Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Light

The Hanukkah candles burned bright at our house this week, with as many as four menorahs at time. The neighborhood is alight with festive bulbs. And last night -- for the first time after nearly 10 days of ice and rain and fog and gloom -- I saw the moon.

All of this got me thinking about winter light. The sun is not up when we put kids on the buses in the morning, and I exercise in the cold at dawn. The first few minutes are brutal, but the light is extraordinary -- pink and yellow, deep shadows, reflections off tiny ice crystals of frost.

The night winter light simply doesn't exist. Street lights barely make a dent in the shadows. The small crescent moon was bright in comparison to the deep winter dark.

The ice storms in Oklahoma -- just a few hundred miles southeast of us in St. Louis -- reminded me of the devastating ice storms here last year. Actually there were two, about five weeks apart, that knocked out our electricity for seven days each. One was in December, the next in January. The darkest times of the year.
The times of Winter Light.

I was in the midst of working on the White Series when we lost electric the second time. Alone in the 36-degree house at midnight, the kids were farmed out to warmer places and I was trying to keep the dogs and cat and fish and tortoise warm and the water pipes from freezing. I was also bored. I used the last of the D batteries in the portable radio-TV to watch Boston Legal and some moronic reports on the local late news about what I was supposed to do if I didn't have electricity! I tried reading by candle light, but the dark was so deep the light didn't extend very far. And candles flicker -- duh! -- which changes the light and makes it hard for me to read.

I watched the candles instead. The quality of the light and the blackness of the dark were stunning. There was no ambient light. No moon. No streetlights. No TV glow. No stove pilot light. Most of the houses in the neighborhood were empty so there weren't even flashlights beaming about.

Just the small glow of two candles on my kitchen table producing a flicker of winter light. It was too much to resist. That I found my equipment amazed me. I kept fogging up the viewfinder with my breath, but the results were good: White, Variation #11.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Picking Up a Pencil

Do photographers need to know how to draw?

Well, yeah! If they want to be artists they do.

That was just part of the conversation last night among a few Women's Caucus for Art board members. A watercolorist and a fiber artist were bemoaning the lack of art education among art students, who seem to be told it's ok to use computer graphics instead of picking up a pencil.

OK, I know it sounds a like a bunch of old women complaining about the kids. (Yes, that's true, but we are really COOL old women!) Don't jump to any conclusions! Each of us at the table uses all the tools at her disposal, including computers. I have some Photoshop actions that I consider family!

No, the real issue, it seems, is that students aren't being taught to truly look at an object. Older artists learned to "see" by drawing the object. Over and over and over. Some of us are gifted. Some (hand raised) struggled through it. But we learned. We learned composition, then dynamics of light, then color theory. THEN we were able to use our skills to communicate our vision and craft an unique style. We old women could be wrong, but we just don't think we would approach our art the same way without that background in drawing.

Which brings me back to photography. Since it's my primary medium, I'm a little sensitive about it.

I've had other artists say to my face that photographers aren't "real" artists because all we do is press a button. I know photographers who diminish themselves with the same description. Maybe they are right. Maybe they aren't artists.

Some photographers are. What's the difference?

It's like the difference between a snapshot and a photograph. There are lots of people with cameras. Some are very expensive and some are cheap. Doesn't matter. Point the lens and open the shutter, take what you get, move on to the next activity. That's a snapshot. Doesn't matter if you're shooting the kid's birthday party or set up an 8x10 view camera to capture the sunset. It's still a snapshot. A pretty picture.

A photograph is a piece of art that is well thought out and communicates. It's not random, it's not happenstance, it's not Lucky. It was created.

Artists who use cameras know what they are going to shoot before they do it. Some of us make sketches or word maps of the image before we shoot. I don't share my sketchbook with other people, but it's invaluable to me to get work that's in my head onto the photographic paper. An added benefit of sketching the subject before I shoot it is the abiltiy to slow down the creation process. What are other people missing because they shoot and go? What else is there. What isn't there? What is hidden in plain sight?

Sure, I spend lots of time shooting subjects I didn't envision first. That's part of the joy of this medium. An artist photographer can go anywhere and produce work that is fresh. One of the reasons artist-photographers can always find interesting subjects to shoot is that they have learned to see differently -- and most of the time it's because they first learned to draw.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


