artist reception – a bit of rain and one fine crowd


This framed image greeted guests as they arrived to our reception.

IMG_3711Despite rain, we got off to a great start. I took my camera and planned to take lots of photos. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t think about pictures.

Here is all I captured …
Rick, Mary’s husband, sent  beautiful flowers. ↑ Thanks Rick!

The hallway wall shows a few smaller works from each of us. It’s a solid introduction to what you’ll see as you come upon the entrance to the North Gallery. ↓

b2 The stream of people coming and going was steady the entire evening.↓

IMG_3699How did this come about? What did you do to make this happen? The grouping is greatI
If I could focus I’d explain some of the story – how we connected, how we applied for the show. If I was not so focused and being lighter I’d say, I picked up the phone and asked! There is truth in all of it. Except I don’t believe I ever picked up the phone. I emailed, it’s the 21st century.

Mary ↓with a group of friends. They were taking too long, so I shot the photo.


Mary, Carolyn and I ended the evening with these last photos. I’m including all of them, because we’re standing at slightly different angles, so you can see some of the background work of each.  And because I like all three of them.



IMG_3709 There were a number of people taking photos, including Mesa. As we get access to them, we’ll post them.

docent talk


Tiffany drops us a note: Would you be interested in speaking to the Docents about your exhibition? Since there are three of you, I thought it would be best to have you discuss the work in the exhibit, so we can do this as a gallery talk. It would be wonderful for the Docents to hear from you first-hand and have a better understanding of your work, so they can communicate it during their tours.

Aside from giving the talk this evening, Mary and I are seeing the complete install for the first time. As one approaches the end of the long hallway the exhibit and artist names appear in white letters on a  turquoise backdrop . That’s some expression already.


You turn right and the entire space is active and yet beautifully still.


Introductions occur and Mary begins the evening. I think I know all about her process. I learn more. People are curious about materials and the digital drawing intrigues everyone. I mention we have a process video in the blog. Someone notes the bright details scattered across the surface and Mary tells them its bits of Terrazzo flooring she’s composed into the print. She also makes note of the connection between creating this work and her printmaking background. IMG_3662

Carolyn points out the various animals in her large work, and tells about where she photographed each one. The group asks if there are any birds in the drawing. She points one out and everyone enjoys seeing it. It’s a seek and find process for them. We hear about her video, her yard, and the stray black cat we see on the screen. It’s drinking in the garden fountain. She explains how days later she finds him dead, she guesses a car may have struck him. He’s now buried in her property. One of the Docents comments the work is thought-provoking.
IMG_3664I finish the evening. People relate easily to the body. I share what I think is a humorous story of how things began. I end it by saying it needs to stay in the gallery, and between us. Tiffany finds a frog in the large self-portrait. And she asks about the snake. Someone mentions they could keep looking and keep seeing new things. There is an MD in the house, and he comments on the accuracy of the various structures. As a runner, a yogi, and artist, I’ve studied human anatomy for years. He notes an EKG line.IMG_3671

The evening is full of intelligent questions, thoughtful comments and many laughs.  Tiffany you have a good group.

Below are photos we took just before we got going. We’ll show you more gallery photos and artwork in the posts to come.
As I pull this post together I think about the beautiful maquette Mary made. She visualized the final layout well.


Carolyn Lavender, Works on Panel and Paper and Video


Mary Shindell, Print and Sculpture


Monica Aissa Martinez, Works on Paper and on Canvas

Information Panels

Creature Man Nature officially opens today. The artist reception will be held in 2 weeks on Friday, January 25th.

Below are the information panels, designed by associate curator Tiffany Fairall. The panels are large and sit next to each of our areas in the gallery. They include both an individual artist statement and a bio. As I read through them, I am again reminded why we work so well together.

If you click on each one, you’ll get to a high-resolution image you can actually read. There is so much to see and take in at the museum, get ahead if you wish, read them before you attend.

We’ll see you on the 25th!

lowreslavender lowresmartinez lowresmary

There Is A mountain, The Video

When the mountain is completely installed, we make a decision. The three of us have video. Mary’s and my video show process. Carolyn’s is slightly different in that it is an actual work that can stand alone. Here it will sit on her wall along side her drawings and paintings.

blog1We discuss the flow of activity with Marco and Tiffany and conclude – 3 videos are two too many for the space. My process videos and Mary’s are in the blog only. I’ve included numerous ones here already.

