Monday, June 29, 2015

Today on the 'Net...

SAQA Europe/Middle East member, Gillian Cooper of Scotland is a favourite blogger of mine.  Today she gives great tips on how to make the most of your next museum visit.

And on Facebook...SAQA shares this article which includes mention of the exhibit, "Radical Elements", now showing at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.  The article includes a description of "Cu Around", the piece contributed by SAQA WC member, Karen Jurek of Alberta.

You might want to check 'em out!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

Q: How do I know who the other SAQA WC members are, and where they live?
A: If a member wants to see all the SAQA WC members, all s/he has to do is:
  • Log in to SAQA website;
  • Click on the "Members" tab;
  • Click on "Member Resources";
  • Click on "Membership Directory":
  • Click on "Basic Membership Directory";
  • For "Region" select "Equal" and "Western Canada";
  • Click "Search".

Margaret here: I've done this and it works.  All 91 members show up in alphabetical order, with e-mails. (Further details are available if you click on "details".)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"All Beings Confluence" Panel-making Workshop -- Weyburn, SK, August 2015

In addition to the four exhibits of textile art running in galleries in Weyburn, SK, Martha Cole will be teaching a five-day workshop at the Signal Hills Arts Centre there.

Martha Cole

"All Beings Confluence" - Panel-making Workshop
When? Monday, Aug. 24 through Friday, Aug. 28, 2015
Time? 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4 p.m.
Where? Signal Hill Arts Centre,  424 - 10th Avenue, Weyburn, SK S4H 2A1
Instructor? Martha Cole, SK Fibre Artist
Cost? Early Bird Registration (before Aug. 1): $250 per person (plus supplies)
Regular Registration (after Aug. 1): $275 per person (plus supplies)

Other helpful information:
Requires sewing machine in good working order
Registration includes $50 materials fee and GST
A supply list will be provided upon registration

Workshop Description and Objectives:
Interested individuals are being invited to create long, narrow panels, each
depicting a single life form or species. Each panel is made of sheer materials, either
painted or stitched, and varying in size from 12” - 14” wide and 8’ to 12’ long. The
completed panels are installed to fill a whole area and hung in such a way that a single
Being/panel is never seen by itself, but always “in community” with the other Beings
embodying and reinforcing the interconnectedness of the Whole……...thus the name
“All Beings Confluence.”
Goal: To inspire the creation of panels everywhere the installation occurs.

N.B.:  An installation of “All Beings Confluence Panels” can be viewed in Weyburn at the
United Church (210 3rd St. NE) during July and August.

For further information, contact the Signal Hill Arts Centre
Tel: 306-848-3278 or e-mail

Weyburn, SK: Your Destination for Fibre Art this Summer!

Touring the prairies this summer?  Driving into Saskatchewan?  Why don't you plan to stop over for a few days in Weyburn to take in what SK SAQA member, Jaynie Himsl, has spear-headed in her home town?

"Fibre Art Destination 2015" is a summer-long series of fibre art exhibits and events that opens July 2 and runs through August 31, 2015.  

A more detailed itinerary of the four exhibits -- with gallery addresses -- can be found HERE.

Jaynie's project came to my attention just before I left for Quilt Canada in Lethbridge.  I asked her to send me the backstory so I could share it with you.  While I was at QC, I got to meet Jaynie and chat at length.

In her photo she appears calm, cool, collected, sedate...perhaps a bit reserved.  In person?  Not so much!  Jaynie is a talented artist, an experimenter, passionate about textile art: a real powerhouse who blends her these qualities with poise, grace and a terrific sense of humour. She also possesses a wardrobe that's the envy of any artist --  it brings out her true colours!  ;-)

In her own words, here's how Fibre Art Destination 2015 came about:
I give credit to the incredible positive energy experienced at a Fibre Art Network (FAN) retreat for the idea and guidance to pull off this summer of fibre art. 

It started  nearly two years ago at the first FAN retreat I attended.  A slide show of their newest exhibition "Abstracted" was presented. I was so impressed with what I saw I wanted to see the exhibition in person.  Members are encouraged to seek out opportunities to show the FAN exhibitions so when I returned home I gave our curator information about FAN and asked if it would be possible for "Abstracted" to come to the art gallery in Weyburn. Within a few days the show was booked.

A year ago I finally had enough of my own work to fill a small gallery available to local artists. When I asked about available months to show my work one of the options was at the same time the FAN show would be in Weyburn. Having two fibre art shows at the same time seemed like a great idea. 

