Bye-Bye Betty

Image result for betty woodman

What an inspiration this woman was! Bright and colorful, she pretty much did what my old art-school professor Peter Marcus told us we should do: “Make them big, do it in color, and have 100 by Friday.”

Image result for betty woodman

I love Betty Woodman’s work because it is a hybrid of art and craft that makes a place special. Unfortunately, what reminded me of how much I love her work was coming across her obituary in the New York Times a couple of days ago. It was nice to learn that she lived to the ripe old age of 87, and it was interesting to learn that she was the first living female artist to be given a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image result for betty woodman

The Ming Sisters, Betty Woodman (American, born Norwalk, Connecticut, 1930), Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer and paint

Her work makes me think of Bonnard and Matisse. It also makes me want to make something really big to decorate my house. I’m thinking of something practical, maybe a wall hanging to keep the bedroom just a little big warmer….

For more on Betty Woodman, here is a link to a very interesting piece written on the occasion of her show in Italy last year, and to the obit that appeared in the NYT.

Bye-Bye Betty.
R.I.P. Jan 2, 2018

 

 

 

Prognostication

21st-century Ecosystem

If you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, then you may know that I decided to take 52 of these postcard-size collages and turn them into a deck of fortunetelling cards. It seemed the logical thing to do, since the number of people really interested in looking at artwork seemed infinitessimely smaller than the number of people interested in my providing them with some kind of insight into their worlds. The Art Fortunetelling was my way of saying “ok”.

As I may have mentioned earlier, it was way easier for me to find some meaning in the cards than to try and put some meaning in them intentionally. Again, seems logical, if we get talking about art as a subconscious rather than a conscious carrier of meaning. In fact, it seemed to make so much sense that I decided it was time to make a second deck.

And considering that we are in a sort of transition stage – Will we be moving to Foça in September? Or will I just be going up to teach a couple of classes, and coming back down to Bodrum until we can get our act together and finally head (a bit) north? Will I even have students sign up for the classes? Will I get involved in something else even more new and interesting? How will our garden grow?

As soon as I finish up here I will probably go ‘throw the I Ching’ (or as the web site says, ‘toss coin virtually’), but in the meantime, I could go for some interpretation.

Let us say (for sake of argument, and so I can show off my newest collages) that I picked (without looking) the card “Lust”as my first card, my present subconscious, Lust

and then I chose (this time looking at all my choices of cards) the card “Mom” Mom

to go with it.

I might interpret that as consciously trying to step back and look at a situation with multiple aspects/possibilities in a cooly detached way, seeing the beauty of all the possibilities, while beneath this was a seething mess of desire and fear of the unknown.

How lucky I might (or might not) feel when this turned up as my card of the future, Burning Down the House

“Burning Down the House” –

As I like to remind people who turn up “The Death Card”,

in the metaphorical world of fortunetelling, this is not necessarily a bad thing…

 

Oleanders

The oleanders by the side of our house/apt have just started to bloom! It’s late, I know, but we don’ get so much sun on us (a Good Thing for an Aegean summer), and our oleanders are probably not looked after as well as they should be. We only have a few – just enough for some color and shade.

We’ve got the kind with ‘single’ flowers – in white

Zakkumda Kus Detayi 2 (Bird in Oleander Detail 2)

and then we’ve got the kind with ‘double’ flowers – in pink.

Bird with pink oleander

I’ve been waiting for them to come out to do some more painting – but the Princesses are still taking up space in my ‘outdoor studio’ and the so-called ‘construction ban’ apparently hasn’t started (at least no one’s told the builders next door – and they’re almost done, so let them finish – please, lord…)

This means I should be in the ‘indoor studio’ working on some more ‘water drawings’.

For more paintings of oleanders, have a look at these mixed-media pieces from my exhibit at the now-defunct Ayna Gallery from a few years back.

Predictions, Predictions

Since I came back from New York in October, I’ve maintained the policy of turning on the news as infrequently as possible. Regardless, it is getting to be that time of year when the tv news shows are full of prognosticators called in to reveal what we should all be expecting for the coming year.

