• In Honour of Life Collage by Denise LeClaire 10 Questions to the Artist – Denise LeClaire

    Photograph of artist Denise R LeClaire

    Denise R LeClaire
    Denise is our 2017 ArtWalk artist.  She is a West Michigan artist and high school counselor. Denise creates collages using found paper objects such as antique sheet music, atlases, and books.  Often, she applies a photo transparency over the collage and then, paints over those layers allowing you to see or hide different components of the canvas.  This artist focuses on an idea such as belonging, forgiveness, mortality, or love. Her goal is to create a connection between people and her art with shared experiences.  All of Denise’s work is personal, a combination of the ordinary and the profound.  Like a soft kiss on the forehead for no reason.
    In Honour of Life Collage by Denise LeClaireIn Honour of the Fact that Life is Short

    ArtWalk Voting Code:  Artist number – MM14. Category – Mixed Media

    Denise answers our
    “Ten Questions to the Artist”
    so that we can get to know her, just a little.  


    1. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
    I heard a quote once, I think it was Marianne Williamson who said that the spiritual path is just the journey of living our lives and we are all on a spiritual path, sometimes we just don’t know it. I love this philosophy and feel like it falls together with my own belief in the importance of small moments, the little things that end up being the most memorable. So, it’s just everyday life that does it for me. We get to decide in the first world, what to do with our days, how we respond to life, and how we are creative; it’s a huge gift that not everyone has, that’s a pretty big turn on.
    2. Do you have an influence or theme that guides your work?
    I think the theme is connection through common ground. I think there is a spiritual and emotional element to my work with the combination of ideas, words and photographs and I see and feel this when I talk to people about what’s drawn them to a particular piece.   
    3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Travel photographer/writer
    4. What profession would you not like to do?
    Police officer
    5. Who are your favorite artists?
    VanGogh, O’Keefe, Gustav Klimt, Mark Rothko, Jim Dine
    6. What is your favorite tool used to create your work?
    A “mop” brush.
    7. What is your favorite word?
    8. What is your least favorite word?
    Can’t think of one.
    9. Who is your favorite musician?
    Impossible to choose. I love all kinds of music.
    10. How much formal education have you received?
    My B.A. is in Sociology and Fine Art. I’ve taken art classes on and off my entire life including in photography, pottery, painting, drawing & collage. What I’m currently doing with regard to the combination of collage, photography, photo transfer and painting is self taught, trial and error.
    Thank you, Denise, for answering our questions.  Stop in to the gallery to see her exhibit. She and I will be hosting an Artist Talk beginning at 7:30 pm.  Denise will be in the gallery, Friday night, October 6, 6-9pm.  
    Time for the Daffodil collage by Denise R LeClaire



  • A Painting that I Love – Times Square at Night – Jon McDonald

    Painting by Jon McDonald times square at night

    Jon McDonald
    Jon McDonald is a professor at Kendall School of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He was born in the South but moved to Grand Haven, Michigan when he was a young child.  Jon is a generous artist with both his students and his community.  He is friendly, helpful, but loves the quiet of his home and studio.  Check out this interview about Jon:
    MLive interview with Jon McDonald
    MLive Interview

  • A Painting I Love – Beautifully Denied – Lee Ann Frame

    Woodcutt Etching by Lee Ann Frame Beautifully Denied

    Lee Ann Frame
    Lee Ann Frame is a West Michigan Artist.  She holds an MFA in printmaking and teaches various printmaking and bookbinding processes.  I love a quote from her website:  “Layers, surface textures evolve, irregularity and imperfections–like life, find place. My hope is that my work will conjure memories, tap the imagination and allow for an intimate visual experience.”
  • Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel What Role do I play in this great theater of life?

    A girlfriend shared a TED Talk this morning about the Sistine Chapel.  It was such an interesting look at this historical site that I wanted to save it.  Art Historian, Elizabeth Lev, walks us through the Chapel, showing us another way to look at Michelangelo’s depiction of traditional stories.  Ultimately, forcing us to ask ourselves “Who am I?  What role do I play this great theater of life?”


