Monthly Archives: February 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit!


It’s finally my year! The Year of the Rabbit has arrived  I could use a good year for a change, the last few have been interesting-meaning, I’m still alive and I haven’t given up yet on being a 30 year overnight success. Last year, my job and my field of expertise in the “real” world disappeared like the buggy whip–the Perkins Loan Program and campus based lending are going the way of the dodo, and being over 50 just sped up  my personal extinction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining, this whole thing feels like the Universe handing me my life back on a silver platter.

Full time art in the studio for the first time in years. Even with a difficult full-time job and lots of travel I never stopped making work, painting, glass, wire, photography; and the list of what I love is ever expanding unfortunately. For me it’s been down the rabbit hole since I was five and I’m never going back up if I can help it. One of my pet irritations is people I meet who say, ” I used to (paint/sculpt/take pictures/fill in the art/craft here) and I just don’t have time…maybe after I retire.” Give me a break, those people never had a passion or a hunger for making art or they’d do it at midnight on a teevee tray hanging upside down in the basement if they had to.

 Making art is something I am compelled to do. It always has been. When I was in kindergarten and everyone one else was making ashtrays out of clay I sculpted a fat man. I still have it believe it or not. I have drawn, written, worked in clay, painted, and expressed myself through art my entire life and  like Joan Miro, I’m hoping they’ll prop up my bed in the old folks home and give me a signpainters brush if I can’t handle a regular one.

This last weekend I went to the Puyallup Antique Show and Sale with my friend Lynn, a very clever and funny blonde. We have the same cattywompus world view and we have a ball together, this trip was no exception. I found lots of great bits and pieces for my repurposing, two really cheap pretty chocolate molds (papier mache and chalkware supplies)  and a gorgeous pine cabinet.

I was not expecting to fall in love with this cabinet but I did, and it is now installed in my house. I tend to just stand and admire it and pat us on the back. We stole the thing for a very small amount of money relative to what it is.

The point to this aside is that I discovered something else about me I knew on some level. The work I love the most is the things I repurpose/reclaim/recapture and it dawned on me I’ve been that way my entire life. I would rather find elderly furniture and tschotskes and see their potential than go in a store and buy something new.  Epiphany.

There is something to be said for taking a piece of junk and making it something wonderful, there is nothing more satisfying. In Oregon two years ago on a trip with my kids and husband, I found a table top in a dumpster. Okay, not the top exactly, the flat top part was gone and what was left was the four sides sans legs of a beautifully carved old 4 foot long 2 foot wide huge table. Coffee table? Side table? Who knows? My charming and wonderful husband took the table top at my direction and turned it into a gorgeous coffee table that went to live in the youngest son’s apartment in Seattle. Terry had to make a top, cut down fancy legs and build curved pieces to fill in gaps. A lot of work and about an $80 investment. I painted it the most beautiful gray black and gave Tor 60 tiles for the top. We didn’t grout them because this way he can change the top out when he wants with glass or whatever he likes. It got installed, it has another 100 years of live ahead and it didn’t go to waste. That makes me happy. I’m still waiting for the picture….but for now I’ll go with the last picture I took at the antique show. which was held on the fairgrounds, hence the odd signage.  Perfect end to the day, Sillyville, exit stage right.

Salvador’s Dollies Meet the Rabbit

I have started on a new series of pieces. I think I’m in love. All the art stuff (read crap With No Useful Purpose) that I have been tearing apart, categorizing and holding on to, despite my husband’s what-the-hell-are-you-saving-that-for-expressions, is now coming in to its own in an exciting way.

The back story: Friday I escaped the lair (read studio) for a few hours to meet my friend Linda C. and chew the art fat. We met at Barnes and Noble because they have a big old shelf of art books. I look at ten books and usually wind up buying one book or a magazine.  Have you looked at magazines lately? Holy cow, magazines are seven or eight bucks, the same price as a paperback. I hate libraries, you have to give the books back. B/N gives me a table and serves Starbuck’s coffee which makes me a happy person-and I reward us both by spending my allowance on books.

