Portrait Gallery Now Showing in MI and NY

MontefioreBirdsCollageThe Passenger Pigeon Portrait Gallery, one of three sections of Moving Targets, is now showing simultaneously in two locations: The Art & Environment Gallery in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (through October) and at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY (through December). The 14 artists, plus myself and my collaborator Steffi Domike, have each contributed one work that reflects the region in which each artist lives. Combined, the artists represent states within the former nesting range of the passenger pigeon.

Art & Environment Gallery director Sara Adlerstein, who is a research scientist at UM and is an artist in the exhibition, talks about the exhibition in a short video as part of an extensive article in the UM Record (be sure to click on Moving Targets on the right and then the “Read More” link for the entire article). Learn more about the project in the Moving Targets section of this site.

Moving Targets will be reunited and shown in its entirety November 10 – December 6 in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University’s Gumberg Library. Joel Greenberg will speak at Duquesne December 4.

Moving Targets is part of Project Passenger Pigeon Pittsburgh, a coalition of environmental, educational, arts, and historical institutions and independent performing and visual artists.

Artwork (above left): Ann Rosenthal, Safe Haven, 2014. In 1910, my mother and her family were making their way across Canada, having escaped the brutal pogroms in the Ukraine. Though the great flocks of passenger pigeons had disappeared by the time of my family’s migration, I like to imagine that their paths crossed as they both sought safe haven in distant lands.

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Moving Targets on the Move

PiepgrassLeahGhostAfter a very ‘quick’ two months at Brushwood Center in Deerfield, IL, Steffi and I will be deinstalling Moving Targets and reinstalling part of it–the Passenger Pigeon Portrait Gallery–at the Art & Environment Gallery in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at UM Ann Arbor. It will remain there through October, so that the students and faculty who are off for the summer will have a chance to enjoy it. On the left is one of 16 works in the Portrait Gallery: “Ghost,” by Leah Piepgras, 16 x 16, acrylic on board. The portraits will be on display during Joel Greenberg’s talk at the UM Natural History Museum on September 19. The museum is featuring two exhibits on the Passenger Pigeon.

Overlapping with the exhibition in Ann Arbor will be a second installation of the Portrait Gallery at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY in the Fall.

In November/December, the exhibition will be reunited and will be shown in its entirety at the Gumberg Library, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The exhibition will be in conjunction with a mini-conference in early December at which Joel Greenberg will be the keynote speaker. Between July – November, Moving Targets sans the Portrait Gallery is available for exhibition. I will post photos next week of the new installation in Ann Arbor.

For more information on the project, see a virtual tour of the exhibition, and hear podcasts of the artists discussing their work and research on the Moving Targets page of this web site (click in the menu bar above)!

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Moving Targets: Bound for Chicago

Ten days to wrap up Steffi Domike’s and my two-year project, Moving Targets, with Ruth Fauman-Fichman, which will be shown at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Deerfield, IL (North Chicago). Still working on a few final pieces, and we have to assemble everything, but here’s a sneak peek. (See my 1/16 post below for background on the project).

DraftWallMockupThis map represents the passenger pigeon migration range. The textured area marks the principal nesting grounds. The narrative will continue through four posters produced by University of Michigan Museum of Natural History for Project Passenger Pigeon (with which our project is affiliated). The posters will lead visitors into the Brushwood Library where we will mount a Passenger Pigeon Portrait Gallery. We have invited 14 artists, each representing a state within the nesting range, to produce a passenger pigeon “portrait” for this part of our exhibition. See some of the portraits here.

MTUkraineThese works will be hung on a map of the Ukraine (not shown). The image on the right is from a newspaper of the early 20th century depicting the aftermath of a pogrom. On the left are ships that transported our families to North America with one ship’s manifest listing my family members. The top-most piece is an impression of wheat, a staple crop of the Ukraine and a staple food for most families. Steffi’s forebears were also wheat traders in the Ukraine, and mine farmed wheat in Canada after immigrating there.

MTFamilyMapsThese maps show the flight of the Ronder (Domike) and Sterling (Rosenthal) families from the Ukraine to North America. East to west, the textured areas represent where the Ronders landed in the eastern U.S., and where the Sterlings settled, first in Canada and then California (textured areas not shown on westcoast map). For the Brushwood Reading Room, we have created four posters, comparable to those for the Passenger Pigeon and in the same format, that recount the history of the Jews in relation to our family stories. The poster content was developed by Ruth, who also located many of the images and maps, and pursued the permissions to use them. She and Steffi worked tirelessly to condense and present the text and images in a compelling narrative.

