September Artist: Becky Johnson, Sweetie Pie Press
The Sweetie Pie Press is an independently owned and operated art and craft operation that is run out of a modest and warm apartment in Toronto. We also plan annual tours and sometimes act as a completely organic connective tissue between artists and makers the world over.
The Sweetie Pie Press is run entirely by Becky Johnson. Becky also helms City of Craft, an indie craft organization in Toronto that presents a major holiday craft fair, gallery events, trunk shows and other craft-based programming. Becky is a contributor to the Toronto Craft Alert, too – an online source for critical thinking and news about craft happenings in and around Toronto. She teaches skill-based workshops, shares ideas for free and sometimes lectures about topics from the indie craft world. She also crochets just about every day.
From The Sweetie Pie Press Blog on August 12, 2011:
“As those who follow this blog will know, I have more than a passing interest in stuff. Why do objects hold such value in our lives? Why do certain objects hold more value than others? Why does that value shift from person to person? Where is the line between collecting and hoarding? These questions have lead me all over the place and are the borne of my earliest days and experiences.
For over a year now, I have been percolating Awards for Nothing, a button-based gallery project that addresses some of these concerns by illuminating scrappy detritus and converting it into makers of worth. Finding a venue for the project’s initial outing has been a challenge. Enter Printshop Forever, a Milwaukee-based one-year project of monthly artist editions that matches awards for nothing so much it aches.
Initially, I had envisioned editions of 1000 unique awards for a gallery installation, but since Printshop Forever is a mostly online project that number didn’t make sense. At 100 awards, this first release is still going to be the largest release the site will deal with this year. 100 is probably a more reasonable edition to start with anyway. And it’s nice to have conditions that force me to be at least mildly reasonable from time to time.
So here I am in Albuquerque with a month (and roughly 1500 miles) between me and the launch of the project. I will be driving to Milwaukee (with plenty of stops in between) to hand deliver my edition… For now, I am armed with a porta file that is quickly filling with scraps from Portland, Arcata, Eureka, Berkeley, Oakland, Phoenix and my mother’s home in Vancouver.”
-Becky Johnson, Sweetie Pie Press
These drawings were meant to serve as a hunting dog in the bush, to flush out what may be hiding, and help capture it. Each deals with barriers to be examined and methods for surmounting them. The characters represent emotional states of denial and achievement, shame and buffoonery, young love and jealousy.
Just before sleep there is a time between dream and wake where the mind function jumps from real to unreal. In this time I will often rub my eyes for pressure vision and wonder which things I am truly seeing and which are imagined. Then my thoughts are scattered and sent on opposing voyages. To try and speak would only slow the process and yield jumbled poetry. Drawing is the closest I can come to recording this place I visit often and bring back a map to the discoveries.
Hailing from the swamps and tundra of Racine, Wisconsin, Evan Ross Murphy’s work reflect symbolic discovery and mastery of diverse theoretical landscapes. Envisioning frontier worlds where primitive skill sets are still needed, and are won from native guides and hardship. Trapping, tracking, building shelter and fire are still done today, but have been evolved. He aims to reconcile this knowledge with the places it comes from and is used. With a style informed by his own gathering of these skills, his works, from paintings and sculpture to music and film, act as a map for adventuring through his and our world.
Currently living and working as an Art Director in Los Angeles, California.
PURCHASE HIS ARTWORK
Faythe Levine is based out of Milwaukee, WI where she curates Sky High Gallery and produces the annual Art vs. Craft fair. She is the director and co-author of Handmade Nation: The Rise of D.I.Y. Art, Craft and Design and is currently working on a new documentary Sign Painters: Stories from an American Trade.
Treasure Balls: South East Asia series are the creation of artist, curator, filmmaker, collector and author Faythe Levine. Generally based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Levine also spends much of her time traveling the world coordinating programs surrounding handmade and creative empowerment. During these travels she compulsively photographs her explorations of markets, fairs and boutiques documenting her travels through her blog “I Was Born in 1977″. Through her exploration, her creative process has continued to evolve now incorporating small, obsolete souvenirs, which have spent lifetimes on shelves overlooked by others. As time has passed, this ephemera has found a place within her work. Inspired by the “Surprise Balls” she saw in 2008 at Kisok in New York, Levine has dubbed her version “Treasure Balls”. These art objects can be left as a mystery or slowly unwrapped to unveil the treasures hidden inside. This series is inspired by her recent travels in Bali and Thailand where there is no shortage of small, beautiful and bizarre objects. Each Treasure Ball contains 15 small treasures.
