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Friday, July 31, 2015

August News

As we head into August, we're all trying to wring out as much as we can from the warmer temps and longer hours of daylight. Still, exhibition deadlines loom as we head toward fall. You might wish to consider the following opportunities as you plan ahead.

And while you're organizing your calendar, why not include one of the member exhibitions listed below?

But first...

Karen Henderson has been awarded a three week Artist Residency at The Quarry at Marble House Project in Dorset, VT for later this summer. There she'll have time and space to work, while meeting eight other artists from working in a variety of disciplines.  Karen will be experimenting more with integrating mixed media materials and techniques with her textile/fiber mediums and methods.

Some background:
The mission of Marble House Project nurtures the imaginative spirit. Through artist residencies, workshops and sustainable agriculture, Marble House Project promotes an innovative atmosphere and exchange of ideas. Inspiration, contemplation and creativity are the hallmarks of the program. Marble House Project is founded on the belief that the act of creating, whether through art or in nature is where human potential begins and community thrives.

Call for Entries:


NICHE magazine is accepting applications
for the 2016 NICHE Awardsa prestigious juried competition recognizing excellence in fine craft design. 
Deadline: August 21, 2015
Professional and student artists may apply online. Contest categories include ceramics, fiber, glass, metal, wood, jewelry and more! 
Application and entry fee information, rules and guidelines are now available here.

SPUN  an innovative all fiber exhibition

detail by Beth Yazhari
Deadline: September 4, 2015  
Etui Fiber Arts
2106 Boston Post Road
Larchmont NY 10538
Show Dates: October 3 - 31 
Prospectus available here  
Juror: Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art which has more than 4,000 pieces of art -- including Renoir, Picasso, Chagall, and Rauschenberg -- in its permanent collection.  

Competition & Exhibition

Deadline: September 4, 2015
The Greater Denton Arts Council 
Full information, prospectus and online submissions 
available here.

Is anyone interested in starting an SDA Vermont Facebook page? 
Mary Elumsa, SDA Kansas Representative, has written a description of her experience using Facebook as a tool for communicating with state SDA members. She outlines how it started, how it has grown, and how it benefits members by connecting to a broader base of creative groups and activities.
Read her article here.
If this is something you are interested in pursuing for our group, contact Suzanne Loker at

Upcoming Exhibitions

Fiberworks: Converging Journeys
20 art quilts & fiber works by Marya Lowe  
Abstraction with Embellishments II                Marya Lowe

August 4 - 31, 2015
Deborah Rawson Memorial Library
8 River Road
Jericho, Vermont  05465

Listening to the Moon
An exhibit of textile collages by Elizabeth Fram
Sunlight on the Forest Floor            Elizabeth Fram

Surrounding an ongoing fascination with Japanese gardens, the 15 pieces in this exhibition are rooted in the art of paying attention.
August 19 - October 12, 2015
Hartness Library, East Gallery
Main St, Randolph Center, VT 05061
(800) 431-0025
Mon. - Fri., 8am-4:30pm


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Viewpoint: Judy B. Dales' Road to Landing a Museum Exhibit

I think it's safe to say we can all share in the excitement of our own Judy B. Dales' solo show "Ahead of the Curve", currently exhibiting at the Shelburne Museum. In that light, I asked Judy if she would be willing to write something about the experience for our blog. In the resulting essay below, she has generously volunteered details about her journey, including the challenges experienced and lessons learned along the way. 
If you haven't had a chance to see the show yet, do be sure to find time before the close date of October 31!

How Does an Artist get an Exhibit in a Museum?
The Long Answer to a Short Question

I have been making fiber art for almost 45 years and my career has, of course, had both ups and downs. Early on, I had the advantage of being “Ahead of The Curve” (pun intended). People were startled and fascinated by the idea that quilts were to be hung on the wall and viewed as art. Since I was part of one of the early waves of art quilters, wonderful opportunities came my way. I had a one-woman show at the NJ state museum which I’m not quite sure I fully appreciated at the time. I received two fellowship grants from the state of New Jersey, and had a piece purchased into the fine quilt collection of the Newark Museum. I did some exciting commission work including one for the Morris Museum of Arts and Sciences in NJ and the NIH’s Children’s Inn, won a number of awards and sold practically everything I made.

