Wandering the Isthmus on Saturday was much like navigating a warm jar of honey — slow, sticky, and, thanks to many vendors peddling fresh-squeezed lemonade and other sugary goods, sweet.
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the 65th annual Art Fair on the Square, saw densely packed crowds strolling at leisurely speeds down State Street, pausing to pick up a painting or a sculpture at some of the more than 400 artists ‘ booths lining the sidewalks.
Under the shade of a well-trafficked booth sits Greta Sandquist and her many paintings. This is Sandquist’s third Art Fair on the Square, her favorite yet, she says, due to her status as this year’s featured artist, a title given to her by a committee at the museum. Her featured piece, an oil and copper leaf painting of a fox titled “Edge of the Forest,” made the rounds on T-shirts and programs for this year’s art fair, as well as being available to bidders at a silent auction tent.
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Sandquist is one of many artists for whom events like the Art Fair on the Square are a primary source of income. While she’s enjoyed setting up shop at similar events, she says this particular art fair is special.
“I’ve loved every year that I’ve been (at the Art Fair on the Square), it’s one of my favorite shows that I do,” said Sandquist. “What I love is being able to interact with people who buy my art.”
So, every year she loads up her pieces and travels to Downtown Madison from her home in St. Paul, Minnesota, guided by her love of art, which she says began in childhood. She started selling acrylic paintings in 2011, but she’s since grown fond of oil paints in her work, which she uses to add a “thicker texture” and “more movement” in capturing her primary inspirations: nature, women and animals.
“It’s hard to describe why someone makes art, it’s that creative drive in me that makes me want to paint,” she said. “I love using a lot of color and texture in my paintings.”
Further off from Sandquist’s booth, the dreams, nightmares and encounters of Tomas Savrda take physical form. His assemblies and kinetic objects, as he calls them, feature doll parts, clowns and sculpture work. Many involve multiple layers, moving parts. His inspirations were varied, he said, but many came from his subconscious, with an emphasis on dreams, the environment, childhood and, most of all, the human condition.
“Sometimes I see the dark side of things, and I mean, you know, you have to take these things in stride,” said Savrda.
An Art Fair newcomer, Savrda drove from Connecticut for the weekend and set up shop at 5 am Saturday. While this is his first Art Fair on the Square, it’s far from his first endeavor into art. He doesn’t recall exactly how many years it’s been since he quit his career in advertising for art, a decision he made so that he could “do whatever he wants, instead of being told” but it’s been at least three decades, and he doesn’t plan on putting his materials down anytime soon.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” he said.
Behind much of the color, sound and flavor of the day was Marni McEntee, communications director for MMOCA. For McEntee, this weekend meant a “huge undertaking,” hours of preparation, committee meetings, and other types of organizing on the museum’s end to go into the fair each year.
“It’s been a great turnout, that’s really important,” said McEntee. “A lot of the artists make their living on the art fair circuit.”
For the museum, the fair is a large fundraising opportunity, powering things like free educational programming. For hotels and restaurants around the city, it’s an influx of customers, an economic boost. For the 425 artists working booths, the fair is a chance to interact with the people buying their art, showing pieces to new crowds. For the community, it’s a slow walk around Capitol Square, perhaps with family and friends, set to a soundtrack of the Bee Gees from a speaker, Billy Joel covers and a cappella opera music.
The more craft supplies you have, the more important it is to organize and label them so you know what you have and where to find it. Ditch the boring labels from the store, and instead make your own creative DIY labels for organization.
Then you can add your personal style and create labels that match the supplies you own. Here are some unique labeling ideas to help you organize your craft stashes in a creative and personalized way.
Paper labels are versatile and can be easily crafted using plain cardstock or patterned paper. You can stack multiple layers to create a framed look.
Customize them with your own handwriting or calligraphy, or if you prefer a more precise look, write on them with a Cricut machine.
Another option is to choose a computer font you like and print the labels using your home printer. To make the printing process even easier, consider using premade template kits like those available from Avery.
Their online program allows you to enter the product number for the labels you’re making and align everything perfectly so your words print in just the right places.
Supply options for making paper labels
Sticker labels are convenient as they come with their own adhesive. Sticker labels work well for labeling file folders, boxes, and plastic drawers.
