Sandy Takashima Shaw, Santa Cruz Artist

I had the pleasure of meeting Sandy Takashima Shaw, a kind and generous artist.

DECEMBER 13, 2017 from DISCOVERHER blog
Sandy Takashima Shaw sees art as a springboard for conversation. A lifelong painter, she studied fine art while majoring in business. She’s half Japanese and grew up in Ohio, so after graduating she moved to Japan to learn more about her heritage. She then traveled around Asia before moving to San Francisco to work as a marketing manager in the technology industry. After years of painting in the evenings, Sandy was able to quit her day job, travel the world and paint: her dream.

Now she lives in Aptos with her family, paints while the kids are at school, shows in galleries around the U.S., teaches art and does commissions for corporate clients (the SF Google office is her most recent). She still travels annually with her family to surfing destinations. AND, fun fact, she’s also a certified life coach!

Known for her vibrant, mixed media acrylics featuring hundreds of translucent layers of paint, Japanese rice paper and ink, Sandy’s main goal is to be completely authentic in her personal expression. She weaves a narrative throughout each series, with the intent that ultimately, her art stimulates meaningful connection. This can take the form of internal connection as well as an interpersonal dialogue. Some pieces uplift and inspire joy, while some ask the observer to pause and reflect, and some challenge the viewer to look at things from a new perspective.

“My goal as an artist is to create art to ignite positive social impact, thoughtful conversation, and meaningful connection.”

In her newest series, the ‘AND’ series, each painting represents an issue in our current political, social and cultural landscape. The word ‘and’ (or &) is prominently featured in each, always brightly illuminated.

Following the election of Donald Trump, Sandy took to her studio seeking healing. “I was filled with fear, upset, and mistrust with our world leaders.” As she began painting, spilling black tears and blood over a map of the world, she thought, “How can the world heal?”

“I believe the concept of the word ‘and’ is healing. It represents ideas such as inclusivity, acceptance, collaboration and it is expansive… The enlightened ‘AND’ is an invitation for the viewer to take a moment to step out of the chaos and feelings of despair to open their minds and embrace the ‘AND’ mindset. What possibilities and solutions exist that have yet to be explored? Is there a way we can bridge our differences? Is there a middle ground?”

Out of this series, the idea was born to create an ‘Art Inspired’ Salon, bringing people together to “think about positive actions we can take in our lives to create the world we want.” She holds the event at her studio, where attendees come together to enjoy bites, beverages and conversation, study the series on display and discuss their findings.

“I believe that if we stay optimistic that positive change is possible, we will be more motivated to take personal action, both small and large, to make the world a more compassionate and kinder place.”

Sandy has now held four ‘Art Inspired’ salons, which debuted at the last Open Studios. Her next one will be on February 3, showcasing the ‘AND’ series, and YOU are invited! “It will be an engaging evening of artful conversation and meaningful connection… with delicious appetizers, wine and non-alcoholic mocktails.” Tickets are $40 in advance, AND she is offering a special price for the Discover HER tribe: a whole 50% off the ticket price! Just use the promo code: DISCOVERHER50.

She says, “The time has come for feminine leadership to rise and heal our country and world.” Thanks, Sandy! We look forward to joining in the discussion.

Current and Upcoming Events

October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018

Resilient and Revived, from the Black Heart Sculpture Series

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

The Chamber of Heart and Mystery Exhibit

January 5 – February 4, 2018

Spoken/Unspoken Juried Exhibit

Santa Cruz Art League

Reception: February 2, First Friday, 6:00-8:00pm

February 8 – March 17, 2018

Amy Ahlstrom,Urban Quilter

Welcome to Arc Studios News! This newsletter features events and activities of artists, nonprofit professionals and micro business owners that are part of the creative community at Arc Studios & Gallery 1246 Folsom Street San Francisco.

Arc Studios & Gallery
Arc Studios News September 2017
This month Arc Studio News features artist Amy Ahlstrom who works out of studio #206.

A Conversation with Amy Ahlstrom                
by Sherri Cornett

As a child, riding the train to Chicago from her home in Waukegan, through the poorest and richest neighborhoods, past burnt-out, abandoned buildings and the fanciest of shops, urban quilter Amy Ahlstrom was instilled with a love of cities and their diverse, visual richness.

At the age of five, Amy already felt compelled to draw and sew, inspired by old National Geographic magazines and, her big obsession, Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. After getting her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Amy spent ten years as a cartoonist and then as a graphic designer. “Making comics, which was essentially creating mini-compositions in boxes, really strengthened my design ability in general.” She describes herself as an “image-making machine,” an analogy backed up by her numerous brightly colored, quilted works, which often become historical records of city neighborhoods.

