Friday, April 12, 2013

Art Show, "Paths: Sculpture & Watercolor by Kathy Creutzburg," at Michael Mut Gallery

I often end up going to exciting art events because someone I know is acquainted with an artist. In this case, it turns out my boyfriend is friends with a woman who embodies one of the exciting New York City Artist tropes - Kathy Creutzburg is a painter, sculptor and mixed media artist who lives in the East Village and makes things from other things that she has found.

Kathy's show, at Michael Mut Gallery on Avenue C, consists of both two dimensional and sculptural work. I was most drawn to her paintings and wall-mounted mosaics so those are the pieces I'm featuring here.

The show includes subtle, thoughtful touches that I noticed and appreciated.  First, Kathy's work is perfectly sized to fit attractively into the space available (Michael Mut Gallery is a teeny, intimate space which really gives smaller artwork the opportunity to shine as it should). Kathy worked with a curator for her show, Marie Katherine Vigneau, who provided help around which works were selected and how the space was used. The second thing I noticed is a small thing, but it made me really happy - the gallery uses those little thumb tacks with embossed numbers on them to indicate how to find a work on the price list.  Adorable and classy!

Michael Mut Gallery's website has this to say about the show:

"Paths is a collection based on an artist's journey. Her materials and ideas are collected remnants found along different paths. Some of these paths are taken alone, while others are shared. As we move forward, trails both tangible and invisible are left behind. The East River, becomes a metaphor for process, meandering in one direction and then another. .... The watercolors illustrate the journey whereas the sculptures embody the outcome of the voyage."

My favorite works in this show were the pieces that most directly reflected the title.  These are small scale watercolor paintings which contain literal map-like elements. Seeing these little imagined map paintings made me realize that there are a lot of fiber artists whose work is based on making maps, like Emily Miah Stewart, Linda Gass, Valerie Goodwin, and sometimes me! My theory about why this theme emerges so often for fiber artists is that we are very concerned with seeking meaningful ways of filling space, since we have to actively construct every part of our work. 

I wrote a few questions for Kathy based on my thoughts about her show, and she very kindly carved out some time to give excellent answers to them.  Read her responses below, then go see her work:

"Paths," through April 27, 2013  
Michael Mut Gallery 
97 Avenue C at 6th St 

Larger paintings featuring stenciled designs

Could you give some thoughts about what it was like to work your curator?  How did she help to clarify the show's message? What was the selection process like for determining which pieces ended up in the show (joyful, painful, somewhere in between)?

I came across Michael Mutt's gallery a couple of years ago. He is an artist, and I participated in one of his projects. I live right around the corner from the gallery, on 7th Street between B and C. More recently, I asked Michael to look at my artwork at my studio- which is in the back, behind my apartment. He came over, and he offered me a solo show. I was kind of surprised (and ecstatic!) because I had never had one. Marie Vigneau works with Michael, and was my curator, and she was very thoughtful about her choices of which pieces to put in the show. We had the freedom to find the direction that the show would go. After looking over the watercolors and  sculptures on several occasions, particular groups of work began to blend together. I have been working on the idea of paths for a number of years, and the idea seemed to bridge my public art projects with my personal work. We began with the show title Paths That Lead There, which was edited to Paths. I really appreciate feedback from the people I work with because it allows me to think of my artwork in a new way. The edited title addresses the work that we were choosing, as well as opening up new possibilities for future work.

Kathy's work has a fantastic sense of something happening just beyond what we can actually see.

(continued...) In the past, I have collaborated with other artists, a writer, students, teachers, family members, etc., so working with others is part of what I do. My feeling is that more than one mind just adds dimension to artwork. Since Marie and I were both new, we did not begin with pre-conceived ideas about how to create an exhibit. I felt like I had taken my time to find my direction as an artist (which is the hardest part!), and the process had run its course. Marie was then able to think about which pieces fit together aesthetically, and how to place them to make them the most effective. She was also reconciling the connection between the watercolors and sculptures, how paintings of the maps and the sculptures were related. Michael also offered some guidance, as well as my son, Klay. Movement paths connect with so much of what I am doing in so many different ways. There is both a physical and a psychological dimension to the idea. It affects my daily life.

Four small scale map-themed watercolor paintings

You clearly made some very thoughtful choices about how to price your work, and I am curious about how you arrived at your price structure.  As both a fellow artist and a very non-wealthy New Yorker I was greatly impressed by your decision to include incredibly affordable pieces in your show, allowing normal people to own original artwork.

I priced the artwork to be accessible to my present audience, and because I, too, love to purchase art and I lack the budget to do it. I think back to what was affordable to people who have bought from me in the past, and what I have made on commissioned pieces. I really want to put my artwork out for people to enjoy, and the best way to do that is to make it affordable.

Mosaic style pieces made from found objects collected along the East River

Since I normally write about fiber art, I would love to hear whether you have ever made any pieces using fiber techniques such as quilting, weaving, felting, embroidery and dyeing.

I have studied weaving, and when I was a student, I designed and built my own counterbalance floor loom. I was really fascinated with building a machine, and figuring out how the parts work together. I still have my loom, but it is not set up (mostly due to space issues). I also sew and do needlepoint, when a project calls for something like that. At any rate, I find myself bending and twisting things such as wires, steel rod and recycled materials in such a manner that echoes the soothing rhythm of fiber art processes.

The postcard for Cathy's show

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