Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE!
ArtistsBillofRights.org reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

Ginna Gordon Author Talk

Go directly to the event page for details
A graphic promoting Ginna Gordon's October 22 online book launch.

Our Arts & Letters Zoom Chats invite you into the homes and studios of local artists and authors



The page header showing the covers of Ginna's three novels and a photo of her.

Join Ginna BB Gordon to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Humming in Spanish


Based on the fictional journals of Stefani Michel, Humming in Spanish is the third volume in Ginna’s Lavandula Series. This multi-generational saga is set in the fictional Sweet Farm, a Carmel Valley, California lavender farm of some local renown.

Learn more about this series on the Lucky Valley Press website.

To celebrate her new novel, Ginna will talk about the book, chat with Anne Brooke Hawkins (Art Presence Art Center’s Director), and answer questions from attendees.


Join us Friday October 22 at 5:00pm Pacific

Ginna BB Gordon is the author of ten books, a multi-media artist, and co-owner of Lucky Valley Press in Jacksonville, Oregon. She’s also the regular host of our Arts & Letters Series.

REGISTER NOW

Arts & Letters events are free but advance registration is required.

This event will be in webinar format — attendees are not visible to the host or each other.
Art Presence Logo

Visit us online: https://art-presence.org

Art Presence Art Center, Jacksonville Oregon
Visit Ginna’s publishing company online: www.luckyvalleypress.com Lucky Valley Press, Jacksonville Oregon

A collage of 21 book covers designed by Lucky Valley Press

Inktober 2021

Hi! It’s Inktober!  That is to say, October starts the month of the Inktober challenge. You see, I have wanted to participate in Inktober over the past several years, but what would I draw?  And, could I keep up with the challenge for an entire 31 day month? Then, while doing something else, I happened …

Inktober 2021 Read More »

The post Inktober 2021 appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Festive Friday: TopsyTurveyTulipLand

Hi and Happy “Festive Friday!” I have been taking on-line classes through The Art Students League of New York lately.  And, though I’ve been working, I’m not ready to share the new stuff. For example, this month has been a watercolor figure class and the results are rough. So, what I decided that I would …

Festive Friday: TopsyTurveyTulipLand Read More »

The post Festive Friday: TopsyTurveyTulipLand appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Peace Like That

 

I’m a metaphorical girl—I see connections everywhere. This year, I learned the word apophenia: the tendency to look for connections among unrelated things. I’m pretty sure I have a not-so-mild case of it. Whether through simile or metaphor, I am constantly comparing unlike things to better understand abstractions. 

 

In fact, here’s a metaphor: our marriage is a fascinating case of apophenia!

 

Which brings me to rivers. I spend A LOT of time on rivers since I married a man who loves them. And this spring, I’ve wondered about that metaphorical comparison of “peace like a river” in Scripture (Isaiah 48:18, 66:12).  Spend time on even a single river, and you realize that rivers are varied: once section might be placid as a pond. The next might be a white-water “boulder garden” your husband inexplicably wants to kayak through. 

 

Peace like which part of the river?

 

Like all of it. Like: peace in all the river sections, from frog water to Class V rapids. 

 

And peace in the snags—the fallen trees and root masses that accumulate along a shore. They can impede progress. But they can also create little eddies of stillness out of the fast current and give you a place to pause before you continue your journey. I kid you not, I had that snag realization by a river one morning, and that same afternoon, Jared and I got into a massive snag-fight. We got caught on the jagged edges of stuff we’d let accumulate along our shore, but once we pressed through, we found a pool of peace. Someday, we may even remember that there can be peace in the snags, too. 

 

I have an old hymn stuck on repeat in my heart: “When Peace, Like a River.” That song has always held power for me. It was originally titled, “It Is Well With My Soul” for its famous refrain: “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” But I didn’t learn why it was so powerful until last fall, when our friend came for dinner and played us the song on his guitar, telling the back story. 

 

Horatio G. Spafford wrote the hymn in the nineteenth century. He was a prosperous businessman in Chicago. He and his wife had a son and four daughters. Things were going well—until they weren’t. They lost their son to scarlet fever. Then, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of Horatio’s real estate, wiping out his life savings. He decided to take his family to England to try and start over. Right before he planned to leave, a business deal arose that could help his family, so he decided to send his wife ahead of him with their daughters. 

 

The boat carrying his family shipwrecked. His wife survived, but all of their daughters died. As soon as he received the news, Horatio took the next ship to be with his wife. At one point on the voyage, the captain told him they had reached the spot where his children had drown. And there—in the place of deep loss and sorrow—he wrote a hymn of peace. Here are the first lines:

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Refrain

It is well, (it is well),

With my soul, (with my soul)

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

That man’s understanding of grace takes my breath away. It makes me game to learn the currents of peace like a river. 

