The Handmaid’s Tale

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For the first time in a while, I was genuinely shaken from watching a tv show or film. The Handmade’s Tale television series made my stomach cold … “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. (Google) Scary stuff. 

Since I hammer-watched the series last April, I’ve been excited to dress as the character “Janine” for Halloween. I mean … what’s more terrifying?

Yesterday evening, I asked photographer (and my awesome studio-mate) Scott David Gordon if he would snap a few quick photos of my costume in the parking lot of our studio. As usual, he went above and beyond and nailed it.

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Thank you, Scott!!
Now, to read the novel.
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Visit Scott’s work at scottdavidgordon.com or catch his awesome new podcast “Austin Art Talk” where he interviews Austin artists, gallery owners and curators —> for those who create and love art.
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Photography :  Scott David Gordon
Creative Direction & Costume Construction : Emily Galusha

All photos ©Scott David Gordon. For usage please contact me directly. Thanks!

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italian intensive

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Late 2015 marked a time of change, freedom, release. By the end of the year, dust settled from several unexpected life shifts and I was ready to grab life by the … you get my point. Last year, I felt charged – hungry to explore and learn. I began writing my goals on little post-its and sticking them to the inside of my closet so that, when I dressed each morning, the hot pink pieces of paper would act as motivators. Pink bursts of positivity. One post-it read “2+ week sabbatical to work on my art“. I began speaking outwardly about my creative goal, looking for places to stay in regions like West Texas, New Mexico or the Atlantic NE. As long as I was learning and creating, I was open to what the “sabbatical” or time away looked like. The more I opened up about it, the more suggestions I got. And a beautiful offer fell into my lap.

I was accepted into an artist residency in Terni, Italy. SCORE. For over two weeks, I was away from Austin, working alongside a group of talented and passionate women, focusing on printmaking and exploration.

My lack of knowledge of anything Italian (aside from a deep love for pasta, cheese & wine), plus the fact that I hadn’t practiced printmaking regularly since 2001, was the combo that excited me most. It was an open field. No expectations. My plan was to go and be and make (and eat).

 

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Watercolor of the Colosseum, Rome

I flew to Rome for some quick site-seeing before attending a two-week printmaking workshop at La Romita School of Art, located in the hills above Terni in central Italy. The workshop was taught by Katherine Brimberry (Co-Founder, Director & Master Printer of Flatbed Press) and Susan Davidoff (accomplished Artist based in the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas).

La Romita was once a monk’s monastery established in 1548 (so dreamy!). It remained an active monastery until the early 19th century after the monks left, when the grandparents of signora Amina Quargnali purchased it as the family’s summer home and farm. Some of the olive trees at La Romita are still living it up at over 300 years old! La Romita School of Art first opened in the mid-1960s, under the guidance of Enza Quargnali. For 50+ years, artists have stayed at La Romita, painting and writing in the beautiful Umbrian hill country, “whose radiant golden light has charmed artists since the days of Perugino and his famous pupil, Rafael”. Much of the original structures remain intact, including the Chapel-Studio.

 

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Chapel – Studio at La Romita

 

Our small group spent the majority of our time focusing on individual work or exploring Umbria and Tuscany. During the residency, I focused on my “Undercurrents” figure series. Getting my hands dirty in a different, but familiar, medium released some new ideas. I crept into a direction to further explore. Initially, it was intimidating to work alongside some of these artists who are grounded in their lifelong creative career, women with years of experience. It was energizing and humbling. More than a few times I wished my mother, also an artist, was there to experience and create. I quickly settled in and absorbed as much as possible, valuing each moment. I am nuts about the printmaking process and have a lot to learn. My dreams at night were lively and intense, my subconscious working hard to digest everything. It is rare for an artist to be given sustained time and space to create. I was in heaven.

 

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We visited over 14 towns and historic locations and spent no less than 5 hours a day in the studio or press room: “Italian Intensive”. Below is a slideshow of artwork and various moments. Flatbed Press will be having an exhibition of our work next Spring, including some pieces created in Italy. I will also have a few prints hanging in my studio during EAST this coming November. I value my companionship with these creative people from around the globe and look forward to staying connected.

 

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Thank you to everyone at La Romita for your warm hosting, to Kathy & Suzi for your knowledge and encouragement, to Mike for your support, to Momzie & Dad for being you. And to Italy, for lighting my fire.

a self portrait by someone else.

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During the East Austin Studio Tour last fall, I met Richard Casteel, a creative and driven photographer based in Austin, originally from Greenville, SC. He has an interesting path that includes travel, water, the earth, meditation and capturing milliseconds. We met for coffee to discuss his portrait series and ended up connecting on a few different levels, as reflected in his Artist Statement: Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.  I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.

