Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pat Antonick and Heliotrope Studio

Last September, Michael and I went to Dayton, Ohio. While there, I came down with a terrible cold, and for a good part of the trip, I was hopped up on antihistamines and Dayquil. In our quest to find a drugstore--since I had come entirely unprepared for a cold--I saw a sign that said "Heliotrope Studio," although I couldn't see, from my vantage point, what the sign belonged to. But the word "studio" alone was magic. We made the necessary stop at Walgreen's and then wheeled around so we could investigate.

It turned out to be one of those great examples of spontaneous serendipity.

In one long building, surrounded by pretty garden furniture and potted plants, we found Pat Antonick, who came out, along with her sweet canine sidekick Mr. Marbles, to see who had pulled in to visit. Her studio is tripartite. On one end is a ceramic studio, complete with kiln. In the middle is a bead gallery, where jewelry-makers can find the most gorgeous bead selection I've ever seen in one place. (The beads, often translucent and arranged by color, hang in looped strands against the white walls, making them look like crystallized drops of light or liquid.) The final portion of the building is divided equally between a space for acrylic painting and space for fiber art, primarily art quilts.

Pat Antonick, ceramic art/mixed media, n.d.

Pat showed us around her spaces, revealed how she makes some of her clay impressions, using improvised stamps from vintage items. She indicated that she often rescues architectural elements from condemned buildings, before the wrecking ball hits, and then incorporates their shapes (sometimes even the objects themselves) into her ceramic works.

At the end of the tour, she showed us her most recent work. She was then making a new foray into fiber. A series of quilts were piled onto a long, make-shift table at the corner of her fiber studio. The colorful bias tape edges peeked out from beneath a protective cloth. Beside the pile was a pair of binoculars. These were used to actually view the quilts, although you don't look through the binoculars the conventional way. Instead, you look through them backwards, so that you actually have a compressed image of the quilt, as if it were much further away. This serves to make the swatches of color come together to create a coherent, often detailed picture. The effect is similar to stepping back from Seurat's pointillist paintings or viewing a Chuck Close color-block portrait from afar. It's a brilliant concept. Just below, you can see one of her award-winning works, "Glasses", which we had the privilege to view while we were there.

Pat Antonick's "Glasses" (2009) won
Ohio Designer Craftmen's Best of 2009
(Hint: look at the work the wrong way through binoculars.
You'll see a Kewpie doll. Brilliant, no? Very Chuck Close, too.)

Helotrope Studios does have a Facebook page, where you can view more examples of Pat's work and see images of the studios. It's an amazing place, where the creative energy is truly contagious. I hope to get back soon, and I also hope that perhaps some of her works will eventually be for sale online. 

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