Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Putting a Price on Art

What price art? That is a thorny question. Yes, I want to to sell my collage art. Coming up with a price is tricky.... Cynics look at collage and see a few pieces of paper glued down. Those who have tried their hand at collage, quilting, mosaics, etc. know that a lot goes into assembling all those small pieces together. It begins with the hunt for materials, then more time is spent assembling and cutting various pieces for the composition. Some will be used, some not. I use archival matboard as a substrata. It is sold in big sheets and must be cut up into usable sizes.

Also needed: a sense of color, balance, design, and some sort of theme. The theme may be clear cut from the get-go, or evolve during the process. And let's not forget tools: various scissors, a paper cutter, glue, rulers. If you get into adding more media, the list is endless. I use Copic markers (the most expensive kind), colored pencils, paint. Sometimes I use stencils. For my assemblage projects, the ingredients list grows much longer and esoteric.

Perhaps the hardest thing to factor is time. Some collages come together magically with little or no fuss or agony. You sail right through and it feels like heaven. Others start easily enough, but may take hours to finish. The last few pieces are usually the trickiest for me. Knowing when to stop is a part of any creative process. And how do you measure the time that you have spent developing your craft?

Anyway, all this comes to mind as we come up into the fall and winter holiday season. Yesterday I placed a bunch of small assemblages with the Texas Art Asylum here in Houston. They have had four other larger works for months. None have sold, so it was certainly hospitable of them to take a bunch more. I checked on my labyrinth-themed art on consignment with Lucia's Garden. None have sold. Yes, the economy is much challenged right now. But I am determined to push my particular boulder uphill. I have signed up for the AIGA Annual Art Festival taking place at the Heights Theater on November 5th. My art is also for sale through and Saatchi Online. Caladan Gallery also still provides access to fifteen works from my Summer of 2011 solo show. Recently, I have also donated art to charity auctions. After the new year, depending how things go, I may try selling through Etsy.

It's not that I would starve unless I sell my art, it's that I'd love to get it into the hands of people that would appreciate it. I'd like to think my art matters to more people than just me. I know my life is much enriched by the art I surround myself with, and by the art I view in museums, books, etc. I find a parallel in what Adrienne Rich said of poetry, that it is: "News in verse that men and women require as much as their daily bread." Visual art, too, provides longed-for sustenance.

collage by Keddy Ann Outlaw: "Citrus 3", in homage to Jeff McKissack, creator of the Orange Show

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Michigan Gals

When I think of Michigan fiction writers, Jim Harrison is the first one to come to mind. Now I've got two more talented writers from the Wolverine State to keep up with: Ellen Airgood and Bonnie Jo Campbell. They are both Michigan residents who have written fine novels about gutsy young women.

South of Superior (Riverhead, 2011) by Ellen Airgood stole my heart. Although her mother's family was rooted in McAllestar, a small town in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.), Madeline Stone was raised in Chicago. When she was very young, Madeline's mother abandoned her and she was adopted by a kind-hearted woman who recently died of cancer. Soon Madeline packs up her life in Chicago and moves north to the U.P. She stays with two sisters (one sweet and one rather sour) well into their senior years, one of whom (the sour one, Gladys) used to live with her grandfather. She begins to meet many colorful, cantankerous, but good and generous townspeople, folks who have survived many hard times and long winters. Madeline loses her heart to a young boy whose mother is incarcerated. She works for, but then loses the trust of a man who seemingly works 24/7 trying to make a living as as a prison guard and pizza maker. Before too long, Madeline harbors dreams of renovating the rundown and quaint hotel owned by Gladys' family. She begins to paint pictures of Lake Superior as seen from the attic window of the hotel. Will Madeline make peace with the tangled bits of family history she uncovers? Will she and the town take to each other? McAllestar in winter is not for sissies. Will she make it there, and will her dreams flourish? Read it and see! I promise you it is worth it. Ellen Airgood knows the U.P. well, and it shows. She and her husband run a diner in the Lake Superior town of Grand Marias, Michigan, perfect credentials for writing this cozy yet unsentimental, homespun type of fiction.

Once Upon a River (Norton, 2011) by Bonnie Jo Campbell is not for the faint of heart, as the novel involves plenty of guns, guts and blood spill. Sixteen year-old Margo Crane emulates Annie Oakley, and becomes quite the sharpshooter herself. Usually she hunts deer and other four-legged protein sources. But if the people she loves are in danger, Margo is quick to draw a weapon. When her father dies following a real mixed-up, messed-up family feud, Margo quits school and starts living by her wits alongside the Stark River in rural Michigan. Sometimes she lives in boats, at other times she takes shelter with men of all ages. She becomes a skilled manipulator of men, not that she's always wise in the men she chooses. Readers quickly learn that Margo is bound for trouble at every turn. What kept me from finding Margo's sometimes violent odyssey unbearable was her deep connection with nature. Margo loves the silence of the woods, the rise of the river, birds in flight. Attuned to the wilderness, she manages to evolve and survive. Once Upon A River is a novel of endurance I won't easily forget.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recent Collages


Of the Earth #1

Ferris 13

The Empty Vase

Cartographia #3

2011, Keddy Ann Outlaw