Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 Arcana Workshop New Orleans Day One, Two and Three

Arcana – A Tale of Tarot Workshop

January 20-27, 2018

Saturday, January 20

Today is the start of another art adventure hosted by Katherine Engen of Artventure and my long time teacher, mentor and friend Michael deMeng.  This is the eighth time I have headed out to New Orleans, Louisiana. for a art workshop in the Crescent City.

I have no idea why I booked a 5:24 a.m. departure from Milwaukee but that plan went awry anyway when we got up at 3:00 a.m. to get ready and found out the flight was cancelled.  Delta had me going to Detroit to get to NOLA and helpfully booked me onto another Detroit flight but told me that they were having issues getting me from the Motor City to NOLA.  After a bout of Internet negotiation, I had an alternative flight and was back in bed by 3:30 a.m.

The alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. and the day could begin.  A 9:20 a.m. flight to Detroit, a Noon flight to New Orleans with a tail wind got me to NOLA 40 minutes early.  That meant after a shuttle ride to the Hotel St. Marie, our sleeping hotel, I was able to find Katherine Engen sitting in the hotel lobby.  The Hotel St. Marie has been our great location for these excursions for a number of years but this year I refer to it as the sleeping location because it is under renovation and they are using our workshop space to store the crap for the renovation.  More on that in a bit.

The tailwind meant I was in town early enough to make the second van run with our driver Big Mike out to clay and assemblage artist Linda Berman's home and studio.  Also on this van were Kathleen Hill, Stacey, Tina, Cris, Tara and Kristen. 

This is the second year that Linda has kicked off our event with a rummage sale, an art sale by assemblage artist John W. Fesken and the annual visit with her rescue dogs. 

Because of the nature of this year's projects, I grabbed a bunch of stuff for all of the students in both workshops that we will put out to share.  OK, I might keep some stuff back for me.

After Big Mike drove us back to the St. Marie a group of us decided to hike the three blocks from our sleeping hotel to the workshop hotel, The Conti House.  When you are out on the streets of NOLA, you never know what you will see.

We are using the Conti Hotel space because of the renovation of the St. Marie and it provides a few challenges.  The room is long and narrow and the stairs are a challenge to get to the second floor without taking the cool vintage elevator.  Anyway, it is our home for the workshop this year and we all unloaded our supplies to be ready for Andrea Matus deMeng's class tomorrow.

Marilyn and John Werst, Kelley, Lynn, Cris and I went to the Bourbon House for some great food (I had a great sea food combo).  Because the joint was crowded we were joined by a friendly couple from Seattle heading out on a cruise.  I was on the other end of the table and missed all of the cool talk but a fun time was had be all.  That could also be said for the conversation in the Vacherie bar back at our hotel before I headed up to my room after a long day in the saddle.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Marilyn and John Werst, Kelley, Lynn, Cris and I went to the Conti for breakfast before heading upstairs for today's one day workshop: Face Cards with Andrea Matus deMeng.  Below are Andrea's class samples:

Here is the course description:  "In the mystical world of the tarot reading, there is often one card that gets singled out of the deck before you begin. That card is called the significator and is meant to be the representation of the person you are reading for, also known as the Querent.  Now choosing this card is an important job, the card has to somehow be a representation of you. How do choose…are you a magician? A high priestess? A King or Queen of Wands? Perhaps you are channeling the wheel of fortune, or the lovers?  Our creative task in this one-day workshop is to create the perfect mixed media representation of ourselves, our own unique significator. We’ll start off with a brief introduction to get you familiar with some of the basic symbology and iconography you’ll find in a typical tarot deck. Once armed with this knowledge (don’t worry, you’ll be given a cheat sheet) and a plethora of mixed media techniques you’ll know just what you want to include in yours. We’ll be modifying a small tin or box to look intriguing on the outside and contain a secret tarot realm inside. We’ll construct our own stylized “cards” by creating a multi-layered mixed media collage-assemblage and throughout the process discuss how to incorporate the symbols that will tell our stories or our fortunes. I see a great workshop in your future!"

Andrea Matus deMeng, Katherine Engen and the thirsty Joanne Wotypka 

My workspace for Andrea's class across from Marilyn and John Werst

Photo by Katherine Engen

Class time was from 9:30 to 12:30 and 2:30 to 5:30.  I will be the first to say that I do not function well in one day assemblage workshops.  I tried to get most of the claying done so it could harden during the lunch break.  Kelley and I dashed to Vacherie for lunch today in order to have more class time.

