Friday, March 27, 2009

Crafty Celebrities

We all know and love Amy Sederis' crafty side. And who can resist Rosie O'Donnell's for-charity Etsy shop?

Well, I'd never have guessed Paris Hilton would be the next crafty celebrity. (At least her licensed name suggests as much. I can't exactly see her, like, knitting. Though who knows.) I just saw this mentioned on Extreme Craft and had to share. File under Too Crazy Not To Be True:

It's the Paris Hilton Creativity Collection, coming soon to a Michael's near you! Listing wares including "Scrapbooking, fabric embellishment, fashion creative set," (whatever that is), the line is due to launch this spring.

Is this a good thing for craft? Who knows. It sure is funny though!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Piercing and Parsing Embroidery

Tonight the American Craft Council and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture co-presented an educational program of talks titled "Present Tense: Embroidery in Contemporary Art."

The event took the form of an old school proper academic lecture – something nerds like me are never bothered by -- and was billed as "an evening investigating the beautiful and satirical world of contemporary embroidery." Luckily, the mood was more curious and embracing than stuffy and wary of subversion.

The event drew an intrigued audience of artists, students, and enthusiasts. As with all the events presented in the American Craft Council's library, it played to a full house, with every chair in the place pressed into service, and still more people standing at the back.

Independent scholar Vicki Halper started off the evening by thoughtfully presenting the evolution of contemporary embroidery art. One of the several interesting points she made was that craft has a double history: there is the inheritance of utility, and the inheritance of ornament. However ornament has it’s function too, namely to tell social status and draw respect. Her book, Chosing Craft: The Artist's Viewpoint, will be released in May.

After Halper, artists Elaine Reichek and Richard Saja took the mike. Reichek told of how she originally studied painting, at one point under Ad Reinhardt. She came to embroidery through a formal concern with “the disembodied line that wouldn’t adhere to the support,” she said. She talked of patterns, mapping, translating, interpreting.

Unfortunately I had to leave part way through Reichek's talk, and completely missed Saja's. Saja was one of the 2009 Searchlight Artists exhibited at the American Craft Show in Baltimore last month, and a video interview with him may be seen right here.

I am sure those who were able to hear the whole program left with rich new perspectives on this almost universally admired form of craft, and sometimes too, of art.

This program corresponds with the exhibition of historic textiles, English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1570-1700: ’Twixt Art and Nature, on view now through April 12 at the Bard Graduate Center.

Posted and image of Vicki Halper by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Website Trouble

Our website host has been having problems today, so if you've been trying to get into the webshop for our Spring Thaw Sale you may have encountered some trouble.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Check back later -- hopefully it'll be running smoothly again soon.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Snacks (Lofty Edition)

It's fortnight Friday -- enjoy the snacks!

Luxury tree house accommodations at the Winvian Hotel in Connecticut. [via Cool Hunting]

Yellow Treehouse Restaurant in New Zealand -- top notch! [via Dude Craft]

I heart Cathy Callahan (Cathy of California), and was so excited to read about her experience doing the Martha Stewart show last week!

The NYC group Improv Everywhere recently staged a pseudo art gallery opening on a subway platform. Fun! [via Gothamist]

I love Michelle Obama, and like to check out what she's up to -- and what she's wearing -- on the daily blog Mrs. O.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Thaw SALE at Greenjeans!

As recently announced, Greenjeans is closing its Webshop.

So we are having a dramatic SPRING THAW SALE on all remaining stock!

Unprecedented discounts on jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, furniture, and much more will start appearing in the coming days.

Sale starts officially March 20 and ends April 12.

So mark your calendars and check the blog and website frequently for newly added items and bigger discounts.

Starting with savings of 25-40%, we will be rolling out new sale items and deeper discounts – up to 75% off – each week.

This is it – we’re not holding on to anything!

Thank you for your patronage over these four years. Please take advantage of this final opportunity to shop Greenjeans online!

Download the e-flyer.

Posted and image by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Announcement - Greenjeans Webshop to Close

As announced in today's issue of the Greenjeans Gazette and this weekend to all Greenjeans artists, we have come to a decision about Greenjeans Webshop. Indeed there has been a change in plans.

In my last newsletter, I announced that while we are holding off opening a new space, we would keep both the blog and the webshop going. The blog most certainly will continue. I enjoy it immensely and love how it gives me an outlet for sharing my point of view and a way to participate in the community.

