September 28, 2016

ArtPrize 2016: Meijer Gardens

I dipped my toe into ArtPrize with a stop at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. While there were several interesting pieces that I will chat about below, there was nothing that totally wowed me. Definitely some pieces I would vote thumbs up on but nothing I would beg you to go see with your own eyeballs. Know what I mean? And of course I am lucky enough to experience art with my children in tow; I am always amused at their reactions. They seem very accepting of absurdity.

The pieces on display at the Meijer Gardens are all fitting the chosen theme: Almost Home: Grand Rapids In Focus. So each artist is reacting in some way to our city, whether or not that experience was one of a native or an outsider.

Ditch Lily Drawing
Nathan Lareau

This one appealed to both myself and my children because it is made of the dried stems left behind when day lilies are done blooming. My kiddos are always plucking them up out of the ground and repurposing them as wands and swords and nature stew stirrers. So they were quite delighted to realize that was what this piece was created with. The other element that makes this piece special is light and shadow. I will admit it is rather simple but I like it all the same. And yes, it does make me wonder what I could glue to the wall!

Seeking Stillness
Joyce Recker

I like the nest! Y'all know I really like nests and I can appreciate the artist's use of one as a symbol of home and shelter. As a designer, I appreciate small, well thought-out details and this piece does not disappoint. The end caps of the bottom piece of wood are each tiny little house shapes, stained in a darker contrasting color. Love that.

Bundle Field
Kurt Kaiser and John Cloud Kaiser

The impact of this aptly named installation was bright and cheerful and oh-so-big. Apparently the two artists hosted several gatherings where the guests worked together to construct these giant bundles all made of a crazy kaleidoscope of repurposed materials roped together. I like the community aspect of this and the idea of what is basically an art-making party really appeals to me. And of course I appreciate the bright colors!

Ode to W. Haldane (Pearl & Ottawa)
Cheryl Wassenaar

The artist for this piece has family ties to Grand Rapids and the furniture industry. In fact, the tools and the work bench both belonged to her father. The more intriguing aspect for me is of course the pieces of furniture that are emerging from the wall. I think they are a suitable symbol for all of history, personal and corporate as they are a subtle presence at all times – blending in but also being unavoidable.

September 23, 2016

Wisconsin love: Milwaukee Art Museum (3 paintings I liked)

Happy Friday, friends. I love the color in these! Also, it should be noted they are all quite large. On a loosely related note, I am finding that size can be a really good thing for impact when it comes to decorating around my home (special thank you to the The Nester for bringing that to my attention).

Ocean Park No. 68 by Richard Diebenkorn

Across the Fields and into the Distance by Hans Hoffmann

Phenomena Blue Held Over by Paul Jenkins

September 22, 2016

more on artist Nick Cave

I saw this piece at the Milwaukee Art Museum and I just loved it. A cross between a cactus and a Christmas tree and it is a costume! What the heck is this anyway? The artist, Nick Cave, refers to them as "soundsuits." I went scouting on the world wide web and found some more great images and videos of his work. I had to share it because I think it is so very awesome!

Buy photographs of the soundsuits here

Buy photographs of the soundsuits here

Go see more! (yes, you! yes, right now!):

Soundsuits in motion (only 53 seconds)

More soundsuits in motion + interview (2 minutes)

Interview with Nick Cave by Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston (13 minutes)

September 21, 2016

Wisconsin love: Milwaukee art museum (the modern stuff)

My five-year-old commented "If it is a museum for art it makes sense that the building is art too."
Be still, my heart! Architect for this portion is Santiago Calatrava.
If you follow me on Instagram (@amandabridle) you know I have a real love for what I call "weird art." If something is completely out there and strange and unlike anything I've seen before, well, that's just my favorite. I like unique explorations. I was delighted to find that my visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum featured plenty of the strange and modern. As a bonus, some of the artists are still living and currently working and I've added them to my Instagram feed so I can keep up with their work.

Edge of England by Cornelia Parker
Yes, this does make me want to hang strings of objects in my house. 

I came around the corner and saw this scene and my heart beat a little faster. For real!

Bluffs by Tara Donovan
 Made entirely of buttons and glue. For real.
I saw her work at the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. as well.

High Rise by Claire Zeisler

terraform 02 by Jason S. Yi
This piece is made of metal folding chairs, plastic stretch wrap, and plastic ties.

Detail of a large wall-sized piece Remember Me, Katrina by Susie Ganch.
Made of plastic coffee cup lids.

Soundsuit by Nick Cave
This was my all-time favorite!

September 20, 2016

Wisconsin love: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Modern use of old-style type: layers and playful letterforms topped with white ink (fun!)

Friends, I have been on the email list for Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum for years. Once I realized we were going to be in town seeing their museum was on my "must" list! My peoples did not agree and spent the same hours at the laundromat and the library. Hee. I was happy to go by myself anyway.

A set of woodtype
This image is GIANT! Like 4 feet tall and it was carved in one huge piece of wood.
For someone like myself with a background in graphic design, an education in typography, an interest in history, and a delight in visual inspiration this place was a playground! I was so pleased to have time to wander and study at my leisure. The only thing that would have made it better was if the timing had been right for me to take part in one of their day-long workshops. I hope to make it to one someday!

This display gives you a rough idea how printing works.
There is a plate for each individual ink color. In this case, they are carved out of wood.
Printed one at a time on top of each other results in the final image.
Not only has the museum done an amazing job of showcasing, documenting, and preserving the history of Hamilton (check out the videos on YouTube!) but they've taken steps to be quite forward thinking as well. They host workshops, they have on-site artists and interns, and they continue to expand their collection of wood type as they accept and slowly organize enormous donations of wood type from other locations (one such donation was 6 semi-truck loads full!). There is some amazing work being done by some very passionate people.

