Thursday, July 30, 2009

St. Louis Artists' Guild- Roxanne Phillips

EXHIBITING GALLERY: St. Louis Artists' Guild
TITLE OF SHOW: Blending Traditions
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 20th, 2009- November 7th, 2009
ARTIST: Roxanne Phillips

St. Louis Artists' Guild
Two Oak Knoll Park
St. Louis, Missouri 63105

Submitted by Artist: Roxanne Phillips

Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff…

My name is Roxanne Phillips, originally form Dallas, though I have lived in St. Louis for the last 8 years. I moved to St. Louis to attend Wash U. were I received my MFA in printmaking and drawing in 2003. While there I did a lot of papermaking.

I am Associate Instructor and Gallery Director and at Maryville University where I teach printmaking, design, fibers, and senior seminar. I am also an Instructor and Director of the Permanent Collection at Florissant Valley Community College. At Flo. Valley I teach printmaking, design, drawing, and painting.

I hold positions on the national and local board for Women’s Caucus for Art. Locally I am the Fundraising Chair and on the exhibition and nominating committees. Nationally I am a Chapters’ Council Director and on the committee for Young Women’s Caucus. I am also a member of College Arts Association, Southern Graphics Council, and Mid-America Print Council.

What is your ideal day in the studio? What is your agenda? What music do you listen to?

If I can get four productive hours in then it is a good day. I have a separate studio from my house because I find there are too many distractions at home (laundry, tv, computers…) On an ideal day I would walk in and be able to get right to work- no running around gathering materials or cleaning up messes that I had left out. I would be focused 100% on the art and not thinking about other things on my “to do list” I usually have 3-5 pieces going at once that way if I get to a point where the piece is no longer “speaking to me” I can give it a rest and move to the one that is “speaking”. In the studio NPR is usually on the radio- my studiomate and I both agree on it and I get to catch up on the news.

What is the source of your creativity? How much is from within? How much comes from outside sources?

Often my art is an “inward” response to something “outside”. An example is a series I did “Boundaries” which began with my reaction to the US / Mexico boarder wall. It got me thinking about other boundaries that contain or block people. This led to me focusing more on personal boundaries, overcoming obsticales, emotional boundaries, etc. The thought process began “outside” of me but turned “within” most of my projects do this.

Could you do your art without an audience? How important is feedback?

I love for my art to have an audience but it is not necessary. I have many series in my studio that have never had the opportunity to be exhibited. For me it is about getting the images in my head out only to make room for the next images. Feedback is great- I especially like it when someone interprets my art differently.

How does your process of creating an art object begin?

I am a list maker. I get an idea and start making list of different images I could use as symbols. Form that list ill choose a few words and make list of different ways those symbols could be interpreted. I research the historical or cultural meanings. I then start thinking about which process to use to create the art and how that will affect the “reading” of the piece. Then I start making the works every now and then making list of thoughts I have that could influence the next piece in the series.

to find more information and images of Roxanne's work, visit her website:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Missouri History Museum- Curator Shannon Berry

photo credit: Crazy quilt with taxidermic chipmunks and birds
Patchwork, 1882

EXHIBITING GALLERY: Missouri History Museum

TITLE OF SHOW: Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond and From a Common Cloth: Quilts from the Missouri History Museum Collection

OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond Through September 13, 2009

From a Common Cloth: Quilts from the Missouri History Museum Collection Through December 31, 2009



Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond: the first exhibition to highlight one of Gee's Bend's most original artists, Mary Lee Bendolph, her predecessors and progeny, and the artistic dialogue they share with artists beyond their quilting community.

From a Common Cloth: Quilts from the Missouri History Museum Collection: From elaborate to austere, quilts from the museum’s extensive textiles collection are varied in pattern and provenance. Discover some of the finest examples of decorative and utilitarian quilts from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Missouri History Museum
Lindell and DeBaliviere in Forest Park
St. Louis, Missouri
    Submitted by Curator: Shannon Berry
  • Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff… My name is Shannon Berry, and I am the Senior Curator at the Missouri History Museum. I have worked as a curator here for 9 years. I have my undergraduate degree in Textile and Apparel Management with an emphasis in Marketing and Merchandising, and I have my Masters in the same field with an emphasis in Historic Clothing and Textiles and a minor in Museum Studies. I am on the regional board for the Costume Society of America.
  • What first inspired you to become a curator?