    Transcript from the video:


    00:11Imagine you’re in Rome, and you’ve made your way to the Vatican Museums. And you’ve been shuffling down long corridors, past statues, frescoes, lots and lots of stuff. You’re heading towards the Sistine Chapel. At last — a long corridor, a stair and a door. You’re at the threshold of the Sistine Chapel.

    00:36So what are you expecting? Soaring domes? Choirs of angels? We don’t really have any of that there. Instead, you may ask yourself, what do we have?

    00:47Well, curtains up on the Sistine Chapel. And I mean literally, you’re surrounded by painted curtains, the original decoration of this chapel. Churches used tapestries not just to keep out cold during long masses, but as a way to represent the great theater of life. The human drama in which each one of us plays a part is a great story, a story that encompasses the whole world and that came to unfold in the three stages of the painting in the Sistine Chapel.

    01:17Now, this building started out as a space for a small group of wealthy, educated Christian priests. They prayed there. They elected their pope there. Five hundred years ago, it was the ultimate ecclesiastical man cave. So, you may ask, how can it be that today it attracts and delights five million people a year, from all different backgrounds? Because in that compressed space, there was a creative explosion, ignited by the electric excitement of new geopolitical frontiers, which set on fire the ancient missionary tradition of the Church and produced one of the greatest works of art in history.

    Sistine Chapel

    01:59Now, this development took place as a great evolution, moving from the beginning of a few elite, and eventually able to speak to audiences of people that come from all over the world.This evolution took place in three stages, each one linked to a historical circumstance. The first one was rather limited in scope. It reflected the rather parochial perspective. The second one took place after worldviews were dramatically altered after Columbus’s historical voyage;and the third, when the Age of Discovery was well under way and the Church rose to the challenge of going global.

    02:39The original decoration of this church reflected a smaller world. There were busy scenes that told the stories of the lives of Jesus and Moses, reflecting the development of the Jewish and Christian people. The man who commissioned this, Pope Sixtus IV, assembled a dream team of Florentine art, including men like Sandro Botticelli and the man who would become Michelangelo’s future painting teacher, Ghirlandaio. These men, they blanketed the walls with a frieze of pure color, and in these stories you’ll notice familiar landscapes, the artists using Roman monuments or a Tuscan landscape to render a faraway story, something much more familiar. With the addition of images of the Pope’s friends and family, this was a perfect decoration for a small court limited to the European continent. But in 1492, the New World was discovered, horizons were expanding, and this little 133 by 46-foot microcosm had to expand as well. And it did, thanks to a creative genius, a visionary and an awesome story.

    03:51Now, the creative genius was Michelangelo Buonarroti, 33 years old when he was tapped to decorate 12,000 square feet of ceiling, and the deck was stacked against him — he had trained in painting but had left to pursue sculpture. There were angry patrons in Florence because he had left a stack of incomplete commissions, lured to Rome by the prospect of a great sculptural project, and that project had fallen through. And he had been left with a commission to paint 12 apostles against a decorative background in the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which would look like every other ceiling in Italy.

    04:24But genius rose to the challenge. In an age when a man dared to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, Michelangelo dared to chart new artistic waters. He, too, would tell a story — no Apostles — but a story of great beginnings, the story of Genesis.

    04:42Not really an easy sell, stories on a ceiling. How would you be able to read a busy scene from 62 feet below? The painting technique that had been handed on for 200 years in Florentine studios was not equipped for this kind of a narrative.

    04:56But Michelangelo wasn’t really a painter, and so he played to his strengths. Instead of being accustomed to filling space with busyness, he took a hammer and chisel and hacked away at a piece of marble to reveal the figure within. Michelangelo was an essentialist; he would tell his story in massive, dynamic bodies.

    05:18This plan was embraced by the larger-than-life Pope Julius II, a man who was unafraid of Michelangelo’s brazen genius. He was nephew to Pope Sixtus IV, and he had been steeped in art for 30 years and he knew its power. And history has handed down the moniker of the Warrior Pope, but this man’s legacy to the Vatican — it wasn’t fortresses and artillery, it was art. He left us the Raphael Rooms, the Sistine Chapel. He left St. Peter’s Basilica as well as an extraordinary collection of Greco-Roman sculptures — decidedly un-Christian works that would become the seedbed of the world’s first modern museum, the Vatican Museums.Julius was a man who envisioned a Vatican that would be eternally relevant through grandeur and through beauty, and he was right. The encounter between these two giants, Michelangelo and Julius II, that’s what gave us the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was so committed to this project, that he succeeded in getting the job done in three and a half years,using a skeleton crew and spending most of the time, hours on end, reaching up above his head to paint the stories on the ceiling.

    06:32So let’s look at this ceiling and see storytelling gone global. No more familiar artistic references to the world around you. There’s just space and structure and energy; a monumental painted framework which opens onto nine panels, more driven by sculptural form than painterly color. And we stand in the far end by the entrance, far from the altar and from the gated enclosure intended for the clergy and we peer into the distance, looking for a beginning. And whether in scientific inquiry or in biblical tradition, we think in terms of a primal spark. Michelangelo gave us an initial energy when he gave us the separation of light and dark, a churning figure blurry in the distance, compressed into a tight space. The next figure looms larger, and you see a figure hurtling from one side to the next. He leaves in his wake the sun, the moon, vegetation. Michelangelo didn’t focus on the stuff that was being created, unlike all the other artists. He focused on the act of creation.

    07:46And then the movement stops, like a caesura in poetry and the creator hovers. So what’s he doing? Is he creating land? Is he creating sea? Or is he looking back over his handiwork, the universe and his treasures, just like Michelangelo must have, looking back over his work in the ceiling and proclaiming, “It is good.”

    08:09So now the scene is set, and you get to the culmination of creation, which is man. Adam leaps to the eye, a light figure against a dark background. But looking closer, that leg is pretty languid on the ground, the arm is heavy on the knee. Adam lacks that interior spark that will impel him to greatness. That spark is about to be conferred by the creator in that finger,which is one millimeter from the hand of Adam. It puts us at the edge of our seats, because we’re one moment from that contact, through which that man will discover his purpose, leap up and take his place at the pinnacle of creation.


    08:50And then Michelangelo threw a curveball. Who is in that other arm? Eve, first woman. No, she’s not an afterthought. She’s part of the plan. She’s always been in his mind. Look at her, so intimate with God that her hand curls around his arm. And for me, an American art historian from the 21st century, this was the moment that the painting spoke to me. Because I realized that this representation of the human drama was always about men and women — so much so, that the dead center, the heart of the ceiling, is the creation of woman, not Adam.And the fact is, that when you see them together in the Garden of Eden, they fall together and together their proud posture turns into folded shame.

    09:39You are at critical juncture now in the ceiling. You are exactly at the point where you and I can go no further into the church. The gated enclosure keeps us out of the inner sanctum, and we are cast out much like Adam and Eve. The remaining scenes in the ceiling, they mirror the crowded chaos of the world around us. You have Noah and his Ark and the flood. You have Noah. He’s making a sacrifice and a covenant with God. Maybe he’s the savior. Oh, but no, Noah is the one who grew grapes, invented wine, got drunk and passed out naked in his barn. It is a curious way to design the ceiling, now starting out with God creating life, ending up with some guy blind drunk in a barn. And so, compared with Adam, you might think Michelangelo is making fun of us.

    10:23But he’s about to dispel the gloom by using those bright colors right underneath Noah:emerald, topaz, scarlet on the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah foresees a light coming from the east, and we are turned at this juncture to a new destination, with sibyls and prophets who will lead us on a parade. You have the heroes and heroines who make safe the way, and we follow the mothers and fathers. They are the motors of this great human engine, driving it forward.

    10:53And now we’re at the keystone of the ceiling, the culmination of the whole thing, with a figure that looks like he’s about to fall out of his space into our space, encroaching our space.

    11:04This is the most important juncture. Past meets present. This figure, Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of the whale, for the Christians, is the symbol of the renewal of humanitythrough Jesus’ sacrifice, but for the multitudes of visitors to that museum from all faiths who visit there every day, he is the moment the distant past encounters and meets immediate reality.

