Have A Great Holiday Season!

It’s the season of lights and snow. Last year, I took my camera outside the studio and photographed ice crystals on this very day. Only a few inches of snow but wonderful to see.

 © 2015 Louise Levergneux

© 2015 Louise Levergneux

This holiday season in Boise, the temperature brings me back home to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It's nippy outside! We have the most snow, I’ve seen since 2007, my last Christmas in Canada.

Are we still in the West? These cows answer my question!

 © 2016 Louise Levergneux

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

This video shows Ottawa celebrating 2016, with lights.

 

I wish everyone a happy holiday season! See you next year!

To The Dogs!

My friend Dales’ little Sheltie, Kenzie, is here for a visit, once again a warm, furry body helps with artistic juices in the studio.

 © 2016, Louise Levergneux, Kenzie

© 2016, Louise Levergneux, Kenzie

I present two other artists with artwork that continues the theme of muses—our canine companions. 

Rebecca Wild  is a Pacific North-West artist and calligrapher from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Her work pairs a love of letterforms with the luminous characteristics of drawing materials and paint. She uses text as a tool for both conveying a message and creating abstraction.

 © 2012, Rebecca Wild,  Giving Your Heart  is an archival pigment print with charcoal, pastels, graphite, and acrylics that expresses the loss of a beloved companion

© 2012, Rebecca Wild, Giving Your Heart is an archival pigment print with charcoal, pastels, graphite, and acrylics that expresses the loss of a beloved companion

Rebecca explains her piece Giving Your Heart:

Several years before the commission of this piece, (by the owner of a Scottish terrier), I discovered the poem, The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling. I had recently lost an elderly canine companion and found comfort and humor in Kipling's words. Although it is one stanza of the poem, it still addresses that inexplicable bond between man and dog. Through simple gesture and form, I hope to pay homage to this unique connection. As he stands at the foot of his master, gaze upward, the dog's devotion is clear.

In the next piece, Rebecca portrays her own loss in Time Undone.

 © Rebecca Wild, Time Undone is an archival pigment print with charcoal, pastels, graphite, and acrylics, (4.5w x 11h inches)

© Rebecca Wild, Time Undone is an archival pigment print with charcoal, pastels, graphite, and acrylics, (4.5w x 11h inches)

How does one put into words the loss of a beloved pet?
I was raw with grief from the unexpected and untimely death of my dog. Although we were not Ruthie’s first home, her 8th to be exact. Ruthie, worked her way into our hearts and home. With a bond so strong, her passing still stings all these years later. She was an unforgettable character of the first degree.
Several weeks after she died, my calligraphy student, Eliza Lindsay, wrote this poem after parting with her dog companion of 16 years, Rosa.  She lettered the poem for a class assignment. When I read it I knew I had found words that allowed me to put closure on my loss. The image at the top is my husband beside Ruthie, her head cocked, looking for the next adventure.

Deborah Williams is a nationally recognised visual artist living in Melbourne, Australia. Deborah struggles to have her subject “the dog” worthy of consideration as true culture or high art. Deborah also has a completly different aproach to her subject.

 2016 © Deborah Williams,  Almost human? Exactly dog  2014, etching, engraving, aquatint and roulette intaglio, 58.5 x 87.5 cm, edition 20

2016 © Deborah Williams, Almost human? Exactly dog 2014, etching, engraving, aquatint and roulette intaglio, 58.5 x 87.5 cm, edition 20

Deborah talks about her recent work:

Images and writings about dogs and puppies often seen as clichéd, kitsch and saccharine in the society we live in. The dismissive attitude to the representation of domestic animals makes it not deserving of scholarly discourse or considered as a subject of serious art making. 
The dismissive attitude to the representation of domestic animals may in part be because in the society in which we live, images and writings about dogs and puppies are often seen as clichéd, kitsch and saccharine, not deserving of scholarly discourse or considered as a subject of serious art making.
I seek to avoid the stigma of sentimentality in my images of dogs by relating and depicting the dog outside of the boundaries of the typical pet/owner, dominant/submissive association. Integral to the work and the avoidance of the sentimental is the treatment of the pictorial space within the image. More often than not, the image of the dog inhabits a space devoid of distraction. Where something that has possibly been perceived as ordinary, the dog now becomes emblematic and somewhat sculptural. As the dog is removed from a world of detail so the dog itself can lack detail and display a certain degree of abstraction: we see less, so we imagine more. The non-specific space the dogs inhabit confers ambiguity whilst at the same time, their very presence, whether in silhouette or hint of a dog, is certain. In the works where the dogs are black silhouettes, both the pictorial space is a void and the dog is a void, both present and absent.
 © 2016, Deborah Williams,  The seeing other,  etching and roulette intaglio, 50.5 x 57.5 cm, edition of 20

