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Staten Island, New York, United States

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making Collages On a Rainy Day, Gardens On a Sunny One

I had scheduled a full-on garden assault last Saturday. And then the rain came, all day.  I had had a great start on Thursday, reaching my goal of knocking together all the halves of my new raised veggie beds.

my project in the yard, a little soggy on Saturday

old "failed" prints, destined to become collages

So, the rain rearranged my schedule for me.  Hmmm, looked like an artmaking day instead.  I ended up making collages all day. I have a lot of raw materials. I've been opening up my flat files and finding all sorts of old bad prints I'd forgotten about.

It's an interesting process, collaborating with myself from a former point in time. Of course, it's very freeing to no longer be emotionally attached to the beauty of the old work. Even though the print doesn't work, there are parts that I had loved and hadn't been able to bring myself to touch, so I had relegated a LOT of prints to the drawer. Time made the love fade and now they are just interesting raw material.

collage, at wild stage

I made this collage at left and really like areas of the layering, but it's a little wild, especially the hairy purple bits.  I will try to take what I like happening with the overlays of pattern to other work and tame this one a bit more. It's a small piece, only about 8"x11".

This is the kind of thing that could never happen on purpose, but only through playing. I constantly remind myself to play more in the studio, using Rauschenberg as an example.

"Successful" collages can be seen at my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeniseMummArt

But, back to the gardening. . .

On a glorious sunny Easter, after a buoyant (literally, with balloons) church service with a satisfying number of allelulias, my sister and I raced home to tackle the garden. What better way to celebrate new beginnings than to work on our garden. Planting seeds is an act of faith.

We had to fully assemble the raised beds, put them in place, and then fill them.

All winter I had been reviewing an article in Organic Gardening on a "lasagna" method of gardening. http://www.plantmeal.com/  Reports of increasing food prices had made me determined to grow my own prolific, efficient veggie garden.
me, trying to look like I know what I'm doing

The lasagna method required some alfalfa hay. I'm sure if I was still in Iowa that finding alfalfa hay would be a breeze, but not so easy here in Staten Island. 

The search led me to Chip Mako. I found him through an ad in my Organic Gardening magazine. His ad mentioned alfalfa meal. Here's his website http://www.plantmeal.com/. The website has some great tips. He learned about organic gardening in the Peace Corps and when I reached him by phone, he was very generous with his advice on how I should proceed. 

yummmm, rhubarb
I re-thought the whole lasagna approach and went more in Chip's direction, lightening up the clay soil I have with peat, enriching with alfalfa meal. I still went with layers, though. I have newspapers on the bottom, then rough material from my compost pile, then peat, plain crappy dirt from my yard, sprinkles of bloodmeal and bonemeal, compost, alfalfa meal, more peat and compost.

I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.  If nothing else, it's all great exercise and therapy. And it makes my yard look much tidier.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Flux Zig Zag Staten Island Visits ART at Bay

Yesterday I was gallery sitting all day for our exhibit MAXIMUS/minimus at ART at Bay. It was an impossibly blustery day, so traffic in the gallery was minimus.   That is, until Flux Zig Zag Staten Island showed up, or rather, blew in.

Mary Campbell and Viv Vasser, of Day de Dada and local representatives of Fluxus, led an international group of people participating in Flux Fest NYC. The group was making their second stop in Staten Island after making a commemorative trip on the Staten Island Ferry. I greeted the group with a brief introduction about the gallery and the exhibit.

Then Mary initiated an action for Slow Art Day (www.slowartday.com). She asked each person to choose an artwork in the exhibition to concentrate on. Then she led a guided meditation, which was really a guide to looking at art. It was a formalization of the process that I would say most artists go through when they visit an exhibit they are approaching with reverence, in order to learn from the art and pay homage to it. Whenever you go to a gallery or museum, the person who is 6" away from the surface of a painting and "smelling" it, or checking out the edges - you can bet is an artist, trying to discern the artmaking process and unlocking the logic of its beauty, and paying homage to the genius of its maker.  Mary left printed versions of the meditation at ART at Bay. I personally want to have a smaller version laminated for my wallet.

