My first solo show at the Seabright Window Gallery in 2007
After leaving Cabrillo in 2005, I was on my own. My home studio was all set up. My husband relinquished the entire garage to my work benches, torch set-up, drawers and closets full of supplies, drills, and countless hooks in the ceiling to suspend my wire pieces from. He claimed one spot for his red Craftsman toolbox, in a small nook next to the water heater. He is truly a mensch! Early in our relationship, he told me I had an interesting sense of organization, refraining from using words like chaotic, cluttered or catastrophic.
I had accumulated a large amount of sculpture over the previous 5 years, and decided to start entering my work into Gallery and Museum shows. My brother Mike, and good friend John Webster were very helpful in photographing my work. Wire is very difficult to photograph, as the 3 D lines of wire collapse into a flat mess that looks like a chaotic line drawing. They both worked hard to figure out how to capture the pieces so they would be readable.
I was was thrilled to be included in group and member shows, especially grateful to the Santa Cruz Art League. Being a member assured that you could show a piece in the annual Local Essence Member Show. I was introduced to so many local artists, and art supporters over the next few years. The SCAL juried shows offered the challenge of having your work scrutinized, accepted or rejected. I had the opportunity to experience both.
One of the most exciting art experiences was participating in Open Studios Art Tour, put on by the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County. Every year, around 300 artists are juried into OS, and for 3 weekends in October, open their studio spaces up to the public for “show and sell”. I participated for 2 years, 2005 and 2006. I’m revving up for 2015 Open Studios right now!
Another highlight of that period was my membership in the Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild. The MBMAG was a group of extremely talented jewelers and metal artists that actively showed members’ works in galleries and museums in the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas. I was fortunate to be included in a show at the Oakland Museum, and for the first time, was asked to give a slide show and talk about my work to the public.
From left, Gina Fontana, Jeanne Ballen, Maxine Gurney, Frank Fontana, Marvin Ballen
This was taken at a show I participated in, in 2002 at the Santa Cruz Art League.
In 2008, my art making slowed down to a snail’s pace. My father found out he had cancer and was gone 25 days later. My heart was heavy. That was just the beginning. Between 2008 and 2012, six of my dearest elders passed away: in 2008, my father; in 2009, Sid’s mother and our Tai Chi teacher of 30 years, Mr. Chang; in 2010, my Aunt Maxine (who lived with my parents); in 2011, Sid’s father; and in 2012, my mother.
Every vacation, holiday, or available time off for those 5 years was spent visiting and care-taking, burying and grieving my loved ones. I had no energy or inspiration to make art. I managed to eek out a few pieces during that time, but it was difficult. I was seriously worried that I lost my mojo.
Coming up next . . . will Wendy find her mojo?
P.S. If you want to leave a comment, go to the top of this blog and click on Where did my Mojo Go?, and a comment form will be at the bottom of the page.