Off to Romania by the seat of my pants!

Lock, stock and barrel (detail) (1) - Copy

Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent pair of underpants could snowball into an exciting artistic opportunity? Well, admittedly, I did make them out of porcelain and yes, I did go further with this work to make a statement about the frightening increase of legislation in the US dictating what a woman can and cannot decide about her own body. It infuriates me. The finished work (below) incorporates a rusted lock (found in Mexico) all too reminiscent of the days of chastity belts…

casting a shadow (5)

This is one of two works that were selected by a very prestigious panel of judges to be exhibited at the International Ceramic Biennale in Cluj, Romania:

Unfortunately I had to withdraw my second work selected, an installation entitled If the Shoe Fits…Buy It  because of the punishing shipping costs 😦

If the shoe fits installation view

Thanks to some frequent flyer points, I will be attending the Museum’s grand opening on October 9th, as well as being an invited speaker during the three-day symposium following the Biennale’s opening. This is a very exciting opportunity; I intend to present a lecture entitled ‘The Balance of Concept and Aesthetics in Narrative Ceramic Installation’.

Cluj Napoca Romania

Cluj being the capital of Transylvania (!) I am sure I will come back with some great pix to share.

Treasure trove in my own backyard

I have been meaning to pay a visit to Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Washington DC Hillwood Estate for at least five years. It is a shame I waited so long, because Hillwood is an oasis of beauty as well as a reminder of America’s heydays.

For those not familiar with Ms. Post’s history, here is her very, very abbreviated story: Born in Illinois 1887 into the hugely wealthy Post family (of Post cereal fame). Parents die and at age 27 she inherits the $20 million business. Blessed with beauty and brains she turns the business into an even more successful behemoth. Starts collecting art and never stops. Marries four times. In 1955 buys Hillwood (only one of several estates) and fills it with prized pieces from her extensive collection. In short, a formidable woman.

In my last few blogs I have mentioned the prevalence of huge, mega-sized contemporary art taking up residence in art fairs, museums, galleries and cavernous homes of the 1%. What is remarkable about Marjorie Merriweather Post’s unique collection is the predominance of diminutive objets d’art. Ms. Post was partial to the super-refined, labor-intensive, highly detailed French and Russian decorative arts, preferably with royal provenance.

Marie Antoinette's swivel chair
Tsar’s coronation crown
Marie Antoinette's swivel chair
Marie Antoinette’s swivel chair

To be honest, I would have a hard time living with such an extraordinarily large amount of priceless knickknacks and tchachkes. Every surface, cabinet, shelf and table top are crowded with competing Faberge eggs, diamond coronation crosses, tiny enamel inlaid boxes, porcelain dishes to die for and delicate glass ornaments, to name but a few. I won’t even start on the tapestries, furniture and paintings. But there is no question that Ms. Post had exquisite taste. I thank her posthumously for her generosity toward the other 99% in bequeathing her estate to the public as a museum.

Japanese garden on the estate
Japanese garden on the estate

Marjorie and I do however have one thing in common besides art: Shoes. While nosing around her private quarters, I made a wonderful discovery when I peeked into her shoe closet – dozens of pairs of the same shoe in a rainbow of colors. Apparently Ms. Post found this particular style to her liking and had them made in all colors to match her outfits. A woman after my own heart.

Hillwood (12)

When in Paris…

I am not a lipstick girl. I usually go for an enhanced au naturel look but there I was, barely installed in my little studio in the Marais district and I was out frantically scouting for the right shade of red lipstick I just had to have ASAP. I felt naked in Paris without it. Something was definitely missing from my arsenal and it boiled down to a glossy red tube of molded magic. The choices were numbing. Did I want a crimson or a pink-hued shade, or even one veering to the orange or browns? Did I want the creamy, glossy or matt finish? Did I want the round edged, pointy or liquid stick? It reminded me of an old (very old) MAD magazine cartoon about someone buying a pack of cigarettes only to be quizzed about brand, menthol or regular, filter or no filter, etc. etc. till the poor guy just went beserk and took off screaming down the street. I did end up with a lovely shade of red packaged in a very substantial black and gold housing. Now I was definitely ready for the vernissage (opening) of my group exhibition Dans le ventre des femmes at 59 Rivoli on Wednesday evening, October 3, 2012.