He asked if I was interested in modeling for the portrait series and, his process being a synergic one, I looked forward to collaborating. We met in his studio shortly before Christmas and I brought a few items unique to my story (Luna’s hair, my antique Colt Single Action Revolver, horse skull, family jewelry, the dress I wore for my wedding reception [first time I let it touch me since], a gown I wore in DVLS RVR). We listened to music, talked, brainstormed, took some portraits. The tune of the imagery was based on where I was in life at that moment … feeling free from a past tornAdo, motivated to do and learn, high off my own resilience, excited to absorb life. His goal was to capture the freedom, power, emotion and strength I was feeling at the time. [Thank you, Richard!] I am working to open up more in my creative expression and this is part of that process. Tapping into my weird. My real.

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Please read Richard’s Artist Statement below and, if you find yourself in Austin tonight, Saturday 7/22, come on out to the opening of a group show at Black Lagoon, which will feature several photos from his series.

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In my past I was a scientist.  I have moved on from studying cause and effect relationships of a seemingly well defined existence.  I now live in a world of creation – more akin to the quantum world – where experience is deeply tied to thought and feeling.  For the last few years as a photographer/artist/meditator/conscious explorer I have become and continue to become more acutely aware of the reality of this world – that which you think/feel, you create. My photographs are often an initial vision/concept/thought I have in my mind that I then express through visual media – this is the fun of the creative challenge.

I feel like this series is still in its infancy.  It was born from the unexpected loss of a deep, deep love – sparked by a girlfriend insecure about me taking a boudoir photography job.  Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.  I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.  I am eternally grateful. 

– Richard Casteel
Richard Casteel Website
@beesrcc

 

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essential qi

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Watercolor and design … what a stellar combination for branding. Last fall, I was hired by Essential Qi to create an identity for their company as well as packaging for their line of Chinese Medicine Inspired Acupoint Aromatherapy. The company was started by two professional acupuncture therapists based here in Austin. They created three essential oil blends: Shielding, Restful, Soothing. Included within each roller bottle is a stone pertaining to the blend’s function. Each blend smells super yum.

Below you will find the logo I created as well as the finished packaging that I designed, illustrated and produced (using a local printer). The colors are pulled from the 5 elements in Chinese Medicine and the look is an ethereal, balanced and healing one. The packaging includes the box, roller bottle with label, and an informative insert complete with application illustration.

 

Full and Reverse Logos:

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With Jenny Hoger and Phyllis Kung at the Essential Qi launch party held at BFree Yoga in Austin.

 

To learn more about this new line of traditional medicine inspired aromatherapy blends, created in Austin, click HERE.

D V L S R V R

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D V L S   R V R

when tread hits bridge
our heads habitually turn
towards the drop,
our eyes scanning
for the glint of sun on water,
an old instinct
embedded even 
in us big city slickers

especially out here 
in this border kingdom of
limestone and sage 
where the sun punishes
and all that stands between 
life and death
is a plastic jug of 
hot Aquafina 

and even with a jug
our throats are dry
and our heads are dizzy
when we finally submerge
in the blue seam 
that splits the desert, carrying
sky and minnows and beads of sweat
all the way to Coahuila 

they say the devil 
came to the river in 1841
when a Texas ranger
surveyed the prickly pear cliffs
and muttered: hell,
but like all borders
the one between 
heaven and hell is more porous
than we’d like to admit

from the hostile rock 
cold springs flow 
straight from the karst
to our naked shoulders
and we sigh a small prayer 
of relief 

 

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mixed media collaboration :
poetry by clara | drawings by emily | photos by both

 

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On a Thursday in mid-July, close friend and writer, Clara Bensen, and I headed Southwest from Austin towards the Mexican border. Our goals were loose and simple: escape work & city with camping gear & camera.

One evening before our trip, Clara and I discussed how we’d separately hit creative walls and wanted some sort of spur or ignition. Late summer in Texas can get a bit draining, so we hoped these few days away would allow us to relax and be inspired. No timeline, just four days and a few select destinations. Being surrounded by nature of most kinds has always been stimulating, allowing a sense of release.

We spent nights at Seminole CanyonDevil’s River State Natural Area, and Hill Country State Natural Area .

Our Devil’s River campsite was a 22-mile drive off of the main highway, down a rough dirt road into a desert haven rich with sotol and prickly pear cactus. To reach the river, we hiked a (long) mile and were rewarded by cool water. The land was well preserved, filled with an array of animal and plant life. Down river was a natural cold spring, busting from the rocks. We explored the area as if we first discovered it. While there we both took photographs, which planted a seed for a collaboration. It had been a long time since I shared a creative partnership with someone in this freeform fashion and I was very motivated. Something new.

The images above are from the Devil’s River area, shot by either Clara or me. The poem “DVLS RVR” is written by Clara. “Big Dipper”, “Devil’s River” and “Sotol and Cloud” are my pen and ink illustrations.

undercurrents

dance & drawing. movement. cycles.

i switched majors in college when i was 19 from ballet pedagogy (university of oklahoma at norman) to visual art (university of arkansas at fayetteville). ballet was a passion of mine but i found that it may not have been my calling. i love dancing … tap, modern, theatre, lyrical, ballet. i wasn’t too shabby at it, but i felt my heart pulling towards working creatively with my hands.

diving into painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and everything else was very therapeutic and natural. however, i missed dance like crazy. after all, i danced from when i was 4 to 18. i ended up taking instruction at a local dance studio, which satisfied that need. while finishing up my BFA, i decided to challenge myself with finding a unique way to express the melding of dance and drawing. i researched various dance photographers and took several figure study courses. figure study from professor ken stout was an inspiring set of courses that pushed me further towards my interests.

at the time, i ended up painting a few pieces that i felt achieved the goal i was going for. but after college, the project was put on hold.

last year, i was inspired by a motivated friend to do a little clean-out of ye ole soul. time leaves its baggage piled up in your chest and sometimes you have to get in there and clean it out. you also have to take time to appreciate all the goodness. it is a great favor to do for yourself. so i began to find a healthy path toward focusing on emotional, physical, spiritual clarity. it’s not something to cross off of your “to do” list, but it’s nice to shift your lifestyle just a bit to gain clarity and let go of some aging hook-ups.

during this process of journaling, sketching, reading, pacing, analyzing, resting (and a little bit of dancing), i began my “undercurrents” series. i’m a pretty private person and have been wanting to challenge myself by exposing a more emotional side in a tasteful, expressive manner. i worked with dear friend and talented photographer Lily Darragh back home in little rock to shoot a couple of dancers. i shared with her my goals, we painted a backdrop and did some planning on how this would best play out.

Working with a dancer during the Little Rock photo shoot.
working with a dancer during the little rock photo shoot.

after spending quite some time narrowing down the emotions/narratives i intended to convey, i built playlists to correlate with each narrative. we met one afternoon with two dancers that ended up really pushing the idea. as the dancers listened to the music, i loosely “choreographed” the shoot and encouraged them to improvise and tap into their own forms of expression. it was a pretty incredible experience watching these talented girls put my description into action.

the photos turned out better than imagined: i now have a beautiful custom library of photographs to create from. and they all tell a personal story. i am currently in the process of organizing the photos, sketching from them and creating mixed-media paintings while also creating from live models. more to come …

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thank you to jenny wittenberg, georgia & ashton, lily and momzie. 

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[dancing to the bangles, of course.]

austin medical marketing.

in december of 2013, i was hired by tarrytown pharmacy to handle their design work. the shop is family owned and operated and has been open since 1941. i enjoy doing creative work for them as there exists a steady consistency within the design work … and i grew up with a pharmacist for a father.

i worked closely with the pharmacy’s marketing specialist, delta lane. she recently resigned from her position there to follow her ambition of opening her own marketing consulting firm. in this process, i was invited as partner, handling the design work. i continue to work with tarrytown pharmacy but am excited to have this new avenue of design work open up.

along with myself, delta also partnered with kristy ryan, founder and CEO of lexicon medical. together, the three of us make up austin medical marketing.

from the humbling press release sent out last week : “Just like the providers they serve, these women are successful in their own specialties doing what they do best. And they have recognized the wisdom of collaborating and exploiting each other’s skills. This group of Austin businesswomen offers a powerful marketing and sales team that is uniquely suited to address the needs of Austin medical providers.

Austin Medical Marketing provides practices and healthcare facilities a strategic marketing plan specific to the local community including branding, content creation and media relations.”

i created the branding for the new marketing firm:

 

branding
(logo, stationery design)

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website

click here to view full website.

For more information on Austin Medical Marketing please visit the website link above or email Delta at dlane@austinmedicalmarketing.com.

what’s the point?

acupuncture has proven to be an excellent alternative and complimentary method for remedying ailments anywhere from allergies to sports injuries, hormonal imbalance to toe aches. jennifer hoger has had much experience in the field here in austin and in california. so much so, that she has decided to venture off on her own and develop a solo practice. she specializes in both herbal healing and acupuncture.

jennifer is kind, intelligent and very easy to work with. i’m looking forward to get acupuncture therapy from this gal.
jennifer hoger acupuncture : 512.270.0634 : 709 W 34th St., Ste C, 78704

logo:

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website design:

please visit her website where you can read more about her, see photos of her clinic and book an appointment.