May Artist: Sarah Jane Harper
My home and family have shaped who I am as a person today. I have very vivid memories of my home and the events that took place there throughout my life. Naturally, I want to be surrounded by the feeling of comfort that I get from my home so I have chosen to make my work about this theme. By combining methods of printmaking, such as screen-printing, with embroidery, quilting, collage, three-dimensional objects and installation, I have been able to convey this comfort to the viewer. Much of my work sits on the thin line between art and craft, by combining very domestic, feminine processes with those of fine art. I am intrigued by the use of pattern. Also, I enjoy creating usable objects from my prints, whether the use is pure decoration, or shelter or a household item.
These flags are an extension of my latest body of work. I enjoy printing on fabrics and incorporating textiles into my art, allowing embroidery and sewing to become part of the process. I have used images that create comfort for me and want the viewer to be able to hang these flags in their home to create their own sense of comfort.
Sarah Jane Harper grew up on a small farm in Burlington, Wisconsin. She was always a creative child, but didn’t fully realize her love for art until high school, when she was exposed to a vast array of art-making processes. After making the decision to pursue an advanced education in find art she attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. During her education at MIAD she worked with the themes of home and family, as well as combining printmaking with other art forms, such as stitching, installation and three-dimensional work. She currently lives in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee where she continues to create.
This work is a memorial to the passion and fury felt in Wisconsin beginning February 14th, 2011 but which is ongoing and existed before our time: the beauty and inspiration of Wisconsin as a people; the natural spirit that invigorates–earth and scientific wonders; and the spirit of communities gathering together with common goals, changing each other in small ways.
Art serves the needs of human beings: belly laughter and tears, gross out moments, community interest and support, preservation of history, drawing music, playing music appreciating music, broad positive social commentary or critique, intimate and/or uncomfortable social settings, interacting with rejects, dreams for day and night, running free, letting wild things be free, appreciating surroundings, growing up, freaking out; my art is for finding value in art as these things are all it. It’s the ordinary people who have the most control–if only they care to ignite it.
Alyssa Schulte is an artist from and currently living in Milwaukee. She graduated in 2005 from the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin with a BFA focusing in drawing and painting. She briefly studied painting at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence Italy that same year. She was co-owner, curator and participating designer of Fasten Collective in Bayview, WI, a store and gallery which helped promote local Milwaukee area artists. She is a participating set designer and assistant of Rock and Roller Remote Controller a Milwaukee based television show and music video production company. She is a co-founder, curator, and participating artist of Hovercraft, an annual Milwaukee music and art event whose purpose is to support local artists. Her work has been shown at Paper Boat Gallery, Sky High Gallery, UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery, Art Vs. Craft and featured on My Love For You Is a Stampede of Horses. She has also shown work at various underground galleries and spaces in Milwaukee as well as highly accessible places such as the internet and outside.
March Artist: Eduardo J. Villanueva
Exploding Equestrian, Horse dynamos bursting into bits on tessellated heraldry. Min•stallation.
I wanted this print to function as both a piece to be admired and as a piece to be played with. An image of three inverted horses was manipulated through 18 varied color schemes. These images were then segmented by a pattern of 70 squares and equilateral triangles. Finally the 1,260 tiles were mixed through systematic shuffling in order to complicate and obscure the original image.
