The day started with Brenda showing a presentation in the Anderson Ranch library of artists who use alternative materials in their artwork. A sampling of the artists we looked at were Tim Hawkinson, Tara Donovan, Donald Lipski, Jenene Nagy, Jessica Drenk and Kate MccGwire. It was intriguing to see how mundane materials like paper plates or fingernail clippings can be transformed into elegant, sophisticated artwork.
We had a little more time to wrap up our “do something, and do something again project.” Then as a group we walked around and critiqued each others work. I think to some artists hearing that their work will be critiqued is scary but it really is educational to have feedback. Even if you don’t use the suggestions others give you it allows you to see your work in a different way. I don’t usually get that in my studio so the critiques were really valuable.
After lunch a few of us went on a field trip with Brenda to visit the Thrift Store of Aspen for objects to use in future projects. It was fun to finally see the town of Aspen since I went straight from the airport to Snowmass. I noticed a lot of rubber ducks throughout the town and finally figured out they had a Ducky Derby after I saw a sleigh with a rubber duck being pulled by a pack of rubber ducks. Don’t take my word for it take a look (sorry for the blurry drive by pic):
Once we got to the thrift store, it was no surprise that the town with the highest priced real estate in the country (the median home price is 4.2 million) has a Chanel across the street from the thrift shop. I wasn’t sure what to pick up from this trip since I didn’t have my ideas fleshed out for my other projects. I decided to buy things that were interesting and if I didn’t use them I would donate them to Anderson Ranch. What caught my eye was a nifty knitter (a set of 4 round looms) and a flat packed wood doll house kit. I was attracted to the loom for the shape and I bought the doll house for the pre-stamped wood shapes. Since the class is about repetition I thought the box would offer an easy sampling of multiples.
One thing kind of funny about the thrift store is that they don’t have prices on anything. Yes, you read that right, no prices. It was weird. You have to walk up to the counter and the person working will tell you the price when you are ready to purchase. The prices are cheap so this usually isn’t a problem. My nifty knitter and complete dollhouse came to a grand total of $7.
After the thrift shop we made a stop at Carl’s, a general store, where I bought some ochre and sap green thread with a box of hook & eyes. Our final stop was the hardware store. There I picked up a box of tacks and brackets. By the time we got back to Anderson Ranch class was just about over.
After dinner that evening there was an artist lecture with Sam Maloof artisans Larry White and David Wade and photographer Jen Davis. Sam Maloof was a furniture designer and woodworker. If you aren’t familiar with Maloof, google him, or watch the PBS show Craft in America. Maloof passed away in 2010 and Larry White, Mike Johnson and David Wade have continued his studio with the intention of staying true to his vision. Both Larry White and David Wade presented photos of Maloof furniture, projects they’ve worked on, and David showed us some of his personal work. In the lecture hall were four pieces of Maloof furniture. I sat in the low back chair and it formed to my shape. I couldn’t help but hold onto the arm rests and slide my hands over the flowing curved shapes of the buttery smooth wood. These pieces take a long time to make and cost a lot of money, I could feel why.
The third artist to present was photographer Jen Davis. I have to admit I didn’t quite have the energy at this point in the evening for her emotional work. Davis is the subject of her work and the series she presented focused on her feelings and experience as an overweight woman. The photos ranged from pictures of her on the beach, just out of the shower and in staged photos with a lover in her bedroom. She reached a point in her life where she decided she didn’t want to be overweight anymore and opted for gastric bypass surgery. She documented her change in shape and changes in her life including having a real boyfriend. Jen’s photography is beautifully composed, brilliantly lit and emotionally charged.
The lecture lasted until 8pm and even after everything I went back to the studio to work for a little while before bed.