Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Curators Q&A

This is based on a group of questions that the artists in the 'Affinity' exhibit were curious about.  We didn't use them all, but felt that these were the top questions.  We answered these questions individually, and didn't collaborate on anything.  Pure and simple.  
Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, co-curators

You’ve been doing this thing for a while. What do you know now, that you wish you had known at the beginning? 
Jamie:  Two words 'Art Call.' I wish we had used this program from the beginning instead of having to deal with CD's and checks.  It is a huge time saver. 
Leslie: The first thing that comes to my mind is “Art Call”.  Putting the call for entry guidelines on the Art Call site and being able to ask for whatever information we need and get the images loaded there has been such an enormous time-saver for Jamie and me!  It also enables us to jury the collection of pieces from two different states.

When you select a theme, how many contenders are there before you decide?  Does the text come first or second?
Jamie:  We bounce back many words over a period of about three months, until we decide on what we think will be a broad interpretation. It's hard, because we don't really want to duplicate a theme that is already out there.  We are very mindful of this. Then we come up with the text that one of us starts, and the other finishes.  We take turns doing this.
Leslie: There are always a “handful” of ideas that we are tossing around and sometimes we are right down to the wire before we make a decision.  We want the theme to be fairly broad in scope in order to allow for representational and abstract works.   The story and/or text comes later.

it is fascinating for me to see the evolution of your work, of the curators exhibits and the evolution of your business in the fascinating field of our quilting world. I don't know how you do it! 
Jamie:  For me, it's all about being really organized.  Like for me putting together the artist profile series, I give myself a date that they all have to be done by, because of my schedule. Google Blogger allows me to schedule all of the posts, so that makes my job way easier. I just have to remember to post each one on FB Monday through Friday. Making quilts is a huge priority for me, like spending as much time as I can in my studio.
Leslie:  Well, that could be said for all the artists that have submitted work for consideration over the years.  It has been very exciting to see the arc of an individual artist’s work.  It truly inspires the two of us. 

What has been the highlight of your career as a Dinner@8 Curator?
Jamie: The part where I get to see first hand how an artists work has evolved over the years.  It gives me great joy. Working with Leslie is the greatest.  I think also having some pieces from our exhibits be featured in Quilting Arts Magazine is huge.
Leslie: For me it is seeing the artists’ work recognized on the covers of various Quilting Arts magazines and featured in an episode of Quilting Arts TV.  We are as thrilled as we can be! 

What has been your favorite of all the Dinner@Eight themes? 
Jamie: I am not sure that I have a favorite one. The quilts have been quite powerful in every exhibit that we have juried. I did love the scroll series, and how amazing it was to see the first exhibit in this size.  They were very dramatic all lined up front and back on the pipe and drape.  I can't wait to see Affinity.
Leslie:  I have enjoyed all the themes but the current one is always my favorite!  Each year I’m thrilled and inspired by the work.  Changing the dimensions every 3 years has presented a new set of design challenges for the artists and they never disappoint. 

The two of you travel quite a bit. How do you manage to make time for both family and art?  Jamie: Family comes first, and I do devote Monday through Friday to my studio time. Come home and make dinner.  Weekends are family time. The only work that I do at home is drawing in the evenings.
Leslie: This is a tough balance but it is certainly easier now that our children are grown and independent.  Neither of us traveled to teach very much before that transition.  Also, both of our husbands are incredibly supportive of our work as artists so that makes it easier!  But, there is a balance and it shifts constantly.  Protecting studio work time is challenging when there is more travel away.

What is the single most thrilling adventure you have embarked on in your art career? 
Jamie:  That's a hard one, but I think that doing a public project for our local library was pretty significant for me personally.
Leslie:  For me it was the happy collision of dyeing, printing, digital photography transferred onto cloth, and quilt making.  It brings all that I love together in one medium.  What could be better?  I get to do what I love every day and I couldn’t be more thankful.

What artists inspire you?
Jamie:  Just to name a few - Kandinsky for his abstract work, Monet, for just the beauty of his gardens, Mary Cassatt, of mothers and children, Van Gogh for his starry starry night. Oh my.
Leslie:  The list is long.  I admire Mary Cassatt and Georgia O’Keefe:  true pioneers in their era.  Henri Matisse found a way to continue expressing himself as an artist despite his physical limitations and impaired vision.  I love Robert Rauschenberg and Gerhard Richter.  The list is much longer than this!

