In mixed media art, there is one supply required which is so exquisite, so personal and so habit-forming that mixed media artists sometimes keep the extent of their supply collection a secret. Stored away in decorative boxes, paper bags, plastic bins, envelopes and cartons, this particular supply can make or break a piece of art. It adds emotion, history, story-telling, texture, complexity and mystery to the art. We trade it at art workshops, gift it to our favorite artists, snap it up at flea markets and drag it home from every journey we make - ephemera.
Oh ephemera! How we love your tattered edges (seldom precisely cut with scissors, usually torn by hand), the architectural lines of your sewing patterns, the saturated colors of your tissue paper...the tiny edge of a ticket stub, the fortune from your fortune cookie. Ephemera. The cocktail napkin from last New Year's Eve, the yellowed pages of an outdated encyclopedia, the bus pass from a city tour. Ephemera. The empty seed packed from last year's vegetable garden, the hilarious tag from a Red Bubble art purchase, the scribbled note from your daughter with a little heart at the end. Ephemera. The printed tissue paper from a birthday gift, the paper ribbon from a holiday bow, the punched out stars from a craft project. Ephemera.
There is one piece of ephemera from this holiday season which will be hoarded for the next decade and doled out in tiny, torn pieces. It will be background for art journals and texture for hand-made cards. It will inspire and motivate and become compost for growing the ideas for new art. What is this most exquisite of all ephemera? The Ciel Gallery 2016 calendar.
The images are high quality (perfect for framing!) and your holiday visitors will love taking this piece of Charlotte home with them for the new year...it is a great enticement for that relative who has not yet come to visit, too!
Filled with images from the original art of Ciel Gallery artists:
Emily T Andress
Laura McRae Hitchcock
Leigh B. Williams
Randy Leibowitz Dean
Pam Goode (cover artist with collaborative work)
You will have to stop by the gallery to pick up your own copy of this most excellent of art calendars (and gifts and exquisite ephemera) because my copies will be secretly hoarded and admired, gently torn and thoughtfully repurposed until there is nothing left but the spiral binding ring.
Written by blog contributor Jen Walls. Photos by Leigh B. Williams.
by Jen Walls
Earlier this month I received my annual Elfster notice with the name of a family member I was assigned for holiday gift giving. Immediately, I was struck with TERROR! Is it that time already? Feeling the dread of figuring out what gifts to buy, I decided to launch an investigation. What do people want? How can I truly give a gift the recipient might treasure, a gift that says I carefully considered the options? Most importantly (not that my family is competitive or anything) how can I be THE ONE people want to draw his or her name every year because I give the best gifts?
If you are faced with this dilemma, read on!
I began polling people on the street about their experiences with giving and receiving gifts. Universally, folks were initially stressed, and could name which family member they could never delight, along with who gave the gifts they usually re-gifted. This was not an auspicious start to my investigation! But I persisted, asking about gifts they had given (and received) which were memorable.
"I personally love getting homemade art as a gift, " says Patty C. "It's so personal, unique and one-of-a-kind. Whether it's an art project from a child or a crafty adult, it makes me feel so special when someone gives me something that was made from the heart." I asked Patty about gifts she had given which seemed to be a hit with the recipient. "In the past few years, I've made a couple quilts that I have given as gifts at the holidays and for baby showers," she responded "they have become treasured items for those that received them. No better feeling then having someone consider your hard work a treasured item."
Okay, so the first thing I learned was the gift of hand-made art, given or received, is a home run. But what if you aren't a quilter? Kris R. had just the solution.
"Last year i gave my daughter a gift certificate to a class at Ciel Gallery. I purchased all the supplies for class and wrapped them along with certificate . I signed up for class as well. We met four Wednesdays for class and had lunch after . We learned some new skills , met some great ladies and most importantly spent time together ."
Art classes might be just what is needed! Creating a piece of art (or giving the gift of a class to those who love to create) is just the answer for some of my gift-giving conundrums.
Kris had more wisdom to share: "I have been given gifts that were purchased from local artists . I love that. What I recieve is a part of the creator, unique and no one else has one . It also is special because time was taken to find a one of a kind gift . And I love that it supports artists and community...whenever I travel I look for a piece that is crafted in that area. It is my favorite type of souvenir." Kris' philosophy resonated with me. But what if you're on a budget? Or have half a million people to buy for (I exaggerate, but only slightly!) Kris had more golden nuggets of insight: "There are so many types of artists out there from fine artists to Artisans of all kinds so when i think of gifts it could be anything from a painting , jewelry , glass, pottery... Many artists will create smaller pieces for holiday gift giving . Or prints of their larger pieces . This makes a more affordable option. I personally like to buy cards printed with Artists works . I give them to friends with an appropriate sized frame so they can hang in their homes." A stellar idea! I added several of these items to my shopping list.