© 2016, Deborah Williams, The seeing other, etching and roulette intaglio, 50.5 x 57.5 cm, edition of 20

The society in which I live generally holds its dogs near and dear. I see dogs that are adored and adorned. We often dress them as people, address them as infants, companion them as life partners, interpreting them solely as part of our human experience, affection, need, and jurisdiction. Their virtues are lauded as service and watchdogs, members of the family and yet we are strangely disconcerted when they disobey our commands, opting instead to display the innate characteristics of their canine selves.
When I look at dogs in and around me, I question whether dogs are seen for what they are, as separate beings. I observe that while we do not objectify our dogs per se our feelings are frequently filtered through human perspectives; these dogs are, therefore, anthropomorphized brought unwittingly into our worlds.
 © 2016, Deborah Williams,  Held its form,  soft ground etching and roulette intaglio, 29.5 x 19.5 cm, edition of 20

© 2016, Deborah Williams, Held its form, soft ground etching and roulette intaglio, 29.5 x 19.5 cm, edition of 20

I strive to challenge the anthropomorphizing of dogs even though I acknowledge that my work, in common with historical and contemporary contexts of the representation of dogs, is none the less filtered through my own perspectives and brought into our world.
For a dog, it must surely be a complex relationship, enduring and interdependent, loving and loyal, yet simply ‘other’. It is the ‘other’ that I endeavour to depict.
It is this latter context, which I focus on. I aim to depict the dog not as a breed above, apart or beyond, but of its own. Captured in a moment.
I am endeavoring to recognize an animal’s sentience including agency and resistance by avoiding the traditional perspectives of anthropomorphism and domination. Incorporating actions that are initiated by the animal, I aim to acknowledge the animal as subject rather than object, shifting from representation of the animal as a symbol to representing the animal’s presence.
In my work, I now seek to overcome conventional depictions of the animal. I seek to depict the dog as dog and invite the viewer to do the same.
 © 2016, Deborah Williams,  Survey,  etching, engraving, roulette and drypoint intaglio, 56.5 x 55 cm, edition of 20

© 2016, Deborah Williams, Survey, etching, engraving, roulette and drypoint intaglio, 56.5 x 55 cm, edition of 20


It’s lunch time and Kenzie needs attention. Later, more administration to solve before I get back into City Shields, The Incessant Journey.

Walkies Anyone!

My studio is silent and empty. 

During these quiet times, art administration and searching the internet are my only diversion. I must admit, the record keeping in a database is boring!

So I brought my attention to artists who have created artwork with their muse in mind. In my bookmarked pages, I found two artists’ books that are worth mentioning. 

Andrew Huot who works under the imprint Big River Bindery published A Walk with Rosie. In his artists' book, Andrew uses simple graphics to bring us a daily routine with his canine companion. Genius! 

Andrew’s book chronicles two weeks of daily walks with his dog in his Philadelphia neighborhood, marking the routes and occurrences on the way. The city is reduced to a line, a shape, and color, and transparent papers reveal the echoes of yesterday and an allusion to tomorrow. A Walk with Rosie printed with relief blocks, pochoir, and handset type on sekishu paper is an edition of 20, bound in cloth and paper. 

Don’t you wish you would have thought of this one first? 

 © 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

© 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

 © 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

© 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

 © 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

© 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

 © 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie

© 2009 Andrew Huot, A Walk with Rosie


I also re-discovered Gaëlle Pelachaud’s book, New York. I remember searching a particular book structure back in 2013 when Gaëlle’s book surfaced on my screen. 

Gaëlle’s goal for this book was to photograph people walking with their dog. During a four-day journey in New York City, Gaëlle also observed the architecture. The cut-outs in each fold of the book represent the buildings in the environment.

For each of my books, I research the structure, the architecture of the page. For my work New York, the construction and the cuts are the connection to the images—the dog walkers. There is a formal game between image, form, and colour. My book gives rhythm to the theme of a visual walk. 
 © 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York

© 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York

 © 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York, livre animé sculpture de papier

© 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York, livre animé sculpture de papier

 © 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York

© 2012 Gaëlle Pelachaud, Éditions Rafaël Andréa, New York

What have you created with your muse in mind?

A Studio Muse

Tools, equipment, papers, cloth... and most of all inventory fills an artist’s studio. We fail to remember a precious piece—our muse that sits in a corner or in front of the printer table so you notice their presence—our pet. 

