Thursday, August 4, 2011

LaLa Gallery Current Exhibition

Owning LaLa Gallery & Studio I get a chance to build relationships with all types of people! Linday Surmacz and Nancy Pirri are the latest!

Lindsay Surmacz was my intern during the Spring semester, and a May graduate of Purdue! I wish Lindsay the best of luck in her ventures out on the east coast! She wrote a beautiful review of the current exhibition and I wanted to post it here for all to see!

Nancy Pirri, fellow sculptor and new found friend is a delight to be around!

Enjoy the words and info of these lovely ladies!!!

Nancy Pirri: Sculptor
by Lindsay Surmacz

Within the white walls of LaLa Gallery and Studio in Lafayette, IN, curvaceous female figures swathed in a glossy tumult of brick red, teal, and grey engage in poses that while modest, evoke as much drama as the most passionate display of emotion. They appear cracked as if having been unearthed after a century of burial. They are fragile, candid, and captivating, especially to the members of the Lafayette community who until now have never witnessed a solo exhibition in the familiar gallery space. These pieces are the work of Nancy Pirri, the featured artist in “Reflection,” an exhibition hosted by LaLa Gallery running through Aug. 13.

A Chicago native and a regular figure at the Lillstreet Art Center, Pirri is among the Midwest’s most acclaimed figurative sculptors, having won numerous accolades at exhibitions and competitions throughout the region. In the past twenty years, she has created an immense body of work dedicated to the beauty and resilience of women. “I pay homage to the fact that women are filled with beauty and have sincere intentions but have been damaged and scarred by the struggles of life’s journey,” Pirri says. Each of her hand-made pieces, which include free-standing sculptures, busts, vases, and tiles, exemplify a unique style of form, color, and texture achieved through various firing and imaging techniques.

“Reflection” is part of an ongoing tour Pirri is now making with her work. After her appearance at LaLa, her collection will be showcased at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago from August 19-September 25th with a reception on Saturday, September 24th from 6-9pm.

She is also represented by StudioB in Three Oaks, MI and Edenside Gallery in Louisville, KY.

For more information on Nancy Pirri, visit her website at

For more information on “Reflection,” visit LaLa

Images of artwork by Nancy Pirri:
(Laraine)(Adele)(Genevieve, Simone, Sadie)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worth the Trip!

Last October I had the opportunity to make my first visit to the amazing Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a magical and inspiring place, and certainly one I hope to visit again this summer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, it is a beautiful 132-acre parcel of land in west-central Michigan devoted to horticulture, art, music, architecture, and discovery. It is named for two of the park's major benefactors, Frederik and Lena Meijer, whose family founded the Meijer Corporation. There are beautifully tended gardens, landscapes and wetlands, hiking trails, sculptures from nationally and internationally-known artists, a newly renovated amphitheater (which is the venue for a popular summer concert series), conservatories which hold varied and wondrous collections of plants from different ecosystems, indoor art galleries, a gift store, a cafe, and a very imaginative children's garden (which is fun even for adults).

I traveled to the Meijer Gardens with a small group of friends. We planned our trip to coincide with the Dale Chihuly installation, A New Eden. (Dale Chihuly is a glass artist and art entrepreneur from Washington state whose studio creates amazing and instantly recognizable work. His sculptures are exhibited in temporary and permanent installations all over the world.) A New Eden included various installations throughout the large park, from towers (like the one above) to Red Reeds (right) to the Niijima Floats on the waterfall.In addition to the Chihuly installations, we also enjoyed many works from the permanent collection. I was happy to see a sculpture by one of my favorite artists - Alexander Calder. His Two Discs sculpture struck my fancy - it was in a clearing by itself and was large enough we could walk under it and view Calder's signature.

Another favorite of mine was a phenomenal bronze - American Horse by Nina Akamu. Based on a composition by Leonardo daVinci, this sculpture is 24 feet tall and has its own plaza with a view of the conservatories. Its magnificence has to be seen in person to be believed!

For those of us who like to explore and discover new art, a visit to this venue is definitely worth the trip. There is something that will appeal to everyone in your group. Whether you want to walk the grounds and enjoy the discoveries that await you at every turn, or prefer to take it easier and ride the tram with the tour guide, or explore the indoor galleries and shops, or see the beautiful plants in the indoor conservatories. Since a person could not possibly enjoy in one day everything this park has to offer, you may even want to take multiple trips!

In my mind, an ideal summer weekend trip to southern Michigan would include one full day spent at the Meijer Gardens and another day at Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan (with many stops to fruit stands and roadside galleries in between). What about you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Holidays Are Over!

Thanks for being patient with us over the holidays!  Expect regular posting to resume this Friday!

We will see you then!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Larger Than Life

This week I thought I would take a look at art that is larger than life.  Like anything else that I do, I took it to an extreme.  So without further ado, let us take a look at some works, both intentional and not, which qualify for that name.

