Highlights from Racine

I am still recovering from last weekend in Racine. I was so intent on seeing and doing everything that I did not get many good photos. Bummer!

I can’t possibly do justice to the whole weekend so I will just share my personal highlights.

Wendy Wallin Malinow’s LAB at RAM


Top of the list – seeing my friend, and fellow Portlandian, Wendy Wallin Malinow’s work featured in the (in)Organic Lab at the Racine Art Museum. It was a room chock full of Wendy. A long overdue one-person show for a quiet artist with a vivid imagination and a rich artistic voice. Congrats, Wendy! So glad your whole family came to see the show!


Racine Art Museum’s Commitment to Polymer

Executive Director Bruce Pepich and his team at the Racine Art Museum welcomed us the Polymer 2.0 Symposium with a sneak preview of the museum shows on Thursday night, then spent the whole weekend in dialogue with us and closed the symposium with a challenge to take polymer out of the box. We heard the call and will start working together on projects to move polymer forward.


A Spot in the (in)Organic Show


Definitely a thrill to see some of my latest work all lined up in the RAM’s (in)Organic show. Wonderful to be in the company of many artists from many different media who all share a passion for exploring the edges between man and nature. Sure do wish I had a better  photo.


Re-visioning Polymer


Getting up close to so many amazing works of art in A Re-visioning: New Works in Polymer show at the H.F. Johnson Gallery at Carthage College. Pictured above – a detail from the sumptuous work of Heather Campbell.


 Visiting Johnson Wax Headquarters


Frank Lloyd Wright designed the admin building and the research tower for the headquarters of Johnson Wax.  They did not allow photos inside but here we are with our small group in front of the tower getting ready for the tour. All the interior and exterior photos I’ve ever seen were in black and white. They make the campus feel cold. The reality was so much warmer. Layer upon layer of Cherokee Red.


Dinners in the FLW’s Johnson House


Last but not least – sitting down with old and new friends in the living room of Wingspread, the huge house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Johnson family. Dream come true.

The symposium left us with many thought-provoking questions. Stay tuned to see what happens down the road as we partner with RAM to take polymer to the next level.

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Racine Art Museum Symposium

I leave on Thursday for Racine Art Museum’s second Polymer Symposium at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, Wisconsin.

Racine Art Museum Newsletter OctIt’s an honor to have a number of pieces in both the RAM (in)Organic show and the A Revisioning: New Works in Polymer show at the H.F. Johnson Gallery at Carthage College. I’m looking forward to seeing the RAM show at a preview reception on Friday night and heading to Carthage on Saturday afternoon to see the show at the gallery.

It was especially fun to see “Temptation” featured in the Racine Art Museum newsletter that went out last week.


MaggioRAMGrowIIIcropped4webHere’s another new piece from RAM’s (in)Organic show.

“Grow III” represents the interweaving of the animal and plant world by blurring the lines between snake and vine. 

I will need a larger oven as the pieces grow and grow!


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Serpentine Gothic

Last week I mailed off four pieces for the upcoming “(in) Organic” show at the Racine Art Museum. Here’s one of the pieces along with a short story describing how it came to be.

I was planning on making a loop on loop collar. I had it all sketched out at full scale. I made an 8′ long pinched snake and laid it out alongside the sketch. As I bent the snake into the tight curves that I needed for the loops I started to think that they reminded me of Gothic stone tracery. So I took it in that direction instead.

20130406_Ely_Cathedral_01Serpentine Gothic

I have to admit that I’m thrilled by this accidental discovery. It combines my fascination with serpentine forms and my architectural background in a way that I never could have come up with in my head or even my sketchbooks.  It wasn’t until I saw it coming together before me on the table that the ah-ha moment came.

I played with a number of variations along the way. Little by little the colors shifted to almost neutral, the curves became more regular and the clasp less complicated.

MaggioRAMGothic2I didn’t like the first four drafts. The final piece ended up a golden stone color and close to symmetrical.

Isn’t it amazing how the best ideas arrive from unexpected directions and bonk you on the head! I can’t wait to start exploring the idea of stone tracery more when I get back to the studio in November.

(in)Organic Gallery Guide
Wikipedia on Gothic Tracery
Photo Credit

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40 Years of Color Mixing

1974-Color-MixingForty years ago today, I finished my first color mixing collection.

Home for three weeks between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I decided to mix 300 colors using only three colors of RIT dye. Why dyes? Because my favorite art form at the time was making batiks.

I started with a twin sized white cotton bed sheet donated by my mom that I cut into twelve pieces. (Thanks Mom!) Each piece was dipped into one of the primary dye baths for a specific length of time then dried on a clothesline in the backyard.  I cut each of those 12 pieces into smaller pieces which were dyed and dried a second time.  Those pieces were then cut up and dyed a third time.  By the time I was done, I had three hundred 1″ x 2″ swatches.

The primaries were scarlet red, golden yellow and cobalt blue in four depths of shade (values) based on time in the dye bath.  From those I mixed 96 secondary colors. From those I mixed 192 tertiary colors. I kept track of the dye path for each piece on 3 x 5 index cards and carefully numbered them all before arranging them in one of those old spiral bound photo albums with sticky pages.

Looking back, I realize that my fascination with three primary mixing and mud colors started that fall. I ended up with dozens of little pieces that were the same color even though they were dyed in completely different orders.  It turned out that there were many paths to one color. It was a huge color mixing “ah-ha” moment.

I came across the album while moving my color books into the VIA Artistica teaching studio that I share with three partners here in Portland.  After 40 years the pages are yellowing, the labels falling off, and the colors have faded slightly  - but the lessons learned are as vivid as ever.



Tertiary Colors showing the order of the dye baths. The numbers in parentheses are the secondary colors in the color path.

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The Winner’s Are . . . Ice-Cream Cones!

The winners of this year’s Alan Alda Flame Challenge “What is Color?” are Melanie Golub in the written category and Dianna Cowen, in the visual category. Both mention ice-cream cones when describing the cones of the eyes – a brilliant way to reach the 5th grade audience.  I’m now on the look-out for red, green and blue ice-cream cones.

Its the 4th of July holiday here in the US of A – the perfect weekend to go ice-cream cone hunting. I wonder what flavors will make the best photo op? Strawberry, mint and blueberry? No – too pastel. Might need to go with Italian water ice to get the best colors. Its a good thing I’m visiting the heart of water ice country – Philadelphia, PA.

Petrucci1_3657 Petrucci2_3654 A trip to the Petrucci farm in King of Prussia was good for visiting the goats but came up short in the green cone department. I had to settle for mint chocolate chip ice-cream. Darn. The hunt continues.

In the meantime, you can read Golub’s entry on the winner’s page at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook U and watch this fun winning video by Cowen, aka The Physics Girl.

Past Post: Flame Challenge
Flame Challenge Winner’s: winners’ page

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