Monday, May 16, 2016

Chalking Awesomeness

 Image Credit: Beth Bogenreider Hall

A couple weekends ago, my friend and fellow chalk artist, Nicole, drove with me to Topeka where another member of our chalk alliance, Beth, lives, to participate in the Two Block Chalk Walk in the NOTO Arts District. They were going for a record-breaking event, and it was fun to be part of it. You can watch a video interview with Beth and Nicole:

My drawing

Nicole's drawing

Beth's drawing

We, and another chalk alliance member, will be drawing a Lisa Frank-inspired image at the upcoming Raymore Summer Scene: Arts, Music, Food, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Another attraction on display will be community-decorated adirondack chairs from the Raymore Arts Commission's first Pop-Up Art Project.

Finally, I'll leave you with this awesome interactive CandyLand board that my chalk alliance gal pals and I created during the 2015 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (that I was a bad blogger and never posted before). Enjoy! And don't forget to save the date for this year's event: Saturday 10-11!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Nelson-Atkins

Photo op at the end of the exhibit

Recently my Dad and I went to see “Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Honestly, I went because he asked me to; I probably wouldn’t have gone of my own accord. And for the same reason, I went on my first guided museum tour, which would have made me feel very grown up, if I hadn’t been the youngest person on the tour.

The exhibit is broken into several groups of painting types, showing the highest, middle, and working classes, as well as spaces in which all three intersected in 1800s society in the Dutch Republic. The most impressive and stunning works were those commissioned by the aristocracy, including the only Vermeer painting ever to be exhibited in Kansas City.

That painting, “A Lady Writing,” which I’ve seen repeatedly pop up in my FB feed to advertise the exhibit, is actually the reason why I wasn’t interested in going. The pictures of it simply do not do it justice, and I thought the image rather boring. Until, that is, I saw it in person. I was absolutely stunned. It seemed to glow from within, like a stained glass window or an LED screen, and it was so perfectly executed that there was a 3D holographic effect. The lady seemed to rise towards me from the past, perfectly shining with contentment. I’ve never seen any representative painting that came close to affecting me that way. It alone is worth a visit to the exhibit!

The other paintings for the aristocracy were also beautiful, with lush detail and exquisite rendering. The upwardly mobile middle class paintings were also well done, although without the impressive scale of the aristocratic paintings, and with less extravagant costuming. Both the aristocracy and the rich commoners’ faces were portrayed with loving treatments. (It was exciting to see, "Street Musicians at the Door" in the middle class section. It was a painting I'd seen and liked [extremely attractive color scheme!] at the St. Louis Art Museum last year, and it was like running into an old friend.)

However, the next section, featuring the poor working class was a striking difference. These paintings were also commissioned by the rich, and to elevate the viewer above the rabble, the poor were depicted roughly, with ugly, almost inhuman faces, rough clothing, and sometimes gremlin-like characteristics. It was astonishing. The contrast was especially striking in paintings that showed the classes mingling in spaces like the market, etc.

It was refreshing to see an examination of class in a museum setting, and also to have a new lens through which to view older, representative paintings. This exhibit certainly increased my appreciation for them, as well as the symbolic language they use, and helped me become more imaginatively and mentally engaged in a style of painting that I have tended to discount as less interesting than others.

You can see “Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer”  through May 9, 2016, and I may just go back again myself. It’s that good.

Related posts:
Trash or Treasure? at the Toy and Miniature Museum (Event Pics)
My Visit to Lawrence (Photo Blog)
Read My Latest Arts America Post

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Poetry of Spring

Spring is officially here and today is World Poetry Day, so let's celebrate with a couple poems about spring... with a side of social commentary.

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

           fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

      beauty           , how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffering thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

          thou answerest

them only with


- e.e. cummings

Cave Spring

Against the drought of each day's demented scramble
across our slapstick, sold-out, barricaded-in, death-
obsessed, ball-busting uncivil-ization,

I uphold the sound of this rain-swollen creek purling
over jumbled rock; how it plashes and murmurs so
serenely, hidden away in the solitude of its own telling.

Against the smog of interminable lies variously twisting,
cajoling, promoting, deceiving, uprooting, betraying,
attacking, destroying, seducing, defiling,

I uphold how wind can sometimes suddenly swell from
nowhere and rush like a great, cleansing breath as it
swoops coldly through these bare winter trees.

Against the dread dark infesting our human hearts,
the fanatical blindness of slammed-shut minds,
the casual, everyday cruelties of a soulless age,

I uphold this simple patch of sunlight on wet bark,
draw from its well a refreshment beyond mere buying a
and selling, getting and sending, profit or loss.