For permanent applications, you can use Neato sheets. Alternatively, try Cricut printable vinyl if you prefer something repositionable.
If you have a Cricut machine, take advantage of its Print then Cut function. Design your own stickers, search Design Space for label templates, or browse Creative Fabrica for ready-made options.
Supply options for making sticker labels
If you enjoy sewing, chances are you have some favorite fabric scraps that you don’t want to be part with. Fabric labels are an excellent way to use them while also keeping them on display.
To create fabric labels, use an iron or EasyPress to apply some Heat n Bond fabric stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric.
Then use a rotary cutter to cut the fabric to the size you want for the label. The fabric will have some structure and hold its shape without fraying.
Cut iron-on vinyl and apply it to fabric scraps. You can also embroider the letters directly onto the fabric for a more handmade touch.
To hang the fabric labels, attach them with a clothespin or add a grommet and loop the string through to hang them from a basket handle.
Supply options for making fabric labels
Chalkboard labels are still popular too. You can either make them yourself or purchase ready-made sets from stores like Michaels. If you prefer a DIY approach, take wooden tags and paint them with chalkboard paint.
To ensure that you can easily erase the chalk markings, prime the chalkboard surface before use. Write on the chalkboard labels using regular chalk or chalk markers for a more precise look.
Change the label writing by first wiping with a slightly damp cloth and letting the surface dry.
Supply options for making chalkboard labels
Wood surfaces can be labeled in various ways, including using paint, vinyl, or laser engraving.
Painting allows you to add a personal touch by hand, and you can even look for simple painting tutorials online if you’re a beginner.
Consider florals, vines, or abstract decorations for the wood labels.
For something more precise, laser engraving is a more hands-off way to add text and decoration to these wood tags.
Supply options for wood labels
Adhesive vinyl labels are great for hard surfaces like plastic bins, cardboard boxes and glass jars. You can apply the vinyl right to it.
It’s a great plan of attack if you have a Cricut or Silhouette. Just remember that you’ll be weeding everything before you apply it. So don’t choose fonts that are too skinny, too small, or too jagged – all of them can be hard to weed.
If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can use pre-cut vinyl stickers. Just be aware that it can be tricky to get them to line up well, so they might look a little sloppy in the end.
Supply options for vinyl labels
Heat transfer or iron-on vinyl comes in so many colors, styles, and patterns that you can match any craft room vibe.
HTV can be added to fabric and felt bins, and the fabric labels mentioned before.
Applying iron on vinyl to a storage bin is of course much more permanent than a hanging label, but it can still be a good choice.
This example is actually in my laundry room and not my craft room, but I think it gives a good idea of how to use it.
Supply options for iron on labels
Temporary Labeling Ideas
A great way to help sort out items when you’re getting started is to use pieces of washi tape or painters tape. Write on it with a sharpie, apply to the box, basket or container, and remove it when you’re ready for your more permanent solution.
Dry-erase markers can be used on glass or smooth plastic. I recommend testing on a small spot on the bottom to make sure it will wipe away cleanly later.
Post-it notes are easy to rearrange and even color code if you like. Just remember that there is only a strip of sticky on the back, meaning they may get knocked off or fall easily. So again, good for labeling in the short term.
Supply options for temporary labels
DIY labels for organization
I hope you can use these tips and ideas to organize your craft stash with style and fun.
Organizing and labeling your craft supplies not only helps you maintain a tidy workspace but also saves you money!
I’m not saying I’m a perfect example of this, but when your craft supplies have a labeled place and you know where to put them away and find them you don’t have to buy extras 🙂 It’s something to work towards anyway!
So go ahead, unleash your creativity, and have fun crafting unique labels that will make your craft space a joy to work in. And if I left out a good way to make creative DIY labels, let me know!
Look at all the cute free Smores SVGs I got to share today! They’re perfect for cookouts, camping, and really, any summer-wear. I designed this Boom Roasted SVG.
This phrase will always give me a flashback to the episode of The Office when Michael was so excited to have everyone Roast him, but he discovered the jabs all sting and hurt his feelings. So then he comes back to roast everyone else and yells “Boom, Roasted” after every insult
You can get it for free using this form and it will be emailed to you.
