12 October 2016

Local Press and Summer Daze

Back in August, while I was still giving myself a Residency in my Backyard, Christina Waters came to visit my new studio and to talk to me about my artwork.

That visit resulted in an article in our local weekly newspaper.

Here is the link.

Me in my new studio - you have to click through to the article to see my face!

Christina was so kind and inquisitive and totally engaged with my artwork. We could have talked for hours. 

Now that we are engulfed in Fall and all that goes along with that (teaching at two colleges, and workshops every other weekend for me!) I am looking back fondly on that summer day and I'm grateful to have this article to remind me of it.

18 September 2016

Anne and Mark's Art Party 2016

Anne and Mark's Art Party is coming up and I'll be participating for the fifth time.

The Art Party is self-described as An Occasional and Irrational San Jose Arts Fest. It is the brain child of Anne Sconberg and Mark Henderson and it just keeps getting bigger and more amazing and irrational!

There is art, installations, performances, music, and a fashion show, but it is really more than that, and it comes and goes in a week's time.

The first time I participated was in 2009 and the Art Party took place in Anne and Mark's house that was converted to accommodate all of the artwork and performances.

I exhibited some of boxed book pieces, that were scattered about the house, as well as my Maxine pieces:

Maxine Dresses Up for the Silkworms (studio shot by r.r.jones)

The next year the Art Party expanded and was held in a number of warehouses. This allowed the organizers to build walls and rooms to suit different artists' work and installations as well as hold music and other performances in other buildings and outside.

It was here that The Odd Volumes of Ruby B. made her debut. I had been working on Ruby's books and a few wall pieces but it was at the Art Party that I was able to realize Ruby as an installation:

The Odd Volumes of Ruby B., Art Party 2010, photo by r.r. jones

 In 2011, the Art Party again took place in the same warehouses as 2010, but, of course, it was bigger and better.

That year I showed pieces from two different installations. I was working on my Preparing for Evanescence installation that was coming up the next year and I previewed some of those pieces, and I also showed a version of Worthy similar to this:

Worthy, image from Felix Kulpa Gallery installation, photo by r.r. jones

 After a few years off from the Art Party, Anne and Mark brought it back on a completely re-imagined scale. In 2014, the Art Party took place at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds! It was huge! So much space for so much more art, music, and performances.

That year, again, I was able to realize an installation for the first time - something that I had been working on but hadn't really gotten out there. It was a wacky one and the Art Party was the perfect place to debut: Phinnea's World:

Phinnea's World, Art Party 2014, photo by r.r. jones

On Saturday, September 24th the Art Party will once again grace the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Busy bees are already there transforming the space to become another occasional and irrational art fest.

This year I am going to recreate my KEEP: Modern Library installation:

Main Stacks from KEEP: Modern Library (photo by r.r. jones)

Bookskin Spectrum from KEEP: Modern Library, photo r.r. jones

Shelf List, and "skinned books" from KEEP: Modern Library (photo r.r. jones)

Since I haven't seen my space yet I'm not sure how I will install KEEP: Modern Library at the Art Party this year. But, that is the fun of it. It is fast and furious and unpredictable and it comes and goes in a flash.

Hope to see you there!

Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
September 24th - October 1st
Opening Gala: Saturday, September, 24th
Closing Fashion Show: Saturday, October 1st 

26 August 2016

Residency in My Backyard and Blog update

I moved out of my old studio at the end of June, and once I was settled in my new home studio I decided to give myself a "Residency in My Backyard" this August. 
Residency in my Backyard - my new studio


It was lovely with lots of time to: 

play in the studio, 

Bookskin palette for a new piece

Strap woven cotton from West Africa - base for a new piece

made some new stencils based on imagery from a withdraw library book

And, I combined all those elements to start a new piece which is part of my Bibliomuse Series

work on my long neglected yard and pet my cat on my way from my house to my studio, 

Miss Emeline McQueen on my drought lawn

and attend as many performances of the Cabrillo Music Festival as I could. 

Music in the Mountains Venue - Cabrillo Music Festival

It was very restorative.
But, now schools are starting up again and Fall is in the air which is a perfect time to get back to business and update my Blog Pages. "Pages" are the tabs at the top of the blog, just under the banner image. 

