Friday, June 29, 2012

Valley Arts and more


About 8 years ago a non-profit group, HANDS, spearheaded the revitalization of a 15 square block area that straddles the towns of Orange and West Orange.  A former manufacturing hotbed of hat factories (34 of them) including Stetson and the No Name Hat company, among others -- the neighborhood is full of abandoned structures waiting to be brought back to life.





We all know how artists revitalize an area and we are seeing that happen here.  The Hat Factory will be (eventually) turned into live/work for artists and market rate condos that will subsidize the artists' spaces.  There are some galleries and restaurants among the empty lots; HANDS, Inc. owns Hat City Kitchen, which has excellent food, a bar, and jazz/blues and other assorted music.  All of the profits go back into Valley Arts district.

The Wordless Wednesday no parking sign I posted was across the street from a vintage firehouse, which will soon be artists' live/work lofts. These people are having a tour of the construction.
Around the corner, more of the same will be coming by the end of the year.  The district is full of vibrant murals painted by resident artists.  This one was a group activity earlier this month, sponsored by HANDS, Inc./Valley Arts. So cool!
This is the backyard of Arts Unbound, which will become a courtyard that will connect to the lofts being built next door.
 I hope these murals will remain. They are wonderful!
                                          I love that someone painted a cresecnt moon on the shed:-)
 To the right of the mural and presumed modcon, real progress. We trespassed last weekend and climbed the stairs to look at the view from the second floor.



 No, I am not planning to sell my condo up the hill to rent a space here, but it's exciting to see the energy already bringing the district to life.  One of the goals of the public-private partnership developing the area is to keep it from being over-gentrified. The idea is to add artists and arts to the current energy and diversity of the area, not to chase away the current residents with overdevelopment and greedy landlords.  Let's hope!

Friday, June 22, 2012

wrapping up another week

Goodness!  I got home at 1:am Tuesday morning after a 5 hour delay (Paducah & Chicago) because of high winds at O'Hare.  Before I left, I grabbed a photo of Helene's wall of Fat Eighths for sale and wished I could have taken its entire contents with me... 
 
 Because I had such a laid-back week, I was still relaxed during the two airport delays.The less said about Paducah's airport, the better - but at least you can fly in and out of there from Chicago.  O'Hare is a beautiful airport and if you are stranded, at least you have art to look at in the windows and on the ceiling.  These were just a couple of the paintings done by students that graced the windows as you walked from one area to another.

Look up and you could see the hanging things under the skylights. 
The best was the spectacular light show in the tunnel between terminals. I kept shooting as I walked on the moving sidewalk but couldn't get enough.  Here are a few that sweetened the trip.

Getting home early Tuesday morning shortened the week - fine with me.  Tuesday in the studio, continuing to work on the piece I had taken to Paducah to work on.  I'm at the Slow Design stage, which is where the real work happens.  I added some of the green fabrics I had dyed before I left and it is coming along - slowly, of course. Fortunately, I took pictures in Paducah so I can go back to a previous version if I decide to do that.
Last night was the first meeting of the North Jersey Modern Quilt Guild chapter and we were thrilled with the turnout, the energy, and the enthusiasm.  The place was packed and we can't wait till next month.  You can read about it here if you care to.

Meantime, I am glad we had a thunderstorm tonight to cool things off because my a/c is not working and it has been 99 degrees F here for the last two days.  They should have it functioning again by tomorrow morning. I hope so, because I will have a house full of family late afternoon into evening.

At this point, I have to decide whether to sit and read Michael Connelly's recent book, The Fifth Witness; continue knitting my sweater, or clean up the sewing room.  Any guesses?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

wrapping up the week

My suitcase is filled with so much fabric that I am considering leaving half my clothes here or wearing layers so I won't be over the weight limit for luggage. Bob will weigh my suitcase tomorrow morning and then we shall see.  This is the stuff I bought at Hancock's last week.
This is the fabric I bought today from Helene, having greatly restrained myself.  One of those grays was the only one left or I would have taken more -- and that green was 1/1.  I am somewhat determined to do some color testing when I get home so I can find a dyeing method that works for me.  Remains to be seen what that will turn out to be.
Yesterday was a crazy-busy day. We went to observe a natural dyeing workshop being given by the Artist in Residence this month in Paducah, Jennifer E. Moss. Interesting how the colors differ depending on the mordant, but waaaaay too much math for my taste.

 
 She is a metalsmith and fiber artist who works in wool.  Here are a few of the pieces she has created with wire and wool while she has been here.




