Monday, August 30, 2010

In the Gallery: September

In the gallery...

ART QUILTS EXTRAORDINAIRE by Betsy Ridge and UNIQUE YET CONNECTED Jewelry and Pottery by Joanne Titolo and Susan Lopez will grace the walls and display cases of the Library's Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery from Monday, August 30 to Tuesday, September 28th, 2010.

BETSY RIDGE, our wall artist, has been designing and creating quilted fiber pieces for over twenty years. She worked as a graphic designer for many years, while continuing to make quilts and dreamed about working as a fine artist when she retired. Creating art makes her feel happy, and she can work by her own rules. As Auntie Mame said, "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Betsy studied drawing, printmaking and graphic design in college and graduate school with the idea of becoming a children's book illustrator or a graphic designer. She still hopes to illustrate a book someday, but maybe it will be on cloth instead of on paper. Betsy stumbled into fibers when she took an elective class in graduate school and was introduced to the world of art-quilts. She was instantly hooked and thrived on her ability to combine illustrations with fabric and other media. Though currently working in two distinctly different styles, Betsy's subject matter remains the same. She depicts animals, nature and man-made objects with a flare and a touch of her very own quirky sense of humor. Betsy's world seems fascinating and appalling all at the same time. Thus she is often surprised at the imagery that comes through in a particular piece. She loves it when people smile or laugh while looking at her pieces, which are all original designs and patterns that come straight from her most fertile and vivid imagination. Her illustrated quilts are drawn on muslin with a fine-point black marker and then color is added with paint or colored pencils. She then quilts by hand or machine and sometimes embellishes it with embroidery, beads, or other objects that inevitably show up in her life. Her appliqué or fabric collage quilts are made by cutting and layering fabrics, then stitching them down by hand or machine thus quilting them at the same time. As with her illustrated pieces, she often embellishes the design's surface as she sees fit.

Display Case Artist JOANNE KUHN TITOLO operates Terra Luna Studio in downtown Battle Ground, Indiana where she currently works in metals, clay and natural materials. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Purdue University and has continued her education at the Penland School of Craft and in various regional workshops. Joanne is a founding member of Artists' Own Co-operative Gallery in Lafayette, Indiana, where her work can be found among that of 22 other artists'. She has received awards for her sculpture as well as an Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission. Her jewelry and adornments incorporate sterling and/or fine silver with shells, stones, and glass beads. The 'simple stones' and other natural objects are shown in a more precious state, often surrounded by the metals. Each cutout piece is individually crafted by piercing and sawing the metal using very tiny tools. Finishes include polishing, burnishing, added patinas, and brush finishing which are meant to enhance the cutout images. All of her adornments or pieces of jewelry are individually created. Her Inspiration changes with each piece. She follows her interest in silver, in the tools, or in a natural shape. "We are all beads on a string; each unique yet connected".

Our second Display Case artist is West Lafayette's SUSAN LOPEZ who works out of her basement studio and also as a studio assistant to well-known potter and ceramic artist Scott Frankenberger, who also lives in West Lafayette. Susan holds a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Mississippi and continues her education through a variety of workshops. Most recently, she attended a workshop on firing techniques at Center Street Clay in Sandwich, IL with Steven Hill (formerly of Red Star Studios in Kansas City). Susan currently has work at the Artisans Gallery above Times Past Antiques at 215 Washington Street in Delphi, Indiana. She also participates in the annual YWCA fundraiser to raise awareness against domestic violence by donating bowls made for the event. Each of Susan's pieces is created entirely by hand. All her work is made of porcelain – a clay body known for its strength, fine particle size, and light color. Each piece has been "fired" or baked in an electric kiln at a very high temperature at least twice, and in some cases multiple times to achieve the proper effects with glazes. Susan seeks to make utilitarian art – items that are practical, but also beautiful and inviting to use. She enjoys altering forms thrown on the wheel to show the softness and flexibility of the clay in its initial form, and to fit the hands of the user. Some pieces feature markings – "x"s and "o"s as well as incised lines, and abstract bird shapes created with seashells. If you have the opportunity to hold some of her work, you should. These pieces were meant to be used and are entirely dishwasher, microwave, and slow oven safe.

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