 

I want peace like that. 

Flower it Forward

 

The thoughtful Del Rio Vineyards offers our little valley a big gift: rows of U-pick zinnias below their hillsides of vines. 

The only catch? For each bouquet you pick for yourself, you pick two for others. “Flower it forward.” 

I like this double-happiness approach to “pay it forward.” Not just singly, but doubly. 

Thank you, Del Rio, for reminding us to give more than we get. I’m excited to deliver these bright gifts. 

Blue: Color Saturation & Temperature

Greetings!  When last I wrote, I was talking all about yellow.  But, a bit of time has past and my latest adventure has been with the color blue. Still Life Class. To explain, I recently took a still life painting class with Karen O’Neil through The Art Students League’s e-telier™.  Each month Ms. O’Neil picks …

Blue: Color Saturation & Temperature Read More »

The post Blue: Color Saturation & Temperature appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

All of the Above


On one of the rare weekends this summer we weren’t camping, my husband and I attended our church’s outdoor service. We sat beneath an umbrella on a beautiful morning, the sky broad above us. Our friend, Niesje was leading worship. Before beginning a song about bringing Heaven to Earth, she reminded the congregation that, with God, anything can happen. 


God often speaks to me in wordplay (I like to call Him the Wordsmith). As Niesje spoke, I heard in my heart the phrase “all of the above.” Such words and phrases usually arrive simultaneously with layers of meaning, and it can take me a moment to unfurl them. One layer to “all of the above” was Heaven, as in: all of what is higher, all of what is possible. At that moment, beneath the expansive sky, I was reminded of the vastness of possibility. 


But “all of the above” also referred to that pesky option on multiple-choice tests. 


I was never a good test taker. I could study, and I did—hard. But because I didn’t have the knack of knowing what test makers expected, I spent way too much time trying to memorize things instead of learning their context and how they worked together. 


When required to answer essay questions, I could “show” my work and explain nuances, which helped. But for multiple choice tests, there is just one right answer. Pretty black and white. Unless there is the shades-of-gray option D: All of the above. 


In school, I loved and hated “all of the above.” It meant there was more than one correct answer (which I secretly believed about most everything). But it also meant I’d have to know the subject well enough to know that A, B, and C were all correct, too. 


That Sunday beneath the Heavens, I recognized that I’d been slipping back into old patterns of limited, either/or thinking—of believing I’d have to choose just A, B, or C. I was reminded that God is big enough to be both/and—even big enough to offer an alphabet-length set of options and for all of them to be possible! He is big enough to offer all of the above.


I was recently reading about dialectics, which is basically a fancy way to say “both/and” thinking. It’s the paradox of seemingly contradictory things being true, like feeling sad and hopeful at the same time. In other words, there is usually more than one “correct” answer—or at least more than one way to arrive at it. 


Life will throw tests at us—both essay and multiple choice. But it helps to remember that God offers more answers than any test key. It also helps to remember that He is not sitting around in Heaven with a big red pen, waiting to tally our mistakes and write a low score across our lives. In fact, I have a feeling God isn’t really into tests. Humans? For some reason, we seem to like them. So here’s a test on subject matter I’m trying not to memorize but to learn, to embody: 


A. God is not a test maker, waiting to fail us


B. God is love, and love is BIG: bigger than our closed either/or thinking and bigger than our most open and noble imaginings


C. He invites us to dream with Him and Heaven—to get to know Him well and to embrace the mystery of what we do not know


D. All of the above

 

 

Truth Teller Tribe Returns

During my 40 some years of being an artist and teacher, Tribes of Truth Tellers have manifested themselves in many ways.

I taught Sculpture for many years in public schools and tall, cylindrical sculptural forms showed up in paper maché and clay forms. It was so fascinating to see the variety of expressions that resulted when a challenge was put forth to 30 students and they found 30 ways to express it. I worked along with them in order to teach technique. As always happens, we all inspired each other to make our sculptures unique.

The Tribe has also shown up in layered textural acrylic paintings and in collaged, cut, and layered painted paper forms. These two new ones are acrylics painted on paper with a forest in mind. However, the Tribe inserted itself into my consciousness, so I cut them free from each other and re-assembled them on painted wooden panels. I also cut a tree from another painting to add to the mystery.

There they were in all their glory, telling me Truths I hadn’t known before. As it turns out, the story they tell each viewer is specifically tailored to each individual.

Brief Beauty

So brief, these.

So long from seed to blossom

then so quick to drop their petals.

But worth the pink while.

