May 14, 2020

Art in the Time of Pandemic: Paper and Steel

Art in the Time of Pandemic: Paper and Steel

I looked at my calendar  and saw that tonight was supposed to have been the opening reception for a three person exhibition I had organized for the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center.  My friend would fly out from Portland for the event.  We would talk about our art and have travel adventures. There was to be an ekphrastic poetry reading by Mind Gravy Poetry the following week.
Seeing the event penned in on my calendar gave me a little pang of regret for all the work that went into this exhibition and to have it all now in a state of frozen stasis. No event, no party, no poetry!
It is possible that the show may go on, but who knows when?  Such is the life of an artist in the time of Pandemic.
Would that the show could be up now!  Here is a virtual tour of what one might see on the wall text, wall art, and the sculptures on pedestals.  We organized the exhibition so that it would be a Dance of Life.

This exhibition features works on paper by Una Kim and Janet Kozachek and the welded steel sculptures of Glenn Saborosch.  The exhibition is
predominately in black and white.

Taking a virtual tour, you would see the following signage:

 In eastern aesthetic, color was thought to appeal to the emotions but black and white was considered the art of the intellect.  An art of the intellect, comprised of stark forms in black and white, stands as a bold counter point to a current mass media culture that seeks to continuously elicit emotional responses, generally  for political and commercial gain.   It is no coincidence, for instance, on social media platforms like Facebook that our choices of automatic response are emoticons.  With its quiet economy of form, Paper and Steel invites the viewer to reflect, rather than to react.

An art exhibition for the contemplative, Paper and Steel seeks to engage, rather than enrage, question rather than proclaim, and celebrate rather than condemn.  The use of steel, ink and charcoal does this by means of techniques and materials that span thousands of years, making the exhibition a living extension of a natural and ancient history.

Artist Statements

Janet Kozachek

My  works on paper are analyses of figures both static and engaged in motion through the gestural capabilities of specialized inks and brushes.  These ink drawings are processed further with charcoals, chalks and pastels to create a rich, sculptural finish.  My educational background is in both western and eastern art, and much of my work reflects that.   The zen like austerity of form in my work judiciously arranges dark angles that enclose well defined negative space yet also includes western perspective and embellishment of surfaces.

The subject of my drawings predominantly addresses cycles of life and death, presenting humanity as a continuum within nature.  Many of my dancers, for instance, appear to grow out of and coalesce with their immediate environments.  This depiction of the human form is derived both from the figure and environment relationships established in western art history, in particular the cinquecento, as well as the eastern spiritual resonance between people and the world in which they inhabit.

Glenn Saborosch

In my ļ¬gurative pieces, I work in an impressionistic manner, not looking for great detail  but for a feeling of movement. I accomplish this with lines that represent muscle and  bone against negative space to create tension that suggests movement.

In my non-objective pieces, my focus is the same; the interest in the quality of line. It is   lines and the spaces between them that appeal to me. My non-objective work is made  from cast-off parts of machinery, mostly agricultural ones. This series of work is titled  "Home Grown" and they are numbered in order of completion. These sculptures do not  refer to anything in the real world or the job the part or parts formerly performed. 

After being introduced to welded steel sculpture in high school, I rarely looked back.  Steel is my medium and part of my message. My avocations also involve steel--old  trucks, old tractors and parts of things that work or do not.

Una Kim:

May 8, 2020

Art in the Time of Pandemic: What's On and What's Off

Art in the Age of Pandemic: What’s On What’s Off

It has been a very long time since I have updated this blog.  This is due to so much rapid change at present  and uncertainties for the future.  I have been working through these trying times but mostly adjusting to cascading dominoes of change. So my next few blog posts will be about what is on and what is off, at least to the best of my knowledge. For Today: 

What’s off:
In person meeting of hearts, souls, and minds at the annual learning consortium in Westminster, known to beloved teachers and students as Common Ground on the Hill.

What’s on:
Online version of Common Ground on the Hill. This poses new and interesting challenges for visual artists such as myself.  The material costs will go up due to shipping of supplies and students having to buy their own supplies from the manufacturers instead of in-person division of bulk materials.  However, this will be greatly offset by reduced costs from students not needing to rent rooms or pay for out of town meals.

The silk is cut and ready for distribution for my GOTH course this summer, Ink, Silk, Pencil, Paper.  While cutting the silk, I made a small but significant discovery.  A wayward caterpillar had entered the silk roll and make tiny holes at well defined but problematic intervals.  No worries.  I could cut around it.  But this left odd sizes of extra silk that will be added to the purchased 8" x 10" pieces at no extra cost.  Good for extra practice pieces!