    11:29All of this brings us to the yawning archway of the altar wall, where we see Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, painted in 1534 after the world had changed again. The Reformation had splintered the Church, the Ottoman Empire had made Islam a household word and Magellan had found a route into the Pacific Ocean. How is a 59-year-old artist who has never been any further than Venice going to speak to this new world? Michelangelo chose to paint destiny,that universal desire, common to all of us, to leave a legacy of excellence. Told in terms of the Christian vision of the Last Judgment, the end of the world, Michelangelo gave you a series of figures who are wearing these strikingly beautiful bodies. They have no more covers, no more portraits except for a couple. It’s a composition only out of bodies, 391, no two alike, unique like each and every one of us. They start in the lower corner, breaking away from the ground,struggling and trying to rise. Those who have risen reach back to help others, and in one amazing vignette, you have a black man and a white man pulled up together in an incredible vision of human unity in this new world. The lion’s share of the space goes to the winner’s circle. There you find men and women completely nude like athletes. They are the ones who have overcome adversity, and Michelangelo’s vision of people who combat adversity,overcome obstacles — they’re just like athletes. So you have men and women flexing and posing in this extraordinary spotlight. Presiding over this assembly is Jesus, first a suffering man on the cross, now a glorious ruler in Heaven. And as Michelangelo proved in his painting,hardship, setbacks and obstacles, they don’t limit excellence, they forge it.

    13:27Now, this does lead us to one odd thing. This is the Pope’s private chapel, and the best way you can describe that is indeed a stew of nudes. But Michelangelo was trying to use only the best artistic language, the most universal artistic language he could think of: that of the human body. And so instead of the way of showing virtue such as fortitude or self-mastery,he borrowed from Julius II’s wonderful collection of sculptures in order to show inner strength as external power.

    13:58Now, one contemporary did write that the chapel was too beautiful to not cause controversy.And so it did. Michelangelo soon found that thanks to the printing press, complaints about the nudity spread all over the place, and soon his masterpiece of human drama was labeled pornography, at which point he added two more portraits, one of the man who criticized him, a papal courtier, and the other one of himself as a dried up husk, no athlete, in the hands of a long-suffering martyr. The year he died he saw several of these figures covered over, a triumph for trivial distractions over his great exhortation to glory.

    14:39And so now we stand in the here and now. We are caught in that space between beginnings and endings, in the great, huge totality of the human experience. The Sistine Chapel forces us to look around as if it were a mirror. Who am I in this picture? Am I one of the crowd? Am I the drunk guy? Am I the athlete? And as we leave this haven of uplifting beauty, we are inspired to ask ourselves life’s biggest questions: Who am I, and what role do I play in this great theater of life?

    15:12Thank you.


    15:17Bruno Giussani: Elizabeth Lev, thank you.

    15:20Elizabeth, you mentioned this whole issue of pornography, too many nudes and too many daily life scenes and improper things in the eyes of the time. But actually the story is bigger.It’s not just touching up and covering up some of the figures. This work of art was almost destroyed because of that.

    15:39Elizabeth Lev: The effect of the Last Judgment was enormous. The printing press made sure that everybody saw it. And so, this wasn’t something that happened within a couple of weeks. It was something that happened over the space of 20 years of editorials and complaints, saying to the Church, “You can’t possibly tell us how to live our lives. Did you notice you have pornography in the Pope’s chapel?” And so after complaints and insistenceof trying to get this work destroyed, it was finally the year that Michelangelo died that the Church finally found a compromise, a way to save the painting, and that was in putting up these extra 30 covers, and that happens to be the origin of fig-leafing. That’s where it all came about, and it came about from a church that was trying to save a work of art, not indeed deface or destroyed it.

    16:27BG: This, what you just gave us, is not the classic tour that people get today when they go to the Sistine Chapel.


    16:35EL: I don’t know, is that an ad?


    16:39BG: No, no, no, not necessarily, it is a statement. The experience of art today is encountering problems. Too many people want to see this there, and the result is five million people going through that tiny door and experiencing it in a completely different way than we just did.

    16:55EL: Right. I agree. I think it’s really nice to be able to pause and look. But also realize, even when you’re in those days, with 28,000 people a day, even those days when you’re in there with all those other people, look around you and think how amazing it is that some painted plaster from 500 years ago can still draw all those people standing side by side with you,looking upwards with their jaws dropped. It’s a great statement about how beauty truly can speak to us all through time and through geographic space.

    17:25BG: Liz, grazie.