My next interviewee was very busy lady with an eye for the exquisite. I was sure she would have the answers I needed. So I asked Wendy H. the same questions. And she told me this story: "Ok so recently a friend was telling me about a question her 8 year old son asked...This is a dear friend who is like a sis to me & her son calls me Aunt Wendy. Her son wanted to know if the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy & Santa ever get together? In the moment I could see the whole thing in my head. I asked [Ciel Artist] Ladianne to illustrate it.. it was perfect & Jill & Grant LOVED it!!" Aha! So for busy people, the gift of hand-made art can be specially made by a local artist, but perfectly individualized in order to delight! Another check mark on my list.
But where, oh where, you may ask, could a person possibly accomplish all of this in one fell swoop? Aha! I am so glad you asked. Mark your calendars and prepare to be stress free and joy-filled, and also DONE with your holiday shopping!
Ciel Gallery's own Emily Andress just returned from a month in Ireland as the first ever Artist in Residence at the Olive Stack Gallery. Her whirlwind experience is available in first-hand narrative on the artist in residence blog for the Olive Stack Gallery: https://exciraanddelira.wordpress.com/. Such an adventure will surely influence Andress' art and artistic process in the future. We sat down for a one-on-one chat to get the scoop!
I asked Andress how her process and approach were impacted by the residency . "I went to Ireland fully planning on painting the people of Ireland," Andress replied. " I left being completely enamored with, not only all the amazing people, but their environments, and things about them that I want to include in pieces that tell their story as well as the incredible landscapes! I have found myself painting animals more as personifications of feelings that I was experiencing."
The residency blog chronicles so many sights, people and experiences. I wondered if there were influences which were particularly memorable? "I was really fascinated by how different the light is on the west coast of Ireland." Andress immediately replied. "The clouds move so quickly and the sky is always full of them so light drops through them like big splashy drops. Its hard to explain. Everything is so green and the sky is almost turquoise in between these crazy piled up clouds. It's almost like the sun is raining on the landscape and the ground quickly absorbs it as the clouds move again."
She continued. "The people themselves are also so incredibly creative. Whether it is poetry, theatre, song writing, art, etc...its like the people of Ireland leech the creativity from the soil through their feet. It's hard to explain. There are so many layers! The people who invited us into their homes and shared their history were very meaningful. I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know them and look forward to seeing them again."
Traveling can be personally transformative. How had Andress grown as an artist as result of the residency? "Having 35 days of no responsibility other than to create art, be at the gallery 4 days a week (where I painted every day so, yeah...creating art) being inspired by my surroundings, and being around so many creative people literally has been life changing," Andress reflected. " I am approaching my painting differently. I am looking at light play differently. I am wanting to peel back layers in my portraiture to tell more of the story of the people I am painting. No matter how subtle that may be to the viewer, I am feeling a stronger connection to what I am painting."
In the future, other Ciel artists (including this Scoop reporter) will be heading to the Olive Stack Gallery for residencies. What tips does Andress have for us? "Kerry (fellow resident and Charlotte artist Kerry Lynn) and I wrote a guide for those who are coming next that Olive is sharing for basic tips," Andress said. "My biggest recommendation is to immerse yourself in the residency from the moment you set foot in Listowel. Go the the plays at St John's Theatre (and tell Vicar Joe I say hey!), spend evenings at John B Keane's pub and listen to the stories you are told. If you are lucky enough to be there when they are doing pub theatre, don't miss a single one. Get out and explore. Look at Olive's books that she sells and create a path to go and see the places she has painted. It is a walk through history. Get a roulade from Lynch's bakery across the street. You can thank me later. If you go to Killarney, find the alley where Dermott McCarthy has his tiny gallery/studio and talk to him about his work. Enjoy every single moment you are there."
"This is possibly the finest gift I have ever been given as an artist. I will be going back. Without a doubt."
Once upon a time, I had a stout beer float. Dark beer and vanilla ice cream. An unlikely, stellar combination. So when I hear about Free Range Brewing and its collaboration with the art community, I had to get The Scoop!
Sarah Alexander and her husband, Jason, have a background in art, and come from creative stock. Alexander’s father is a wood-worker, and her mother a jewelry-maker who can flex into mosaic art. The Alexander brothers, Jason and Jeff, brew beer. And beer and art have collided in a delightful mash-up at their new brewery and taproom.