The Art Inspector: Saving the Earth by Changing Art

Danielle Siembieda-Gribben

Originally Posted at the Huffington Post: 02/27/2013 3:23 pm…But more relevant than ever today! Originally reposted by SOAR on 2/28/2013.

Creative industries have changed standards and best practices to adopt sustainable and environmental techniques in design and production. Architecture has adopted LEED Performance design into standard practice, and Industrial Design begins with thinking about the end of life of a product and how to leave the least amount of impact on the environment. Both of these industries fought for decades, since the 1970s, against changing habits, systems and academic content. Resistors during the transformation proclaimed they would all go out of business; it was impossible to get all stakeholders on board; and they didn’t want to be creatively strangled.

This shared history of transforming creative industry leads us to a problem we are facing within the Art world. Can artists change the way they create work to make a healthier planet? Personally, I believe so, however, with the inclusion of all key players from the art world, including: art institutions, art media, academia, retailer/manufacturers, collectors and artists. Art seeds culture and influences public behavior. If artists can change their standard of practice then the rest of the world will follow.

2013-02-27-artinspector2.jpg
Art Inspector assessing quilters studio. Photo by Wendy Crockett.

How is this transformation possible? Incorporating a triangle approach to such transformation is The Art Inspector, a social practice artwork I founded during my candidacy for a Masters in Fine Arts at San Jose State University, uses a Healthy Art Program (education), Legislative Reform (advocacy) and Third Party Inspections (studio assessments). This project started a few years ago when I noticed fellow studio mates as well as the art school itself seemingly unconsciously teaching and using harmful applications and techniques, disposing of waste, and ineffectively ventilating rooms. I noticed piles of plastic thrown into dumpsters, studio lights left on for what seemed 24 hours at a time, and complete negligence when using harsh chemicals. In my studio, a rusty cabinet labeled “Store Harsh Chemicals Here,” written upon faded masking tape, hosted a dusty plastic binder labeled MSDS Sheets. Taking a closer look, I realized no one had taught me what Material Safety Data Sheets meant and how they might apply to what I do. I asked around to other artists what they might know about these sheets and what they thought about what they were using and how they were disposing of extra material. Many artists noted that they knew someone, or had experienced themselves, long term health problems from misuse of chemicals in the creation of artwork. Most artists intuitively believed that there was a better way to develop their work and acknowledge the harm of some of the materials, but did not know what to do about it or did not see change as a high priority.

Inspired by artworks using methods of Intervention Art which take on the roles and aesthetics of corporations and disrupt systems in unexpected ways, such as the Yes Men and Luther Thie, I decided to become an Art Inspector. Within construction and manufacturing, unaffiliated auditors determine if a building or product can be certified as sustainable. If deemed so, doors open for prospective buyers and subsidies. I wanted to take this method to the Art World.

But how does a third party inspection work? There are at least two inspections to take place. The initial inspection starts with an intake form that asks questions to each artist about their studio environment, materials they are using, and the type of machines or equipment that use power. During this process a series of tests are conducted using similar equipment used for energy audits in residential homes. The Art Inspector tests power outlets, lighting and occupancy, ventilation and Volatile Organic Compounds. Once the inspection process is finished, The Art Inspector will write up a report based on the data collected and make suggestions for alternatives and improvements to artists studios and the working process. If the artist makes the recommended modifications, The Art Inspector will return for a re-inspection and award a Healthy Art Certification if the artist passes.

2013-02-27-artinspector3.jpg
Paint waste from inspection of painter’s studio. Photo by Wendy Crockett.

Artists who fail inspection or those who are interested in diving deeper into changing their habits can join the Healthy Art Program. Various workshops ranging from green materials, sustainable wood products, energy efficiency, lighting and safety are available to artists at varying partner institutions. If the artists are supplied with resources and knowledge, they will be empowered to change. The final part of The Art Inspector is to advocate for change in policy and curriculum on both an institutional and government level. Working with academic and museum institutions to adopt new values and requirements for artworks to be created sustainably will create a shift in the resources for production of art. If a major contemporary art museum such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sets a standard for new works to be exhibited using a significant amount of low impact materials and works with third party agents such as The Art Inspector, then other practitioners will follow. With this same concept, Public Art Programs can adopt LEED standards into creation of artworks in the public realm.

Even today these concepts of change in the Art World are seen as radical and frightening to some. However, many artists are willing to do what they do best, experiment with new ideas. With the vision of The Art Inspector, we will open up the avenues to sustainable living, healthy living, and simultaneously, changing the way we make art.

Follow Danielle Siembieda-Gribben on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Art_Inspector

Visit the Art Inspector website here: http://artinspector.org/