Then I went to my second FAN retreat in the fall of 2014.  One of the items on the agenda of a retreat is called "Wacky Ideas". FAN members gather in a group, somewhat exhausted, perhaps with a glass of wine and brainstorm.  Practical or realistic ideas are not discussed. Grandiose ideas are what it's all about. Everything from owning our own cruise ship and hosting fibre art cruises to having an international exhibition of our work.   Over the years some of the wacky ideas have come to be reality.  That's where the idea was planted to have Weyburn be a fibre art destination in 2015. 

I was full of enthusiasm and a few ideas when I returned home. First, was checking if the third gallery space in Weyburn was available.  With some rearranging of the schedule it could be available to host a fibre art show as well.  Around this time I saw an article in a magazine about "All Beings Confluence". The contact person was listed as Martha Cole.  After a few emails back and forth with Martha not only was "All Beings Confluence" booked to come to Weyburn but Martha was also booked to teach a 5 day class Aug 24-28 making more "Beings" panels.  

That made three fibre art shows booked.  When I found out the  requirements to hang "All Beings Confluence" I learned it wasn't going to fit in the gallery as planned.  A search for an alternative space  was found in a one of the churches.  

Many emails were exchanged with FAN mentors and Martha Cole before deciding upon an exhibition of Saskatchewan fibre artists in the remaining gallery.  A call for entry to "Join the Thread"  went out to Saskatchewan fibre artists inviting them to submit a 12" x 12" piece. 

The art walk gradually grew as I visited a variety of businesses in the downtown area.  Businesses that had suitable space to hang one or more pieces of fibre art were pleased to be part of a new event for our city.  Finding artists to show their work as part of the art walk proved to be easy and exciting for me.  Some of the artists I know, some I'm only familiar with their work, some belong to SAQA or FAN so were invited through that connection.  Geography determined which SAQA members were invited.  

With a passion for fibre art, an idea, many mentors and supporters, "Fibre Art Destination 2015 - Weyburn" has come to include: "Abstracted" a Fibre Art Network show, "All Beings Confluence" an interactive fibre show, "Join the Thread" a show of 12"x12" work by Saskatchewan artists, "Another Perspective" work by Jaynie Himsl, an art walk and with many busy fingers there will be yarn bombing marking the art walk locations. 

I'm learning many things as these fibre shows come together.  Mostly, that I'm only limited by my own imagination. Another, is that you just have to ask nicely and most of the time the answer is "yes".  

I think part of the reason the plans have worked so well is that we're a small city (10 thou).  We know each others names or faces, everyone benefits by working together. I can hardly wait for the city to be a little mecca for fibre art. 

Jaynie Himsl
SAQA members taking part in the exhibits during the summer include:

  • Coleen Adderley (B.C.);
    The Surveyor's Nightmare
    (C) Jaynie Himsl
  • Terry Aske (B.C.);
  • Joyce Brown (AB);
  • Donna Cutler (SK);
  • Diane Duncan (AB);
  • Susan Easton (SK);
  • Jaynie Himsl (SK);
  • Karen Johnson (B.C.);
  • Paula Jolly (SK);
  • Brandy Maslowski (B.C.);
  • Pippa Moore (B.C.);
  • Judith Panson (MB);
  • Jenny Perry (B.C.);
  • Katie Stein Sather (B.C.);
  • Rita St. Amant (SK); and 
  • Valerie Wilson (MB).

I'm thinkin' I might just have to see if my wee car has it in her to take me there...

Congratulations to Jaynie for her initiative and hard work -- and to her colleagues who are contributing to what will undoubtedly be a successful summer event...without doubt, one that will be an annual treat for Weyburn's citizens and visitors alike!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fiberlandia Highlights II: The Breakout Sessions - Part A

On the first full day of the Fiberlandia Conference (Friday, May 1), attendees "broke out" into the first of three concurrent sessions following the first Key-note address by Namita Gupta Wiggers.  Each attendee was able to go to one session in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Which session you attended was determined by your first and alternate choices, which you were to choose when you registered for the conference. When your registration was confirmed, you received confirmation of which ones you'd got into, and when.

The three offered this year were:

Sue Reno - Develop and Sustain Your Daily Artistic Practice.

Lyric Kinnard - Failure is an Option: Why Making Bad Art is Vital to Your Success.

and Carolyn  Higgins - Master Social Media and Rule the World (or Market Your Work)

I attended Sue's and Lyric's sessions, so these are the ones on which I'm reporting here.  :-)

First, Sue Reno: Develop and Sustain Your Daily Creative Practice

Sue is a studio art quilter and SAQA Juried Artist Member (JAM).  She defines a "daily creative practice" as something an artist does daily to inspire her work.  Her own particular practice?  A self-assignment: take a photo every day.  This is just one example...Now for the heart of the matter...

