by Shereen LaPlantz
Art is sometimes best experienced when you can talk directly with the artist. Here’s a unique opportunity: Linda will be at Nine Gallery on Saturday, August 27 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
This is a great time to learn more about the story behind the art direct from the artist herself. And, since this is also the last weekend of the show, it’s a great chance to see this remarkable work before it comes down for good.
Nine Gallery is located at 122 Northwest 8th Avenue inside Blue Sky Gallery in Portland’s Pearl District. Hours are Tuesday -Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Stop by 23 Sandy Gallery to view Linda’s other show also on view this month. Here at 23 Sandy Gallery we are featuring a selection of her painted artist books and smaller paintings.
An Amazing Week with Uncommon Threads!
|Just a sampling of the works submitted to Uncommon Threads.|
Wait until you see the beauties I just spent my week with: 227 pieces of important book and paper art by 120 artists. The theme for Uncommon Threads was “The Handicrafts in Book Arts” and it proved to be a very popular theme. Artists from all over the United States plus England, Australia, Argentina and Canada submitted an amazing array of works using beading, sewing, embroidery, knitting, felting, handmade paper plus just about any other traditional handicraft you can think of.
The process of jurying a show is really something unique. Having juried many shows both here for the gallery and for other outside shows, I am always amazed at how much time goes into the process. Usually we have a guest juror or two for juried shows. The nice thing about a guest juror is that I have someone else to blame when artists ask me why they didn’t get in. For this show, I really wanted to jury the show myself. Having taken sewing classes in 4-H in middle school, and having played with just about every kind of handicraft myself at one point or another (macrame, anyone?), I was really excited to see how artists were using these crafts in the book and paper arts realm.
One of the important things for me is to avoid rash judgements. When the images come in they are immediately downloaded into one big folder on my computer and not looked at again until everything is in. I consciously avoid the urge to judge or categorize any work too soon.
When I sit down to really start the jurying I spend a lot of time reading the artist statement for each work submitted. The thought process and the concept behind the work are just as important to me as what the work looks like in photos. I want to know the back story for each piece so that I can see that the work is a well rounded project.
Then I put all of the submitted photos into Adobe Bridge and run through a slide show several times to really get to know the work. Each artist is allowed to submit up to three photos of up to three different artworks. That can add up to a lot of photos! For this show we received 619 photographs.
The next step is to start rating the work. I assign each piece a rating of 1 to 5 stars and allow myself several days to go through the images multiple times. After much sorting and culling, the works that stick in my mind, those that come to me while sleeping, showering or on my morning run are the ones that I know are the most powerful and affecting works. Conversely, the one’s that I’m concerned about for one reason or another also come up at these times.
One more run through each work checking sizes, materials and construction methods allows me to visualize how large the works are and how they will fit in the gallery.
Next, I print out and cut apart contact sheets of all the highest-rated works and spread them all out on my dining room table. Each piece is considered for how it fits with the whole of the show. At this point I try to make sure the show is well balanced as far as techniques or themes. Do we have too many embroidered books? Or too many books about grandmothers? Are we missing any of the important techniques?
The last step is checking to make sure all of the final selections will fit in the gallery. Invariably, we always have too many pieces. This time we ended up with 65 highest rated pieces—which just will not fit in our space. Whittling it down to somewhere between 40 and 50 pieces is painstaking and difficult. At this point, late in the week, I am in love with all the works. I feel like I know them intimately and truly want everyone who submitted to be in the show. Taking pieces out, especially those by artists I know, truly affects me. But, what is the saying about hard things making us stronger? After much hand-wringing and fretting over each and every work I know that we have ended up with a cohesive, compelling exhibition showing a considered variety of techniques, concepts, themes or topics. Making sure that every artist’s voice is heard is what, in the end, makes for a terrific show. And, I can’t wait to show it to you.
Thank you to all of the artists who submitted to Uncommon Threads. It was an honor to consider each and every piece. I’ll post a list of accepted artists soon. Stay tuned for more details.