Obviously my first thought was to put this SVG design on at shirt, but it would also be really cute on a tote bag, notebook cover – or even flatten it and turn it into a Print then Cut sticker.
Next you’ll see all the designs my friends made. You can click on the pictures to go access the files from them!
If you make any of these, please send us an email or tag us on Instagram or something. We love to see your creations!
Make cute tags for a S’mores party, or neighbor gifts
Hot mess is a good thing when you’re talking about marshmallows and chocolate!
Check out the cute friends in this Smores group hug
These are great friends to have in your corner! Smores Squad SVG.
Look how cute the Smore Love svg is on a mug!
Turn all the elements of Smores into part of your party decor with a whole smores station
If this Boom Roasted shirt reminds you of Michael Scott, then we can definitely become friends
This S’more Memories SVG is adorable on a shirt and would make a perfect scrapbook page too!
To get the most out of the designs you download from Crafting in the Rain, here are some useful posts.
This was a fun video to film, and a fun project to make! One of my teenagers has already swiped the resin mushroom hair clips, so I must have created something on-trend. That’s always a good sign, right?
I found that this is a great small-scale project to help you get used to working with resin.
The cute plastic mushrooms are embedded in a resin mold, given a glitter base layer, and glued to a blank hair clip.
Supplies needed for resin mushroom hair clips
Prep mushroom resin clips
Check that the mold you have chosen will fit on the hair clips you have. Also, check that the mushrooms (or other fillers) will fit into the mold.
To make my mushrooms fit, I pulled out the wire attachment, sanded away the bottom to make a flat stem, and a bit of one side that would be flat and face up.
Spray the mold with mold release spray. Skipping this step can make the resin much harder to get out of the mold later.
Mix resin for hair clip molds
While the mold spray is drying, mix the resin together. This epoxy resin is an equal part, so I used 10 mL of A and 10 mL of B.
Follow these instructions for your specific type of resin, if using something different. This required a mix time of 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom while mixing so that there aren’t unmixed portions.
NOTE – If using a paper cup for mixing, make sure it’s not wax coated on the inside. It can flake off and get stirred into the resin.
Pour resin mushroom clips
Fill the mold about half way full and let rest for about 10 minutes. Then use a mist of alcohol or a heat gun to remove any bubbles that rose to the surface.
Use tweezers to place the mushrooms into the resin, flat side up (this will be the bottom side of the hair clip.)
Pour more resin on top to reach almost the top of the mushrooms.
Over the next hour or two, as the resin starts to gel up, rotate any of the mushrooms back if they have started to twist.
After 4 hours of curing, the last layer can be added and the color or glitter won’t mix with the first pour.
Mix 5 mL of A and 5mL of B, stir for 4 minutes, and add glitter or mica or dyes – whatever you want to be the “base” layer of your clips.
Let the resin cure for 24 hours then remove from the mold. Flip the mold upside down and push on the bottom. That helps pop the resin shape out.
Make hair clips from resin
Restore the shine to the resin surface with a sealer spray like this. A couple of light coats will make a big difference
To finish the clips, glue the resin onto a blank clip. I clipped mine onto a silicone mat to make sure that my glue didn’t seep down and accidentally seal the clip closed.
When the glue is dry, the resin mushroom clips are ready to be packaged, gifted, or worn! Who do you know who would love these?
Watch the YouTube video here if that’s more your style!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
If you’re thinking of giving your kitchen or bathroom cabinets a makeover, you probably want to know is the Rustoleum cabinet transformation worth it?
You don’t want to do all that work just to have your new finish chipping and fading in just a few months.
4 years ago I painted my bathroom vanity with a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Kit. So that’s given it a lot of use and time to give a good long-term review of the cabinet kit and results.
What comes in a Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit
Deglosser – to remove dirt, grease and grime from the original cabinets
Base coat – the tinted layer – this will probably require 3 coats
Decorative glaze – if you want a brownish glazed look over the color of your cabinets. Makes the most difference if you have “fancier” cabinets or trim.
