"Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot."
by Susan Shie Contact me
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"Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot."
©Susan Shie 2012. 60"h x 86.5"w. inventory #430. Peace Cozy #47.
Began 6-14-12. Finished 8-28-12
I've made an album of images of this finished piece on my Facebook page, which you can see, even if you're not on FB.
There's also an album on FB of my airbrush painting of this piece which you can see, even if you're not on Facebook.
Materials: White kona cotton, airbrush paint, fabric paint. Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik perle cotton embroidery thread, one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting. Backing fabrics include Lunn Fabrics batiks.
Techniques: Whole cloth painting. Freehand black line drawing and color areas painting made with Aztek double action airbrush and Createx airbrush paint. Small, black writing made with Silkpaint.com’s basic Airpen and Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paint. Writing in color done with markers. Crazy grid machine quilting and one row of hand stitching (just on the border edge.)
Statement: On June 14, 2012 I randomly drew the minor tarot card the 9 of Cups from the Sakki-Sakki Tarot deck (which is my favorite, besides the Kitchen Tarot.) This card, described as the Wishing Card, would become my piece about my then upcoming trip to Girona, Spain, a city north of Barcelona in the Catalan part of Spain, near the Costa Brava. OK, I wasn't fully sure that my piece would be about that trip, in case I didn't end up with anything exciting from the trip to make art about. But that's what I expected it would be about.
And I was right. Girona was a wonderful experience, and I am in love with the city and cherish my time there and all the great people I met there. So I went to Spain on July 2 and came home on July 13, and started to sketch for this piece on July 22. You can see the sketches I made, on my blog. I had also made tiny little drawings while I was in Girona on little white card weight papers, and have just made a blog entry about them, too.
The piece I started painting on July 31, using my airbrush like I normally do, had the challenge that I really wanted to include ALL the cool poeple I met in Girona and be able to tell stories about them. I painted the old part of the city, which is the amazingly rich mixture of many cultures which took turns ruling this trade city over the centuries.
I worried that the piece could easily get too detailed and muddled, if I tried to write a lot, after all the little vignettes of groups of people that I put in. So I decided to make part of the writing with fabric markers in colors, instead of doing it all with my airpen and black fabric paint. This gave the piece a way of staying lighter and less mushy, but I also had to abbreviate my stories a lot. I could go on and on and on about all the wild things that happened there in that short amount of time.
Basically the story goes: Denise Labadie and I met in JFK airport on July 2 and flew together to Barcelona, then rode up to Girona, getting there around 11 AM. We went directly to the Palau, the city's convention center, where we met the women from Girona Quilt Art and CATinCAT, the groups putting on the expo INTERQUILT 2012. The booths were just being built and the shows just starting to be hung for this, their first international expo of quilts in Girona. Pretty gutsy, considering the economy of Spain, and for that matter, of the world!
From that first meeting with Olga, Rosa R, Joelle, Marta, Vlady, Cecilia, Flora, Irene, Rosa B, Nuna, and Luy, I knew I was going to have a really wild time there! We went to our hotel, the Peninsular, got unpacked and got our iPads plugged in, and that evening went to visit Denise's friends, also from Colorado like her, who just happened to live right next to the hotel! After supper and after dark, we took a walk over the first bridge by our hotel, the Pont de Pedra, and into the amazing Old Town, including the Jewish Quarter. This area of all stone streets and stone buildings, and stone stairways was enchanting, and we would spend many hours going there, at least once each day.
Our solo shows got hung at INTERQUILT, and we prepared to teach our classes. I had a great interpreter named Angela, who grew up in the US. In my second class, I had a surprise student: Carine from Belgium, whom I'd met in my hometown Wooster the year before, on our mutual birthday, at a local bed and breakfast. Carine and her husband Marcel drove 800 miles from their home now, so that she could take one of my classes! Wow!!! Later, near the end of our stay in Spain, they and Denise and I would take the train down to Barcelona for a day, to see Gaudi's architecture and enjoy that city together.
Gelato was my favorite food in Girona, because it was so hot, and we often carried heavy loads in all our walking, which is how we got around all day and night. We surely walked off the calories of that delicious treat, so it wasn't a problem. But my second favorite food there was from the Sushi Bar. Honest! It was in the big Plaza, and sitting inside, you could see the big Cathedral of Girona across the river, behind the beautiful tall, narrow houses that were built with nothing between them, and right up to the riverbanks, for a long way north and south along the pretty Onyar River.