The Imperial Method, or Gong Bi, painting is traditionally executed on sized silk or papers with carefully drawn fine calligraphic lines, then filled in with inks and pigments.  The washes of inks and pigments are applied with two brushes: one filled with water and the other with pigment or ink.  Switching back and forth between ink and water creates an airbrush effect.   It is tricky but you’ll have fun learning how to do this.  I learned the technique from Master Jin, at the Beijing Central Art Academy many years ago.  He was a mountain of a man with a delicate, sweet soul, who told marvelous tales which you will learn too.

Below are some examples of antique Chinese silk painting.  Look closely at the marvelous brush work.  After learning how to make these exquisite lines your line drawing will improve and you’ll be able to apply some of these techniques to western drawing on paper.

Here is an example of one of my illustrations in pencil that makes use of the gong bi line and wash techniques, only using pencil and stumps.  You’ll learn this too!

March 22, 2020

Common Ground on the Hill - A Long Awaited Return

In this time of cancellations and closures, it is good to hear today that some things are still on! My course in ink and pencil book illustration, Ink, Silk, Pencil, Paper, is open for registration on the Common Ground on the Hill website. The course runs July 5 - 10, from 9 am - 10:15 am. I will be teaching the ink on silk imperial style Chinese painting method and how I have adapted that to pencil and paper for illustrating my poetry books. This is a really fun summer camp where artists, musicians, writers, poets, and dancers from all over the world converge once a year in this spectacular celebration of the arts. This will be my first time teaching here again after an hiatus of ten years. I'm looking forward to it. Follow the link here to register:

Illustration for Woodland Harmonies, by Kristina Miller.  Unpublished manuscript.

March 8, 2020

Photography at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center

The Photography Exhibition, A Few of My Favorites: People, Places, Times and Spaces, is on view now at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center.  The opening reception will be this Thursday evening,  March 12, 2020, from 6pm - 7:30 pm. 

Photography at its best satisfies our wanderlust for other places and reveals to us as well the wonders found in the spaces within our everyday worlds. The art of photography is about place, timing, and the artist’s eye. It is an art of presence and patience - about knowing exactly when and where to snap that shutter. The photographer, alert to beauty and meaning, awaits for moments when both of these converge in the natural world. Their steady hands and aesthetic gaze preserves their presence in those moments. This exquisite sense of presence can be found in awe-inspiring vistas, such as the snow covered peaks of Norway in the art of Nathaniel Wallace, and in the sublime night view of the United States Capitol in the poignant photograph by Bill Carter. We are inescapably present in the artists’ intimate views as well. A pair of working hands with fingernails painted like gems of blue lapis are gently offset by a red handled pair of scissors in Bill Carter’s subtle, yet poignant work. Wallace finds a beautiful moment in a store window in the Netherlands, when a calico cat crouches to unknowingly echo the shapes and colors of the art print that it presides over.

The exhibition, A Few of My Favorities: People, Places, Times and Spaces, is an exploration of unmanipulated or minimally manipulated reflections of observed environments. Nat Wallace’s haunting scenes of weathered buildings and abandoned farmsteads around the Southeast record the effects of nature and time upon man-made objects. Bill Carter captures the spirit and mood of everyday people as well as the intellect of iconic individuals. Both artists depend upon serendipity, exploration, and intuition in their photography. Through their evocative art, their photographs invite an internal narrative between viewer and image. These are images that eschewed the world of snapshots and sound bites, encouraging quiet contemplation and taking the time to observe and reflect.

March 7, 2020

A Seat at the Table: The Chair as Aesthetic and Social Construct. The Ekphrastic Poetry Reading

The opening of our four-person exhibition at the Bassett Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden, South Carolina was graced by an ekphrastic poetry reading by Mind Gravy poetry.  This group of latter day troubadours collaborates with visual artists to compose poetry and music in homage to the exhibited work.  The following poem was composed by Tamara Miles and was influenced by both the sculptural chairs of Lee Malerich as well as my painting, Cold Morning.

by Tamara Miles

Winter in Holland, accented
open space, cast off, tumbled chairs
that trace to our ancestral days.

Storied evolution of seats -
folk culture, anthropology -
throne or rocker, high wooden stool,
chair from which a chaperone stares,
each formed with a creative bent
to tender our hours quiet,
spent alone or near our dearest.

