BLOG

La mémoire et le lieu: Exposition de peintures sur soie de René Shoemaker

Memory and Place: Exhibition of Silk Paintings by René Shoemaker

My solo exhibition in Felletin, France, is nearing its installation completion... and then opening to the public! I'm beyond excited! As I write this, all of the finishing touches are happening. My husband Harvey has joined in on the fun, and is currently finishing the construction of some portable walls. It truly does take a village, and I'm so grateful for Harvey, my friend Eileen who has helped make it all happen, my new friend Eric (who also happens to be the grandson of the couple who opened Le Grand Café, which shows up often in my artwork. Small world! See the latest piece at the show and a detail below), and friends near and far who have offered their well wishes, expertise, and overall enthusiasm. 

The announcement (thanks, Eleanora!)

The announcement (thanks, Eleanora!)

The announcement in situ

+ + +

FRAMING ARTWORK IN FRANCE

I wanted to work with someone local to frame my new works, rather than schlep a bunch of framed pieces from the States, and I found a perfect collaborator in Thierry Roger. How incredible it is to work with someone so well even though we don't speak the same language! He prepares the mat board for me, which I then sew my silks onto. I return the finished works and he frames them beautifully. He also dyes wool for tapestry artisans, and is the last traditional dyer of yarn in Aubusson, so we are clearly a match made in heaven in our love of color.

detail of a new work featuring Le Grand Café, opened by Eric's grandparents

detail of the sewn mat board (click to enlarge)

+ + +

Here I offer you a sneak peek of what's to come on Wednesday:

+ + +

COMING UP

In the next several weeks I look forward to sharing exhibition images, a story about Les Michelines, an incredible silkscreen studio and atelier that I collaborated with (hi, Mélanie!), as well as a conversation between myself and curator/artist Hope Hilton on how my work has evolved in the last year, with a special focus on my move to France and working in a new studio. If you have any questions that you'd like to see answered, send them along or comment below and we will happily include them.

Merci! -René

 

Doorknobs, Tools + Latches

As I look around me, in this new old French house with its two timeworn barns, I find remnants of the people who lived here before me. The masons who shaped stones and built houses, sometimes traveling for days by foot to other locales to market their skills. The farmers who lived with and tended to their animals. The workers-of- the-land who created tools by hand, when necessity required their creation. 

Shoemaker-France-Ring1-72a.jpg
Shoemaker-France-Latch2-72.jpg

The stories of these items are whispered in my ear, and visit me while I sleep.

There is so much history here, and I am living it.

And here is another one of the other great experiences of the days spent here: le coucher du soleil (the laying down on the sun). Isn't it extraordinary?

MORE GOOD NEWS:

My exhibit in Felletin, has been confirmed! The opening reception will be held on June 21, from 6-8 p.m., and the exhibit will be on display for three months, through August 18, 2017.
 

Place Courtaud, Felletin

Place Courtaud, Felletin

Exposition de peintures sur soie d'endroit et de mémoire
                                    Paintings on Silk of Place and Memory
                                            by René Shoemaker

Mairie de Felletin
12, place Charles de Gaulle
23500 Felletin
France

IN ATHENS, GA & ONLINE:

Rooftops. Paris, 14th.

Rooftops. Paris, 14th.

BMA @ Home, displays and offers my paintings on silk so that you may discover them while I am having this adventure in France. You can see the paintings, like the one above, at: 

BMA Designs
1662 South Lumpkin St.
Athens, Ga 30606 USA
+1.706.353.0770
www.bmadesigns.com

JE SUIS ARRIVÉ

Living in France 

When am I allowed to say I live in France? Is it when we bought the house? (No). Is it when we arrived in April to move in? (No). Is it one week, one month, one year after we arrived? (Maybe).

L-R clockwise: coffee at the hearth on our first night here, a composition of flowers against a fresh white wall, our new home before the grass was cut, a break for coffee in the yard

As I rode my bike from my village to the next yesterday, zooming down the hill, on my way to draw the church and castle there, I had the feeling: “I belong here”. I sat up a little taller, looked more fully at the fields surrounding me, breathed in the fresh, cool air and I smiled. Je suis arrivé.

