Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Etsy shop is up and running!

I'm excited to announce that my Etsy shop, "WhereEarthMeetsSky" Art and Designs by Kimberly Wachtel, is set up and ready to go. I spent some free time this weekend editing photos that I took last week, writing up my listings and profile and setting up shop on Etsy. This has been on my agenda for quite some time so you can imagine the sense of completion and relief I feel now that this task is finished! I invite you to head over there to check the shop out. Now you know where to go if you want to buy some of my blank greeting cards. The links are all organized on the left hand side of the text here on my blog for easy access anytime.

I know some of you are veteran Etsy shop owners and/or users so if you don't mind, I want to ask you to help a newbie like me along? Perhaps you want to include me in a "circle", you can "admire", or "favorite" my shop. I'm just learning what all this means so any support, advice or feedback is most welcome. Feel free to leave a comment here or send me a personal email. Thank you in advance for your support!

Here are the photographs that I took of my hand designed cards which are now available through Etsy. I'm happy with the shots and what some natural light and a doily or two can do to create atmosphere for a photo shoot. Have a look...

I really appreciate your interest in and support of my creations. Hope you all are well and have a great beginning to your week!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Can't Take Any More: a music video

Here's a "hot off the press" music video created by my husband, Josh, and our friend Rosemary Wessel, owner of Three Salamander Design Studio. "Can't Take Anymore" is a Radio Free Earth original song.  Musicians are Josh Wachtel, Ben Wachtel, Rob Sunderland and Mike Stanely.

This is a timely song and video that expresses the crazy three ring circus like atmosphere of the U.S.'s political climate,  the world of prime time advertising / TV and corporate power. Opposing the images related to this free for all are many true statements expressed by the Occupy Wall St. movement through the posters people make to express their frustration. You'll see that the video is heavily sprinkled with these images of protest. Many people here in the U.S. are fed up with the system of power that exists today and believe that a more balanced, positive and fair world is possible.

Josh's interest in the political climate allows him to have a creative outlet with this sort of music making and video creation. As for me, I'm pretty fed up too and I often choose not to waste too much energy worrying about that in which I don't have much control over. I have decided that my creative/political act is to create beauty in a world where there is a lot of "ugly pollution".  I'm also a big believer that conscious spending of my money to support local homegrown economies, fair labor, made in the USA goods as well as organic, locally farmed food is my political act. So all in all, I think Josh and I compliment each other in our creative styles although we tend to do things differently. He expresses his political outlook in a very direct, outward way through song and video. I quietly go about my mission creating more beauty and choosing to make thoughtful decisions with how to direct the flow of money for our needs, necessities, and entertainment.

Please check out the video and enjoy! If you're so inclined share a few thoughts with Josh under the video on youtube where comments are allowed and/or share a comment here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

January Sunny Snow Day

 I wish I had a device with me to record the sounds that followed me on the rounds of my morning chores this morning. We got another beautiful dusting of sparkling white snow last night. I awoke to find the sun out, bright, shining and reflecting off the snow. The sounds that accompanied me as I filled the wild bird feeders, fed the chickens and admired the the fresh snow was a steady wind whispering through the pines, maples, beech and birch trees that surround my gardens and the cheerful chirps of Chicadees, Goldfinches, and Juncos with a random cry of the Blues Jays here and there coming from the trees. The brisk feel of the air along with the sun on my face made for a very sensory morning. Come along with me to see what's happening this morning...

 Patterns of frost decorate the garage window panes....

 Distant snowy hill as I look out over the garden's raspberry and blueberry patch....

 A neighbor's cat leaving a trace of it's early morning walk through the apple trees...

Winter butterfly bush and sunflower shadows...

Now I know where the expression "cooped up" comes from as the chickens don't like to put their feet in the snow. Although the door is open, lately they choose to spend their time in here.

 Winter berry, white pine and hemlock arrangement in the snow...

Chores are done so I settle into my studio to work with proper refreshment...

Papercuts are on the agenda. My goal is to make twelve "Tree of Life" designs this month. Here is one that is almost finished....

Now, back to work. Thanks for sharing my morning with me!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Polish Posters and the Krzysztof Dydo Collection

- Exhibit of Polish Posters collected by K. Dydo, Instytut Polski, Budapest, Hungary, Aug. 2011

Last winter I was introduced to Polish posters when I took a job at a poster restoration shop called Funnyface Productions, repairing torn paper and touching up color and paint on worn, used and loved collectable posters. Some of the posters struck a chord.  I really admired Polish circus or "Cyrk" posters. I instantly liked their strong, stylized and colorful graphic design.

Soon I was introduced to and became curious about Polish artists' take on cinema. These artists came up with some of the most imaginative, mysterious and artistic movie posters that I have ever seen.  In the U.S. almost all of the movie posters are based around movie stars or scenes from a movie. Polish artists rendered movie posters that were truly creative; an artist's visual inspiration of a film. Besides movie and circus posters I also got a small taste of music, propaganda and political posters. I was left wondering... "What is this all about?"

Skip ahead to Spring 2011... My dream to travel and learn in Poland and Hungary became real as I planned my experience for the summer. Many synchronistic events lined up before I boarded the airplane and once I arrived to my destinations.  