SC: Amy, I can imagine you as a young girl, face glued to the window of the train, taking in all that is passing by. How have those earlier years in Chicago influenced living in San Francisco?

AA: I still Iove to ride any sort of public transit to anywhere I’ve never been before. Sometimes I’ll just get off a bus or train and explore a new place. When I lost my job as a designer during the first tech boom, I had no money but I did have a Muni pass, and I rode every train and bus. Even now I have every bus route number memorized. It was really cheap entertainment!

SC: These perambulations are so evident in your art. Would you tell me about your medium and process?

AA: Most of my work is urban quilting, in which I use samples of hundreds of photos I take of found imagery from city streets – graffiti, signage and sticker art – to design my quilts. I’m inspired by seeing anything new, whether it’s a patch of sidewalk or a new mural in a back alley. My style is greatly influenced by pop art, graphic design, and street art, and this is reflected in the images I choose and the way that I create compositions.

I will typically bring 6-8 images into Adobe Photoshop, where, similar to a DJ, I sample, add, subtract, change color and scale, resample and change again. Then I design the quilt full-scale, create paper patterns to cut by hand from silk and cotton and fuse these together to form the quilt top. I quilt free-motion, in that I move the fabric under the needle of the sewing machine to create patterns. It’s very similar to drawing with brush and ink; if you sew too quickly or too slowly the line quality suffers.

SC: I notice that most of the people you portray in your quilts are women. Is that a deliberate choice?

AA: Yes. Last fall I began developing a new series of portraits of women, and they are both text-heavy and more political in nature. Lately I have been creating what I call a “double reverse portrait”, in which I make a portrait twice but flip the second panel
so they are mirror images. It is fun and challenging to try to make a second quilt that is a reversed “copy” or something that evokes a screen print, in that these are made by hand and so they can never be duplicated perfectly. I exhibited the first two double portraits at Arc’s “Resistance” show that ran from July 22 until August 12.

SC: What would you like viewers to go away with from your art?

AA: I want to challenge the idea of what a quilt can be. For me, it is just as natural to make art from fabric as it is to draw on paper. That’s partly why I stretch my quilts over canvas and frame them. That said, I am first and foremost a quilter and that’s why I don’t cover the quilts with glass. I want the viewer to slowly realize that they are looking at a quilt.

I love when someone sees my art for the first time and instinctively gets what it is that I’m trying to do conceptually. It’s even more meaningful when a viewer goes deeper and wants to talk about why I do what I do. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy participating in Open Studios and why I am currently the co-chair of the Open Studios Committee for ArtSpan in San Francisco. They give me more opportunities for meaningful interactions.

SC: Was there a moment when these interactions were particularly rewarding?

AA: During a residency at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, I had asked the community to send me pictures- of themselves, their neighborhood, and the places they loved- to be considered for inclusion in a quilt. At the opening one of the people depicted in a quilt, a local singer, showed up with her whole family. It was so wonderful to meet all of the people connected to the images and to see them along with art that I created. It was the inspiration for my new portrait series.

SC: And finally, what is it like to have your studio at Arc and be part of the Arc community?

AA: Arc is really a kind and supportive family of artists and partners. There is a great vibe in the space. Each show and opening brings an entirely new crowd and opportunities to open my studio and interact with folks. The partners who run Arc are truly dedicated to having Arc be a destination for art, artists, and the art-loving community. I appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making this place hum and I love the history here.

Amy Ahlstrom’s website is
Sherri Cornett is a curator, consultant and artist living in Billings, Montana.

Amy Ahlstrom, Double Diamond     

The 6 Habits of Highly Effective Artists

Here is an older article I found on Twitter that bears repeating. Edited for space. Although the author is referring to painters, the ideas apply to all types of artists.

The 6 Habits of Highly Effective Artists

Do you want to be a great and highly effective artist?

I do. I might be getting a bit obsessed with it, actually.

Ideas pop into my head unexpectedly. I keep a long running list of ideas for improving my work.

I also study how the most successful artists got where they are, and I pore over every word that they write.

If you want to be a great artist, you should, too.

I wanted to find out what all these top artists had in common. Their mindset, their mental habits.

I spent a lot of time observing, which led to this list of the six success traits shared by all top artists I’ve found. I’m happy to share it with you.

The good news is that even if you don’t have all these personality traits already, most of them can be developed over time. Best of all, if you can cultivate these traits, you’ll become more effective in the rest of your life as well.