    My original career plan was to work in retail, but I discovered quickly that wasn’t the right path for me. I always had an interest in history, and the historic costume classes were always my favorite, but I didn’t know you could make a job out of it. While interning at Sax Fifth Avenue in New York I went to the Metropolitan Museum and discovered the Costume Institute. It was here that I realized that someone had to have the job of collecting and displaying these beautiful garments, and I decided that person should be me. I went back to school to study historic clothing and museum studies, and now that is what I do.

  • What is a typical day for you?

    There is no such thing as a typical day! On any given day I usually attend at least one meeting. These include things like team meetings for exhibits that I am working on, update meetings with other staff members, Curators Review – where we talk about new donations that have come in, and Production Meetings – where we talk about plans and schedules for installation, de-installations, rotations and exhibit maintenance. I also meet with donors regularly, which could be at work or in their home.

    Another huge aspect of my job as a curator is research and writing. When I’m working on an upcoming exhibit I spend my days doing research, cataloging artifacts, writing condition reports, and writing labels.

  • How does your process of creating an exhibit begin?

    I like to work with what I already have. I spend time in the storeroom learning my collection and looking for inspiration. When I was asked to come up with a variety of possible exhibit topics for the future I was able to say that we had 200 wedding gowns to choose from if we wanted to do a wedding dress exhibit (which lead to the UnCommon Threads exhibit), or that we have over 100 quilts if we want to do our own small quilt exhibit while the Gee’s Been quilts are here. When I was recently approached about doing an exhibit on The Little Black Dress, I knew that we probably didn’t have enough to support that idea on its own, but that if we approached it from a different direction and incorporated traditional 19th century mourning clothing as well as 20th century fashion, that we have enough artifacts to support an interesting exhibit.

  • What is your next project?

    I am doing a small case of pink shoes that will go in the Grand Hall of the museum in September. It is actually being done to coincide with a fundraising event being held in the museum to raise money for mobile mammography units, but we are going to leave the case up for about a month so that the public can enjoy it too. On a larger scale, I am on the exhibit team for the local component of a traveling exhibit called Homelands: How Women Made the West, which we are getting from the Autry Museum in 2010. And soon I am hoping to start research on an exhibit called Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Evening, which is being proposed for 2011.

University City Public Library-Deann Rubin

EXHIBITING GALLERY: THE GALLERY at the University City Public Library


OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 4- September 29, 2009

EXHIBITING ARTIST: Deann Rubin- B.F.A. in Design from The University of Kansas, Lawrence

Two two-year certificates in Computer Graphics and Illustration

SHORT BYLINE/ DESCRIPTION OF SHOW: Graphic images in contemporary handwoven tapestry

THE GALLERY at the University City Public Library
University City Public Library
6701 Delmar Bvld
University City, Missouri 63130
Submitted by Artist: Deann Rubin
What is a typical day for you? What is your ideal day in the studio?
I am going to lump these two questions together because I do not have a typical day anymore.
I am finding out that the older I get, the less time I have and the greater demands on my time.

Both my typical and ideal day/night is getting up, taking a leisurely bath where I think about what
I plan to do that day, with my art, any other issues in my life. After my usual chores (emptying
waste cans, scooping the litter box, grooming my Persian cat Milo, putting away the dishes in the drainer),
I eat something while looking at the RFT, Time magazine, the newspaper or mail. Then I make any phone calls
that I need to. With my head clear of all that, I sit down to the loom to weave.

For the library show, I am weaving on my upright student tapestry loom which I often use for demonstrations.
I will weave all afternoon and all night. I get up every so often to stretch, go to the bathroom, get a drink,
get back and look at the piece from a distance. I take a break for dinner with my husband Michael. I weave
until 3, 5 or 6 in the morning.

What music do you listen to?
I wake up to NPR (90.7 radio) and have it on all morning. In the afternoon, I usually continue listening to NPR
but not always. In the evening, we have the television on. After, Mike goes to bed, I find movies I like or
a rerun of a favorite television show, such as: Mr. Brooks, CSI Miami, Cold Case, Die Hard,CNN. When I am on the
loom, I listen to the shows and occasionally look over to see the screen.