At the end of class, we all gathered in the hallway outside the class room to see what we all accomplished.

The group met in the lobby at 6:45 p.m. tonight to head out to Escape My Room, an old sort of renovated space in downtown NOLA.  The venue is decorated with cool antiques and provides entry to a series of scenarios that involves a group trying to work together to solve a problem.  The first order of business was some appetizers and lemonade before we were put to work.

Photo by Cris Smith

Lynn and I (photo by Cris Smith)

My group was the second of the four and it consisted of Marilyn and John Werst, Tara, Deb, Kelley, Lynn and Cris.  Our scenario was we were locked into a room and requested to help a woman find her missing daughter.  As we followed the clues we would be aided by a voice from the sky who gives us hints if we went astray.  Eventually we gained access to three different rooms to find the clues.  I have to be honest:  I was not a lot of help but I was super impressed with my group and how they could process information in that kind of setting.  We did manage to solve our problem and escape in under 60 minutes, as did two of the other groups.

Photo by Escape My Room

Michael, Andrea, Cris, Kelley, Deb Petronio and I went to Deja Vu for a quick dinner where I had a burger.  We walked back to the hotel and went through the bar--and directly to bed.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Today started off with breakfast at Vacherie in our sleeping hotel with Kelley, Lynn and Cris.  We have the goal of getting to the workshop hotel by 9:30 for the opening of Arcana: a Tale of Tarot Workshop with Michael de Meng.  Here are the class samples:

Here is the course description:  "A Tarot deck is divided into two parts: the Major and Minor Arcana.  In a nutshell the Minor Arcana is about earthly situations and the Major Arcana symbolizes the otherworldly influences on the world.  Personally, I find the Major Arcana to be the most fascinating of the parts, because the cards in this category are so iconically rich…such as the Lovers, The Magician, The Fool, The Devil, and of course the ever unsettling Death card.  This collection of images is really a journey that starts with the Fool and moves through a variety of characters until the journey is completed 22 cards later with the World.  It the journey of all of us…we all start as the Fool and, with any luck, we gain enlightenment and completion.  Last summer it dawned on me that since the Major Arcana embodies such a rich cast of characters, why not literally transform them into three-dimensional beings.  Instead of a deck of cards…perhaps a stage of cards where the theatrics of existence can be performed; a place where the Fool can literally travel and experience the world and beyond.  Thus the Tarot Theater concept was born. Your task will be to create a few puppet characters based on a few cards (Major or Minor Arcana).  Using found objects as your base, you will modify them into a metaphorically rich persona.  Next you will create a little stage or stand for your creations.  This could be one stage to house all your creations or a smaller individual stage for each card you choose to interpret.  Since it is rather unlikely you’ll be able to complete all 78 cards during class, this means you’ll have a choice to make: Which cards to personify?  You could select them based on what most inspires you, or the most appealing story, or the most compelling imagery…OR you could be really daring: shuffle a tarot deck, spread them out face down and let the Fates decide your creations.  Pick a card any card."

Michael deMeng and Katherine Engen with Tina Berrier (probably on her cell phone)

Today we work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a two hour break for lunch.  Here are the underpinnings to the tarot figures I am going to create:

My lunch hour today is spent walking to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo with Marilyn, Kristen, Deb, Kat, Lynn and Kelley.  They shopped the store for tarot card sets while I got a t-shirt.

Photo by Kat

All (but Marilyn) then walked over to The Clover Grill for lunch where I had the Clover Weenie.

Back in class, I continued to work on my figures.

Tonight is the Meet and Greet Event which starts from the lobby of our sleeping hotel at 5:30 p.m. with van rides with Big Mike to the St. Roch Market (pronounced Rock in NOLA).  This is a cool old farmer's market that has been converted into a dining establishment with multiple venues that offer a variety of food and drinks.  We hang out and talk for awhile while I consume my Vietnamese Pho dinner.

Photo by K. D. Duncan

We were then transported up to the Frenchmen Street area where there is music and bars.  I really wanted to go to the open air art market which has been going through some turmoil and reorganization.  It is now OK--not quite the unique place it was when we came here before.

I walked back to our sleeping hotel with Kate, Marilyn, John, and Cris before Cris and I headed over to the workshop hotel.  We worked from 9ish to 10ish before Joann showed up.  Then around 11ish Sue Urquhart showed up.  Cris and I headed back to the sleeping hotel at midnight to end day one of the workshop.

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