If we're talking about larger-than-life art, obviously the first place we turn is Robert Smithson's, "Spiral Jetty."  It is an earthwork sculpture built into the Great Salt Lake from Rozel Point.  For people unfamiliar with this work, it is a man-made causeway 15 feet wide and 1,500 feet long reaching into the lake.  Quite obviously, this is a large piece of art, but why do I consider it to be larger than life?  A few reasons.  Size, of course, is one of them, but there is more to it than that.  Spiral Jetty was built in 1970 from locally available materials - mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water.  Somehow, though, this creation drawn from common materials becomes more than the sum of its parts.  The water isn't just water, it is an extraordinary substance in and of its self, since it appears blood red from algae that grows in the salt waters of the lake.

I also adore the spiral because it is a living thing.  The level of the lake has to be rather low, as in a drought year, for it to even be visible.  In addition to that, being constantly submerged into the brine of the lake for years at a time has gradually altered the appearance of the jetty, from it's original stark black basalt on the red of the lake, to a white salty crust on the ever changing pink waters of the lake.  All of these things along with the bold visual and the sheer magnetism, make this one of my favorite large earthworks.

Second on my list deserves a shout-out to Garth Johnson over at Extreme Craft.  Last month he did an article on artist Ai WeiWei and her collaboration with craftspeople from Jingdezhen, China to create a mind boggling 150 TONS of life-like ceramic sunflower seeds.  Linked here.  Can you even imagine the enormity of such a project?  Organizing it, managing it, bringing it to fruition, keeping track of all of those individual pieces?  (all 100 Million of them!!)  I said it once and I will say it again - this boggles me.  To go to such detailed lengths for something so simple, awesome and beautiful makes me happy in so many ways.

One more thing for me to leave you with - unintentional art on a grand scale.  Defining the outer limits of what art is tends to be very difficult.  There is a lot of gray area out there.  These partially completed and/or abandoned subdivisions in Florida as seen from Google Earth make my list for "found art" on a grand scale.  Take a look through them and let me know - are they art?  Human Landscapes in SW Flordia - Via The Big Picture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cool Cloud Finds!

It's amazing when you are surrounded by beautiful things and people how a pattern emerges in the course of a month. November started out at SOFA Chicago. I ran into some friends from college and enjoyed my time with a new friend!

My favorite find was a pair of cloud earrings by Sergey Jivetin. These sweet little earrings are approximately 3" tall by 1.5" wide. The fine silver wire creating the rain drops shimmered in the light and caught my eye in the jewelry filled booth by Ornamentum. At first glance I was not sure what I was looking at, and after the ah ha moment I fell in love!

"Cloudy" the current exhibit at LaLa Gallery & Studio in Lafayette, IN opened November 15th and runs through December 11th. Sally Harless and Candice Hartsough McDonald together brought 19 pieces made of watercolor, color pencil, cut paper and ink, interpreting the theme "Cloudy". The exhibit is full of humor and wit.

Sally Harless

Candice Hartsough McDonald

Last week, to wrap up November, I stumbled onto Samantha Clark's site. She created an installation at the Q Gallery in Scotland in 2007 as part of a light festival. The installation consisted of a whole room filled with clouds. When I saw the images, I imagined how it might have been to visit the Q Gallery amongst the clouds. Old news probably but new to me!
It has been really great seeing how different artists have incorporated clouds into their work! I wonder what patterns I will find in December! I challenge you to find some for yourself!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Art and Community for the Holidays

It's that time of year when the rush of consumerism and the noise of ordinary people turning into deal-crazed lunatics can get to be a bit much - especially for those of us who prefer creative expression over competition. However, it's also the time of year when eschewing the malls and strip malls to buy a meaningful gift can be as easy as visiting locally owned, downtown businesses.

Inspired by Kat's previous post, I compiled a list of some of the holiday shopping events happening around the state. My list emphasizes events focusing on community and creativity. If you don't live in one of these communities, plan a road trip to a neighboring town or send us your local holiday art event info.

Bloomington: Holiday Market. Today and tomorrow (Nov. 26 and 27), the Bloomington City Hall hosts the annual Holiday Market. Shop for unique gifts, including original art and crafts, and delicious local food products in the warmth of the historic Showers Building. Live entertainment will be provided by local musicians.

Lafayette/ West Lafayette: 14th annual Dickens of a Christmas. On December 4, downtown Lafayette-West Lafayette businesses will be decked-out for the holidays. The streets of historic Lafayette will be buzzing with carolers, horse-drawn carriages, and entertainers in historic costume. Downtown shops and restaurants will be dressed in their holiday best...many will have in-store entertainment and local artisans demonstrating their crafts. Don't miss the roving Dickens Players who will perform scenes from A Christmas Carol on the streets before they converge on Riehle Plaza for the last act of the play and a community sing-a-long. And then there's the holiday Farmers' Market! Delicious local food and unique local crafts! Good for the soul.

Michigan City: Holiday Artisan Market. December 3, 5-8 p.m. The Lubeznik Center for the Arts is hosting a First Friday artisan market, featuring handmade holiday ornaments donated by local artists. If you're searching for an ornament that's truly unique, this is the place to find it! Proceeds benefit the Lubeznik education programs.

Zionsville: Christmas in the Village. December 4. Start your shopping in the Village with a parade on Main Street. Enjoy refreshments, music, and more as you wander the charming town on brick-lined Main Street with its unique shops and galleries. The celebrations and shopping continue on Sunday, 11-3 p.m.

South Bend: Holiday Art Walk. December 4. Featuring ten galleries owned by and/or representing local artists, including the South Bend Museum of Art on the beautiful St. Joseph River. While searching for that perfect gift, be sure to enter the raffle for a chance to win one of several wreaths decorated by South Bend artists. Don't forget to check out Santa's House and Workshop, just north of the South Bend Chocolate Company (one of my favorite places).

Contribute to the heart of your town or city. Shop locally for the holidays (or any time of year) and enjoy genuine holiday spirit.

(Photograph by Wong Zitao - "Christmas Joy" 2007)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Something is SIMMERING in Indiana

So I have to say, as a teenager, I never really saw the point in being a Hoosier.  I grew up in a small town.  Not as small as some in the state, but small enough that after high school I said I would leave and never come back.  That whole leaving part?  I guess I never really got around to it.  And now that I am a twenty-something who is very definitely pushing thirty-something, I think I get it.

Image:  India Cruse-Griffin, The Passion Keeper, 2007.  Mixed media collage on board.  India is a native of Richmond, Indiana.

Indiana is alive with the arts, if we would only bother to look around and notice them.  Since I left the not-so-hallowed halls of high school, I have lived in three decent sized cities in the state.  I went to College in Fort Wayne, I spent five years in Lafayette, and now I am a recent transplant to the college town of Valparaiso.  In all three places I have experienced the same thing.  A local malcontent from about half the people living there, and a fierce undercurrent of tough local pride in community and culture.  I moved off to college to hear cries of, "There's nothing to do in Fort Wayne!" or "This is such a boring town," from people who didn't even have a clue what their city had to offer.

Here is a wakeup call.  Indiana has a vast and thriving arts community.  I have compiled a list of ten things to do and see with your family during the holidays to be in touch or involved in the arts community.  I challenge you to do at least one of them, expand your art horizons!  Art isn't just a multi-million dollar painting by a New Yorker, it comes from within people just like you and me, people who live and breathe all over the world, all over the US, all over Indiana.
  • Bloomington Art MarketThe Bloomington Handmade Market is a contemporary art and craft fair that showcases modern handmade goods from 45+ local and regional artists. 
  • Third Friday in Lafayette - Just beginning to take off in the state is another co-ordinated opening event in Lafayette called 'Third Fridays' which takes place all over town, including Lala Gallery (Home of Lala Studio), Pride Lafayette Spectrum Gallery and many more!
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art - With the exception of the featured exhibit, the IMA is free to all.  With 100 acres of sculpture and gardens to wander, and indoor galleries pulling from a collection of 50,000 works of art, everyone can find some inspiration!
  • Visit a working artist's Studio - Did you know that many artists have open studios where you can come and watch the artist at work?  They are all over the state, and Shannon Owen's Inspired Fire is one!  
  • Northern Indiana Art and Earth Trail - The Art and Earth trail consists of seven regions or "loops" that contain the northwestern part of the states big centers of art.  This trail is massive, and you don't even have to hike it!
  • Muncie Civic Theater - Most large communities across the state have some form of civic theater.  If art on walls isn't for you, try living art!
  • rTrail Collective Edge Gallery - Is a local arts experience for anyone visiting Valparaiso. rTrail celebrates the Arts and Humanities, Cultural Diversity and Environmental Sustainability, while looking to improve the health of the community around them.
  • Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library - Did you know that one of Indiana's most beloved and prolific authors has a library?  And not only that, but they have a book club!  Look them up for great literary events every month.
  • Indiana Glass Trail - Do you think glass is gorgeous and amazing and only made in far off places like Murano, Italy?  Think again!  The Indiana Glass Trail is a directory for glass hot spots in the state.
  • Root Hog - A music experience from right here in the state.  One of many, many talented Hoosier bands touring the US today.
Hoosier-born Author Michael Martone once said, "Hoosiers secretly believe they live in the greatest danged place, but they are also terrified that they live in the middle of nowhere."  I think that's true, but with one caveat - Hoosiers are terrified they live in the middle of nowhere because sometimes they can't see what is all around them.  This holiday season, discover that this really is the greatest danged place, and take your family with you.