Below is Mary’s video titled There Is a Mountain. It represents South Mountain, located here in Phoenix. It begins with a line, followed by each layer of form and texture that make up the various digital drawings. You see the parts first, then the series of layers appear in the order in which they sit. You get a sense of how the mountain develops. It ends with a final line that clarifies everything. Mary notes the line took an entire day to construct.

The video compresses into 3.5 minutes what took months to create.


Today was the first day of installation. I had seen the large mountain at Mouse Graphics a few weeks ago and I was so happy with the color and resolution. It is a relief to see work come out of my computer and become an actual piece. This is due to my background as a printer, I need a print. I think that I have a similar kind of joy for these commercial processes as the Pop Artists did for screen printing.

Proofing the print at Mouse with Brian.

Proofing the print at Mouse with Brian.

It was exciting to see that the sections of terrazzo looked very clear and the gradients printed up so nicely. Good printers! My comfort level was moving up and finally today the piece arrived at the art center.

mtn install1

Sean from Mouse Attaching the first piece.

Sean from Mouse Attaching the first piece.

The sections were attached from left to right and carefully matched up. The material looks like canvas or linen-it has a tooth to it so it is not shiny like other versions of vinyl used in large format graphics.

Section 2

Section 2

Section 3

Section 3

If you see this piece in person you will notice lots of fine line covering the drawing. Sean, the installer, mentioned that he did his best to match it all up. And he did match it all up.

Light Test

Before we delivered the show I had about a week of wiring and testing to make sure the suspended sculpture would work. Each piece is fabricated so that the electrical cord runs up to the ceiling and over to a LED driver which will also be mounted on the ceiling. The wiring process was interesting and Pere, our studio assistant, became better at fiddling with the drivers than I was. We celebrated every time one would light up which prompted Mitch Fry (we share studio space) to comment that we are cheap dates. He knows how to use electricity but for me it’s just that electricity is like magic-difficult magic.

At one point I had to call the lighting manufacturer to ask a question and he asked if I was a licensed electrician. I told him “no I am an artist”. In a somewhat huffy tone he told me that the first thing that should have happened is that I should have been connected to the entertainment division. He helped me anyway and it turned out they had sent the wrong drivers.

Everything worked we packed it up and took it to Mesa. Fingers crossed.

Testing the light at the studio

Testing the lights at the studio.

After testing the pieces were  wrapped to go to Mesa

After testing, the pieces were wrapped to go to Mesa.

Pere, studio assistant, with a finished sculpture.

Pere, studio assistant, with a finished sculpture.

Sneak Peek of Things to Come…

One of the cool things we get to do is select two exhibitions that will be featured on banners outside of the museum. We selected this exhibition for the banner that faces Main Street. Here’s what it will look like:Jan 2013 Banner 2

Here is a look at the invite, which is at the printer.
 114_MCA Contemporary Craft Invite 2013_F.indd
114_MCA Contemporary Craft Invite 2013_F.indd

we deliver the artwork

It’s an interesting opportunity to drop work off in person. One gets to know the various people who contribute to the success of an exhibit.

Marco, as noted earlier, is the new Exhibits Preparator/Specialist. I arrive to find him on a very high ladder. He is setting up an area where the museum showcases its permanent collection. I guess those ceilings to be over 25 feet high.


And though busy, he takes time to show us his new digs. He has an impressive workspace that is clearly to his liking.  I spend time talking with him and learn that Marco is one of few Latino exhibition specialists in the country. Bravo!


Marco, Mitch, Mary and Peri


Because shows are coming down and new work is going up we are directed to leave the work in the area where the private collection is stored. The climate controlled space is sprinkled with great artwork.


Mary needs to look at the ceiling in the North Gallery, which is not as high as the other galleries at the center. She can hang her sculptures with no out of the ordinary concerns. She talks low voltage, electrical panels, and transformers. I have a hanging issue with my 2 large works, and Marco makes a suggestion that appeals to my aesthetics. Mary and I wonder why the space looks smaller. We joke because the majority of our work is now complete, we have no overwhelming emotions – is there a connection?  And Mary finishes up saying that her mountain will be delivered soon. How many people can say that?


Meanwhile back at her studio … Carolyn is completing her painting. I caught her progress at an early stage where she was mapping the woods out. All her work is at Mesa, she’ll be delivering this 16 panel piece soon.

IMG_3554Impromptu lunch with a variety of creative people – personal history is shared but so are things like banana art, transformers and inventor Tesla.