Please describe your creative process: how you create, when, where, with what materials…
My creative process varies but usually I find something, an image, that I respond to. I do many drawings/
sketches of the image with pen/pencil and paper or, I draw on the computer in Adobe Illustrator with the mouse.
I often refine the drawing improving lines or areas, illuminating what I do not like through the use of tracing paper
or new files. When I get a drawing I am satisfied with, I add color. On the computer, I might try many different
color ways. After I get exactly what works, I print. Then, I spend hours tuning the print color to match what I
had on the screen. On the computer, I do not use black to tone down a color, instead, I use the opposite color
on the color wheel.

Did you chose or were you chosen to create art?
I have always drawn and loved to draw. I do not remember not drawing. I have always been interested in design/style,
in clothing, cars, furniture, interiors, hair. I am constantly noticing texture, color, pattern and beautiful light
and shadows. And, I have always been drawn to textiles and responded to ceramics. I can not think of art in terms
of chosing or being chosen to create art. Art is just part of me, my essence. I think about art all the time. My ideas
are constant and lifetimes ahead of my actual produced works.

Studio Shots:

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sheldon Art Galleries- Jo Stealey

EXHIBITING GALLERY: The Sheldon Art Galleries

TITLE OF SHOW: The Language of Objects

OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 25, 2009 - January 16, 2010

The Sheldon Art Galleries
3648 Washington Bvld.
St. Louis, Missouri  63108

Submitted by Artist: Jo Stealey

Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff…  

My husband and I live in a rural environment along the Missouri River in central Missouri. We built a straw bale home (appropriate for a fiber artist). The entire first floor is my studio and overlooks rolling hills and a small pond as well as a plethora of wildlife. This environment is my center and a primary influence for my work. Also I am a professor of art at MU and head of the fiber program. Recently I was given the dubious distinction of a “Nerd of Mizzou” 


Apart from creating things, what do you do? What is a typical day for you?


As a professor of fibers I teach papermaking, bookbinding, weaving, surface design, basketry and many other textile related media, In a single day I may advise students, work in the studio on my own work, organize community exhibitions converse with artist friends throughout the country, read aloud with my husband whatever book we currently read together, garden, take a long walk, but seldom do I sit and do nothing. 

Please describe your creative process: how you create, when, where, with what materials… 

My creative process can begin with inspiration from just about anything, a conversation, a walk in the woods, a visit to a museum or a poem. The inspiration is worked out through thumbnail sketches and written notes in a journal. Often a gathering and processing of the materials is integral. Pulps for paper are made from plant materials such as flax, iris leaves, okra or cotton in a Hollander beater. Leaves are gathered and processed to become archival paper and armatures are made from river willow. My process is often inspired as well as tied directly to nature and the environment where I live. 

How do you go about creating a piece of work and what goes through your mind from start to finish?  

I think of my work as visual poetry or metaphor. For me the process, materials, formal qualities and techniques help to visually articulate the conceptual idea of the work and become the devices to manifest it. A dialogue develops with these components in the studio that informs how the piece develops. I am constantly considering how to subtly push these components to enhance the metaphorical aspects of the piece.  

Is the face of fiber art changing? How so?  

My work continually changes. It is influenced by both the lofty philosophical as well as the mundane. Nature and environmental concerns, personal relationships, what I read, music and generally the dualities of life are a few aspects of life that enter into my work. The body of work is always influenced by inspiration from one of these sources.  Most recently I was asked to respond to a collection of Pre-Columbian Peruvian Textiles shown at the Museum of Art and Archeology on the MU campus. The development of the body of work for this exhibition (Response: Echoes and Reverberations shown at PS Gallery, Columbia, MO) let me  

What first inspired you to become an artist?  

Making art is not a matter of choice; it is a personal need, a response to life. It is the means to know the nature of self, spirit and the world. Making art provides the opportunity to answer philosophical, as well as mundane questions. Technical and conceptual influences range from a background in ceramics and weaving to first-hand experiences from a variety of cultures; five years of my life were spent living in Mexico and I've had the opportunity for extended travel to a variety of Central American, Asian and European countries. 