Do you take a lunch break or work straight through a project?
Jamie:  I always take a lunch break, and sometimes coffee is involved.  A great time to just lay on my polka dot couch and read or close my eyes for a bit, or even take a nap.
Leslie: I try to “come up for air” periodically because my body demands that I move around and stretch.  So taking breaks is important.  If I don’t do it when I’m printing or quilting I pay for it later! 

Where would you like to go from here?  The Dinner at Eight has so many possibilities.  It is intriguing to think of what the next step will be. 
Jamie:  We are going to keep going, raising the bar each year with outstanding work, and finding new artists to add to the invitational list. If you are interested in having the opportunity to jury your work into one of our exhibits, you will need to send us an email with your website and/or blog url, so we can look at your work. This does not guarantee you a seat at the table.
Leslie:  The Dinner at Eight project has so many possibilities.  It is intriguing to think of what the next step will be. I hope we continue for a long time to come as it continues to excite us and we seem to have plenty of artists who feel the same way.  Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Eventually what would you like to leave behind as your legacy? 
Jamie:  That I did it well, with grace, joy and was easy to work with. I hope that whoever owns my artwork that those pieces still give them joy, and every child that visits the library in Orange is delighted with the three quilts that are on the wall.
Leslie: If I can leave behind a body of work that has challenged me and given me joy, and it happens to do the same for people who view it….that is enough.

How much time to each of you daily spend creating art? 
Jamie:  I lump it in altogether with writing articles, blogging, working in my studio, quilting, curating, drawing - a full time job Monday through Friday.
Leslie: When I’m not traveling I’m in my studio 6-8 hours a day, and sometimes more if I’m pushing a project toward a deadline!

When traveling, do you take photos strictly for inspiration and if so, and do you use and reference many of these photos?
  I think it really depends on what the subject is.  I use my iPhone most of the time. there are many things I find inspiration in, but I don't take any pictures of them.  I think after going through my parents 36 slide carousels changed me about picture taking. I take less.  However, I do have an obsession with Instagram and post all kinds of photos on it daily.
Leslie:  I am ALWAYS taking photos!  I really love to look at stuff and think about it later when I review the photos.  Often, I use photos as a basis for making paintings, drawings for thermofax screens, or digital transfers that become embedded in my quilts.

What other creative interests do you have besides art quilting? 
Jamie:  making my own fabric with stencils, designing stencils, drawing and just self published a coloring book this summer!  I love to garden, and cook and read books. My husband and I love to entertain, so we do that on the weekends.
Leslie: I love to cook and consider it another art form.  I love to garden and find a great deal of inspiration in it for my art.  I am an avid reader and birdwatcher.  I love reading cookbooks like some people read novels.  And  am a painter.

Do you treat your art quilting like a job and try to spend certain amounts of time "on the clock"? 
Jamie:  It's a job to me, but I love what I do, so it doesn't seem like a job.
Leslie: I think it is a level of obsession.  I guess one could view it as a job because I certainly spend a lot of time at it.  It sure doesn’t feel like work most of the time unless I hit a creative “block”.

How did you come up with the 40x40 size? 
Jamie:  Funny you should ask.  Last year at Quilt Festival in Houston, Leslie and I went around to all of the exhibits looking for the perfect size.  Yvonne Porcella was having an exhibition of her work, and we noticed that several of her pieces were 40x40 and how great they looked on the pipe and drape.  Stunning.
Leslie:  We shift gears every 3 years and it was time to do something different!  We tossed several other sizes around but we wanted it to be square and we decided to go bigger!

How do you stay organized with all the many responsibilities you're juggling? 
Jamie:  Daily 'to do' lists, reminders on my iPhone, a white board in my studio and a huge calendar.  I need to see what I have coming up and I like to be able to cross things off the big list.
Leslie: I have had to adjust my system of organization pretty significantly in the past 2 years because my previous system was no longer effective.  I added a big whiteboard in my studio and I constantly shift things around on it so the priority items are on top.  Other ideas and tasks get written on the lower portion.  Being able to see it all the time is very helpful.  My studio is getting remodeled and I’ll have a gigantic chalkboard wall!

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading about the two of you and the way Dinner at 8 works. I would like to be able to quilt well enough to be asked to join the group one day.


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