Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Two kite workshops and a toy boat print making project took us on a journey out to Anderson Ranch Arts Center  in Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado and the Atelier 6000 gallery and printmaking cooperative in Bend, Oregon this past two weeks.  I have to say both Melanie and I treat workshops as a chance for us to play along as well with the students in our own classes. We both needed some valuable time off after a heavy spring season of exhibitions, kite festivals and commission works to be installed.

the woodshop at Anderson Ranch

Anderson Ranch Art Center is a very special place in the mountains of Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado. The school and workshop facility was started some fifty years ago by a group of artists and ceramicists to offer workshops in painting, ceramics, printmaking, photography, wood working and now … kite making. We probably used every media available to the students for our week long adventure into the art and craft of paper and bamboo kites. We used Sumi ink, torn paper collage, paper fold kites, photo ink jet wax print transfers, digital prints, paper fold ink prints as well as conte and crayon drawings for cover designs. 

The art of spitting bamboo was taught from the stash of shafts we brought with us. Kite books lined the tables for inspirational idea making as well as a slide talk opening eyes to the art of kites around the world. 

This was our third invitation to Anderson Ranch with previous years creating our own works as artists in residence. We worked with talented and fun teen students creating and bouncing off of each other’s ideas. This basic kite making class started with simple miniature “sketch idea” kites and grew from there into larger flyables.

Each evening after leaving the dining hall we played with the light winds on the nearby golf course as the sun set over the ridge of the western high peaks.  A delightful experience! We’ll return later in the summer to dress up the campus with banners and wind creations for their annual Anderson Ranch Auction fund raiser.

Thumbing through our kite books, she said "I want to make one of those!"...
a kite design by Austrian kite maker, Anna Rubin

one of Melanie's photo kites on Kozo paper

some of my paper Cat Kites

our very small but very productive class ...
with Melanie, Riley, Jess, Elie, me and Kat

Melanie's  ink jet wax transfer printed kozo paper kite

 my Mr. Edo Wardo kite at the Friday Luncheon Auctionette

the last night goodbye bonfire party


From there we packed the kites and workshop materials and headed for Bend, Oregon to the Atelier 6000 printmaking studio and gallery for our “Flyables + Floatables” workshop. The first day was kite making with small miniature kites made from simple materials of Kozo paper and bamboo. These quick small kite designs and methods were then expanded into larger creations using a variety of painting, collage and print making techniques.

The second day we unpacked our pre-made Styrofoam toy boat hulls that we had made earlier to pass out to the class for the creative play session. Everyone took to the challenge like, well, ducks to water! Hulls were painted, printed and stamped with elaborate designs. Sails and masts sprouted from the small decks.  Ballast weighted keels were added as well as rudders, tillers, rigging, banners, tassles and even a few toy passengers scavenged from a large toy box someone brought to the class.  

By the end of the second day everyone took their boats and kites for the final test of fire… flying and floating at The Mill, a recently developed shopping area in the heart of Bend. There by the Deschutes River with summer floating parties drifting down past the old buildings of the former lumber mill now turned into fancy shops and riverside restaurants we tentatively lowered the little sailboats into a nearby pond for their baptism to the wet.

Off they drifted,  paper sails tipping dangerously close to the choppy seas.  Some headed for the pond falls while others drifted into the pump water vents. Screams  were followed by a run with the long retrieving poles around the pond and catching the boats just in time to send to the opposite side… and into the rocks. People walking by watched this scene of adults playing with toy boats with curiosity. Passing children wanted their own boats as well pleading with their parents to buy one for them. Nope.. not for sale. Gotta make your own.

The winds were also a bit too strong for the kites but several students tried. One flipped from its mooring under a box weight and ended up in the water. Despite it all everyone had a fun and splashy day. No one fell in. All the boats not only floated but sailed as if steered by their toy passengers. Everyone thanked us for getting them to think outside the box of standard printmaking practice and remembering that fine act of playful fun we learned as children.  Some said it was the best workshop experience they had ever had.

After cleanup we hopped into our little silver Beetle bug car and spent two days on the road with our eyes on those fabulous western skies of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming and remembering a great time mucking about with boats and kites.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Dark House kite - G. Peters

at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts
Grand Junction Art Center
December 6th 2013 - January 27th, 2014

This exhibition is a collection of photos, sculptures and installations of Melanie Walker and George Peters exploring the varied themes of the house and the idea of home.