The actual maps have been cut out of MDO board and will replace the cardboard mockups above. There are additional pieces that will go between the maps and on the opposite walls.

Here we are in front of our work (Steffi on left)…

Steffi_AnnSmlThe exhibition at Brushwood will run May 4 – July 3. There will be a public reception 1-3pm on Sunday, May 4. The Smith Nature Symposium at Brushwood on May 17 will honor Joel Greenberg and feature scientist Beth Shapiro as the keynote speaker; our exhibit will be highlighted for the attendees. After the Brushwood exhibition, the Portrait Gallery and some of our work will be shown at the Art and Environment Gallery in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. We are in the process of locating a space in Pittsburgh for the Fall. We welcome inquires for possible exhibition of Moving Targets!

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Catching Sun & Surf

CactusStillLifeIt’s been two weeks since I made my sojourn to Los Angeles–my place of birth. I hadn’t been back for seven years, since my partner passed. The impetus for my visit was to give a lecture at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, but I arrived almost a week early to visit old friends and haunts.

I spent the weekend with an old Women’s Caucus for Art friend, Lucy Blake Elahi. I am always so inspired to see my friends of many years still making art, still exploring and learning. It was like we had seen one another a month prior instead of several years having passed.

PepperdineGroupOn Saturday I headed to Pepperdine University with Lucy and her husband Faz, my college art friend Ralph Loynachan, and glass artist Gina Michel to see an exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud’s prints. Since I have been getting back into printmaking, the show was food for a hungry heart. Such exquisite drawing with the most basic of forms for his cakes and pies, and then more recent work of distorted and whimsical landscapes, employing a wide range of print media. I soaked it all up with my friends. The weather was glorious. After our very long and cold winter in Pittsburgh, I felt released, other than the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The next evening, I joined Lucy for her dream group that meets once a week. Each member of this small group draws his/her dream, and then everyone interprets it. The mood was respectful and trusting, and the comments were very insightful. I wasn’t going to participate, but was lured in and drew an older but significant dream. It was interesting that I did not draw exactly what the dream was but perhaps its outcome or result. Where the dream was a bit scary and dark, my drawing was embracing and hopeful. The interpretation by the group was very revealing and moving for me. A wonderful and healing experience.

MemorialOn Monday I met up with my high school friend Suzanne Schumacher and we headed to Ojai to visit transplanted Pittsburgher, Wendy Osher. More glorious weather with crystal clear, blue skies and the ocean to our west as we headed north. Susanne and I spent our high school years in Ojai at what is now renamed Besant Hill School (formerly Happy Valley School). One of our intents was to pay tribute to two classmates who had passed this last year. We found a text we liked from Krishnamurti, who spoke often at the Oak Grove above our campus. We created an impromptu earthwork of stones and branches in the Grove, and read the text, which we left there.

BesantSchoolOn our way out of Ojai the next morning, we visited what is now the campus of the school in the upper valley. In our day, it was the site of the older boys dorms, who were bussed down to the lower valley for classes. It is sad that the original school building has been razed, but the upper valley campus is wonderful. We had a brief chat with a few of the administrators and hope we can arrange a week-long residency there in 2016 as part of a reunion they are planning.

IMG_4418For the final leg of my journey, Susanne and I headed down to La Jolla the night prior to my talk. I spent the next day finalizing my text and slides. My talk was well received. Robert Pincus was the discussant following, and we had a thoughtful conversation about my work. It felt deeply satisfying to have my thinking and work so acknowledged, and to have my two life-long friends, Ralph and Suzanne, present to cheer me on. Following the event, artist Joyce Cutler Shaw who has organized this lecture series for years, invited a group of us to her lovely home for a delicious supper around a lavish still life. A grand finale to a perfect day.

Heading back to L.A., I spent my last evening with my cousin Harriet, who I had not seen for more years than I can recall, but again, it was as though no time had passed. We pored over family photos and caught up.

OjaiOrangeGroveIt was a glorious trip–the embrace of the sun and surf, treasured friends and colleagues, creative and attentive exchanges, common causes and concerns. It was a much needed infusion that will carry me through this next month as I wrap up Moving Targets and head to Chicago.


