In 2006 I came up with the idea for a totally different exhibit from the usual exhibit of just paintings. I decided to turn my bus ride, explained below, into a multi-part exhibit of 125 4″ x 6″ photo prints and 13 finished 2-D works, each in a different medium, created from one of the 125 photos. The numbers of photos and works organized themselves; I culled the 800 photos I’d taken on one bus ride, June 22, 2006, chose 18, then got as many done and framed as I could between then and July 27 when it opened.
I wanted as much uniformity of presentation so that the images could stand out even more. The original and digital paintings were different sizes, but all were matted with plain white mats in 1″ matte black frames, and hung above the 4″ x 6″ photos, all horizontal, each of which was mounted on foam core and then mounted on the wall 2″ apart about 4′ up from the floor in a line around the room so it was like a dotted line on a street. The painting created from the small image was hung above as close to that image as possible. In 2008 I hung the show a second time, in the front entryway of a coffeehouse in Carnegie with big glassed-in display areas on either side of the door, the paintings on the walls and the small photos in a line on the glass, facing outward. I also had them in a digital photo frame in the corner of the window. I sadly have no photos of either exhibit—I couldn’t take any, and forgot to ask anyone else.
Just below my original text to describe the show I have the slideshow of small images (when I had this set up on an old HTML site I actually had a slideshow that let the images creep across the page so they looked a little like the dotted line, but that isn’t available on this template). You might wonder what inspired me at the beginning of the slideshow but as we travel on you’ll see the interesting people and buildings and flower sellers and graffiti and unique views, and then overall you’ll see what is always fascinating to me, beginning in a very green and treed neighborhood where I live, along the Ohio River and into Pittsburgh’s downtown, then around behind old neighborhoods to where all the colleges and universities and grand old buildings live, then back along the Monongahela River, to the trees, and back home again. Below that is each of the original and digital paintings in the order they hung. I hope you enjoy looking at this.
Views of the rivers and city streets and tree-covered hills and the activities of people have always provided entertainment for me while riding the bus. I’ve long carried a camera to capture my everyday surroundings, and now my digital camera allows me to snap even more photos.
A ride on the West Busway, my usual route, shows a variety of scenery from the verdant hills and open space of the still-suburban areas through small neighborhoods and shopping districts to the bustle and congestion of downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland and the open vistas along the rivers.
Those extemporaneous images have often been the subject of artwork done in my studio, either rendered in traditional 2-d media or in digital techniques on the computer.
This show is both a simple document of the ride and of the visual inspirations to be drawn from the places and people along the way. Don’t trap yourself in your car and sit in traffic. Ride the bus and look out the window and see your world.
Original and Digital Paintings
“MISTY RIVER MORNING”, VIEW THROUGH THE WEST END BRIDGE, ALWAYS ONE I LOOK FOR WHEN RIDING INTO PITTSBURGH, FOR MORE READ HERE
“OUR GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE”, FT. PITT BRIDGE,DIGITAL PHOTO, FILTERED IN PHOTOSHOP, FOR MORE READ HERE
“CITY TEXTURES”, LACE CURTAINS, SOCKS AND UPHOLSTERY FABRIC ON FOAM CORE, ALL PAINTED OVER WITH GESSO TO ENJOY THE TEXTURE, FOR MORE READ HERE
“FLOWER CART”, LIBERTY AT MID-TOWN TOWERS, DIGITAL PHOTO, POSTERIZED (THIS ONE TECHNICALLY SHOULD NOT BE IN THE SHOW BECAUSE I TOOK THE PHOTO IN THE SPRING, BUT IT’S ONE OF THE ONES THAT INSPIRED THE SHOW, AND I LIKE IT A LOT.)
“WHERE, AND WHEN?”, LIBERTY AT SIXTH, DIGITAL BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO THAT JUST LOOKED LIKE AN OLD PHOTO OF PITTSBURGH BECAUSE THE ROW OF BUILDINGS IS UNCHANGED
“PENNSYLVANIA STATION”, INK AND WATERCOLOR, FOR MORE READ HERE
“WAITING BENCH”, WATERCOLOR, I LOVED THE COLORS AGAINST THE LIMESTONE
“A VISIT TO THE CITY”, A MENNONITE COUPLE ASKING DIRECTIONS, PENCIL, FOR MORE READ HERE
“OLD OAKLAND”, A BLOCK OF FIFTH AVENUE NOT YET “IMPROVED”
“SAH SIDE SLOPES”, PHOTOGRAPHED FROM BOULEVARD OF THE ALLIES ACROSS THE MONONGAHELA RIVER, BECAUSE I JUST LOVE THE MIX OF HOUSES AND TREES ON THAT NEARLY VERTICAL HILLSIDE
“GATEWAY CLIPPER”, REFLECTED ON THE RIVER
“TUNNEL VISION”, JUST A FUN ABSTRACT SHOT
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exhibit! Originals are available as marked; if you’d like to purchase one or a print of one, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. See other annual solo art exhibits here on Today.
