Had a wild weekend at Brickbottom Open Studios this year. I met so many wonderful people, and I hope I’ll see many of them again here on my website as they keep track of my projects going into 2018. From there, I ran straight into a small, intimate, family Thanksgiving, and now the long weekend to clean the studio and start my projects for the winter. I’m looking forward to finishing the dollhouse, described in previous posts, and experimenting further with two projects that emerged during Open Studios prep.
Emerald Cities began as an experiment in flat-pack art and photographical miniatures, the Blood Red Roses are the result of wandering down a path when a planned project didn’t quite work out, and the Anatomical Studies are old friends who came to play after a long time.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to thank my new friend, K, for hosting my work in her space during Open Studios, my fellow Brickbottom Artists for being brilliant and supportive, and My Sainted Mother for taking up the slack while I was so busy and for letting me make the pumpkin pie this year as it ended up my best one yet. 😉
Anatomical Studies, Fig. 1, papier mache over glow-in-the-dark toy, 2000
Blood Red Roses, view 2
Table art and collages arranged at Open Studios, 2017
Empire, table sculpture, 2017, papier mache, part of the Emerald Cities series. These folding, adjustable miniature skyscrapers are designed for miniature photography and fun.
Anatomical Studies, Fig. 2, papier mache over glow-in-the-dark toys, 2000
Anatomical Studies, Fig. 3, papier mache over glow-in-the-dark toy, 2000
I’ve been pasting and papering and designing all week, to launch a new project at Brickbottom Artists Open Studios 2017, this weekend, Nov. 18 and 19. I’ve been working on small sculptures of buildings and cityscapes as objects in their own right and to photograph for use in collages and other works. I like to play with perceptions of scale in my work, so I’m eager to get lost in the shadows and textures and imagined streets among these minimalized structures.
Here are some progress shots of a little factory, waiting on my totally wrecked work table for its final surface finish. Also, some super tiny castles and corporate towers that I really like, though I’m not sure how much they like me. The smaller the object, it seems, the bigger the work involved.
Don’t forget, if you’re in the Somerville, MA, area, come meet me and lots of other artists at the Brickbottom-Joy Street Open Studios 2017 event, this weekend! I’ll be showing the first towers of my little cities as well as many collages, large and small. See you there!
Power plant or factory, aerial view
Ground level, entering the yard?
More shadows, natural studio light
Power plant or factory, play of shadows
Towers in progress
This Halloween, we enjoyed classic horror movies and adorable trick-or-treaters, and I played with a little patch of jack-o-lantern cards to scare away all bad things. I strove for sincerity. Don’t be scared!
The little power plant object is nearly complete. One of my regular nature walks is along the Charlestown side of the Mystic River estuary in Boston. It’s a place teetering on the brink between industrial past and environmental present. This somewhat abstract diorama depicts the view of the electric generating substation I see on the Everett side of the river. My sense of the place is expressed in the bone-white plant (in real life, its red brick), the burnt wood evoking the rotted pilings of long-gone piers, and the fresh gull’s feather, which I found there recently, dominating all, because the gulls were there long before the power plant, and they’ll be there long after it’s gone as well.
It still needs a few details, but I’m pleased with the effect so far.
This weekend, I started work on a set of small assemblages honoring the urban landscape of my city. I live and work in a somewhat formerly industrial area but still nature is to be found all around. These little diorama objects use gleanings from my urban nature walks and references to the places they are found. Here is a very tiny impression of the electric generating substation on the bank of the lower Mystic River estuary. It’s all of 1.5 inches high, cut from card stock. I have just started covering it with papier mache. The jar of feathers picked up on my walks will be part of the finished object.
And here’s the back of the postcard with more info. Save/print these for yourselves.
So that’s done, at least. The usual Hundred Other Things overwhelmed Being An Artist, and I fear I let myself go with my obsessive-perfectionist urges again on the new business card design, with the end result that very little of import got done this week. (The bathroom doesn’t count because I didn’t paint it.)
But not nothing of import! My endless rounds of business card experiments did yield this little mini stamp-montage, and I rather like it. It feels apropos. I’ve titled it “Alice.”
Work progresses on the dollhouse. I’ve been putting up very small clapboard siding. It’s made from card stock file folders, cut into strips, folded and glued. The paper is easy to handle and shape around things like gables and window frames, and the effect is quite realistic. I can hardly wait to get to painting it.
I’ve been spending a lot of time on life projects, too, including reorganizing much of the house, preparing for Open Studios in November, and clearing the decks to have our bathroom painted, hopefully this week. Maybe I should try installing the dollhouse bathroom at the same. 😉
Sadly, my Canon camera seems to have died. It was old and had lived a full life, but it shall be missed. These photos of the dollhouse were taken with a loaner, which I haven’t quite mastered yet. Still, behold:
Clapboarding the front of the Orchid House.
Window and door frame details
A peek inside
The back extension under construction
Welcome to the refurbished Instant Elixir Cures All! It’s not drastically different from the original version, but it’s much better organized, pulls my artwork together by thematic projects, and brings my writing into the mix. More features and functions will arrive in the next several weeks, including a shopping section.
Best of all, it has its own domain name now – http://www.jenfriesarts.com. I hope you’ll enjoy this virtual portal into my studio.
I mentioned projects. I’m excited for what this winter will bring. On the drawing board are a series on the urban environment, explorations of dream castles, and stories told in pictures, the first of which will be set in a dollhouse I am building from scratch, which turns out to be fairly demanding work.
Here are some photos of the house in the early construction stages.