Plain flat surfaces won’t have all the edges that show off the glaze. I skipped the glaze while doing my dark blue bathroom cabinets
Protective top coat – this is the last step. It dries clear, gives a satin finish shine, and protects the paint color underneath.
As you can read in my original tutorial, it’s not super user-friendly and it’s hard to eliminate all pools and drips, which then dry cloudy and white – quite obvious on dark cabinets.
IN ADDITION, THE KIT ALSO INCLUDES
Decorative Glazing Cloths
Pros and Cons of a Rustoleum Cabinet kit
So, the cabinet kit promises an easy way to transform your cabinets, providing all the layers you’ll need. Is it better to buy them separately on your own?
Here are my pros
You know the products are designed to work together.
No primer is needed (although you will find some people who used primer before painting with white and recommend it for the best coverage)
Cabinet paint really does dry with no brush marks
Here are my cons
You pay for the glaze even if you aren’t going to use it
The clear top coat can be finicky, so if you choose to use satin polycrylic, you still have to pay for the Rustoleum version in the kit.
Ok, so how does the Rustoleum cabinet transformation really hold up? Naturally, most of the images and reviews you will see online show you the before, and the IMMEDIATE after.
Of course it’s going to look good, right? It hasn’t been used yet! It can be a little harder to find a review of the cabinet makeover months or years later.
Our cabinets looked really good for 3 whole years! I do have to admit that these cabinets are in a bathroom, and a kitchen will likely have more traffic. But the paint has held up really well in that humid environment.
Once a spot starts to wear, it will deteriorate more quickly. But I’m going to show you how to touch up cabinets painted with a Rustoleum kit. It will really make you feel like a RustOleum Cabinet Transformation is worth the effort.
Like I mentioned, I first noticed some spots that needed help around the 3-year mark. And finally got around to working on it at the 4-year mark.
Here’s what the worse area looked like. It’s one of the drawers where this is used to open the drawer more often than the handle.
Supplies for touching up painted cabinets
Paint in the original color – best case scenario, you have some of the bond coat from your original cabinet kit. Be sure to mix it WELL so that all solids and colors are completely combined
If you don’t have some of the original, at least know the color you used so you can get the color matched at the hardware store. Ask the paint expert what kind of paint they recommend. And get the flat finish.
Clear Satin Polycrylic
Brush designed for clear top coats
Micro sander 220 grit
The method I’m going to show you worked perfectly for me. However, I still recommend that you find a section of your cabinets where you can do the whole process and make sure that it will look good with your specific cabinets and color.
If you have one side that’s not very visible, or a small section that’s separated from everything else, that will be a good place to experiment.
Steps for touching up painted Rust-oleum cabinets
Lightly sand the whole area where a paint touch-up needs to be made. For example, the whole drawer front, a whole side panel.
Sand smooth where any chips happened, so that the new layers will also be smooth.
Use a lint free cloth or tack cloth to remove any sanding dust.
Paint at least two coats over the worn areas, waiting 2 hours for dry time. You don’t need to paint over the whole sanded area. Be sure to feature out the edges so there aren’t any drips.
Let final coat dry for 8 hours.
Cover the sanded area with a coat of clear satin polycrylic. Work with long brush strokes, and don’t overload the brush. This helps eliminate drips.
** If you are adding a second clear coat, wait 8 hours, lightly sand and remove dust, and repeat step 6.
Let the clear coat dry at least 8 hours before using any of the cabinets, and then over the next 24 hours it will cure completely.
This method should create a finish that doesn’t show any of the spots that were touched up with paint.
Ways to extend the life of a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation makeover
Here are some ways to make your painted cabinets look better for longer.
Make sure the cabinets are treated with the deglosser and well prepared. This helps the colored bond coat adhere the best.
Install hardware to the drawers and doors if they don’t already have it. This way fingers are kept from touching the paint and wearing through the finish over time.
Clean up drips and splashes ASAP. Wiping away a fresh mess will always be easier than waiting for it to dry. Since it will require less scrubbing, it will preserve the cabinet paint.
When you start to notice some spots where paint is chipping or wearing away, follow the process for painting patches, and add a second polycrylic coat for extra protection.
Is Rustoleum cabinet transformation worth it?