I have multiple photos of these images displaying available border designs. I am a bit obsessed.
I can't wait to sit down with my sketchbook and play with these.

First off – the giant number 5! Awesome. Second, metallic ink – ooh la la!

September 19, 2016

Wisconsin love: barn quilts!

Happy Monday, blog friends! You might have noticed the new school year starting threw off my posting schedule (or my everything schedule!) but I am back at it today. ArtPrize officially starts on Wednesday so you know I will have a lot to say once I get out there and see all the crazy, amazing, wonderful, inspiring art that I can feast my eyes on. 

Today I am going to share my photos of barn quilts! These are specifically from Door County, a skinny little peninsula of Wisconsin that stretches out into Lake Michigan and creates Green Bay. I am quite sure they are in other places in Wisconsin but there is only so much barn-quilt-gazing one can expect out of one's husband and children! I am thinking it might be a midwest-specific phenomenon though.

Most of these photos were taken as the sun was setting and were were heading back to our campsite after a very full day of exploring Door County. The light was golden and the quiet farm field were a glorious green blur out the window. Even though I am city girl I sure can see the appeal of all that peacefulness stretching out before your eyes. Makes me curious if my tree-loving self will appreciate the open space out west when I visit there someday.

A heartfelt thank-you to the artists who painted these beauties and the people who put the effort into hanging them up on the barns.

September 7, 2016

Wisconsin love: John Michael Kohler Art Center (the bathrooms are awesome)

So the John Michael Kohler Arts Center has a history and heritage entwined with the Kohler family and Kohler Company famous for its bathroom fixtures so it should be no surprise to us that the bathrooms in the Arts Center are themselves art. There is apparently a pretty unique residency program where artists get to learn to use the industrial equipment. Only later when I was reading more about it did I realize there are other bathrooms in the building that would have been equally as interesting to see. The ones I have photos of are from the main floor nearest to the entrance. The women's restroom was by artist Cynthia Constantino.

My girls were absolutely delighted with the tiles and the hand-painted clothing and accessories. I think the bathroom might just have been their favorite thing to see in the whole place!

And of course this post wouldn't be complete without a peek at the men's bathroom. I just stuck my head in for a quick photo! The men's room was by artist Matt Nolen. Please don't be confused by my photo – the opposing tile wall is reflected in this row of mirrors.

September 6, 2016

Wisconsin love: John Michael Kohler Art Center (artist Jennifer Angus)

So… I got a little obsessed with Secret Lives by Jennifer Angus. Bug snowflakes, people! Insect wallpaper. Yes, those are real insects. Giant and colorful and amazing in pattern form. Jennifer talks about where she gets her insects on her website. The entire time I was at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center I kept getting drawn back to that corner. And it was the first thing I showed my daughters when they were done with their creations made in the on-site ARTery. These insects are absolutely jaw-dropping and shockingly beautiful. I love strange art and this certainly qualifies in the best of ways!

September 5, 2016

Wisconsin love: John Michael Kohler Arts Center (artist Jessica Calderwood)

Bloom by Jessica Calderwood
First off, if you ever end of traveling in Wisconsin and you like art, well, you better get yourself over to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheybogan. We were having an "off" day (2.5 weeks of togetherness will do that to a family) and the weather was so-so and after having a very windy picnic I kind of insisted on going to this place. Y'all know me, I had done my research ahead of time so no awesome art destination was escaping my radar. It was one of those places that was really for me more than anyone else in my family but they all found it amusing enough. All that to say, please visit!

Head Full of Thistle, Bad Seed, and Haze – all by Jessica Calderwood
My favorite new artist discover in Wisconsin was the lovely Jessica Calderwood. I imagine her to be a lovely person since I find her work lovely. Slightly odd, occasionally disturbing, but mostly pretty. I was very amused by the lady legs attached to plant life. Or the portraits of flowers. And her clever titles are just as telling as the pieces. Despite these pieces being faceless there is a startling amount of emotion in each of them.

Succulent, Barren, Propagated, and Rooted – all by Jessica Calderwood
I just had to devote a whole post to her because I couldn't pick just one favorite.

So Square by Jessica Calderwood

September 2, 2016

DC inspiration: Renwick Gallery (part 2)

One more post on the Renwick Gallery, friends, and I will have completed my Washington, D.C. sharefest and will officially move onto Wisconsin. You might not think "art" when you think "Wisconsin" but I was pleasantly surprised by my art experiences there. Come back next week for more!

Janet Echelman is a brand new artist to me and I was in awe of her piece. Site-specific art made just for a particular place is pretty cool anyways. Not only was there the sculpture hanging from the ceiling but also the lights and the carpet and the floor cushions. The entire experience was designed.

The piece is titled 1.8  – the number of microseconds the day was shortened  on the day of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Her powerful immersive piece visually represents the energy released during that event. While brushing my teeth this morning and writing this post in my head I was thinking about how this piece of art takes something absolutely horrific and displays it so beautifully. A very curious thing to ponder. You can watch a short video of the artist discussing the piece.

September 1, 2016

Lake Michigan inspiration: water and sky

My dear readers, the water and sky are so much more than blue and our journey around Lake Michigan this summer proved that point over and over again. Fresh blues and greens are a delight to the eyes!

I put together some color palettes for anyone about to embark on new creative ventures or home decorating projects.

Empire, Michigan

Manistique, Michigan

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (within Door County)