Fluxus artists, each doing their thing
Next, another Fluxus artist asked everyone to lie down on the floor (euww! grungy!) and everyone did, intrepid souls that they are. The room was quiet, relaxing, and motionless, until a few of the artists felt compelled to do what they do.

What Mary chose to do was wrap things, in honor of Christo, although Mary was using Christmas wrapping paper. Here's Jenni Vitek, who was gallery sitting with me, holding one of Mary's pieces.
Jenni holding a wrapped piece, in front of Sheryl Humphrey's paintings.
All in all, it was a breath of fresh air and energy that blew into the gallery with the Fluxus group. I hope the time they spent on Staten Island was as enriching for them as it was for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day de Dada at MAXIMUS/minimus: Slow Art Day

Flux Zig Zag April 16 2010 Staten Island NYOur exhibit MAXIMUS/minimus at ART at Bay will be one of the stops for Day de Dada's Flux Zig Zag on Sat. April 16  from 2 - 2:30 pm, in honor of Slow Art Day.    

 “Flux Zig Zag” Staten Island
Moveable Feast of Fluxus
Sat April 16 12:30 to 6:00 pm

Starting on the 12:30 p.m. Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan's Whitehall Ferry Terminal, artists will perform scores in recognition of the Avant Garde Festival that Fluxus artists produced on the JFK ferryboat in 1967.

In Staten Island the group will travel to Show Gallery, Art at Bay and Deep Tanks with performances and actions at each venue, and end at ETG Book Cafe, 3 - 6 pm for more performance and videos. 
2 Day de Dada members

my friend John (as lunch) in SI Museum courtyard 

John as reindeer at SI Museum
Day de Dada  is based on Staten Island and is made up of a playful group of artists who appear in costume at various art events, especially on Second Saturdays in St. George (near the ferry) on Staten Island. Here are some pictures from their fabulous event GLOW at the SI Museum in December. I think my friend John should be recruited. Find out more about the group here at their website http://daydedada.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Art Scene at Second Saturday in Staten Island

Yes, there is an art scene on Staten Island. In recent years, as young artists have been pushed out of all the other boroughs by rising rents and disappearing loft spaces and older artists have been pushed out of jobs, we've been organizing some experimental events that foster collaboration and mutual support. And we made it all ourselves with no money, just lots of energy. There's always been great music to be had on Staten Island, with no cover charge, I might add. But, lately there has been a real infusion of visual and performance art, too.

Brendan Coyle and Amanda Curtis deserve a lot of credit for founding Second Saturdays, a monthly evening art stroll, which gives us a locus for the creation of new art, a reason to get out and meet artists and visit studios and homemade exhibition spaces in the St. George area, not to mention party!

ART at Bay was one of the stops last night, where our exhibition MAXIMUS/minimus is showing.

Kris Johnson and gallery dog
Deep Tanks is just down the street from ART at Bay and is always a lively venue on Second Saturdays. One of the great things about the gatherings there is the mix of ages in the artists who are showing or playing music, as well as the audience. Our host Kris Johnson and hostess Florence Poulain are the reasons for that.

paintings by Phoebe Wong
Last night Deep Tanks was showing some strong work by some college students. One was Phoebe Wong, who made some lovely small pieces that I found very appealing.
performance artists from the Assembly Room
Pat DeCicco on vibes, a bass guitarist and a conga player provided the music for a butoh performance. (You had to be there.) I was surprised to discover that Pat, who I know as a printmaker, played vibes. I was further surprised when he told me he had been playing tango music his whole life!

In Buenos Aires
The next act was a band called In Buenos Aires. I knew they were ready to start playing when they turned their backs to us. They played a very atmospheric jam.

installation by Florence Poulain
Our hostess, the multi-talented Florence Poulain, not only performed in the butoh dance, but also showed a group of small installations involving dolls. Here are a couple of them:

installation by Florence Poulain
Really, aside from the artistic stimulation, the best part of the evening was reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people in my art community. You never know what might come of that!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Art Events This Weekend at ART at Bay

This weekend at ART at Bay:

Today, Saturday April 9, is Second Saturday, an evening art walk from 6:00 pm to midnight in St. George on Staten Island. Learn more about the venues participating tonight at the official website http://www.secondsaturdaystatenisland.com. 