I would definitely do my bathroom cabinets over again just like this. In fact, the kids’ bathroom vanity definitely needs this same kind of treatment. I just need to decide what color!
And is the Rustoleum cabinet transformation worth the time? I can only speak from the experience of doing a bathroom sized project, not a whole kitchen – but for me it was!
I hope this gave you some tips and confidence to touch up your painted cabinets if you need to. Or helped you decide if the transformation kit lasts like you need it to.
Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions!!
Read here if you prefer to learn how to transform cabinets with a paint sprayer
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
Cricut paper dolls make a really cute gift or kids activity. I’ll show you how to customize dolls that are already in Design Space, and how to use the Perforation Blade to create punchable sheets.
I have a YouTube video where you can watch the process as well. This way you can see me work through the project, but then here also have all the written instructions and measurements.
Supplies for Cricut Paper Dolls
Cricut Maker or Maker 3
Blue or green mat
In Design Space, search images for Paper Dolls. You can click the 3 dots on one of them and open up the whole image set – there are dolls in costumes, in regular clothes, lots of hair and gender options – plus you can customize further before printing.
Check this YouTube video if you want to follow along while I Design and Make the paper dolls
Steps for Designing the paper doll in cricut
Change doll size to about 4.6 inches tall
If you want to swap clothes or accessories with any of the dolls, ungroup the dolls, make the changes, and then continue with the following steps after grouping again.
Change doll operation to Print then Cut.
Click on individual layers on the side panel to change hair or skin color, change clothing color, or even fill shapes with a pattern instead of a solid color.
I changed the doctor to a vet by picking a dog and cat pattern for his scrubs.
When the doll is colored how you like, select and click Flatten. The doll is now one flattened layer.
Add an offset of 0.25 inches. We need to flatten the bottom of the layer between the feet, so add a half circle shape and adjust it to fill in the gaps. Align to the bottom of the offset, select the half circle and the offset and click Combine > Weld.
Now click on the offset and change the color to white. Then change the operation type to Perforate.
Center the perforation shape around the doll, select both, and click Attach.
Repeat with as many dolls as you want to make.
Make Paper doll stands in cricuts
From the shapes panel, bring in a single line, and a half circle. Resize the half circle to be 1 inch tall and 2 inches wide, and the line to be 0.5 inches tall.
Change the operation of the shape and the line to perforate. Duplicate the line a few times.
Align 1 line and one semicircle to the top and the center, then attach. Duplicate for each doll.
To add a slit to the bottom of each doll so that the stand can slide on, align a perforated line to the center and bottom of each doll, then attach it to the doll.
Printing the paper dolls
I fit 3 dolls and stands in the Cricut print then cut area (6.75 x 9.25). Spread them out so have some distance between them.
Click make and send to printer – turn OFF bleed and turn ON use system dialog. Then you can choose BEST quality. Print on plain white cardstock.
After printing, press onto a blue mat and load into the machine. Install the Perforation Wheel.
Cutting Cricut Paper Dolls
Cricut will cut the perforated outline around each doll, the stand piece, and the slits in each.
Design Space will then tell you to put the fine point blade back in so it can cut directly around each printed doll. We don’t want this off course, so unload the mat instead and cancel the cut in Designs Space.
Repeat with each sheet of paper dolls.
Then use a paper trimmer to cut off the black rectangle and the dolls are ready to punch out, or give as a gift.
Summer is the season of refreshing cocktails, so let’s get the season started with a list of 12 easy summer cocktail recipes. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, lounging by the pool, or just want to unwind after a long day, these cocktails are sure to cool you down and satisfy your thirst. From classic margaritas to fruity sangrias, there’s something for everyone on this list. So, grab your shaker, and some ice, and let’s get mixing!
12 EASY SUMMER COCKTAIL RECIPES
CLASSIC FROZEN MARGARITAS AT HOME
There are few cocktails more iconic than a classic lime margarita. I walk you through making classic frozen margaritas at home from scratch, so you can serve your friends refreshing drinks year-round!
HOW TO MAKE A FRENCH 75 COCKTAIL AT HOME
The French 75 cocktail combines the crispness of gin with the sweetness of simple syrup and the tanginess of lemon juice, topped off with a splash of champagne. Impress your guests (or just treat yourself!) this summer!