It's corny and it's traditional, but as I look over this year in art and life, I am overwhelmed with blessings:
  • A family who is left to fend for themselves (sometimes they don't think this a bad thing!) for half of the year while I travel from show to show. It's wonderful to come home, whether the show was a bust, or I earned enough to pay the mortgage for two months. They don't care. They are happy to see me walk in door.
  • A husband who loves every piece of art I produce. I have plenty of critics around me. It's good to have a fan.
  • A daughter who has an artist's eye and Gandhi's soul.
  • A son who helps me see the world a little slower and a little kinder.
  • An extended family who are interested and patient and supportive, even though some don't really understand what or why I do what I do. It doesn't matter. They think it's cool.
  • Friends. They are generous and funny, thoughtful and critical, talented and brilliant. And they want to hang with me! They insist on buying my work when I'm happy to give it to them. They live here in St. Louis, and all over North America: Tucson; Palm Springs; London , ON, Lincoln, NE; Montana; Tornoto; Memphis; South Dakota; upstate New York; New York City; Chicago; Madison, WI; Tenneessee; Washington, D.C. All amazing people and all very, very dear.
  • A space to work. This is a big deal. The basement is still filled with older work and the dining room table is often covered and piled high... BUT a real studio is a gift. I was fortunate enough to find space last year. That space hasn't worked lately and a terrific friend, (see above!) has loaned me her studio while she's in graduate school. This is a little like loaning out a husband for weekly chores (no, not that kind!). A studio space is sacred; to share it is unbelievably generous. Thank you Ilene and Scott (and Noah and Gili, of course!)
  • A space to shoot portraits. One minute I'm working as a fine artist and the next as a portrait photographer. Or are they they same thing? Doesn't matter. The spaces I work in are different. When I went to Dana Colcleasure at Wombats and asked if I could rent some space to shoot portraits, she didn't even hesitate! She and Kanagroo Kids have been promoting me and welcoming me. Thank you!
  • My fellow artists who keep me sane and cared for when I'm on the road, who put me up when I need a place to stay, who offer constructive criticism that helps me improve and grow, and who understand without saying a word.
  • The ability to work and make a living as an artist. Wow!
  • Collectors and clients. Working an art fair is hard work. Long days, bad food, hotels, travel, setting up, tearing down. Why would anyone do this? The people, of course! My husband will tell you I'm lousy at parties. I hate small talk and trivial chatting. But I love talking to people who have something interesting to say. I get to meet the best people in my booth. I also get to meet some who only want to tell me they don't like or don't get my work. I ignore those folks. It makes my day when someone connects with my work and wants to tell me about it. Some people's whole lives -- dreams, disappointments, fears, accomplishments -- come spilling out while they stand inside my little white tent/gallery. That's a lot to be trusted with.
  • Gallery directors and owners -- the good ones. You know who you are. We are partners in the art world. This year I'm very grateful to Art St. Louis and Imagine on Main in suburban Chicago. But to the gallery who stuck my work in a closet for six months-- plllltt!
  • The ability to give back.
  • Did I mention my family and friends? Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's a Play Date!

"It sounded like a play date in there!"

That from a customer at Wombats last week during the first portrait session at the store.

I've teamed up with Dana Colcleasure at her upscale, designer fashion resale shop on 10090 Manchester Road in Glendale, to offer Heirloom Fine Art Portraits.

The boys were having a great time. If it sounded like a play date it meant they were "being themselves" and giving me a chance to capture it. That's my goal at a portrait session -- have a good time. I'll take care of the rest. I don't want to just show what you look like -- I want to show who you are.

I shoot a lot of formal portraits, but most of my clients come to me because they want something more. Any technician (and that's most most big box studio photographers are) can plunk you down, tell you to smile, push a button and shout "next!"

Instead, I add my artist's eye to the portrait session and capture personality, interaction, and relationships. These portraits take time. And are worth every minute.

I leave every heirloom portrait session thinking the same thing -- portraits are my favorite thing to do! And I never forget that these fine art portraits will be around for generations, so the work had better be good!

Isn't that why we want fine art portraits in the first place? Snap shots will be faded in 25 or 30 years -- some less than that. But heirloom portraits last for generations. I never forget that every portrait session is a gift to someone's great-grandchildren.

All the information about fine art portraits is on the website, or you can call me at 314.991.0143 for an appointment. Fine art portraits make great gifts -- for this year and in 2107!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Endings & Beginnings

Yesterday ended my art fair season for 2007. I have to say this was a great year. Thank you to all my collectors!

Each year I wrap up the season at an private indoor show in Webster Groves, MO. Potter Judy Guerrero generously opens her beautiful Webster Groves home and about a dozen artists fill the first floor with pottery, baskets, photography, jewelry and glass. It's the most fun show I do every year.

For the last two years, this show has been part of the 63119 Art! gallery and studio tour, which was put together by two incredibly talented artists, Aimee Smith and Ryan Clyde-Rich. Aimee and Ryan will assume ownership of Krueger Pottery in the spring when artist and owner Dennis Krueger retires.

So as the year winds down, I should have tons of time for new work, right? If only it worked like that!

I have several juried exhibits coming up, including Art St. Louis Exhibition XXIII, which I was very pleased to get into. Lost of artists grumble about not making the cut. It's an honor to have one of the 69 images (of 656 submitted) to be exhibited. Of the five images I submitted, the juror chose my least favorite, but it's growing on me.