Along with early successes came teaching opportunities and I soon found myself traveling constantly, often to exotic and exciting places. I continued to sell most of the pieces I created, but before they went to live in their forever homes, my quilts served as an effective marketing tool for my teaching career. My name became synonymous with “curved seam piecing” and I was asked to write a book about my technique. Curves (pieced, fused or raw-edge appliquéd) are now so commonplace that it’s hard to realize that back then, piecing curves was a new and exciting idea. Once again, I was in the right place at the right time.

Enchanted Forest                                                      © Judy B. Dales

Eventually however, things changed. I noticed that I seemed to be getting rejected from juried shows more often than not. This was a new experience for me and I spent a great deal of time worrying about why this was so. The answer did not come quickly, but I gradually came to understand there were a number of factors at play. The most obvious was that the competition was stiffer. There were way more art quilters, and we were all competing for the same spots. It was at this time that quilting became big business, and innovation exploded in the quilt world—new tools, new techniques, new ideas and new approaches. At the same time, organizations such as SDA and SAQA, that serve the art quilt community, came into being and began promoting and producing exhibits for art quilters. These were the shows I was being rejected from.

I know that every artist gets rejected from shows. It’s part of being an artist. But the number of rejections was unbelievably disheartening. After fretting about it for years I gradually decided that I had now found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had been around for quite a while so I was no longer new or fresh. My style was easily recognizable and perhaps it was time to make room for newcomers—someone new and different. Could it be that I should count myself among the artists who peak too early?? Gasp??

I also realized I was out of step with the hot trends of the moment. Experimentation with different materials, incorporating new techniques (dyeing, photo imaging, fusing, collage, beading, embroidery, etc.) were all the rage and the emphasis was always on “new and innovative”. 

Moon Dreams                                                       © Judy B. Dales

I have tried many of the new techniques and enjoyed many of them, but found myself returning time and again to the simple techniques I love. I draw a design free-hand, enlarge it and create templates, then piece the individual hand-cut pieces together and machine quilt to finish. I wondered if my preference for these time-honored techniques was one of the things that provoked the rejections. I was definitely out of step with the trends sweeping through the quilt world, and I expended quite a bit of energy fretting about this.

At the same time, I became discouraged about teaching. It seemed that the trend was toward quick, easy in everything and I often felt pressured to make my classes easier, the technique more “accessible”, the product accomplished in a shorter time.

It took me a lot of time and some major internal wrestling to come to terms with all these issues. I finally decided that I had to be true to myself and continue to work the way I want to work, and to produce the kind of work that pleases me. I love my process. Every step is satisfying and even the most tedious parts provide pleasure. I decided that rather than push myself into using techniques that don’t appeal to me, I would concentrate on improving the content of my work. 

Reverberation                  © Judy B. Dales

I have been taking classes in other media to broaden my perspective, and also a drawing class, an on-line creativity class, and a few classes on computer programs. I continue my practice of drawing whenever possible and keep a file of all the designs I produce as well as inspiring photos and images. I take a lot of photographs as a reminder of things that interest me.

At the same time, I have turned away from national juried shows, concentrating on showing my work locally, networking and working for local arts organizations, and increasing my online presence. I continue to produce art quilts, but avoid themed shows, calls for entry that have stringent size requirements, and any other exhibition opportunities that overly influence the course of my work. I try to avoid stress, which means no deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, and no competition.

I am simply trying to concentrate on the work, allowing myself to work how I want and when I want to, which has brought much of the creative joy back into my life. I am determined to ignore the newest trends, the latest fads and the all too prevalent push for technical innovation and experimentation, focusing instead on improving my chosen methods and the designs I choose to work with. 