This furry friend disturbing my concentration with a favourite toy, a nod for food or a walk, wonders why I don’t always jump at her demands. With index finger extended, I whisper “just a minute, mommy's almost done”. In a few minutes, this bundle of joy comes running tail wagging with no criticism. Dragging a new toy and a bigger smile inviting me to play again. My four-legged family member relieves frustrating moments in the atelier with a carefree attitude whether I’m printing, cutting, writing or binding. I believe the unconditional love inherent of my devoted companion permeates my artistic spirit. 

Do you have a muse in your studio helping with your productive energy? My little Sheltie Topaz has inspired me to create these artists’ books:

 © 2003 Louise Levergneux, Topaz made her debut in my series   Equinox  , the albums explore the repetitiveness of quotidian life

© 2003 Louise Levergneux, Topaz made her debut in my series Equinox, the albums explore the repetitiveness of quotidian life

 © 2005 Louise Levergneux, Topaz was the inspiration for   Beside Me  , a collection that comprised teams

© 2005 Louise Levergneux, Topaz was the inspiration for Beside Me, a collection that comprised teams

 © 2006 Louise Levergneux, Topaz participated in the artists' book   Ambivalence  , a photographic documentation of Ohio cemeteries provoking a feeling of ambivalence in the viewer

© 2006 Louise Levergneux, Topaz participated in the artists' book Ambivalence, a photographic documentation of Ohio cemeteries provoking a feeling of ambivalence in the viewer

 © 2012 Louise Levergneux,   obsession   is a documentary that portrays Topaz's obsession with her daily routine

© 2012 Louise Levergneux, obsession is a documentary that portrays Topaz's obsession with her daily routine

 © 2012 Louise Levergneux, Topaz was very willing to act on command and be photographed for   A Day Filled with Onomatopoeias  , an interactive book based on the word onomatopoeia and it’s definition

© 2012 Louise Levergneux, Topaz was very willing to act on command and be photographed for A Day Filled with Onomatopoeias, an interactive book based on the word onomatopoeia and it’s definition

Topaz was also part of my series Outside the Studio, below is the video of the flip book entitled week 11 - AIR.2

In loving memory of

Imperial Topaz

January 20, 2002 - November 21, 2016

The Honoured Walleye

Articles on manhole covers keep on popping-up. More and more people are noticing the design underfoot as they walk their city streets. 

Rob Turner writes on the subject of cities much smaller projects that make a big impact in his “Cover Art” article.

“As a visitor to a new city I’m always intrigued to discover and surprised by fantastic cast-iron works of art—they delight me.” 

This article lists wonderful photos of "manhole covers that left their mark in New York City". 

Andy Sturdevant lists stunning manhole cover designs in Minneapolis in his article “Minneapolis' sense of itself revealed in artist-designed manhole covers.” Andy helps us discover the reason for the covers by describing them and their location in Minneapolis. Andy directs us to a few of Kate Burke’s manhole cover designs. 

I received a wonderful email with a nice surprise this week, a sequence of photos showing the steps in the creation of Kate’s walleye manhole cover design. 

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t bring that darn camera with you? Kate wished she had a camera to document her first experience at the foundry eight inches deep in black sand staring at the wheel-a-matic sandblaster. 

We can’t turn back time and document those fantastic moments of creation, but we can remember them as did Kate.

It was a sandblasting booth that had a huge turntable inside a metal box. As I stood in the sand, the guys opened the door to the first cast manhole cover, which was the walleye. As the turntable rotated the silhouette of the cover [emerged] out of the darkness. It was glowing red in the center as they had just cast it and it was still hot. It was jaw-dropping. 

Below is Kate Burke's production process for the Walleye manhole cover for Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis: 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

© 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

 © 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

© 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

 © 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

© 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

© 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

© 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

 © 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints

© 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints


Need to get back to work and finish eleven new volumes of City Shields from my trip back to Canada. My residence and installation at Ming Studios will come soon enough.

In the meantime, go for a walk and discover your city.

 © 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

© 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hail Minnesota!

I was downtown Ottawa, to deliver my volumes of City Shields to the National Gallery of Canada this summer when I noticed a manhole cover with a toilet in its design on Sussex Drive.

 © 2016 Louise Levergneux, this photo is an Ottawa maintenance frame S25 and toilet logo cover S24

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, this photo is an Ottawa maintenance frame S25 and toilet logo cover S24

Ever wonder what or why sewer covers have certain designs like a toilet? I wonder as well! 

The city of Ottawa, Ontario, has several manhole covers with a fish design. Evan Thornton in his article The Sign Of The Fish: Ottawa Sewer Grates of December 2009 found that Ottawa, lets its residents figure out the significance of the decorated storm sewer drains for themselves.

I guess we will not easily have an answer to our question.