I decided to add one for "Exhibits" and one for "Press and Publications", as well as be more vigilant about posting upcoming workshops on that existing page. So, be sure to visit them all and see what's new and upcoming.

Shakerag Hollow Book will be in an exhibit at San Francisco Center for the Book this Fall and I will be teaching an accompanying Boro Sampler Book Workshop there.

I put a link to a couple of Blurb books that I have published about my Preparing for Evanescence Exhibit and my KEEP: Modern Library Exhibit on the "Press and Publications" page as well as links to my KEEP artist's book and some blog interviews and local press. 

Blurb Books for two of my past exhibits

I will continue to dedicate blog posts to select upcoming workshops or exhibits but now I have a place for that information to live that can be updated frequently.

Good luck to all with new school year activities whether that is as a student, parent or teacher, and I hope to see you in a workshop or at an exhibit this Fall.

11 August 2016

Three Days Are Better Than One - Japanese Boro Textiles

I recently taught a three day workshop at Cabrillo Extension entitled: Boro Textiles: Books, Bags, Zokin and Zakka.

One of the students brought in this stunning Boro specimen

I won't go into too much detail here since one of my students, Gayle, wrote a great blogpost with much better pictures than I was able to take. And, a student's perspective is always different than the teacher's! Here is a link to her blog: Gayleygirl

Some of my books brought in for inspiration

For almost two years now I have been teaching the Boro Sampler Book Workshop (see previous posts here and here) and just this last year I developed and taught the Boro Bags workshop (previous post here). They have been very popular and students have done such wonderful work that I wanted to give them three days in a row so that they could really immerse themselves in the subject.

Student sampler pages before binding

On the first day we made sampler books to learn what I call the vocabulary of Boro so that students had the language of the stitching and mending techniques in their hands.

Student sampler pages before binding

On the second day we were able to dive right into the bags since they already had the language down. This allowed them to explore different iterations of the stitching techniques as well as incorporate some surface design techniques into their bags. And, of course, many of the students brought their own gorgeous textiles like this eco-printed fabric:

Student work - on its way to being a bag/tsunobukuro

Day three was a free day where students were allowed to revisit anything previously taught or to dive into something new like a garment, zakka items or an art piece! To my surprise many students wanted to continue on their bags which was just fine and that resulted in some stunningly detailed work. 

This student made a boro-bunny-bear in addition to her sampler book and bag:

 This fabric was on its way to becoming a vest:


The workshop filled so quickly that we immediately planned a second date at Cabrillo Extension and that is coming up in September 2016: information here.

It looks like there may be some longer versions of the class in the works and coming up at a couple of out-of-state venues in 2017 and I'll announce those as soon as things are confirmed and posted.

Next blogpost will be a Fall 2016 teaching round up so you are sure to know where I'll be teaching in the coming months. (And, I'm working on creating a central place where you can go to see where I'm teaching and what is coming up - possibly on the "workshops" page of this blog - makes sense, right? Working on it!)


12 July 2016

Studio Move!

Wishi Washi Studio has moved out of Wishi Washi Studio! But, I'm keeping the name going and continuing with this blog as a place to share my adventures in teaching and exhibiting my artwork. 

To back up a bit, the name Wishi Washi Studio began when I moved into my studio at the Tannery Arts Center at the beginning of 2012. That studio was a place where I taught workshops and private lessons, invited guest instructors to teach, hosted occasional events, and created my artwork. Due to a number of reasons I have decided to move out of that space and into a much smaller space which means that I won't be teaching out of my studio anymore. I am sharing pictures here of the new studio while I am still successful at keeping things minimal (we'll see how long that lasts!) I am loving the light and the white walls - my previous space had no windows and plywood walls.

I will continue to teach, outside the studio, and since the name, Wishi Washi Studio, has become associated with my teaching - I'm going to keep it going. I have enjoyed posting reports on my workshops, travel relating to my teaching, and information and images from exhibits that I participate in, so I will continue to do so here.

My studio website, www.wishiwashistudio.com, will go away since it does not make sense to keep it going. I will continue on with my art website: www.jalexbooks.com - check that out to see past and current artwork.

I will also continue on with my wishi washi studio gmail account, my instagram account and my wishi washi studio facebook page.