For me, art is a meditation, a response, a question, but most of all it is a way of life. I regard the process itself as paramount to the outcome. It is the search for the best solution to visually represent an idea that informs my work - the act of pulling sheets of paper, figuring out how thick, how thin a layer of pulp should be, how to form it three-dimensionally, how to articulate a concept, et cetera. All these elements together lead me to new conceptual issues, new technical information, and maintain art making as an integral part of my life.  

The Sheldon Art Galleries- Jane Birdsall-Lander

EXHIBITING GALLERY: The Sheldon Art Galleries

TITLE OF SHOW: The Language of Objects

OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 25, 2009 - January 16, 2010

The Sheldon Art Galleries
3648 Washington Bvld.
St. Louis, Missouri  63108

Submitted by Artist: Jane Birdsall-Lander

Tell us a bit more about yourself; your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff…  

After enjoying the camaraderie of  neighboring artists on Washington Avenue for many years, I now work at home.  I thought I might not like this arrangement but timing is everything and the price is right.  With my kids out of the house there’s plenty of room for me here.  I have a studio on the third floor with a   basement shop that I share with my husband.  Since I also work in the non-profit community as an educational consultant and write interdisciplinary curricula (see www. and I have a second floor study filled with books where I have my computer.  While my children were young I compartmentalized my art making so that I’d be available to the family when I was home. While I still seek balance… now my life is all of one piece 

What is the source of your creativity?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things and trying to make sense of the world.  I spent a lot of time alone when I was a kid and I never got bored…sometimes I was lonely but then, for instance, I’d cut up the curtains in my room and make little flags out of them.  Each flag had a personality all its own and would be there in the next morning when I woke up.  This delighted me.  I was lucky.  In terms of art and intellect my parents believed in self-expression. 

How much of your creativity comes from within and how much comes from outside sources?

The energy that drives my desire to make things is like breathing for me-that is it just is; I can’t really turn off the switch.  I’m very much engaged with the physical world as well as with language and ideas, all of which informs my work.  When something triggers an ah-ha feeling I follow the cue.  Years ago I built a rock cairn in my backyard that I can see from my studio…it’s a touchstone for my mind’s eye. 

Could you do art without an audience?

If I couldn’t make art without an audience I wouldn’t still be making it. 

Did you chose or were you chosen to do art?

Neither.   I’ve always colored outside the lines and/or drawn my own lines.  This is literally true.  My Dad wouldn’t allow coloring books in the house and instead I was   given large rolls of shelf paper that I could do with as I pleased. At a very early age I was encouraged to take risks with whatever it was I thought to write, draw or to make with my hands. 

Define fiber art through your lens as an artist or audience member. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here.  First of all, it seems to me that the term fiber art is an unfortunate word choice.  It’s a term that at this point in time may be outdated and if a viewer, curator or artist insists upon labeling and categorizing in reference to materials then the term textile art is much more descriptive.  Admittedly I’m sensitive to language but let’s face it in 2009 the word fiberis most commonly associated with dietary issues.    Secondly, and more important, is the fact that in the contemporary art world there are no boundaries in terms of content, process or materials; pigeonholing artists and their artworks in terms of the materials chosen seems passé and perhaps not well considered.    

Rather than confining themselves to one technique or material many artists move fluidly from one medium to another their work driven by concepts.  Others stay with one material and/or technique but imbue their oeuvre with such internal originality that it redefines previously set limits for a particular medium.  It doesn’t matter what materials or techniques an artist uses so much as it matters whether the work has the intrinsic qualities that make it art rather than non art.  Period.  

Sam Gilliam is an artist who manipulated canvas to reconceptualize the traditional format of a painting.   The Geez Bend quilts are art.  No one has ever considered Christo to be a textile artist but rather an artist pure and simple. What about Sheila Hicks, Harmony Hammond, Eva Hesse, Nick Cave, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee Bontecou, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Kiki Smith, Claes Oldenburg, Polly Apfelbaum, Lenore Tawney and Wendell Castle; all are artists who have incorporated fabric into their art.