"Ahead of the Curve"                                          Shelburne Museum

This is not an easy thing to do, but the wonderful exhibit of my work currently at The Shelburne Museum seems to me to be the reward for this effort. It is a validation of not only my work, but of the path I have chosen in the last decade. It tells me that my efforts are leading me in the right direction, allowing me to grow as an artist, but at my own pace and in the direction that I have chosen.

Which brings me to the point of this writing: how does an artist get the opportunity for an exhibit at a prestigious museum like The Shelburne? There are, of course, many specific things one can do: have good PR materials, get your work out where it will be seen, cultivate relationships with gallery owners, museum curators and other professional artists, make your name and work known. But what it really boils down to are two all-important criteria.

The first, and the most important, is to do the work. Get into your studio and make the work, and keep making it. There will be good pieces, horrible pieces, unfinished pieces, and a few brilliant ones. There will be good days and bad. There will be anxiety, worry and frustration, mixed with a little jubilation and pride. You just have to keep making art if you want to make something of yourself as an artist. You have to do the work. There are no shortcuts.

"Ahead of the Curve"                                              Shelburne Museum

Classes are fine. Teachers can help, and learning stuff online can smooth the process. But it is only by making art day after day that you will find your own path, your unique voice and vision. Learn to delve deep inside yourself and bring whatever is there into the art you create. You literally have to learn how to put your “Self” into your art so that it will be unique, authentic and worthy.

And the other imperative is to be as professional as you can in ALL situations.. Forget about being an eccentric, quirky artist. Be responsible and conscientious. Do things when you say you will do them, meet deadlines, hold up your end of the bargain. By doing this, you make the other person’s job easier and they will remember you fondly. On the other hand, if you are a flake, demanding and difficult to work with, that will be remembered also. 

Lunar Reflections                                             © Judy B. Dales

I’ve been on the other side of this fence, having organized craft shows and curated traveling exhibitions, so I learned early on how important it is to be professional in all circumstances. Curators and gallery owners are only human. When evaluating and choosing artists, they can’t help but be swayed by the reputation of the artists. Granted, the excellence of the work could perhaps outweigh an artist’s poor reputation, but wouldn’t you really rather have your professional reputation enhance your work and encourage a curator to choose you, rather than prevent him/her from making that choice.

I think we artists often try to put the cart before the horse, dreaming about fame and fortune before we have earned it. It may seem that some artists luck out and opportunities just fall into their laps, but I’m sure this is the exception, not the rule. Exhibits in museums come to artists who have worked diligently for many years to make their work the best it can be. And they support their work with a high level of professionalism and commitment, making it easy for a curator to choose them out of an extremely large pool of candidates. So if your dreams for the future include a museum exhibition, do what the T-shirt recommends: “Go to the studio and make stuff!” And then do it again! And again!

It’s all about the work!

Judy B Dales

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July News

Summer is finally here!

Marya Lowe's work will be featured in
Fiberworks: Converging Journeys 
August 4 - 31, 2015
Deborah Rawson Memorial Library
8 River Road
Jericho, Vermont  05465

Abstraction with Embellishments II                Marya Lowe
In a solo exhibit featuring 20 art quilts and fiberworks, the exhibited pieces witness Marya's emergence as an artist, trace her growth on several parallel journeys, and establish a voice as those paths begin to converge.

"Play of Light"
Please take a moment to enjoy the subtle and elegant colors in the detail image of Almuth Palinkas' lovely art textile "Play of Light" that now backs our blog header. A full image and informational details appear below.

Play of Light                                                    Almuth Palinkas

Moorman Technique (inlay)

Silk, cotton, metallic, mounted on linen ground

37 in H  x  34 in W

Statement:  The origin of this piece was one skein of hand-dyed silk yarn, which I purchased from the dyer.  I liked the skein just as it was, for itself.  To keep the colors as they were and to use them in a woven textile, I made the weaving the width of the skein and simply wove back and forth, row by row, until I had used it all.  The skein forms the bottom part of the textile.  The soft blending of the skein colors made me think of reflections in water.  This led to the choice of clear-edged shapes above the skein, the rectangles loosely repeating the color below.

Check out Almuth's website to see more of her work.