HOW TO MAKE A PROSECCO MARGARITA
I love the idea of taking everyone’s favorite classic margarita and putting a fun twist on it with some delicious Prosecco. I share how to make a Prosecco margarita for your next special occasion.
HOMEMADE BLACKBERRY GIN AND TONIC RECIPE
Muddled fresh blackberries blend with tonic water, refreshing gin, and freshly squeezed lime to make this cocktail recipe that’s perfect for summertime entertaining. This blackberry gin and tonic recipe will be a show-stopper at your next party!
ITALIAN MARGARITA RECIPE
Check out this fun twist on a traditional margarita. The Amaretto adds a subtle flavor that pairs perfectly with salt or sugar – whichever tickles your taste buds!
SUMMER CUCUMBER GIN AND TONIC RECIPE
This cucumber gin and tonic recipe is perfect for those warm summer days. The freshness of lime and cucumber juices turns your standard gin and tonic into something special!
UNICORN ROSÉ SANGRIA
This colorful unicorn rosé sangria is perfect for girls’ night or a weekend brunch. Make use of the season’s fresh fruit to garnish this fantastical sangria.
This rum runner recipe is fruity and tropical with refreshing twists between rum, blackberry and banana liqueur, plus pineapple and orange juices. This cocktail is the perfect summertime drink!
FOURTH OF JULY SANGRIA
Forget margaritas, daiquiris, and rum & cokes, sangria is a wonderful choice for summer cookouts. Fresh white peaches and blueberries float in red white for a festive Independence Day drink.
SIMPLE BEER MARGARITAS
Be prepared to settle in for the night because once you dip into a pitcher of these simple beer margaritas you aren’t going to be going anywhere!
This refreshing Coconut Mojito is made with fresh cooling mint, coconut rum, coconut cream and club soda. A delicious and tropical cocktail for summer!
CUBAN BUL RECIPE
The Cuban bul is a light and refreshing beer cocktail that is perfect for a warm summer cookout. You can make up a large batch ahead of time, and guests can serve themselves throughout the party.
Judy Chicago is famous for The Dinner Party (1974–79), a work of art celebrating the overlooked historic achievements of women. So, it’s fitting that the great feminist artist’s first New York survey, “Judy Chicago: Herstory,” opening at the New Museum in October, will pay homage to women throughout history.
The exhibition-within-the-exhibition titled “The City of Ladies” will feature work by more than 80 women artists, writers and cultural figures. Some of art history’s most famous women, such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Artemisia Gentileschi, as well as the likes of Paula Modersohn-Becker, Elizabeth Catlett, and Käthe Kollwitz. There are also women from other fields, including Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Martha Graham, and Emma Goldman.
The works will be displayed alongside several of Chicago’s major pieces, with monumental banners from her series “The Female Divine” (2022), created for a Paris fashion show with Dior, hanging overhead. It’s an unusual curatorial choice, but one that makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of Chicago’s oeuvre.
For decades, she has made an art of collaboration, enlisting women with unique artistic skills to help realize her visions for ambitious projects like The Dinner Party and “The Birth Project” (1980–85). And if one half of Chicago’s practice is her physical work, the other is her deeply researched archival studies, uncovering the histories of women and their mastery of art forms wrongfully relegated to the realm of craft.
“If there is Judy, there is also women’s history. If there is Judy, there are also other women,” New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, who curated the show with Gary Carrion-Murayari, Margot Norton, and Madeline Weisburg, told Artnet News. “And so that’s how we came to this.”
One of the place settings in The Dinner Party is dedicated to Christine de Pisan, the author of the 15th-century protofeminist book Le Livre de la Cite des Dames (or The Book of the City of Ladies)which lends its name to the section in Chicago’s upcoming show.
“Christine [de Pisan] was the first woman in Europe to ever support herself by writing. She was widowed at 25 with three children, and she took up her pen to write. And she wrote that book in response to a very popular and very misogynist book called Roman de la Rose,” Chicago told Artnet News.
