Monday, December 30, 2019

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu...

At the Opening Reception for
My Corner of the World
Stratford, ON, May 2016
Checking back in the archives this morning, I found my first post on this SAQA Western Canada Blog.  As its title read, I was the "new kid on the block" -- a newly-minted Co-Rep for our Region, following in the footsteps of Patti Morris (now retired from SAQA), who'd served at least five years of a two-year term.

These were big shoes to fill (yes, I said this at the time, too!)  Patti didn't do much blog writing -- but she did spearhead at least two exhibits, along with her colleagues Jill Sullivan of B.C. and Dawn Piasta (MB/SK): "Meet the Best of the West" and "The Burgess Shale".  The latter exhibit is now part of the permanent collection at the Philip J. Curry Dinosaur Museum in Wembley, Alberta -- just 19 km. west of Grande Prairie.

Patti also managed to have almost annual "Parlour Meetings" in her spacious home in Red Deer.  Me?  I live in a 1,050 square foot mobile home in the tiny hamlet of Mirror, a good hour's drive NE of Red Deer.  It's perfect for my life and work, but...not for large groups!

I managed -- with the significant help of members Marie McEachern, Helene Blanchette and Alison Cowitz -- to orchestrate one in Calgary in September 2014.  In a blizzard that brought down trees and coated streets and highways with slush and ice.  The meeting was to include a workshop by Susan Purney Mark.  Bless her and over a dozen others who made it -- including my indefatigable team!  We had a great day!

Except for a brief interlude when Val Wilson (who took on Co-Rep MB/SK from Dawn) wrote the posts, I've been doing this Editorial task ever since.  In the past six-plus years, I've tried to glean news, share solo and group exhibit information, post up-dates re: SAQA Benefit and Spotlight Auctions and Conferences, and share information about our members -- people in a Region that comprises 29% of Canada's land mass, clustered on Vancouver Island, on B.C.'s Lower Mainland, in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg -- and sprinkled hither and thither in between. it's time for a fresh face, a new perspective and unique writing style to show up on these pages.  Co-Reps Jennie Johnston and Susan Selby have helped me put the word out...and now it's up to you.

Without a willing writer/Editor, these pages will disappear into Internet archives -- wherever that is.  Those who don't keep up with SAQA on its website or on Facebook, who don't (or aren't able to) participate in online meetings, and who don't read their newsletters -- whether from SAQA international or from our Co-Reps -- well...maybe they won't miss the stories about their colleagues, or news about the Region as part of the whole organization.

SAQA Regional Reps - Portland, 2015
But isn't that why we gather -- electronically and, when we're able, in person?

Connection, critique, inspiration, encouragement, education, exhibition...this is what SAQA is all about at every level.

Where am I going from here?  Not far -- not at the moment at least!  I'm a member of the SAQA Regional Grants Review Committee, chaired by Bethany Garner (former Co-Rep, Central Canada), alongside Georgia French, Karen Hansen, Jen Solon (Assistant Exec Director) and Desi Vaughn (Regional Reps Co-ordinator).

I'll be at MoSAiQA in March, and am excited to help Maggie Vanderweit and her team as an on-site volunteer.  It will be my fourth conference and my first since Portland (2015).  It's an understatement to say I'm excited about this first conference outside the U.S.!  Canadian members from coast to coast have played a quiet but firm role over the years, helping our neighbours to the south to develop international perspective as SAQA has grown, and we should be proud of that.

Closer to home, I've been selected as Feature Artist at the 21st Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale in April 2020...the first time a textile artist has been chosen for that honour.  As I work with the organizers to plan my special exhibit for that event, I am mindful of the role my SAQA membership will play in helping me to educate the general public about studio art quilts -- and I look forward to the challenge.

On January 1, 2020 I'll change the settings on the blog so that Jennie and Susan can be 'writers'. I'll keep my access to the blog in order to help a new Editor feel comfortable, and then bow out.  That said, I won't be a presence at all after March 31, 2020, and what will be, will be.

Thank you all for reading, all these years.  Thanks especially for those who sent me news to share, photos of their work, awards, workshops and other accomplishments.

I'd be remiss, though if I didn't close with a couple of reminders 😉:

The Call for Entry for Colour with a 'U' closes Friday, January 3.  Better hop to it if you plan to enter!

AND...submissions to the SAQA 2020 Spotlight Auction can be sent in any time now! (Eeeek! I have to make mine!)  Online submission ends February 1; Canadian artists have until February 21 for their piece to arrive at Maggie's home in Fergus, ON.  See this page for details!

All the best to you for the New Year -- and the New Decade...May 2020 bring you inspiration, creativity, new friendships and experiences...and many happy memories.  -- Margaret

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Life of a Fabric Artist -- Cathie Ugrin

In this post, MB/SK member Cathie Ugrin shares with us the very exciting work and exhibiting she's been doing.  Enjoy!

