Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big Hjem

Hjem Restaurant Roman Shade • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay • photo ©2010 Hank Turner

Regular readers of this blog will remember that a few months ago I was commissioned by Chef Matthew Holland to make make fabric panels and yardage for a roman blind to decorate his new restaurant, Hjem. I wrote about the process in previous blog posts, Think Big and Working Big.

Matthew started with dusty old offices and a vision of what he wanted. Since my studio is downstairs from the restaurant I have seen the progress first hand. Some days it seemed nothing was happening and then other days there would be a flurry of activity as men and equipment passed by my studio door or made loud and mysterious banging noises upstairs. Until last week the dining area didn't look like much more than a storage area. There was furniture piled up and boxes of dinnerware in the corners. There was really no evidence of what was coming.

And then one day it was all set up. My fabric panels were hung, the Swarovski crystal chandeliers sparkled with light. Matthew, his wife Camilla, and Morton, an investment partner, came down to the Underground one evening and chose some artwork to hang on the walls. The silverware was wrapped in napkins, candles were lit—

Hjem Restaurant Fabric Panel and Roman Shade • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay • photo ©2010 Hank Turner

When I first saw the final results, I felt one of those Wow moments when, even though you know it's your work hanging up there, the combined beauty of it all makes it not yours—it is now part of the restaurant Hjem…Home.

Hjem Restaurant Fabric Panels • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay • photo ©2010 Hank Turner

I have not forgotten the most important part…Chef Matthew has devoted his considerable talents to the menu as well. Every ingredient has been chosen with care. The result is a seasonal menu of fantastic food which I plan to eat my way through many times over.

Hjem Restaurant Fabric Panel • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay • photo ©2010 Hank Turner

I am so grateful that Matthew asked me to participate in the realization of his dream for Hjem Restaurant. I enjoyed the process from beginning to end. The best part is that Matthew and Camilla are pleased with the results—for me that makes the crystal chandeliers sparkle even brighter.

Thank you, Chef—I'll be up later for lunch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brief Interlude

Did you know that a gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds?

I did not.

Even though I had help carrying the 6 gallons (50 lbs.) of water from the kitchen area to my studio, it seems I have sprained my wrist and rest is required.

Maybe it would be a good time for us all to pause and say thank you to our bodies for their marvelous service. (Feel free to apologize to certain overused parts if you need to.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Secret Chord

Secret Chord • dye on fabric • 13" x 13" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

Dear photoboy,

Remember in March when you and Flanagan and I had our solo shows at the Underground? For a whole month it was all about us—we were on the radio, in the newspaper and magazines, there was a party every week—and remember when we invited all my fans on facebook to lunch at my studio and no one came? So the three of us ate the delicious cheese and bread and olives and drank the wine while we discussed important philosophical questions like, What are the ethical and artistic differences between taking a photograph of someone who is aware they are being photographed,

Luca • ©2009 Don House

and someone who is not?

Barcelona Street • ©2009 Jennifer Libby Fay

Good times, man, good times.

The best part was we believed our work mattered, and we knew if we just got ourselves out there more—maybe to a different audience or a new gallery, all would be well. Our discussions were encouraging and motivating and I seem to recall we agreed to meet every month to review our sales and marketing strategies with the hope that we could maintain our momentum…

By the way, we should, um, schedule that meeting, yes?

So you know that weird feeling you get when you receive a letter addressed to yourself by yourself? There's those couple of surreal heartbeats when it doesn't make sense before you think, oh yeah, whew, self-address stamped envelope. Well, I got one of those the other day which reminded me of another agreement we'd made back in March. We were each going to enter our work in something—a show, a magazine, whatever. Seems I entered the Artists of Northwest Arkansas Sixteenth Annual Regional Art Exhibition—and then completely forgot all about it. (I've been a little busy)

Guess what? I got in! My piece, Secret Chord, was accepted! And, can I tell you a secret about Secret Chord? You won't believe this, but it started with an episode of the Oprah show. I know, I know, but it was last winter and we were having a bad snow storm so I decided not to go into the studio. I stayed home and did some hand stitching on a few new pieces.

I had the TV on to keep me company—okay, who am I kidding? I love Oprah, I think she's smart and beautiful and amazing. I have learned many things from her shows and her magazine, so I can't really pretend like this was all an accident. I usually tape her show, but this day, I was home, she was on TV, and Celine Dion was the guest. So here I have to tell the truth again—while I am aware of the extraordinary talent that is Celine Dion, I don't actually own any of her records, nor do I listen to radio stations that would play her music—but she undeniably has one of the most purely beautiful voices on the planet, and whenever I see her interviewed, I just like her.

So there I am stitching away, half paying attention and they get to this:

I realize I could damage my rocker girl reputation by admitting this, but I love this song, and I love this version of this song: the surprise factor, the powerful beauty of her voice combined with the voices of the tenors, the fact that they step it up a notch when she shows up, and then the finish. I love it. Okay, here's my redemption—the song, Hallelujah, was written by Leonard Cohen and you can't get much cooler than that. Right?

The next day I went to the studio with a fantastical goal in mind: to make art as moving as the song Hallelujah. It is a good goal to have. I think I can spend my life pursuing it.

So if you are around on Saturday, July 10th from 1-3pm will you come by the Arts Center of the Ozarks for the reception? It would be lovely to see you.

Warm regards,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Standing in Awe

Standing in Awe • Hand dyed fabric • 13" x 13" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

When I first moved to San Francisco, I roomed with my friend Noël who had also just arrived in the big city. The apartment had two bedrooms and two baths, one each on either side of a large living room area. The best thing about the place was the picture window. It had a view of the City, the Bay, the Bay Bridge, Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, Alcatraz—and if you stood close to the window and looked to the left, the Golden Gate Bridge. I don't remember looking to the right very often but I am sure it was beautiful too.

In my mind the place seems huge but that might have been because we didn't have much in it. Just
a stereo and two armless, skirted, green velvet chairs that swiveled. Ashtrays, drinks, food, books all went on the floor. I don't think we even had a lamp. We sat in those chairs night after night and looked out that window. It was like having our own personal movie theater. The fog came in, the fog went out. Lights sparkled. The traffic made ribbons of color on the bridges. It was mesmerizing. Every once in a while there were fireworks. Noël and I would marvel that people in this magical place could have fireworks when it wasn't even the fourth of July. We vowed that someday be rich enough to throw parties with fireworks anytime we pleased.

One night we were treated to a fantastic thunderstorm. It rained hard, and when the lightning bolts flashed in the sky over Oakland the whole tableaux lit up for a few seconds, the Transamerica Pyramid gleaming white in the distance. Wow, we thought, it's great—just like home.

The next morning, as usual,
Noël went to get the newspaper but she came back with a funny look on her face. She couldn't even speak—there on the front page, above the fold, was a big photograph of a lightning bolt from the night before.

Lightening? News? We laughed and laughed. This San Francisco really is a crazy place after all.

Many years have gone by since then but I have only seen lightening in the Bay Area on one other occasion—it didn't make the paper though, I checked.