The Gallery at Innsbrook- Marjorie Hoeltzel

EXHIBITING GALLERY: The Gallery at Innsbrook
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 5th, from 10-12, closes on October 3rd
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Dawn Ottensmeier, Pat Owoc, Luanne Rimel, Barbara Simon, Sun Smith Foret, Alana Tibbets, Barb Zappulla and Marjorie Hoeltzel

The Gallery at Innsbrook
(636)928-3366 ext. 214

Submitted by: Marjorie Hoeltzel
As the most senior member of the group of artists involved in INNOVATIONS IN TEXTILES 8 AT INNSBROOK: EIGHT ARTISTS INTERPRET NATURE IN TEXTILES AND FIBER, and having been a guest at Innsbrook many times, I was inspired to invite seven fine regional textile/fiber artists to exhibit in the beautiful Innsbrook Resort Conference Center Gallery. Some of these artists have been friends for decades, others I have been following more recently, but we have all witnessed the elevation of quilts, weaving, embroidery and other textiles from "handy crafts", to a recognized art form, as quilts became wall hangings, baskets and dolls became "sculpture" and collectors became aware of collecting this "new" art form.
I hoped to recognize myself as an artist when I was in my late fifties (three decades ago), having been recently widowed, with a burning desire to devote my time to following my passion for sewing and creating. Creating and sewing were nothing new, for this I had learned at my grandmother's knee, but with a new lifestyle confronting me, I went full steam ahead in the seventies and eighties, studying design independently with Leslie Laskey, Professor in Washington University School of Architecture, as well as many summer classes in Tennessee, North Carolina and Maine, refining my skills and broadening my knowledge.
But I feel I did not hit my stride as an artist until, in the early nineties, I was commissioned to do a huge commission (huge meaning 20' x 5') for a major corporation's headquarters. Also, in 1999, I was accepted in Quilt National, the quintessential biennial contemporary quilt show in Ohio. I can now call my self an ARTIST! Sharing studio space with Jane Sauer (a treasured friend from the 70's) for many years was also stimulating and encouraging.
For the past ten years, my favorite materials to work with have been recycled neckties. The source has become greater as men seem to be "dressing down", retiring or adopting new lifestyles, and my collection has increased so that I seem to have an unlimited supply to work with.
When an idea "strikes" my favorite environment for making art is too pull out the neckties from their baskets in colors relating to the image or pattern that is somehow magically surfacing, surrounding myself on the floor of my studio as if in a nest, and somehow, it's then the creative juices begin!
When you view the Innsbrook exhibit, you will see eight entirely different and personal interpretations of nature in fabric and fiber, and eight distinctly diverse techniques. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Third Degree Glass Factory- Jennifer Weigel

EXHIBITING GALLERY:  Third Degree Glass Factory
TITLE OF SHOW: Common Threads: Fusion of Fiber and Glass
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE:  September 18 - October 13, 2009
SHORT BYLINE/ DESCRIPTION OF SHOW:  In a ground-breaking exhibit, glass artists Jessica Kopitske, Jeremy Lampe, Aaron Quigley, Libby Leuchtman, and Jim McKelvey and fiber artists Sandi Shapiro, Jennifer Weigel, and Denise Williams team up to create collaborative art works that bring glass and fiber together in innovative ways.  Artists will create works together through conceptualization, process, and experimentation.  Works will be installation, functional, and fine art with emphasis on texture and color.
Third Degree Glass Factory
5200 Delmar Bvld.
St. Louis, Missouri 63108

Submitted by fiber artist: Jennifer Weigel

•    Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff…

I am a mixed media artist, living in Affton, Missouri with my husband, Charles Wilbur, and two cats, Samuel and Ginger.  I graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts - Studio Art in Alternative Media from Webster University in 2002.  I am involved in a lot of art organizations and am especially active in the Women's Caucus for Art, although I have also been active in Art Saint Louis, the Columbia Art League in Columbia, MO, and Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL.

•    How do you go about creating a piece of work and what goes through your mind from start to finish?

Much of my work is conceptual in nature.  I get an idea I want to convey and then choose materials to suit.  As a result, I work in a wide variety of media including assemblage, drawing, fiber, jewelry, installation, painting, performance, video and more.  The pieces that I have been working on for the collaborative show at Third Degree Glass Factory are different in that they are much more process-oriented and involve the creation of freeform copper wire mesh forms that are then incorporated into glasswork.  I have especially enjoyed that my involvement ends only partly into the process; it has been exciting to see what Jes Kopitske has done with what I started.

•    What is the source of your creativity? How much is from within? How much comes from outside sources?