When one has access to the artist who designs the covers for a city, we can get an answer to the reason behind the designs?

Kate Burke designed manhole covers for the City of Minneapolis back in 1992. These manhole covers were part of 75 cast iron manhole covers created as one of seven other art projects for the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kate explains the development of Hail Minnesota installed before computers and digital cameras!  

I worked with Craig Amundson from BRW Architects to evolve the ideas and designs.  As the first ones he chose not only had a natural theme but were, also, state symbols. I evolved further designs from there. I designed for the state bird, tree, flower, grain, etc. In the end I titled the project with the state motto, “Hail Minnesota”.
It took at least a month to create each hand cut pattern. I evolved a unique technique of layering chip board to create detail and to guarantee a flat surface for a safe footfall. There are eleven different designs with each pattern cast seven times.

The City of Minneapolis is redeveloping Nicollet Mall, the location of Kate Burke’s designed manhole covers. Architect James Corner hired for the redesign, is the architec who designed the High Line, a beloved project in NYC. To prepare for this complete redevelopment the city assessed and archived the eight artworks originally installed. The manhole covers rated well and people enjoy them. Their condition and maintenance care are easy.

To view these fantastic cover designs in person, one will have to wait for the covers to be removed from storage and reinstalled when the Mall is rededicated in the future. Millions of people pass over Nicollet Mall yearly, but ME, Louise, never knew of them when I visited Minneapolis, two years ago. It is worthwhile to call a city before visiting and asking questions on the project you might be doing.

Take a look at these stupéfiant (amazing) manhole covers!

 © 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 APPLES and detail; image 2 NORWAY PINE and detail; image 3 TIMBER WOLF and detail; image 4 LOON and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 APPLES and detail; image 2 NORWAY PINE and detail; image 3 TIMBER WOLF and detail; image 4 LOON and detail

 © 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 WILD RICE and detail; image 2 WHEAT and detail; image 3 CORN and detail; image 4 LADY SLIPPER and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 WILD RICE and detail; image 2 WHEAT and detail; image 3 CORN and detail; image 4 LADY SLIPPER and detail

 © 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 OATS and detail; image 2 WALLEYE and detail; 4 NORTHERN PIKE and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 OATS and detail; image 2 WALLEYE and detail; 4 NORTHERN PIKE and detail


Last April, I introduced large sized artists’ books, included in these posts was Alex Appella’s book, The János Book

This year, Alex had a lovely experience publishing her book as a Spanish independent trade edition in Argentina. The János Letter / Después la carta sells for the low price of $39.99. The János Book is available on Amazon, with good reviews. Enjoy a free PDF of this book!


Are you getting ready for Christmas? Are you looking for beautiful and unique decorative boxes to offer someone special? Look no further. My decorative boxes are a great gift for anyone who loves to store small items, special trinkets, keepsakes or jewelry.

For the purchase of my hand made boxes visit my website or email me directly.

Have a great week!

Congratulations!

This week, I’m sending my congratulations to Cathryn Miller and Thomas Parker Williams for their participation in the Pop-Up Now II exhibition on view through December 17 at 23 Sandy Gallery. 

Pop-Up Now II, is a juried exhibition of pop-up and movable artists’ books that pop-up, move, slide, twirl, whirl, and even light up.

Cathryn submitted her book entitled I Love My Love. The book is just beautiful!!

 © 2016 Cathry Miller

© 2016 Cathry Miller

Thomas, surprises us all with a fantastic sculpture in paper and steel, entitled Spiral Dome. This is worth a closer view online.

 © 2016 Thomas Parker Williams

© 2016 Thomas Parker Williams


It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole when researching “stuff” on the internet! Obsessed with the Incessant Journey lately—for the last 16 years. I found articles on the web that conveyed information on the manhole cover I thought would be of interest to those of you whom have never looked down to the streets.

A fun article by Andrew Emond who has explored the underground systems of Montréal and Toronto, Canada. Andrew put together a guide for the most common manhole covers in Montréal in his article "Everything You Probably Never Cared To Know About Manhole Covers."

Another article that caught my eye was by Andrew Guilbert entitled “The Art of Calgary's Manholes.”  Andrew gives us a glimpse of history, new manhole covers and call to artists. Calgary's manhole covers are some of the most prevalent artworks in the city, says Andrew.

Abraham Piper’s article “Misplaced manhole covers to drive you crazy”, might be disturbing for all obsessive compulsive driven people. The photos were a good laugh for me, I often wonder—”Why, two more minutes!” It only takes two more minutes to reposition the manhole covers properly. Do these photographs force you to cringe?


Now, I’m pump-up to create eight new volumes of manhole covers I photographed on my trip across Canada...