Saturday, September 3, 2011

CREATE Chicago 2011

I'm back from an amazing trip to Chicago for my first ever art retreat.  It was a great week and I learned a lot.  Luckily I brought my camera along so I can remind myself of all the new techniques and materials that worked with.  And even better than that, I got to meet and learn from a lot of artists that I have admired from Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors DVDs and workshops.  Among them were Jane LaFazio...
She is great because she refused to use fancy terms for anything and really makes you feel like your intuition is your best artists tool.

That evening, I had a class with her roommate, Helen Shafer Garcia whom I forgot to photograph but, as luck would have it, when I sat down at my table my table mate was none other than Kelli Perkins.

Apparently there was a memo about dyeing your hair a cool color that I did not receive, but no one held it against me. 

The next day I had a class with my favorite mixed media artist, Beryl Taylor.  Her work is so stunning and detailed that it just draws me in.   She had several of her projects on the table and I took the opportunity to look at each one very thoughtfully and listen to each technique she described with eager attention.  

This is me grinning almost unable to contain myself at being in Beryl's company.

The following day I took a class with Rebekah Meier, who's book about 40+ ways to add surface design to various media is a wonderful publication.  I have pored over it many a time.  She was extremely prepared and helpful.  She shared her techniques, supplies and insight and we all came away with several pieces of very unique cloth.

Rebekah is a Chicago native so I can only imaging how jammed her car was with all of the goodies she brought to class.

After dinner there was an Artists' Faire where the instructors and other mixed media vendors sold their work and various supplies.  I was lucky enough to meet Pokey Bolton, someone I admire for her vision of creating not one but two outstanding magazines that have opened up a world of possibilities to me.  She was extremely nice and as you can imagine, full of energy.  Her presence really amped up the atmosphere.

Well, while I was enjoying the fabulous Chicago weather (you don't hear that very often), my home state of New Jersey was bracing for the force of Hurricane Irene.  And she arrived with a vengeance.  In fact, I tried to leave Chicago early and go home to avoid being stuck in Chicago until the middle of next week.  Alas, all flights were cancelled well in advance of the storm and I was stranded.  But, as luck would have it so was Beryl Taylor.  So, we made a plan to go into Chicago together and visit a museum and do some other stuff.  It was a wonderful day and I got to spend part of it in the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art with Beryl.  Truly inspirational, there are no adequate words.  We also took an Architecture Cruise of the city and walked part of the Magnificent Mile.  We had a stop at the Marilyn Monroe Statue before we headed back to the hotel.  And decided that in our stranded state, we NEEDED to have Ghiradelli ice cream for dinner, there was no debate.

Here I am with Marilyn and if you look closely, you can see the Hurricane Irene news ticker going on above my head.  Beryl took this shot before we hopped in our cab and headed to the train station.

Just as I thought the Chicago trip was close to an end, our plane flights were again in jeopardy.  Beryl and I really wanted to get home so we decided to take a Greyhound bus from Chicago to Newark, New Jersey.  Through a series of events too numerous to mention, we ended up on a bus trip that would last 19 hours and made us feel like true travel warriors.  Or at least like we had been in a battle.  (Which we nearly were)

Sometimes strange things happen that are actually ways of making your wishes come true.  If there was ever an artist that I wanted to spend more time with, it would be Beryl Taylor.  And there I was, never mind the grubby bus terminals and uncomfortable sleeping situation.  I got to spend time with an artist who's work is truly inspiring and who's personality was easy going and full of humor.  If I had it to do over again, I certainly would.  And even if your trip to an art retreat doesn't end with a magical mystery tour, I highly recommend it as an inspirational boost.


  1. What a fun and fantastic trip! Thanks for sharing.

  2. So glad to read about your wonderful time in Chicago @ CREATE! It was fun to meet you. I hope our paths cross again soon.