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This post is shared on Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy
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“The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Celebrating the art in everyday life”
In every moment of every day, everywhere I go, I see something extraordinarily beautiful and inspiring.
I left my day job to work at home as a commercial artist, fine artist and writer on January 1, 2000 after freelancing as a graphic designer and participating in art exhibits hosted by membership organizations. One of the primary reasons I left my day job to work at home was to have more time to develop my career as a fine artist and “get to my writing” whatever that worked out to be, so one of my first priorities, since I already had a list of regular customers, was to plan my first solo art exhibit.
I actually began planning in January, only waiting because I really wasn’t totally certain when I’d leave my day job, but a local gallery where I’d hung my artwork for years would be the place, and they could fit me in later in the year. I was grateful because other than promoting it I had no idea what to include or what to say.
I’d been working in advertising and promotions for years so the place to begin was a title. I had a good idea of what inspired me and that was what I wanted to use, but how to sum it up? I remembered this phrase, “the extraordinary in the ordinary”, from something I’d read over the years and it stayed with me, and I knew it fit well with my work: finding those moments that took my breath away and interpreting them as best I could in whatever medium seemed to suit the moment best, from my cats to landscapes to flowers and the streets of my home town.
I would have an opening reception on a Friday night, and then an afternoon reception on Sunday.
The artwork I chose the exhibit was, well, just about everything I’d done to that point in my life…I’m a little embarrassed when I think about it, but I was almost afraid I’d never have another chance! But as much as I liked the older paintings, the image I chose for the post card was a newer painting done in a looser style, and though not en plein air I had tried my best to capture that feeling of walking up a path and seeing this, and carrying that inspiration into my little painting. It’s called “Into the Woods at Frankfort Springs”, stepping into the wooded path and seeing the sun-splashed clearing, the ancient cabin, the dense shadows and brilliant sunlight; I didn’t get a good clear photo of it before it went off, so the image is a little soft.
In addition to the artwork I worked my writing into the exhibit by pairing images with poems or essays or statements to make little flyers that I could print out on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and mount on the wall. I used the poem Clouds featuring the autumn landscape from my four seasons series because those purple clouds are just as much autumn to me as the colorful leaves.
I had all the artwork framed and only had to organize it, and planned my post cards, the food and publicity and the program, back in those days when you still faxed a press release and color digital printing was available but expensive. I thought I had it all well in hand until my brother suffered a traumatic brain injury at the end of April, and his care and progress through the system made me consider postponing or cancelling the show because I wanted to give my show all of me, not the leftovers, but friends and the gallery owner convinced me that wasn’t necessary. I was also a little scared, and I was glad everyone insisted I follow through. I worked on the program between work at home and doctor appointments, designing it to be printed at home on my trusty laser printer using some of my art in pencil and charcoal and ink, and I settled on legal size paper in a light kraft color, which I tried to represent here but did not, but that’s okay. You can see some of the art in the pages of the program, and a list of the paintings, some of which I still have, and many you can find by title on my main website.
In the end I didn’t sell much but I knew it was because I hadn’t curated the content. I learned quite a bit, and decided having shows wasn’t so frightening after all, and that I’d look for opportunities to have others because I already had ideas for new artwork, and how better to share it? It was not too early to start thinking about my exhibit for 2001 so with ideas from my first exhibit I decided that June was probably a good month since my commercial business began to slow down about that time and I could have all new artwork.
I did have an exhibit the following June, deciding on an easy setup at a local Borders book store. I would have the walls in the cafe for all of June, setting up early morning on June 1. I focused on the new art I would do, even measured the walls, and started with the ones I most wanted to do.
But it wasn’t to be as I’d planned. My brother continued traveling through the system after his brain trauma ending up in a nursing home though he was ambulatory and able to care for himself; he had years of healing ahead and needed a safe place that would care for him after seizures and with piles of medications. But through the months, as I drove our mother to visit him, I noticed she was changing somehow…and I knew something was wrong. After pestering her doctor we began blood tests and x-rays and discovered she had lung cancer, and in May 2001 she had surgery, had complications and nearly died, moving from hospital to a critical care facility. I decided to go through with the exhibit, not knowing how her health would turn out. I was self-employed, this was my income and I’d taken so much time away already I felt I had to follow through.