However, after exhaustive deliberation and soul-searching, Jae and I have decided to close Greenjeans Webshop. We were actually developing plans for expanding the Webshop, but slowly I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I loved having the physical space where I could make exhibitions and interact with people, maintaining the webshop as one component. But selling only online and promoting a web-only store is a completely different kind of business, and while I believe it is viable, it turns out I’m simply not as interested in it.

I still want to open a new space one day, but until that is possible the best thing for me is to move on and do something else.

Now, part of our mission has always been to help support artist’s careers, so I intend to keep parts of the website live and provide links to the artist’s websites, most of which list retailers around the country who carry their work.

I am by no means leaving the craft world. I will be taking up more writing, speaking, and curating projects, participating in events, and covering shows for the blog. So please keep in touch with your news!

For many of us change is hard, and I for one certainly have not taken to this decision easily. Though they say it's better to have loved and lost, it's still very painful to let go of a dream. However I do look forward to carrying on in the craft world in new capacities.

As for me and Jae, we will be forever grateful for the experience of running Greenjeans. And, even though we still are both job searching, we are happy and healthy and feeling the promise and hope that comes with spring thaw. Every hint of warm weather and appearance of spring color cheers us, and our hope floats on.

Thank you for your continued interest, your gracious support, and for your understanding. Stay tuned...

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image: detail of Spring Thaw Sale flyer I made from paint samples.

Greenjeans Gazette for March

The newest issue of the Greenjeans Gazette dropped today.

Click here to read all about it!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Sign of Spring

Spotted along East 12th St. in Manhattan yesterday. Yay, Spring is coming!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

601st Post!

I didn't notice until the moment had passed, by that last entry was my 600th blog post!

Which makes this 601. Here are some flowers to me in congratulations.

And here's to 600 more, and then some!

Thank you for reading!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sourced here.

Furniture Fairs Coming - Save the Dates

May 8 - 10 (trade & public)
St. Ann's Warehouse (DUMBO, Brooklyn)

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce presents the 7th annual BKLYN DESIGNS, a fresh contemporary design tradeshow showcasing 45 of Brooklyn's innovative designers specializing in furniture, lighting, carpeting, flooring, and wall coverings. The event will be spread out over a number of different venues and will be featuring a specially curated "green" exhibition and a children's furniture expo located at Jane's Carousel.
[Link to Greenjeans coverage of BKLYN DESIGNS 2008]

International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)
May 16-18 (trade)
May 19 (trade & public)
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (Manhattan)

This assemblage of national and international exhibitors affords the chance to experience the most selective scope of the globe's finest, most creative, individual, and original avant-garde home and contract products – handily and temptingly showcased in one venue. More than 600 exhibitors will display contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, and kitchen and bath for residential and commercial interiors.
[Link to Greenjeans coverage of ICFF 2008]

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fountain 2009 NYC (Art is fun again - slacktastic!)

Messy, aromatic, bustling, and fun, Fountain Art Fair 2009 is the only show I went to see this year during what I've come to think of as March Madness on the New York art scene.

[See Flickr set of all 34 pics.]

Now in its third year, Fountain is one of several satellite shows (inc. Bridge, Pulse, Scope) that take place the same weekend as the massive Armory Show every year. It was the only show I was really interested in seeing, partly because it's mostly emerging artists and I wanted to see how craft might appear in the work. [Read description of Fountain.]

Jutting into the Hudson River along Pier 66, the nine galleries, artists, and projects presented at Fountain were arranged among the cluster of antique boats and barges harbored there. Part of this cluster is an historic Lightship -- an actual boat -- that normally houses a joint called the Frying Pan.

Unexpectedly fun, the whole indoor/outdoor maritime space was incredibly atmospheric and felt spontaneous -- like Sponge Bob Squarepants goes to Williamsburg, as directed by Wes Anderson. I'm not sure how much of this was intentionally part of the organizer's vision (Johnny Leo and Dave Kesting of the Leo Kesting Gallery and Christina Ray of Glowlab), and how much was indeed spontaneous. In any case, the result is interesting and cool.

This gallery set up a white-wall booth space on the pier. The roof is a billowing tarpaulin. (Vagabond Gallery)

Here I'm trying to capture this little girl's amazing daisy-festooned hat in front of a wall drawing by Victor Cox.