    17:26EL: Grazie a te.

    17:28BG: Thank you.



  • Facets of Fabric Fold. Gather. Stitch. Dye. Paint. Construct. Wear.

    Fold. Gather. Crumple. Stitch. Dye. Paint. Stencil. Cut. Collage. Fringe. Stiffen. Construct. Weave. Wear.

    Cloth Mask by Barb FugazzottoBarb Fugazzotto’s Mask
    These are all things Barbara Fugazzotto, the artist behind our July “Facets of Fabric” exhibit, loves doing to fabrics.
    Fandangle Fan by Barb
    Barbara starts her fabric projects with a vague concept in mind, but is always surprised by how they develop and finish. Many of Barbara’s fabrics have been acquired while traveling.  She likes to work with flat fabrics to make stick fans and masks. Her fans have geometrical patterns mixed with abstract shapes. Her masks have a similar look, and are rectilinear. Both combine vibrant and with dark hues to create an interesting palette. She says that she is in the process with the materials, and they tell her as much as she tells them what to do. Her fabrics can stay two dimensional or they can become three dimensional. Barbara said in her artist statement, “whatever fabric can be, whatever can happen to fabric, that’s what I love to do.”  Plus, if you were to purchase one of these art pieces, you will be receiving a piece of Barb’s life story.  A story is always treasured along with art.  Come check out her work all July in the gallery.

    Bags by Barb Fugazzotto

    “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” (Lao Tzu)

    (Today’s Blog was co-written by Cyndi Casemier and Emma Baty.)

  • The Dragon gets another one of “ours”

    Self Portrait by Robert GennSelf Portrait by Robert Genn

    I follow/skim several blogs every couple days or so.  There are so many people writing blogs today.  One of the newsletters/blogs that I get the most enjoyment and creative intention from is by Robert Genn.

    Robert Genn passed away Tuesday surrounded by his family.  You can read about them in one of his earlier newsletters.  This morning, Sara posted telling of his passing and her commitment to continue what her dad started.  I have been impressed with her writing, she has learned well.  I can’t help but think of another artist that I know, Michelle Courier, who’s father is also a teacher and painter.  It seems that these two women were ahead of the art game by having these men in their lives.  Check out Sara’s letter today.  It is a testament to Robert Genn.  You might want to sign up for her blogs.  She has committed to sending one of her dad’s earlier newsletters every other posting.


    May 30, 2014

    Dear Artist,

    “The world is so full of a number of things, that I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)  Robert Genn, age 12, in Victoria, BC

    Robert Genn, age 12, in Victoria

    “The world is so full of a number of things, that I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

    On Tuesday morning, at 10:20am, Dad passed away. He was at home, surrounded by his family. My brother, BCDave’s Airedale, Stanley, lay on the floor nearby. This day was also my, and my twin brother James’s, birthday.

    A few evenings earlier, Dad and I were sitting up together, discussing a favourite piece of music. “Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has the ability to take you from placidity to power in one sonic breath. It is music of dignity and strength, with primitive, energetic passages, evoking absolute beauty from the simplest of phrases. It brings up something that has everything to do with significance — squeezing joy and motif that you just can’t drop — it stays with you.”

    I tapped along on his laptop as he riffed a stream of consciousness, his sense of wonder twinkling, then sparkling, his voice growing ever softer, his hand squeezing mine when we paused. “The thing about art is that life is in no danger of being meaningless,” he whispered. I remembered, again, the wonder of nearing the summit plateau at Lake McArthur, rounding a corner to the West Coast Trail’s packed, silvery strand and, moment by moment, the unveiling of the magic hour on the Bois d’Amour in Pont Aven, Brittany. A few more steps, a couple of breaths to our destination: a silent sharing in the marvel.

    I thanked him for the millionth time. We all thanked him as he slipped away. “Thank-you, Daddy, thank-you.”

    In Fuengirola, Spain, 1964

    In Fuengirola, Spain, 1964

    And what about your twice-weekly letters? This ardent epistolary friendship, this living commitment, a connection and conviction to the imagination and creative heartbeat, and to lifemanship? Dad wrote to you last October, after receiving his diagnosis, and since then we’ve solidified our intention. He wrote:

    “From the get-go we have been aware of the value of these twice-weekly letters to artists and others. Sara has helped me with many of them. We’ve shared our artistic journey together and have often talked about this day. One of the ideas we’re tossing around is that she start off by writing once a week. The other letter would be a favourite previous one of mine. If we ran all my previous letters once a week, they would last for 27 years! Finding ourselves at new chapters in our adventure, we sincerely hope we can continue to be of service to you.”

    And so, I’ll write to you. And you’ll get Dad’s letters, too. It will be my honour to do so, and will continue to be with the deepest gratitude to you, his friend in art.

    In Crescent Park, Surrey, BC, 1981
    In Crescent Park, Surrey, BC, 1981



    PS: “Over the days of this journey, a kind of energetic serenity has set in. Something happens with the mixture of space and time. I feel a sense of story. Others have told me you can feel it in your brush, and I do now. A family of mergansers swims close by — the young are almost ready to fly south. Perhaps you have felt it too — it has something to do with purity.” (Robert Genn, on the Mackenzie River, 2000)

    Esoterica: Dad’s dream has been to reach artists of all stripes — individuals with a common joy, journeying in this life-enhancing, inexplicable affair of the heart. He wrote, “We have no other motivation than to give creative people an opportunity to share ideas and possibly broaden their capabilities — to get more joy and understanding from their own unique processes.” With this dream in mind, please forward this letter, or letter of your choice, to someone you think might find it of value. If one, or many, chooses to subscribe, we will exponentially widen — as a diverse and generous community of worldwide artists. “To float like a cloud you have to go to the trouble of becoming one.” (Robert Genn)

    “Work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran)  Robert at Lake O’Hara, Yoho, Canada, 2008
    “Work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran)

    Robert at Lake O’Hara, Yoho, Canada, 2008″Art is something else. Art is fluid, transmutable, open-ended, never complete, and never perfect. Art is an event.” (Robert Genn)

    “We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle, and while we may not be the center of that vortex, it is magic to be anywhere in there.” (Robert Genn)

    “Love me truly!
    Remember my constancy.
    With all my heart
    and all my mind
    I am with you
    even when far away.” (Anonymous text, Carmina Burana )

  • Just do it – already!

    I start my day, every day, the same way.  Coffee, yogurt with blueberries and other fruit with grape nuts at my computer.  I catch up with the world while eating my breakfast, thinking about what I need to get done today.  Robert Genn’s newsletter arrived in my in box.   He is a Canadian painter with wonderful insights about being an artist.  Today, he announced that he has pancreatic cancer.  A dear friend announced his final blog posting this past week.  My clay girlfriends around the country try to plan locations to learn and enjoy each other company every other year.


    This morning, getting the important things done is kicking me in the face.   I can’t tell you what your important items are but I do have a list.  It might be too long but I think that is good.  Cancer is such an ugly disease.  It catches us when we least expect it.  So, for today, I am going to try to limit my “to do” list to 7 do-able items.  If the other things are still on the list tomorrow, then they should probably be dealt with.  After those 7 items are done, then I am going to make some pots!  Yeah!


    My 7 to-do’s

    Work out


    Pay bills for the gallery

    Take five images to our E-Commerce site, measure, & code them

    receive artwork for our Art Competition

    write my blog posting

    write my newsletter for tomorrow

    Robert Genn’s daughter is an artist and writer.   They are considering re-issuing one of his past newsletters in combination with one of her writings each month.  They calculate that it could keep her busy for 27 years.  What a legacy!  Me:  one of Seven is done.  Have a great day.


  • Creative Bones

    Creativity?  I believe that we are all creative.  Some people are creative in how they solve problems and others are able to capture an image on paper with a pen or brush.  This week, I have been watching my daughter create a mural on the back wall of our gallery.  We rented scaffolding.  Up and down she goes several times throughout the day, looking at her work, considering what is next.  Up she goes again to add more paint.  It is interesting to watch.  Somewhere along the way, Camille has learned perspective, design and painting skills.  Often she amazes me with her “can do” attitude.  She might not have done it before but she will figure it out.




    In the next several days, our mural will be complete.  Thanks to Camille’s efforts.  She is entering it in this Fall’s ArtWalk competition.  Then, she heads to NYC to school.  Every morning, I will be reminded of her creativity as I open the gallery.

