Monday, June 11, 2012

Preparing to Ship Art Work

Shipping my art work back and forth across the U.S / Canada border involves a lot of paperwork! My local UPS store advised me to leave no stone unturned in providing documentation. In addition, I follow the guidelines set out by CARFAC, Canadian Artists Representation/ Front des Artistes Canadiens and instructions from the US Consulate in Ottawa. I was fortunate in December and January that everything went according to plan and I am repeating the same steps this time.

Here is a list of what I am preparing:

Cover letter explaining the purpose for shipping the work, who I am, where I will be staying and my flights to and from Boston (In case border agents want to contact me).

Copies of my passports and marriage certificate (to answer questions about my identity and my names).

A Certificate of Canadian Origin for each work, signed and embossed by CARFAC National as well as a photocopy of each for inside each box and copies of each certificate to bring with me and copies to leave at home. (Last time I had to use some of the photocopies for the return shipment to Canada.)

A list of the entire portfolio with title, size, date, medium and value of each item.

A list of what is inside each box with photos of each piece as well as copies to bring with me and leave at home. These pages are stamped by the Canada Border and Customs office in Moncton before packing the work.

U.S. Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles Form 3299 - three copies (Outside Box #1, inside Box#1 and a copy traveling with me).

Copy of the MFA Residency e-letter of June 04 explaining the program in detail.

Cover letter to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency about why I am shipping the work back to Canada after the Residency.

Letter included with hand tools in my suitcase explaining what I am doing traveling with them.

In addition, each work has to be labeled with its title, serial number and other identifying details and then it is wrapped in 6mm plastic to protect it during shipment.

I am taking everything to UPS  on Wednesday for packing and then it is to be shipped out on Thursday so it all arrives at AIB Wednesday the 20th or Thursday the 21st. We also arrange for the return shipping and I bring all the packing slips and labels with me to the Residency to attach to the boxes before sending them back to Canada. Phew!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Times Square

Crowds in Times Square - we don't usually see this many people at once in Moncton, N.B. Canada!

Ellsworth Kelly's 'Sculpture for a Large Wall', MoMA.

Ellsworth Kelly's 'Colors for a Large Wall', MoMA with yours truly.

Tomás Saraceno's 'Cloud City' Installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

'Gibraltar' 1936. Calder's sculpture seems ready to move!

Inside the Lego Store at Rockefeller Center

Archived Sea Shells and Creatures at the American Museum of Natural History

Roy Lichtenstein's large painting 'Stepping Out' 1978.
 I used a poster of this work often in my art classes with second grade children.

'Morning Glories' by Suzuki Kiitsu (Japanese 1796-1858)
'Designing Nature' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here a few photos and thoughts from my recent visit to New York City. My daughter and I had a whirlwind trip for four and a half days. We saw the exhibit of works by Picasso and Françoise Gilot at the Madison Ave Gagosian. Gilot seemed very influenced by Picasso's style, but her work appeared to be lyrical and positive where Picasso's seemed to be more brooding and anxious. 

At the MoMA, we also saw the extensive show of Cindy Sherman's photography. It was great to see the real thing after looking at so many of the portraits on the web or in print. I can relate to playing with 'dress-ups' and costumes as a child, but I have never pursued it beyond that. Sherman's "Film Stills" were much smaller than I imagined them. An image can be "epic" and influential regardless of its size. The life-size portraits are very impressive, however.

Also saw Taryn Simon's "A Living Man Declared Dead" and "Ecstatic Alphabets/ Heaps of Language." The readings I have been doing for Crit Theory II about archives are related to both exhibits. 

Simon's work showed the descendants of certain individuals whose families had undergone extreme upheaval and social change. Some family members were represented by blank rectangles because they were unavailable to have their photograph taken or they were no longer living. Each person was photographed in the same lighting and with the same background. An enormous tome formed the complete catalog. I was hoping for an abridged version, but there isn't one! 

The "EcstaticAlphabets" offered many iconic contemporary works involving patterns with words and letters. Many pieces were arranged in grids. The archival influence was very present.

Tomás Saraceno's "Cloud City" fascinates with its multiple reflections and transparent panels. It is disorienting to climb through it, but exciting at the same time. I didn't feel as if I was in the clouds or hovering in outer space, but I did feel like I was in a totally new environment. The view of the NY skyline from the rooftop garden is something to see as well.

We also went to see "The Lion King" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway. A project like "The Lion King" would be the ultimate experience as a theater designer and puppet creator. I enjoyed making puppets, costumes and sets for our school productions while I was teaching art, but never envisioned anything as fantastic as the "Lion King!" The original recordings on LP of "Superstar" were part of my adolescence, with the music playing non-stop at my friend's house for months. Both shows were engaging and dramatic in different ways.

I was also able to connect with some of my cousins in nearby White Plains, NY. We hadn't seen each other in decades!

These are just a few of my immediate impressions from our trip. I will be digesting the rest for a while!

Walking through Central Park

Monument to John Lennon in Central Park near 'Strawberry Fields.'

Fern Porthole, Finishing Touches

New Fern Porthole 7  12 ½" x 15 ½"

In many ways, this project has been the most challenging of the digital image projects I have been working on. When I wanted to have it printed to the 12 ½" x 15½"size, I could see that the fern in the foreground was blurred. It had been copied from a file with lower resolution (ppi) than the ferns in the porthole. The edges of the porthole ferns were sharp and crisp, which can be interesting, but was too harsh in this case. After this, I have been careful to standardize all the files before I cut and paste from them!

With this image, I began to experiment with blurring some edges and outlining others. Then I lightened and brightened certain leaves to create more interest. Tracing around fern leaves with a computer mouse involves a fair amount of trial and error. One false move and you have to start over again! However, the mouse works better than the touch pad in terms of control. 

This project is the result of 13 stages of development! 

Ivy and Wood Scan Experiments

Blue-Grey Wood and Ivy Digital Image 10" x 8"

Tangerine Wood and Ivy Digital Image 10" x 8"
My mentor, Herménégilde Chiasson, encouraged me to try reproducing wood grains directly in a digital scanner and then manipulate the resulting textures in Photoshop. I decided to scan ivy leaves as well with some interesting details coming through. With some of the effects and controls on Photoshop, I was able to create two textured backgrounds from the same scan of plywood as well as using the veins of the leaves as defining shapes and details. The Tangerine effort is more dynamic and unexpected than the Blue-Grey piece. Each project involved at least ten stages which I saved in sequence in case I might need to revert back to a former stage. Most times I can undo a development I don't like, but once in a while the computer tells me it 'can't undo'. The digital images look great on a computer!

I have had six digital images printed about 15 ½" x 12 ½" and mounted on foam board. I am pleased with the way they look, but I realize that I need to buy a better camera with changeable lenses in order to make larger prints. Up until now I have been using a digital point and shoot camera, which has its limitations. 

When I began making the images larger, I could see that some of them are out of focus. Also, my computer screen doesn't always show me what is lurking at the edges of each image. When I had these projects enlarged and printed, I discovered leaves and stems hanging down from the rectangular background, which had to be cut off. Next time I will crop the image before sending it to the printer, even if I can't see what is outside the border on my laptop screen.

The digital scans are very flat. In some ways, I prefer using photographs which have light and dark and some indications of three dimensions. It is interesting to look at the scanned images alongside those made from pieces of photographs. I like the stark quality of the Photoshop-generated geometric shapes contrasted with the organic complexity of the plants.