Canterbury Hotel, San Francisco ~ June 24th-27th, 2004
After a full and productive day of artist meetings on Thursday, the Gallery Reception opened at 8 pm with light refreshments, a cash bar and an exciting array of dolls. The number of people taking photos with digital cameras was pretty amazing. We all got to talk to each other and see the latest work of the artists, including our newest member, Tomoko Fukuda from Japan.
Friday the first program was give by Charlene & Jon McNally, who presented a lively & informative workshop about the tricks, techniques and terminology of the World Wide Web. Charlene designs and maintains the NIADA web site and some of the posters and postcards we use in advertising the conference. Jon followed with a program about photographing and prepping your dolls for the internet. His step by step photos recorded lots of examples of how to get the best shots by doing a few easy changes to your set up. We love what Charlene has done for the NIADA publicity committee.
The next program was called Favorite Dolls and included Charles Batte, Nancy Walters, Diana Lence Crosby, Mary Ellen Frank, Maggie Iacono, Diane Keeler, Annie Wahl and Susie Oroyan who showed slides of their all time favorite creations and talked about why these dolls still give them pleasure.
Next some attended the opening of the Helper ticket sales while the visiting artists put their dolls on display for the Visiting Artists Critique. All the NIADA Artist members spent about 30 minutes talking with the visiting artists about their work, and the display was then opened to all conference attendees to enjoy. Lastly, visiting artists had one-on-one discussions with NIADA artists about their work. The critique is always a popular conference event. This is hard work and you have to applaud the artists who volunteer to do it.
Friday evening’s highlight was a program of “Show and Tell.” A favorite program where a group of artists share something about themselves, their art, or background. Chris Chomick and Peter Meder showed us the step-by-step making of their newest automaton,Hermes; Gail Lackey showed slides of her early work and Shelly Thornton talked about how her environment and large fabric collection influence her work. Forest Roger’s hilarious presentation of incredible art showed that her family was already steeped in talent long before she was born. Kathryn Walmsley showed us slides of her teaching trip to the La Napoule Art Foundation (chateau of sculptor and artist Henry Clews) in France in March of 2004. Stephanie Blythe presented a step by step slide show about the making of her Kiss Couples. Russian artist Ima Noroditskaya’s slides were postponed till the next day, as they were held up in Amsterdam along with all the rest of her luggage!
Saturday’s programs began with the “lost slides” of Ima and her husband Vladimir showing the complete artistic renovation of their Moscow home and that was followed by my slide presentation of the art dolls and collectible dolls created by NIADA artists. I tried to show the differences between original art dolls and dolls made by manufactures. By showing work by NIADA artists, I was able to give a full-spectrum show of mediums and styles, sometimes contrasting an individual’s artist dolls with their mass-produced work.
Then there was a mysterious program called FLOTN. It turns out that during the past year, a group of artists (not all of whom were NIADA artists) each made a doll based on the theme “Flying Ladies of the Night.” Slides showing the work in progress of each FLOTN doll were shown and the audience was asked to guess the secret topic and the maker of each doll, followed by the unveiling of the dolls to an excited crowd, four people thick for several minutes after the program. Very exciting stuff! I hope we do this again every year, as it was a real treat to see the work of such varied artists, all tackling a single theme.
Next up was an open roundtable discussion led by Susie Oroyan of the latest methods and materials used in state-of-the-art dollmaking. The discussion was lively and very informative, covering topics form felting needles to direct-sculpt porcelain techniques. I still haven’t tried the methods that were suggested for tightening the felting on my hand-made dog, but one thing’s for sure: I’m NOT going to toss him in the clothes dryer, Kathryn! I can’t wait to try some of the new clays that people were talking about, and if I ever get into direct-sculpt porcelain, I will be prepared to try some of the techniques that Nancy Walters and others were describing.