Uncommon Threads: The Handicrafts in the Book and Paper Arts
One of the best aspects of working in the field of book and paper arts is the chance to work with such varied artistic materials and techniques—even traditional handicraft techniques. Think of knitting, embroidery, sewing, beading, felting, needlework, stitching, quilting and any other myriad possibilities. Combine these techniques or materials with a strong concept, meaningful content, a story to tell or a compelling narrative and we have a new era in the book and paper arts. This exhibit is open to hand crafted book and paper arts related works created as either edition or one-of-a-kind. Artist books, sculptural books, book objects, altered books, zines, broadsides and sculptural pieces are all encouraged.
Submissions are due by midnight on Saturday, August 13, 2011
A complete call for entries for Uncommon Threads can be found here.
Here at 23 Sandy we are currently in the heat of Uncommon Threads, a national juried exhibition of artist books. Entries are rolling in and it looks to be a fantastic show.
One of the hardest parts about entering a juried show is providing good quality images of your books for submission. Unfortunately, about 25% of all books submitted to our juried shows suffer due to incorrect resolution settings, poor tonal balance or even out-of-focus photographs.
When you are entering a juried show, your photographs will be used for curating the show, but they may also be used in printed or online catalogs. We always recommend that you put your best foot forward as you never know who might notice your artwork. Maybe a coveted librarian or museum curator will see the catalog and want to purchase your book. Making sure your images are the best quality possible will help you cinch the sale and get you into the show.
The 23 Sandy Blog features two articles about photographing your books using your own camera in a home environment. You can read the first one here. But, there are times when you either don’t have the equipment or software necessary or just don’t have the time or the brainpower for all the technical digital details. In that case, there are other options.
Above photo: Jovenes by Barbara Gilbert. Photo by Dan Kvitka
One option is to hire a professional photographer to shoot photographs of your books. This is always something I highly recommend. Not only will you use these images now for your exhibition entry, you will use them for many years to document your career as an artist. From web sites, to library catalogs your images will travel far. Professional photos are a good investment in your work and your career.
But, finding and affording a photographer can be another story. Some professionals charge by the hour, some by the item, and some have a flat minimum fee. Within that first hour you can usually get multiple shots of a few different books. When the job is done they will provide you with a disk with your images in several different sizes and file formats.
Ask other artists in your area who shoots photographs of three dimensional artwork or who does good “product shots.” Referrals from other book artists are always a great way to get started. Show the photographer images of other artist books so they have an idea of what you like for background and lighting options.
Here in Portland we have more photographers per capita than almost anywhere I have ever been. Two that I can highly recommend are Stephen Funk and Dan Kvitka. Both have full studios with professional lighting and backdrops set up and ready to go.
Check to see if you have a local a community resource to help you make your own photographs. Here in Portland we are very fortunate to have Newspace Center for Photography. This amazing non-profit resource has darkroom and digital labs that can be rented by the hour plus an extensive roster of workshops—including workshops on studio lighting and product photography.
Newspace also has a terrific option for book artists who have a good quality digital camera but no backdrops or lighting. They offer a lighting studio to rent at a special artists rate of just $20 per hour. It include lights, (either strobes or hot lights), backdrops, softboxes and any thing you might need. Bring your books and your camera and you are ready to go. (One more reason to appreciate the portability of our art form!) In addition, Newspace is staffed by an incredibly enthusiastic and helpful staff who are happy help you get started.
Another idea: perhaps your local university has a photography department and can refer you to some students who need a project for a class assignment. Someone just getting started as a photographer might be less expensive or might even be able to barter for the work. But beware: the old adage about getting what you pay for is really true. (Believe me, I’ve been down this road. You’ll see plenty of not so good shots on my own web site.)
Explore your options when you get ready to enter a juried show. Good photographs are vital to your success. The investment you make in your work today is worth the extra effort and expense in the long run. One sale of one book just might make it all worthwhile.
Good luck and write to me if you have any questions.
Friday, August 5, 5-8:00 p.m.
at 23 Sandy Gallery
You’re invited. Please join us for First Friday. We’ll be celebrating the opening of Jim Kazanjian’s surreal photo compositions and Linda Welch’s painted artist books. Stop by for a glass of wine, a bit of nosh and some great art on a fine warm summer evening!
Preview Jim’s work here.
And Linda’s work here.
See you soon.