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Of Pigeons and Prints (2014)

Happy New Year! As you can see from my prior post, the latter part of the year zipped by with no time to write here. A lot was brewing, however, which is now determinedly chugging along, and it’s all about pigeons and prints!

bookcoverMy all-consuming project for this year is Moving Targets, my collaboration with Steffi Domike that links our shared cultural heritage and family migrations to the story of the passenger pigeon.  This project is affiliated with a much larger effort by author and historian, Joel Greenberg, who has launched Project Passenger Pigeon to bring attention to the centenary of the extinction of this unique species and draw connections between its plight and our relationship to non-human nature. Joel’s  just released book (left) has received several notable reviews, and he has a full speaking schedule. You can track his whereabouts here. You can read our project summary and see our work in progress on my Portfolio page (tab above). Moving Targets first exhibition venue will be Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Deerfield, IL, opening May 4, through July 6. Along with our own work, we are curating a “Passenger Pigeon Portrait Gallery” for their library room, which will feature 14 artists, each representing a state/region in the former nesting range of the pigeons.

RaeSterlingAs part of our research for the project, we have been delving into our family histories and lineage, with the help of archeologist Ruth Fichman. She has been an invaluable addition to our team and has unearthed significant information about my mother’s family who lived in Chernigov, Ukraine and immigrated to Alberta, Canada around 1910. With the loss of my mother (left) when I was 6, I also lost many connections to my maternal family. With this project, I feel I am coming home to the family I thought I did not have. It has been thrilling and healing. As part of Moving Targets, Steffi and I are each creating a visual journal/album that will interpret the story of our mother’s families.

A secondary project is a tabletop etching press, which I purchased with a friend (see LOCUS tab above). I have wanted a press for years, and now I finally have it! Currently, we are exploring techniques and capabilities of the press. Eventually, I want to offer classes out of my studio. I love the surprise and unpredictability of printmaking, as well as the varied imagery that can be produced!

ArtichokePrntChineColleSMy recent prints reflect my ongoing study of botanical art, using the simplest method of intaglio printmaking–drypoint. The image is drawn directly onto a plate with a hard-pointed needle. Traditionally, the plate was copper or zinc, but today Plexiglas is also used, as I did in this print. Throughout the centuries, artists such as Albrech Durer (1471-1528), Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601), and Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) used this method among others to make “copies” of their original drawings. After an image was printed in black, it was often hand colored with watercolor paint. Color is added to the print at left using the technique of chine colle (collage). Colored rice papers are placed on the inked plate, with an application of glue on the top surface. Then the dampened printmaking paper is carefully placed over the top, coming in contact with the glue. The print is then run through the press. I am interested in mimicking and improvising on early botanical techniques, which suggest an historic period that predates modern science–a time of discovery, exploration, and wonder in the natural world.

2014 is looking to be a busy, demanding year with Moving Targets being exhibited in three or more venues and weekly printmaking sessions. Stay tuned for updates on both!

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Is It Fall Already?!

AnnArsenalThe summer whizzed by, with two trips to New York, one to the Northwest, and a recent visit to Chicago. The first trip to New York was for the opening of Regenerative Infrastructures at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. My return trip on August 22 was for a presentation at the gallery–a reading of my essay from the Regenerative Infrastructures catalog accompanied by a slideshow. The slides ran independently and were designed to be suggestive rather than informational. On both trips, I had the pleasure of visiting NYC museums and the High Line with Elizabeth Monoian (LAGI). Some highlights were the James Turrell exhibition at the Guggenheim,  The Civil War and American Art at the Met, and the Museum of the American Indian which featured a suite of compelling contemporary Native American prints from Crow Shadow Press.

SquashBl3My northwest sojourn was comprised of inspiring studio visits with Ann Leda, starting off at Vashon Island. We traveled first to visit Jo Hockenhull in Salem, OR where we spent a few glorious days making prints in her studio (which inspired me to buy a press — see the LOCUS page above). Then on to Joan Stuart Ross’ studio in Nachotta–a gorgeous spot on the Washington coast, where Ann and I indulged in making encaustics. I was less pleased with my results than my print (left), but I learned how to layer with wax! On returning to Vashon, I spent my last day and evening with art historian Susan Platt and her architectural historian husband Henry. Susan and I were joined by Barbara Bruch, my old studio mate, for a tour of Buster Simpson‘s retrospective at the Frye Museum, followed by a great barbequed chicken dinner in Susan and Henry’s enchanting garden.

PPsMy last trip of the season was to Chicago to visit with Joel Greenberg, author and instigator of Project Passenger Pigeon, who was a fantastic tour guide. Day 1: Passenger Pigeon dioramas and mounts at the Field Museum; Day 2: field trips to an old growth beech forest where the pigeons nested, a field where they were shot, and some birding nearby; Day 3: a site visit to Brushwood at Ryerson Woods where Steffi and I will have our exhibition next May.

