A snack along the creative journey

Snack: Hungry for Growth Series by Leah Virsik
©2010 Leah Virsik, Snack: Hungry for Growth Series paper and thread, running stitch binding 2 x 5 x 1 1/2 inches

I was among five other artists who won a merit award for artwork in the Adobe Art Gallery 34th Area Artists’ Annual Juried Exhibit in Castro Valley, CA. My piece “Snack” pictured above was recognized. The show runs through December 1, 2011. Click for more details. It was quite a treat. At the same time awards and approval are such an interesting thing. On one hand I want to analyze the process of how I was able to make this piece and repeat that effort. On the other hand, I know that as I create, some work is going to more admired by some than others and the less analyzing I do the better. I know the value of the creative process is the chance to get to know myself on a deeper level and to just continue making whether my work is liked or not. On to the next thing…

This week I’m wrapping up teaching a fun Mixed-Media Fabric Collage class this Wednesday at Richmond Art Center. I’ll be  finishing up my block along with a ton of other artists for Pro Arts Box Art exhibit on November 4. Later this month, I’m looking forward to visiting family in LA and checking out the artists books of Yani Pecanins at UC Irvine.

Thanks to Tom for doing laundry and his encouragement to help make this post possible.



Pro Arts Box Art Benefit Silent and Live Auction: Saturday, November 6 | 6–9pm

Blocks of Wisdom (detail)
©2010 Leah Virsik, Blocks of Wisdom (detail) mixed-media: buttons, wood, found paper, ink, thread
3 strands: 82, 105 and 113 inches, blocks are approximately 1 inch square

Pro Arts Box Art Benefit Silent and Live Auction:
Saturday, November 6 | 6–9pm

Preview Exhibition: November 2 – 6, 2010
Pro Arts Gallery 510-763-4361
150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94619

Beer, Wine, Food, Music, Art and More!

Box Art 2010 features original works made from recycled materials distributed by Pro Arts in partnership with The Reuse People (TRP) and Habitat for Humanity. This annual fundraiser inspires fun, new work created in community with other artists working with the same materials.

Participating Artists:
Robert Abrams, Cheryl Adsit, Rosemary Allen, Frederick Alvarado, Peter Andrea, Chris Bacina, Marla Bacina, Jenny E. Balisle, Rachel Beser, Dyana Bhandari, Rene Bien, Demetrie Broxton, Maggie Cockrell, Tyrell Collins, Veronica Cox, Andreina Davila, Jim Dennis, Joan Di Stefano Ruiz, Linda Diamond, Diane Dunwoodie, Jamie Erfurdt, Lorrie Fink, Llewelynn Fletcher, Kara Fortune, Trish Foschi, Lawrence Fox, Peter Gee, Patricia Gillespie, Lisa Glicksman, Giles Goodhead, Julia Goodman, Daniel Healey, Dave Herskowitz, Janet Hiebert, Eileen Hughes, John Hundt, Hannah Ireland, Teresa Kalnoskas, Rok Kandi, Laurence Kaplan, Noa Kaplan-Sears, Daria Kaufman, Pamela Keilson, Lee Krasnow, Charlotte Kubiak, Wilbert Lee Jr., Bill Lo, Mark Luthringer, Barbara Maricle, Ally Maser, Liz Maxwell, Susan McAllister, Zoilita McKeon, Jill McLennan, Donna Mendes, Julie Mevi-Shiflett, Misho Misho, Zachary Mohler, Carol Morse, Daisuke Nakabayashi, Caroline Nassif, Tomye, Bonnie Neumann, Clare Olivares, Charley Paff, Susan Parish, Kerrie Paussa, Celena Peet, Jessica Phrogus, Heather Piazza, Lauri Pino, Darwin Price, Michelle Quinn, Ajay Casey Reed, Fernando Reyes, Lincoln Rogala, Cynthia Rose, Shawn Rowland, Luz Marina Ruiz, Stanley Russell, Victor Sanchez, Vicky Schlepp, Jessica Schmidt, Ann Schnake, Lauren Shahroody, Mary Shisler, Kate Short, Clover Singsen, Joyce Slim, Bertrell Smith, Larry Stefl, Arlene Risi Streich, Michael Sydnor, Jerome Szymczak, Marlene Tobias, Claire Tompkins, Jamie Treacy, Laura Van Duren, Elizabeth Vance, Leah Virsik, Holly Wach, Mary Helene Wagner, Steven Walters, Jacob Wasserman, Vivian Waterloo, Elizabeth Webster, Tamara White, Elizabeth Wilcox, Sarah Windels, Noga Wizansk, Susan Wolf, Brett Young

Note: Artists featured in the Live Auction receive a portion of proceeds.

Presenter Series:
Become a Pro Arts Benefactor by directly supporting programs. This is an opportunity to underwrite artist commissions for new work, sponsor a performing arts performances in the gallery, or sponsor a Youth Fellow for the year. For more details on sponsorships and the presenter series, call 510.763.4361 or send an email to info@proartsgallery.org

Artists Engaged First Group Show: “LIFE–Expressions of Living, Past and Present”

I’m looking forward to be exhibiting along with with these fabulous artists: Matt Kowalski, Brendah De Bow, Ron Weil, Therese Rittenbach, Jamie Treacy, James Gayles, Nicole Dixon, Valerie Brown Troutt, Emelie Rogers and Linden Keiffer. There will be all kinds of work including paintings, pastels, mixed-media, sculpture, masks and tiles, altars and handmade books.

Artists Engaged First Group Show: “LIFE–Expressions of Living, Past and Present”
Presented by the You in Me, Inc.

Opening: Friday, November 5 from 6-9pm
Featuring live music from Daniel Lucca Parenti

Show duration: November 5 to December 10

Adobe Art Center, 20395 San Miguel Ave, Castro Valley, CA 94546
Gallery contact: (510) 881-6735

To find out more about the art critique group: Artists Engaged, Sponsored by The You In Me, Inc. visit www.jamietreacy.com.

Artwork featured on image, from left to right: Valerie Brown Troutt, James Gayles and Jamie Treacy.

More about Daniel Lucca Parenti aka D-Lucca
Piccolo Bass? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not when you’re talking about D-Lucca, who is among a mere handful of people who can pull it off. As with Stanley Clarke and the late Wayman Tisdale, D-Lucca can count himself as one of the few artists able to bring the piccolo bass into a well-warranted limelight. Daniel Lucca Parenti, shortened to D-Lucca, is a San Francisco Bay Area native who has performed with many jazz legends, including Rosemary Clooney, Michael Brecker, and Lionel Hampton.

Bass Player Magazine said of D-Lucca, “Aptly handling a variety of basses, including melody-manning piccolo, [D-Lucca’s] material is alternately laid-back and fused-out modern jazz.” Though D-Lucca may not follow the jazz-fusion lead of Clarke or the smooth jazz of recent sensation Tisdale, he has definitely found his niche within the newest wave of modern jazz. “D-Lucca has fused jazz and rock so beautifully that you don’t know when one ends and the other begins,” wrote Susan Frances from JazzReview.com. For more information please visit, www.dlucca.com.

Bay Area Book Arts Jam This Saturday!

LA Travels
mixed-media book: (running stitch) beads, fabric, paper, thread, buttons, elastic, metal eyelet 3 1/4″ x 4″ x 1 1/2″ ©2010 Leah Virsik

Bay Area Book Arts Jam
Saturday, October 16 | 10am to 4pm

Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, California
Free admission; parking $2

I’m looking forward to showing my work this Saturday, October 16th at the 2010 Book Arts Jam at Foothill College. As well as having books for sale, I’ll also be teaching how to make mini-postcard books at my table. Come for the day and stop by to say hello.

Book Arts Jam 2010 is a one-day regional celebration of the book, print, and paper arts, co-sponsored by the Bay Area Book Artists and Foothill College. This year’s event features an exhibition of artists’ books, an Exhibitors Showcase with work by more than 60 artists and craftspeople, artist talks, a silent auction, and a full-service onsite cafeteria. Remember, books make great gifts.

For more info, go to www.bookartsjam.org

di·chot·o·my: an installation

Together with some great help and valuable input from Claudia LamarLanell Dike and Lorraine Bruce we put up my Dichotomy installation Tuesday evening at the Kensington Library at 61 Arlington Avenue, Kensington, CA. It’ll be up July 1–August 29, 2010. The library open hours are Mon & Tue: 12 – 8 Thu: 10 – 6  Fri: 1 – 5  Sat: 10 – 5.

This site-specific installation consists of sixty sub-parts loosely arranged by color to fill the art wall of the Kensington Library. They are meant to be viewed as a whole, not as a series of works arranged like paintings in a gallery or museum. The design is intended to fill the space – a space for books. These are “pages”, if you will. Think of them as one linear book, laid page by page, end to end. While one’s eye may prefer one or another “page”, the true beauty (or ugliness) lies in the whole. My next step is to make the virtual book into a real one. See examples of my books here. Dichotomy is sixty individual pieces – arranged to fit Kensington Library’s art wall. Each piece has a title and consists of a variety of artistic elements, including among others: collage, screenprinting, wax crayon resist, stitching, repurposed art and office supplies. Arranged on the wall loosely by color and design, each individual piece stands on its own. Like one? Request one by commenting on specific card(s) on my flickr page. I will be mailing them to select recipients at the end of the show. If you are selected, I will contact you for your address.

di·chot·o·my: division into two parts or classifications, esp when they are sharply distinguished or opposed.

Thank you to my husband Tom for your patience and for listening. I appreciate you making me a priority and for helping me to clarify my thoughts for this project.

Thank you to Claudia Lamar and Lanell Dike for your enthusiasm and assistance in hanging this installation. Lanell, thank for suggesting a cleaner way of hanging and Lorraine Bruce, thank you for this opportunity and for asking me to exhibit in the first place.

Meaningful Work

Meaningful Work

“Meaningful Work”
mixed-media: paper, canvas, thread, collage, fabric, muslin, acrylic 7″ x 5″
©2010 Leah Virsik

I’m working on finishing up postcards for my show at the Kensington Library next week and trying to determine appropriate words for my process. I’m also thinking about my next question regarding the evolution of my work as I’m working through Alyson B. Stanfield’s Relatively Pain-Free Artist Statement e-book.

I started the postcards in November 2009 in response to inspiration from Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler’s book Good Mail Day and Leah Piken Kolidas’ Art Every Day Month Challenge. I started these works as something that I could do quickly and post on my blog in an evening. I initially sent them out to a few people and then I held back. I wanted to hold onto them and now they’re turning into a sixty postcard installation project. The roots of this work is about appreciating the process and ultimately, myself. It’s about play, acceptance, non-judgment, love, messiness, experimentation, connection and exploration. It’s also about working fast and completion. On one hand, the work is great fun and I get lost in it and don’t want to stop. On the other hand, it’s really difficult work that I don’t want to do. I love the work and I can’t believe I’m getting away with it. All these contradictions…Dichotomy feels like it’s going to be a good title. Thanks Tom.

I’ve created this project, designed how it’ll look, put it out into the world, and am in the process of defending (or at least explaining/creating a story about) it to my audience and my inner critic. It’s my first wall… outside of the studio. At times, especially lately, I’ve felt down about it… how do I hang them? It’s not going to work the way I’ve envisioned… no, no it’ll be fine… Tom helped me and I bought some nails he suggested. I’m excited about the way they look on the wall in the studio now. How do I arrange them? By color? By date created? What if I’m hurrying too much and I’m not doing the work or myself justice? It’s painful or so I choose it to be at times. It’s all an experiment. This is a picture of where I’m at in the world today. Do I like the picture? At times, I really do, other times I don’t want to look at it. It’s my work and I’ll continue to do it.

Next post will be more about my process and about how my work is changing.

Art Every Day Month: November 7

Abstract Love, originally uploaded by Leah Virsik.

I am getting ready for two exhibitions today, one for Alameda Women Artists and the other at Pro Arts Gallery. A little surreal.

I’ve been on the computer all morning, well a little sewing on this piece “Abstract Love” that I’ll be mailing to Pod Post.

It’s a lot of work to blog and to post work, to keep up with others, etc. It brings up a lot for me. What’s important? What do I want to focus on? Maintaining balance. And the fact that I’m really enjoying this and want to keep it up. For now, I’m going to just focus on the fact that I’m enjoying this and not worry about the other stuff.

I was talking with an artist last night and my fantasy about him was that he didn’t have a day job and it turned out in fact that he did. Actually, it was good for me to learn and also know that I’m feeling pretty prolific in the moment creating all these little arts… §:0.)

What’s Beneath It All Is What Really Matters

Submerged, originally uploaded by Leah Virsik.

My largest painting so far 48″x48″… I went through such a process with this one… from “I NEVER want to paint this large again” to “I really like it”. It’s oh, so interesting to watch my process.

This piece entitled “Submerged” will be on display at Alameda Women Artists 16th Annual Alameda Museum Exhibit & Silent Auction from November 7 through December 5, 2009 at the Alameda Museum at 2324 Alameda Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501. The Alameda Museum is located off Park Street between Central and Encinal Avenues and can be reached at 510-521-1233.

Our Opening Reception is Saturday, November 7, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. and we’ll be having a Closing Reception & Holiday Art Boutique on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. We’re also having a silent auction featuring 3D mixed-media sculptural art pieces created by AWA members. The auction ends Saturday, December 5 at 2:45 p.m.

Exhibit Hours are Wednesday through Friday and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Hope you can make it!

From a Box to a Book

Art Has Become My Life, originally uploaded by Leah Virsik.

This is my “box” for Pro Arts 35th Anniversary Party/Box Art Benefit Auction: Saturday, November 7, 6 – 9 pm Preview Exhibition: November 3 – 7, 2009. Thanks to my dad for cutting the box of wood into nice 1/2″ pieces.

Inspired, I signed up for Leah Piken Kolidas’ November Art Every Day Challenge and received a really nice email back from her. I’m exited to join an online art community and post more of my work, more often.

Also, I signed up for Rock Paper Scissors Collective’s Sewing Lab Training. Looking forward to learning how to use their industrial straight stitch and serger! I want to make more books with fabric and leather.

Photographing houses and other things

We told Allison Tungseth we had 40 pigs on our mantle when it reality it turns we have 34 pigs with some elephants and cats thrown in. We were discussing the possibility of her photographing our house. We’ve met her before through Wendy and John, but this weekend Tom and I saw her deeply revealing photographs at her SFSU MFA Exhibition. I mentioned that our house is not quite ready to be photographed and she said many people tell her that. I imagine it’s a protective quality, I’d like to fix up the place, not expose too much of myself. Oh, well, the vulnerable parts, that’s what’s most interesting, now isn’t it?

Speaking of pigs, Tom sent me a great video on just the subject: A Wolf Loves Pig. Very cool!

We ended our San Francisco excursion Saturday with a trip to Kiss Seafood. What a treat. Our first time and we’ll definitely be back for their egg custard soup and other incredible Japanese delights.

Seth Godin’s blog makes my must-read list. This post inspired me today. I’m halfway through reading Chris Guillebeau’s article.

A painting at Nest on Fillmore this weekend caught my eye. Turns out it was created by Nicole Buffet. Ignorance is bliss. I had no idea who she was or who she might even be related to. But this piece definitely spoke to me.