Talent Scout

Archive for the Category Interesting Artifacts


Robert Carolina’s Daybooks, A Collection of Curiosity

David Coggins is a Minneapolis artist, writer, and set designer. Last weekend I attended an art opening at his very hip studio in Northeast Minneapolis.  I could have spent the evening exploring his space but we were there for the featured work of artist Robert Carolina and his recently published Daybooks.

Created over a ten-year period (2000-2009), Robert Carolina’s eight Daybooks total 1,700 pages and contain 1,000 collages.I felt a kindred spirit with this artist, a fellow storyteller using found objects, text and imagery.  They were humorous, sad, thought provoking and above all they kept me wanting more.  The entire event was magically staged in a setting reminiscent of Paris.  Catered by Grand Bakery, every bite was as interesting and tasteful as the art.

David Coggins Studio in the Grainbelt Brewery

A Better Radish (page from The Green Daybook, 8 x 6)

Daybooks Boxed Set

Available individually and as a boxed set. The Daybooks were edited by David Coggins and are available through Cobalt Press.  To see more examples of either artists work visit Cobalt Press.

David Coggins set design --The Deception by Pierre Marivau 2007 Coproduction Theatre de la Jeune Lune and La Jolla Playhouse

Artists and Architects Make Hats

I love hats and I’m envious of anyone that can pull them off without looking forced.  A story you may remember in one of my first posts features my grandmother and her four friends who owned a milliner business in 1907.  I created a 3-d piece with American early 1900 vintage hat forms. So you can see why this London exhibit is of particular interest to me.

Hats and architecture may not appear to have anything in common—at first blush, anyway—but architect-turned-milliner Gabriela Ligenza begs to differ. For the London Festival of Architecture, Ligenza and design duo You&Me commissioned several local architects, artists, and designers to produce hats inspired by their visions of London.

'ant hill' by riitta ikonen

In 1849, london hat makers Thomas and William Bowler designed the bowler as a close-fitting hat to protect gamekeepers’ heads from low hanging branches while on horseback. In the following century, no hat would become more synonymous with london itself. American architects austin+mergold have reinterpreted the bowler in a sustainable version. Its recycled corrugated cardboard layers keep the sun’s rays at bay while providing ventilation. At the same time, the hat is both adaptable to the whims of fashion as it can be easily painted in any color.

'A + M bowler. 2010

'A + M bowler. 2010

Last Call For Phone Books

We’ve ask the phone company to stop sending us phone books at our apartment building several times.  Still, we get piles on our front steps.  After seeing what Jolis Paon did with her phone books I may be chasing after them to bring me more.

Artist, Jolis Paon caught my attention recently with her handmade dress constructed out of phonebook paper.

Paons says of the Paper Dress she designed and created for her Creative Processes class, “I pleated, stuck, sewed, and glued everything by hand.”

It’s amazing what you can do with simple resources when creativity is involved. Think of all the phonebooks that go to waste!

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It?

I’ll have admit that my art has a fashion sensibility about it.  And it’s known by many that I have a penchant for nice shoes. I hadn’t really considered combining my art and love for shoes until I saw Design Booms latest feature.  Some are just plain hysterical and most of them would bring me to my knees in short order.

images: style.com

The latest fall winter collection by the Paris fashion house Balenciaga features footwear that takes an architectural approach, mixing block heels with a collage of materials. The collection was designed by Pierre Hardy whose shoes are made from a full range of materials that includes leather, wood, plastic, metal and a few newer high tech materials.

Keds bacon shoes seen at allee willis’ kitsch of the day blog (via neatorama)  Bacon happens to be one of my favorite indulgences.

‘Vegas Girl’ by German artist Iris Schieferstein, 2009, (materials: toy pistol, cow hooves and zipper) My cattle buyer brother might like this idea. He may actually be able to make money.

image courtesy froschmann gallery

Alexander McQueen’s ‘Titantic Ballerina’ pumps from his spring/summer 2010 shoe collection.  Ballerina?

image courtesy obsessed with shoes

Redmacheshoe (stainless steel and leather, using the marloestenbhomer leather-mache technique)

This shoe is the work of designer Marloes Ten Bhomer who uses a combination of artistic creativity and technological experimentation re imagining shoes in a completely new way. Ok,  there is something I like about these shoes.


Beauty of the Written Word

Shahzia Sikander was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. Educated as an undergraduate at the National College of Arts in Lahore, she received her MFA in 1995 from the Rhode Island School of Design. Sikander specializes in Indian and Persian miniature painting, a traditional style that is both highly stylized and disciplined. While becoming an expert in this technique-driven, often impersonal art form, she imbued it with a personal context and history, blending the Eastern focus on precision and methodology with a Western emphasis on creative, subjective expression.

