I had a strange feeling wash over me in the grocery the other evening when I noticed an uncanny similarity in what I was spending a painstaking amount of time doing in the studio to a teaser item in the checkout line.

Earlier that day I had dragged out my collection of blob-like felt spheres and had begun work anew, yet after seeing the $4.99 handmade trivet boasting 100 handmade felted wool balls per piece, I’m having a tricky time motivating myself to resume, even though the prototype necklace was a huge hit with a friend’s five-month old.

What makes it even worse is I’d scoffed at the cheesiness of the nearby wine bottle planter succulent garden (Who’d buy that! ) just before my gaze fell on the trivets. If anything, the .49 cent balls look better than what I’ve done after untold hours of steady sewing, though to my credit—no one will ever think to use them on a hot pot of pasta sauce.


My last project of the year was an on-site installation of a series of custom wall sculptures for the soon-to-open AC Hotel in Los Angeles. These abstract, dimensional pieces belong to a family of other work made of laser-cut plywood offcuts and display some different curling and forms. Setting up for a day by the entrance meant that the installation was the focal point of everyone going in and out of the building, and elicited all the typical curiosity and words of encouragement reserved for a woman on an 8-foot ladder with nails in her mouth.

commission from    Kevin Barry Fine Art

commission from Kevin Barry Fine Art

While I was only in town for a moment, other highlights included finally getting to meet Olivia Ciummo’s recent human creation and having an afternoon visit to Hauser & Wirth with Betsy Seder. A Zoe Leonard photo show was one of the exhibitions on display, which was a treat to get to see and chew on with a photographer before dashing through the classic southern California sunshine back to the airport. In more ways than one, I spent this solstice above the clouds.


The other day I went for coffee with neighbor-friend-artist extraordinaire, Laurie, and as we were leaving her place, she casually presented me with these embroidered fabric disks. In mere seconds she transformed them from circular napkins? to this other thing. When pressed to guess what purpose the result provided, I was stumped. I guess I’m not playing hostess enough to recognize the utility this folded form serves as a dinner roll holder. (Of course!) Nevertheless, I’m enchanted by the simple ingenuity behind giving fabric a third dimension and it marked the second time in two days that I was bowled over by Norwegian-inspired handiwork—proper Yuletide serendipity at play, no doubt.


This week I deinstalled my temporary contribution to this year’s Heights Boulevard Sculpture Project, a chore that I estimated would take a couple of hours. I was so convinced of the ease and promptness of the task, that I didn’t even bring a bottle of water. Going to find a restroom will just slow me down, I thought.

Nine hours later, with night falling, and three trips to the neighborhood CVS behind me, I would have laughed at my hubris, had my entire body not been throbbing in pain from crouching over in the median all day.


Earlier that morning, when my spirits were still high and I was able to smile at the cluster of walkers who lamented my position and posture, I’d reveled in noticing fungi implanted on and among the plastic pieces. A good portion of the work was also totally invisible under a layer of fallen leaves when I began and I was disturbing a plentiful population of worms, ants, and grubs in the removal process.


So I reached out to an artist friend, admittedly first with mushroom identification questions, and subsequently out of concern that my art project had inadvertently damaged to this small piece of ecosystem. This irony that would have stung, considering all the noise I make about my practice being reverential to the environment. Falon assured me that I was merely aerating the soil, and as a licensed landscape architect, I do trust that she was not just trying to make me feel better.


If I learned anything from the experience, besides the confirmation that it’s better safe than sorry on the mushroom tip, it’s that it never hurts to bring a refreshment. I also feel pretty sure that I never need to do anything like this again. And by that I mean place thousands of individual things somewhere that I later have to remove. For anyone else, this would not be much of a proclamation. Since I’ve spent much of the last decade building an art practice that more or less follows this formula, however, it feels big. And I’m as curious as you are to see what that means visually and physically for forthcoming projects…


WhileI knew that the opening would be in the evening, I was nevertheless surprised and extremely delighted to be able to introduce this piece to people at night. Though it was not obvious to me when I was putting it together in the studio, finalizing the work in the garden made me feel at certain, transcendent moments like I had made something dark and a bit ominous that was capable of piercing the sky. Even though most of the time I see rolled film tubes arranged in a tiered, circular cluster, the fleeting moments where I’m able to become aware of something beyond the material are the ones I treasure.

images © Alex Barber courtesy of Art League Houston

images © Alex Barber courtesy of Art League Houston