Guggenheim vase

First of all, very sorry for my radio silence of late. I’ve been struggling to find time to post on here since I began my ceramics degree at TAFE, but I am hopeful things won’t be as crazy going forward. It is all a question of managing my time, and I am slowly learning to do it better. ANYWAY… I’m back! And what better than with a really interesting piece in progress I’m very excited about. I present you my Guggenheim vase, unglazed (can’t wait for the vibrant colours to show up and the pencil lines to disappear).

Guggenheim vase a

Guggenheim vase b

The vase is very tall, almost 40cm (biggest vase I have ever made). Being so big I just HAD to do something really special to it. Enter Pinterest! And this 1975 cover of the New Yorker by Laura Jean Allen. It was pinned to one of my boards over a year ago, probably waiting for the right moment to say “this could be a GOOOD idea”. I spent all of today researching the collection at the Guggenheim, designing the vase and having an absolute ball. Below is but one of the pages of my sketchbook filled with inspiration for today’s piece.

Guggenheim sketches

This isn’t my first museum-inspired piece (MoMA, MetPrado), but I think the reason why the Guggenheim has been in the back of my mind these past days is because of the current exhibition in NYC: Gutai: Splendid Playground. You must agree with me it looks absolutely brilliant. I love how certain ideas resonate and linger in my mind for a while until I do something about them. Sadly, I always have more ideas than time to carry them out… Ah well 😉

Greenwich House Pottery, the results!

So after doing a fantastic course at Greenwich House Pottery in NYC in July, and going back in September do glaze my pieces, my wonderful friend Maria went to pick them up this week. Herewith the results:

ensemble

Now the bowls:

the bowls

Look at the double rim made for this one. Munemitsu showed us how to make this feature based on his own work:

rim bowl

 

I remember tooling this bowl so as to make it as thin as possible:

thin bowl

And a pasta bowl too! This one is actually rather big:

pasta bowl

And my first ever plate. Can’t wait to eat out of it. Preferably a steak or a nice roasted fish!

plate

NOTE: None of the pictures were taken by me, but by my lovely friend Maria.

Greenwich Village in porcelain

SO OBAMA WON!! YESSSS!! And how is Manhattan celebrating? IN BLUE!!

And this post has just GOT to be inspired by this amazing city, and how it inspires my work once again. But first, let’s go back in time, to 1957 to be more precise, and to Greenwich Village.

A party hosted by Art Ford in his brilliant Greenwich Village apartment and with Cy Coleman performing – I can’t think of anything quite so glamorous and just FUN! And what about the closing illustration of Washington Square? ANYWAY…. I then thought, why not do a piece that captures the fun and sophistication of this era? And so my Greenwich Village bowl came to life.

I painted the outside inspired by Greenwich Village facades with the inside being an Art Ford party in full swing! Then I got excited about the results and did another bowl, this one smaller, just concentrating on the guests and musicians.

And then I just HAD to do a mug as well, this time ONLY with dancers. I have more plans for this Greenwich Village party theme, so do stay tuned!

NOTE: Photo of Manhattan in blue is by Shane Walton, and the rest are by Araceli Robledo.

NOTE2: On my way to Jim and Valerie‘s to deliver their Greenwich Village bowl, together with the MoMA and Central Park bowls they had also purchased, the bag in which I was carrying all 3 pieces broke and they smashed into the pavement. It’s been just a few weeks, but don’t think I have recovered from the trauma just yet…!

Queen Victoria Building

In the heart of Sydney’s central business district (or “CBD”, as it is known here), lies this sensuous 19th century shopping centre.  Queen Victoria Building’s interior design is wonderfully lush and romantic, just look at its lifts:

I had originally gone to buy ink for my fountain pen, but spent longer than expected looking at everything the place has to offer. From Aboriginal art galleries,

to a Viennese cafe, Klimt reproductions on the walls and Sacher torte included.