"Beach Comber, Variation #2" is part of my new body of work in Infrared. I'm excited about it, but it's challenging to work with. Please watch for more.

I have lots of other announcements, too, starting with a new studio and and a new partnership!

I'm moving my studio to Webster Groves this month. My old studio in Benton Park is great, but for lots of reasons it's not working for me right now. I needed to be closer to home -- and the studio simply cannot be at home! Email me at if you want to get in on the studio sale later this month!

And I'm excited to announce that I've partnered with Wombats Resale to bring fine art portraiture to the store a couple days a week. More about that later!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Civil Rights Protest -- at an Art Fair!

Politics and art mix all the time at art fairs -- but generally it's about who knows the director and gets the best spot. Civil rights don't come up very often, unless you're honest enough to notice that they're aren't very many artists of color in most shows. But that's another topic.

I experienced three "firsts" at the River Arts Fest in Memphis last weekend. The first "first" was shortly after the show opened on Friday evening. Apparently the fire department forgot the street was closed -- or didn't care. Two full sized fire trucks tore down the street at 50 miles an hours, with lights and sirens, just inches from the packed art tents and patrons. After the emergency was over, they came back through an a more leisurely but no less treacherous 30 miles an hour! When those trucks almost nick the awing of your tent with tens of thousands of art in it, it's a little nerve wracking!

Then a patron wanted his picture taken with me! How cool is that! Guess he likes middle-aged, chubby bohemian types!

But here's the one that stuck with me: the art fair had a protester! And I can't say I completely disagreed with her.

The fair was set up on Main Street. Not a charming Main Street or a bustling Main Street. In Memphis, Main Street is struggling. The sidewalks are crumbling. The store fronts are empty.

The Lorraine Motel is a block away. For those under 50 or those who don't remember their Civil Rights history, the Lorraine Motel is place where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. It's been preserved and now is the home to the National Civil Rights Museum. You must go there. But be prepared. It's not a happy place. I haven't been there in five years but I still tear up when I remember coming around a corner and being confronted by a burnt out city bus. Not a model of a bus -- but one of the actual buses that was burnt and destroyed with innocent people inside -- all because they asked to be treated like people.

I was a young teen was Dr. King was killed. A few months later, Bobby Kennedy was killed. Malcolm X had been dead three years. John Kennedy for five. It was Vietnam. It was Watts. My teen years were not peaceful ones. This stuff sticks with you forever and shows up in art and opinions and everyday life.

When the protester came around, I talked to her. She had a good point. The art fair had set up a music stage in front of the Lorraine Motel. That didn't seem right to me either. The stage is the place where fair goers drink and dance and enjoy themselves. The stage should have been moved.

But the protester didn't like that the artists were on Main Street either. I disagreed with that. Every artist there is a small business person. None of us is getting rich. We're not exploiting anyone. We're not polluting or destroying natural resources for our own gain.

We are people making our own way in the world and trying to support our families. If our art can make someone smile or think -- so much the better.

Art saves lives. If art can bring people back to Memphis' Main Street and help revitalize it, then Dr. King's memory has been honored -- not desecrated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Critique

Last month I finally got up the nerve to submit my work to a professional art fair juror for a critique. If you've been to art school or a serious art class, you've been through a crit. (No, the local art club doesn't count. They're too nice.)

A crit can be exciting and nerve-wracking. You can walk out of there jubilant or crestfallen. If the crit is bad, you're probably crying -- even if you're a tatooed, 250 lb pipefitter who longs for a solo exhibit of his delicate oil pastels. You're certain you've wasted your life.

If it's good, your head will not fit in the door of the next gallery you present your portfolio to.

For most of us, it's in between. And that's fine -- when you're in school. After you've been doing this professionally for a while, you need the crit to fine tune your work or help you find a new direction -- but basically you want the art professional to tell you that you're wonderful and next month you'll be on the cover of the Times art section. You want reassurance.

Some friends wanted to know why I bothered: I'm getting into good shows, I've been honored with some nice awards -- what more could a crit tell me?

The problem with being an art fair artist is that we get a lot of compliments. "Wonderful work" is the currency most people use to get out of a booth without buying something. They are polite and an art fair booth is an intimate, small space. It would be rude not to say something!

Eventually, we start to believe it, regardless if the work is selling. We might even start to think we're the ONLY artist who hears these remarks.

The crit brings us back to reality.

The good thing about professional crit is that I get to chose my own judge! When else can you do that? I'm paying the judge for the crit (you didn't think it was free, did you?) so I get to choose. My decision was based on thorough research: I read the 200 word blurbs of the choices. Ultimately, I went with the one whose image and credentials were presented in a style that spoke to me. We go through the same process when buying art, so why not when choosing a judge?