 Afterwards, we went next door to see the work of Freda Fairchild. Multi-talented, she is a printmaker and fiber artist who makes gorgeous jewelry and works in mixed media.  I am lucky enough to own one of her works on paper.

Next stop, Gallery 1925 to the opening and artist's talk by Ursula Schneider, printmaker and painter who was an absolute delight to listen to, as she talked about her work and her process. She does woodcuts (Hanga) and her paintings are amazing.

Finally, Lily Liu had a trunk show at Bob and Helene's Gallery, Jefferson Street Studios.  She repurposes clothing and transforms them into beautiful garments with shibori.  It was a real fashion show and lots of Paducah's artists and patrons showed up to hang out, try on clothes, and buy.  What fun!


Today, Helene and I just hung out and sewed. Tonight we made curried carrot frozen yogurt and I think it is yummy. Helene preferred the peach she made this morning - and we both preferred eating Jeni's ice cream, which is now available in the gourmet market here. Oink Oink.

 
Home tomorrow and back to real life, which doesn't bear thinking about at the moment. It has been the best R & R I can remember ever having had.  Thanks, Bob and Helene!





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday night in Paducah

Curious about a Jewish community in Paducah, I did some research and found the remnants of a once-vibrant community that dates back to the Civil War.  The building is beautiful and there is an historical marker outside.




Summer services are at 5:30 and there is no rabbi.  Mala, the president of the congregation, led the brief service for the four of us who attended. They were so happy to see me that they couldn't stop thanking me for coming and gave me the honor of lighting the candles.

Although I am reform, I prefer the Hebrew for most of the prayers and remember them better when  there is a melody (which there wasn't).  Mala told me that 6 years ago when she moved here there were 25 people on a Friday night.  Most of them were old and many have since died. 


As in many places, the malls killed the individual retail businesses, leaving the downtown vacant. Because there are no cities nearby and there is neither industry nor corporate headquarters here, there are no jobs.  The kids leave for college and never come back because there is no work, so the only ones left are aging.  She said they will hang on as long as they can; this is the story in many small Southern towns.  The nearest viable congregation is in Carbondale, IL - an hour and a half away - and only because there is a university there. 
That's the story.  I feel that I did a mitzvah, but it left me feeling very sad.

Friday, June 15, 2012

taking the tour

This town is kinda growing on me.  The art community is terrific - and downtown is full of gorgeous old buildings; some of them occupied and others waiting to be renovated.  For the last two nights, dinner downtown and then walking tours with my camera. As we left the restaurant, this was the sky.
 
Then we turned around and saw this piece of street sculpture. Public art is a wonderful thing.
  


 A couple of blocks away, the old market that now houses The Yeiser and its gift shop.  If you've been to Paducah,you've bee inside this building that extends back for a block.  For some reason it make me think of the old market in Charleston, which still functions as one -- for tourists.
Across the street to your right, this beautiful building built originally as C.C.Cohen.  Looks like it was a hotel with a restaurant downstairs. There is another restaurant there and I don't know what is upstairs now. Apartments??   Such elegant windows!
Somewhere along the line I caught this reflection in a window.
As we walked toward Broadway, past the trendy restaurants, I realized they had left the street in its original condition.
A block over was the main business district now filled with antique and craft shops
that once sold hardware

 jewelry, shoes, dry goods, clothing, and everything else you might need. 

 Next door to the Finkel Building, a haunting scene right out of a Hopper painting.
 The buildings on Broadway were, and still are,beautiful. There are remnants of elegance, from the entryways to the signs, to the cast-iron fronts.  Many have been redone; others are waiting for the right buyers with the right amount of money to restore them.




This is a town that is reinventing itself and that continues to evolve.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday in Paducah

Continuing to work in Helene's sunny studio, we never left the house yesterday till it was past time for dinner. I worked on the green piece I've been struggling with for several weeks and finally took it off the wall partially sewn together, to be continued in my own sunny studio.  This is not easy work, is it?
I believe I am thinking too much as I work.

Helene gave me a pile of 20 year old blocks she and some friends of hers had made for a challenge which never materialized.  I can understand why.  Here are two of them.
 Clearly, there was nothing to do with them other than to put one on top of the other and slice.


Then I alternated the slices till they were relatively pleasing.
.
Added some strips of my beloved lime green, sewed them all together, and voilĂ .


So now, more UFOs to play with when I don't know what else to do or need a break from the real work of creating from scratch:-).