1. Highly Effective artists are prolific

The first key to being a successful, highly effective artist is to create. A lot.

The more you create, the better you get.

There’s no way around it; it takes work to be prolific. And effective artists work hard. Putting a successful art career together requires a lot of time in your studio, and not surfing LOLCats or Twittering about what you had for lunch.

2. Highly Effective artists are lifelong learners

If you’re a new artist, you’re probably on a steep learning curve at the moment.

Maybe you tell yourself that things will get better when you’ve been doing it longer. There won’t be so much to learn. You’ll have systems in place soon and everything will run smoothly.

Sadly, I think this is a myth. I’ve been painting and working my career as an artist for more than 15 years, and it keeps changing. Just when you’ve got one element sorted out, something new happens. Or becomes obsolete. Or mutates in 20 different directions.

If you want to stay ahead in art, you have to keep learning.

Fortunately, being curious and wanting to learn keeps you young and your brain active. A love of learning doesn’t just set you up for a successful art career, but for a successful and happy life.

3. Highly Effective artists are focused and consistent

Highly effective artists move consistently toward their vision.  Their work has a consistent voice and approach. Even when they move toward something that may be off topic, they relate it back to their greater vision.

4. Highly Effective artists plan ahead

Highly effective artists know where they’re going. They have a master plan and they stick to it. Yes, they adapt based on feedback, but always in service of a vision.

They don’t let themselves get derailed. They follow the plan.

5. Highly Effective artists are persistent

Highly effective artists understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. Real success rarely happens quickly.

Time is on your side. To get to the top takes consistency, hard work, serious study, and lots of persistence. Successful artists don’t give up.

6. Highly Effective artists are self-starters

I’ve been self-employed as an artist for years.

I’ve noticed a lot of people like the idea of working from home, working for themselves, being their own boss. But if you want these things, you need to be able to manage yourself.

No one is going to sack you if you’re late. No one reminds you of important deadlines or nags you to get your sales numbers up.

If you want to be a successful artist, you need to be a self-starter. It’s not enough to have good ideas. You have to act on them.

Eli Leon, collector of quilts and other items

Eli Leon — A lifetime of quirky collections for sale

Eli Leon and Lemmy. Photo courtesy of Eli Leo Living Trust
Eli Leon and Lemmy. Photo: Courtesy of Eli Leo Living Trust

For 55 years, Oakland Reichian psychotherapist Eli Leon collected kitchiana, textiles, aprons, vintage clothing, traditional standard quilts, and, most famously, Afro-tradition quilts which he bought in California and on repeated research and collecting trips to East Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas.

Beginning on June 23 through 25, Geneva and Julie Addison will be selling his collections, other than the Afro-tradition quilts, in his home at 5663 Dover St. in Oakland, a few blocks south of Berkeley. The collections are breathtaking — manifestations of a driven collector with a sharp eye for acquisition and for juxtaposition in his home. Proceeds from the sale will go towards Leon’s care. See their blog about the sale, with more than 500 photographs.

At my Quirky Berkeley blog, I explored Leon’s life, home and collections. Here I present a small portion of the wonderful quirk that will be for sale this weekend. The first weekend of the sale will deal with the non-textile collections. The traditional quilts and other textiles will be sold later this summer. The sale is first come, first served. It represents a perfect chance to pick up some pre-collected quirky material culture and to honor a great scholar and collector.

Describing Leon’s collection is not simple.

A homemade vest, using a grits sack for the fabric.

Leon’s most famous collection is of African-American quilts; it is the hope of his Trust that the collection be preserved intact by a museum or consortium of museums, so none will be for sale. About 100 of the traditional American quilts, but here are a couple photos that give a sense:

Double Wedding ring-yellow

Double wedding ring quilt. Photo: Chere Mah
Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on June 15th, 2017.

Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on June 15th, 2017.

Leon kept most of his quilts in temperature and humidity-controlled airtight vaults.

Leon was a passionate and driven and skilled collector. I have never seen a better opportunity for buying quirky little things, and visiting Leon’s house will give a glimpse into the world of that driven and talented collector.


Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.

Studio Art Quilt Associates: Featured Artist: Maria Shell

Maria Shell is an inspiration  to artists around the world.

SAQA Featured Artist: Maria Shell

Maria Shell

Maria Shell  Anchorage, Alaska

Artist Statement

Since 2011, I have been working in a series called Colors Grids. This has been a very satisfying explo-ration of patchwork as art. I love to layer pattern on top of pattern. Essentially, I am piecing, with my sewing machine, my own prints. These quilts are modern day tapestries of color, pattern, repetition, and stitch.

