the rough bark of culture

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, handmade books, handmade papers, mental health, visual thinking, words and pictures

This coming Friday at the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery (www.gierek.com) an experimental art exhibit of mine titled “The Rough Bark Of Culture” opens!

Yes, there are dogs. Lots of dogs. About 24 of them. Dog art that is. Clancy style.

The experimental part of this exhibit is that instead of being 24 works framed and hanging on the wall like a typical art installation – I’ve added my artist book thinking to my fine-art exhibit idea.  Which means my entire exhibit is intended to be an intimate experience.  Think curling up with a book. Or playing with a deck of cards.

Lucky for artist-me the gallery owner is willing to be playful.

Here’s what gallery-visitors will find: a box that looks like a leather bound book. I made the box and covered it with my hand dyed paper, paper that I’ve given a rough physical and visual texture. I designed the cover and the spine and various elements so that it appears like a book.  When closed this book-box measures 9 inches tall 7 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. When you open the top “cover” it opens out to be 14 inches wide.

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Below are a couple of different angle-views of the cover so you can see the spine has the typical book-markings and that the edges of the box are painted to look like book text block “pages”.

Inside the book-box cover is a handwritten statement that puts my art-object-exhibit in a context.

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Then further inside there are 24 individual hand created dog art pieces done in my ink on handmade paper style. Each artwork is in an archival sleeve so that a viewer can flip through the box-contents like a book. (there’s even a ribbon to help people lift out the ‘pages’) Or the viewer can take out the pages and lay them out on a table and re-sort them.

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Below is some of my thinking behind the exhibit – including my resource book list. I referred to some of this book-research-resource mining in an early blog post here.

General exhibit thoughts for “The Rough Bark of Culture” by Sue Clancy

It is said that humans are the only animal that laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), develops music, creates art, writes/collects/organizes/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. The ability to read and absorb information via symbols in pictorial and written form is also a uniquely human ability.

Humans are curious, they experiment, seeking novelty and creativity. Wanting enthusiasm – not boredom – they play. Play is part of being human. Play is also an essential component of being creative.

Creativity, communication and organization are attributes of being human. But in modern times it can be hard (rough) to carve out time to play, to be creative, to sort and organize information – to do those very things that make us human.

This exhibit is about what makes us human.

Why dogs? Dogs are enthusiastic about being alive – that’s why I’ve chosen them as my character “actors” in my artwork.  It’s a way of remembering that humans have the ability to create the world around them in ways that make life more comfortable, more fun – so that we can be more enthusiastic about being alive.

Reference material:

“Wonderland: How play made the modern world” by Steven Johnson

“The Creative Spark: How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes

A quote I used as a guiding light – so to speak:

“To imagine is everything. To know is nothing at all.” Anatole France

Exhibit statement (which means I neatened up for handwritten inclusion in my book-box the thoughts outlined above):

It is said that humans are the only animal that; laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), specially crafts beverages, develops music, creates art, writes/collects/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically, reads books/information in order to learn and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. Humans sometimes share with dogs an enthusiasm at being alive – seeking novelty and creativity rather than boredom.  Unlike a dog, humans are able to plan and organize our time. We can defer gratification. Yet modern life sometimes makes it hard to carve out time to be creative – rough to do the very things that make us human; play.  This exhibit is about remembering to be human and enjoy life.

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If you want a flavor, a hint, of what this exhibit is like there’s my conventionally printed and bound book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Creating a conventional book on this exhibit topic helped cement my idea that I also wanted my viewers to be able to physically “play” with my artwork. Even so – I’m proud of the printed and bound book too. It’s playfulness of a different sort. And able to be more widely available than a one-of-a-kind-art-exhibit in a gallery can be. Having both kinds of play available – the team kind or the individual kind – are important to me.

And speaking of teams; it’s almost time for me to go meet up with friends for a book-store browse and then to go to happy hour! Adult team play! Yippeeee!!

art exhibit statement in pictures

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, drawing as thinking, fine art, pattern design, public art, published art, sketchbook, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’ve been working on an exhibit statement for my upcoming one-person exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars http://www.burntbridgecellars.com/ via Caplan Art Designs http://www.caplanartdesigns.com/index.htm and making it as visual as possible. Here’s what I’ve come up with (with slight variations for my on-line only audience):

Dogs In The Winery by Sue Clancy

I’ve been inspired by many of the drinks, restaurants and music events in Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest. Whenever I am inspired I make notes in my “running around loose” sketchbook – real-life observations – that often end up on a page looking like this:

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Back in my studio I run those notes through my imagination and do a new sketch, in black and white, that uses elements of what I’d seen in real life but transforms that real-life data symbolically. In this way, my work becomes a visual story about enjoying something. For me drawing is thinking – and storytelling. My newly imagined art-sketch becomes something like this:

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Pierre by Clancy (ink on handmade paper)

Then I add to my story concept thoughts of color, patterns and textures – to create a surface design on handmade paper that reflects my thoughts/feelings. In this step, I’m designing and creating hand-made patterns onto handmade papers using a number of techniques. Each pattern is designed to be another story element.

