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Columbia artist Susan Lenz creating ornaments for national display

Susan LenzColumbia fiber artist Susan Lenz has been selected to create South Carolina’s ornaments for the 2015 America Celebrates: Ornaments from Across the USA display at President’s Park (White House) in Washington, D.C. Lenz joins artists from each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia in designing ornaments inspired by America’s national parks and their programs, paying tribute to the upcoming National Park Service Centennial in 2016. Lenz created double-sided ornaments using image transfers of South Carolina’s flora and fauna, historic monuments, recreational areas, and her favorite boardwalks at Congaree National Park. Each ornament is machine-quilted. The back of each ornament (pictured below) features the outline of the state along with the flag’s palmetto tree and crescent moon. Images include a box turtle, a summer tanager, the Carolina wren, several unique insects, and a spotted orb weaver spider. Susan Lenz, National Ornament, reversed The ornament display honors the holiday season and celebrates the National Christmas Tree Lighting, a national event presented by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service. Lenz plans to attend the 93rd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting, taking place Thursday, December 3, 2015, at 5 p.m. “I am excited to be part of the America Celebrates display for many reasons,” says Lenz. “I’m passionate about conservation and environmental issues. I’ve been an artist-in-residence at Hot Springs National Park and have visited several other national parks. I have very fond memories of kayaking at Congaree National Park and simply adore walking the raised boardwalks there.” “Art can be an incredible way for people to connect with national parks, and we’re thrilled to carry on the time-honored tradition of debuting ornaments from all over the country,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We’re honored to have Susan Lenz represent South Carolina in this year’s America Celebrates display.” As one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition. In addition to the America Celebrates display, President’s Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, including nightly holiday performances, and model train display. For more information, visit www.thenationaltree.org and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2015. Image above: Ornament examples About the National Park Service More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 408 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. The National Park Service has cared for the White House and its grounds since 1933. President’s Park, which includes the Ellipse and Lafayette Park, was officially included in the national park system in 1961. Visit us at www.nps.gov. About the National Park Foundation The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org

Artist Susan Lenz takes her “Wall of Keys” to England

[caption id="attachment_22021" align="alignright" width="200"]Lenz installing Wall of Keys Lenz installing Wall of Keys[/caption] Columbia artist Susan Lenz received a South Carolina Arts Commission Quarterly Project grant to help support installation of her work, The Wall of Keys, at the Festival of Quilts held Aug. 6-9 in Birmingham, England. Lenz was invited to show her work and present two lectures during the exhibition Maker, Making, Made, curated by Through Our Hands, an international invitational group of leading textile artists. The Festival of Quilts is Europe’s leading patchwork and quilt show and includes more than 25 curated exhibition areas, 300 vendors, 1,000 competition quilts and 180 workshops and lectures. The Wall of Keys is a site-specific installation of 1,800-plus keys with handmade paper tags attached using a unique zigzag-stitched piece of cording. The tags include individual letters clipped from new and vintage magazines, sheet music and other print materials. The Wall of Keys confronts viewers with countless human desires for real and imagined locations in life, such as “The Key to Happiness,” “The Key to Fame and Fortune,” “The Key to a Fast Internet Connection,” and "The Key to Failure." Since returning from England, Lenz has installed The Wall of Keys at her business, The Mouse House, 2123 Park Street, Columbia. Visitors may drop by without an appointment Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. [caption id="attachment_22024" align="alignleft" width="225"]Susan Lenz, Wall of Keys Wall of Keys at The Mouse House. (click for larger image.)[/caption] Visit Lenz's blog, Art in Stitches, to read more about her experience (Part 1) and view photos of works (Part 2) exhibited at the festival. The Quarterly Project grant program is designed to support specific arts activities that promote an individual artist's professional development or career advancement. Projects that promote excellence in an arts discipline and make such excellence accessible for general community-wide audiences are also encouraged. The program is funded in part by a generous award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. The next Quarterly Project grant application deadline is Nov. 15, 2015. Top image: An exhibition visitor snaps a photo of The Wall of Keys. All photos courtesy of Susan Lenz.

