Beastie Boy and His Pals

Sometimes pieces emerge out of my subconscious without warning. My task is to allow that to happen. That is what happened with Beastie Boy and His Pals

I am appalled by the way our government is being run. The creatures that inhabit the power centers have changed the way I think about threats. As a citizen I vote in and pay attention to local, regional and federal issues. I read articles that discuss both sides of issues. I listen to the news from other countries. I try to sift out the skewed, embellished and outright outrageous to come to an understanding. And I feel helpless.

Solace comes in the work. 

Beastie Boy and His Pals started with this scrappy composition. I have learned that scraps can talk. 

The composition had two sides. A cool side and a warm side with static in between. Similar to the dialog being broadcast to us each day without rest. Like the two parties playing their he said he said game. 

As mammals we are predisposed to see faces in inanimate objects. The instinct is a way to protect ourselves from potential threats. So as I added sections to the composition I started seeing beasts -- beasts with eyes, beasts with tails, beasts with goggles. I liked how the three beastie figures outlined in the pic at the right started to create a nest of a composition. 

But then I turned it upside down and liked it even more. Beastie Boy appeared to hunch into the room and his pals were all there. 


The dialog continued on a detail level. 

Arrowmont daydreams

I heard from the folks at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts yesterday. They let me know that the workshop I am teaching (Follow the Thread) in October is a GO. Reading the email instantly brought up thoughts of those cool mountain nights, the rushing waters of nearby streams, the great fun I had working with my students, and the feeling that there are some positive things happening in the world. 

 Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

I love teaching. Spending some concentrated time with dedicated artists is a gift that keeps on giving. I am inspired, honored and excited to be part of their creative process. When we happen upon little aha! moments during the week there is a real sense of accomplishment. It's a tonic for my soul.

 Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

So today, in 100 and above heat, I am dreaming of Arrowmont in October. It's a daydream of cool optimism. Join us if you can, there is still time to register. I'll be teaching free-motion quilting at its free-est.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
October 21-27


A new home

I Need a Third Eye sold this week. It was whisked away to its new home after its trip to New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Cohen's have a beautiful home full of great art. It is an honor to be included in their collection. 

I Need a Third Eye, Paula Kovarik, 45" x 45"

This piece actually put me on a new path in my practice.

It taught me that nothing is precious, all things belong and chaos can have an underlying order.

See a post about its construction here

Is it the weather?

Hot. humid brain. Clouds too full to stay afloat. No focus. Time to walk away from existing projects. Instead, I had a quilt camp week. Two very promising artists participated. We talked about modules, grids, color theory, stitching and machines. They both learned how to build compositions from scraps, thread the machines, trim their work with a rotary cutter and stitch with a free-motion foot. The terms strip piecing, log cabin, and machine appliqué now have meaning to them. They followed the rules and broke the rules. As they should. 

Did I say promising? No. These boys had it going on. They fell into the slipstream of stitching with no fear, no preconceived notions and a willingness to learn. 


On the sideline I played with their leftovers to create this blue state red state composition. And since I was a bit pre-occupied with making sure that they were safe I had to work fast and without boundaries or rules. No seams, no careful stitching, no worries. I may pursue this practice a bit. I have bundles and bundles of scraps to consider. 

Blue state, red state. Work-in-progress. Paula Kovarik

After they left I pursued some of the work I had already begun. A new Glyphs piece (see another Glyphs piece here). These glyphs have bodies. 

Glyphs enlarged, work-in-progress. Paula Kovarik

Meanwhile, I watch too much TV news is sitting in my hand-stitching chair. Using a needle to poke into that fabric roll is satisfying. Like a little voodoo panel that lets me get away with commentary. 

I'm scattered but productive. Confused but dogged. Doubt-filled but determined. Fuzzy-brained and seeking clarity.

Maybe it's the weather. 

19 days, 1800 miles, countless thoughts

Road trip. A respite from habit. A chance to see new. We chose to travel the back roads between big cities. Louisville, Cincinnati, Morgantown, Gettysburg, Washington DC, Staunton, Roanoke, Knoxville, Nashville, home. Whew! Museums to nature trails to museums. It was delightful, nourishing and, in some cases, revelatory. 

What I saw: Rural American towns are dying. Many are already dead, supplanted by roadside marquees of chain restaurants. Sometimes it's just a McDonald's sometimes it's a nest of brand names. None serve food that delights me. But there are exceptions. Gettysburg is a delightful town full of history. Staunton, Virginia is soaked in Shakespeare and Mozart. And Kathy's Diner in Staunton has the best cole slaw that side of the Mississippi.

 Staunton Virginia had a delightful mix of art, music and shops. They are clearly devoted to preserving their history and promoting the arts.

Staunton Virginia had a delightful mix of art, music and shops. They are clearly devoted to preserving their history and promoting the arts.

We spent 5 days in DC walking through museums. The Renwick had an exhibit titled No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man which started off our day with feelings of elation, concern, drama and humor. I wanted to take this particular costume and use it as my avatar. The exhibit gave me an inkling of what it must be like to party like there is no tomorrow in the middle of the Nevada desert. 

The National Portrait Gallery made me want to draw, paint and sculpt portraits. Their presentation of historical figures as well as current heroes gives you a glimpse into our better selves. The Hirshhorn had Mark Bradford interpreting the Pickett's Charge Cyclorama in collage. Having just seen the original painting in the Gettysburg museum I was over-awed by Bradford's interpretation.  The work wrapped the entire gallery in layers and layers of paper. See this link to get a hint of the enormity of the work. 

And what could be better than walking into a full gallery of Calder's work. And Modigliani, Pollack and Rothko. The National Gallery of Art had them all. I walked until my toes bled. 

Jackson Pollack, detail

Modigliani, detail

I spent a lot of time looking at patterns and details. These are the ingredients of my art. A little pavement here, a little texture there.  All anchored by an underlying current. 

And now, back to work.