The New Nouveau
Shake Rag Alley
June 9-12, 2022, Thursday-Sunday, 9am-4pm
Instructor: Andrea Matus deMeng
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Denice and I got a few things done in the morning before heading out on this adventure around 1:30 PM. We jumped on the freeway and headed south out of Milwaukee to O’Hare Airport in Chicago to pick up our instructor for the week, Andrea Matus deMeng from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and her daughter Raquel. They arrived at 3:15 PM and after the usual luggage pickups and van rendezvous, we were on our way to Mineral Point.
It made sense to stop in Rockford, IL, for dinner and we selected a Middle Eastern restaurant called Sahara. After that break we took a little bit of a scenic route that included a beautiful sunset and almost hitting a number of deer before we arrived in Dodgeville to hit the local Wal-Mart for food and supplies. By 9:00 PM we were in Mineral Point. Andrea and Raquel are staying in Tuck Point on the lower level of the artist’s building while Denice and I are sleeping in Roland’s Loft on the third floor.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
This morning Denice and I had breakfast at the Red Rooster in Mineral Point before picking up the sleepy Canadians and heading over to Shake Rag Alley and Lind Pavilion where our class will be held. After getting Andrea and Raquel jump started, it was noon and Denice and I decided to head to Dubuque, Iowa, for the afternoon, about a forty-five minute drive from Mineral Point, WI.
Denice and I went to The Dubuque Museum of Art whose main exhibit hall was unfortunately closed for an exhibition change over but they had two impressive art exhibitions plus works by Grant Wood and Richard S. Curtis for us to see. Then we head to the Shaggy’s Flea Market where I got a chunk of barn wood and some cow ear tags. Then it was on to The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens whose Japanese Garden and hosta collection impressed me the most. We ended our visit to Dubuque with the overlook in Eagle Point Park before heading back to Mineral Point by 5:00 PM. (You may notice a lack of photos of this experience because-shock-I left my camera in the room in Mineral Point).
The forces are beginning to gather as our art buddies Lynn Ovenden and Lisa Wolf Dittmer were unloading. The six of us made an evening of it at Bob’s Bitchin’ Barbeque in Dodgeville, WI, before we all headed to our various housing to get a good night’s sleep before the first day of class tomorrow.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Today Denice and I had breakfast with our Lynn at The Pointer Café before heading over to the Lind Pavilion for today’s first day of class. It was good to see our art buddies Kelley Clarke and Cris Smith along with a host of familiar faces from previous workshops and a few new ones, too.
Here is Andrea’s course description: “I remember being absolutely mesmerized the first time I saw a print of “Lady with a Fan” by Gustav Klimt. It was stunning and I was captivated by the way all of the different patterns coexisted strangely harmonious and providing such a feast for the eyes. In fact, if I had to name one of my most significant art influences that would be it. Sinuous and organic forms, inspired by gorgeous curvilinear botanicals and the sea, harnessed in Japanese wood blocks prints all provide a wealth of design inspiration for artists practicing Art Nouveau.
In our new approach to this now classic art form we are going to spend four glorious days collaging and winding botanicals and whiplash curves around a central figure. We’ll focus on creating rich layered backgrounds, color mixing, transparent glazes, mesmerizing collage constructs, and adding the perfect accents with an assortment of mixed media materials. I will walk you through the process of creating your own nouveau-inspired stencil, creating botanical shapes and undulating curves with the use of several tools to simplify the process and introduce you to some stunningly creative uses for paint skins. We’ll honor the old traditions and pay homage to Klimt with our skillful use of gold leaf, but we’ll bring this art form into the the 21st century marrying strong geometrics and modern motifs with graceful curves and transform the entire canvas with our use of paint.”
We worked all day today on making art to be included in the poster we are working on.
Denice and I used so much more matte medium then we thought that we planned an evening trip to Dubuque, Iowa, for supplies. Lisa rode along with us as the three of us bought all the matte medium there from both Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Some poor artist who is going to need some is going to wonder what the hell is going on when they try to find it there in the next few weeks. The three of us had dinner at a Mexican restaurant before returning to Mineral Point.
While Denice went back to Roland’s Loft, I headed over to the Pavilion to sit and catch up with my art buddy Cris. Midnight was the witching hour and it was time to go home and get ready for the next day.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Café 43 was the spot today for both breakfast and lunch being within walking distance of the Lind Pavilion.
As to what else we did, it was all lessons from Andrea and working at our tables on our pieces.
Some of us went up High Street after the workshop to visit Green Lantern Studio and my art exhibition. I found out that one more piece, Potpourri-Bot, had sold while I was home (now making a total of four piece sold so far).
That night, Lynn, Kelley, Denice and I hit the Cruise Inn which has the best bar food in Mineral Point. The owner is also the bartender, cook and waitress so we are always amazed at her economy of motion to get things accomplished.
This is probably the time to admit that my art buddy Cris Smith and I work pretty late into the night every night to get our pieces done. Here is a shot of me somewhere before midnight: my deadline to get to sleep.
Saturday, June 11, 2022
Lynn, Kelley, and I were at the Pointer Café at 7:00 AM today to chow down our breakfast because the goal was to shop the Crazy Frank’s Outdoor Flea Market by 9:30 AM, the start of class. I am currently not buying much at these things so I came home with a metal bear head and a piece of a fan.
More techniques were taught today by Andrea while we are all working on our large canvases.
The evening meal was at Grey Dog where 9 of us went to eat. During these economic times. Covid protocols and the shortage of workers, eating in a small town like Mineral Point is a challenge. However, Café 43 and Grey Dog are excellent choices when they are available.
June 12, 2022
Back to the Red Rooster this morning for breakfast and a decision not to go to Dodgeville for the Lion’s Vlub Flea Market despite the fact that it is excellent. We just felt like we need to stick to the schedule and the Pavilion to have any chance of finishing our work.
Over the lunch hour (carry outs from Grey Dog) Andrea, Raquel and I paid a visit to the Green Lantern Studio to show my instructor how her student’s work holds up. To my surprise, four more pieces sold. To say that the sales at the exhibition are exceeding my wildest imagination would be an understatement. So much have sold and some has left the exhibition that Carole and Richard asked me to bring out some replacement next week when I am at Shake Rag Alley again for another course. You know, that is just possible.
At 3:00 PM today we had a mass critique of our work by Andrea Matus deMeng. This is always such a special time in a workshop. People like me, who keep their head down a lot over the weekend, gets to spend some time with all the great efforts of my fellow classmates.
We all spent an hour or so cleaning and packing up our art supplies. While we did have to say goodbye to our friends who have to go home tonight, Denice and I drove to Culvers in Dodgeville with Andrea, Raquel and Lynn.
Then we all headed to our various sleeping quarters to get a good night’s sleep before the big road trip tomorrow.
June 13, 2022
This morning Denice, Andrea and I had one more hearty Midwestern breakfast at The Pointer Cafe. Then by 11:00 AM we had the van packed with supplies and luggage.
By 2:00 PM it was our sad duty to say goodbye to Andrea and Raquel at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Then Denice and I drove back to Milwaukee and were home petting our cat Bo by 3:30 PM.
Both of us send our thanks to Andrea Matus deMeng for a great class at Shake Rag Alley. We also send our admiration to Raquel for her help all weekend long that made it possible for this workshop to happen.
See everyone next year when we will do it all again!