According to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, my Color Grid quilts are inspired by and related to the following quilt blocks–The Red Cross Quilt, Stone Mason’s Puzzle, City Streets, Squares and Square, and my favorite, Crossed Square.

Limiting the structure of my work to the traditional quilt block has allowed me to go deep into color and print. How do I get color to vibrate? How do I get a self made print to read against another self made print? How can I stitch these elements together so that the viewer sees not only hundreds of scraps of fabric but also the SUM–the whole as greater than its parts? What would happen if a traditional bed quilt ate a healthy dose of psychedelic mushrooms? Those are the questions I am trying to answer.

Vintage and contemporary commercial solid and print cotton fabrics, as well as hand dyed cotton textiles I have created are the materials I use in my work. These textiles are improvisationally and ruler cut and then stitched into a two dimensional surface. Once I create this pieced canvas, I spend hours on my long arm quilting machine stitching the top to cotton or wool batting and a fabric backing. The final step is to bind or face each individual piece.

TRIBE © Maria Shell

Beyond my love of the process of making a quilt—the hours of stitching, designing, ironing, and cutting—I am also a fierce advocate of the quilt as a legitimate art form. Many art quilters shy away from the word quilt and work actively to bury any references to the tradition in their work. They use the materials and techniques of the quilt while publicly denying its ancestry, preferring instead to align themselves with mediums more easily recognized as fine art—painting and photography, in particular.For years I have stood alone on this issue. My friends would say, don’t call yourself a quilter—there is so much baggage there! And I would say that is the point, but it is not baggage—it is a tradition and a history, and I stand on the backs of those who went before me with the hopes of moving this craft into new territory that celebrates the past while simultaneously embracing the future.

What makes me happiest is to create the most wacky colorful beautiful quilted compositions I can and then share them with the world.


SAQA: When did you begin making art with fabric? Do you work in other media as well?

SHELL: I started stitching when I was four years old. My mother let me use old clothing, and I made all kinds of things in the way that children do—stuffed animals and dolls, handbags, and pillows. I did not have sewing patterns or fancy fabric. So, I went at creating with what I had. My mother promised me a sewing machine when I turned ten, and I held her to it.

I think of myself as a maker whose primary medium is cloth and stitch. There is something about working with these materials that makes me feel good about myself and the world.

Dance Party at Tamara’s House © Maria Shell

I am obsessed with daily art projects. Last year for Project Every Day, I wore only clothing I had made for an entire year. Every day my youngest son would take my photo in the same place—the dirt road we live on. I would then post that image on Instagram. Right now, I am very intrigued by paper collage. I started with cough drop wrappers. Every day, I add a new material (usually paper) into that day’s composition. As I run out of a particular material it disappears from the compositions. I have been posting a new piece every day on Instagram. I am not particularly good with mixed media, but I am loving the journey.SAQA: What inspires you?

SHELL: I am constantly inspired by pattern, repetition, color, and the traditional quilt block

SAQA: Have any artists or art movements influenced your work?

SHELL: I think of my work as hard edge painting made with stitch and fabric. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric Abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting. Some of my favorite artists are Frank Stella, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and Bridget Riley.

SAQA: What techniques and materials do you use?

SHELL: I am about as old school as you can get. I always say we piecers do three things—we cut, we stitch, and we press. I use a ruler, and I don’t use ruler. I use vintage and contemporary cotton textiles and hand dyed fabrics. I stitch on a Bernina 640, and I quilt on a Gammill Classic Plus.

SAQA: Where do you create?

SHELL: I have two studios. The main studio is in our home in Anchorage. My husband has built fabric and quilt storage all around the room—it is a highly functional space. I have two sewing centers—one is an old desk where my Bernina lives, the other is a long arm quilting machine. On the front of the studio is an L-shaped cutting station with a view of our front yard.

My second studio is very primitive. It is the back half of an old garage which is attached to our dry cabin in McCarthy, Alaska. There are holes in the walls where the summer breezes comes through, and it is totally powered by the sun. It also has a huge design wall.

SAQA: How do you reconcile the art-making and business sides of your creative life?

To Agnes Martin, with Color © Maria Shell

SHELL: I spend at least half of my time: teaching; writing blogs, lectures, and grants; using social media, and connecting with people via phone and email. I like to get that work done first and then I can go into the studio. If I start with the studio, I have a very hard time quitting and moving into office, but I never have a problem quitting the office work and moving into the studio!SAQA: Have you published in art-related media?