The lovely Maia Brami signing copies of Dans le ventre des Femmes
The place was packed with over 200 guests

The turnout was gratifyingly huge, with each artist bringing in their own band of loyal followers. It was a wonderful success for Maia Brami who conceived the whole notion of the exhibition based on the uterus anthology she initiated and brought to publication. Considering I don’t live in Paris I was very moved and appreciative of the number of people who came specifically to see me and my work in person. I soon forgot the technological glitches that threatened to spoil my night and thrust myself into the moment, chatting with guests, meeting all the artists, and networking in the hopes of laying the groundwork for my next visit! It was a four-hour opening which seemed extreme to me but the stream of people just kept coming. The single visitor who probably travelled the farthest to attend was my sister Jeannette who arrived that morning from Australia for a conference in Paris (on left below, with yours truly on right).

My painting viewed in close proximity to the projection of my documentary video


I almost forgot to include another very French presence at the opening – dogs! Since the French are very understanding about bringing their little pooches to restaurants it is really no surprise that they would be welcome in all sorts of cultural venues as well! And pourquoi pas?

Paris exhibitions: one down, one more to go!

A picture says a thousand words and these shoes I spotted in a Paris boutique spell French chic, style, ambiance and flair – qualities which are ostentatiously present in copious amounts in the City of Lights. I just spent the last three days on the outskirts of Paris in Ivry sur Seine taking part in this artist commune’s annual Portes Ouvertes (Open House). Over 200 artists opened their studios up to hundreds of visitors keen to take a peek at the behind-the-scenes process of creative output. The sun was shining down upon an untold number of paintings, etchings, sculptures, ceramics, and framed graffiti – all to the accompaniment of Brazilian guitars, Japanese drums and the strains of Vivaldi. It was quite a show. I have included a very few examples:

I was hosted in the atelier of textile artist Aurelia Bernard who was exhibiting the results of natural fabric tinting using avocado peels (which surprisingly gives a dusky rose color), carrot leaves  and coffee grounds. I exhibited some of my newer mini Paris portraits which generated a lot of interest due to the epoxy varnish over my photorealist style. The result is jewel-like and at first glance gives the impression of glass or ceramic tile or enamel work. so I had to quickly brush up on some technical phrases in French! But all in all an exciting and worthwhile experience and I even got some commissions out of it!

Portrait by Lilianne Milgrom

I am sure I am not alone in struggling with the PR/selling/mouthpiece part of making art. It just doesn’t come naturally and I was decidedly out of my comfort zone having to spend 18 hours over three days shmoozing about my work while jet lagged and speaking French. But by the last day I was more confident and more motivated, perhaps as a result of the continuous refilling of my wine glass and the heady atmosphere of being immersed in such a vibrant artistic environment 🙂

This morning I moved to Paris proper, settled into a teeny tiny Paris studio and began installing my painting and documentary video in the next show (see previous post) opening on Wednesday October 3 at Galerie Rivoli 59.

It really sunk in that I was in Paris when my conversation with the exhibition’s organizer and artist extraordinaire Sebastien Lecca veered off into his latest venture producing Eiffel tower-shaped dildos…I think its going to be a huge hit! And I couldn’t take my eyes off graffiti artist BAUBO‘s finger armour rings. Check it out:

More details and images from the exhibition after Wednesday’s grand opening where they are expecting over 150 guests. For right now I have to sign out because I am ravenous and dying to dig into my crunchy warm baguette, creamy goat cheese, fresh strawberry jam and salad, to be followed by an individual tarte aux pommes. Chin!