Free Range Brewing opened In July with the works of Ciel Gallery partners Laura McRae Hitchcock, Caroline C. Brown, Jonathan Grauel, Emily Andress and Tina Alberni on the brewery walls. “I saw Emily Andress’ work on an ArtPop billboard,” said Alexander, “so I called her. ArtPop is one of my favorite things.”
“Creativity and beer go hand in hand. Interesting beer happens when you think outside the box,” explained Alexander. With beer such as “Sea of Companions” and “Awesome Possum,” these brewers gave up the box long ago
The community feel is evident at Free Range Brewing. Ciel Partner Brown was in attendance at the opening: "The best part was bonding with my art peeps - I love my creative Ciel friends!."
Ciel Partner Grauel, fresh off the new gallery exhibit, was enthusiastic: "We are fortunate to have a chance to expand the spirit of “Collaboratus" into the local business scene. The amazing art of Ciel partners combine with a new micro brewery in NODA to craft a truly ‘Charlotte' atmosphere of local culture."
".Bringing different groups together which wouldn't meet otherwise," said Ciel Partner Alberni of her experience at the brewery opening. "Great beer AND a lovely space!"
I asked Alexander what advice she had for other creatives, whether brewers, painters or poets. “Never stop being thoughtful and creative about the way you approach issues,” she advised. “We didn’t have a lot of money, and had to be thoughtful through the whole process. It made us more creative.”
Visit the taproom and view the art at 2320 North Davidson Street in Charlotte. More about the brewery
This Scoop article provided by Ciel blog writer Jen Walls.
Photos 2 and 3 by Eric Gaddy.
This month, Ciel Gallery artists won the triple crown! Well, not exactly. But good things come in threes, and this month is no exception.
First up, Ladianne Henderson is wearing the crown of the first Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Grand Mural Artist! Her mural, sponsored by MetLife, can be viewed at 330 S. Tryon St on the second floor across from the elevator bank. Henderson won this crown by popular vote in a mural competition after responding to a call for artists earlier in the year.
"Being an artist means committing to a constant process of growth and exploration - a process that has to continue even when you’re given incredible opportunities like the one I received as the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s first Grand Mural artist,” says Henderson. " I’m thrilled beyond belief to have this awesome chance to see my artwork displayed in the Chamber for the next three years, but I’m also motivated to work that much harder in my illustration and artwork practice."
The second crown goes to Emily Andress and Jonathan Grauel for their live, onsite installation art at the AmerisourceBergen offices in Charlotte. Andress and Grauel responded as joint collaborators to a call for artists. The installation was to be a live event over several days, with the goal of engaging company employees in collaboration, community and cooperation. The final product is a triptych featuring iconic Charlotte buildings in Grauel’s signature style, Queen Charlotte as imagined by Andress and much more.
"For me, this collaboration showed me very clearly that Jonathan is phenomenal to work with,” says Andress. "We would like to continue doing this by offering it to corporations as team building events. Grauel found the philosophical side of collaboration: "Just like employees add texture and form to a company, the same was true with the project, the shapes the Amerisourcebergen team drew were woven into our design to give it even deeper texture."
And the final crown goes to Emily Andress, who was hand-picked by head of the Arts & Sciences Council to paint a portrait of Queen Charlotte after the Mayor’s office received a call from London. Where is this portrait going? Only to the Princess and Duchess! In the the portrait, Queen Charlotte’s hands tell a story of a young mother who is shushing the painter because the baby, who she is gently cradling with the other hand, is sleeping. For this piece, Andress adjusted her style slightly. “I usually do an almost exclusively dark underpainting punctuated by crisp line work, on this painting I included red in the background to liven up the feel of the backdrop....almost suggesting the red drapery behind the pastel painting I used as a reference,” she says.
A photo of the piece will not be released until the painting is safely delivered into royal hands.
This is the story of Ladianne Henderson. She is on a hero’s journey, riding a white horse, brandishing a sword rescued from a dragon’s lair and discovering her true purpose. On May 21, Ciel Gallery will host an event for this incredible artist and “The World Was Me”, a collaborative project between Henderson and renowned novelist and poet Laura Kasischke. But that is the story’s ending.
“Once I was as large as any creature could be,” began the poem. Henderson stumbled across it after coffee one morning on a poetry website. “I ended up in tears,” she explained. “I read it again and thought it would make an awesome picture book.” So Henderson emailed the author with a proposal.