I put together the real-life data – my re-configured imaginary sketch idea and my color/pattern surface design thoughts – by cutting shapes out of my handmade papers and literally gluing the cut paper pieces together to create my fine artwork.

To show you what I mean here is a picture of me making a surface pattern design on handmade paper:

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Sue Clancy creating a pattern on paper using a stencil-paste paper technique

And here I’m using an Xacto knife cutting out shapes from paper that was previously dyed:

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Cutting dyed paper into a shape

The end result is a multi-layered fine art piece in color – like what you see in this exhibit or that you can see on my website fine art page https://sueclancy.com/fine-art/ Or like this finished fine art piece titled “Café Paix”

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“Café Paix” by Clancy – 14 x 11 inches – hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board

This exhibit shows a progression of my artistic thoughts about life in the Pacific Northwest – a visual story collection – with various dogs as symbolic characters. For me a dog represents an exuberance, a gladness, about being alive and is a fitting representative for pleasant life experiences.

You can download, free, 18 pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook – the real-life data that inspired this exhibit from my website here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/  I’ve titled this (free eBook) sketchbook “Glad To Be Alive Sketchbook – drinks and music edition 2017”.  Direct link to the free eBook here: https://sueclancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf

The imaginative art-sketches developed from the “Glad to be Alive…” sketchbook can be seen in the printed book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” (available in this exhibit or via Amazon and other booksellers or here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy ). If you are able to visit my art exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars I’m sure you can identify (in “where’s Waldo” puzzle fashion) which sketchbook page led to which black and white art-sketch and which of those became color fine artwork.

For a “mind map” of my thinking process see the diagram here: https://sueclancy.com/2017/05/16/mind-map-of-a-clancy-art-exhibit/

mind map of a Clancy art exhibit

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, Art Licensing, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, functional art, pattern design, public art, published art, sketchbook, surface design, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’ve been busy getting ready for my one-person art exhibit to open June 2nd at Burnt Bridge Cellars – a winery in Vancouver WA.  Part of doing an exhibit is to write an exhibit statement. But before posting my finished exhibit statement I wanted to share my thoughts behind my art exhibit design.  Here’s a sketch diagram, a mind-map:

MindMapOfExhibit

For the last year I’ve been running-around-loose in the Vancouver WA and Portland OR area documenting, in my sketchbook, my experiences at local music events, restaurants, wineries, cafes and pubs.  You can see a free eBook of my sketchbook titled “Glad To Be Alive – drinks and music edition 2017” here: https://sueclancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf

Then I processed through my imagination all of that data I’d collected in my sketchbook and for each pleasant thought I imagined a dog character-actor and made a new sketch/visual story, an ink study, using a sumi brush and ink. You can see a printed book, titled “Dogs by Sue Clancy” with of some of these ink sketches via Amazon or here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

After doing a whole bunch of these dog portrait studies, almost 100 of them, I selected several and refined them, adding color and pattern and shape thoughts to my visual story describing metaphorically my experiences in real life.  These refinements have become finished fine art pieces that are in color using my mixed media cut handmade paper technique.  Both some of the finished color artworks and some of the black and white ink pieces (framed) will be at my upcoming exhibit.

My artistic inspirations are elements of ordinary life – so I’ve extended my art-exhibit making to the above mentioned books. Books are an important element of ordinary life so having authored two of them and making them available adds another layer to my art exhibit.

After doing some of the fine artworks I’ve also done some “illustrated things”: I’ve applied some of my artistic thinking for my exhibit to real-life clocks, napkins, tea towels, scarves and many other ordinary consumer items.  This extends my art exhibit thesis to yet another layer or dimension.   You can see some of the items I’ve designed on my web page titled “illustrated things” here: https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/

To put my exhibit thesis plainly – I think it is very important to remember to enjoy and actively participate in the present moment, to relish ordinary things, places and friendly people.  Once upon a time I lived in a place where quality music events, good restaurants, wineries and pubs were rare. Certainly they didn’t exist in the variety and abundance that they do here in the Pacific Northwest. So I’m aware of what a gift, a treasure, it is to have those things now.

It is also fitting to have my exhibit at a winery – where the people who come to see my artwork can also enjoy award-winning wines and food.

But back to my mind-map: generally at the exhibit my thesis will be available only as a visual story, not spoken or written in literal fashion.  I have a reluctance to preach or otherwise belabor a point.  Besides instead of writing/speaking didactically I’d rather draw.

Now you know.