Coming home from a long ride on my bicycle

I have studied French for over 20 years - off and on - but never received the degree I sought as I found that studying the language consumed all of my time (no time left over for art!). It was very difficult for me (all those rules and exceptions to the rules - egads!). Now that I am here, though, I can tell that those years of reading French literature and fables, of taking the Conversation and Composition class a zillion times, paired with previous trips to France… the language is beginning to come together in my head. It is still difficult to speak - and comprehend when people speak to me - but I can tell there is a chink in the door, I can see a path towards understanding, and I know that with every day it becomes just a little easier as just a little more of the words I hear make their way into my brain.

As an artist, what is exciting me the most about my physical world is that there are no right angles here! Everything is handmade, worn with age, settled with years, and roads are created by feet, not by plum lines. The stone houses are created by the patterns of the stones; the interiors of the houses are molded by hand; the door knobs and furniture have been loved by hands for years.

L-R clockwise: the stones that make up our home, a nook for the most fantastic coffee break, a gift from a neighbor - goose eggs along with a chicken egg

Oh, and the landscape… Let me tell you about this beautiful landscape I have landed in. There are ubiquitous rolling hills. There are large skies. When the sun shines, everything is beautiful and green. These nights are filled with skies populated with dense stars, even more stars than our place in the U.S.! When the clouds prevail, it is beautiful in a cool, moist way. The greens get greener, the cows by the road more defined. The roads are narrow and curving here. It is also a fabulous area for bicycling - so much to see with enough of a workout to be a challenge.

Most of the houses are stone structures, as is ours. In Georgia, we live in isolation, in a wooden house, tucked into the forested countryside. Here we are in a hamlet, surrounded by friendly people who stop in to check on us, and give us our daily dose of French. We eat French baguettes. We drink French wine. We marvel every day at our good luck. We are here. Nous sommes ici.

The view! The view!

Click to enlarge and see the dolmen, likely from the Neolithic period

Sunset view from the house

We have the most incredible hearth

The back of the house. So much to discover! Such light!

I love the landscape here!

PS - A note about the election that just happened here… I wish that I had been able to vote, and am so very fortunate to live in a country where love prevailed!

PPS - In Athens, GA, USA, new work is up at BMA @ Home, just in time for Mother's Day! Click here to purchase!

 

MY NEW HOUSE IN FRANCE / MA NOUVELLE MAISON EN FRANCE

Let me tell you about my new house in France. I'm on my way there now!                                                                 + But I have been on my way there for over 30 years...

Quote by Gregory Kramer collaged on top of a new work on silk

I want you to know that anything is possible. My husband Harvey and I planted a very small seed of this dream many, many years ago, and it has finally bloomed. France has always spoken to both of us. We love the light, the language, the culture, the rolling hills of the countryside and the bustle of the cities. I especially am drawn to the deep love of art as a part of life. Not only am I going to France for six months to live and make work in a modest, old, mysterious home in a small, sleepy hamlet, but I also have an exhibition nearby that I have been madly preparing for. My dreams are coming true!

I want to share with you a little bit about this journey, because I'm not a "second home" kind of person. I raised my family in a homemade home in the woods outside of Athens, Georgia. Harvey and I were fortunate to buy property before the real estate boom in Athens, and we lived extremely modestly as we raised our children. Who needs a television when nature is right outside every window? I am fortunate to not have my values based on material culture as much as the culture that living life as our best selves gives us. A life full of love and leaky roofs and deer-scavenged gardens and the language of the forest. So, how did I buy a home in France? It sounds very complicated to some, but it's really about patience, commitment, and perseverance. Our little house in the woods in the US afforded us the saving of pennies, and the land we own is vast. We were able to recently sell a small parcel, using an incredible real estate agent (and an even more incredible artist!) named Sean Dunn, and we happily and fortunately sold part of our land to a young family with similar interests as we held when we started our homestead. 