The Onyar runs north and sount, and the Cathefral sticks way up above the other buildings, as it's built on a big hill. And south of it a ways is the Church of St Feliu. The bridges along the river are all different from each other, and the most unusual is the red steel Eiffel Bridge. So with all those landmarks and also the elevated train tracks and maps, I realized I could find my way around this city pretty well. Still I ached to be able to use my iPad's gps there. But I was only able to use it with wifi, because I'd be charged way too much to use the satellites outside the US. I am glad I had a good pair of Keen walking shoes to save my feet in all that walking in Girona, even though the temps suggested I'd like flip flops for the heat! Next time I will travel lighter each day in all that walking, but perhaps the expo could be in the Spring or Fall, when the weather is much more bearable!
My new friend Irene and I were walking from the Palau to the Plaza one night, after we took her bicycle to her charming little house, and as we neared the Church of St Feliu, she showed me La Leona of Girona. She is a statue of a little lioness, way up high on a stone pillar. There's a very steep set of stairs that they put there just so you can climb up to kiss the Leona's behind, so you'll have good luck and also will return to Girona again. Of course! But I wasn't going to climb those scary steps, so Irene suggested I take a picture of the little lioness, and we could kiss THAT. So we kissed my iPad! And I put those pix on my Facebook page, as I was trying to keep up with the trip by writing about it every night. This is how I got so tired there, I'm sure! I found an app called iLoaderHD, that let me easily upload a lot of pictures to FB. I also took my regular digital camera, but because I don't have the camera connection kit, I couldn't do anything with those images, except to leave them in my camera til I got home. I'll buy that kit before my next trip, you can bet!
Another thrilling event was the day Denise and I walked through the Old City and up many flights of old stone stairs, to the Cathedral and later to the old City Wall. We met some real characters on that day, and they ended up in my piece. One was Perro Lunar, who was playing the mysterious hang drum at the Cathedral, making the whole outside of the place come alive with holiness, in case you ever doubted! The hang is like two steel drums stuck together and held on the lap. He played iwth with gloves on his hands, and I took a video of him playing. Oh my. I don't know if you can access this video, if you're not on FB, but pleast try and let me know. Thanks.
Then we walked up more steps in the heat of noontime, and walked along the Old City Wall, built in the 1st Century BC by the Romans. It was amazing, and the view of the city was just breathtaking! I set up the composition for my piece by how I felt inspired up on that wall. It really was as cool as the Great Wall of China had been, only a ton shorter! When Denise and I came down from the wall, by coincidence we came right to our bridge by our hotel. In a city of nearly 100,000 people, I thought that was a pretty good trick! I put the Cathedral and the big Church of St Feliu along the wall at the top of my piece, and I drew the Holy Grail there, too. I had joked that Girona felt so magical, maybe the Holy Grail was hidden there! Then, after I came home from Spain, I read a book by Patrice Chaplin, City of Secrets, all about the Holy Grail being there in Girona. Supposedly true. hmmmmm. Well, you'll see my Dragon Sushi story in the next paragraph, so her story has to be at least as true as THAT story of mine! Anyhow, I put the Holy Grail there in the middle of the old wall, too and added her French Woman's House, which we might have walked past, on our way up to the wall, in all those shady gardens!
So, you wonder where I got the title for this piece "Dragon Sushi," right? Well, in my free time, between showing and teaching and walking and drawing, etc, I made up a story to explain how come the Sushi Bar restaurant is lined up perfectly to see the Cathedral out of its windows. I had a vision: St George, aka Jordi in Catalan, slew the Dragon where the Catheral is now, righ there in Girona. Then, because he had all that dragon meat to not waste, he invented Sushi right there on the spot, and he had them build the Cathedral right where it all had happened, in honor of both slaying the dragon and inventing sushi. AND considering that this is the Year of the Dragon, my vision is very timely, as well!
I made up that story while talking with a new friend Xevi, the guy who was the chef for our banquetish lunches at INTERQUILT. So in my piece I put Xevi there in the middle, with a table of some gigantic sushi rolls, and with his huge, long arm pointing up at the Cathedral. Only I also made that arm be the Eiffel Bridge, the Pont de Eiffel or Pont de Ferro. Its red steel beams are criss-crosses all up his arm. And beside him are Olga, the owner of Girona Quilt Art and her husband Gabby, who had a hard time enjoying the haircut Marta nd Denise gave her on my last day in town: a butch! But I made them all cuddled up in love, with their crazy cats Bruna and Lola at their feet, and Marta and Vlady's cats Sushi and Maki also swarming the sushi table. Cats would do that, even if the sushi was made with dragon meat, which probably tastes like chicken!