A Day in the Life of a Fabric Artist
Actually, the title of this blog post should read ‘A Season in the Life of a Fabric Artist’ and believe me, this has been a busy one! 
Two years ago, my good friend (and excellent photographer) Dmitry Kirshner and I decided to create an exhibit highlighting both of our work and playing off of each other. We named it ‘VIEWPOINTS – A Unique Photofabric Journey’ and started making our plan.

Featured in the invitation - bottom photo:
Endless Time

Endless Time

Endless Time - Detail

The main focus of this exhibit would be five images taken by Dmitry which I would than interpret in fibre.* Each photograph would be different and unique; each fibre art piece would reflect some element present in each of these photographs. This was one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I have ever done as it really pushed me outside of my comfort zone all whilst meeting numerous and continuous deadlines.
*Editor's Note: Dmitry's photographs are on the left; Cathie's interpretation, on the right.

Northern Lights/Northern Sky

Northern Sky

Northern Sky - Detail

Dancer/The Dancer

The Dancer  - Detail

Golden Aspens/Kaleidoscope of Seasons

Kaleidoscope of Seasons

Waiting/Stormy Skies

Stormy Skies - Detail

The rest of the exhibit was composed of individual work by both of us that fell within the theme. The gallery owner, Jordan Miller contacted the Winnipeg FreePress and VIEWPOINTS was the featured article for the October First Friday column!

Our exhibit dates were October 3 – 29, 2019 and we could hardly wait for our Opening Reception on October 11 - little did we know Mother Nature had other plans!  

Our families and friends were true Winnipeggers though – supportive, brave and not scared of a big dump of snow - and we did have a small gathering of people at the Opening Reception/ Blizzard evening.
With enough food for a small army, all purchased the day before, and lots of room to run around the empty gallery space, my grandkids were probably the happiest people there!
Jordan agreed to a Redo Reception that was well attended and all in all it was a fabulous experience for both Dmitry and I. We are already starting to plan VIEWPOINTS II where we will combine not only the concept of fibre and photography but the actual artwork as well.
At the exhibit, I also featured a sampling of a huge project I am working on for March 2020 - 6” x 6” thread portraits of seventy of the artists involved in the last ten years of the Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival.

I started with an ink image that I then traced onto Water Soluble Stabilizer, sewed over the lines on my fabric, dissolved the stabilizer and then finished the detailing and quilting. The finished pieces will hang as a massive grid which will be exhibited during all four days of the 2020 Festival.

Close-up: Matthew Rickets, Composer

Next up, the Textile and Fibre Artists of Manitoba were asked to show a portion of their
Manitoba Moments Exhibit at a Folk Music Workshop in support of Manitoba Opera’s ‘Susannah’, the premier opera of the 2019/20 Season.  As the TFAM Exhibits and Events Coordinator, I am always on the lookout for this unique kind of opportunity. We are so proud of this exhibit and it has been to 16 different venues since June 2018!

Close up: Manitoba Moments

Meanwhile, I was sewing like a maniac in preparation for the Winnipeg Art Gallery/ Manitoba Craft Council’s annual juried event, CRAFTED Show + Sale which took place at the WAG on November 8 & 9. Every time that I am accepted as a vendor at CRAFTED, I create a collection of Table Art specially for this fabulous event. I choose a theme that is reflective of what has been going on in my life – this year it was Inspiration!

I even ended up creating a double-sided, appliqued, reversible Table Art piece that I will definitely be making more of.
The idea came out of the practicality of not wanting the back to look like a dog’s breakfast after all the layers of stitching I was doing on the front. One of the Quilt Store owners who popped in to CRAFTED even asked me to teach this technique in the spring!

Detail: Bloom 'Table Art'

 To the left: Artichokes by the Dozen - from the front.

To the right: Artichokes by the Dozen - from the back

I couldn’t resist doing a few thread portraits of my grand-kids Henry and Ruby  as examples of possible commissions!

Finally, I finished off the month teaching and lecturing in Canmore, Alberta and enjoying a couple of days of vacation in the beautiful mountain air.  
The Play with Piecing technique [shown below] was inspired by the one day workshop I took from Joe Cunningham during 2015 Quilt Canada called Rock the Block. I have since modified the technique, added more fabrics and finishing options.

"Play with Piecing" - Class Sample

From the Editor:  Many thanks to Cathie for sharing a season of her artistic life with us!  This is the sort of story-telling that I believe weblogs (blogs) were made for: an assortment of photos with accompanying text that documents a personal journey and/or highlights events in the life of the writer.

As December winds down, I expect to have fewer opportunities to create posts of interest for our SAQA Western Canada membership, and as you likely know, I am retiring from the Blog Editor position at the end of this year.  If you like to tell a story -- or to help other SAQA WC members share their stories with others, please consider giving the Blog Editor job a go.  Contact me (Margaret) or one of your SAQA Western Canada Co-Reps (see the side-bar for links) if you are interested and/or need further information.

And thanks for your support!