Second Saturday Staten IslandMaximus/minimus will be open until 9:00pm. 

Upstairs at ART at Bay, Staten Island's arts council, COAHSI, will be hosting their fundraising event, art-OFF from 5:00 to 9:00pm. It's $20 at the door. 

Five teams of NYC‐based artists will face‐off at art‐OFF, a monthly competition kicking‐off Second Saturdays Art Walk starting in March and running through June. At each event, a secret material will be revealed to those in attendance and each team will have an hour to create a work of art related to a theme chosen at random at the start of the event.  For more information visit the website    http://www.statenislandarts.org/artoff.html

Sunday April 10 is Second Sunday, when ART at Bay hosts literary readings at 3:00. 
Readers this Sunday will be: Robert Sherman, Victoria Hallerman, Edward Joyce

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In the Studio: Tweaking Tango Collages & In the Gallery: MAXIMUS/minimus

 I've had some nearly finished tango collages, a couple on wood and several on paper, that have been mocking me from the walls as I have been rushing around getting things arranged for MAXIMUS/minimus. I've managed to carve out a little time to work in the studio today, so it's time to resolve them.

Perversely, when I work on a slightly larger scale, 18"x24", on wood, my imagery gets paired down and I have been stripping layers off. I think it's because I am so in love with the pattern of the woodgrain. So, today, I am using a light hand to add the final touches to the piece at left. I thought I had finished this piece a year ago and had exhibited it. Then I brought it home and started to strip off layers.

When I work on my tiny collages, 8"x10", I pile on the layers of color and pattern. I'm not really sure where this collage at right will end up, but it's fun to play with, and it's a slightly different approach, so I think it will lead to a new direction. That's what I love about working so small, although I spend way more time thinking about creating each of these than you would think. It seems like the final touches, where the inherent logic of each piece is resolved so that it makes visual sense, just takes time, no matter the size. I make the small pieces expressly to sell. I want to work through ideas quickly, internalize them, and then get them out of the studio.  See more at my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeniseMummArt

These two approaches to my own art are what led me to the title of the group show I curated, MAXIMUS/minimus, up now at ART at Bay. Here's an example of what I'm talking about from the show. Here, at left, Judith Hugentobler has a small figure, about 12" tall. Look at all that's going on in this piece; the texture, the color, the pattern and the expression on the figure's face.

Actually, most of the work in the exhibit is on a fairly small scale, with the exception of Irma Bohórquez-Geisler's gorgeous photos, which are holding down the MAXIMUS end. The exhibit has to be seen in person, since so much of the delight of looking at it is in the close examination of the details in the small work.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Opening Reception for Maximus/minimus

Opening reception
Last night was our opening reception for Maximus/minimus at ART at Bay in Staten Island. We had mobs of people, as we usually do.

Back row, from left: Irma Bohorquez-GeislerRachel SanchezLucy Smith, Denise Mumm, Gail Middleton
Front row, from left: Jenni VitekSheryl HumphreyJudith Hugentobler
The artists in this show are an amazing bunch. In addition to being artists of diverse talents, everyone collaborated on a beautiful installation and a great party for our opening.
Sheryl, installing her work
Jenni Vitek, installing her work
Irma, installing her work
Bay St. has become a lively thoroughfare on Saturday nights. There are cafe/bars with live music, and last night ETG Book Cafe and Neighborhood Stage hosted Staten Island OUTLOUD's presentation of Allen Ginsberg's HOWL!

Next weekend there will be more events at ART at Bay:
  • Saturday April 9 is also Second Saturday, an evening art walk, which brings in more street traffic http://www.secondsaturdaystatenisland.com/. Maximus/minimus will be open for that event. Upstairs at ART at Bay, Staten Island's arts council, COAHSI, will be hosting their fundraising event, Art Off http://www.statenislandarts.org/artoff.html. 
  • Sunday April 10 is Second Sunday, when ART at Bay hosts literary readings at 3:00. Readers will be: Robert Sherman, Victoria Hallerman, Edward Joyce