A little day trip

I attended the 59th Annual Delta Exhibition in Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday. This exhibition showcases contemporary artists from Arkansas and bordering states.

And now for the drum roll....

I was chosen for one of the Delta Awards by juror Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

I was chosen for one of the Delta Awards by juror Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Bradley spoke of the sense of place in the Delta and the natural power of the Delta landscapes as well as the tension that artists portray in their work between what is familiar and what is new. Here's part of her juror's statement: "As much as I found some artists savoring the details of their worlds, I was truly struck by others whose works evidenced a great unease, eerie expressions of a world slipping into an abyss, emanating tones of fear, anger, and anxiety."

Prior to announcing the award winners she showed a curious collection of historical paintings depicting women creating art using fiber and clay. The fact that she chose (blindly) three women artists who are working in fiber, porcelain and metal was particularly exciting for those of us who work on the edges of paintings.

Delta Exhibition crowd

It was standing room only at the opening celebrations. Music blaring, the catfish, hushpuppies, wines and pies tempted us. What I could see of the artwork over and through the heads of the crowd was spectacular. I'll have to find a way to get back to the museum to see the works in a more concentrated way. In particular I loved the work of David Bailin. His piece, Halloween, took my breath away. I wish I had taken a picture of it but there were always crowds obstructing my view. Here's a link to his website: Halloween. He uses, charcoal, pastels and coffee to create haunting works about his father.

My piece was toward the back under a spotlight with a deep gray wall behind it. Very dramatic.

My favorite part of any show is watching people studying my piece. Some shared their thoughts about the work and even saw things in it that were unintentional on my part. I love that part of art. It has its own life. It walks its own path. I am a conduit for other's visions.

Quilts=Art=Quilts opens on Saturday

Two for the price of one! The opening reception of Quilts=Art=Quilts and American Quilts: History and Art is on Saturday this week at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. My piece,  Incoming, will be showing in Q=A=Q along with works by 51 artists from across the world. The American Quilts: History and Art exhibit features historical quilts from the collection of the International Quilt Studies Center & Museum in Nebraska.

If you are in the Auburn area it is a great opportunity to see some of the best contemporary quilt art being done today.

Incoming will be showing at the Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee Street, Auburn, NY
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 29, 4 - 6 PM

traveling on

The initial sketch for the Stream of Consequences piece started with the idea of inter-connectedness and how the city wove itself around a meandering river.

The Earth Stories exhibition curated by SAQA is soon to close at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. In the nick of time a blogger and journalist, Patrick Lydon, took the time to see the show and review it. Reviews of art quilt shows are few and far between. Each one gives quilt artists a little jolt of excitement when it appears.

Patrick is Founder and Director of SocieCity.org, a network of artists, writers, and sustainability practitioners who focus on the relationships between people and the places in which they live. HIs blog and the SocieCity site are great places to find good news about the world through stories, images, and film. I was truly enthralled by the many stories told and recommend it to anyone looking for GOOD news. There really are some good news stories out there contrary to what our national media hands us on a daily basis. 

Patrick was generous in his praise of the show. He studied the pieces carefully and learned about their back stories. He was particularly generous with his praise of my work: Stream of Consequences. Patrick's reference to a quote by Muir, one of my heroes, gave me great joy:

Kovarik’s quilt reminds me of famed naturalist John Muir’s observation that “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

I finished Stream of Consequences in 2013. It has been traveling ever since.

When a piece travels with a show it takes on a new life. It becomes its own.  That transition from art I own to art that moves on is one of the primary reason I do this.

Art must move.

I did not win $200,000

ArtPrize Seven announced the top five 2-D entries by public vote today. I was not one of them. And, I have to say it was no surprise.  Even though, in my wildest dreams, I could think of ways to make that prize money work for me and my community, the field was broad and full of worthy pieces. 

I did learn a lot from this opportunity.

  • I am uncomfortable getting praise. It just plain makes me nervous. I don't want to appear egotistical but at the same time I don't want to seem like I don't trust myself and my work. I usually say thank you with a sincere look into the person's eyes and hope that the subject will change soon.
  • I do like it when people come to me with their ideas of what my work means to them. It's so much easier to respond to that. The dialog is ongoing in my head and any extra tidbits from others just makes my vision more whole. And isn't that the point? Isn't that the main reason I do this stuff? To elicit response, to open my thoughts to others, to bring my point of view to the public arena, to let the work be bare naked in the spotlight? I love it when it works.
  • I don't like competitions (and this also goes for openings), I met a number of artists who were avidly marketing their work. Others were very passive or invisible. Though I admire the self-confidence of some of the more glib artists I am of the second group. I am not a garrulous person. It is truly uncomfortable for me to be in a space where I need to "sell" my work to others. I have often thought that the perfect experience for me during an opening or within a competition would be through webcam.

My best wishes to these worthy artists. I wish them all the best in the coming week when Grand Rapids will name the winner. I have added the top five public picks below and a link to their work. Judge for yourself, and contact the artist to tell them what their works mean to you. I know they would appreciate it. Better yet, go to Grand Rapids and vote for them. Make their dreams a reality.

Top Five by public vote - Two-Dimensional

  • As Above at Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Judith Braun from New York, New York
  • Triple Play at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, by Anni Crouter from Flint, Michigan, winner of the 2nd Place $75,000 public vote award at ArtPrize 2013
  • michigan petoskey stone at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Randall Libby from Manistee, Michigan
  • Northwood Awakening at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, by Loveless PhotoFiber from Frankfort, Michigan, winner of the $200,000 ArtPrize 2013 Public Vote Grand Prize
  • In a Promised Land… at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Shawn Michael Warren from Harvey, Illinois

head spinning

OK, I gotta admit yesterday was pretty thrilling. As an ArtPrize Seven participant, I am one of many artists looking for the love. And, I am one of the extremely lucky ones because I was invited to show at the prestigious Grand Rapids Art Museum, smack dab in the middle of all the ruckus. (Thank you Ron Platt, American Craft Magazine, and the winds of chance that blow through our universe.)

Round one voting began last Wednesday and extends until Saturday of this week. The top 20 finalists (the top five in each of 4 categories) will be announced on Sunday, Oct. 4. Then Round 2 voting begins. The public will vote for their favorite and prizes will be awarded on Oct. 9. Top prize is $200,000.

Now back to yesterday. The ArtPrize website keeps a running tally of the votes and which pieces are leading the group in terms of the popular vote (so far 220,963 votes have been cast). The folks in Grand Rapids can vote for as many artists as they like in this round one vote session. And it looks like, as of yesterday, that I qualified for the top 25 list in the 2-D category. Though I know that the list will change each day running up to the announcement on Saturday, the fact that I made it into that group once is enough. Thank you, Grand Rapids.

Be still my beating heart.

Heartfelt, stands at the beginning of the display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The piece was inspired by my mother, who would be cheering on the sidelines if she was with us today.