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!