Robert Watson is an art professor at Florida Atlantic University and offered me far more advice, feedback and inspiration that I could have imagined. First, he told me what I already knew but refused to accept: jurors hate florals. I have to stop doing them. I know. But they sell! He knows. I have enough of them. His favorite: Ferris Wheel. But he hates the title. In fact, he hates all my titles. I don't blame him.

What really surprised me is after the crit of the Polaroids was over, he went back and looked at all my work and pulled out images to praise that I can't get accepted into exhibits or shows anywhere. He selected images that I love too, but the general public or other art jurors don't.

It was a terrific experience. I learned a lot. I'm energized. I'm thinking and working.

Now, would anyone like to buy some lovely florals?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Highland Art Fair & Aunt Florence, 1908-2007

I was watching CNN a few years ago when they ran a human interest story about a woman in Arizona who celebrated her 85th birthday by para-sailing. Oh my gawd! I called my mother. Guess what Aunt Florence is doing now?!!! My mother wasn't surprised. Five years earlier, my mother had celebrated her 50th by jumping out of an airplane. I come from a long line of very interesting, rather eccentric and quite bold women. Who would have guessed?

I took this picture of Florence at a family reunion in Highland, IL in 2000. She always had fresh flowers in her hair or on her hat. Her laugh was infectious and she was very proud of those gorgeous teeth. A few years ago she went in for some surgery and the nurse tried to remove her teeth. With a patronizing little pat, the nurse said that she couldn't have an operation with her teeth in, thinking they were false because she's so old! Florence threatened to bite the woman's hand if she stuck it in her mouth again. The teeth were real and connected to her face!

Aunt Florence was planning to celebrate her 100th birthday in May on a parasail. She missed it by 7 months. Her memorial service will be in Highland, IL today. Her brother and other family still live and have a business there -- Widmer Florist.

Florence was an amazing woman. Born in an era when women could be mothers or have a career, she chose the latter, as did several other women in the family. She had her own floral shop on North Grand in St. Louis until she was in her late 70s. She sold the shop and decided to marry -- for the first time. She had boyfriends before, but apparently the relationships were quite proper and chaste, because she told my grandmother Genevieve (who told me in whispers) that Florence really liked married life. She REALLY liked it!

Her first husband died and she wasn't ready to be old yet, so she got herself a younger husband. She was in her 80s when she married Norm, in his 60s! They were sweethearts until end.

I felt Florence's presence in Highland this weekend. I was there this weekend exhibiting at the Highland Art in the Park, along with 60 or so amazing artists, many of whom have become friends over the years. Sales were pretty good (Highland is small, but they love art and support the show), I was honored to receive an Award of Excellence.

Thank you Highland. And thank you Aunt Florence. You will be missed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Next Generation

Next Generation is a photograph I created this spring in response to the Katrina Diaries, an exhibit sponsored and produced by the Women's Caucus for Art, New Orleans Chapter. The WCA - St. Louis Chapter hosted the exhibit this summer, together with work that member artists created in response and reflection.

Next Generation is on exhibit this month (October 2007) at the Creamery Arts Center in Springfield, MO. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by and view the entire exhibit.

A sister artist, Jennifer Weigel, paid me the highest compliment about this photo and those now on exhibit at Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis. She admitted to me that she doesn't much like photography (I get that a lot), but that my images are intimate without voyeurism. She feels drawn into them.

That's very high praise for any artist, especially a photographer. Thank you, Jennifer. (And I won't mention that it kills me that you were born the year I was a senior in college. Sheesh! When did I get so old?)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Shelter of Peace

Sukkat Shalom, a Shelter of Peace, opens Saturday, Sept. 29 at Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman, St. Louis, MO with an artists' reception and gallery talk from 7-9 p.m.

I am so thrilled with this exhibit. We've never had a juried exhibition at CRC before and the varied artwork looks exquisite on the wood walls. More importantly, artists from a variety of faith traditions and five states interpreted the theme so broadly. I expect the exhibit to spark many conversations in the months to come.

This is one of my entries, A Place to Be, and I'm very pleased it was included in the show. An element of surprise, to see the ordinary a bit differently, seems to be a common thread running through my newer work.

Many photographers shoot what they see. Some photographers see what they shoot. I'm the latter. In other words, I envision an image, work through it, plan it. I can have an image in my mind for months, even years, before it works its way to the top and is finally ready to be put on paper. This was one of those images, which probably is why I like it so much. Very few of my favorite images are in color.

Birds love to nest around our home -- probably because the trees are untrimmed and the grass is high. I guess it doesn't look like anyone really lives here. Or maybe they realize we have other things to do and we won't whack off branches willy nilly!

This nest fell from a tree, completely intact, in May. I knew I wanted to photograph it, so I saved it. I know it looked like I just laid it on the sidewalk near the front door and forgot about it for three months, but really it was there to remind me to think about the image. I did. For three months. Then I picked up a camera. This is the result.