So, back to the question... how to buy a house in France? You look and look for years. You travel all around the countryside. You find a small place that feels like you belong. You go back and you visit and you make friends. You find a house that feels right, that's ready to live in but not completely renovated. I like it when homes are real, strong, and full of stories. It's not covered in coats of paint, there is nothing fancy about it. We paid cash for our home, that's how unbelievably affordable it was. It's perfect. 

Today -- right now, in fact -- I am on a plane to live in France. Our son Sam and our lovely dog will hold down the homestead outside of Athens. I will set up my studio in the old barn that is part of the property, connected to the home. I like to think about everything that came there before me, and I wonder how it will influence my work. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. 

This is our opportunity to shine. It is our opportunity to immerse ourselves in a place that we love. It is our opportunity to live the adventure we dreamt up so many years ago. Thanks so much for joining us!

A painting about a dream... read more about this new work and what inspired in on instagram, where I'll be posting regularly. 

Today. Leaving our home in Georgia (with Sam) for our new home in France! (Click to view larger) L-R: René, Sam, Harvey

The full moon waving us away

On the plane to France, 20:30, 12 April 2017

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant Jess. Check out her studio HERE! And more Henry is here :)

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant Jess. Check out her studio HERE! And more Henry is here :)

How did February get to be so busy?

Do you feel as busy as I do? Not only is it the month of love, but apparently it is the month of art, too! Here is a list of the upcoming events I am participating (or teaching!) and I wanted to be sure you had the chance to add them to your calendar:
 

 

Love in All It’s Many Forms
KA Artist Shop

February 14 - March 31, 2017
Reception: Thursday, March 16th, 2017 7-9pm
127 N Jackson St. Athens, GA 30601 / Phone: 706-850-1224

 

 

Love On the Side
Creature Comforts Brewing Company

February 14 - Feb 25, 2017
Reception: Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 5-8 pm
271 W Hancock Ave. Athens, Ga 30601 / Phone: 706-410-1043

 

 

Solo Exhibition
Heirloom Cafe & Fresh Market

March through April, 2017
Reception: TBA
815 N. Chase St. Athens, Ga 30601 / Phone: 706-354-7901

 

 

Let There Be Art 2017
Invitational Art Show & Sale at Columbus Museum of Art

April 6-13, 2017
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, GA 31906

 

 

Solo Exhibition
Ville de Felletin, France

June 21 - August 19, 2017
Reception: TBA
12 place Charles-de-Gaulle 23500 Felletin, France / Phone: 05 55 66 51 11
 

 

Workshop - Silk Painting
KA Artist Shop

Saturday, March 11, 2017 1-5 PM, KA Artist Shop
127 N Jackson St. Athens, GA 30601 / Phone: 706-850-1224

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO + TO SIGN UP!

Businesses That Inspire Me #2: American Giant

Sometimes I am so delighted by a business transaction that I feel compelled to share how good the experience - and the company - are. In this moment of admiration, I realize how much I can learn from a well-run, ethical company about how I should transact business with my customers. 

I first read about the apparel company American Giant on another blog post, and right away I knew this was a company I wanted to watch. The clothing looked comfortable and stylish, but it was the story that really grabbed my attention: American Made and Built to Last. I requested a catalog - because I love paper catalogs and getting things in the mail - and when it arrived I was even more pleased. The catalog was sumptuous, printed on nice heavyweight paper, with good color and layout, and great photography. The message was clear -  "We started American Giant with a simple goal: MAKE EXCEPTIONAL CLOTHES IN THE USA, AND OFFER THEM AT A FAIR PRICE."      

Wow - I like it! The attention to detail, the quality of the merchandise, and the way American Giant told their story all had me reaching for the “buy now” button. I ordered their newly released pant (“designed to fit and flatter every body type”) and essential hoodie, because for me - that is the perfect casual outfit!