SHELL: C&T is publishing my first book this year. It is called Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape. You can preorder the book here.

I did a short interview for the Quilt Show at the 2016 International Quilt Festival and I am taping a longer episode in August of this year.

I am also part of the SAQA video Stitching Together a Global Community.

SAQA: What are you working on now? What’s next?

SHELL: I just received a fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation to create 12 new large pieces based on the curved quilt block called Flowering Snowball. I have done a lot of linear work over the last five years, and I am very much looking forward to this new challenge.

I have joined a new small art group called Cloth in Common, and I will be producing new work based on challenges suggested by the members.

Project Every Day—the project where I wore only clothing I have made for an entire year—is moving into the next phase. I am hoping to make a stop action flip book style movie and a series of 12 quilts composed of the remains from the clothing.

I will also be having a solo show at Hello Stitch in Berkeley, California in November & December of 2017.

View more of Maria Shell’s work on her website and SAQA Juried Artist Member profile.

Connect with Maria Shell on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to her Blog.

Studio Art Quilt Associates Featured Artist: Cindy Grisdela

Sharing an interview with a great art quilter,

SAQA Featured Artist: Cindy Grisdela

Cindy Grisdela – Reston, Virginia

Artist Statement

From my studio looking out over a lake in Reston, VA, I draw inspiration for my contemporary wall quilts from the view of nature outside my window every day. Pebbles on the path or currents in water might become part of the texture I stitch into each piece. Color combinations in bird feathers or flowering plants might slip into the palette I use to start my next design.

My abstract art quilts are designed improvisationally without a preconceived pattern, a little bit like jazz music. Each decision about color and shape influences the next and complex blocks repeat like beats of a melody, calmed by irregular plain areas that provide a resting place for the eye.

The color is the first step. Putting colors together intuitively, I use fabric the way a painter might use paint to create graphic compositions that engage the viewer from a distance, yet invite a closer look.

The texture is the second step. The stitching lines provide contrast and dimension to the piece, integrating the different elements into a cohesive whole. I do all of my stitching on a sewing machine, but it is entirely hand driven. There’s no computer program or marking ahead of time. I stitch the motifs freehand using the needle and thread of the machine like a pencil or a brush.

I come from a long line of women who have expressed themselves using a needle and thread, although curiously there were no quilters in my family. Creating with various forms of fabric and thread has been a part of my life since I was a child, and I’m self taught as a fiber artist, with lots of experimentation along the way. My formal education includes a BA in Fine Arts from the College of William and Mary and an MBA from George Washington University.

My work is represented by Chasen Galleries in Richmond, VA, and can be found in a number of private collections all over the country. I am a teacher and author.


(Click images to enlarge)

SAQA: When did you begin making art with fabric? Do you work in other media as well?

Uneven Bars © Cindy Grisdela

GRISDELA: I’ve been sewing since I was 10 and my mother decided I was old enough to be trusted with her beloved Singer. I studied art in high school and college and experimented with painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture and weaving.I made my first quilt in 1983 after seeing an article in a magazine–a queen size Trip Around the World. After that I was hooked and I spent a number of years making traditional quilts as a creative outlet while I raised my family. About 15 years ago I got bored with following patterns and started seriously trying to make my own art in fabric.

SAQA: What inspires you?

GRISDELA: I’m inspired by abstraction, color and texture. I enjoy playing with color and seeing how various colors and shapes interact. I think one of the reasons I create with fabric instead of with paint, for example, is the ability to add another dimension to my compositions by adding the stitching texture with dense free motion quilting. I want the stitching to be an integral part of the composition, not just a means to hold the three layers together.

SAQA: Have any artists or art movements influenced your work?

GRISDELA: I have a degree in Art History, so there are always lots of influences rattling around in my head. I love Abstract Expressionism, especially the Color Field School of artists. Matisse’s cut outs are important to me, as are Klee, Kandinsky and Klimt. I’m also drawn to the work of Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Among quilt artists, I am indebted to the work of Gwen Marston, who was an early influence.

SAQA: What techniques and materials do you use?

Nautilus © Cindy Grisdela

GRISDELA: I use hand dyed fabrics to create almost all of my current work–mostly by Cherrywood Fabrics. I experimented with dyeing my own fabrics a number of years ago, but realized that’s not my skill, so I’m happy supporting others who do it well.All of my work now is created using improvisational piecing techniques and free motion quilting. I enjoy the dialogue that happens when I’m just cutting out colors and shapes intuitively and letting one decision lead to the next. It’s a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only I get to decide what the picture is going to look like. I do all my quilting freehand, without marking ahead of time or using a computer program.