A story of sychronicity:
While in Krakow I wanted to connect with and learn more about Polish posters. On a walk after my art history class I came to a Polish Poster Gallery on ul. Stolarska which is owned and operated by Krzysztof Dydo and Ewa Pabis. It was closed but I made a mental note of it's location and planned to return when it was open and I had more time. I returned a number of days later and spent about 2 hours in the shop looking at the wealth of posters and poster related information there. I introduced myself to and talked with Mr. Dydo, who was friendly and very helpful. I looked at the catalogs and books he put before me as he told me a little bit about his life's work collecting Polish posters and exhibiting them around the world.

- image taken inside Galleria Plakatu, Krakow

How fortuitous is was for me to spend a little bit of one on one time with one of the leading collectors and promoters of this art form. Dydo's collection holds over 30,000 Polish posters, he's exhibited the posters all over Poland and Europe and also in Australia, Mexico, China, Iran, Canada and the USA.  As luck would have it, he shared with me that he currently had an exhibit up in Budapest and it was to still be there when I arrived in Hungary! When I shared with him how I especially like the Cyrk posters he said a man in NYC, a collector and dealer, was asking him to write a book about the Cyrk posters. Dydo shared that the Cyrk posters are not his favorite style poster so for now he is not interested in writing a book. I hope at some point he may change his mind as I'd like to learn more about these posters. It so happens that the man in NYC, asking him to write the book, is the same man we receive posters from in the restoration shop in Haydenville, MA! Small world...  I left the shop happy and full of information after the meaningful time I spent with Mr. Dydo. I bought a copy of one of his books, "The Polish Poster of the 21st Century"
 ...and he gave and sent me away with many leaflets, booklets and postcards relating to Polish posters and exhibitions. Unfortunately this beautiful book never made it to my house in the USA. The box that I shipped from Poland, containing many books, broke open somewhere, somehow, once it arrived to one of the USPS processing facilities. This was a big disappointment as I was hoping to spend more time with the book looking and learning. I wanted to share it with the people I work with at the restoration shop. Also, Dydo himself had signed it for me.

While in Budapest I went to the Polish poster exhibit on one of my last days in town. Here is the street and the location at the Instytut Polski...

Inside the exhibition room a large wall was hung almost floor to ceiling with Polish Posters. A feast for the eyes in their proximity and diversity.

I still have an awful lot to learn about Polish posters. I found a wonderful and informative article on line by Andrea Austoni called "The Legacy of Polish Poster Design". Austoni shares with us the history of the Polish poster from it's birth in the 1890's to how the posters exist nowadays. Most interesting to me is how the Polish poster is such an important contribution to the Polish national art form. Poland's history as a 'non-existent' country in the late 19th century, to it's sovereignty and independence between WWI and WWII, after WWII when Poland found itself under communist rule, and now to Poland's independence the poster often was expressive above and beyond it's role as an advertisement.

In the 1950's, although Poland was still under communist rule, in the creation of posters artists had the freedom to be most creatively expressive. Austoni says this,

"The fierce Stalinist rule had been lifted, once again leaving room for artistic expression. The classic works were created in the next ten years. Three important remarks must be made. First, at the time the poster was basically the only allowed form of individual artistic expression.
Second, the state wasn’t concerned much with how the posters looked. Third, the fact that the industry was state-controlled turned out to be a blessing in disguise: working outside the commercial constraints of a capitalist economy, the artists could fully express their potential. They had no other choice but to become professional poster designers and that’s why they devoted themselves so thoroughly to this art."

I believe that this is why we find so much passion, imaginativeness and expression in Polish posters. For awhile this form is where artists could most express themselves. An identity, a national identity, is infused within the images and graphics of the posters even when what is being promoted is a Fellini film or jazz music.

Please visit the links embedded in this blog entry if you'd like to learn more about Polish posters. There is a wealth of information out there. Austoni has a number of good links at the end of "The Legacy of Polish Poster Design".

(Images of posters taken at Funnyface Productions, Galleria Plakatu and Instytut Polski)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Year for Creating

2012 looms ahead, an empty, blank, snow white canvas awaiting to be painted and marked upon with life experiences.  It's a place where color, dreams and imaginings will become reality. Although I'm not a resolution setter I look to the new year as a marker of time. I look back on the previous year and reflect on what came to be and look ahead to the space waiting to filled with intentions, goals and good work.

I hung my new calendar with January's page gleaming at me, bright and shining, ready to be marked upon with appointments, dates with friends and all that kind of stuff. Then I went into my studio and rearranged things, cleaned things up and began preparing three big canvases with gesso for new paintings that are longing be birthed from my heart and mind into something real.

The canvases and the year mirror each other in their meaning to me. Here we go... off for a ride which is a year of creating on many levels.

I wish for all of you health and happiness in 2012. I believe this year brings us an opportunity, a moment to create our ideals both personally and in the world with others. I wish for a year of great transitions and positive creation.

On New Year's Day I headed out to the woods behind my house and walked on and connected with my land and my two walking companions. It was a warm, beautiful day. We hiked back until we hit a musical stream and then decided to follow it down, down, down the mountain through moss covered rocks, a young hemlock grove, iced rocks and green ferns. At the ending of the trail we came to the beaver pond and admired the different landscape with dried grasses, trees, open space, and a beaver dam. Here are some pictures taken the other day when I went back to revisit all the beautiful things I saw on January 1st. This time of year it is strange to see so much green in the forest. It's one of the blessings of not having snow on the ground by now. Snow is the more common reality. For now I admire the green while I anticipate the snows I hope will fall. Please enjoy the winter green as I did the other day...