Against the boldest technological breakthroughs in
gene transplantation, the latest corporate patents
showcasing cloning eperiments and sterilized grain

I uphold this primal earth turning under my feet,
these weather-stained stones of ancient dwellings,
the whispers of long-dead lovers still haunting the air.

- Bob Savino

What did you think of these poems as companion pieces? How are they similar or different?

Do you have a favorite poet or poem? Tell me about it in the comments :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Doodling with ChalkOla Pens & Markers

I was recently sent some spiffy new markers and labels to try out from ChalkOla, a brand I hadn't tried before. Henry and I were impressed with their vivid colors and have had lots of fun doodling on his white board and chalk board (two of the suggested surfaces for these markers, which have to be used on nonporous surfaces).

It takes a few minutes to get all of the markers primed, so if you plan on having impatient kiddos use them, I suggest you do that before you let the kids know you have them, like I wasn't smart enough to do.

You have to use a glass cleaner and a rag to clean off the surface when you're finished. A few of the lighter colors left stains behind on the chalkboard, but since ours already had acrylic paint permenantly decorating it, that wasn't a big deal for me.

As you can see, the color is extremely vivid, far brighter than most chalks or whiteboard markers. That makes them a lot more fun to play with, I think.

I've only used a few of the labels, but I like the way they look. You have to be careful not to smear them when they're wet though.

The above was a note I left for Matt on the whiteboard in our bedroom. As you can see, I have way too much fun playing with these markers. ;) I wonder what I should draw on our giant glass sliding door...?

If you're interested in purchasing some for yourself, here are some limited-time codes that should give you a discount of 20 percent: 15 mm markers - CHK20OFF, and 6 mm pens - CHALK20A.

Related posts:
Event Pics: 2014 Kansas City Chalk Walk Festival
2013 KC Chalk Walk Festival (Event Pics)
Event Pics: KC Chalk Walk Festival (2012)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Amazons: A Celebration of Archetypal and Actual Women

I'm actually writing a blog post! Are you amazed?

Recently I finished a series of mixed media pieces that have been in the works for, literally, years, so I wanted to share them with you!

The Amazons: A Celebration of Archetypal and Actual Women

 Feminist female heroines mean the world to me. Without them in my life (actual or mythical), I would not be the person I am today. This series is a celebration of female power. I call it “The Amazons” because my basic idea when I began the project many moons ago, was to create breastplates of different women and incorporate them into pieces of art. The Amazons, wild warrior women of legend, seemed a perfect touchstone for the idea. It took several years for the concept to germinate within me, but I am pleased to have finally breathed life into them. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A Brief Visual History of the Legendary Golden Micro-Mechanicon
Fashion-Function Corporeal Enhancements
(sorry this isn't a great picture)

This is probably one of the most esoteric of the pieces. It’s also the first one I made. The idea behind it is an alternate reality in which Ada Lovelace, who created the first computer language in the 1800s, leaves her husband and children in England (something she dreamed of doing in order to dedicate herself to her work), and moves to America, taking up a young lover. After her death, her one-time lover meets up with Nikola Tesla, who uses her notes to create the first “robots,” which he programs to reproduce themselves at a smaller scale, as those smaller robots also are programmed to do, eventually creating nanobot-like machines. The nanobots could then be embedded in malleable gold and worn by people and placed in specific locations, creating interactive experiences of all sorts.

This is a tribute to the brilliant women of the past who were not allowed to thrive because of cultural limitations, and to all the things they might have been/created had those limitations been released.


This piece is inspired by the tale of Mulan, as recounted by Maxine Hong Kingston in The Woman Warrior, a book that I read as a young teen that deeply impacted me. In Kingston’s version, Mulan rallies an army of commoners to dethrone the emperor who has lost all compassion for his people. She marries, bears a child, and sends it away to be cared for in the midst of her many battles, never putting down her sword for a single fight. This is my meditation on the way a woman’s heart can bleed for her home, family, and country, leading her to make mighty changes, righting wrongs and changing the system, and the sacrifices made along the way.


In honor of Joan of Arc, a childhood hero, this piece celebrates women who listen to their deep spiritual wisdom and inner knowing. Although Joan was a peasant without any education, she changed the fate of two nations because of her bravery, passion, and her willingness to listen to her inner voice of wisdom. Like Mulan, Joan was also a literal warrior, with physical intrepidness to match her fierce spirituality. This piece celebrates the women who, like Joan, and moder n day artist Nike Okundaye (a Nigerian artist who has had no formal education but has given talks world-wide and opened her own art center) have changed and are changing the world we live in, because of their inner light.

The Continuing Transformation Journey of Darcy B. 