Exhibition Statement:
The house is a nest, a place of retreat, a collection of life memories, a shelter from storms, sometimes a prison made to escape from, a place to return to. It is our societal glue, placing ourselves into a community of other houses in suburbs, cities and village communities. Our house mortgages hold us there. Our families grow up there.
Our roots to place are also our house foundations. It was not so long ago that our inherent nomadic wanderings took us to places that we could plant and harvest. We stayed and built houses of stone, sticks, mud and straw from the earth we tilled. Our houses shaped us. They formed our protective exoskeleton cocoon and grew with us through  our evolution to city dwellers. Even our technology connections return us to our “home” page.

Part of what brought us together as an artist team was our similar artistic sensibilities. We both have done works in installation, sculpture and photography using the theme of the house. The house is a strong image of our place in the world. We have even been influenced by our sleep dreams of houses as totems and as mazes of endless rooms and corridors. The house has slipped into our psyche and made a place of its own for us to wander in and explore. We’re using this exhibition to extend our understanding of the place our houses have in our lives.

Melanie Walker's works include her photography featuring her 'Househead' series. 

"The Househeads came to me in a dream. They came at a time when I was searching for a sense of place. As a single woman I was trying to determine what home was without family. They became my fictional family. Home is an idea that we carry in our heads.

The Househeads first appeared in my work as constructed images done through a Polaroid Materials Grant. They evolved into installations, puppets and other permutations. At one point,  I found a box of negatives at a yard sale. I made prints and re-photographed all of them with houses on the heads. Friends saw them and began bringing me their family pictures to include so they could be a part of my fictional family. This has been an ongoing project that I return to over the last 20 years"

The Puppet - M. Walker

The Sleeper - M. Walker

The Architects - M. Walker

Baggage - M. Walker

Marriage - M. Walker

OMPHALOS is an installation series of view houses by Melanie Walker with windows to peek into the interiors. Each scene is revealed through motion sensor lighting and sound effects transporting the viewers into miniature rooms.

 Curtain Lights - M. Walker

Test Tube Babies - M. Walker

Ancestor House  - M. Walker

Hatching House - M. Walker

Radio Room - M. Walker

LAND ESCAPES are a series of works using the house in relation to the land that is it's foundation. They appear as islands of influence set adrift in time and place.

Pine Beetle - M. Walker

Desert Shack - G. Peters

Green House - G. Peters

Shack - G. Peters

Winter Tree House - G. Peters

HOUSE FLY KITES - The following kite forms are made using a dye sublimation photographic printing process on polyester and framed for flying in very light winds. 

Brick House Kite - G. Peters

Cuckoo Clock kite - M. Walker

Stone House  kite - M. Walker

House Hand Moth  kite - G. Peters

Cloud Tower kite - M. Walker

House Fly kites & Painted houses

The painted houses are acrylic on wood of our homeward imaginations. They are follys and pattern plays for making a shelf size city scape. We have been making these works for the last two years for ourselves and our friends. This is  our first exhibition of these small houses. 

Painted Houses

Bird House - G. Peters

House of the Moon - G. Peter

The screen house installation is a memory of the Colorado Front Range flood which damaged many homes and lives during October of 2013. The screen material used causes moire' patterns that shimmer as the viewer passes by.

High Water - installation by G. Peters & M. Walker

Mobile Homes & Plato's Aviary - installation sculptures

The combined installations of Mobile Homes and Plato's Aviary set on the stage area of the gallery is a collage of birds, windows, picket fences, house forms, tornadoes and walking houses. Plato wrote  of a recollection of a discourse in which Socrates states an analogy on the nature of knowledge. It compared the process of thought to the act of grabbing at flocks of birds in a cage. A person at the center reaches out to the wild movement inside the cage and doesn't know or can't control what he may catch.  The grasping is like hunting for true knowledge. One might catch a dove or a crow or nothing in the flurry of flight.

Plato's Aviary - M. Walker & G. Peters

HOUSE WORKS  - opening night

More images from the HOUSE WORKS  exhibition  can be seen on our Flikr site as well as images from our slide lecture