Saturday, January 28, 2012

The challenges of juried shows... or American Tapestry Biennial 9

Life moves on in all it's vagaries...
A few years ago I wrote a post with this photo in it, and talking about this dog named many things including Big Ten, Jita, Diez, Pumpkin Martinez (her valley gangster name), Barbie Cinnamon (the little neighbor girl favored that one), and TROUBLE. Big Ten disappeared a year or two ago, but the bumper sticker she was modeling in the blog post is still on my car (which is still running at 228,000 miles--I frequently invoke the Volkswagen gods asking for intercession on my car's behalf--I could really use another year out of her).

The sticker now looks like this:

"On the Loo" is how this week has felt.
Some weeks are hard and this one was for several reasons. When you sit in an 8 am Monday morning meeting and watch all your co-workers lose their jobs, you know that the week is not going to go smoothly no matter what. 

Things bumbled along until Thursday morning when I found out bright and early that my favorite tapestry did not make the cut for ATB9. Perhaps it is best to get bad news before 8 am, but it certainly put a damper on the day. It was a huge disappointment. However, if you're going to get bad news about a show you really wanted to get into, best that it come from Thomas Cronenberg. I know many other people got his letter, and this bit was the best:

Please keep in mind that the selection for this show is that of one juror. He chose works that fit his vision. Many tapestries not selected for this exhibition could easily be selected for another show.

We encourage you to continue the effort to exhibit your tapestry, and to educate more people about this remarkable medium of artistic expression.

So I got the list of the people who did get in yesterday and was surprised by a few names on the list and was even more surprised to see the absence of other names I expected to see there (this part, of course, made me feel immensely better knowing that I am in good company over here in the rejected pile--misery loves company and outstanding artists are not necessarily appreciated by any particular juror. I know this, but it always takes a day or two to come back to it after a rejection). There were hundreds of entries, and only 41 were selected. The odds weren't good to start with considering the caliber of people who enter this show.  But hope springs eternal.

Juried shows are a mystery and a continuing question for me. Is it worth entering them? Does it get my name out there and get my work seen? Or is it a waste of time? After a margarita and some amazing chipotle chocolate ice cream at my new favorite restaurant Thursday evening (Pepperhead), I felt miles better and realized that I will continue to enter shows and the rejections will come regularly.  But occasionally I'll get in and that will be fun too.

I can't wait to see the show and I certainly hope it finds a couple more great venues (selfishly in a place I want to visit). Congratulations to the artists who did get in. I am looking forward to seeing your work in person.

I will be looking for a replacement for that Goddess on the Loo bumper sticker... any suggestions?

This is the piece I submitted to ATB9.
Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence V: The Center Place44 x 44 inches; hand-dyed wool tapestry

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I found a book the other day which I immediately realized I had to bring home with me. Rather incongruously it was on top of an Atkins diet book in the occupational therapy cubby at the hospital. The book is this one:
Original edition was 1922. This is the 11th edition, 95th printing, published in 1965 (Emily herself died in 1960 at the age of 86). There are many revisions I can imagine happened between 1922 and 1965, most along the lines of "in this age of women's equality" which inevitably comes right before something like this:
"She who changes her dress and fixes her hair for her husband's homecoming is sure to greet him with greater charm than she who thinks whatever she happens to have on is good enough. The very fact of looking more attractive makes one feel less tired and therefor more charming and better company." (671)

Perhaps she has a point, but it is a good thing I don't have a husband because mostly now that I am almost 40 I subscribe to Tina Fey's, when you're 40 you get to take your pants off when you get home (See her book Bossypants which I am going to shelve next to Etiquette from now on). I am fairly certain the woman pictured below (Emily Post herself) did not put on sweatpants when she got home from work:

I was surprised to find the variety of situations for which we need to know the social rules. (And I have to mention here that there is an entire chapter entitled, "An audience with the Pope.")

"Dressing for television: You can always decide on appropriate clothing for your television appearance by calling and asking the advice of the producer..." (121) Do you think Bjork did this when she chose the swan outfit for the 2001 Oscars?

For when you go on a trip: "Cancel milk delivery.... Have all laundry and cleaning delivered before you leave so that it is not left hanging outside for days or weeks.... Never give your travel plans or dates to your local newspaper in advance...." (130) (I can see it now, Tapestry Artist Leaves Studio Empty for 6-month Walk from Mexico to Canada: Locals ask if she is clinically insane or just a little nuts.)

"Whenever a damask or linen cloth is used, the middle crease must be put on so that it is an absolutely straight and unwavering line down the exact center from head to foot...." (178) Does that mean I have to use an iron?

Since I am getting married this summer and I was curious about what Emily Post had to say on this rather monumental event, I flipped pretty quickly to the wedding section. By the time I read the second paragraph, I was convinced Miss Post was not going to be of much help to me:

"Let it be said at the outset that our discussion of wedding plans will include a complete description of the most elaborate wedding possible. Not because more than a very few will want or be able to carry out every detail, but because only then can the pattern be complete. In other words, it is important to explain all possible details of perfection so that you can follow as many as you find pleasing and practical for you." (339)

Being a bit of a perfectionist myself, my heart sank a little as I turned the page... In fact I flipped through the whole chapter and couldn't find the section labeled, "Lesbian weddings". (Certainly it was just an oversight on Miss Post's part, after all, she didn't know Harvey Milk, Stonewall, or the successful gay wedding market Vermont has staged since they started letting same-sex couples get hitched in 2000 (civil unions, marriages in 2009)--brilliant way to increase tourism, don't you think?). 