Fountain at times felt like Bread and Puppet, but updated and urban with cupcakes and Robert Gober references. (McCaig-Welles, Brooklyn)

The art was at times upstaged by the setting. Or perhaps defined by it. For example, down the weird stairs and through a rusty vault door, we enter the slack-tastic Murder Lounge, a mildew-scented finished boat basement with a thick, dirty white carpet and lots of punk-folk art. (Thought: Is punk urban folk?)

The atmosphere so strong, the setting itself and the art presented become one, each improving the other. The most dramatic example of this -- and the most awesome video installation I've ever seen -- Soundwalk screened their captivating piece "Kill the Ego" two flights down into the belly of the Lightship moored at the pier.

The video is great in itself, but totally enhanced by the setting...

...shown here with the flash. Up the stair are old quarters complete with rusty narrow bunk beds and grimy wool blankets. My batteries had run out in my camera before I could shoot everything. Egad, it was like being inside an Edward Keinholz piece.

I didn't really look at prices, and didn't ask anyone if they were making sales, but this renegade-ish fair seemed more about itself as a spontaneous work of art and the aesthetic it was defining (or refining) than money. Full of young, independent spirit and new things to look at, by the end of my self-guided tour I was cheered and satisfied.

Fountain was a full-flavored experience and one of the most interesting art things I've seen in a while. Here's hoping it springs up for a fourth year.

[Flickr set of all 34 pics here.]

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Mid-century Remix at James Fuentes

Saturday was irresistibly warm, so Jae and I took a long walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Tribeca, and up the West side to check out some art and enjoy the "fresh" air.

We happened upon a wonderful show at James Fuentes Gallery in Chelsea. Called Wares, it's an exhibition of "modified furniture" by New York artist William Stone.

The show features original works of furniture, mostly chairs, built from pieces of other furniture, mostly chairs. For example, the tops, backs, and arms of two old editor's chairs become an apparently functional new piece, aptly titled "Chair Without Legs."

Think Transformers, but chairs.

The artist uses mostly old, worn furniture or scrap to make the work, so each piece has a nice patina of age and use, that vintagey, slightly rustic, and gently eco-conscious aesthetic we know and love. (See also Cleveland Art, Nightwood.)

But the sense of design brings it up a notch, sort of like if all the furniture in Mad Men started having babies. Call it mid-century remix. (See also Marc Andre Robinson, though the copulation is more literal there.)

As works of sculpture, forms in themselves, the chairs draw curiosity and invite pondering. They are clever objects, with harmonious proportions and unnoticeable craftsmanship (which is to say, they're neither fine furniture nor rustically cobbled). They just seem ripe with stories. (See also Doris Salcedo).

At the same time, they are very consciously presented in a white-wall art gallery setting, and so beg the question "where does art end and craft being?" (Or at least the press release suggests as much in so many words.)

While lovely and affecting, I wouldn't call the work poetic. More like prose, short stories. We are first caught up by their playfulness, then their formal and engineering aspects, and then we start to think about the lives of the chairs, the chairs they used to be. Even, or perhaps especially, in their disassembled and remixed forms, these objects have a certain largeness. They set forth a world.

But sometimes they're just fun, like the grandfather clock built from cherry in a vaguely Shaker style, but with a video-projected face. The video is live feed of a working clock crudely drawn on a cardboard box set up right next to it.

This is a pop-up gallery, a temporary satellite to Fuentes' downtown location, set up just to put on this exhibition while the building's in some sort of transition. In fact, when I asked the owner where the artist's studio is, he said "upstairs!"

A beautiful show, Wares reflects both the artist's and the gallery's sense of the times, appreciation for opportunity, and general good taste. Let's see more shows like this please!

Smartly (or maybe coincidentally?), it coincides with a nice Louise Nevelson show at PaceWildenstein around the corner.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Snacks (Big Idea Edition)

It's Friday - enjoy the snacks!

Aesthetic Flow blogger (and old childhood friend), Alison posted about these evocative driftwood sculptures from Japan by Manabu and Kinue Kamioka. (Anyone know more about them?)