Out here, ghosts claim the catbird seat,
immutable, secure, they stay.

I do not dare to seal these chairs,
nor set them right or bear away
what seems to be abandoned now.
The ancients see it so and smile.

Pawed feet, the chairs may come alive,
in rhythms of their own arise,
and take as dancing partners trees.

I think I see their silhouettes -
The gods of furniture design
surprised to see their chairs grown wild.

February 28, 2020

Skelton, Bai Juyi, and a Parrot Lost in Translation

A Tale of Two Parrots

The large charcoal drawing, Parrot Lost in Translation, was just completed as a center panel for my triptych on the theme of bondage. The drawing bookmarks two poems that I had studied from different eras and written by poets who were the products of very different cultures. The first one is a fragment of the poem, Speke Parrot, by the sixteenth century British poet and tutor to King Henry VIII, John Skelton. The second poem, The Red Parrot, is by the Tang poet, Bai Juyi.

Completing this drawing forced me to revisit old history and rusty skills. As a young woman, I studied calligraphy as part of my graphic design courses and once made a calligraphy piece in ink based upon Skelton’s satirical poem Speke Parrot. I searched for this decades old piece and found it still intact in a dusty folio. In my new drawing, however, I reproduced it not in ink, but in charcoal, substituting a different initial for the one in the original piece of calligraphy. This proved to be a painstakingly slow task. Plodding work does have its benefits, though. While delineating these letters in dark charcoal, my mind was free to recall another poem that I had learned as a graduate student in China, Bai juyi’s Red Parrot. I could still recite the poem and write most of it in Chinese, but could not quite recall some of the characters. A search online revealed only the Arthur Whaley English translation, which drove me to even more consternation because this was such a loose translation that the essential meaning was probably lost.

My Chinese keyboard was lost when transferring to a new computer, so unfortunately I could not search online the way I needed to. But my Chinese friends and colleagues came to the rescue, when I simply sent them my written notes of what I remembered of the poem in Chinese. Most of my friends remembered instantly and supplied me with the missing characters or linked to an original language posting.

Just as I thought, the Whaley translation differed from the original in some key points. The Whaley translation of Bai Juyi’s poem goes like this:

  The Red Cockatoo

  Sent as a present from Annam -
  A red cockatoo
  Coloured like a peach-tree blossom,
  Speaking with the speech of men.
  And they did to it what is always done
  To the learned and eloquent.
  They took a cage with stout bars
  And shut it up inside

Thus lies the problem. In the original Chinese version, there was no cockatoo, but a parrot. There was no present or gift. There was no directly referenced anthropomorphous "learned" and "eloquent" creature. And there were no mysterious authorities taking said creature and locking it into a cage with stout bars. The two center lines "Coloured like a peach-tree blossom. Speaking with the speech of men," is truer to the original.

As a substitute for my lack of a Chinese keyboard, I can just post the calligraphy here, I suppose, and present it without the early twentieth century gloss. I am not exactly an expert in classical Tang Dynasty poetry, so there may be some subtleties that I am missing. But here is what the poem plainly says. I’m putting "it’s in parentheses because there is no gender in the original:

   An nan, near and far
  (There is) a red parrot                                                     
  (It’s) color like a peach blossom
  (It’s) words like a person
  (It’s) thesis (or written articles)
  compiled excellently
  When will it exit
  (It’s) cage obtain a (free) life?

Perhaps then, there is an alternative reading of the poem from what English speakers are allowed to access. This is not something that I can prove without research, but could it be that when Whaley was translating The Red Parrot, he was actually thinking of Skelton? Skelton’s parrot was a gift, and was certainly taken out of and put back into a cage. Skelton’s parrot was also ostensibly a parody about Cardinal Woolsey.

Although The Red Parrot does not explicitly state that Parrot is, in fact, a learned person, it might be safe to conjecture that Bai Juyi, like Skelton, meant the parrot to represent a particular person, or a particular type of person. What parrot writes articles?

It is those last two lines, however, that are ambiguous. We don’t really know if Parrot is being willfully restrained in a cage, or if he wishes to stay there. Could it possibly be the latter? I suspect that this is possible because historians tell us that Bai Juyi wrote in a vernacular style that was accessible to ordinary people. Might he have been satirizing the practice of his contemporary poets to over-intellectualize their poetry? Was he criticizing constraint over freedom? Style over substance? Obfuscation over clarity? Furthermore, it begs the question as to whether or not Bai Juyi was considered a potent critic of government not because of his intellectual acumen, but because his criticism was leveled in terms which everyone could understand.