I hadn’t done most of the art I’d wanted to do, but I had done a few, including “Birches 1: Autumn Showers” and “Birches 2: Radiance”, two pieces where I’d experimented with new styles and media as I’d intended the exhibit to be all about experimentation, but that was good enough along with a few smaller sketches. I did cull through the art I had on hand, much of which had been in my exhibit in 2000, and chose the pieces I thought worked together in color and style, and still mixed the content.
“Pepper in Bowl” above was a sketch I’d done of just that, a pepper that somehow was left in the enamel bowl on the deck after I’d washed them. Why not sketch it? I designed the post cards to be printed on my own color printer, on photo paper gloss-coated on one side I’d won in a contest, and I had to use big margins because my printer was just that way. But it was still fun, and people liked the theme.
It all cheered me up too. I also printed out the program on paper at home on my laser printer; the front is above, here is the art list and the back page.
I met some wonderful people during that exhibit, even while managing my mother’s and brother’s health. I sold a dozen works, important for my income in the slower months of the year, and still keep in touch with some of those customers today. My mother recovered and went home at the end of the summer, though she ended up in personal care, very much weakened. My brother slowly recovered and I found a program that could help him rehabilitate over the long term.
I decided an annual exhibit was an important way for me to encourage myself to focus on creating new work, experimenting with different media whether new or familiar, and finding out where my aesthetic senses were at that point so I wouldn’t stagnate. I missed 2003, but I did have solo exhibits of some sort each year in all the other years since I’ve been working at home: “Winter White”, February 2004; in 2005 I had a little shop and had monthly exhibits of new works; “Wild Inspirations” in February 2006 and also “100 West Busway” in July; 2007 through 2014, excepting 2012, I held my annual poetry readings with an exhibit of my latest artwork at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall; in 2009 I did my two photo exhibits at ACFL&MH, “Carnegie Photographed” and “Of Harps and Fig Leaves”; and “Sun, Shadow, Ice & Snow: Seasons on the Panhandle Trail” in August 2014.
So it’s 2015, and what will I do this year? I am also planning another Panhandle Trail exhibit, and what got me started on this whole thing was I decided it was time to review my previous exhibits to see what I’ve accomplished and what I might do next, including possibly doing a ten-year update of one or another. I actually didn’t realize I’d done so many exhibits. But I think I’m planning a photo exhibit as well, and am looking for a place and a reason to do an art exhibit.
This is shared in Friendship Friday on Create With Joy.
The Canada geese were paddling along on Chartiers Creek as I made my late afternoon errands and they generally move with grace and composition, but they got all bunched up as they were going under the bridge—I think it was because the bridge has a pier in the center and some of them decided to go on the other side…and these guys just couldn’t decide what to do.
Then some goose took the initiative and everyone got in line. Geese like to know where they stand, or paddle.
I also posted this on The Creative Cat today; it’s one I’d wanted to share with both audiences.
January light is so beautiful, the sun still at a low angle streaming into windows and doors, the days often overcast and the brilliant warm yellow sunlight a respite.
I was browsing my library of feline photos and saw this one of Namir from 2007, who passed about the time I began blogging, and thought I’d share it. He has his toys there, the sisal mouse and a milk bottle ring, but as animals, and humans, do when they meet up with the relaxing effect of warm winter sun, a contemplative stillness falls, and perhaps a nap ensues.
Namir was so graceful and dignified and obviously knew how to strike a pose, even though he was a total goof and in another moment could be on his back with his legs impossibly twisted, or toss that mouse up in the air and do a back flip right after it. I love his pose, and also the little touches of home, my home, the canning jars, honey jar, oatmeal container; perhaps I only love it so much because it was one of those complete moments that we all experience now and then, where every familiar thing is in its place and all is warm and safe and filled with love.
I took a series of photos of Namir in the sun in the kitchen that January, enjoying them as photos and intending to do a few paintings, and indeed I did do a watercolor of one of Namir’s poses from another morning.
I chose this one because I also liked Namir’s intent posture, ears forward, whiskers drawn back, his tail curled into the nearly perfect circle that was his trademark tail action.
This photo had much more light in it as it washed the cabinet, but I also had the wooden clementines box filled with things that needed to go into the basement, the canning jars and the cylindrical cardboard containers with their brightly-colored labels. Another example of that homey feel, my kitchen, my stuff, my habits, my cat, my home. Yet others enjoy it too. Sometimes we are not too different from one another.
To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.