Susan Lenz named Artista Vista Artist of the Year

The 22nd Artista Vista, a free gallery crawl hosted by the Vista Guild of Columbia, runs through April 27.  Attendees will have the chance to win a piece of art by Susan Lenz, Artista Vista’s Artist of the Year. The State's Otis Taylor recently interviewed Lenz: "Susan Lenz jumps from topic to topic like a Twitter feed — the recent NCAA tournament fortunes of Ohio State University, Key West, Bojangles’ sweet tea, “Raising Arizona” and fashionable appropriations of pantyhose. But there is always a thread that connects one seemingly dissimilar piece of media to the next, very much like her art. Lenz, a fiber artist who uses thread in many of her works, is the first Artista Vista Artist of the Year. Artista Vista, the annual springtime gallery crawl, is in its 22nd year. On a recent visit to Lenz’s fabric strewn space at Vista Studios, Lenz talked about The Pantyhose Dress, an entry in the recent Runaway Runway. The dress was modeled by Christine Heiszer, whose face was obscured by pantyhose and a Mardi Gras mask. Heiszer was really Lenz in disguise wearing a dress with a bodice of woven pantyhose and a skirt fashioned from knotted knee-high stockings. Leggings and tights were part of a 15-foot boa." Read the entire article. Via: The State

Abandoned books altered into art

The idea for an exhibition now on view at the Lexington County Public Library began with a book---or rather, 15 books. Stacked haphazardly on the curb outside a public library in Orangeburg, 15 oversized trade journals had exceeded their life span and were being offered to any passer-by who could foresee a use, or in this case, a rebirth. Fiber artist Susan Livingston worked at the library and discovered the books. Large and cumbersome, the books were deemed uninteresting, except to Livingston, who knew they could be "something" and decided to rescue them. It took her three trips to load the books into her car and another three trips to haul them up to her second-floor studio, where the books sat for a few years. Soon afterwards, I met Livingston. She gave me a book and shared her thoughts that the books' size allowed for many possibilities -- and perhaps a group project. Together, we created the idea of an altered book show by women artists. After brainstorming possible titles and taglines, we settled on "volumes," with artist Janette Grassi suggesting the word "bound." Thus volumes: women bound by art was created. Thirteen books were altered for the exhibition, leaving one to be used as a guest register and one to remain intact to display along with the altered books. Thirteen artists from a diversity of mediums, ages, ethnicities and career stages were invited to participate. The artists -- art professors, potters, fiber artists, graphic designers, illustrators, painters, photographers and mixed media artists -- were given total creative freedom. The show opened at The Portfolio Art Gallery in Columbia on September 20, 2012. Many of the book artists painted the wall for the exhibition and installed the show. All of the artists chipped in to cover the costs of the printed materials and provide the food and wine for the opening reception. From inception, the show has been about women working together to create art opportunities and support for women artists. The altered books' journey from library curb to library exhibition came about when Lolly Petroft, branch manager of the Cayce-West Columbia library, attended the opening reception and wanted to share the altered books with Lexington County residents. She encouraged Mark Mancuso, branch manager of the Lexington County Public Library, to view the installation, and plans were made to exhibit the works. The artists:

  • Volume 1: Eileen Blythe
  • Volume 2: Cynthia Colbert
  • Volume 3: Jessica Cruser
  • Volume 4: Janette Grassi
  • Volume 5: Doni Jordan
  • Volume 6: Susan Lenz
  • Volume 7: Susan Livingston
  • Volume 8: Yukiko Oka
  • Volume 9: Kay Reardon
  • Volume 10: Liisa Salosaari Jasinski
  • Volume 11: Virginia Scotchie
  • Volume 12: Lani Stringer
  • Volume 13: Laura Windham
volumes: women bound by art is on view at the main branch of the Lexington County Public Library until Feb. 28. The exhibition will travel to USC Upstate in 2014 and talks are underway to travel the show to the Upstairs Artspace Gallery in Tryon, N.C. in 2014. [caption id="attachment_4238" align="alignnone" width="600"]Volume 10 From Engines to Fittings The Essence Liisa Salosaari Jasinski, Volume 10 From Engines to Fittings The Essence[/caption] The Lexington County Public Library is located at 5440 Augusta Road in Lexington. Hours are 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday and 2 - 5 p.m. on Sunday.  For more information, contact Mark Mancuso at (803) 785-2673. Doni Jordan is a visual artist who works in multiple mediums.

Doni Jordan