Once I placed my order, the communication from the company was clear and timely. I was even more pleased with the speed of delivery. I received a message informing me that “The Pant” was so popular (even though it had just been introduced) that its expected ship date would be the day my zip hoodie was to arrive, but it turned out that it actually arrived with the rest of my order, making me very happy.

And oh, how I love a good box! Everything was packed neatly in a box that was just the right size. When my order arrived (so quickly!, even with free shipping), I had the perfect ensemble for travel, work, and kicking around town - a black fitted pant and a beautiful, comfortable, well-fitting black hoodie! I have been looking for the perfect black hoodie for a long time, and now I have found it. Once I tried my new purchases on, I realized how comfortable this outfit was. I was sold. So, lessons learned from this transaction are those I want to apply to my own practice:

  • Offer a great product (well made, timeless, and high quality and attention to detail).
  • Offer exceptional customer service (pay attention to your customer, anticipate questions, and keep in touch through every step of the transaction).
  • Use high quality, attractive packaging, and ship in a timely manner. 
  • Make the customer happy with their newly acquired item.
  • Offer Free returns - “any item, any reason, any time”
  • Include the Statement of Purpose everywhere - loud and clear and in easy to understand language

Now I can carry these lessons into my art business as it grows and blossoms. Planning for success means paying attention to lessons all around me.

Another business that inspires me? Moo! Check out my review HERE

Thanks for being here! What businesses are inspiring you lately? I'd love to hear!

SPEAKING OF INSPIRATION: LOVE OF THE LOCAL

If you're in Athens, be sure to see this exquisite exhibition with artist and textile designer (& yet another business that inspires me) Sara Parker:

February 6th-24th @ UGA

Improvisation in Repeat is the result of a process of deconstruction and play. These pieces each execute a concept or set of guidelines which, while agreed on in advance, require reconsideration and improvisation at every stage of creation. The concepts on display range from a mathematical approach to color mixing, layering to create depth and density, and color blending via image masking and transparency.

MORE INSPIRATION: MY LOVE OF LIFE 

Just a handful of images to give you a glimpse into my world. I am so fortunate to make work that I love and to travel!

New Beginnings in the Studio

As work in my studio begins for the new year, I’d like to invite you in, show you what I’m working on, and invite your feedback. Let me know what you think about my designs for this new series, and what advice you have for me. (Select any image to enlarge)

I have an exciting new project: An art exhibit in France! The exhibit opens June 21st in Felletin, midway between the cities of Limoges and Clermont-Ferrand in central France, at the heart of the French tapestry production area. Felletin is located on the river Creuse, dating back to before medieval times. 

I have already visited this area several times (and fallen in love with it!), so I have a collection of photographs and sketches to work from. I love exploring its streets, traveling on foot or bicycle from the main square down the hill towards the river, where an old railroad station sits amid a budding arts district of studios, workshops, and restaurants. Fewer than 2,000 people live in Felletin, so it is a cozy if sprawling town. Meander up the hill from the square and you’ll find sheep and cattle grazing in beautiful open fields. In a section of town called Beaumont (“beautiful hill”) one hilltop offers spectacular views, while another hill’s narrow, winding streets feature small houses with doors and shutters in beautiful muted colors.

The town slowly reveals itself to me. I love the feeling of discovery as I peek into backyards and courtyards. Is that a goat living in the middle of the city? A horse in the front yard of that small chateau? What a beautiful garden hidden behind that sturdy stone wall! There are monumental buildings and modest ones, historic churches, homes belonging to workers, artisans, and bishops. I am excited to meet the people of Felletin through this new project and exhibit, and to learn their stories along the way. And I look forward to sharing them with you.

Thanks for coming along for the adventure!

MORE GOOD NEWS:

NEW WORKSHOP Saturday, March 11th @ KA Artist Shop

Hand painting on silk is an ancient art with a rich history from India, China, and Japan. The process of silk painting begins with stretching silk on a frame, sketching / transferring the design onto the silk, mixing dye colors, and painting. This is exactly what we will do in the class together. Silk painting is a fabulous technique that makes the silk come alive with color as you apply the dye to the silk.

