Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nina Bednarski, Craig Grabhorn, Mark Bystrom

Wood Thrush - Nina Bednarski
I recently visited Wisconsin to see a group of friends whom I admire and love from afar, though we used to be neighbors in Madison.  It occurred to me, having caught up with everyone about their doings, that I'd not talked about these friends on my blog.  Without further adieu - my friends making art and food and other beautiful things in and around Madison, Wisconsin:  Nina Bednarski, Craig Grabhorn, and Mark Bystrom.  There are more beautiful friends doing beautiful things of course, but I'm spotlighting these 3 today!

Pop Forest - Nina Bednarski
Nina and Craig are a talented artist couple designing and making awesome stuff for art, home, employment, etc.  Their home in Lake Mills, WI is virtually an Artists' Resort...  and I often wish to be there in their garden of fertile creativity or swimming in the lake nearby.  Nina now works on a contract basis so that she can focus on the work from her personal studio, so her primary output are her paintings on canvas and glass.  She's been working with bright, colorful enamel on glass for most of her art making years, creating beautiful scapes of natural botanicals and wildlife using a graphic style.  Her website is lovely and soon you can see her work at Madison's Obrich Gardens - a huge solo show for Nina running September 30 - Jan. 6.  I'm fortunate enough to have one of her Bird Heroes pieces gracing my own home.  Craig is also an artista mucho talentoso!
Mustache - Craig Grabhorn
Working by day as a designer in Trek Bicycle's apparel department, Craig creates incredible designs for businesses, bands, events, weddings, etc. with his cute but smart style.  He and Nina are starting up their own housewares design co. to be based out their own (named) Chalet and partnering with other craftspeople (ie: ceramicists, seamstresses, etc.) and I'm looking forward to the smart goods they've been talking about.  Craig's artwork emphasizes his personal themes and interests while expounding on his graphic style - you can really see the relationship between his art and design in looking at his poster designs. Craig has a nice blog where he talks about travels, gardening, the Chalet, and even politics (these guys are activists after all) - see Living Texture.
Poster - C. Grabhorn

 Craig and Nina have befriended my other good friend Mark Bystrom and the designer love spreads as they have worked to create a lovely look for some of Just Coffee Cooperative's awesome coffee!  Mark Bystrom, a dear friend and talented purveyor of fine food, fine liqueurs, infusions, and preserved fruits often gifts his family, friends, and the world with his constant creative output!
label design by Craig for Just Coffee
His work with Just Coffee often leads to good coffee, good design, and good partnerships resulting in products like Just Coffee's Early Bird Blend (for which I got to do the label design - see the old post about it).  Mark often sends gifts in the mail with examples of his genius like Raspberry liqueur, Peach Bitters, and a few pounds of amazing coffee.  Mark also works as a chef for the Farm to Table dining club at LightYears (West of Madison near Spring Green, Wisconsin).  It is a very very very good idea to make a reservation at LightYears for a dinner infused with French wisdom from co-founder Serafina Kent Bathrick.  Brilliantly prepared summer meals are served on a terrace overlooking a vista of rolling hills and neighboring farms. A good review of LightYears by Laura Murphys (see #11 on the list). Call 608 929–7829 for info, reservations and directions.  Seriously.

my liqueur collection from Mark
It's not enough - everything I've said here, but I've taken the time to write it because these people are doing genuinely good, skillful and honest work in the name of art and joy.  I love them and look forward to seeing them each year on our annual July trip to Wisconsin.  I wish them each the most and best happy returns for all they do.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

About You

About You, Rebecca Peebles, 22" x 30," graphite, pen & colored pencil on paper
For the June show at GroundSwell Gallery (where I curate with Danette Montoya), we hosted a group show under the concept of Exquisite Corpse drawing.  Most versions of Exquisite Corpse drawing projects incorporate the rule that each artist participating has no idea what the other artist(s) are doing. The rules for our version also included that each artist creates a drawing using the same media and must utilize pre-drawn "starter marks" that connect each drawing to a left and a right drawing (see images).  I decided to participate with the project because I wanted to get in on that "surprise" feeling of putting all the finished work together to see what it all looks like, and of course I like to draw.

 The task of drawing "whatever I want" seemed simple at first.  Then the anticipation for the unknown drawings on left and right...  I had to put aside my tendency to plan and just let loose with the drawing. The only control I seemed to have (or thought I had) was effectively using those "starter marks" drawn from my margins across to anothers' margins.  I tried to think of them as bridges to another drawing.  Anyway, the drawing was satisfying work.  I felt explorative with the media that I wouldn't usually combine in one work.  I enjoyed placing my mind upon the irrationality of Surrealism and Dada (the art movements which originated Exquisite Corpse drawing) and letting go.  My drawing, titled, About You started with drawing my hands (seemed like a good place to start) and ended with a sensual and dynamic drawing.  I couldn't help but to footnote (in sign language) the main line from the Divynals 1990 hit song, I Touch Myself: "When I think about you, I touch myself." 

Putting all 16 artists' drawings together was, as expected, a delightful surprise.  Each juxtaposition of drawing to drawing was uniquely interesting and unexpected.  To see images of the works (each including some of the left and right "neighbors"), please visit GroundSwell Gallery's website.