Trashy Woman sends German trash to America: Is it Art?

In the US I am a proud member of an Artist Collective called Trashy Women. We are a collective of nine women artists who all have our own artistic specialties. There are painters, ceramicists, jewelers, sculptors, glass workers and some of us work in all these mediums. When we meet as a collective and show together, we make art out of found objects and trash. Some people called it upcycling which is a useful step up from recycling.

Meet the Trashy Women Artist Collective seen here at their opening at the Newark Arts Alliance From left to right: Sue, Caryn, Trebs, Donna, Dragonfly, Jamie, seated Maggie and not pictured Jo, and Mindy. Photo by Mary Lowenstein Anderson
Meet the Trashy Women Artist Collective seen here at their opening at the Newark Arts Alliance From left to right: Sue, Caryn, Trebs, Donna, Dragonfly, Jamie, seated Maggie and not pictured Jo, and Mindy. Photo by Mary Lowenstein Anderson
A good day at the beach. People ask me if I'm collecting rocks and I reply no, I'm collecting garbage to make art. Then they look at me funny and I say I'm picking up glass so the doggies don't hurt their feet. This makes them happy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A good day at the beach. People ask me if I’m collecting rocks and I reply no, I’m collecting garbage to make art. Then they look at me funny and I say I’m picking up glass so the doggies don’t hurt their feet. This makes them happy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In March the Trashy Women will be having a show at the Gibby Center for the Arts in Middletown, Delaware. I really wanted to participate in this show but I’m almost 4,000 miles away in Bremerhaven Germany this year. Bremerhaven has no shortage of garbage, but my tools and art supplies are in the States in my studio. So, what can I create for this show? I had collected a pile of beach glass from the Weser-Strandbad and some broken shards from the street but I wasn’t sure how I was going to put it together without my stained-glass supplies.

March 7-13 2019. If you're near Middletown, Delaware that day I hope you can make the show.
March 7-13 2019. If you’re near Middletown, Delaware that day I hope you can make the show.

I walked to the hardware store for inspiration and found some wire in the gardening section. I figured I could wrap the glass with the wire and create an image from there. An insane, time-consuming undertaking, but what are sabbaticals for if not for projects like this?

Let the madness begin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Let the madness begin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Creating the image. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Creating the image. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I started with a piece of paper equaling the dimensions of the mailing box I picked up from the post office. I wasn’t taking any chances with shipping. Ha ha.

Then I drew an image on the paper and placed the glass on the image using colors and shapes that I felt were appropriate. Once the image was realized I proceeded to wrap each piece with wire and then connected the pieces together. Connecting the pieces was tricky, especially on the first window. I developed a method of “sewing” them together with the wire.

Sewing it together. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sewing it together. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ouch! Working with wire's dark side. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ouch! Working with wire’s dark side. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

By the third one I was a pro. Like all things I make they are over engineered and extra strong. Probably much stronger than they need to be.

Andreas graciously models window #1. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas graciously models window #1. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I then had to figure out how to hang them. I didn’t see any chain around that I liked, so I used some left-over yarn from a scarf I knitted for my sister-in-law and double knitted some rope. In Diez I found key rings to hang them from hooks in the show.

The wave. This piece has sold. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The wave. This piece has sold. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The face finished. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The face finished. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So yeah, they’re weird and very different from what I would have created in my comfort zone at home. I’m happy with how they turned out and they’re very interesting in the sunlight. The wave has sold already from a social media posting and I’m hoping the other two find good homes at the show. After my painting show at Art Impressions Gallery in Bremerhaven on April 27th, I’m hoping to make more.

Dragonfly in the studio. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dragonfly in the studio. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Ready to go. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ready to go. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Hello new in-laws, I bring you eel.

We headed south by train last week to Diez to visit Andreas’ brother and sister-in-law, also my in-laws now I’m happy to say.

Andreas reflected in the train window pulling into the station in Cologne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas reflected in the train window pulling into the station in Cologne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We arrived mid-day Thursday with a box of Bremerhaven smoked fish and an eel wrapped in newspaper. That evening, after dinner, Andreas’ brother Burkhard put an old card game in a cigar box, that he had been storing in his basement on the table. The cards were of tractors, race cars, tanks and ships. I’m not sure how the game was meant to be played but young Andreas had been fascinated by the stats of the various vehicles on the cards and had organized and ranked them accordingly as a kid in the 60’s. We ended up throwing away all but the icebreaker ship. (they were stinky)

20190207_205507 (2)

Friday, we traveled by car on the Autobahn (oh boy!) to Weilburg where we had a yummy, roadside Currywurst lunch and then visited the Rosenhang Art Museum. The Museum was created in a renovated brewery and the eclectic mix of modern art presented is all part of a private collection.

Inside the Rosenhang Museum in Weilburg, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the Rosenhang Museum in Weilburg, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In fact, the owners of this space and collection also sell tickets and walk around monitoring and greeting the visitors. Some of the brewery equipment is still in place and the gallery spaces are rough, weird and totally refreshing after years of experiencing art on boring white walls.