Each workshop participant will create (and take home) a painting on a 22” square hemmed silk that can be worn as a scarf or displayed as a wall hanging.

All supplies will be provided & no experience necessary

Click HERE to sign up!

 

NOW ON VIEW

 

Gratitude, Thanksgivings, & Plans for the New Year

I love the New Year.

I love New Beginnings.

I love the anticipation of something marvelous just around the corner, and I love setting goals for the new year. 

In 2017, my goals include entering a number of juried shows, both here and abroad. I plan to contact art galleries with the intention of finding one to represent my art. I intend to make art all year long, while keeping a schedule and finding a work/life balance that allows me to do what I love and minimize stress. And I intend to become financially stable as an artist, selling enough art to keep buying supplies for my new work – and to fund travel, of course. 

As much as I love looking ahead, I also love looking back: reflecting on the year that has ended and taking stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what happened in my family, my art, and my relationship to the world. Reflecting allows me to express gratitude for all that I have: my family, my friends, my health, and the ability to share my art with the world. I am grateful for my team, those who support me and help me pull together the many strands of the life and career I am trying to create. I am grateful to live in a beautiful house in a beautiful place, and to call the woods my home. And I am grateful and excited to have purchased a modest house in rural France that will become a satellite home and studio for Harvey and I. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >

So, you may ask: 
 What HAVE I been doing all year? 

This, my dear reader, is my artistic year in review:

MUSEUM PERMANENT COLLECTION

1a+b. My art is now in the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
       

EXHIBITS, AUCTIONS, FUNDRAISERS, & RECEPTIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                            2. The year-long exhibit of Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley: Silk Paintings by René Shoemaker continued through July 2017 at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA                                                                                         3. Columbus Museum Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley closing party
4. Unveiling party at a collector’s home celebrating her acquisition of work from the Columbus Museum exhibit
5. Exhibited prints on paper in New York City at Grand Central Terminal, NYC, and Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
6. Invited to exhibit at the 10x10 Art for Education exhibit and fundraiser at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA       7. Exhibited in the Portrait exhibit at KA Artist Shop Gallery, Athens, GA
8. Invited to exhibit at The Cultural Landscape Foundation annual fundraiser in New Orleans, LA
9. Invited to exhibit at the All About Art fundraiser for the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA

 

SALES, COMMISSIONS, & SPECIAL ORDERS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                         
10. Large Columbus silk paintings purchased by collector and patron                                                                          
11. Holiday cards commissioned by Columbus resident
12. Nano, a bird portrait commissioned by his human "grandmum"                                                                          
13. A Double Bass instrument portrait created for a Professor of Double Bass and his special family

 

RETAIL LOCATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                 
14. Columbus Museum gift shop, Columbus, GA
15. Aurum Studios, Athens, GA                                                 
16. Avid Bookstore, Athens, GA                                               
17. KA Artist Shop, Athens, GA
18. Jittery Joe’s Coffeeshop in 5 Points, Athens, GA
19. Jittery Joe’s Roasters, Athens, GA
20. Treehouse Kid & Craft Handmade Artist Market, Athens, GA                 
and always: reneshoemaker.com/shop

 

PUBLICATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                           21. Compendium of Craft & Creativity included my artwork with an interview, Uppercase Publishers, Calgary, Canada
22a+b. Published art review of Scott Pope exhibit, Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA; with the artist Scott Pope
23. Published blog posts all year, the most popular being about travel and adventures, i.e. Brooklyn Bound!Bonjour de France!, Why I Love France, Part II, and A Sense of Place: The Completions of a Museum Exhibition

 

TEACHING, ARTIST TALKS, AND PRESENTATIONS

Clockwise L-R
24. Featured artist at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance for High Museum members, Atlanta, GA
25. Reading at Avid Bookshop from Compendium of Craft & Creativity, Athens, GA
26a. Professor Spooner, host of my visiting artist lecture at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment & Design: “Ways of Seeing”    
26b+c. Me lecturing and an image from the presentation
27. Taught Silk-Painting Workshops at the Columbus Museum, GA   
28. Taught quarterly Silk-Painting Workshops at the KA Artist Shop
29. Taught private Silk-Painting classes
30 (left). Taught Silk-Painting at the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art, Athens, GA            