To her surprise, the author agreed.
Only after creating a illustrated story board and submitting it to Kasischke did Henderson take time to investigate the author. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. A Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. A novelist with movie credits. Someone Henderson might have though twice about approaching with a spontaneous email. But isn’t unflinching, unquestioning bravery part of a hero’s story?
“This project is about motherhood,” says Henderson, a mother of two. “As an only child, while my own mother was very ill, I wrote a personal mission statement. I faced down my failures as a mom and embraced my successes. There is connectedness in care-taking and in needing care. This is what gives us the possibility of being genuine and vulnerable.” Vulnerability was the “aha” for Henderson on her hero’s journey. “Bravery isn’t the challenge,” she says. “Vulnerability is. My moat is far out. If people are allowed to cross the moat alive, we will be friends for life.”
Supporters of the project include both individuals and companies such as Art Aspects and Lake Norman Dentistry.
“This book and poem are about the power of being human - strong, caretakers, givers, nurturers and the humanity of needing care. There is as much grace in being cared for as there is in caring for others,” Henderson says.
“…this is how small the world used to be when everything else in the world was me,” the poem ends. And our hero discovered vulnerability, and published a book for the world to share.
Join Ciel Gallery on May 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm for a pop-up exhibition by Henderson and a reading of the poem that inspired the book by Kasischke. Funds raised at this event and are tax-deductible will go toward the publication of “The World Was Me.”
On the way to Davidson, at 5 in the morning, in the rain, on a back road, Hart’s trailer had a flat tire. And being mechanically inclined, she didn’t find it too difficult to figure out how to jack up the trailer, remove the flat tire and put on a spare. Back on the road, again, two miles later, the spare tire failed. By this point, there wasn’t time to call AAA or a family member to bring a new spare and still make it to the event by the set-up time. An overwhelmed and tearful Amy Hart called it quits. Just two exits from her destination. She contacted Tina Gibson (the woman in charge of the Davidson event) and told her she wouldn’t make it this year because she and her trailer were stranded with a bad tire and she would not make the 9:30 arrival deadline.
The response from Tina was unexpected.
Tina told Hart the town would wait for her. That’s how important Amy Hart and her art were to the event.
So Hart called in reinforcements, put on a new tire and went on to Davidson. And managed to arrive right at 9:30.
But this is only part of the real story of Hart's weekend in Davidson.
You see, Hart had recently lost her scrap metal supplier (Hart works with repurposed metal and discarded farm implements). As a result of foraging for metal in unusual places, her art had begun to change, incorporating new types of metal in new ways. The Davidson show was Hart's debut for the new style of art. And on that Saturday, hands covered in grease and feeling overwhelmed, Hart SOLD OUT of everything. And made enough money to replace the old unreliable trailer.
The last time she experimented with new styles and mediums, Hart created an art piece depicting angels on roller-skates. Channeling the gypsy life of a festival artist and somehow foretelling her own experience, this piece was prominent in her mind at the end of the Davidson weekend. “Sometimes you have to put on roller-skates,” Hart says. “Harness the feeling of fear and go anyway. “ After the tears and joys of this series of events, Amy was so grateful for the support of the art community, the town of Davidson and Tina Gibson. Without Tina’s encouragement and the community of artists pulling her forward (angels, perhaps?), the best weekend of this artist’s career would have ended instead on the exit ramp with a flat tire. So perhaps, in this case, life follows art?
More about Amy Here
Something odd is going on with several of our partners and members. Neighbors are whispering. Strangers are gawking. Passersby are staring. What are these ladies up to? Your Ciel reporter was on the scene to get the scoop!
I began by asking partner Emily Andress a few direct questions, but the answers I received were more mysterious than helpful…
What’s that hanging out of your car? “I have no idea what you are talking about…let me say this: my car has never had sticktual relations with anyone.”
What’s this we’re hearing about flashers? “There were no arrests made. These flashers were totally legal.”
Why do people think it’s nesting season in the driveway? “I understand the confusion as we have attracted quite a few birds recently.”
Which of you is in a ‘sticky’ situation? “I like to think of myself not so much as being in a sticky situation, but more as being a connoisseur of the vine.”
After that conversation, I was completely confused. I tried again with partner Laura Hitchcock…
“All I will say is the car and any flashers in question are under surveillance and we are keeping a tight rein on any activity they may or may not be performing. Any nesting goings on, which I cannot confirm or deny, is not to be discussed. “
Well folks, this reporter is now quite suspicious and has her twigs in a bunch. I’ll keep snooping. Stay tuned!
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