Monday, December 28, 2009

New Website for a New Year!

14 inches of beautiful heavy white snow right before the holidays gave the perfect oppertunity to slow down and regroup.

A new webite is in order for the new year!

Check out and let me know what you think of the layout, the tabs, the images and writings.

I've referred to 2009 as "The Year I Missed!" because I was so incredibly busy I did not take time to smell the flowers. It felt like I needed to focus on laying groundwork, and in 2010 I'm hoping to build build build! And hopefully have a few moments of quality time.

"May all the best be yet to come!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CASA Light of Hope Sculpture Unveiling

Three years work culminates this coming Friday with the unveiling of Light of Hope in Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. The sculpture in bronze of two life-sized children was commissioned by CASA of East Tennessee. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children in juvenile court. These volunteers represent the best interests of the victimized child with the goal of securing a safe, permanent home. Both Federal and State laws allow judges to appoint CASA volunteers to "speak up" for the child's best interests. Light of Hope is both a memorial to loves lost due to child abuse and a celebration of lives saved by caring.

Friday, November 6th 2009 at 2pm at the Carey E. Garrett Juvenile Court Building in Knoxville, TN.
The concepts for the sculpture were explored and refined in numerous meetings between myself and the CASA volunteers, board members and director, Carolyn Doty. Initally we did not know if it would be marble or bronze, abstract or representational. At one point I asked "What emotion(s) do you want the sculpture to evoke? What do you want people to feel when they see this piece?" The answer was "Rage. And Hope." Rage that this problem exists in our community, Hope that we can make a positive change. From that consensus, I presented a dozen designs that were discussed and refind into the powerful piece you see today. I chose the shape of a compressed triangle to deliberately call attention that this was not a standard "stable" square or rectangle, that something was askew. Diagonals in artworks are "action" loaded, and as you follow the sidewalk around the sculpture, the diagonals created by the stone call for action. I chose the black granite stone and the traditional cemetary base stone as a not-so-subtle reminder that this is a true monument. The distressed child on the right sits atop the inscription "In Memory of Lives Lost to Child Abuse" and the compforting child on the left, who has an arm around the shoulders of the first child, sits atop the inscription "In Celebration of Lives Saved Through Caring." The life-sized children are a compilation of kind neighbors' and friends' children as I did not have specific models to work from.

Phooey on Vandalism

Replaced the three stolen bronze sculptures in downtown Bristol for the permanent children's scavenger hunt based in the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" over Halloween week-end. It was a huge amount of effort and work for so many folks! But they are back in place, with a significant increase in the amount of concrete and steel securing....

Let the Caterpillar Crawl Resume!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"From These Hills" 2009 juried by Ray Kass

"From These Hills" Contemporary Art in the Southern Appalachian Highlands, the big biennial exhibition at William King Museum in Abingdon, VA opens Thursday Oct 22nd 2009. Ray Kass is the guest curator this year and will give a talk during the reception.
"Aileen's Window", my 7.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide painting from the inside of my Great Grand Father's barn loft is included! 83 pieces by 37 artists representing all media is one heck-of-a-show not to miss. It will be on display from October 23, 2009 to February 14th, 2010.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Appalshop Show "Sanctuaries"

Appalshop invited me to exhibit "Sanctuaries" as part of their 40th Birthday Celebration!
Opening Saturday Oct.10th along with String Band Day, free music lessons and a square dance!
I am honored to be a part of this wonderful and strong community asset in Whitesburg, KY.
If you are not already familiar with this institution, check them out at
The finished installation looks GREAT.
I under-estimated the amount of work it takes to adapt to a new space, but I did necessary reconnaissance ahead of time to be able to put in long days and nights to adapt the show.
Every single wall mounted piece had to be re-done to fit their hanging system.
At Arts Depot, I had six helpers and three days to install.
At Appalshop I had the equivalent of two helpers and three hours to install.
It's amazing how much you can get done when you really focus!
The show looks really nice, and it's wonderful to see the same pieces in a different setting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Tea Time for Darfur" wins Top Prize at Mid South Sculpture Conference

Just back from Mid South Sculpture Conference in Chattanooga, TN last weekend-what a high quality excellent event they put on! Lots of new friends and new knowledge to build on. The guest artists / jurors Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse were insightful and kind, making themselves available throughout the conference to attending sculptors. The key note speaker, Valerie Fletcher, Senior Curator (of Modern Art) of the Smithsonian Institution Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens in Washington D.C. is simply not available elsewhere, and gave an insightful presentation on contemporary sculpture from the top museum's viewpoint.