Please come take a look at all the wonderful interpretations of shelters of peace. The exhibit runs through Dec. 1

Friday, September 14, 2007

Perfect Light

Photographers notice light. All artists do, of course, but photographers are passionate about it. Everything we do depends on light. An image is ordinary or spectacular depending the light, how we manipulate it, bend it, filter it, see it, exposure for it, ignore it, paint with it. All of that means we generally take it for granted.

Not today. Today the light was extraordinary. All day.

I first noticed the light this morning on my way to my studio. A cold front was coming through and the clouds were moving fast. The sun was still low in the sky and lit the underside of the clouds while leaving the tops dark. Very dramatic.

Later in the morning, I was heading north on I-55, then I-39 toward Rockford, IL. The clouds in the distant north melded with the light blue of the sky. It was northern light.

As I set up my booth at the Greenwich Village Art Fair-- in 50 mile per hour gusts! -- I kept noticing the contrast between the intensely blue sky and the white clouds outlined in black. As the sun started to set, the underside of clouds were illuminated and the tops were dark.

All of this was beautiful and unusual, but I was unprepared for sunset. Between the dark blue of the early night sky and the orange horizon of sunset was a new moon, hanging in that space where blue meets yellow. It took my breath away. I couldn't take my eyes off it. A perfect two-day-old crescent in perfect light.

Perfect light.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

St. Louis Art Fair

Last night I did two things I hardly ever get to do: I went out with my husband (OK, we had an out-of-town cousin with us too, but we WANTED to be with him!) and I walked an art fair as a buyer. What an eye-opener for me!

First, for those who don't know about it, the St. Louis Art Fair is reputed to be one of the best in the country-- and one of the most competitive. More than 1500 artists vie for one of the 165 spots. The setting is ideal, too. It's set in the business district of Clayton, an upscale inner-ring suburb. The hours of the three-day show, which go to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night, must be grueling for the artists. I've done those show hours and they can be horrible or exhilarating, depending on the crowd -- and the artists' attitudes.

After spending the evening at the fair, I came away with one conclusion: most of the artists there should be ashamed of themselves. Except for artists I knew, only ONE artist greeted me with an attitude of welcome and enthusiasm for her work. At least a quarter of the booths were void of artists altogether!

In fairness, it was a little rainy -- but rain is part of the deal when you sign up to be a art fair artist. It will rain during the summer, and it will rain in September in St. Louis, and -- if history tells us anything -- it WILL rain during the St. Louis Art Fair.

Also, in fairness, there were A LOT of people on the street Saturday night. The booths had people in them and I saw some transactions.

What I didn't see was artists' enthusiasm for their work. Maybe that was because some of the work just wasn't that good. Maybe there were tired and wet and crabby. I don't care.

Art is so subjective and I don't claim to be an intellectually gifted critic. I do see a lot of art and I think I can recognize an artist with vision, originality, and care of craftsmanship. I generally skip over the fiber and jewelry booths, (sorry) so I cannot speak to those.

First, the good: the quality of painting and drawing was exceptional -- the best I've seen for a while. There were glass and ceramic artists producing extraordinary and unusual work. There was some sculpture that was so interesting I wished I had an extra $500 to plunk down. I think my favorite by far was Cathy Broksi, a ceramic artist, whose figures spoke to me with such force that I woke up this morning thinking about them. I hope Cathy wants to trade work with me someday. She was the only artist who was energetic and welcoming. She and her assistant-friend even were friendly and open AFTER they found out I was a sister artist and probably wasn't buying anything. (I'm putting a bumpersticker on my van that reads: "Driver carries no cash. She's an artist.")

I'll let my friend Mary Beth Shaw, a mixed media artist and self-confessed "girl who runs with scissors," who exhibited at the St. Louis Art Fair this year, comment on the Mixed Media work. Some I thought was wonderful, but a lot looked mass-produced and gimmicky to me.

Now for the photography. Since I'm a photographer, this category always gets my harshest eye. Frankly, I didn't see anything that knocked my socks off. Chris Maher is doing some wonderful work with smoke, but most was the same-ole, same-ole. Some of these photographers are very familiar to me, and I don't see a lot of new work from them. One was such a disappointment. I've loved his work and wanted to see it in person. Not only was he not there, but the work looked haggard and the presentation was sloppy. I think it's time for a break for him.

I'm glad I took a weekend off from art fairs to be able to walk one with a customer's eyes. It was a good reminder of how customers -- at least this customer -- wants to be treated. And it was another reason to get back into the studio and produce new, fresher work.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Hi! I'm Jeane. And I'm an Art Fair Artist.