 

There’s also an abundance of jewelry shops – look at the size of the Australian baroque pearls of this necklace oh la la!

And believe it or not, there’s a shop that specialises in tin soldiers!

However, my biggest surprise came when I saw a Metropolitan Museum shop! With classic gifts and merchandising one would buy in New York, this shop was fully stocked.

And in case you missed my posts here and here, I do find a lot of inspiration in museums for my porcelain bowls. For a second time, the Met was subject of my work:

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

 

Bemelmans

In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… the smallest one was Madeline.

This is the opening line for all of the Madeleine books which made their author, Ludwig Bemelmans, famous. Born in 1898 in Meran (Austria-Hungary, now Merano, Italy), he lived in Germany before moving to the United States in the early 1910s. After struggling as an artist and dabbling in writing for years, it wasn’t until 1939 that the first Madeleine book was published.

In my last trip to New York, I went to Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel for drinks and phenomenal live jazz. Here I was able to admire Central Park, the mural Bemelmans painted on the walls of the Bar, his only artwork on display to the public.

It was a terrific evening, our waiter made it even more memorable:

And naturally, there had to be a wink to Madeleine:

Below is a watercolour finished by yours truly while on holiday this summer. I bought the first Madeleine book for one of my neices who is an avid reader. The book was a success as she loved me reading it to her, and I was also able to rip off be inspired by one of its illustrations.

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Harlem & Columbia

On our last day in NY, we visited Columbia University and Harlem. I took the highest number of photographs that day, so I guess that shows quite accurately how much I loved both areas.

Columbia University campus (pictured above and below) is simply stunning. If the architecture alone weren’t enough, the notable list of its alumni is impressive enough to leave anyone bewildered. Jack Kerouac, whose On the Road I’m currently reading, is part of the list.

From there we walked to Harlem. The closer we got there, the cleaner and wider the streets and the friendlier the people. I saw many a brownstone:

But this is my favourite:

Probably because it reminds me of West Side Story and I was somehow expecting Bernardo and his gang to appear (and dance).

Naturally, as with things I really REALLY like, I had to do a watercolour of it:

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo, except from the West Side Story clip, which is via On the set of New York

Greenwich Village

The main purpose of my trip to NYC was to attend a workshop at the ceramics institution that is Greenwich House Pottery. Not only did it not disappoint, it was probably one of the best workshops I have ever taken. And I take A LOT of workshops!

Our teacher, the amazing ceramic artist Munemitsu Taguchi, was top notch. Here he is throwing:

And trimming:

I went back to my studio today to put in practice all that I learnt. Not only was I faster at making vessels, I centred them almost immediately and somehow enjoyed the process more! Here’s a picture of the final 6 that I made at the workshop and are being bisqued:

The location of Greenwhich House Pottery was perfect for some neighbourhood exploration. Like the fantastic wine shop, Winesby, across the road:

Beautiful tree-lined streets with gorgeous townhouses:

And stunning apartment blocks:

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

MoMA

I returned last night from an absolutely amazing trip to NYC. So much was done and accomplished that it can’t all be condensed into one post. So here’s the first installment, a visit to the MoMA. And what a better way to start off than with my newly-finished MoMA bowl:

The bowl would not represent the collection properly without a Warhol. And a trip to NYC with no references to Warhol would also seem flavourless. I’d already been preparing for the trip, and top of the list was Warhol’s studio on 57 Great Jones Street, where Basquiat spent the last months of his life and died of a heroine overdose. Here’s the front door:

On our way to Cafeteria for the first brunch in the city, we walked by the Chelsea Hotel. It was here where Warhol shot Chelsea Girls in 1966, a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel.