I have never been at a loss for ideas.  Those times when I am least productive are just those times when I am least self-confident, namely because I second-guess myself and don't think my ideas are worth pursuing.  Much of my work is cathartic and allows me to vent my grievances and frustrations.  I tend to absorb the everyday aspects of my life and then morph them into art, although much of my work is also informed by more formal research.  Anything is fair game - something I read in the paper, something I saw in the road, a conversation I overheard (or even one I participated in)...  My life is absorbed and then reformed into art.  And my art and my life blur together - I don't make many distinctions between the two.

•    Could you do your art without an audience? How important is feedback?

Much of my artwork is about communicating ideas, connecting with others and starting conversations, so it would be challenging to me not to show my work.  I don't always need people to bear witness, though, and those works created to work through personal issues are generally not shown.  However, some of my work, like the pieces I am creating for the show at Third Degree Glass, are meant to be more decorative and offer me a chance to focus on just making something beautiful.

•    What is your next project?

I have been creating several very different fiber-based and wall-hung works for a solo show at the Green Center in University City entitled Relics and Reliquaries.  This show will open Saturday, October 3 and runs through Oct. 31.  It will feature assemblages of found objects and some of my embellishments in window forms, as pictured.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

St. Louis Artists' Guild- Michael Aaron McAllister

EXHIBITING GALLERY: St. Louis Artists' Guild
TITLE OF SHOW: Presidents, Poets and Playwrights 
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 20th, 2009- November 7th, 2009
ARTIST: Michael Aaron McAllister
“If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.”-Vincent Van Gogh
Amassed in this group are men and women who are joined by the connective tissue of “vision.”
Whether behind a desk in the oval office, poised over parchment with a quill, or preparing situations for the stage, each of these visionaries depicted here through strong character and indomitable will achieved feats as luminous as the sun.
Some served their country, carving out a better life for future generations. Others wrote sonnets or dramas that would endure and enlighten for centuries. It is my mission to ensure all will live in the pantheon of our consciousness.
Here presented to you are Emily Dickinson, FDR, Jackie Kennedy, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, et al. Each portrait is completed in tens-of-thousands of hand-embroidered stitches, beads and silk ribbon.
Michael Aaron McAllister is a professional quilter and artist. He has won awards for his portraits and exhibits nationally in both the fine arts field and quilting shows. See more of his work at

St. Louis Artists' Guild
Two Oak Knoll Park
St. Louis, Missouri 63105
Submitted by: Michael Aaron McAllister

Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional 

affiliations, personal stuff…

I live and keep a small cramped studio over looking the Gateway Arch in Downtown St. Louis. By day I am a librarian for the Upper School of a prep school here in Saint Louis…in Ladue. I have been happily married to my husband Bill for almost 13 years. We share two pugs and a black lab. We also like to see cities of the world by ocean liner. Cruising for me is very romantic…very 1932…very David Niven.

What first inspired you to become an artist?

I have always considered myself an artist. My first works were in Sesame Street coloring books. From those beginnings, embroidery was born.

What possession do you most cherish?

My most cherished possession is the needle which I began my embroidery career with.  I have stitched over 70 portraits with it. I have lost it dozens of times, have bent and re-straightened it, and have worn the chrome of its surface. When I give talks and demonstrations I take a “stunt needle”. THE needle never leaves my studio. I had a special velvet lined case created to house the needle, fitting some ancient holy relic.

What is a typical day for you?

My day begins at 3:30AM. I think it very important to give the best hours of the day to my portraiture than to someone else. I generally have three hours in the morning to work and two in the evening. I retire with the dogs around 7PM. The weekends afford me around 20-22 additional hours of uninterrupted, blissful work.

What music do you listen to?

I generally research other subjects while working in my studio. I devour audiobooks. Most of the books I read are history or biography. If not researching I will have a group of 3-5 movies that I watch over and over and over to foster a background white noise. 

When do you feel you hit your stride as an artist?

Either when a portrait is finished and I know it’s a “special” one or 

at the opening of an exhibition when a visitor speaks with me and conveys how one of my pieces recalls an event in their life.

What helps create a suitable environment for making art? 

