Sunday, July 13, 2008

Convergence - Part Two (Classes)

Good grief, so sorry about the delay to those who were looking for more posts about Convergence. I managed to get a lovely kidney infection and landed in the hospital last Wednesday with a 104.9 degree temperature after running low-grade fevers since last Saturday evening. (I kept thinking I was going to recover and it kept coming back!)

At any rate, I'm up to my eyeballs in lovely antibiotics and am feeling mostly human again, so I thought I'd post about the first couple classes I took at Convergence.

To keep this post from getting hugely long, I thought I would break up my classes into two groups of two. As you'll be able to tell, I lean towards more theory based seminars, rather than classes that teach a particular technique (I learn very well from books and actually really enjoy doing the research and learning and experimenting with various structures, techniques, etc.)

First up, The Art of Business - How to Approach Galleries, taught by Kate Anderson who used to be the director of the Duane Reede Gallery. She gave lots of good advice about what galleries look for in artists (for example - maturity of vision, consistent style, originality, whether the work is sellable, and whether it is comparable in vision/pricepoint with other work in the gallery), and how to put together a professional marketing package to send to galleries you are interested in. Kate did a wonderful job in letting us - the students - direct the discussion, and was very encouraging of questions/concerns, etc. The discussion covered a wide range of marketing-oriented topics from taking decent photographs of your work to how to put together a good C.V. I'm nowhere near the point of being ready to approach galleries yet, but I'm hoping I will be in a couple of years, so this was all very useful information.

Interestingly enough, she did make a comment in passing about Etsy when one of the other folks mentioned it - as I've been hearing quite a bit lately, it seems one needs to be cautious about mentioning Etsy in a fine art or fine craft context. On the one hand, a gallery obviously wouldn't appreciate the competition. On the other, I got the distinct impression that - how to put this delicately? That Etsy can be viewed as unprofessional/low-end, which is such a huge shame. I mean, I know there's a lot of not-too-wonderful stuff on Etsy, but there are some artists there that just blow my socks off as well - the trouble being finding the latter... But, that's a whole other - huge - topic.

The second class I took was called "Complex Pleating" and was taught by Joan Michaels Paque. Do yourself a favor and trot right over to her Flickr account and check out her fiber, paper and mixed media art, she's really very amazing. Seriously, go now!

(See what I mean?? This is from Joan's Flickr account - wowzers!)

When I first walked in, I almost walked back out, it wasn't what I was expecting from the looks of the samples on the tables at the front of the room. But boy am I ever glad I stayed! Joan was a bit disorganized, but charmingly so, and the whole topic is just fascinating - I think that she just has so much knowledge to try to instill that it's overwhelming to try to squish it into a little seminar.

I also have the feeling that if I had been able to attend her three day workshop "Experience and Explore Kinetic Dimensional Weaving, Pleat Folds and Tessellations" I would have absolutely loved it as well. I'm jealous of the people that did attend it. I'll just have to hope that I have another chance in the future (three more days away from home at this point would have been cruel and unusual punishment for poor Mr. SkiingWeaver).

Mostly what she showed us was her work with folding paper, but the mind boggles with possibilities in applying this to textiles, in my opinion...

The top piece, in orange, is actually made from fabric - the pleats and creases are ironed right in so that the fabric retains the shape. The bottom, white piece, is paper. Isn't it a great shape??

Paper again.

I absolutely fell in love with this little piece. Figured out how to make it and everything - if anybody noticed a dark-haired woman sitting at various tables in the Convention Center between classes obsessively folding graph paper (took a while to work out the angles to that it would curve enough when I did it myself) - that was me! And then I was coloring on graph paper and folding it to work out design possibilities...

Now that I've done the Convergence thing, I really, really wish I had signed up for more classes! I followed various peoples' advice (probably for the first time ever, lol) and only signed up for four classes, thinking I'd be overwhelmed with the exhibits, vendor hall, etc. I should have known myself well enough to know that four wasn't nearly enough. (I hate to say it but I'm really not much of a shopper, so I didn't spend a lot of time in the vendor hall...) When I think of those two empty afternoon slots that could have been filled with more learning, well, phooey.

But that's also a comment on the quality of the classes I took - I thought each of them was fantastic! Wonderfully friendly teachers, interesting classmates, very well done.

So, for my next post, I'll talk about my final two classes, which were on Color Theory - both very different, but both excellent as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Convergence - Part One (Tampa)

I think I've been avoiding posting about Convergence. Probably because there is *so* much to talk about that I don't even really know where to begin...

So, I'll just begin with talking a little bit about Tampa. And then the classes I took. And, finally, some of the absolutely fantastic work (and some less than fantastic work - eeks) that I saw there. So, the easiest first - a bit about the little corner of Tampa that I was in for the Conference.

The Tampa Convention Center, where Convergence was held:

Palm tress are interesting beasties, aren't they?

Here's the view from my hotel room (I stayed at the Westin Harbor Island):

And, to get to the Conference Center, I took a short walk over the bridge...

One of the days, during lunch time, I poked around a bit in the business district of Tampa. It was sooooo HOT. Unbelievable, actually - mid-90s and crazy humid. I could never, ever live in a climate like that, I'd melt. (Made me remember one of the reasons why I was so gung-ho to move away from Texas all those years ago, Irish girls from New England literally cannot take the heat!)

Carlos (Mr. SkiingWeaver) says it sounds a lot like Puerto Rico in the summer, which makes sense.

Very neat fountain, reflected in a building. What completely cracked me up were these guys:

Check him out! Isn't he neat?? I kept seeing them meandering around downtown. I'm sure to Tampa/Florida people he's just like a pigeon, but I still thought he was pretty cool. Crazy tourist lady taking pictures of the pigeons. LOL (Is it an ibis? I'm not sure!) Hey, warm climate people take pictures of snow after all...

I took the trolley out to Ybor City (an older neighborhood, it used to be full of Cuban cigar factories), but didn't take any pictures - it's mostly restaurants and college bars now with just a few interesting shops thrown in, so it was a little disappointing. I was hoping for a little bit more of an ethnic vibe, but, no dice, rats. (To be fair, I am a tough customer - I lived in Mexico City for six weeks one summer, and we've spent a lot of time in Spain, too...)

OK, now that I've gotten started, I'll keep going. Stay tuned, I'll post about the classes that I took next (they were quite good - and now I wish I had signed up for more of them!).