“How To Be Friends”—Exhibit

by Cat B on August 30, 2016


I’ve spent this summer working on a show called “How To Be Friends” for which I’m joining my wonderful friend, Maggie Stern, a very imaginative artist whose work is carried by The American Museum of Folk Art, The Barnes Foundation and many other museums and shops. The show is at The Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA just outside Boston and will be up from September 3rd to November 3rd. The opening is September 10th from 3-5 pm.

The inspiration for the show came for me when I looked at what Maggie had been making for some months. They were playful scenes of people, animals, fish and birds made of painted wood, and also some stitched drawings of the same. She said her work is really about connection. It seemed only logical then to work on the idea of friendship which is not always entirely straightforward.

At first, we’d been given a small space in the Center to show our work so it didn’t seem like a big deal for me to complete my part of it for which I already had a clear idea. I began working in a relaxed way in mid-June amid happy thoughts of a laid-back summer stretching ahead. Then, mid-July, Aneleise Ruggles, curator of exhibitions at the Center, invited us to take over the whole spacious ground floor of the building. And we said yes, and without a moment’s hesitation. Always good, I think, to say yes to yes. Of course, there was a moment or two of panic—the work I’d originally planned wouldn’t fill this larger space at all. What would I make next? Could it be done on time? I got the inspiration to make posters, something I’ve already done, and started drawing and exploring ideas. I love posters because I can approach ideas in them and the making too with some ease. An added bonus is that they’re affordable, a good thing too. Luckily, Maggie also remembered a set of four paintings I’d done a few years ago—”The Mahatma Gandhi Hat Company”—which is very much on our theme. I’m very grateful to The Arsenal Center for giving us the opportunity to both create and share work some of which wouldn’t exist without this support.

Here’s a look at my part of the show waiting patiently on the stairs to be hung. Tomorrow I’ll see how it all looks in the space when hung and displayed beside Maggie’s wonderful work.


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