The rest of the day was filled with artist demonstrations, from such traditional themes as woodcarving by Mary Ellen Frank and millinery by Scott Gray, to Forest Roger‘s method for making tiny leaves in gold leaf and Dan Fletcher‘s lengthy demo of how he makes simple washi paper dolls. Diane Keeler shared her secrets for painting perfect eyes while Donna May Robinson turned basic sleeve patterns into many new shapes. Itsduku Gerbasi of Creative Paperclay® demonstrated how to use Paperclay while Susie Oroyan helped us explore wire armatures.
Everyone took a turn to join Annie Wahl to make a few polymer clay Bunting Babies. I was lucky enough to room with Annie, so I didn’t have to try to pack my soft Bunting Baby into my luggage. She gave me a few of her own Babies (already baked) and I got to take them home with me! Later we got to see some of Forest’s work (a gold-leaf laurel wreath) adorning the head of Charles Batte, who played host to the conference, which was held in his home town.
The evening Banquet was a delight for the senses, starting with a tour of San Francisco’s culinary specialties, and ending with the drawing for the Helpers. Awards were given for Annie’s ” Who made this mess?” ( People were asked to link artists with pictures of messy studios, which was incredibly difficult to do!) I forgot who won the top award, but I was there when in the last few minutes of the display, Nancy Walters sat down, wrote quickly, and got a huge number of them right… How did she DO that???) Then Charles Batte distributed his lovely paper doll souvenir, which held the recipients’ rapt attention for so long, they forgot to applaud. Very impressive Charles. If you ever decide to stop sculpting, you have a career ahead of you in print.
After the banquet a team of patrons and volunteers led by Barbi Kantor Goldenberg set up the show and sale room for the big Sunday event. Flexibility and innovation are always required to set up the room with the moving of tables, changing layouts and generally running around like longshoremen to get the room ready for the next day. David Walters was among the group of volunteers working to help NIADA. (There ought to be a special award for the partners of NIADA artists and patrons who give so much of their time and talent to NIADA. And David should top the list.)
The visitors to the Sunday show and sale included Richard Simmons who arrived with his whole household and entertained the artists and many other visitors alike as he paused at each table to chat and peruse the lovely dolls. The room was filled with interested viewers and buyers right until the end!
Most registrants departed on Monday, but four artists stayed on and taught classes to those who remained, as well as others who signed up for the classes apart from the conference. Kathryn Walmsley taught working with paperclay, Shelly Thornton gave a demonstration of her cloth dollmaking techniques and Marlaine Verhelst taught a hands on class about sculpting faces. I taught my students how to draw and manipulate patterns to create an original cloth doll. I was surprised to hear, once again, that some people didn’t know that they could attend the conference. All are welcome at NIADA! I look forward to next year in Philadelphia. Hope to see YOU there as well.
~ Antonette Cely, NIADA Artist
NIADA 2004 Gallery Night
Here’s what some people are saying about the San Francisco Conference:
Marilyn Radzat: First let me say that I so enjoyed this conference. I felt comfortable and included, and I look forward to next year. As always, I am so impressed by the quality of the artwork…and the beauty of the artists that create it. Thank you for your inspiration.
Chris Chomick: Where do we begin? — it had been so long since we attended a Conference and our first experience with a smaller, more intimate one. Must say, we liked the smaller venue — we got to spend time with all and see the new wonderful work. Major highlight was when Ima and Vladimir’s luggage (and dolls) FINALLY showed up just in time for the Show & Sale!!!!
=Demos were a lot of fun and very informative (first time for us).
=The Banquet was buffet-style food stations : Italian, Chinese, Seafood, Mexican and Dessert!! Plenty for seconds and thirds!
=The Gallery setup was lovely, thanks to Barbi and her crew, as well as the Show & Sale, which had a steady stream of visitors to both events.
=The artwork was wonderful (as usual)
=We suspected there was some major Voodoo going on when the occupants of a CERTAIN Banquet table ALL won Helpers — some of them TWICE!!! Chanting was heard during the final Special Drawing — directed toward the lone Helperless member of this “winner” group — BINGO!! the Voodoo Priestesses prevailed!!!