We tried to have a super fabulous ice-cream sundae at Serendipity 3, which Warhol frequented before he was well-known, but unfortunately the queue overflowed out to the street…

But back to the MoMA… and to my favourite painting there: Matisse’s The Dance. Here it is hanging majestically:

The BBC series of Modern Masters shot an entire episode on Matisse, which I couldn’t recommend more, and you can watch here:

Although not on view at the MoMA, for reasons I cannot understand, Robert Indiana’s 1967 LOVE screenprint is part of the museum’s collection. The colours, composition and cleverness had to make it to my bowl. Curiously enough Manhattan as a city recognises the brilliance of Indiana’s work and a sculpture of the piece can be seen on the corner of 6th Avenue 55th Street. Perpetually crowded by people, if I may add…

To make the trip to the MoMA even more memorable, there was live music being played in the Sculpture Garden. But not just any live music, it was bossa nova, magical and perfect  for a warm summer night:

Mauricio Pessoa was the genius behind the end to this magical night. And each time I listed his song Boca no Lodo, I am literally transported back in space and time…

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Planning for New York

In a little over 4 weeks I’ll be on my way to New York City for a much-needed 5 day mini-holiday. Three days will be spent here, but the other two days – and every night – will be spent exploring the city. Rather subconsciously I have found myself drawn towards all things New York lately.

One of my recent bowls depicts Central Park surrounded skyscrapers:

The music I’m listening to lately is the soundtrack to Woody Allen’s Manhattan – can there be anything more New York than Gershwin paired with Allen?

I have watched a couple of documentaries on artists who lived in New York. One is The Radiant Child, a stunningly beautiful documentary about the even more beautiful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat:

And the other is Alastair Sooke’s take on Andy Warhol as part of his BBC series Modern Masters:

It’s thanks to this documentary that I have found out that Andy loved going to a place in Manhattan called Serendipity 3. When he was broke, he’d swap his drawings for pastries and ice creams there – his favourite being the “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate with Lemon Ice Box Pie”. This is Andy outside Serendipity:

Obviously, this image has gone straight to my NY trip board on Pinterest.

I know it’ll be hot and humid, packed, expensive… and it’ll be amazing. T minus 22 days and counting.

NOTE: If you wish to know the source of each of the images uploaded, simply click on the image itself.

Greeting cards

It’s been an immensely creative weekend: I picked up some newly glazed pots, experimented with porcelain, and also did a ton of drawings, resulting in these three lovely cards. I’m leaving my house in exactly one week, and a normal person would have been packing. But not me, I was busy working on cards to give to my lovely friends who will let me surf their couches until my visa is approved to move to Montreal. Right now I could actually be doing a search for a space where to store all of my furniture  these couple of months that I am in a limbo. But nooo waaay,  posting about my weekend is more of a priority. But enough of that, as I am freaking myself out with the TON of things I have to do in a week and it’s upsetting me. So, greeting cards you say? Yes, I reply, greeting cards.

Card number 1: Kate Spade AGAIN? Yes… I guess my up-and-coming trip to NYC is stirring my creative juices. Aside from doing my own watercolour version of that fab picture from Kate Spade tumblr, I have also created a board on Pinterest of places where to visit.

Card number 2. You may recall I visited Boston for the first time last autumn. I predicted that my casein painting of a house on Beacon Hill would be followed by many others. I was wrong – and it’s taken me over 6 months to produce another Boston-inspired piece.

I think it’s been worth the wait – herewith my first sketch of the east side of Faneuil Hall:

Card number 3. Although I don’t really post much about my motherland, Spain never ceases to inspire me. Like the beautiful town of Almagro, located in La Mancha, the setting for Don Quijote. A candidate for becoming a World Heritage Site, Almagro is famous for hosting the annual International Festival of Classical Theatre, which I was fortunate enough to attend a few years ago.

The plaza of Almagro (pictured above) holds a dear place in my heart, as it was the subject of one of my father’s paintings. It’s only natural I would follow his footsteps in some way and do my own version:

NOTE: The image of the NYC facade is from Kate Spade tumblr, and that of Almagro is from Wikipedia.