GATHERING OPPORTUNITIES

31. Co-founded a new hand-sewing club                                                                                                             
32. Joined a new artist studio round-robin information exchanging club        

 

OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVORS

33. Designed and hand-painted a silk dress, delivered to a patron in Paris
34. Created a beautiful hardcopy portfolio in French (with help from my friends) 

 

Opportunities for Which I Applied But Was Not Selected

35. Cité Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris, France

36. Lyndon House 41st Annual Juried Exhibit, Athens, GA

37. World of Threads Festival, Toronto, Canada

TRAVEL

Clockwise L-R   
38. New York City, NY
39. Asheville, NC
40. Paris, France
41. Felletin, Limousin, France

 

UPCOMING EXHIBITS

42. Scheduled exhibit in Felletin, France - Summer 2017                                                                                           43. Scheduled exhibit at a museum in Mississippi, USA - Summer 2019

 

It’s been a great year, but this was only the beginning! Stay tuned for more events and news. 

Wishing you a prosperous, creative, and healthy New Year, 

 

 

 

 

Art After the 2016 Election

Full disclosure: I voted for Hillary Clinton. I believed, from the bottom of my heart, that she was the best person for the job, and that what she genuinely wanted to do was take care of us—all of us.

The day after the election, I couldn’t imagine that the world would continue to turn, and that our normal everyday lives would go on.

But they have. And I think now that what I need to do is to help bring peace and positive energy into this world. I believe the way I can do that best is to continue making artwork that brings more light and beauty into our shared environment. So that is what I will do.

And on that note, I’m happy to announce that just in time for the holidays, a new collection of my hand-dyed, colorful silk scarves are now available at Aurum Studios in downtown Athens!

 

 

& HOT OFF THE PRESSES!

A new t-shirt is available at the Jittery Joe’s in 5 Points. This design depicts my favorite cup on my favorite table at my favorite Athens coffee shop. Stop in and get one for everyone on your list or order online HERE.

I am excited to be participating for the first time this year in the Handmade Hollyday Artist Market on Dec. 11th, hosted by Athens’ Treehouse Kid & Craft Store at the Starlite Showroom (750 W. Broad Street in Athens). I’ll be there with lots of René Shoemaker goodies: original silk art and linoleum prints, fine art reproductions of my most popular work, photographs, silk scarves, and t-shirts. 
 

Finally, if you want to bring color, beauty, and light into the world with your own hands while creating a special work of art for yourself or someone you love, I invite you to join me at my next silk-painting class on Saturday, Dec. 10th at the KA Artist Shop, 127 N. Jackson Street in Athens. I am offering two classes that day; come to one or join us for both to create two silk scarves or paintings! To register or for more information, visit https://kaartist.com/products/silk-painting-with-rene-shoemaker

 

With much love,

 

-René

 

Why I Love France, Part II

The last time I posted here I was in France. Now I am safely at home in rural Georgia - dreaming of rural France.

Why do I love France? Rather than tell you, I will show you. Here are additional photos* of my personal impressions of France. Let me know what you think -- comment below or contact me. I hope you enjoy my survey!! 

* see my last blog post if you missed the earlier posts about traveling in France. 

Why I Love France, Part I

My Parisian friend Etienne asked me a few years ago, “Why France?” What is it you like about France, that you come here so often and want to spend even more time here? What is it about France—especially Paris—that interests you? Why is it so important for you to exhibit your artwork here in France?

I thought it was a good question. I reflected on my answer for about 24 hours, then went back to Etienne and replied:

“The aesthetics in France speak to the aesthetics of my soul.”

He then said he understood.

And for you, dear friend, rather than share more words about what this place means to me, I will share photos that I hope will convey—more profoundly than words—why I want to spend more time in this beautiful place.

Merci beacoup, et à bientôt!

-René