Susie Oroyan: I have to say (as one of “that table”) I have seen a whole table win before, and have bought tons of tickets, but this is the first time I’ve ever been at one that “ran.” How could we not let Diane get something when we had all won? (“Mama Doc” that’s me, the old voodoo that I do, still works!) I was lucky to win Kathryn’s little elfin person (who rode home intact in spite of his delicate paperclay collar (paper clay is tougher than it looks) and I also won a collection of misc. books. Two were cut-out play books. The result was I went nuts last week. Tuesday night while sitting with feet up on my desk, pondering what of the next ten projects to start, I idly picked up one of the books and starting cutting out paper toys.
Antonette Cely: What I appreciated most, I think, was having Annie Wahl as a roommate. I usually attend with husband in tow, and this time I went on my own. Annie was just about the best roommate I could imagine, and we were able to share the same space without getting on each other’s nerves.
=Meals were always fun. If Annie and I got up together, we’d have breakfast out. If not, I’d just walk down to the lobby and ask the first person I saw, “Where are you going for breakfast?” Without blinking an eye, they’d say, “Want to join me?” And of course, once I went to breakfast alone, with my laptop, trying to make last-minute changes in my slide program. Everyone I ran into was friendly, but knew enough to leave me alone with my computer. THAT was a divine moment in history.
=Late at night, we’d just show up at the hotel bar. Others would come in and our table for two grew to be three or four tables, with everyone chatting at once.
Mary Ellen Frank: Great people
I started out slowly, knowing almost no one. Then I got to know other visiting artists nervously awaiting critique. I met other new people in classes and around tables at meals. Then came a period of connecting with NIADA artists as I approached acceptance into the organization. After that I got to know more active patrons and artists as I worked on conferences and NIADA projects. More recently I have roomed with someone I didn’t know well (or at all) and meet their friends and new contacts. I try to break from my loner shell and connect with new and old patrons and visiting artists and do something with them, even though it is so much easier to renew bonds with old friends and time is so dang short. I don’t consider it a successful conference for me unless I have made some new friends for me and the organization.
Where else could you be exposed to such exquisite, exciting doll art all in one place and from all around the world and inspired by every possible spirit? I have always left with a hunger to redouble my efforts to make every piece something to be proud of. I have always left wanting to extend the boundaries of what I will attempt. I have always left excited by other people’s art and my own possibilities.
A chance to eyeball, win or purchase fabulous doll art;
Eye- and mind-opening innovation;
Experts who share all about production and promotion;
Courses from the best often who don’t teach anywhere else;
Impressive pains taken for perfection;
Connections that persist, are renewed and grow;
Opportunities to sell work, get media exposure;
Ability to learn what interests and motivates other artists.
Elizabeth Brandon: I’ve been coming to NIADA Conferences–we used to call them “Conventions”–since 1979 & each has had something unique to recommend it, but I especially liked this year’s in San Francisco. The charming little hotel was small enough not even I could get lost in it, & there seemed to be time to laugh & talk with everybody. The programs & demos I was able to attend were both informative & very entertaining & were a wonderful vehicle for getting to know fellow artists a little better.
= The big inspiration to go home & renew the joy in working always happens for me at the Gallery & Sunday Show. By the time I arrive at NIADA I am usually a little bummed-out with months of overwork, feelings that I ran out of time to redo something I discovered how to improve & slightly discouraged by a whole year’s passing without my accomplishing all I’d wanted to. But the Gallery erases all negatives—standing in awe before so many stunning examples of Doll Art does nenew our creative spirits. I would feel it a privilege to come to the Conferences even if all we provided was that marvelous Gallery. Anybody who wants refreshment, wants to spend some time with people who love what you love, & who wants a whole year’s worth of inspiration can get it all at a NIADA Conference.
Annie Wahl: “Build it and they will come”
Gee, I heard this quote before but after this last conference, it kept coming back in my head. That could easily be our NIADA theme in these more trying times. They even thought IOWA was heaven in the film ” Field of Dreams” and that’s how I feel about NIADA. A little bit of heaven is visited during conference time. NIADA has held her post, stayed steady and true and plowed on though some tough times. We can still hold our head above water and talk plans of future conferences. Wonderful!!!