There's a large head of a woman beside the Eiffel Bridge arm of Xevi, and it's MY head. On it I wrote a saying I saw on Facebook, a poster that quotes Sen. Joe McCarthy from the 1950s. It says "Beware of artists, for they mix with all classes of society, and are therefore the most dangerous." I really like that. Too bad old Joe damaged and ruined so many Americans' lives by accusing them of being Communist sympathizers and having them either banned from their careers or thrown into prison. I pray we never have that level of fanatic reactionism in our country again. Watch the movie Good Night and Good Luck, if you don't know about Joe McCarthy, or read a biography of him, to scare yourself sober.
To the right of Olga and Gabby are the huge, 20 feet tall or more Gigantos of Girona, the pair of massively tall puppets who are Girona's festival puppets. We were walking along one night with Cecilia, Marta, and Vlady, and Marta was telling us about how all the towns in Catalunyia each have a pair of such big puppet people. She said in her town the Gigantos kept being burnt up by vandals, so they made a pair of really ugly Gigantos, and since then, no one has tried to destroy them. They must think the scarily ugly Gigantos will get them back! Anyhow, after that story, we crossed the bridge and entered the Rambla, the walking part of town, used for festivals, and there were Girona's Gigantos, propped up by the river, with a little band playing in front of them! We went to eat, being seated in an upstairs dining room, and soon we heard the band coming. I want to the balcony and watched the Gigantos coming down the street, being twirled and dancing with the much smaller partiers. What a festival, and we couldn't have planned the timing better!
On the far right of my painting, I put Marcel and Carine in Barcelona, when Carine got so hot, she poured a bottle of water over herself. She then laughed and laughed, and said now she is AQUA BRA, because some of the water got into her bra and had to be squeezed out. That is now her new name: Aqua Bra, and I made her as a mermaid.
I included other new friends in my drawing and painting that I'd later quilt: Cristina and Jose, who had a booth at INTERQUILT, and also Jacky, of JACKY ART, whose booth was her hand dyed and hand sewn bags and clothes. She's from Cameroon, and we each bought her amazing bags. I drew Alise and Alpha, whom Denise and I met on my last day in town, when we went into their place to cool off. Alise is from Brazil and Alpha from Cote d'Ivoire, and here we four were in Girona, Spain, discussing world politics together and wishing for world peace.
We stayed at Olga and Gabby's house the last few days I was in Girona and got to wash some clothes and hang them out on the lovely little clothesline on their upstairs roof patio. I love clotheslines, so I had to include that one in the top right part of my piece, only I put it on the old city wall. :)
And the last night in town, they had a goodbye party for me at Rosa R's house, and I gave everyone a button from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, where my son-in-law works. I chouse the buttons that have a peace symbol on them, and after I went around the table, giving a button to each of my new friends, they told me this proved to them once and for all, that I am a hippie. That's right! I am! :)
On my flight home from Barcelona, I shared seats with Mariana and her toddler son Zion, who were both very magical, so I put them in the top left corner of my piece, The second drawing down, in that blog about the sketches of Girona, is about Mariana and Zion. We stayed together in the next airport, through Customs and then through the baggage claim fire, that miraculously didn't cause them to evaculate the airport and didn't damage our bags. My bags had all my art works in them, that I'd taken over to Girona to exhibit! So you can imagine how freaked out I was, watching that fire above the carousel, in the fluorescent light's balast!
Most of the stories in this piece are about the Girona trip, with very little about current events, which I mostly squeezed into the writing on the border. I got the part about Todd Akin's explanation about how we don't need abortions for rape victims, because you probably can't hecome pregnant from "legitimate rape." And I included some Eva visit stuff and Hurricane Issac, which had flooded and taken the electric out of Haiti and Cuba, and after hitting lower Florida, was on its way to hit New Orleans, exactly 7 years after Hurricane Katrina. OH, and I write a little about the Republican Convention, like how there was a billboard there that said" Welcome to Tampa, where the mayor and all city council members are Democrats. Enjoy your stay!"
Thanks for reading my illustration-less story now!
Lucky watching the dregs of Hurricane Issac pour rains down on our drought-damaged Ohio landscape, 9-1-12.
PS. If you're on Facebook, you can see an album I made of my process of painting the large piece that became this art quilt, "Dragon Sushi."
PPS. The first quilted piece I made about Girona is called "La Leona" and is a small piece that I started in the second class I taught at INTERQUILT 2012 in July. I have a Facebook album about it that you can access, even if you're not on Facebook, so you can see a bunch of in-progress and finishedl shots and a photo of the actual Leona statue. This piece is 19.25"h x 21.5"w, and is mainly about when Irene showed me the Leona in the first place, on a lovely evening walk in Girona.
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