To find out more about Shahzia and other artists, visit Art 21, a fabulous resource for contemporary artist of the 21st century.By making contemporary art more accessible, the Art 21 series affords viewers and students the opportunity to discover their own innate abilities to understand contemporary art and to explore possibilities for creative thinking and self-expression.

Crochetdermy: Life-Size Crocheted Animals

I must be on an animal art theme.  This is my second post in two weeks that features animals.  I ran across UK-based artist Shauna Richardson on Design Boom.  Shauna creates life-size animals through the process of crocheting. She uses the term ‘crochetdermy’ to better explain her work which makes strong references to taxidermy. Her pieces incorporate coarse wools such as mohair mixes, glass eyes and reproduction claws. Each piece usually takes her months to complete. Beautiful execution. I would love to have the deer for our weekend place in Wisconsin.

Recalling Simpler Times: Sheep Sculpted from Rotary Phones

I first came across the Museum of Communications in Frankfurt through a posting on Inhabitat . Obviously collections are the foundation of any museum but this is not only a museum of communication artifacts, memory and history, but a place to discuss the past, present and future.

We all know that communication technologies are developing rapidly and communication has become increasingly important in a diverse and globalized world. Cultural diversity, networking and intercultural communication are characteristics of the fundamental change from an industrial to a communication society.

The phone for example is the theme of gathering.  Moe Beitiks review of Jean Luc Cornec’s exhibit at the Museum of Communications in Frankfurt seems to imply as much. The review states apart from the visually striking animation that is achieved by these static sculptures, what becomes especially compelling is the feeling of being stared down by both an animal and obsolete technology at the same time. The rotary phone, not unlike a country flock of sheep, has entered its own era of charming similar to the lost art of letter-writing or Christmas cards.

The rotary phone once considered essential has now been placed to the wayside. What in today’s world is next to follow?

The exhibition engages visitors to recall more simplified times through a flock of free-roaming sheep sculpted from old, analog, rotary phones.

Mystery of 100 Year Old Japanese Ledger Solved

After years of speculation, I now know part of the back story on this favorite artifact of mine.  I purchased this antique Japanese book in Sand Diego ten years ago but all I knew was the approximate age and that is was probably a ledger for business or accounting.

My hair stylists mother who was born and still lives in Japan was visiting so I asked if she could translate the text for me.  As it turns out the characters have changed since this was written so she was only able to understand bits and pieces.  She verified that it was  over a hundred years old and used as a business ledger for a department or general store.  There were sales recorded for futons, kimono fabric yardage and other home items.  She shared that individuals are only paid once per month in Japan so many stores offer charges or IOU’s.  The small stamps that you see indicate when someone came back to pay their bill.

Every so often I use a piece from the ledger in my collage work.  See the last photo below.

Hand bound

5" x 15" with hand-drawn characters in ink

Daily business transactions

Detail shot of stamps used for paid items

Marilyn Stevens, 9" x 9", Japanese ledger text and antique kimono fabric

Retailer That Makes Art Accessible: Gallery 360

CIMG1796 I have driven by Gallery 360 at 3011 West 50th in the SW Minneapolis, Linden Hills neighbor too many times to count.  Several friends have recommended it and last year I received a bracelet  that I love and wear all of the time.  Today I decided to stop and see what everyone was talking about.  As a first impression, I loved the eclectic mix of fine art and hand crafts made by skilled artisans, mostly local. Gallery 360 owner Merry Beck hand-picks paintings, sculptures, and mixed media, as well as ceramics, clothing, jewelry, and gifts for this contemporary gallery and retail shop.

I was particularly drawn to Natasha D’Schommer’s still life photography and Jennifer Davis’s narrative mixed media work. It was fun to browse a great selection of fresh and modern designs from local and national artisans including jewelry maker, Emily Johnson featured in my November 2009 blog posts.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, I highly recommend stopping by this delightful shop.


Jennifer Davis--Pale, 24x9, acrylic, graphite on panel


Natasha D'Schommer--Star Prairie, 8x8, photo transfer on marble



Inventive hooks from recycled handles


Bracelets crafted from recycled signs


Gallery 360, 3011 West 50th, Minneapolis, MN

Do Creative Spaces Matter? Studio Visit with Jill Stafford

Surroundings are a great stimulant and they can easily inspire or depress us. Or worse yet produce indifference which can stop creativity all together.  To me, the important thing is that the space move me in some way and that it encourages a passionate state of mind—whether that’s angst or fear or delight.

I love looking at artist’s spaces.  To see their raw materials, things they collect, projects in process, how they organize or what books they read.  Last week, I visited Jill Stafford’s home studio in an early 1900’s row house.  Her studio, a converted formal dining room multifunctions quite beautifully and efficiently for  Jill’s diverse creative projects including mixed media, knitting and sewing.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  Music is by Tommy Dorsey–Clambake Seven w/Bud Freeman.

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