Following her introduction, Sue began by giving us guidelines she's identified as ways to both develop and sustain one's creative practice.

  1. Define Your Creative Goals: how do you define success?
    • primarily artistic
      • personal satisfaction?
      • peer recognition?
      • larger art world recognition?
    • self-expression
    • informed by life experience -- sharing your story, travel, education, training
    • make money with your art?
      • selling your work -- where?
        • in galleries?
        • as licensed images?
      • supplementing income with teaching? writing?
    • change the world with your art?
      • primarily political?
      • work used as graphics
      • work used as networks
      • work shown in relevant exhibits
  2. Define Creative Practice:
    • DAILY is key
    • enhance your current skill set?
    • building blocks for Works In Progress?
    • outside the current trends:
      • escape others' expectations
      • freedom of expression
      • fresh perspectives
    • cross-training with other media
  3. Setting Up the Mechanisms:
    • finding your creative *spark*
      • a serendipitous approach or...
      • a calculated/intentional one
    • NO excuses!
    • Consistency is KEY!
  4. Roadblocks:
    • experienced by everyone
    • things happen
    • NO guilt!
    • overcome a block by...
      • doing something for others/the common good
      • rediscovering sources of joy
      • do something to enhance your self-worth, self care
      • set deadlines
      • have an artistic partner or be part of a small group - for accountability 
  5. The Outcome of Creative Practice (the rewards):
    • personal satisfaction
    • new and expanded skill sets
    • tangible results - finished work!
    • becoming prone to the unexpected, the hitherto unimaginable
    • "Chance favours the prepared."
  6. Documentation:
    • journal or sketchbook
    • digital presence
Sue then expanded on the above points by choosing to enlist the help -- via PowerPoint presentation -- of several of her SAQA colleagues.  Here are just a few examples (out of a dozen) of those who shared their creative habits.  Each artist is different and distinct with respect to her work, which makes this a particularly intriguing selection of colleagues:

  • multiple projects on the go at the same time
  • is there a need for a quilt?
  • regular "Artist's Dates" (Julia Cameron)
  • has to play with her needles daily
  • solitude, quiet, alertness/awareness
  • maintain a playful attitude but...
  • have a serious commitment to the work
  • uses photos for inspiration
  • works in a series
  • dig out previous compilations or abandoned segments
  • look for "happy accidents"
  • abstraction is freeing
  • "If I like it, that's all that matters."
  • productive in short bursts
  • takes photos while dog-walking
  • always has a sketchbook or hand-work on the go
  • integrate art work into the reality of life
and last but not least...

  • time management
  • daily outdoor photos - various lenses
  • line up easily-achieved practices
  • hand-work in the evenings
  • set aside longer blocks of time for designing
And before you take the plunge to set up your own systems, pause to reflect.  

Ask yourself:
  • How well do I respond to regulation?
    • set realistic goals
    • a daily task should be rigorous enough to reap benefits but not so demanding that you rebel against your own self-imposed tyranny!
  • How will I hold myself accountable?
    • can I answer to myself honestly?
    • do I need a partner or a critique group?
      • in person?
      • online?
Then...Get Ready:
  • Develop your strategy:
    • Establish criteria for your practice, even if it's arbitrary at first;
    • Patterns will emerge as you go along;
    • Determine what type of task(s) to practice:
      • repetitive?
      • innovative?
      • a mix?
Get Set:
  • The Gathering:
    • materials, tools
    • work-space
    • storage space
    • samples as prompts
    • a travel kit for work away from home

That sums up my time with Sue Reno...and this post is long enough.  Next up: Lyric Kinnard.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

May I Introduce You?

In less than 3 weeks, SAQA Western Canada has acquired two new Co-Reps!  Briefly mentioned in my last post, please welcome the Newest 'Kid' On Our Block:

Valerie (Val) Wilson
posing next to her creation, French Wonder
(Click on Val's name to find her website)