Pattern and animal iconography have had a consistent presence in my work. In the last year, my work has focused on the use of geometric tiling and pattern as a source of rigidity in drawing. In this pattern I am using equilateral triangles and squares to explore secondary shapes that appear through their manipulation and orientation. Egg shapes, hoops, donuts, and I’m not quite sure how to call are visible by combining simpler shapes. The horse was chosen as a sort of ultimate challenge. In the last 100,000 years of history, the horse has found itself the subject of the artist. In past representations, the beast was shown as a symbol of a natural force, as a steed to be conquered, and as the very bringer of death. Who the hell am I to think that I can top that lineage. For me, animal imagery is a symbolic language that is an ever persisting challenge posed to artists. For this and several works before it, I have attempted to tame the language of the horse. Much like the breaking of a horse to make it suitable for riding, I have been manipulating and aggressively attacking the subject in order to get it to follow my rules. The obscuring and degrading of the horse figures attempts to only suggest the presence of an animal without explicitly presenting it to the viewer, avoiding unwanted associations. However, this attempt at containing the language of the horse is ultimately unobtainable, much like a rider being bucked from a bronco. I can only give an assumed orientation to the piece through numbering and a guide, but who can resist making their own story. As a mini installation (or minstallation) I invite the viewer to determine the pieces orientation so that they may engage with the work, handle it, and hope to tame it.
February Artist: Rebecca Rose Tanner
As a recent transplant to Savannah, the last year or so has been shaped by acclimating myself to my new environment. This series of replicated hand-painted signs serves to represent the character of my new home. By duplicating a sign – a piece of public information – I am transforming it into a private commodity and calling attention to the relationships we develop with our surroundings and the things we are likely to dismiss and the obscurities we covet. The signs that I have chosen to replicate are signs that over the past year I have really gotten to know and make me laugh. I decided to do this project when I noticed I would opt to take alternate routes, in many cases longer routes on my day to day journeys only to catch a glimpse of these signs and business along my path. Before I made solid friends, I built a solid relationship with my city. I have been asked why I didn’t just do a photo essay or documentation of signs. To be honest, this method never entered my mind as a possibility. I use a camera only as a tool for forgetting, a machine that will remember things for me as a reference. With this series, I wanted to really get to know the images and through them get to know the person who made them. By duplicating someone elses decisions, and in many cases their mistakes, I had to alter my approach with each individual piece. There are many signs or pieces of graffiti and other public markings that I was not able to complete for this installment, but this will be a continuing project woven throughout my stay in this city.
I grew up in Appleton, WI and left at 16 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. In 2005 I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Printmaking. During the course of my study I attended the New York Studio program and due to a change in studio space and facilities that were available I started working outside of the printed medium. In the fall of 2004, I began my focus in needlework. I started my exploration of text and the transcendent and transformative effect that the repeated motion of embroidery had on a basic statement. I used phrases that were both pertinent to my daily life and relevant to everyone. For instance, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow” in its basic state is a common, throw-away statement. However, after repeating this for hours on end, the phrase becomes something much different – it becomes a mantra, a feeling. Since my creative methods changed in 2004, my work has had some resonance with the idea of altering the context of day to day social exchanges, be they personal or commercial.
When I am not working on ‘fine art’ I make clothing. I design my own patterns, carve my own buttons and crochet my own lace. Being involved in every aspect of a garment alters my attention to detail, my accountability for failures and the pride I take when I finish something that fits perfectly. In many ways, I am taking a fine art or craftsman approach to clothing. I sell my custom wears on etsy and at craft fairs around the country.
Currently I live, work, and make things in Savannah, GA.
January Artist: Cassandra Smith
Cassandra Smith is an artist and freelance curator working in Milwaukee. She graduated in 2006 from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design with a degree in sculpture. After graduating, Cassandra co-owned the now defunct Armoury Gallery which exhibited contemporary work by local and national emerging artists. Her work has been shown at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Philadelphia, John Michael Kohler Art Center, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Paper Boat Gallery and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. Her recent collaborative venture is a bi-monthly visual arts magazine entitled Fine Line Magazine.
My work is about manipulation and transformation. It is about understanding the implications of a found object and enhancing them in ways to challenge those implications. I am interested in comparing and contrasting shapes and patterns. This concept often manifests into an additional comparison between masculine and feminine forms of craft. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the traditionally masculine art of taxidermy with the mainly feminine art of patterning and decorating.
For this project I kept with my interests and created the additional challenge of working on the small scale. I have typically worked on a much larger scale, but the challenge of fitting a geometrical pattern on a small organic form was both difficult and satisfying.