I found a fantastic book called, Who’s Your Dada, Redefining the Doll Through Mixed Media by Linda and Opie O’Brien.  I’m telling you, the Holy Grail of art books for this kid. It even features  a piece from one of the artists from Matter Gallery, the place that shows my repurposed work. How cool is that?

Inspirational book Dada Dollies

My writing room/computer room/office/guestroom has one wall of bookcases, full bookcases. My living room has one and one half walls of book cases. My studio has a book case and the loft has a big long row of books.  I like books what can I say?  I digress…

These are not the cuddly dolls from your childhood.  These dolls made my son Torin’s hair stand on end with the creepy factor present in quite a few of them.  I, on the other hand, grabbed my sketchbook and started making notes and sketching ideas. Of course, I have now had to buy and tear apart several  old used dolls, that part is really creepy. I have a box of arms, legs and heads to work with. Sigh…what I don’t go through for art…

I love looking at the concept of what a doll is and turning that on its end. What does it mean and why did it smack me between the eyes on so many fronts?  How can it mean new things? How can I use the idea of a doll to convey other information?

Girls especially resonate to the idea of a doll. As little kids, this is an inanimate object we  possess, carry around everywhere, love obsessively and refuse to be parted from, no matter how worn and grubby our dolls get. I think of my first doll and still get warm fuzzies. Why? Is it because this is the first thing that was all mine to love? Does the idea of love run downhill like water from our parents to us?  I still have the stuffed rabbit  doll that my dad gave me when I was four years old. It has a creepy doll face and a yellow furry body and it used to have blond yarn bangs. Poor Rabbit was my go to friend and  absorbed so much saltwater from my tears over the years I was growing up that its stuffing turned to dust. Rabbit has been restuffed and sits in a chair in my office, one of my totem objects. I have two ancient rabbits, which is a story for another day, but now you know where the original rabbit habit got its start.

My first doll was a rabbit. I'm still confused

Dolly dada deconstruction begins

The other intriguing bit is using the “doll” to convey the idea of Dada, which I think was the precursor to going green and making wonderful new things with things that originally had a different purpose. Here is what says in the art history section: Much more succinct than anything I could rumble up.

” What are the key characteristics of Dada art?

  • Dada began in Zurich and became an international movement. Or non-movement, as it were.Dada had only one rule: Never follow any known rules.
  • Dada was intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the viewer (typically shock or outrage). If its art failed to offend traditionalists, Dada writing – particularly Tristan Tzara’s manifestoes – proved a fine, nose-thumbing Plan B.
  • Dada art is nonsensical to the point of whimsy. Almost all of the people who created it were ferociously serious, though.
  • There was no predominant medium in Dadaist art. All things from geometric tapestries to glass to plaster and wooden reliefs were fair game. It’s worth noting, though, that assemblage, collage, photomontage and the use of ready made objects all gained wide acceptance due to their use in Dada art.
  • For something that supposedly meant nothing, Dada certainly created a lot of offshoots. In addition to spawning numerous literary journals, Dada influenced many concurrent trends in the visual arts (especially in the case of Constructivism). The best-known movement Dada was directly responsible for is Surrealism. (Think Salvador Dali)
  • Dada self-destructed when it was in danger of becoming “acceptable”.  This link shows a photo of a well known dada symbol. Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal which he put in a show and signed R. Mutt in 1917. Most dada art is not quite so in your face establishment! as the toilet was, but its deliberate use repurposing items out of context to convey ideas shocked the world at the time. It was a fascinating time, and the things the artists did/meant/stood for, are part of my own core values as an artist. This movement is worth tracking down for what it was and doing more reading. is an excellent place to start. Dada as a movement only lasted from 1916-1923 but it spread like a forest fire and went world-wide in that span of time.

 I have been in love with dragging home “Things With No Useful Purpose” for a very long time and going dada with them. I just never thought about the doll part until now. I do love it when synchronicity happens…