Fall season to dos: Teaching one class–American Art History at AiP; working on Moving Targets with Steffi, getting the press up and running, producing a few LOCUS events, writing at least one grant (for MT), continuing with my botanical illustration including a History of Botanical Illustration course at Phipps, several maintenance and organizing projects, and the list goes on…! Oh, yes, and my continued involvement in Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace.

Happy Fall–Celebrate the wondrous bounty of the earth!

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Spring 2013 Announcements

Book Launch: Regenerative Infrastructures

I am pleased to announce that my essay “Redefining Beauty in the Context of Sustainability” is the lead essay in Regenerative Infrastructures: Freshkills Park, NYC. This lavish, hard-bound volume features thoughtful essays and stunning photographs of the Land Art Generator Initiative’s 2013 Competition, published by Prestel. Get your copy at Amazon! I’ll be in NYC June 26 for the book launch and exhibition of the winning entries at Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. See the LAGI event page for details.

AFTA Conference Exhibition: Sustaining Systems

Pittsburgh artist Rose Clancy and I are co-curating “Sustaining Systems,” an exhibition of 12 local artists/projects for the Americans for the Arts Conference in Pittsburgh on Saturday, June 15. As the the last stop on AFTA’s Green Arts Spaces and Initiatives ArtVentures tour, the exhibition will feature a broad sampling of environmentally themed works, including realized and proposed restoration projects, installations, and discrete artworks.  A public reception from 7-10pm will follow the tour, and there will be an open house on Sunday, 2-5pm. The venue will be LOCUS, my studio and social practice venture, in the neighborhood of Bloomfield. See the web site for a preview of the exhibition and more info. A few examples follow of the work of Connie and Tom Merriman and Angelo Ciotti whose installations will be in the show. Rose is designing a beautiful little catalog funded by GPAC and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Merriman01Sml CiottiSite01

2014 Exhibition: Moving Targets

My collaborator Steffi Domike and I are hard at work on our art installation Moving Targets for the 2014 centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Moving Targets parallels the migration and demise of the passenger pigeon with the diaspora of our mothers’ families from the Ukraine to this continent. We are pleased to be exhibiting this project May 4 – June 29, 2014 at Ryerson Woods art and nature center near Chicago, which will coincide with their annual Smith Nature Symposium, the theme of which will be Extinction/Survival. A few drafts of pieces for the exhibition follow. There will be several of these mixed-media boxes in varying sizes arranged in a wunderkammer-type format. We are looking for additional venues to exhibit this work in 2014 (please contact us if you are interested). For more info about the centenary and Moving Targets see Project Passenger Pigeon.


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Botanical Collages

Thinking of these as part of a larger “tile” mural, with multiple components that can be arranged in numerous configurations.

Plant material, photocopy, acrylic paint, and molding paste on wood panel (each  6" x 6")

Plant material, photocopy, acrylic paint, and molding paste on wood panel (each 6″ x 6″)

Plant material, acrylic paint, and molding paste on wood panel (each  6" x 6")

Plant material, acrylic paint, and molding paste on wood panel (each 6″ x 6″)

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Infinity City: An Atomic Pilgrimage Published in WEAD Magazine

My essay “Infinity City: An Atomic Pilgrimage” has been published in the current Atomic Legacy Art issue of Women Environmental Artists Directory (WEAD) online Magazine. Infinity City was a decade-long (1994-2004) triptych of art installations in collaboration with Stephen Moore that reflected on The Bomb, nuclear energy, and living in the atomic age. Contributors to the Atomic Legacy issue will be exhibiting selections of their art work at the upcoming Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. I attended the conference in 2000. It was probably the most inspiring and life-changing conference I have attended aside from the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995! It is worth every penny if you can get there!

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Northwest Watercolors

A glorious road trip with artist friend Ann Leda beginning on Vashon Island, WA – Mt. Rainier  view from her porch (watercolor 1). Stayed at the home of her friend Norma who has a lush garden bursting with color (watercolor 2). On to Pullman to celebrate the retrospective of my long-time colleague, mentor and friend, Jo Hockenhull at Washington State University. A pleasantly full reception and full moon party the next night with music and a spread of food.  Managed a picnic and swim at the Snake River (watercolor 3) with art historian and writer Susan Platt and her architecture historian husband Henry. Lovely! Return trip through Yakima to visit artist/curator Cheryl Hahn, who is painting/collaging/staining wonderful organic works on wood panels reflective of the golden hills of the Palouse.  Skirting Mt. Rainier back to Seattle and Vashon. Inspired by my friends’ continued art practice/research/writing, process, and production, awed by their deep creativity and commitment.

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