Did I mention I WON top prize for indoor sculpture?
"Tea Time for Darfur", my cocklebur / burdock teaset looked great with the afternoon sunlight on it in the window of the gallery.
There were two "top prize" awards each for indoor (Ron Gard from Chicago took the other top indoor prize) and two outdoor sculptures.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Sanctuaries III" Arts Depot, Abingdon VA

What a priceless opportunity it is for an artist to have a public artspace to experiment in! The folks at The Arts Depot in Abingdon VA were terrific to work with, booking almost a year and a half in advance, touching base every couple months with a timetable for press and installation and reception and artist's talk. We set a new attendance record for a Spot light Gallery solo show opening! Roy Andrade, Cary Fridley, Doug Dourschug and Ed Snodderly played old-time music while huge projections of pioneer barns, both from the inside and out, filled the wall behind spontaneous dancers.
It was the happiest opening I've ever been to, even if I am biased. Folks connected easily with the art, and discussed the contemporary context. Everyone it seemed had "Barn Stories" to share with each other.
I heavily documented the whole experience with the intention of using the images in a proposal for a much expanded version.

Lesson number 11: Never underestimate an opportunity!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I am polishing a presentation for tonight at the Arts Depot in Abingdon, VA. The requested subject is how I developed the Walk-Through Installation on display there now-I'm excited to share the process!

Luckily I just went to a one-day workshop at Penland School of Crafts in NC put on by Creative Capital which gave tons of career-changing information, much of which will come in handy tonight!

Lesson number 10
I learned everything I know in a workshop! (almost)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Arts Depot, Stop Animation Clip copyright 2009

No kidding, I have been working towards the art opening this Sunday for decades. It has just taken a while to "congeal". The Arts Depot in Abingdon, VA "booked" me a year and a half ago. It was motivation to think long and hard about what it was I wanted to represent. I have included the "E-vite"(electronic invitation) and a way cool stop-animation my friends helped me with below. Enjoy.

Lesson #9 Friends are worth more than gold.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sages and Sanctuaries II

"Sages and Sanctuaries II" is up until August 6th, 2009 at Carroll Reece Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University. This is the second of a three part exhibition exploring contemporary art through an Appalachian lens.
The first exhibition "Sages and Sanctuaries I" was held at MECC Mountain Empire Community College in Virginia this past January. It was entirely two-dimensional works.
The second at ETSU combines two and three dimensional works, along with some farm materials like tobacco and old hand tools.
The third and largest will open Aug 13th with an artist's reception on Sunday August 23rd from 2 to 4pm. It will be a walk-through installation, combining projection, 2D, 3D, textures and smells to give context to the origins of my artistic aesthetic.
I received a grant for partial funding for a 28 page catalogue that accompanies these three exhibitions. "THESE TRUTHS the brutal tenderness of appalachia" is available on Amazon and other locations.

Derek Guthrie wrote the introduction, and Kathleen Grover and Venus Zarris each wrote enlightened essays.
Sam Mays did a beautiful job with the graphic design.
Published June 2009
ISBN #978-1-61584-019-9

Lesson #8. Don't burn bridges.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Moving Sculptures

Facebook Val Lyle: "Use the right tool (or forklift) for the job.
I love these guys! It's pouring rain.
I didn't even need to put my leather gloves on."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Public Art - Big Ropes

"Feminine Entwinement" is the first big rope piece that I had all the pieces of the puzzle figured out on. She was juried into Bristol, TN's "Art in Public Places" by Paul Ha of the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. She won "The People's Choice Award" for 2008-2009. made of Tug Boat rope, she stands just over 8 feet tall. I have included pictures of her year round, and at the "Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion" music festival where folks enjoyed having their pictures taken alongside her. the location is great, at the Farmer's Market in City Center Park. I built her sturdy enough to take public interaction. I kind of fell into it by accident, but there is a growing need for "temporary" public outdoor sculpture as more and more cities adopt a yearly or bi-yearly juried outdoor sculpture competition to beautify their downtown areas and add art for interest and culture and dialogue. Many of the sculptors I met during this, my first outdoor competition, told me about having a number of pieces that they move around from year to year, each bringing between $1,000 to $2,000 for a one to two year "rental" honorarium. That's good money to a sculptor, and you get the piece back in a year or so. Typically the sculptor delivers the piece, and there may or may not be help when you get there, or a concrete slab to bolt down to, or power tools, or power. Typically installation day is "rain or shine", during the week.

I was so thrilled to be selected I hand-made Thank you cards (see lesson #2) for everyone I could think of involved. Each one was unique, but all loosely based on my sculpture.
This is a great opportunity and I am so honored to be a part of AiPP Bristol. It is a first-rate operation, with lots of help from city workers, hotel accommodations for out of town sculptors, a two-day event that ends with a deluxe reception after the official "sculpture walk that makes everyone feel good! I am looking forward to future participation!

Lesson #7. Start Local.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do It Yourself Promotion

I use the timer settings on my cameras often as I am frequently working alone but needing images of the artist (me) working in the studio or on site. With everything digital now and instant playback built into most cameras, I can take dozens of shots to be able to select the best from later.
Today I sent eight digital images out to several different press people. Most of the shots I took day before yesterday. My dear husband took some of them for me when I was posing in a group shot.
Don't wait for someone else to do it.
There is no one else.
The beauty is that you can control what is said/written/seen, which is a critical thing to control!