Like Coleen, Val is a seasoned artist.  She is a member of both the Fibre Art Network (FAN) and SAQA, and has contributed to exhibits for both organizations.  I asked her to tell us a bit about herself, so without further ado...
I have been quilting since 2000. I had always wanted to make quilts, like my grandmother had made – all scrappy and soft colours. My friend talked me in to making a couple of block of the month, and mystery, quilts. These were fun and a great learning experience. I learned, especially, that what I really wanted to do was make pictures with fabric.
My passion is to capture unique moments in time in my quilts. Although I occasionally dabble in abstracts, I find that I am drawn back to realism. I love using colour, and the tactile qualities of fabric and thread, to create original art.  I find my inspiration in the world that surrounds me, but I am particularly drawn to subjects in history, and nature.
Always seeking knowledge, and wanting to develop my expertise further, I have trained with fibre artists from around the world. With a love for being involved in any organization of which I am a member, I became the Fibre Art Network (FAN) Membership Co-ordinator in 2004, when I joined this co-operative of professional, Western Canadian fibre artists. And now a SAQA co-rep!
My award-winning work has been exhibited from British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada, and internationally from New Zealand to Houston, Texas. I have a solo exhibition coming up in 2016 at the Portage Arts Centre Art Gallery, in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
I teach courses on a regular basis both here in Winnipeg and across Canada.
I was born in Carberry, Manitobaamong the rolling sand hills. Craving change, I sampled life in the university town of Kitchener-Waterloo for a few years, but then decided that I could no longer resist the pull of the sunny climes of Manitoba, and now reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
With a full complement of Co-Reps once again, SAQA Western Canada is ready to take on a retreat, "pod" activities, and the up-coming All-Canada/All-SAQA combined exhibits, "My Corner of the World" and "My Corner of the World: Canada".  I don't know about you, but for me, it feels like the start of a new year!  ;-)

P.S. For Facebook fans, you can find each of us there:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Watch This Space...

For another new face!

SAQA member, Valerie Wilson of Winnipeg, MB, is our newest Regional Co-Rep for SAQA Western Canada (focusing on SK/MB area).  We had the pleasure of meeting her recently at Quilt Canada in Lethbridge, and then I was able to speak with her at length by telephone just prior to her accepting this volunteer post.  Coleen and I are looking forward to working with her over the next year or two.

I've asked Val to give us a bit of personal info about herself, and about her artistic journey...and a photo for posting in the right side-bar of this blog.  Currently...that's Val's lovely contribution to the 2015 SAQA Benefit Auction: "Bliss".  She is known for her portraiture and her depictions of the natural world.

Please welcome Val -- and stay tuned for an update so you can get to know her better!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Life Inspiring Art

My friend and SAQA colleague, Susan Lenz.

Pour a cuppa, and enjoy her TED talk.  What's Precious to you?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thirteen Ways...

Of Looking at a Blackbird...

Thanks to Chris Nielsen, Co-Rep in Atlantic Canada, for tracking down the link to Thomas McEvilley's essay, to which Namita Wiggers referred in her key-note speech at "Fiberlandia".

Be aware that the essay is dense reading!  Pour a cuppa, have a pen nearby for marginalia, and enjoy it HERE.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Where Do I Start?!

I promised some more posts about "Fiberlandia", the 2015 SAQA Conference in Portland, Oregon last month, so let me begin with that.  :-)

Fiberlandia Highlights I: The Keynotes

Namita Gupta Wiggers
The first of four keynote speakers at the Conference, Namita Gupta Wiggers is a curator, art historian, museum educator, ethnographer, design researcher, writer, teacher and studio art jeweller.

She opened our Conference on Friday, May 1, with her topic,
Quilt: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...

A rather cryptic she gave a bit of background.  Her example, "Object Focus: The Bowl", was a project undertaken at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2013, which explored the bowl as an example of an every-day object, an iconic and archetypal form from daily life and the challenge it is when a museum undertakes to present, analyze and consider such a form in  the context of its value, its cultural history.

Ms. Wiggers posited that there must be a different way to talk about craft-based work.  How does the quilt 'inhabit' the work that goes into its creation? Is there an archetypal form for the quilt, much like "the white cube" in contemporary art?

She then referred to Martha Buskirk's book, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art, in which it is suggested that the fracturing of artistic genres that began particularly in the mid-nineteen-sixties, when artists like Jackson Pollock "[created] paintings that destroyed painting itself", and Robert Rauschenberg ",,,used paint as a [construction] material like any other."

What evolved was the notion that the physical act of making -- i.e., the maker's process -- is as important as the end-product itself.  "A" quilt becomes "the" quilt.

Ms. Wiggers then explored this shift from materials to content, taking as her frame-work the essay, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", by Thomas McEvilley, and addressing the quilt specifically.