This piece is the only commissioned one of the group. It is also the only one with two chest pieces – one was made about years before the other – so that it is both a literal and figurative celebration of Darcy’s transformative journey. Throughout our friendship, I’ve witnessed dramatic shifts in Darcy’s inner and outer life, as she has claimed her personal, spiritual power. She is an artist, healer, feminist, and self-made woman who embraces who she is an a beautiful way that I attempted to capture here. The Buddhist hand and lotus is in honor of the way her spiritual journey began at the local Rime Buddhist Center, and the dragon is a symbol of her past-life and inner wisdom emerging. She is a beautiful role model to both myself and others, and I am grateful to call her my friend.

Water Warrior 

This piece is also fairly esoteric, celebrating Mother Earth, as she is mostly made of water, as well as the mythical mermaids that protect the seas. As a victim of childhood sexual assault, mermaids capture my imagination for many reasons, but especially because of the way they are said to be deadly to men and also are literally not physically capable of being raped. We need women to stand up for our planet and for themselves, so that neither are being treated in a toxic manner. I can think of no better symbol for that than the mermaid. Each of the words on this piece are a term for mermaid from cultures around the world, symbolizing that we are all parts of each other in both the dream-world and in our physical world.

And that's my Amazons! What do you think of them?

Related posts:
Exhibit Pics: Bits and Bobs
Event Pics: 2014 Chalk Walk Festival
Event Pics: The Art of Discovery

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Exhibit Pics: Bits and Bobs

Hello again! I'm finally back to post pictures from the Bits and Bobs steampunk exhibit opening. (I swear, once I have internet at home again I'll be a better blogger.)

My mom, Henry and I left NKC at 7 a.m., but still managed to miss the storytime at the library. (It was a loooong drive!) But we saw a fencing demonstration that cracked Henry up, and the exhibit itself was absolutely astounding. We also met a member of the world's largest owl species!

 The only picture Henry held still for the entire time.

 Posing with one of Kat Kaufman's creations!

 Fencing demo

 You can see the shiny new goggle strap I sewed onto my goggles!

What the bottom half of my outfit looked like. I was an airship pirate!

 Henry didn't hold still for this picture....

 ..or this one.

Thanks to Kat Kaufman for organizing another wonderful steampunk exhibit!

If you missed the exhibit, you can see GREAT images of the entire thing on Facebook. You should really take a look, because I barely took pictures and there are lots of great pieces on display! Like my mixed media piece which I didn't manage to get a good photo of...and so many more!

Related posts:
"The Art of Discovery" at Johnson County Library (Event Pics)
Steampunk Art Exhibit Opening Reception (Event Pics)
Sewing for a Steampunk Soiree

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bits and Bobs: A Steampunk Exhibit Opens This Saturday!

I had great intentions of posting about this sooner, but clearly that didn't happen.

Regardless, Bits and Bobs: A Steampunk Exhibit will be opening up this Saturday (7/18) at Mustard Seed (214 N Main St.) in Buhler, Kansas. I have the honor of being one of the many artists whose work will be on display. In addition to a visual piece, I'll also have a steampunk/sci-fi story I wrote on display, which I'm excited to share.

Cover I designed for my story,
based on the original cover design from
when I gave the story to Matt for his birthday
earlier this year

For those of you who aren't on Facebook, here is the event info:

The art will be on display from July 18 through October 17th

Opening ceremonies will be on July 18. We will have live music, fencing demos, a tea tasting, a fundraiser, and of course art. Also, we will have Roger Toliver Photography at the event, photographing you holding a rare Eurasian Eagle Owl! We will have a library kids' story time and a workshop, sales at local vendors, and more.

Artists and presenters include: Beverly Holman, mixed media sculpture; Ruth Cohen, fiber art – crochet; Jenna Tomlin, copper artist; Katie Kaufman, costumer and jeweler; Bob Spangler, mixed media prop maker; Mikael Clear, costumer and prop maker; Pake McNally, metalsmith; Anney Day, accessories; Ana Heaton, illustrator; Julia Deniss, jeweler; Dusty Howlett, hand made pens; Brandon Schnur, ceramist; Gary Pendergrass, mixed media sculpture; May Evans, painter and author; Bill Knechtal, photographer; Tom Krekow, photographer; Mark Wickersham, fencing demonstrator; Denise Donnelly, tea maker; plus musical guests A Ship Called Revenge!

I will be at the opening from 11 am until whenever Henry gets overstimulated, and I'll be wearing my most risque Steampunk costume ever, so that will be fun. See you there!

Related posts:
"The Art of Discovery" at Johnson County Library (Event Pics)
Steampunk Art Exhibit Opening Reception (Event Pics)
Sewing for a Steampunk Soiree
Steampunk Magazine Cranks My Cogs
2 Steampunk Web Comics You Should Read