Absolute order. My studio must be in place and tidy. I also have to have the dogs. Edith Wharton wrote her novels with “her dog’s heartbeat at her feet” and I completely agree with that. Being in my clean studio is a calming act…having my pugs there only furthers that.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

I can’t and will not work without DMC 6-Strand Embroidery floss. Call me a “Brandist”…but I will not work without it. DMC floss and unlimited and varied fabric supply is very important.

Where do you find materials to create with? Names of shops or 

internet sites…

The greatest place for me to buy fabric is I make a bi-yearly exodus to Paducah to replenish. I get my DMC floss at either Hobby Lobby or Michaels or in lots from eBay.

Name your top five: musicians, books, movies, websites, artists… 

(provide a link to websites or artists websites if at all possible)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Music)

Ella Fitzgerld (Music)

Gone with the Wind-Margaret Mitchell (Book)

A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway (Book)

Now, Voyager (Movie)

Out of Africa (Movie)

John Singer Sargent (Artist)

Ingres (Artist)

Andy Warhol (Artist)

Walt Disney (Artist)

What are materials that illicit the most response from you in viewing work?

Materials I don’t respond to as much as work having a “time-intensive quality”. That is something I ALWAYS respond to. 

What is your next project?

I am currently finishing up work to mount a show at the Embroidery Guilds of America Museum in Louisville, KY. After that I plan to revisit the lives of British, French and Russian Royalty recreating their lives in millions of stitches and thousands of beads. 

Studio Shots: 


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Main Street Gallery- Anita Bracalente

EXHIBITING GALLERY:  Main Street Gallery

TITLE OF SHOW: Innovations 8

OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 4th, 2009 – October 3rd, 2009

CURATOR OR JUROR: Kathryn Stullken Hopkins

Main Street Gallery
239 North Main Street 
Edwardsville, Illinois 62025



Submitted by: Anita Bracalente, Visual Artist

  • Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff

I am a visual artist living in Bloomington, Indiana.  I call myself a visual artist as I work in many different mediums and cannot cast myself exclusively as a painter, textile artist, photographer or landscape designer.  I formally trained as a painter, but I soon worked in other mediums including stained glass and then returned to painting for 25 years.  Beading and specifically knitted beads came very much later.  I also do landscape design nearly full-time but the beading fulfills another need of making things.  At this time I do not paint, but I do a lot of photography.  I am also a writer and lecturer on landscape design and gardening.

  • Apart from creating things, what do you do?

There is not much I do that isn't creative, but I am a museum registrar, which gives me access to art all day long.  When I am not working in the studio,  I like to garden, swim, hike, and travel.  My photography comes into play when I am gardening, hiking and traveling.  I love to travel the world and I am usually visiting gardens and museums and other cultural events. Otherwise, I cook, but I think this is a very creative act.  I love musical events and it is there that I am only an audience participant.

  • What first inspired you to become an artist? 
  • I was 6 years old.  I was always drawing and painting, but one day I had some free time (in the first grade classroom) and I was drawing a horse.    In this drawing I added the horse's hock instead of drawing a straight leg with a hoof.  This pleased me very much.  When I came home that day I showed my mother my drawing and I announced that I was going to be an artist some day.  That was it and I never turned back. 

  • What is the source of your creativity? How much is from within? How much comes from outside sources?

The core of my creativity has always come from natural forms found in nature and architectural structures.  I particularly like the interaction between organic and geometric shapes played against each other added with contrasting colors, textures, patterns and the unraveling of patterns and structure.   


The element of time in landscape design is considered the “fourth dimension” and I like to allow time to cast changes on my perspectives as I work through a piece, whether it is a painting, a beaded work or a landscape design.  The important thing being that the final object must have a resonance of logic not generating from myself, but rather dictated from the internal logic of the piece.  In that respect I learn something new visually from each piece.  My creative ideas are generated from within as I internalize nature and architectural structures. The element of time becomes my external (re)source in the final resolution of a work.


  • What helps create a suitable environment for making art?


My total environment must suit me.  Our studio is a separate building from our house surrounded by the garden and although my work is portable, it is important that I have this space to go to.  This second story studio room is light filled.  It is essential to me that I cultivate beauty and live with beauty every day of the year.  We have a greenhouse which enables me to grow orchids and we have flowers 365 days of the year.  The garden has an extended bloom period 9- 10 months of the year.  The element of my personal environment is that I be surrounded by creative and intelligent people every day and that my life is filled with art and music daily.