Friday, October 24, 2014

Morse's "Houses" nominated for Best of the Net

Sandell Morse’s lyrical account, “Houses,” describes her pilgrimage from Maine to La Colonie, a safe house in Beaulieu sur Dordogne that successfully sheltered Jewish children during the holocaust. 

The essay, which first appeared in Ascent, a publication of Concordia College, Moorehead, MN, was just nominated for a Best of the Net award.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Forsyth Fellow Peek's Sculpture at Sweet Briar

Catherine Peek, the winner of the Harry D. Forsyth Fellowship for the Visual Arts is reveling in the sunshine on this fine October day. The Forsyth fellowship was established in 1999 to provide a fully funded two-week residency at VCCA for a Sweet Briar alumna working in painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking or mixed media.
According to the Sweet Briar website: “The fellowship is awarded to an alumna who has demonstrated exceptional ability and commitment in the area of the visual arts. The selected Forsyth Fellow need not have been a studio art major during her time at Sweet Briar, however, she should be seriously pursuing work in the visual arts. Applicants are judged based on achievement or promise of achievement as evaluated by review of work samples, references and resume.”
Catherine’s delight in the weather is more than just personal because, in addition to the fellowship, Catherine also has won the commission, beating out all other competitors, including such notables as Patricia Leighton, to create a sculpture for the exterior of the Mary Helen Cochran Library. The project is underwritten by the Sweet Briar College Friends of Art. Catherine’s been forging ahead, despite the heavy rain, working on the forms in the shelter of Sweet Briar’s stables. But the forms are completed now and enough’s enough. Concrete needs to be poured.
Catherine’s piece, entitled, Uplift, incorporates concrete and living plants to create a land art version of Sweet Briar’s landscape. The work references both the topographical phenomenon of tectonic shifts forming mountains and also it’s a conceptual piece referring to the African–American women’s uplift movement of the 1900s where "the women lifted themselves up, educating themselves so they could educate their children and uplift everyone in their community."
In Uplift “The ground has been lifted up and sliced to reveal this brilliant red earth beneath--it’s that action I hope you see when you look at it. The retaining walls are concrete but they are going to be finished with this really amazing color matched to the red earth on campus. I gave them the brightest sample I could find. The finish looks like fresco, but it chemically bonds to the concrete so it will never go away.”

The concrete has to be fully cured before the finish goes on otherwise it won’t bond properly and the color won't be right. It takes 28 days for concrete to cure. If all goes well, the concrete will be poured on October 21 allowing the finish to be applied on November 19.

Catherine’s four-foot wide concrete ribbons of earth will be planted with creeping jenny (Lysimachia Aurea), a particularly brilliant green plant, that also has a softness to it, inviting interaction. Catherine wanted to create a more intimate relationship with the mountains, which from a distance look sensual, but “you can never really experience that sensuality.” She hopes people will experience it through her piece, lounging or sitting on its undulating contours.
To create Uplift, which measures 80’l x 12’d x 7’h, Catherine, who holds a Masters degree in architecture from Rice University, drew sections of the mountain profiles correlated with the view from the top of the library using a topography map and drafting software. She then printed a full-scale mock-up of the sculpture that the contractors eventually used to cut forms for the concrete.
From Winchester, Virginia, Catherine was also named a winner of the Washington Memorial Ideas Competition in 2011 for her Field of Stars. She considers herself an urban designer straddling that line between art and architecture. Her intention is to evoke the “placeness” of a place, getting a sense of it and then amplifying it in her work. With Uplift’s rolling green silhouette and Virginia red clay interior she has certainly evoked Sweet Briar’s terroir.  

Don Miller's Short Story Published

Don Miller has published his short story, "The World's Best Music" in storySouth. Don wrote the first several drafts of the story during a week spent at VCCA in the summer of 2013.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Annaghmakerrig (Tyrone Guthrie Center) Valentine

To all at Annaghmakerrig (a name I can spell—finally—without looking it up!)

The Guthrie Family

Jim and his grounds
McGinns' pub
Charlie Adams and his taxi
The groundskeeper at the Parish Church, who opened especially for me
All at Mt. San Angelo — Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
Everyone whose name (or deeds) I failed to note, though our paths criss‐crossed
Thank you 
‐‐ for the wholesome and appetizing food that fueled my novel, padded my belly, and
   gave me energy to wrestle my plot to the ground and the courage to, in some cases, 
   kill it.
‐‐for the bike that took me to Newbliss and back along the wee roads.
‐‐for the attention to detail, the thorough and regular room cleaning, a luxury that 
  allowed me, a slack housekeeper, to forget chores.
‐‐for the smooth, rolling sea of green and the smell of roses and grass  that sailed 
  through my window
‐‐for the lilting language, curiosity, warmth of  Irish hosts and guests
‐‐for the kingfisher on the tire at the boathouse, for the herons' call and cows' bellow
‐‐for freezing lake water that baptized me each day.
‐‐for the ghosts
‐‐for the fellow artists who have inhabited, or will inhabit, this world apart.
                                                                         VCCA Fellow BettyJoyce Nash
                                                                          Photos: VCCA Fellow Adam Giannelli

 VCCA composers are invited to apply for an exchange residency to Tyrone Guthrie Centre.  Deadline: December 1, 2014. Application available here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

N. West Moss’ Literary Trifecta

N. West Moss reports that she has been awarded the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom gold medal for best short story for "Omeer's Mangoes."

Another one of West's stories, "Lucky Cat," was short-listed. And her novel-in-progress took the 1st runner-up slot!

Friday, October 10, 2014

In Residence: Kylie Heidenheimer

Kylie Heidenheimer arrived for her fifth residency at VCCA with work already begun on some of her pieces. “It’s what I like to do, to arrive with something in progress.” This ensures a relatively smooth segue into work without the added weight of a blank canvas staring you down from across the studio. And, as Kylie points out, “You see things differently when you move them around.”  

Beginning in 2010, Kylie started working with more amplified color. This initiated a medium change from acrylic to oil, the acrylic colors being too highly-keyed for her taste. It was “an interesting adventure” since she’d been using the medium for 15 years and had to adjust her working methods to accommodate the demands of oil.

But the rich colors and translucent glazes characteristic of oil make it all worth the trouble. Kylie paints on oil paper, canvas on stretched panels and canvas stapled directly to the wall.

It was interesting seeing Kylie’s recent work after looking at a catalog from 2008. Not only was the vibrant color a surprise, but the looseness of her brushwork was markedly different from the more tightly controlled, all-over effect of those earlier paintings.  

With these recent pieces, Kylie is exploring what she refers to as “a twisted space.” You’ll see in her paintings how one side comes forward while the other recedes. Kylie does this as a way to acknowledge both surface and depth. “The painting is both an object and a container for space,” she says.

They’re also beautiful with pairings of color that are interesting and satisfying, and a complex lexicon of marks, that range from daubs to jagged lines to washes. Hue and gesture impart a wonderful drama to her compositions that are, as Kylie says referring to her constant reworking, a few paintings in one.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Francine Prose at American Academey in Rome NYC Debut of Conversations/Conversazioni

Author Francine Prose will be the featured author at the New York debut of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome on October 15 at 6:00PM. At Patricia H. Labalme Friends of the Library Lecture at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Francine will read from her highly acclaimed novel Lovers at the Chameleon Club: Paris 1932 and discuss her creative process including her use of historical events in fiction.

Francine’s novel Blue Angel won her National Book Award finalist status. She is visiting professor of Literature at Bard College, and is the former president of PEN American Center. Her most recent works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer.