AEDM Challenge Day 7

©2012 Leah Virsik Layered Cross Structure found paper and acrylic painted rice paper 5 x 7 inches

I was thinking a bit about meaningful content today. Sunday I had a great mentoring session with Victoria May. As I struggled with the thought that my work doesn’t have a lot of narrative content she mentioned that content can come directly from the creative process. It really does for me. I end up with small pieces of paper scraps on the floor that seem so precious that I can’t bear to throw them away. The idea of scrap and value have become a larger container for my work. Victoria mentioned the incredible installation work of artist Leonardo Drew. She also passed along a great Radio Lab episode Help! that includes an inspiring talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about Tom Waits. She mentioned an inspiring Shards of Memory assignment from the book In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop by Steve Kowit. I have to get that book now. I took an unforgettable collage class with Nick Bantock years ago and for one assignment we wrote about our first kiss for five minutes. We read it aloud and then we replaced certain words in our writing (maybe the verbs or nouns or something like that) from another paragraph from a random book and came up with a new story. My new story was actually much more interesting.

AEDM Challenge Day 6

Circles In the Sky

©2012 Leah Virsik Circles in the Sky found paper and acrylic painted rice paper 5 x 7 inches

I didn’t actually make any art today but I did a fair amount yesterday. This one is from yesterday. I did cook some yummy eggplant from the wonderful Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Excellent cookbook! Thanks to Danielle for discovering it. I also made some Butternut Squash Bread from this yummy recipe with the addition of black pepper and ginger. Besides that I’m trying to figure out if I should buy a Canon or a Nikon and how much to spend. Ken Rockwell has some helpful opinions.

AEDM Challenge Day 5

©2012 Leah Virsik Summery found paper and acrylic painted rice paper 5 x 8 inches

Notice where your eye goes. What is significant about that area? Your eye will be drawn to the area with the most contrast. In this piece, it’s the light yellow right next to the small area of dark brown at the top. Thanks to Julie Prichard and Chris Cozen in their online Complex Collage class for making that clear.

Heard an interesting talk by Greil Marcus tonight on Jay DeFeo and All that Jazz at Mills College. He shared the stunning film The White Rose by Bruce Conner about the removal of the 2000 pound painting from JayDeFeo’s Fillmore apartment.  I found this SFMOMA film talking of Bruce Conner discussing his film also worthwhile.


AEDM Challenge Day 4

©2012 Leah Virsik 5 a.m. wax paper, acrylic paint and graphite 5 x 7 inches

I was up early this morning… 5 a.m.…way too early for me but I really liked the back of this piece and starting drawing on it. Thanks Anika for your inspiration. I heard there’s a “not to be missed” Barry McGee exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum. For more info on AEDM (Art Every Day Month) visit Leah Piken Kolidas’ blog Create Every Day.

AEDM Challenge Day 3

Hidden Entry

©2012 Leah Virsik Hidden Entry acrylic painted rice paper 8 x 5 inches

I had a really good day, tiring but good. I did art first thing this morning. Deborah Griffin and I had our opening reception at Sun Gallery. Super fun! Deborah sold three pieces. I’m proud of her! I had great visits with everyone that came. I made some awesome guacamole if I do say so myself. It didn’t turn brown thanks to the addition of lime juice. I had four artists come from my crit group led my Lisa Kokin. One of them, Ruth Tabancay, mentioned how works “talk” to each other when they’re in a show together. They have a larger context. I heard an online interview of Richard Serra who saw a particular connection in his own work that he wasn’t aware of previously. I’m really starting to see the origins of my stacked pieces and how they’re connected to each other. Pretty interesting.

I was introduced to the wonderful mixed-media work of Mirto Golino tonight in Oakland’s CK Gallery.I enjoyed this post from artist Nayland Blake. He’s going to be speaking at California College of the Arts on November 27. More info here.

AEDM Challenge Day 2

Textured Indigo with Circles

©2012 Leah Virsik Gold ‘n Blue Meet Stripes acrylic painted rice paper 8 x 5 inches

I notice I want to document, to record my thoughts, to create a list of what happened. I also notice that even though these collages don’t take an exceptionally long time they have been cutting into my sleep. I’m curious to know how this will change over the next thirty days. I’ve been getting up early twice a week and going to yoga at 6:00 a.m. That’s pretty amazing for me. When I first started teaching there wasn’t any way I could go to yoga classes and now I can teach and go to yoga twice a week. And I’m looking to fit in another day. That feels really good. So I imagine creating art and documenting the process will get easier too.

I went to Oakland’s Art Murmur tonight with my mom. It’s pretty amazing to see so many people coming out for art…although I imagine it could be for other things as well. While I prefer going to the galleries there is an area on Telegraph that is closed off so people can play music and sell their wares. It feels so democratic… that anyone can do this and I really do appreciate that. There was a guy… Paul Nosa… drawing with his sewing machine that was hooked up to solar power. Seeing him was inspiring. He used Kickstarter to fund his tour.

Mercury 20 had a great exhibit featuring Kerry Vander Meer, PK Frizzell and Cartographies: JoAnn Biagini, Margaret Chavigny, Maya Kabat. I especially enjoyed some of Kerry Vander Meer’s thread work.  As we were walking back to the car we stopped by a great little music store featuring accordions and a band was playing The Clash’s Guns Of Brixton. That was really cool. I didn’t know the song but it really touched me. I asked what it was and by the time I got home I forgot. I knew it consisted of three words and the last word had a “br” sound. Tom knew what it was. I knew he would.

Tony Pedemonte‘s red wrapped chair at Creative Growth was stunning.  Oh and I can’t forget the fantastic black bean burger and  homemade ketchup from Doc’s of the Bay. So freeking yummy with Firebrand bread. Erin, I’ll always think of you when I think of Firebrand.

AEDM Challenge Day 1

©2012 Leah Virsik Gold ‘n Blue Meet Stripes acrylic painted rice paper 8 x 5 inches

I’m participating in Leah Piken Kolidas’ Art Every Day Month Challenge. I do have to say it’s quite the challenge and I’m only just starting. I’m excited though and motivated. My plan is to do 30- 8×5 inch (or 5×8 inch) collages and also discuss how they work using the design elements and principles. That part will come later. I took a wonderful class from Donna Watson at Art and Soul Portland and this is paper I painted from that class. She has a wonderful blog and a great Deconstructing Books post featuring the artist Jordi Alacarz. He has a couple of catalogs available from Galerie Stefan Ropke.

Now I remember how incredibly time-consuming this is. It ends up being not so much that I just want to do art and post it but I want to share so much of what’s in my head… the stuff that I’m excited about and it seems I’m excited about oh, so much. Not a bad thing. Lately, I’ve been listening to Nigel Poor’s audio experiment: a collection of unedited, uncensored reactions to everyday life. She’s so interesting. I love listening to her thoughts about teaching especially. It makes me want to record my thoughts. We’ll see… one thing at a time. Until tomorrow…

Happy Halloween!

Tom created a cute ghost for Halloween. Adorable if I do say so myself. It’s all created from reused materials: an old bed sheet, an old shirt of his for eyes and a mouth, two pairs of children’s skiis for arms, attached with wood screws to two green metal fence stakes that stick into the ground and a bucket for a head.

Convergence & Divergence: Leah Virsik & Deborah Griffin Look at Memories: Sun Gallery, Hayward, CA

Artwork: (L) Manhattan (detail) mixed-media ©2012 Leah Virsik  (R) The White Oak Schoolhouse mixed-media ©2012 Deborah Griffin

For Immediate Release:
Convergence & Divergence: Two Artists Look at Memories featuring the work of Leah Virsik and Deborah Griffin | October 10, 2012–November 10, 2012
Opening Reception November 3, 2012 | Hours: 1–3 p.m. in conjunction with the Día de los Muertos Exhibit
Sun Gallery (in the The Ken Cook Gallery) 1015 E Street, Hayward, CA 94541
Gallery hours: Wed.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Contact: Deborah Griffin at 510-435-3806 or Leah Virsik at 510-418-9383

In this exhibit, Convergence & Divergence, Leah and Deborah bring together their distinct and individual imagery and in the juxtaposition discover areas that overlap in textures, shapes, colors and the medium of collage. The works diverge in elements of realism and abstraction and medium. Leah uses three dimensional sculpture and the book arts, and Deborah composes digital imagery and archetypal characters in surrealistic environments. You will observe found materials and deliberately upcycled items in Leah’s work, yet both use vintage materials, personal mementos and ephemera to create their vision. The exhibit has an overall continuity and invites the viewer’s participation in seeking the likenesses and differences as the artists examine memory and its underlying influence on their artistic creations.

I consider myself an artist and a storyteller, and attempt to combine the two into a visual narrative. I incorporate one of the oldest artist’s materials (encaustic) with some of the most recent (digital collage). The evocative surface texture combined with the vintage ephemera and my own photography of farm life and country landscape creates an image-story that hopefully resonates with those places of soul and history in everyone.
In addition, I use ephemera from the past and photographic elements both vintage and specifically taken for a project. With those elements I repurpose and reposition the people, places and things to tell a new story, to fashion a new narrative that explores archetypal characters and ideas utilizing a digital workflow as part of the process. The end result, whether an original digital print or an image manipulated then printed for inclusion in a collage or encaustic work, originates from my photography and becomes the form most appropriate for expressing my ideas. ~Deborah Griffin

As I create a work, I’m attempting to uncover a stifled sound, to visually express what I can not articulate. I collage using found and painted papers and they either come together as a finished work or they diverge into something new and unexpected like my paper stacks. These works include my own torn journal entries that I use as a way of making more meaningful and personal work. The act of tearing my written words and giving them new life reduces their preciousness and infuses my memories into what I create. My life and art converge as the paper stacks mirror the piles of paper in my office.  Yet these pieces show commitment and a focused effort of connecting seemingly disparate fragments to create pieces larger than myself. Through this work, I gain a greater understanding of myself. ~Leah Virsik

In addition, Leah Virsik will be teaching a Paper and Stitch Collage Class October 21, 2012 | 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. at the Sun Gallery, 1015 E Street, Hayward, CA 94541. For additional details visit: Total $100.00 per student includes some materials**. To sign up for the class contact Jacqueline Cooper, Director, Autobody Fine Art at 510.881.6974, or e-mail

In this class, you’ll combine paper, thread and your own meaningful imagery to create a series of small collages. The morning will be spent painting a variety of some of my favorite transparent papers. Afterward, you’ll reconstruct these to make a series of four by six-inch collage compositions. Techniques to help unify your works will be discussed. Hand-stitching and embroidery will be demonstrated and you’ll leave with several wood-mounted collages to display.

**Materials include use of glue brush, paper, PVA, matte medium, collage materials and use of needles, embroidery thread and T-pins, several pieces of wood, wire and eyehooks. Please bring: a small amount of collage materials if desired (some will be provided), scissors, craft knife (i.e.: X-Acto knife with no. 11 blades or comparable), triangle or L-square and ruler or quilt square or rectangle, self-healing cutting mat, squeegee for burnishing paper, bookbinding awl (or T-pins will be provided).