Saturday, December 31, 2011

On Marcia Derse, Chicken Legs & Magical Roosters; and the Misuse of Muffin Tins

"I'm so excited you're here! I'm so excited I got to meet you, it was so sweet of you to come!" Over the course of the evening, I hear similar sentiments expressed repeatedly to persons other than myself. Clearly, Marcia Derse is a dour, unpleasant individual.* And who can blame her for a little bit of bitterness? She spends her days pouring over bolts of raw muslin, dyeing them, adding textures -- endlessly assessing them -- before sending them off to Japan, where a staff paints (not photographs, paints) a copy of her finished fabric design, so that they can mass produce it. Her fabrics have unevocative names like "aloe chicken scratch," "spotted graffiti," "bee hive basket," "onion skin argyle" and "indigo water lillies."

It gets worse: on the night of the studio open house, her husband, a nutritionist by trade, is manning the stove top, turning out diminutive sandwiches that riff on Korean barbeque and Cuban cuisine, among numerous other creations; people hover nearby to sample the newest tidbits, mmm'ing and ooo'ing and furrowing their brows in attempts to ferret out elusive spices and ingredients. In the pantry hangs a reproduction of "Portrait of a Man in a Turban" by Jan Van Eyck (1433), painted by their daughter Emily Derse Pellichero, after she studied in Florence for two years. Marcia's sister, greeting people at the door, is also a fabric artist, based in Chicago. And on this evening, a handful of other artists have invaded Marcia's home, carelessly mixing their own work with the art and collections found in every room. When will they leave? Artists are hard to get rid of, once they find a foothold. It's all too much. I know what you're thinking: "There but for the grace of God, go I..."

As if sensing the house's negative force field, my camera refused to take more pictures after the first six or so. Luckily, my right-hand man Stephen uses his iPhone camera at the drop of a hat and he kindly promised to email me photos from the event. Warning: if you don't like colorful, you're certainly not going to like these images. Avert your gaze!...Hard to do, while reading a blog post...

[*Blanket disclaimer for the overly literal: I'm kidding, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Marcia's clearly warm, wonderfully talented and fantastic. And this December night in Sylvania, OH was close to magical.]
Studio, with fabric cabinets

Game board, painting in the style of Matisse

Far studio wall

Fabric panels showing differing techniques over the decades

The artist next to her panel
Original design on left, reproduced fabric from Japan on right

wonderful textured quilt, above milk glass collection

"What about this one?" I asked Stephen.
 "Yes, it makes me happy. It makes me think of chicken legs." 
Stephen often makes great remarks like this.
Bovine happiness. Folk artists Paige & Larry Koosed.
I wanted to carry the goat around with me.

Within the built-in bookcases, hundreds of picture books -- the Derses used to own a children's bookstore. *Sigh.* On the table, tiles from Mary Ellen Taylor.
And the rooster. I was actually holding him, but it was necessary to crop myself out, as I looked mildly unhinged.

Vases by Jan Thomas
Ornaments by Jan Thomas
Yup, Jan Thomas again. perfume bottles.
More clay from Mary Ellen Taylor.
The Taylor tile that went home with me.
In situ. Kind of looks like I have a sister shrine going on. Photo from her college years.

the figures at top are all presidents

from wall of family photos

someone wasn't told not to draw on the walls. Mmph, mmph, mmph!
This was really only the tip of the iceberg. Several artists present were not represented in this post (apologies!). As it is, I'm all blogged out! Not a bad way to end the year, writing about talented, multifaceted folk! And yesterday was a banner day with Compatriot -- we started out with Indian buffet, made one last visit to the DIA in 2011 and ended with cocktails at Zola. Several of my favorite activities, all in one afternoon/evening! 

Tonight there will be fondue. Best wishes to Everyone for a fun evening -- and, more importantly, for an exciting, healthful and joyous 2012!

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