Last year, I decided to get into the prediction game myself, with ‘Art Fortunes’. This involved taking 52 collages I had made that were all the same size (each about as big as a postcard) and ‘transforming’ them into a fortunetelling deck.

It was pretty easy to do, because it involved – ta-daaa- absolutely nothing! Nothing, that is, except telling people I could tell their fortune by looking at the cards. As I explained, ‘Art Fortunetelling is based on two premises.

  1. All the world is energy, all life is interconnected, and time is not necessarily linear.
  2. Artworks speak to us because they contain layers of meaning that we can uncover by truly looking.

Just telling (reminding) people that art has meaning was nice for me – and because I was telling people’s own individual fortunes they tended to look a whole lot harder for the meaning in the cards they were picking.

Which was nice.

As an artist, it’s always nice to have people looking at your work.

While some people were happy just to sit back and let me tell them what I saw in the cards, others ran out ahead of me to interpret their own cards. Which made my life as a mystic a lot easier.

———————————————

Below are 2 new cards I made last week. These are the first collaged ‘cards’ I made after having decided to use the collages in fortunetelling, and I found out something very interesting while I was making them.

Nature out of Balance

Forbidden Fruit

What I found out was that… as I was making them, I caught myself consciously trying to interpret them, and everytime I caught myself, I had to stop working. Before, I had had thoughts like, ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and ‘that makes sort of sense there’, but I had never had thoughts like ‘oh, if this is here, then that could mean this.’

Of course, all those possible meanings were there in the previous collages – and when I looked at them after they were finished, I could draw that meaning out – but once I started trying to fix the meaning at the very moment I was working, everything collapsed. My conclusion is:

  1. There are different ways of thinking and different ways of knowing things.
  2. Not all the ways of thinking and knowing work for every task.

I’m fairly sure there’s a philosopher or two out there who has put this much more eloquently and much more clearly. This was all I could manage on my own.

———————————–

To demonstrate the process of how Art Fortunes work, I tried to read my own fortune.

Deck of Fal

After holding onto the deck of cards until I felt as if I had transferred enough of my own energy to them, I spread out the cards face down and picked one without looking. I turned it over, and it turned out to be this one:

Turtle Dreams.jpg I called it Turtle Dreams.

Then, I turned the cards over so I could see all the images, and I looked through them, trying to pick the one card that I felt ‘looked right’ with Turtle Dreams. I looked at all of them and narrowed them down to four possibilities, then out of those four, I picked this one:

Pointy Objects.jpgPointy Objects.

Then, I turned the cards over once again so I couldn’t see the images, and I picked out a third card ‘just by feel’, and without turning it over, I placed it face-down on my black ‘reading cloth’, like this:

Fal reading

Then I started the reading.

The card I picked by looking, Pointy Objects,  is the ‘present consciousness’ card. It’s how you see your current situation – or how you would like to see your current situation. It represents your awareness of what’s going on in your life. In this case, there appears to be a lot of chaos, a lot of violence, and an attempt to flee. Interestingly, Pointy Objects has often been selected by people I’ve done readings for as their ‘present consicousness’ card. I think it is a sign that there is a lot of shit going on in the world. I think you would probably agree.

Turtle Dreams, which is the card I picked without looking, represents the subconscious. It’s what’s going on even if you’re not paying attention. Compared to Pointy Objects, Turtle Dreams still represents an atmosphere fraught with danger, but there is a much greater sense of caution – moving slowly to avoid the danger, rather than running quickly away from it. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if the turtle is crawling away from the danger zone, or slowly but surely heading right into it. The only way to find out is to look into the future- in this case, the final card, which, when turned over, revealed this:

Floating on PedestalsFloating on Pedestals

Normally, I would have a lot to say about what this card means; in other words, what one can expect to look forward to (or not) in the future. However, when I turned this card over, I found I was without any words, without any interpretive powers at all.

I think what I found out was that you just can’t predict your own future.

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Regardless, I wish everyone the best for 2016 – may it be better than 2015 – and may I remain,

Yours truly,

Deborah Semel Demirtaş

Medium Practice (For Ayni)

This post is for Ayni, who liked my little notebooks and wanted to know if she could buy something and have me send it to the Netherlands.