February 24, 2020

A Seat at the Table Exhibition Coming to the Bassett Gallery in Camden

One exhibitioin Spartanburg is drawing to a close as we’re preparing to move on to our second venue.  A Seat at the Table: The Chair as Aesthetic and Social Construct, will travel to the Bassett Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County on March 5.   At this next venue we will add a new artist, Professor Kim Ledee.  We will also be  enlivening this space with new pieces from our ongoing work.  Modules, multiples, diptychs and triptychs will predominate this time.  Professor Ledee  raises social consciousness through art that addresses growing income inequity and the slowing pace of social mobility in the United States in her diptych,  American Dream/American Nightmare.

My own work will be taking a somber turn from the whimsical art in the previous exhibition with my triptych on the theme of bondage. My first chair in this triptych, posted earlier, has a roll of tape on the seat.  Unfortunately the feedback that I am initially getting on this from viewers is that is looks like a roll of toilet paper.  Ah, critics! 

The second chair in this triptych incorporates ropes tied into various configurations.  This took a very long time to create, as I decided to actually study and practice different types of knots before setting up the roped chair  to draw.  I learned how to tie some of these knots by studying photographs of ship’s knots that I had taken earlier at the Charleston Harbor. 

These knots were not easy to reproduce by analyzing the pictures, and I am certain that most of these have to be taught by hands one step by step instruction.  I did manage to figure out some of the more rudimentary ones, however, and have included a few, such as the cat’s claw,  in my drawing. 

Ultimately I did not adhere to any particular style of knotting for the ropes draped along the chair in my drawing, instead making an agglomeration of the twisted, turned and tied.  Because of the loose arrangement of the ropes, the theme may now be less one of bondage, but of something or someone having escaped being tied - hence the new title: “Unbound.”

Strewn throughout the compositions are knots and binders that pay homage to some of the Japanese art that I studied earlier last year.  Along the feet of the chair are drawings of Eighteenth century Japanese netsuke, which were used as decorative carvings to attach pouches to sashes.  In the upper right corner of the drawing there is a black length of rope with a configuration taken from a detail of bound hawks in an Edo period Japanese screen painting by Soga Nichokuan.

The finished  drawing is a very studied piece of art work to be sure.

February 20, 2020

A Seat at the Table: The Chair as Aesthetic and Social Construct - Second Spartanburg Art Walk

Tonight is the Spartanburg Art Walk, an event that last from 5 - 9 pm. We are hoping for brave art aficionados to come out despite the cold and rain. This will be the last opportunity to see the exhibition, A Seat at the Table: The Chair as Aesthetic and Social Construct in the evening hours. The exhibition will travel to the Kershaw County Fine Arts Center in Camden, South Carolina, but with new work and new faces. Spartanburg will also be the last opportunity to see the thought provoking, yet colorfully vibrant installations of Janet Orselli. I have attached a few of my favorites of this artist’s work here. See them while the exhibition lasts - until February 29th. Thank goodness for an extra day in February of this year!

The Doc is In
Check out the exhibition at 

February 17, 2020

My Women My Monsters is in Print!

There is always something rewarding about finally seeing one’s work in print. It is also something of a relief, too, considering the hours spent writing, illustrating, editing and proofing. Seeing this chapbook finally published, printed, on Amazon and ready to distribute, is something of a small marvel. I am grateful to Finishing Line Press for publishing this work, with all its rakish illustrations! Working in South Carolina, I had grown used to not being allowed to show such work. So it is with gratitude that I finally am able to make these visions and these words available.

I am also so very thankful for my reviewers: Professor Emeritus Larry Rhu, Professor Janet Walker, and Professor Tamara Miles, for writing such insightful dust jacket blurbs.

Here are the links to the chapbook on Amazon and on the publishers’s website:

February 16, 2020

A Seat at the Table at the Artists Collective, Spartanburg

Our group exhibition, A Seat at the Table: The Chair as Aesthetic and Social Construct, survived the tornado in Spartanburg! Our host venue, Artists Collective, Spartanburg, SC, did suffer some damage to their peripheries. But the show goes on. There will be another Spartanburg Art Walk this Thursday evening, February 20, from 5 - 9 PM. This will be a good opportunity to view the exhibition after working hours for a festive evening with like-minded artists and those who appreciate art.

On view at:

Artists Collective, Spartanburg

578 West Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29301

864 706-2474