Yes, it IS a bit of an addiction. We Art Fair Arists pursue that ideal fair -- NEXT weekend --that will bring the collector who just can't live without our work. At every show there are fellow artists who seem to unwittingly find each other and have an impromptu AFAA meeting -- Art Fair Artist Anonymous. I've almost got my 5-year pin. At the "meetings" we swap stories about the great sale, the stupid comments from that odd person who thinks it's sport to poke fun at an artist, the set up or tear down in the rain, the greedy promoters who treat us like like we have deep pockets and no sense. Ahhhhh, promoters. Don't get us started.

Then we talk about the shows that treat us like royalty. The show we can't wait to do again.

The art fair circuit is not easy. It looks glamorous: the travel, the adoring public, the "getting-up-at- 5-am-to-set-up-in-the-dark only to work a 15 hour day" -- but it's hard work. I'm not complaining. I love talking to people about my work. But it's a hard job. So we really appreciate it when an art fair staff coddles us -- even a little bit.

I thought I had been treated well at some shows in the past, but nothing -- I mean NOTHING - compares with the welcome we got in Sioux City's ArtSplash over Labor Day Weekend. It's a long drive from St. Louis to Sioux City -- about 8 hours (ok- I did it in 7.25, but don't tell!) It's also a long 3-day show. But from the moment I got there they fed me, kept me hydrated in the heat, bought from me and oohed and ahhed over me. They made me think I deserve to be pampered!

Thank you, Sioux City! The South may think then know hospitality. You really DO hospitality. I can't wait to come back next year!

And, if that weren't enough, I got to see my friends Michael Wyland and Margaret Sumption, who have a nonprofit consulting firm in Sioux Falls, SD, just an hour away.

Again, thank you Sioux City! I know the economy is hard right now, and dollars are tight. But thank you for making it worth my time and energy to discover your wonderful city and amazing welcome!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More New Work!

Steve, the kids and I spent 10 days camping in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) on Lake Superior early this month. I have the most patient family. The best un-kept secret in our family is that we vacation where I want to shoot. And I LOVE the Great Lakes. I love the ocean, too, but Lake Superior is where I love to be most.

This year we camped on the Tahquamenon River, near beautiful waterfalls that empty the river into the lake near a town called (I'm not making this up) Paradise!

Lake Superior is cold to swim in (we call it "invigorating"), expansive and completely isolated. We couldn't even get cell service! You can drive for miles without seeing another car, house or -- as we were a bit panicked to discover -- gas station! You will see deer, an occasional moose and acre after acre of pine trees. You never know what exquisite cove or beach is just beyond the trees. The discovery is magical. I can't imagine what it must have been like 200 years ago, when people respected and cared for the land and water.

We had amazing weather (68 degrees when it was 105 in St. Louis-- sorry about that.) We were buying -- and wearing -- sweatshirts all week. There's also a wonderful little micro-brew pub in Tahquamenon State Park, and we found an excellent brew pub and grill in Grand Marais on the eastern edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Just because these places are isolated and underpopulated, doesn't mean they don't know how to brew good ale and cook vegetarian food! AND it's close to Canada. What's not to like?

On the way up to the UP we drove long the eastern shore of Lake Michigan (chasing beaches and lighthouses). On the way home, we spent a couple of days in Mackinaw City and a day on Mackinac Island (yes, they are spelled differently).

While it's great to be away -- and we all love camping (well, Steve puts up with it. Aaron, Hannah and I love it!), my vacations are working trips.

I'll be producing work from the trip all winter, but I'm happy with these first four Polaroid images. And I'm hopeful that I found a new source of film from the Netherlands. If it works, I'll teach classes in the technique again.

I also shot lots of timed exposures and infra-red on this trip, too. Lots to do, lots to do!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I hate it when people brag about their volunteer work, but I'm just going to have to -- because Shamon found a FOREVER FAMILY!!!!! I'm bound by my contract not to show his photo, but you can see it here:

Two years ago, an amazing woman and photographer, Dana Colcleasure, founded the Missouri Heart Gallery Project. She organized about 70 fine art portrait photographers all over the state to volunteer their time to produce inspiring portraits of children awaiting adoption. The fine art portraits look SO MUCH BETTER than the snapshots of kids up against and brick wall, and truly show their personality. The exhibit travels the state and people see the photo, make a connection and want to meet the child. This year, already 39 kids have been adopted and there have been 1800 inquiries! How wonderful is that?

Last year I photographed two children, one who was adopted. I was so thrilled! This year Dana asked me to photograph 7 children, mostly kids with disabilities. Because my son has multiple disabilities, she knew I had some experience in that realm.

When I asked Shamon how he wanted to be photographed, he KNEW he wanted to be Batman. A studio fan got the cape flying and he took posing direction great (that is, AFTER he got over the disappointment of not wearing his Batman mask!

Now I can't wait to hear about the other kids!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thank you, Geneva, IL!

Geneva Fine Art Show: 168 artists. 4 2-D Awards of Excellence (instead of Best of Show, 1st, 2nd & 3rd place), and a nice little check. Wow! The prize patrol cart stopped in front of my booth Saturday afternoon. Really? Thank you!