And by the time she started talking about "eight or ten bridesmaids, flower girls, pages, and a ring bearer" I was feeling a little ill. Did you know that black fruitcake is traditional for a wedding reception, and, Emily adds, most expensive. (350) You have to have flowers including various corsages and arrangements, canopys, special carpets, and Wagner's Lohengrin for the wedding procession (HELL no). That bit of information may come in handy some day at a cocktail party however ("[a cocktail party] can be the answer to a busy housewife's prayer", 215). So just remember, "Here Comes the Bride" is actually part of a Wagner opera with some less-than-romantic plot twists.

The number one question I've gotten about my wedding after, "When and where" is, "What are you wearing?" I really could use some help from Emily Post on this one, but alas chapter 44, The clothes for the wedding party did nothing to enlighten me. 
"At her first wedding a bride suitably wears a dress of white and a bridal veil whether she be sixteen or forty!" (360)
Firstly, I will be just three weeks from forty (got in under the wire, eh?) when I get married and I resent the implication that I'm almost over the marriageable hill and secondly, I look horrible in white. I'm a pasty caucasian of European descent who sunburns easily and freckles cutely not at all. What I really want to know is is this a question a heterosexual bride gets asked or is it just the "lesbian wedding" phenomenon that makes the question pop out first. For the record, I have absolutely no idea what I am wearing, but I may try to get Tina Fey to help me out.

Emily Post is all about moderation and not making a spectacle of oneself. "Nothing could be more inappropriate than the bride and her attendants coming down the aisle of the church made up as though they were in a chorus line in a musical comedy." (361) I guess we'd better leave the queer contingent off the invitation list.

Please keep in mind, in the words of Emily Post, "If you know anyone who is gay, beguiling, and amusing, you will, if you are wise, do everything you can to make [her] prefer your house and your table to any other, for where [she] is, the successful party is also." (38, but I may have changed the pronouns a little) I will expect your dinner invitation to  be engraved on a white card in a proportion of 3 units in height to 4 units in width preferably with your family crest embossed on the invitation. Please see chapter 52 of Etiquette for further details.

I suspect this book will be a great source of entertainment for many years to come and I have no intention of returning it to the cubby in which it was found. I will, however, leave the Atkins diet book in situ.

Post, Emily. Etiquette. New York: Funk & Wagnell's Company, Inc. 1965.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tales of a Traveling Weaver Chapter 5; Weaving patterns...

Montezuma Valley (where Cortez is) from Mesa Verde

Last week we spent some time at Mesa Verde National Park. I would have stayed longer but they kicked us out at dark.

Weave for us a garment of brightness;
may the warp be the white light of morning;
may the weft be the red light of evening;
may the fringe be the falling rain;
may the border be the standing rainbow.
                                                                   -Tewa song

The patterns in the stone walls are fascinating to me. I have used ideas and feelings from these walls in my Emergence series of tapestries, especially Emergence I and Emergence V (links to photos of those pieces). Repetition is important. I have resisted it in many places in my life. But repetition teaches us something. It is comforting, and we learn from it. These walls are beautiful.
A wall at Lowry Pueblo, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

Sunset at Lowry Pueblo, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

Square Tower House, Mesa Verde National Park
Lowry Pueblo wall, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde National Park
La Plata Mountains from Mesa Verde

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The great housing search ends...

Thanks to my intrepid (and very pregnant) sister and her valiant husband, we have found a suitable house for our tenure in the San Luis Valley.  I am happy to report that it is not only a significant upgrade from the rental described in this earlier post, but it is actually a cheerful, sunny place where I can see the stars and dream about hiking long trails and perhaps weave a few magic carpets or even tapestries.

Of course one of the drawbacks of the San Luis Valley of Colorado is the extreme cold in the winter. Despite the solar gain from the south-facing windows, we are going to be paying much more in propane for the next few months.
Ice on inside of the windows

My time in Cortez is concluding. Cortez is a great place to visit, especially if you are interested in the Anasazi/Ancient Puebloan cultures. I could explore the canyons and ruins here for the rest of my life. But for other reasons, I am moving on.
Emily came home with these beans the other day--grown and packaged just down the road... hopefully they were not grown by the original Anasazi however.
Snowy fields near Dove Creek, CO--one place I go in my home health travels
And I have a new weaving buddy--Thanks Grace!
Ernie is egging me along on my commission. I'm not quite halfway done and now realize I will have to move the loom with the tapestry partly finished.  This would never be my first choice, but in this case, I have to move Feb 4th and as I still have to work approximately 96 hours (5,760 minutes) between now and then, I may not finish the last 24 inches of weaving before Cortez is but a shadow in my rear-view mirror.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Knitting a new year

I have been working on various knitting projects. Yes, I'm still weaving and the new Emergence series piece is moving along (see photo near bottom).  But occasionally other fiber that is less serious and takes less concentration needs some time.

There was the wee little elf sock... and since Dobby died in the last Harry Potter movie, it was destined to be the new baby's (not mine, my sister's) first Christmas tree ornament.

And the scarf I made for my brother-in-law's brother's girlfriend... (yarn came from Germany--well, the first ball I got in Germany when I was there in 2010 and the second I had to have Conni Gardella match and bring back for me when I didn't have enough to finish the scarf)

Christmas was full of snow adventure, cozy cabins, and a lot of family. My sister (who is now 8 months pregnant) went all out and knitted 5 women French Press slippers. They are felted and they are fantastic.

And here is what I use mine for...
The floor in this little rental house in Cortez must have zero insulation in it because my feet are always cold. These felted slippers keep them warm and I can feel the treadles through them. (I am approaching the halfway point on this sixth Emergence piece. I hope to speed it up soon, but tapestry resists hurry. Perhaps that is the point.)

As for my travels through Montezuma County, CO...
This small valley still has signs like this:
Those aren't signs to towns, they are signs to individual people's houses.