Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's an Etsy?

For some reason, I am always surprised by the question. Why? Well, first of all, it's an e-commerce global store of approximately 800,00 shops. Secondly, it's been online since 2005 with sales topping $700 million in 2012. Perhaps that explains my surprise at the question. Statistics aside, my favorite part of the question, "What's an Etsy?" are the shop owners.

Shop owners are artists, artisans, crafters and, more recently, sellers of vintage (more than 20 years old) items. As Wikipedia states, "...  in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts..."

There are highly talented visual artists and photographers, the most clever crafters and upcyclers, and a wonderful mix of fabric shop owners creating everything from clothing to quilts. Personally, I'm always delighted with all the original and creative work that I find on Etsy shops.

With so many shops, how is it possible to be noticed? What to do? Artisans could be alone with their little store front trying to get noticed. That could be very frustrating. That's where the genius of Etsy comes into play.

Etsy encourages shop owners to join a team or teams. There are teams for  shop owners' type of products, interests, or locations. Some teams welcome anyone and some have criteria. The genius is that in the team environment, everyone mutual marketing by promoting each other. It's the action of reciprocation.: "I scratch your back and you scratch mine"

For example, I belong to a few teams: one promotes education for maximizing Etsy computer applications, another is a Northwest team and, my favorite of all, a local Eugene Team. It's my favorite because we meet once a month and I personally know many of the members. As artisan-entrepreneurs, they have lots of energy and can-do resourcefulness.

Eugene Team on Etsy members are also ambitious to reach the local market. To that end, they are inaugurating a local vendor fair.
Additionally, in keeping with the sense of local community, the vendor fair partnered with of a local charity that teaches parenting skills and provides support to families with young children. That is what Etsy is and the genius of mutual marketing.

Note: The Artisans & Vintage Spring Fair and Fundraiser for Parenting Now! (formerly Birth To Three) is Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at Valley River Inn, Columbia Rooms, 1000 Valley River Way, Eugene, OR 97401. (Each Team vendor is donating a work for the fundraiser drawing.) (click image to enlarge)

My shop?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guiseppe Penone: The Artist's Hand and Nature

There's a modern Italian art movements established in the 1960s known as "Arte Povera." The translation is "poor art." It represented a radical response to corporate and government mentality in art.

Instead of the acceptable and conventional styles and materials, these artists resisted the technical, mechanized world by creating works with unconventional materials - often using found objects. They made their art statements by combining the natural with the artificial demonstrating how commercialism is overwhelming nature.

 A successful artist, who creates in the Arte Povera style, is Guiseppe Penone(1947-). Penone grew up in a small village near the Alps. The area around his village was wooded and the blend of nature with humanity were a constant presence. This combination, plus a father who was a sculptor, led Penone to the major theme of his art. It was in the trees likeness to the human form that spoke to him and informed his sculptures.

 Here is an example of how Penone creates. He hollowed out a fallen log showing the small tree of the past and titled the piece "The Hidden Life Within" (2008). “My artwork shows, with the language of sculpture, the essence of matter and tries to reveal with the work, the hidden life within.” –Giuseppe Penone

The above piece is titled, "Elevations" (2001) Bronze, Beech tree, 4 Alders. As the trees grow, the bronze roots will incorporate as part of each tree and mark the passage of time.

Above is "Space of Light" (2012) Bronze, Gold Leaf. The bark bears the imprint of many hands showing the connection of humans and nature. The interior of gold illuminates the life-giving properties of light.

Penone has worked with other nature-provided materials. Below is a piece in the series "Spine of Acacia" (2001) consisting of marble and acacia thorns.

The sculptor's Arte Provera works have been shown in museums, galleries and in natural settings all over the world. Have you ever seen his works? What are your thoughts about his approach to describing our interaction with nature?