Ever wondered how subway tunnels are made? With one of these!! This one's currently being used to extend the 7 line in NYC. (Via Gothamist)

I grew up watching This Old House, and when the PBS show decided to tackle a project in "Brownstone Brooklyn" it seemed, well, kinda far-out! Here's an interview Norm Abrams, who gives his take on renovating in the city. (Via Gothamist)

The DIY-Project-of-the-Month award goes to this guy, who built a full-on roller coaster in his back yard! Hardcore!! (Via Dude Craft)

I looooove ricotta cheese, and usually get my fix from Salvatore Brooklyn. But I just might try making my own sometime. Here's a great, easy-sounding how-to, along with a recipe for heavenly lemon ricotta pancakes. Yum! (Via Craftzine)

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Craft Show 2009 - Roundup

Despite Searchlight requiring most of my attention while in Baltimore at the American Craft Show this year, I did get to zip around a bit and explore the vast acreage beyond our perimeter where 700+ craft artists from all over the country were showing their work.

Although not there as a buyer this time, it was great to catch up with artists I've gotten to know over the years. It was wonderful to see Lisa Crowder, Alison Mackey, Holly Lee and Cliff Lee, Wendy Stevens, Erica Gordon, Reina Mia Brill, Erin Wilson... to name just a few. We missed those we hoped to see but either missed or who weren't there (Connie Verrusio, Melle Finelli, Susan Pratt-Smith, Barbara Sebastian, and more) as well as those we knew wouldn't be this year (Chelle Krauss, Andrew Glasgow) and hope to see back in action next year. And we missed Keith Lebanzon, the brush man, who sadly passed away in September.

Some new-to-me artists I noticed this year:

- Loeber Look's refined graphic necklaces.

- Amy Gillespie's wall pieces composed of dyed felted wool strips, wound in tight spirals like paper quilling, then set into rectangular hardwood forms. Unique, tactile, and aesthetically pleasing.

- Brooklyn neighbor Nancy Nicholson takes the urban landscape as subject matter in her stained glass windows and wall pieces. My favorite is the electrical wire design (pictured top).

- Work in the Alt Craft section that caught my eye includes Nicole Licht's quirky, old-fashioned handstitched stuffed animals (Astulabee), the landscaped ceramic vases by Ryan Takaba, Rania Hassan's knitting paintings (shown), and the tiny stitched pillows that make up Raeburn Ink's brooches and rings.

- Jess Wainer's glass vases with clean, decorative carved out (enamel?) designs and ripe, fresh colors.

- Architectural furniture by Peter Harrison is immaculately built from wood, cables, concrete, and stainless steel.

- Marie the Irish couture milliner (Galvin-ized Headwear) knocked me out with her feathered hatbands and highly modern takes on chic chapeaus. Grrrr, love them!

- The shifted color pallet of these soft incalmo and reticello glass vessels (pictured) by Ian Kessler-Gowell really stood out to me. Besides interesting work, Ian is also part of an interesting community called the Energy Xchange, which is a craft center powered by landfill gas.

- Former Searchlight artist Munemitsu Taguchi's sharp, distinctive functional celadon ceramics.

- Each of Pratt instructor Patricia Madeja's fine gold, silver, and pearl earrings, bracelets, and pendants is actually an elegant kinetic sculpture. Gorgeous and curious at the same time.

For more show highlights popping up around blogosphere, check out American Craft Magazine's extensive blog coverage, and the blogs Fully Flummoxed, Ya Betta and The Garbologist's Wife.

(One of my favorite pieces by Reina Mia Brill.)

As for sales, expectations generally were low this year. And while most wholesale vendors reported that their dismal expectations were met, during retails days many reported respectable-to-pretty-good earnings. Some sellers were very upbeat, and some seemed very discouraged, and it's clearly a tough year no matter the mood.

No doubt -- the American Craft Show, for a variety of reasons, was a mixed bag this year. And while the lows were lower than usual, the highs made this annual event more than worthwhile. Looking forward to next year!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

View and Post Pictures from Searchlight 2009

I have set up a Flickr Group where participants and observers of the 2009 Searchlight show can upload pictures:

Anyone can view pics there, although unfortunately Flickr doesn't let users organize photos within the group, so they're all out of order. But it's still a good way to share our pics!

I added 50 of my pictures to the group last night, including a couple great group photos. You can link to my slide show here, or see the entire group here.

Thanks for looking and for sharing!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans
Image by Erin Hutton.