Geneva residents responded too. Thank you to all of you who came by to chat, learn about hand-altered Polaroid photographs (no, they aren't digital - not that's there's anything wrong with that!), and collect one or two images.

My new work (Ferris Wheel, Horse in the Smokies and White Haven) were well received and purchased. I started on those images during the Open Studios tour last weekend. Apparently, having guests in my studio as I work is a good thing!

Thank you again, Geneva! Great town, vibrant downtown, and an art-loving public. And thank you to my watercolorist friend Mary Lou O'Brien, and amazing gourmet-husband Bob, who hosted me for the weekend (and fed me so well! No starving artist here!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Open Studios Tour

I did something I've never done before: invited people into my studio while I was working. What a terrific experience!

The occasion was the Contemporary Museum Open Studios tour. My studio was one of 40 or so open to the public last weekend. Despite being a little hard to find in the Benton Park neighborhood, I had a steady stream of people coming through. Thank you all who visited!

I was working on new hand-altered Polaroids and some pastels for a new body of work during the day. Most won't be added to the collection, but three will be shown this weekend in Geneva, IL for the first time. Ferris Wheel, above, is my favorite of the three.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Girl and Her Bridge

I exhibited at the American Artisan Festival in Nashville last weekend. It's a terrific fair run by Nancy Saturn, who owns the American Artisan Gallery in Nashville.

As soon as I drove into Centennial Park, I remembered an encounter I had there last year. It reminded me how important art is in our lives.

A little girl, about 11, came in to my booth. It was drizzling and I thought she was just coming in out of the rain. That's fine. She examined my work very carefully. She reminded me of Hannah, my daughter of the same age, who loves art and takes it very seriously. I tried to talk to the girl, but she didn't want a conversation. Lots of kids, especially girls, love my images of Horses, and I thought that's the one that attracted her.

She started flipping through the bins, found what she was looking for and took it to the next booth to show her mother. Mom was engaged in a conversation with a jeweler and not interested in the girl's selection.

She came back, hugging the picture. She tried for 10 minutes to get her mom's attention.

I asked her to show me the picture she liked so much. I was surprised that it was Adventure Awaits, one of my favorites but a pretty sophisticated image for a tween.

Does that remind you of some place special, I asked.

She was so solemn, almost in tears. She nodded. "Home."

Where's home?

"New Hampshire," she said. "And I'll never see it again." By this time, she was crying.

Obviously, the move to Tennessee had been hard. She had a $80 print in her hand but I was determined she was going home with that image, whether her parents would buy it or not.

Her parents did buy her a smaller version. I imagine it in her room, giving her comfort and easing her transition to a new place. It's an amazing feeling when my work can touch someone so deeply.

THAT'S why I'm an artist.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Inspiration Can Keep You Humble

"The guys just love this picture! Especially the older men. It's so inspirational! "

That was from a woman who bought six or eight of my photographs to decorate a new office.

I was beaming! This is shot of Lower Gooseberry Falls in Minnesota is not one of my best technically, but it's ok. I'd like to get back there and reshoot it.

But hey! The guys like it! It's a construction firm and they are getting inspiration from the out-of-doors. My work is done!

She continued: "It hangs right over the men's urinal. The older guys find it very inspirational!"

I had to laugh out loud.

I try to do my part!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Amazing Weekend!

Wow! What a weekend! ArtFest on Walnut Street in Springfield MO had the best weather in years. Normally this wonderful street show has rain for part of the show. The people come out anyway, but we're always a little wet. There were five straight days of rain before the show.

ArtFest is an unusual show -- not from the artists' perspective (wonderful fine art from all over the country. No "pretend" art in this show), but unusual in the traffic it generates. It's a tradition to bring your pet to ArtFest. Unlike other shows, it's ENCOURAGED to bring your pet. Dogs of all breeds are common, of course. But Springfield pet owners are far more creative than just dogs and cats. This year walking by I saw three monkeys, one small ape, a chinchilla, a parrot, a big white bird of some kind, a turtle and a snake. I don't think these folks were buying art, but they were entertaining.

Fortunately, other people were buying art. And this is a sophisticated art-buying public. They know art, appreciate it and want to collect it.

And, I have to say, the judges there are geniuses! Ok. And I don't only think that because I won an award: Best of Show 2D! I have won several awards, including a couple of 1st places, but this is my first Best in Show. Photographers don't often see Best in Show awards (have you seen all that amazing art out there?!!) and I'm very grateful for the recognition.

The prize money doesn't hurt either. Thank you, Springfield!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Outside the Comfort Zone

Every once in a while a shoot outside my comfort zone. I know nothing about horses, but these two wild horses in the Smoky Mountains National Park caught my attention last March. I was on a shooting vacation, searching for the relaxing time with my family and a little exercise hiking up mountain trails in search of the perfect waterfall photograph. I found this instead. I think I got a good deal.

I don't know if it will ever see the lights of an exhibit and it doesn't fit into my current body of work, or even my new work, but I like it and I can share it here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Franklin This Weekend

I'm deep into editing, printing, matting and framing in preparation for my first outdoor art fair of the season. The show is in Franklin TN April 28-29. Last year a torrential thunderstorm wiped out about half the booths. Mine was fine, but the show closed early. The forecasters are predicting beautiful weather this year. Please stop by!

Franklin is a beautiful old town south of Nashville. I love my Tennessee customers. I have never felt so welcomed and appreciated as an artist as when I do a show in Tennessee. Talk about Southern charm and hospitality! Almost more than this Yankee girl knows what to do with!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Venus Envy, Concluded

Absolutely wonderful show this year! Thank you to all the VE 07 Artists, Performers, Board and volunteers for making my job as exhibition co-chair so easy in such a challenging space. I won't belabor details (we got electricity a few hours before the Preview Party opened -- I was ready with flashlights!) The weather did not cooperate. Our cute little artist outfits were covered in coats. It was cold, but the community supported us. The art was terrific and the performances were amazing.

And my new work was well received -- and purchased. Again, thank you!

If you missed it, aren't you sorry? If you were there, please leave me a comment about your experience.

I have personal "thank yous" to Robin, Cathi, Rob & Sherri, Shane & Justin, Ilene & Scott, Jack & Florine (my fabulous in-laws who didn't know what they would see, but braved it anyway to support us), Harold, Nancy, Kim & Rick, Jessica & Elliana, Laura & Maryann, Walt & Sheila, Cindy, Jane, and Ilene & Scott -- many of whom are fabulous artists themselves. I've linked those who have sites. Ilene -- you need one! St. Louisans known Ilene's terrific public sculpture at CRC, Jefferson School and Adams School, among others. Thanks everyone for coming to the show.

I didn't have much time to take pictures, but snapped a few of my daughter Hannah with her henna, created by mehndi artist Suman Chandel. She'll be the coolest kid in 5th grade tomorrow. I hate to admit that her's looks better than mine. Fifty-year-old skin doesn't compare to 11-year-olds!

There were some amazing artists there. Of course, my friends Mary Beth Shaw (collage) and Rhonda Cearlock (clay) exhibited and sold tons! The paintings of Sukanya Mani are just beautiful, as is the work of Amy Van Donsel and Holly Gallaher. Sukanya and Holly had there first show at Venus, as did a few other young women.

Whew! Now, let's get ready for VE '08!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Venus Envy, Part II

The space looks terrific! April Seager and I are Exhibition Co-Chairs again this year and we (and dozens of others) have been working up to 12 hours a day installing the work, lights and generally preparing the raw, donated space. (Thanks, Nick, for installing the beams for the lights!)

Yes, my daughter wants to know who is that woman who drags in, exhausted, late every night. She thought it was cool to have an artist mom (she gets to go to all the gallery openings and eat her weight in fancy cookies!), but now she knows it just means that mom keeps weird hours and weird friends. Good thing that dad is normal.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Venus Envy This Weekend!

This is my fourth year to be selected to exhibit in Venus Envy. Each year I produce new work, just for this show. This year I will be exhibiting a series of 12 sepia photographs titled "White."
The series is 12 images of white found in the natural world, and representative of purity. The sepia is an ironic commentary on the nature of women and purity.

You never know what you'll see at Venus, but you know it will be interesting. There are more than 40 artists and performers.

Venus Envy St. Louis is an all-female art event showcasing painting, sculpture, installations, collage, music, and dance. The Venus Envy event is open to the public. The content of all shows is intended for mature audiences.

Friday and Saturday, April 13 - 14, 2007 In the Locust Business district at 3001 and 3016 Locus
7 PM to midnight
Parking: Free lot at Garrison and Locust
$5 admission or $10 for admission plus two drink tickets

Venus Envy 2007 Visual Artists
Cate Anevski, Melissa Bales, Amy Lee Bell, Rhonda Cearlock, Brooke Center-Wise, Melissa Chasnoff, Joyce M. Cooks, Erin K. Cork, Stacy Davis, Renee Deall, Christa G. Denney, Holly Gallaher, Heather Haymart, Theresa M. Hopkins, Aunia Kahn, Courtney Kennedy, Connie Lambert, JJ Lane, Sukanya Mani, Rebecca McDonald, Sarah Elizabeth Miller, Sandy Miller, Deborah Moellering, Natalie Nauert, Kacie Nichols, Rebecca Orf, Elena Rodriguez, Mary Beth Shaw, Rochelle Steffen, Amy VanDonsel, Jeane Vogel, Lula Von Troy, Jennifer Weigel, Linda Wiggen Kraft and Michelle Zielinski