Lesson #6. Feed the Press and The Press will Feed You.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Poster Signing at Virginia Highlands Festival

The Virginia Highlands Festival is in full swing!
Part of my honor as Signature Artist this year is to sign free posters for the pubic!
I involved myself from the beginning in every aspect I could of the presentation of my sculpture, both "in real" and on the poster. If you leave details and designs to others, the only thing you can say is Thank you.

I had tested a number of pens already, and settled on a silver metallic felt-tip as looking great on the poster background. I brought a number of the pens with me. Half an hour after the start time, the posters arrived, and I realized the next missing piece of the puzze was no rubber bands to roll up the large posters that tourists were going to carry around the festival all day. Forgot a hat for the sun, but a kind soul loaned me one.

Then we drove back home for a moment before heading out to Johnson City TN Barnes and Noble Book Store for an Author's book signing event to benefit the Carroll Reece Museum on the Campus of ETSU and the Center for Appalachian Studies. There was live music and craft demos along with kids activities, and when customers mentioned the museum at checkout a portion of the sales went to the museum. It was a whole lot more public interaction in one day than I am used to, but it was all good! My little art catalogue may be carried by Barnes and Noble Bookstore because of this benefit effort!

Lesson #5. Assume nothing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Scale Model of the Gallery

For the large Arts Depot installation in Abingdon, VA I've decided to make a scale model of the gallery and all the artworks that will go in it. This really helps me envision the whole space. I like to use one inch = one foot. Here I am easily able to print out the actual paintings and drawings to scale to fit inside the long space, rearrange them by any method I might want, experiment painlessly all before installation day. With this method I am able to take accurate measurements from the model on location for efficient hanging time. I have several small boxes of my artwork models from over the years.

The doors open for the exhibition on August 13, closing September 26th, with a reception on Sunday August 23rd from 2-4pm, and an artist presentation and talk September 14th at 7:30 pm.

Lesson #4. Embrace Murphy's Law.

Big Paintings

I've been painting outdoors on big paper, 7.5 feet by 5 feet 300 lb. watercolor paper. It won't fit inside anywhere that I can stand back from it. The proportion size is based roughly on the Western perfect proportions for a rectangle painting. Started with black gesso ground and added half a tube of brown to warm it up. The finished painting shown here is called "Aileen's Window". It is from the inside of the loft of a barn in Mountain City TN that my great grandfather built. I played on the colors to emphasize the stained glass window effect. Aileen is a dear friend and cousin who loved it there and recently crossed over. Also pictured is my studio assistant "Red", the orange cat, being ever helpful.

Lesson #3. Raise the bar.

Sculpture Dedication, Abingdon VA

Sincere thanks go to many, many people who helped to place this sculpture in such a beautiful setting in downtown Abingdon, VA for the Virginia Highlands Festival Opening!

Lesson #2. Thank everyone often. Especially your spouse/signifigant other.

Juggling Act

Negotiate with the KY foundry to push back the final wax check on the CASA monument for Knoxville because it is a direct conflict with the walk-through installation exhibition set up week. Check with Knox about final unveiling dates. Discuss volunteers to help with Abingdon installation and hanging methods. Check online that the Ridgewood BarBQue arrived to Pennsylvania on time and still cool. Negotiate cash or art or both for payment of BBQ. Offer comes for another adjunct teaching job up the road. Two contracts come email for gallery downtown. Ponder this. Order glass eyes on Ebay for a project I'm thinking of. Arrange meeting time with former student to pass him copies of my new small catalogue to pass to fellow who donated tobacco for exhibit. Remove small bunny from cat. Pull UPS box in from front porch-check contents for digital print presentation kits for 13 x 19 art prints, and art notecard clear sleeves. Husband arrives to inform me we have 10 minutes to be on time for the official presentation of my sculpture to the town of Abingdon, VA on Main Street. Cross my fingers for clean clothes near the top of the pile. Grab the box of notecards I've been printing the last two days to put into plastic sleeves that just arrived in the car on the way, to deliver to Blue Windmill Gallery after the ceremony. Arrive with a few minutes to spare, meet and greet Mayor and council members, Advance Abindon and committee members who really did a beautiful job locating the sculpture is a gorgous park in downtown on Main Street. I'm honored to have the work treated with such respect. Pose for pictures-try to remember how to not look goofy in photos. Jump in car to Blue Windmill just at closing time, drop off cards. Drive 40 minutes back home the scenic route-so incredibly beautiful! I never cease to be amazed at what a beautiful place I live in! Change out of good clothes, unwrap the plastic from the 7.5 foot by 5 foot painting on water color paper in the driveway and roll it up. Change back into good clothes and go to Troutdale for the Jr. League Benefit dinner. Eat and drink, network and socialize.

That was yesterday.

This is my life.

Lesson #1. Remain calm. Make a list. Prioritize.