To find out about where I will be teaching you can be sure to check this blog since I usually do seasonal round ups of my workshops, but also by joining my mailing list by e-mailing me at wishiwashistudio at gmail.

I want to give a special thanks to everyone who took workshops or private lessons at Wishi Washi Studio. You were the reason I kept it going as long as I did. You truly energized me and brought life to that space. Thank you.

16 June 2016

Squam Art Retreat

I have recently returned from teaching at Squam Art Retreat and thought I would share a little. What a wonderful place!

After spending a few days with friends in the Boston area I headed north and arrived to this idyllic setting.

What a beautiful and peaceful place.

Each cabin is right on Squam Lake and each has its own dock. And, although it was chilly many of us spent as much time in the water as we could - it was refreshing!

The cabins are fairly rustic with no refrigerators or heaters but instead each has an icebox and fireplace. Ice and firewood are delivered daily (the ice is sourced from the lake!)

The icehouse

I was invited to teach my Boro Sampler Book workshop there and was assigned a cabin that would act as our classroom. The main classroom was set up in the living room but we also had an adjoining screened porch where students could sit and stitch.


Of course, students did wonderful and inspiring work!

Everyone began by practicing mending stitches, inspired by Japanese Boro Textiles, on their sampler pages.

Although I bring plenty of fabric I always encourage students to incorporate materials that are personal to them, or at least their own palette and aesthetic. 


At the end of the class we bound the pages into books using the Japanese side-sewn binding. Students can refer to these sampler books later when tackling visible mending projects or incorporating what I call the "boro aesthetic" into their artwork or other projects.

What a wonderful workshop and experience. And, if you are still wanting to see more Squam scrumptious-ness then check out the blog post that my roommate Rachel Hazell just posted.

Thank you to everyone (Elizabeth, Forrest, students, and fellow teachers) who made the week a successful and enjoyable one! I hope to return to this glorious lake someday. 

09 May 2016

Book Arts Exhibits Spring 2016

There are a couple of book arts exhibits this Spring in the Bay Area that are looking quite good, and I'm honored to be included in both.

On Hold - from KEEP: Modern Library series

Every year Seager Gray Gallery puts together an Art of the Book exhibit. Seager Gray Gallery is a year round proponent of the book arts but for this exhibit they always work extra hard to gather an interesting and varied group of book artists.

To Be Shelved - from KEEP: Modern Library series

Three pieces from my KEEP: Modern Library series will be included in this show. 

New Acquisitions - from KEEP: Modern Library series

Seager Gray Gallery
Mill Valley, CA
May 2nd - June 5th, 2016
Reception: Saturday, May 14th, 5:30 - 7:30

Seager Gray Gallery has put together an online catalog on ISSUU that you can view here.

Contact the gallery if you are interested in purchasing a copy. 

In 2001, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art put on an exhibit entitled This Is Not a Book. I remember being newly transplanted to California, being a book artist who didn't know that many artists in the area yet, and seeing this show and being profoundly affected by it. Many of the artists in the show weren't really "book artists" but rather artist making sculptural book objects or conceptual pieces with or relating to books. At the time I was interested in making books that existed more as three-dimensional objects representing books, and all that they embody, rather than page-turning objects with text on them. I wanted the object to tell the story rather than the words on the page, and this exhibit at the San Jose ICA was greatly influential in helping find my new direction. It was the first time I had seen Gaza Bowen's Biliotheca Memoria. If you haven't seen it, or pieces from it, you need to!

This Is Not a Book, Chapter Two is coming up in June 2016 at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Seager Gray Gallery has collaborated with the SJICA and put together, what looks like, a winning line-up. I am honored to be part of this exhibit and will be installing my Exposed Spines there at the end of this month.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
San Jose, CA
June 5th - September 11th, 2016
Reception: June 5th, 2:00 - 4:00

Exposed Spines

There is also a catalog planned for this exhibit but the online link is not available at this time. Check back for updates.

If you are in the Bay Area - lucky you - you can see these shows and you should! If you are reading this from afar, then it looks like you are also in luck since there will be print and online catalogs!

I will be in New England during the San Jose ICA reception but I will try my best to make it to the May 14th opening reception at Seager Gray.