20190208_134121

"Porcelin Car" by Ma Jun, fiberglass 2008
“Porcelin Car” by Ma Jun, fiberglass 2008
My favorite piece in the museum by Cornelia Schleime
My favorite piece in the museum by Cornelia Schleime

Later that evening Burkhard and my new sister-in-law Carina hosted a homemade pizza dinner party with their friends. We had a great time and ate and drank too much.

Burkhard's neighbor friend gets a lesson in pizza dough making before the party. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard’s neighbor friend gets a lesson in pizza dough making before the party. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Saturday Andreas, Burkhard and I visited Limburg to do some shopping and sight seeing. Limburg has some great older architecture that survived the war.

Limburg. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Limburg. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We also got to see some of Burkhard’s restoration work. He’s a master craftsman specializing in restoring very old wooden windows

20190209_122532 (2)

20190209_121242 (2)

Behind the Limburg Cathedral. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Behind the Limburg Cathedral. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

After Limburg we returned to Diez for coffee and cake and then to see Burkhard’s latest project, the restoration of an entire home.

Smallest cookie with biggest coffee. Diez, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Smallest cookie with biggest coffee. Diez, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the restoration. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the restoration. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie in a spooky cellar that would make an awesome speakeasy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie in a spooky cellar that would make an awesome speakeasy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard shares his vision for the house and garden project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard shares his vision for the house and garden project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The next day we drove to Carina’s hometown to have coffee with her parents. Her mother always presents a beautiful table with delicate china, flowers and homemade cakes. It’s really special and her cakes and coffee are wonderful.

Marga gets a lesson on her iphone from Carina after coffee. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Marga gets a lesson on her iphone from Carina after coffee. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Later that night everyone settled in in front of the TV, two of us with our knitting, to watch a German Survivor re-cap show and some strange game show where the contestants were popping balloons with radio controlled cars.

Cozy by the wood stove. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cozy by the wood stove. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Monday, before we returned home, Andreas and I walked to town for coffee and to see the bookstore’s new window. The woman who works there creates really cool scenes with cut-out and painted cardboard.

The sign says if you can see pink elephants you should go inside the bookstore so they can help you. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The sign says if you can see pink elephants you should go inside the bookstore so they can help you. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’ll leave you with a little bit of Diez history that has haunted me since our visit last Christmas. These stairs connect the shopping district to the neighborhood we were staying in and we walked them every day.

20190208_113158 (2)

This sign says:

Down these stairs, 41 Jewish orphans and their tutors were taken in a dark night in a pogrom-like action on 20 August 1935 by Nazi-sympathizing local citizens from the Israelite orphanage next to the castle and were pushed to the marketplace. The next day they were deported to Frankfurt. The married couple who directed the orphanage were probably murdered in concentration camps along with many of the children.

In memory of the victims

A warning to the living

20190208_113223 (2)

(“Translating the inscription, I am appalled by its poor writing. A pogrom is described as “pogrom-like,” violent pushing, beating, and yelling at the Jewish children is described as an “action,” and local citizens are described as “Nazi-sympathizing local citizen.” The voice is passive and the violence is implied. The first sentence reads poorly, because it names neither the perpetrators nor their actions.”    ~ Andreas Muenchow)

According to Wikipedia the Jews in Diez can be traced back to the Middle Ages around 1286, but after WWII, “Almost nothing remains of a Jewish presence in Diez.”

The castle in Diez. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The castle in Diez. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Diez and Limburg are really beautiful cities. If you’re traveling through Germany, I recommend them.

Old in Art School a brief review

When I recently published a blog about my current artwork I searched WordPress out of curiosity to see what other women artists create and write. I came across Dr. Nell Painter and read that she had recently published a book titled Old in Art School. This caught my attention as I’ve considered returning to art school after 26 years to earn my MFA.

Old in Art School by Nell Painter. I recommend.
Old in Art School by Nell Painter. I recommend.

I was hoping for some tips on applying to schools, managing graduate critiques and the general atmosphere and expectations of art graduate school from the perspective of someone older than 25. The book offered this and a truly interesting memoir about Dr. Nell Painter. The full story was unexpected and I’m happy that she spoke of her life experience during her studies, not just the art school happenings. I am sad to read that women are still thought of as somewhat second-rate artists who will probably not become “real artists.” I had enough of that sentiment during the completion of my BFA.

Pages bookmarked for future reference and so many new artists (to me) to look up. Old in Art School by Nell Painter.
Pages bookmarked for future reference and so many new artists (to me) to look up. Old in Art School by Nell Painter.

I recommend this book to women artists and anyone else who is considering a career change mid-life. Also, to anyone who enjoys a beautifully written memoir.

Nell Painter and I both had/have a German sabbatical year. We also hail from Newark. Painter lives in New Jersey and I’m usually in Delaware. I hope to meet Dr. Painter someday to talk about our paintings over coffee or a beer.