Monday, April 29, 2013

April Mosaic Whirlwind!

After hibernating through winter, just working on projects for myself and not dealing with the business end of my mosaic business, April was all about breaking out of my shell.  I was in charge of one part of the American Mosaic Summit that took place during the second week of April, plus I was one of the presenters.  The weeks building up to the conference were filled with frantic computer work, collecting and documenting a record number of entries for the annual mosaic salon and auction, and finishing my powerpoint presentation.

Each year, the Society of American Mosaic Artists has a conference in a different host city.  We take over a conference hotel, hold an international exhibit demonstrating the quality and diversity of contemporary mosaic art, host a wide range of workshops and presentations, provide a vendor marketplace, and give SAMA members an opportunity to meet each other and spend 5 days straight talking about andamento and smalti and double indirect method and all of the other things that no one else in our lives understands (or wants to.)

This year, the conference was at the beautiful Murano Hotel in Tacoma, as well as the Tacoma Convention Center.  Over 500 people attended, many from as far away as Australia, and a whole contingent from Ontario.  The Mosaic Arts International exhibit took place at the Museum of Glass and several regional mosaic exhibits took place nearby.  The summit was a big success, and it was a huge relief and satisfaction to see my own part of it come together.
This is the SAMA salon before crowds filled the room.  This is a time for members to show off their own work, and it is  also for sale in a silent auction.  Over 140 members participated - a third more than any previous year!
This is one of my favorite mosaic pieces in the Salon, by Tammi Lynch-Forrest.
The conference was a whirlwind, as usual.  I enjoy the company of fellow mosaic artists, getting to know more members of the organization each year, and filling every recess of my brain with mosaic information.  During this week, most of us get very little sleep, and we leave with our minds spinning with new ideas.  It can be hard to integrate all of the new information, and I usually find that it takes weeks for me to re-adjust.

My presentation took place mid-way through the conference, and while I was incredibly nervous, all feedback from the audience has been incredibly positive.  I was surprised how moved people were, some of them approaching me with tears in their eyes afterward.  I told the story of the Artesian Well project from a very personal perspective, including the many challenges and culminating in a triumphant outcome.  (I documented the project in this blog exactly a year ago, in detail.)

A group of 15 Pacific NW mosaic artists held a group exhibit at the Handforth Gallery in Tacoma coinciding with the conference, so that we could strut our stuff a little bit.  This was a great opportunity for local mosaic artists to connect, the show was very successful, and I hope we can continue to create similar shows in the future.  I was approached by a Tacoma gallery and will be participating in exhibits there in the future.  I really enjoyed meeting the owners of B2 Gallery and I look forward to branching out and showing my work in Tacoma.
This is Gimli, one of my pieces in the Handforth Gallery exhibit.
As soon as the conference was over, I had to focus on getting ready for Olympia's Spring Arts Walk.  I hoped to finish a large, sculptural egg mosaic in time to use it as a centerpiece for a show in the window of a local boutique.  So much of my work would still be in Tacoma, and I wanted to have a big, beautiful, eye-catching piece in Arts Walk.  Unfortunately, I had to face the fact that I wasn't even close to being on schedule with the egg.  So, I asked permission to work on the egg in the window, and the shop owner loved the idea.  So, I hung a body of older work on the walls behind me and set up a teeny-tiny work space in the window.

And it was a hit!  Crowds gathered outside while I worked, and I could see by facial expressions that people were very excited to see how the mosaic is made.  It was very strange to be on display while working, but also kind of nice to be able to just focus on my work while all of the mayhem floated by outside.  A photographer from the local paper, Tony Overman, took his time getting a shot so good that it was on the front page of the Olympian on Saturday morning.
I worked on that egg for 5 hours on Friday and over 4 hours on Saturday, which is normally not a big deal.  But, working on low makeshift tables (a bucket with a 12" tile on top), sitting on a little folding seat, in cramped circumstances with crowds of people staring in... it was exhausting!

Since I had applied fresh thinset on Saturday, I had to leave the egg in place.  The shop would like for me to leave the show up for a bit, especially since people were calling to say they wanted to come from far away to see the mosaic they saw in the paper.  (So: the shop is Hot Toddy at 410 Capital Way in Downtown Olympia.)

It's Monday and I have a long list of things to catch up on here on the farm.  I plan to take this week off from mosaic to tend the animals, fix the chicken coop, get the garden planting started, and prep for my daughter's 10th birthday party on Saturday.  I expect May to be much less intense, and that is just fine.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw this journal entry...I am so happy that you like my mosaic bee!