“In the book, Christine describes sitting at her desk and thinking, ‘maybe women really are inferior,’ whereupon three figures appear before her: Reason, Justice, and Virtue,” Chicago continued. “And they say, ‘Don’t be foolish, Christine. What you have to do is… counter this idea by building creating a City of Ladies’—which she did.”
When the artist, who is 83, first learned about the book during her work on The Dinner Party, it wasn’t even translated into English. But Chicago sees City of Ladies as evidence that the roots of feminism go back centuries earlier than is generally acknowledged, and that there is an unknown cultural history written by women.
“One of the things I discovered in the ’70s,” Chicago said, “was this incredible hunger among women for images that affirmed them.”
At the New Museum, Chicago and Gioni are building their own “City of Ladies” on the fourth floor as a way of illuminating centuries of women’s creativity and showing how Chicago’s own work stems from this unacknowledged history.
“I hope it will transform the way people see my life, [and] that they will begin to understand my work in a different history than patriarchal art history,” Chicago said. “There is an alternative canon that already exists, [and] doesn’t have to be created. It’s just been excluded.”
Mary Louise McLaughlin, “Ali Baba” Vase (1880). Collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum. Gift of the Estate of Jane Gates Todd 2018.
“Massimilliano is making visible the multiple historic contexts out of which my six-decade career grew,” she added, noting that people had difficulty understanding her work because they were ignorant about topics like women’s needlework and ceramics. “I did not actually understand that this was the reason for the complete lack of comprehension of my work for so long.”
The artist and the curator first met while working on “The Great Mother,” an exhibition on depictions of motherhood in the 20th- and 21st-century that Gioni curated for Expo Milan in 2015. Chicago had started “The Birth Project,” featured prominently in the show, to correct what she was as the absence of maternal imagery in historical artworks.
“What Massimiliano’s show taught me is that erasure is not just the erasure of individual women’s achievements. Erasure also applies to the subject matter that the world’s patriarchal art considers unimportant, like birth and motherhood—because it turns out there is a huge body of art on those subjects dating back to the beginning of the 20th century,” said Chicago. “Dada, Futurism—I was completely blown away.”
Some of the women in “The City of Ladies” have inspired Chicago for years. Others, even the artist—obviously an enthusiastic student of women’s history for decades—had not been known before Gioni began putting together the show.
“It’s gonna be a huge learning experience for most viewers,” Chicago said.
But even if she didn’t encounter Hilma af Klint’s pioneering Spiritualist abstractions until the artist’s blockbuster show at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2018, Chicago saw a through line between her work and that of the late Swedish artist. “The City of Ladies,” Chicago believes, will demonstrate that women have always been working in their own historical art traditions, separate and distinct from that of men.
“Mainstream institutions have been trying to figure out how to add women and artists of color around the perimeter without challenging the patriarchal paradigm,” Chicago said. “But I’ve been working entirely in a different paradigm.”
The showcase won’t just include art. There will be a copy, for example, of 19th-century French animal painter Rosa Bonheur’s official application to be granted permission to wear men’s clothing in public.
There will also be a focus on what Chicago has termed central core imagery, in which an artwork is built from the center radiating out, rather than from the edges of the canvas moving in.
“In the ’70s, I studied the work of many women artists and discovered that, like me, there were many women who constructed their images from the center,” Chicago said. “It reinforced my own impulses at a time when the craze was to create compositions from the edge, which I always felt alienated from.”
Her writings on the subject were ridiculed at the time, Chicago added, but “could have opened up a whole stream of understanding of work by women based on a different body impulse because we exist around the central core.”
Bringing together the loans for “The City of Ladies” was a bit outside the wheelhouse for the New Museum, which is dedicated to contemporary art. “It is probably the only time we will have Hildegard of Bingen and Artemisia Gentileschi,” Gioni said.
But the exhibition is an important step toward improving an understanding of women in art history—and neither the Museum of Modern Art nor the Metropolitan Museum are taking that on.
“Why is it still the alternative museum that has to do it? it’s amazing that we’re doing it, but we’re still the alternative museum,” he said. Nevertheless, somebody has to be doing this important work: “It’s about rewriting history.”
“Judy Chicago: Herstory” will be on view at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, New York, October 12, 2023–January 14, 2024.
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