SAQA: Where do you create?

GRISDELA: I have a studio in the basement of our townhouse on a lake. I look out on the lake while I’m sewing and it’s a very peaceful retreat. The commute downstairs is great too! I also have a shared space with nine other artists a short distance from my home. I’m the only fiber artist in the group, but it’s good to be around other creative people and share inspiration. I try to spend one day a week there.

SAQA: How do you reconcile the art-making and business sides of your creative life?

GRISDELA: That’s the tough part. For the last ten years I’ve been traveling extensively showing an selling my work at fine art and fine craft shows all over the country. I do about 12-14 shows a year. I also have an active blog and presence on Instagram and Facebook, and I’m a regular contributor to the SAQA Journal.

Probably I spend about half my time on the business side–writing, applying to shows, keeping my website up to date, marketing, and other business. I like to spend time in the studio in the morning and early afternoon, because that’s when I’m most creative, and work on other business later in the day. I have to keep lists and work backward to make sure enough time is allotted to keep my inventory up for the shows, so sometimes I’m writing blog posts or marketing pieces on the road.

Lime Medley © Cindy Grisdela

SAQA: Have you published books or been a guest on an art-related media program?GRISDELA: My new book, Artful Improv: Explore Color Recipes, Building Blocks & Free Motion Quilting, was just released by C&T Publishing in October 2016. It’s a friendly guide to creating your own original art quilts without a pattern, using simple design principles and improv techniques.

SAQA: What are you working on now? What’s next?

GRISDELA: I will continue doing shows, although probably not as many in 2017, since I’m doing a lot more teaching in conjunction with the book. It’s such fun to see a diverse group of artists come together for a day or more to explore their individual creativity. Each person’s work is different from the others and different from mine because we all bring our own personalities and history to the table.

I also have plans to work on a new series of larger improv quilts. The great thing about improv is there’s always something new to explore!

View more of Cindy Grisdela’s work on her website and SAQA Juried Artist Member profile

Connect with Cindy Grisdela on Facebook and Instagram

Follow Cindy Grisdela on Twitter and Pinterest


Maria Shell, Alaskan Quilter

Faculty Profiles: Maria Shell
For more than 35 years, QBL has brought world-class faculty to Central NY for 2 weeks each summer. This year, we’ve invited Maria Shell to teach two signature workshops  Abstraction through Color, Pattern, and Repetition (2-days) and Making Prints out of Solids (3-days). Maria Shell’s work is grounded in the tradition and craft of American quilt making. She strives to take the classical components of a traditional bedquilt and manipulate them with the hope of creating surprising combinations of pattern, repetition, and color for the viewer.

An interview with Maria
All of your quilts have such bold graphic colors- have you always worked this way? If not, how have your quilts changed?
This is my very first quilt. (right)
So, I would say that from the beginning I have loved bold graphic colors and compositions. I remember studying for hours and hours quilts that I liked. I wanted to figure out what I liked about them and how I could duplicate that. It really is about creating contrast through pattern, color, or value.
You also have worked on many community quilt projects. Can you tell us some more about that and the people you worked with?
I started making community quilts as a way to justify my quilt making obsession. I tried to make a community quilt for every baby that I knew in Valdez, Alaska. I would collect the blocks from other moms and then stitch them together. Lots of quilters helped me make those quilts happen. I have written about these quilts in several blog posts listed below.
In the fall of 2014, I was an Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Art & Innovation in Charlotte, North Carolina. A big part of that residency program is community engagement. I worked with a formerly chronically homeless population to build a community quilt to be installed at Moore Place, their new home. That was an amazing experience and a spectacular quilt. If you would like to know more about my residency, Moore Place, and HOME the community quilt we built, you can by following these links.
I love the deep meaning of community quilts-we are literally stitched together.
The underlying structure of many of your quilts is actually a simple grid, can you tell us more about how you get so much complexity and variety out of grids?
For six years, I have been working in series called Color Grids. They are based on a traditional quilt block that goes by several names including The Red Cross Quilt, Stone Mason’s Puzzle, City Streets, Crossed Square, and my favorite, Squares and Square. It is essentially an uneven nine patch. One of my missions as an artist is to claim the traditional quilt block as a legitimate art form.
I have challenged myself to use this same grid over and over again-just like a gridded traditional quilt. But instead of things remaining static, I expand and contract the grid while also filling the space with different information-color, print, shape, and line are always changing within the constraints of the grid.
Funky Monkey has a slightly different format. If you look closely you will see that Funky Monkey is really sixteen blocks placed in a grid with sashing. The direction of the lines within the blocks creates interesting figure ground work. The eye moves back and forth trying to decide exactly what is ground and what is figure.
With Solstice, I introduced print into the mix. I am still exploring how to successfully do this.  Adding print to the mixture definitely opens up some new possibilities, but it also complicates things because it is one more variable to contend with.
What do you like most about teaching Abstraction through Color, Pattern, and Repetition?
  I love this class because it really is the sum of what I have been working on since I began making quilts. The students start with an image of their own and, with my help, figure out how to abstract it. The compositions that have come out of this workshop are amazing! Here is Wendy Hoag’s quilt that she started in this workshop.
What do students take away from this workshop?
 Students get the opportunity learn about how I use color, pattern, and repetition to create abstract work, and they discover that creating original work is exciting and do-able.
What do you like most about teaching Making Prints out of Solids?
Making Prints out of Solids is a simple concept with mind boggling opportunities. We all recognize prints in our every day lives-stripes, polka dots, herringbones, chevrons, and even plaids. In this class, we recreate and piece our own prints. It is super exciting. This is sample of what the students learn how to make in this class.
What do students take away from this workshop?
Students will learn a lot about color and how pattern and repetition can be used to create dynamic compositions. They will also get a clear handle on how to cut and piece improvisation-ally  while also learning some slick technical tricks to help all those pieces fit together in the end. Kate Yates made these two quilts after taking this workshop. I think they are incredible!

