It's good to be home again after an exhilarating sequence of visits! First I spent the better part of a day flying from Virginia to reconnect with good friends in the San Francisco area last week, a flight that included a stopover in Las Vegas and a sampling of 110-degree heat. Then I indulged in a much-anticipated detour to Port Costa, before driving further north through hours of rugged CA and Oregon scenery to attend Art in Ashland for several intense days of classes. Of course, I am now both energized and exhausted :).
What about that detour? The fabulous Wendy Addison is self-publishing a limited-edition art book full of her imaginative drawings and printed segments and inventive paper manipulations. As an old-school painter/calligrapher myself, you know I had to see this wonderful object!
On Friday afternoon I was privileged to slowly and caringly thumb my way through her almost-finished working prototype, to read her poem that runs like a dreamy story thread through the still-stiff pages, and to learn about the old magic master who was her surprising childhood friend. As she described her book to me, the development of her fascination with glittery shapes and words, vintage chandeliers, fantastical collections and still-life compositions, hidden gears and madcap inventions, and her well-known Theatre of Dreams all came together as a fateful journey. Now she wants to create and publish this most important art piece to honor the beginning of her journey with the skills honed along the way.
Wendy lives in Port Costa, a sleepy ghost-town of just over 200 residents, vintage buildings resting dustily along the main street, a quiet bit of deep shoreline slipping by with no docking access, and beautiful tree-filled hillsides surrounding and further isolating it. She found it 11 years ago on one of her many weekend drives out of the city into the CA countryside. Next door to her workshop is the Warehouse Cafe, which she says is well-known, at least among the locals. While I was there, patrons arrived in various vehicles, including a shiny yellow old roadster.
But inside her Theatre of Dreams is a magical place of her own creation. Glittery chandeliers, chains of glittery balls, glittery words that she's created for Midwest of Cannon Falls sparkle warmly among the old glass display cases and layered collections of fanciful things she's incorporated from her many flea-market forays into the countryside.
You can see more of Wendy's magical and theatrical creations here and here and here (I've tried not to duplicate any of those great photos). You can also see Wendy's studio in Jo Packham's book Where Women Create. And you can read more of her story in the November 2008 issue of Somerset Studio.
There were so many delights to focus on, but on this visit, the star attraction was next door in Wendy's workshop. There Rob was steadily printing off more of the many lines of the book's poem, each word carefully arranged using different fonts from the huge collection of antique lead and wood alphabets Wendy has amassed letter by letter. This custom printing takes place on her antique letterpress, standing firmly in its corner spot while the sun's rays slant into the room.
And then there it sat, the book itself, open on the long work shelf to one of the pages still needing words from the poem. There's something compelling about a work in progress. The weight of the pages, the strength and texture of the paper, the three-dimensional effect of collaged words and inclusions, and the lines and words penned directly from the artist's hand all conspire to draw you into the book. Wendy even generously granted me some time alone with her creation, allowing me to simply enjoy it without the need for comments.
Although I hope you've enjoyed these small glimpses into Wendy's magically creative world, I promised not to show all her wonderful drawings before they are actually ready. However, you can visit Wendy's new blog for previews of some pages, as well as info on ordering your own coveted copy of this special limited work.
Come visit me again soon and I'll share the results of my hugely-enjoyable classes at Art in Ashland.
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