Besides just being a wonderful person, Ayni will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to someone who could ask me “In what medium do you realize your practice?” with a straight face.

So, to answer that question in a size that will fit in an (albeit large) envelope:

2000 women installation shot

Not a great photo, but those are 2000 watercolor drawings of nudes from my installation ‘2000 Women’. Can Özgün of the British Council wanted me to do something special just for him – with the excuse that my other installation ‘Nü-Nar’ (Nude-Pomegranate) wouldn’t ‘fill the gallery space.’

Antalya nunar installation

I redid the ‘Nu-Nar’ installation in Antalya (sorry – another bad photo) – and I think it shows that Mr. Özgün was wrong about the space, but right about getting me to do some more work.

What can I say? I guess I am just one of those artists that needs to have a deadline.

By the way, I ‘recycled’ the ‘Nars’ for an installation called ‘Manav’ (Grocery) done in an empty shop that used to be – ta da – a grocery.

Manav (Deborah Semel Demirtaş)

I had to sew them all together to get them to stand up, but I could rip a couple of stitches and pop one in an envelope for you to hang up, Ayni.

Or, if you want something else to hang up, how ’bout a mouse?

super fare

Or maybe a bird?

pembe kus

Both of these were from an installation I did a few years back.

Ayna Bahce-Filmler_agactaki kuslar (Garden Filmstrips_Birds in Trees)

So, in what medium do I realize my practice? Trees?

Actually, I’ve got a couple of really nice sculptures made from trees, with a little rebar, but they wouldn’t fit in an envelope.

But I could send you a couple of little drawings of some cotton pickers…

Soke Pamuk toplayanlar 1

but you’ll have to get your own painting easel to display them on.

I suppose you could just hang them on a wall, like a ‘regular’ drawing…
Swimming

ishik

Although I’ve been told that these are ‘too dark’ to appeal to people.

What people, I wonder?

(Oh, and as far as medium practice goes, these ‘regular’ drawings are oil pastels that started out as photographs that I digitized and then altered in photoshop and then used the altered photos as sketches that I printed out on drawing paper and drew on top of. FYI.)

Lots of practice.

Kisses,

Deborah

Number 10

It is the time of year where it is warmer outside the house than it is inside the house.

Still, it is not quite painting weather (the blessed shade is less blessed in April than in July), so instead of getting back to the Water Paintings (or following up on the urge to begin some Wisteria Paintings), I finished up another ‘Column Collage’.

Because the pieces are only 10 cm wide and about 70 cm long, with a lot of detail throughout, they don’t really lend themselves to being viewed on the computer. But I can show you the top, the middle, and the bottom separately…

The TOP:

Suburban Wilderness topWhat we’ve got here is: some sequins cut from an old exhibition poster, part of an oil pastel drawing of sky, some black paper I cut in fringes to match the fringes from a picture of a ‘puffy pillow’ from an old exhibition (Nu:Nar) and in between a watercolor drawing on very thick tracing paper, some more sequins, the edge of the ‘puffy pillow’ picture that shows the beaded seam on the edge over the gold leaf, a bird I cut from a business card (original bird was a painted piece of wood from another painting -the collage got an addition of a yellow breast), an ink-jet print of a photo from Avanos that I printed on Japanese rice paper (and glued down backwards), a bit of a garden watercolor, a bit of a watercolor and ink drawing of an old Chinese cauldron, and a bit more of a watercolor and ink landscape.

The MIDDLE: 

Suburban Wilderness middleAnd what you’ve got here is: more of that bit of watercolor and ink landscape, some photos of some very damaged pavement photocopied (the photos, not the pavement) on light blue paper, a little bit more garden landscape, a drawing based on another drawing of a Hittite clay object from the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara, a red flower from part of a design for a mosaic tabletop, some bits of an old drawing (red and gold leaf) and photocopies of old sliver leaf-coated drawing paper from another piece (from nearly 20 years ago!), a map of Long Beach (I had planned on using in a collage for the installation Homesickness, but never did, and the back of the poster that had the sequins on it.

The BOTTOM

Suburban Wilderness bottomAnd finally what we’ve got is: some more map, some more birds, some more poster-back, some more pavement, a bit of watercolor ‘gift-wrap-paper’, a pastel drawing of a bit of oleander, a photocopy of bugle-beads that were sewn onto an earlier painting (from 15 or so years ago!), and (‘a partridge in a pear tree’ – no, just kidding) a glimpse of the uncovered surface of the marble-patterned paper that everything else gets glued onto!

This post is titled Number 10 because this is the 10th of the ‘Column Collages’ I have been making using the paper leftover when I cut the paper for the Water Paintings. I titled this one ‘Suburban Wilderness’ – Suburban because Long Beach (and Bodrum) is suburban – otherwise it would have been titled Urban Wilderness – because ya gotcha animals, ya gotcha pavement cracks, etc.

Sometimes I wonder where the images come from – and sometimes people ask me what I was thinking about when I made something – and I think the answers to these questions are : ‘I got a lot of stuff hanging around’ (in other words, the images are all recycled from someplace else – so that I can save resources by using up all the paper I have collected over the years); and, ‘don’t know, whatever…’

More long, tall art

As is wont these days, I will begin with full disclosure:

These pieces are from last week.

Column Collage_Early Gardens         Column Collage Hittite Mommy

Since then, I’ve spent my time on

1. ‘engaging in paid work’ (boring);

2. developing a project (not boring, but definitely more left-brain than studio work);

3. visiting (sometimes I like to do that); and

4. (starting yesterday,) being cold.

But I must have hit a button on the computer that allowed Facebook to reassess its mystical algorithm, because I’ve had some people noticing the last couple of art-related posts, i.e., the top parts of these 2 pieces – ‘Early Gardens’ and ‘Hittite Mommy’ – both from my ‘Column Collage’ series.

Because they are so long, along with the full piece, I like to post the parts, so that you can see the details.

So, below, here are the top (again), middle and bottom of ‘Early Gardens’, followed by 5 segments (from very top to very bottom) of ‘Hittite Mommy’.

 

Column Collage_Early Gardens-Top

Column Collage_Early Gardens-Middle

Column Collage_Early Gardens-bottom

and…

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Top

Column Collage Hittite Mommy second from top

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Middle

Column Collage Hittite Mommy second from bottom

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Bottom

As always, feedback is welcome 🙂

 

Mail me some Art!

Mail me some Art!

Well, I said I wasn’t going to do anything else in the studio until after I got back from New York, what with needing to prepare for my gig at Olana and such, but I just had to finish a little piece of mail art so I can get it to Argentina before the 31 October deadline. The landscape was ready, it just needed a couple of “barcos” (or is it “barcas”? They say ships are female, don’t they?)

Mail Art Mi Barca 1

Mail Art Mi Barca 2

Mail Art Mi Barca 3

AND LET THERE BE A REMINDER HERE:

The “Homesickness” Mail Art Exhibit we are organizing in Bodrum is coming up – “allow 2 weeks for delivery”, they say,  so I hope y’all have got your mojos and your P.O.’s working… can’t wait to check my mailbox (and I’m not talking google, here, either…) CLICK HERE FOR THE CALL FOR ENTRIES DETAILS

Lokma

Lokma

Not to be confused with “lokum” – also known as “Turkish Delight” – “lokma” is a fried dough dessert that looks like a doughnut hole and is frequently handed out as an “offering” food in commemoration for a person’s passing or other life-event.

Columnn 4 bottom

How many years ago was it that I took a photo of a village woman behind a vat of deep-frying lokma I don’t remember, but when I took the photo, my intent was to decoupage it on a tray for a painting/tray, a useful object that could also be hung up on a wall because it is beautiful. (There’s something you can contemplate: the ideology behind the division (?) between “art” and “craft”. But as usual, I digress…)

Column Collage 4 - top

As you might be aware if you have been reading these posts, I will be going to New York in about a week, so the “column collage” below will be the last thing I’m doing in the studio for another month. In the meantime, I’m messing with thousands of plastic bottles as part of an outdoor “garbage art” project before I head off to NY – with a broken ankle; Let them just set me down someplace with a view and a box of watercolors…

Column Collage 4 - Lokma