More Classes & Information on QBL 2017

QBL Classes  Housing Participant Information
How to Register QBL Quilt Show QBL 2017 Brochure
Questions? Call the Schweinfurth Art Center at (315)255-1553 or email today!

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Schweinfurth Art Center · 205 Genesee St. · Auburn, NY 13021 · 315.255.1553 ·
Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn, NY 13021
Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact

Alice Beasley, fiber artist

Upcoming exhibitions for Alice Beasley.
Come See the Gator in Chief
Exhibit: June 3 – June 28,2017
5327 Jacuzzi St., Suite 3-C
Richmond, CA 94804
Opening Reception: June 4 from 1 to 4 p.m.
In this solo exhibition, I’ll be exhibiting several works never seen in the Bay Area before including “Feeding Time at the Swamp” and my “Undercurrents” series of underwater ballets.
Last Chance
The Neuw Politic: Artists Explore closes at the Petaluma Arts Center
on May 20.  Artists from throughout northern California give their take on the current political scene.  My quilt “No Vote No Voice” was named first prize winner.
“No Vote, No Voice,” quilt, 60″ x 36″

Now through May 20
Petaluma Arts Center

230 Lakeville St.
Petaluma, CA
Dynamic Diversity: Quilts by African American Artists
This show opens at the Texas Quilt Museum from June 29 through October 1.  My piece, “A Kiss Goodbye” will be among those exhibited.  Other artists include Marion Coleman, Carolyn Crump, Michael Cummings, Michele David, Valerie Goodwin, Carolyn Mazloomi, Dindga McCannon, Valarie Poitier, Frances Porter and Sidnee Snell.
“A Kiss Goodbye”, 59″ x 44″
June 29 through October 1
140 West Colorado
La Grange, TX 78945
National African American Quilt Conference
Lawrence, Kansas will be the host city for the first National African American Quilt Conference. In conjunction with the convention, the Lawrence Arts Center will be presenting a group exhibition of six quilters.  I am delighted to be showing “I Always Try to Keep an Open Mind” along with several works at this exhibit.
“I Always  Try to Keep an Open Mind”, quilt 56″ x 48″
July 12 through August 19
940 New Hampshire St.
Lawrence, KS 66044
Reception: July 28, 5 to 9 p.m.
More Shows Coming
I have additional exhibits coming up this summer and fall including “Blood Line” which will have its first local exhibition this fall at the Harrington Gallery, Pleasanton, CA.  So stay tuned.
Visit my website:
Fybrart, 1018 Park Lane, Oakland, CA 94610

Eucalyptus Sculpture at UCSC Arboretum

Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, and Roy Holmberg are collaborating on a fabricated and forged steel and painted concrete with vermiculite sculpture representing Eucalyptus pods and leaves. Their vision of placing this twenty foot scolpture against a fence as if blown by the wind is brilliant. You can see their very different and compelling installation and 10 other fabulous installations at the UC Santa Cruz Art in the Arboretum : Environmental installations exhibition starting May 20 till November 17.
Opening reception is May 20. 3-6pm.

About Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, and Roy Holmberg and their installation titled 3+7
Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, Roy Holmberg
Fabricated and forged steel, with burlap, concrete and vermiculite

On our first trip to walk around the arboretum, looking for inspiration, we quickly zeroed in on a eucalyptus grove; our initial inclination was to build something in the grove using the bark that littered the ground as our main material.

On our second trip, looking at specific sites, we started collecting eucalyptus seedpods, and had an idea about a very large pod or groups of pods. As we collected more samples, Roy found a twig with leaves and pods, and with that in mind we visited yet again to look for a specific site for a large version of that twig. When we saw the fence, we started thinking about the relationship of a twig and a fence.

To some extent, the fence dictates the sculpture, and their relationship is important. The idea that the twig would blow in the wind and be caught by the fence was the genesis of our final sculpture idea.

Working in collaboration is both rewarding and challenging. We each bring our own skill set and ideas to the mix, with combined experience in metal work, drafting, horticulture, painting, mixed-media sculpture and forging. Our own working methods may be quite different from what we’re doing as a group.

Because we’re a group, it’s helpful to have the sculpture planned in great detail in advance, so we worked with templates and a scale model. This type of planning helped us to cement our ideas (no pun intended), and to articulate with each other what it is that we are after.

Ultimately, we are making the sculpture that we are able to make *with each other*, in a collaboration, and it will be quite different from what each of us might make individually.

Jamie Abbott

Born in Syracuse, New York, Jamie Abbott now has a studio in Santa Cruz, California. He earned his BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He was an instructor at Cabrillo College from 1973 to 2013.

He has shown regionally and nationally and has numerous private and public commissions.

“My background in sculpture spans more than forty years and my use of materials and process covers the traditional as well as non-traditional methods. The fundamental aesthetic issues: such as composition, asymmetry, form, line and plane are primary issues/concerns I refer to when designing my work.

The aesthetics of presentation of my sculpture envelops the work from its beginning stages. The visual value of the work as scene by the larger audience is so dependent upon the totality of the finished work. It culminates with the adage that the work must speak for it’s self.”
(831) 239-3511
2575-C Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Barbara Downs

Born in Virginia, Barbara Downs now lives in Santa Cruz, California. In 1983 she earned her BA at UC Santa Cruz in studio art, focusing on traditional lithography on limestone.

During this time, she made her living as a draftsperson, doing electro-mechanical drawings on vellum, and later in AutoCAD. Among other jobs, she did mechanical design and drafting for an early private rocket company.

Barbara’s art now spans multiple mediums including painting, drawing, encaustic and sculpture. She has shown regionally and nationally. Her work is included in the collection of the University of California as well as various corporate and private collections.

“I work in multiple mediums with little allegiance to specific subject matter, though my bodies of work are conceptually and aesthetically connected. While disassembling and reorganizing the visual information and materials at hand, I investigate themes of containment, confinement, and the protective or aversive shielding of precious internal information.

“My work involves real and vigorous physical action: scraping, erasing, stitching, nailing, welding. I often paint with large rollers for a broad mark, and then scrub and mar the surface. This physicality brings out an “object-ness” in each piece.
(831) 234-1154
2573 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Roy Holmberg

Native son of the Golden West, grew up in Southern California and have resided in Santa Cruz since the early 80’s. Navy Veteran, registered Landscape Architect and retired burecrat. Opened my art studio in the year 2,000 and have been in numerous local, regional and statewide shows..

“I do not engage in the fancy art speak, so I will just describe my processes in terms that a blacksmith would understand.

“I work in metals, ceramics and wood using a variety of tools to shape and mold materials into pieces that strive to capture the spirit of the craftsman era. I particularly enjoy working with hot forged metals which allows a normally rigid material to become plastic and able to be worked into fluid organic shapes. Nothing like getting a piece of steel hot, hitting it hard and shaping it into a thing of beauty.

“For most of my work I use a combination of materials and it is not uncommon for me to incorporate found objects into my pieces. Raw materials may originate from a scrap yard, flea market, yard sale or be found washed up on the coast. Gathering raw materials can often be as challenging yet rewarding as constructing the work. I enjoy creating my pieces and take special satisfaction from turning cast off items into artistic work.”
(831) 251-5657
2589 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Image may contain: 2 people, child and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and table
Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor
No automatic alt text available.
No automatic alt text available.
LikeShow more reactions

Comment | |
%d bloggers like this: