location of my New Studio!

I am so excited to finally announce the location of my new studio! This has been in the works for a long time, and I’m so happy to finally find the right place, and that it is working out!

The history of our new building is really interesting. It was built in 1851 by Peter Myers, and is one of the oldest remaining commercial buildings in the city. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I could only find one, old-ish picture online:

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Peter Myers was an interesting fellow. I found an in-depth account of the man in the book, Rock County, Wisconsin: A New History (volume 2) by William Fiske Brown. To paraphrase, Peter Myers was born in France on February 8, 1819 and his parents immigrated to Pennsylvania when he was a young boy. His father served under Napoleon and lost a limb in the battle of Moscow. Being a younger brother, he didn’t inherit anything after his father died, so he moved to Buffalo, NY and learned the butcher’s trade, and lived there ten years. He met a man from Milwaukee, after which he first moved to Rockford before he settled in Janesville in 1845. By 1851, he was constructing the current building on N. Main, which he used for his meat market business. However, he quickly switched to pork packing and became quite wealthy. He invested heavily into early Janesville — erecting many other buildings including the Myers Hotel and the Myers Opera House. His home was the first brick residence. He also invested in many early Janesville businesses and was an original shareholder in the first railroad that came to the city.

What I found most interesting was this passage, by the author above, about his personality: “Mr Myers was a man of simple habits, caring little for personal adornments, and yet in the appointments of his home and the furnishings of his hotel and decorations of his opera house he was most luxurious and artistic. He was well known coast to coast on account of his strong personality as “Peter the Peculiar”, however underneath a blunt exterior beat a warm and generous heart, and by his wise prudence, thrift of character, and kindliness he gained and held the confidence and respect of all who knew him, and his death which occurred on March 13, 1888, was mourned by all as that of one of the city’s most enterprising men and benefactors…His religion was to love justice, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs, and to remember benefits. Tis a fitting inscription which encircles a large portrait of him in the Myers Opera House:  “Janesville’s Benefactor, Peter Myers, born February 8, 1819, died March 13, 1888. He made and left the best efforts of his life for you.”

Indeed, he has left his best efforts for us. I would like to think that Mr. Myers would be very happy to see that his building was still in use. I’m excited to transform the space into amazing.

 

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I need to live and work in a world that I’ve built for myself — idealistic, non-conforming, and authentic to who I am as an artist and person. Things such as these can’t be described, so I invite you to keep updated with me, through this blog and my Facebook page, and get to know me, and come visit the new space someday!

2012 Recap

New Year’s is one of my favorite times of year. I always feel a sense that anything and everything is possible. I want to get rid of old projects and start new ones!

Quick recap of what has been going on with us lately ~~ I feel like I am heading down the right path and I’m very excited! Those of you who know me, remember that we moved from Algoma shortly after Fiona was born, and I transitioned from running a gallery space to focusing on my personal artwork and seeking a studio space. Ideally, we were looking for a place out in the country south of Madison. But we decided that the smartest thing to do was invest in Janesville. From a financial standpoint, we bought four houses for what we could buy one for in the Madison area. Brandon and I decided to start a property management business that focused on fixing up houses that were foreclosed on or run down, yet were in good neighborhoods. Our mission is now to be good landlords and provide quality housing. You may remember that Brandon was in a serious car accident a few years ago, and he was unable to go back to his previous job (concrete construction), so this was a perfect solution for him. So that has what we have been working on all last year, besides my artwork of course (and the kids, and the other zillion things we have going on). And while there have been times that I lamented about not being in Madison, I’ve actually found Janesville to be better than I expected. In my quest to find out more about the culture and art happenings here, I started a new blog, Art In Janesville — so check that out if you are in the area.

Not that I’m a stranger to Janesville. I grew up 30 minutes from here. Brandon grew up in Milton, which is practically Janesville. It is really nice to be closer to family and friends. Our new house is right across the street from a big park and even has woods to hike in. There is a great coffee shop a couple blocks away. My kids are going to a wonderful school. I see a lot of ambitious, talented people making things better. I’m encouraged by places like the Janesville Performing Arts Center, Raven’s Wish, Basics Cooperative, events at UW-Rock and the library, and the new restaurants and shops popping up. And it’s still a relatively short drive to Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

So that is the background info for why I’m setting up a studio in Janesville. It is going to be a mostly private space, open by appointment but the focus is not going to be on selling, it is going to be on making. And how am I able to not worry about selling? That is the genius part. Because of the property management business, we are purchasing a commercial building downtown that has three storefronts and four apartments upstairs. But there is an empty, unfinished space above one of the shops, which will be absolutely perfect for an art studio – big and cheap!

It is strange how things work out. It wasn’t how we planned, but it is turning out to be better. It comes down to the fact that Brandon and I are willing to change, be flexible, take risks, but yet never settle for less than what we want. And we work really hard.

We just confirmed that we are closing on the building on the 15th of this month! Then, I’m going to have some major renovations to do. But you know how much I love getting my hands dirty!

12-12-12 // FIVE YEARS

I did not make this up — my first post was 12-12-07 (still my fave, photographs of dead salmon in ice) so today is my 5th anniversary of blogging right here on Visual Influence. What a great way to celebrate 12-12-12. I looked back on all my posts throughout the years….all the learning, struggle, and failure that made me who I am today. And all that is between the lines – the weeks or months that I didn’t post, when I was involved in other projects or exploring new directions.

I re-posted my fave highlights on my Facebook page, if you want to take a look…

But enough reminiscing — looking forward I am very positive about where I’m headed with my work. Here are a few new pieces I’ve completed this week:

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hand embroidery in distorted vintage hoop

about 7″ x 8.5″

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hand embroidery in distorted vintage hoop

about 4.5″ x 9″

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hand embroidery in distorted vintage hoop

about 4″ x 6.5″

So the big news is that I am **THIS** close to opening a studio space in downtown Janesville {WI} — within the next few weeks I will know if we have secured an amazing space for the next phase of Visual Influence — which will be a physical space for my studio, but more than that it will be an alternative space – library – vintage boutique – cabinet of curiosities – fiber lab — basically the ideal place for me to work and simply be. Friends welcome. I will post more details as they come about.

THANK YOU to all of you who have been there with me throughout this crazy journey. I’ve learned not to rush. I’ve learned not to compromise. I’ve learned who I am and how to be that.

“I am not careful to justify myself…but lest I should mislead any when I have my own head and obey my own whims, let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretend to settle anything as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.” –Emerson