At this point, her presentation became rather complex and my notes, rather sketchy!  Here are the points I noted:

  • The power of the art quilt to break the picture plane -- materials, layers, scale, temporal duration;
  • The art quilt's context: where does the quilt move?
  • It's heritage -- which is complicated;
  • Time -- the maker's personal history;
  • Formal properties; e.g., stitching;
  • Attitudinal gestures: wit, irony, parody;
  • The viewers' biological/physiological response to the piece; and
  • What informs the maker's process?
    • Workshops? (e.g., Dorothy Caldwell on mark-making)
      • NOTE: Ms. Caldwell is one of the faculty at MAIWA Textile Symposium 2015 (Vancouver, B.C), and will be giving both a lecture and a 5-day workshop.
    • Self-critique? 
    • Self-reflexivity?
    • Studio/community?
  • Quilt artists mentioned:

Maria Shell
Our second keynote speaker, Maria Shell, turned the ostensibly dry topic of preparing proposals for shows and applying for artist's residencies and/or grants into an interesting, informative and very human journey.  She was so popular that she reproduced the text -- and photos -- of her talk on her blog, and will be presenting a webinar for SAQA members later this month (it will be recorded for those who cannot attend live).  Rather than summarize her talk as I did with Ms. Wiggers, I refer you to Ms. Shell's blog post, and to the registration page for the SAQA Webinar.  Enjoy!

Charlotte Bird
in her studio
Our last two keynote speakers were a pair: Beth Smith and Charlotte Bird.  Beth is the Executive Director of Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts and Textiles, and has a background as a curator, juror, lecturer, artist and author of articles on quilts and textiles.  Charlotte is the Past President of the Board of Directors of the Visions Art Museum, and has curated the Quilt Visions Biennial exhibitions since 2008.  She exhibits widely, and textile is but one medium in which she works.

Working together, Beth and Charlotte gave us a lively overview of all that goes into the production of the biennial exhibition, from preparing for the Call for Entry through the jury process to the hanging of the show.  The care and attention to every detail took my breath away.  Followiing their talk, Beth and Charlotte entertained questions about entering the Biennial exhibitions, about shipping quilts and the like.  Here are some of the quick notes I made during the question period:

  • Do you use a service to process your Calls for Entry?
    • Visions employs ArtCall to process juried calls for entry for their exhibitions (as does SAQA and many other art quilt organizations).  
  • Shipping tip: be sure to include a return shipping label and your contract with your item!
    • Herewith followed the discussion about return shipping to a U.S. venue from within the U.S. versus return shipping to a foreign country, which is not possible if the non-U.S. artist wants to use the Postal Service in her/his country.
  • A swimming pool noodle is a handy 'core' around which to roll a quilt for shipping.
  • For hanging? 
    • Some use a flat rod; others, wood, aluminum or plexi-glass.
And the Big Question -- saved for the end: what's the theme and who are the jurors for Quilt Visions 2016?
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the keynotes at the Portland Conference.  Next up?  Two of the four break-out sessions -- featuring Sue Reno and Lyric Kinnard.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Breath of Fresh Air

SAQA, as an organization, has been around for over 25 years now.  Some of its members have been around longer than that!  ;-)  It should come as no surprise, then that more than a few of us have our share of grey hairs and when fatigue hits after a 12-hour day of multi-tasking between work (in studio and outside), home, family, and volunteering, we wonder how we can possibly keep up the pace.

We also wonder where we can get some new ideas, some fresh perspectives.  How can we energize the members in our Region -- let alone in the wider organization?

One of the answers to that question is "new blood" -- especially members on the younger side, let's just say, on the younger side!  

On that note...

Let me introduce you to one of our own "fresh faces":  Coleen Adderley of Peachland, B.C. -- seasoned artist, young (under 40), well-educated mom and full-time Health Care admin professional -- and now our newest SAQA WC Co-Rep (B.C.)

Here's a bit about her own words:
I began quilting in 1999 by making bedding for my first-born daughter. I quickly discovered that I'd found a creative outlet that had no limitations. Over the years I developed as a quilter and began to explore different techniques. Eventually I discovered I could combine my passion for nature, photography and fibres into one.
Today I teach a variety of different classes sharing my love for creating landscapes using various different techniques.  Recently my fibre art was published in the 1000 Quilt Inspirations book. I have had my work on display at National Juried shows, local venues and currently I have a piece that has been travelling for the past 2 years. Several of my pieces can be found around the world.
In addition to my passion for creating art I work full-time inHealth Care and have 3 beautiful daughters. In accepting the SAQAWestern Canada co-rep position I am committed to helping you makethe most of your membership.
To that end -- helping SAQA WC members to make the most of their membership -- Coleen has created a brief survey.  This link will be sent out again in an e-mail newsletter to all members -- but you need complete the survey only once!  ;-)

Please click on the link below to answer a quick survey on how we can best meet your needs.

And...please welcome Coleen as our new SAQA WC Co-Rep (B.C.).  She plans to be at Quilt Canada on Friday and Saturday -- June 5 and 6 -- and will be at the SAQA Trunk Show booth at least part of that time.  Do look for her -- and drop by and say "Hi!"