  • Self-Criticism and Creativity

    Every other week, I read a newsletter by Robert Genn.  Robert is a painter, teacher, and author.  This week’s newsletter talks about group critiques.  In November, the gallery is hosting an art competition.  I have asked a respected local artist to juror it with me.  For myself, it will be important to have specific points/considerations in looking at each piece of artwork that we consider for the competition.  Many times, Robert’s newsletter redirects my thoughts, causing me to slow down, and really contemplate a current project or just my day in general.

    While my kiln is firing, I am thinking about this current work.  What will it look like on Friday?  I know my materials well enough, that I can envision each piece about 80% of the way.  The kiln will effect each piece the remaining 20%.  My percentages might be off a bit but that is my goal.  My desire is to understand my form and materials well enough so that before I even touch clay, I can see the end product in my mind’s eye.  The work is sometimes close to this vision.  Most of the time, I look at a finished piece and see where I didn’t meet my expectations.  This is what continues to drive me to make another pot.  The continued striving for better.   There are so many variables in ceramics:  what clay body to use,  the actual making of the work, how to dry it, bisquing, what glaze to use or not, and how to fire a glaze kiln.  Those of you who know me well, know that I get bored easily, always ready to move on to the next “new thing”.  I think this is one of the reasons I am still making pots after 19 years.  There are always new techniques and skills to be learned/considered.  I love it!  I am certain this is true of all art mediums.

    I looked at some older work this morning.  In my opinion, I have gained some ground in the last five years but in many respects,  I have not been as creative.  So, somehow, I need to diligently consider what I am going to make before I sit down at the wheel or the table, and then begin……..


    Here are some older pots that I continue to like:


    Cup from 2004

    Cup from 2004


    Vase from 2004

    Vase from 2004


    Tea Bowl

    Tea Bowl


    Casserole 2006

    Casserole 2006


    Mug 2008

    Mug 2008

    A current pot:

    Vase 2013

    Vase 2013


     From Robert Genn: “The art of self-criticism is key to professionalism. It’s really the fun part; it’s good for the mind at any age and heads off the natural rigidity that can set in during the golden years. Better than waiting for the Jello cart to come down the hall.”



  • Being creative with a small business

    Art Journaling 002

    Last night I had several different events/meetings to attend.  Because, I don’t have employees.  I had to put a sign on the front door, announcing that I was closing early for a meeting.  Life in a small town.  You can do this once in awhile.  I do have a few artists that help me out quite often.

    My first meeting was a group called “One Hundred Women”.  Last night was my first meeting.  They meet for one hour quarterly.  The goal is to select a non profit who presents that night and make a donation to them, that night.  The last recipient draws out of a box choosing three individuals who will talk for ten minutes about their organization’s needs.  Then we vote, paper ballot.  They are counted.  The women who organized this group planned a well run hour.   During the counting, the previous recipient presented how they spent the money received.  All in all, I was impressed.  I love the idea of a group of now 300 women donating $30,000 quarterly to a local group needing help.


    I moved onto an opening at The Fire Barn Gallery.  Tyler Loftis had created an exhibit of his paintings.  I had a great time visiting with many friends.  One artist asked how I was doing in the gallery.  I said great!  She asked again how I felt about managing a business and trying to be an artist.  She looked me hard in the eyes, wanting the “real” answer.  I told her that I like to keep a lot of balls in the air.  This is true.  I get bored easily.   I changed the subject to her upcoming exhibit at the Gallery Uptown next month.  I told her that C2C Gallery had an opening the same night and would try to stop in later in the week.  Several other C2C Gallery customers were at the Fire Barn who said that I missed a Chamber event earlier in the evening.  For being a small town, I have a hard time keeping up with the events.  So, even though Grand Haven is small, we have lots of things to do.

    Heading home, I circled around to where I began the evening, thinking about my own clay work.  How to be creative and stay organized at C2C?  It is a dance.  One that some weeks, I manage quite gracefully.  Other days, I am clumsy.  The goal is to always have C2C looking put together, well conceived, pleasant to visit, and to sell art.


    So, how to be creative on a daily basis………….