Fall Art and Film News

Back from my second residency at Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Laugarvatn, Iceland.   This island nation continues to inspire with its gorgeous panoramic vistas, bubbling “hot spots”, rocks, lakes, horses, sheep, cliffs, sunsets and so much more.   With their current push for tourists (1 million this year for 330,000 citizens), the popular sites are now more crowded with bus tours each day.  Reservations are required where none were 4 years ago.   It is still vast and idillic in many parts but if you are thinking of going - soon will be better than later.



The West Fjords inspire - still pristine as it’s a bit out of the way for tourists. 



PENNY screens in Iceland - and as always Penny Cooper garners new fans.




Rituals of Remembrance - the art of mourning made with Maggie Simpson Adams over the last 8 years is on the home stretch!   Work-in-progress screening in Iceland was followed by a vibrant discussion of death and mourning practices and ideas - just like we hope it always will.  Watch of upcoming screenings this fall - check Rituals of Remembrance Movie on Facebook for details.


Sher’s short films Too Young and Wash It and will tour this fall in a program of short films curated by Tess Takahashi - Stand By for More Info!

April News

Art of the Digital April 14 - May 14 - Array at the City College Art Gallery

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 24th, 5 to 7pm

Curator’s statement: The Bay Area reflects a diversity of ideas and a richness in technology. We foster a culture of innovation and our artistic community celebrates hybrid media and digital exploration. This exhibition features the work of diverse artists whose work celebrates experimentation and invention.

City College Art Gallery, Visual Arts Building V109, City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Ave., SF

Bau Institue in Ortranto, Italy


Ortranto in June!

I have been accepted to the Bau Institue in Ortranto, Italy, for an artist residency this coming June.   I look forward to being inspired by the architecture and seaside facing the Adriatic.   Already have a project – stand by!


Penny and Viola Frey


News for Penny 

My documentary on Penny Cooper – trailblazer, celebrated criminal defense trial attorney, art collector, philanthropist and all around “fabulous” (her favorite word) trailbrazing woman.

Starting soon, The Kicktstarter Campaign to fund 1. a DVD with all the stories and cases that had to be left on the cutting room floor, more on her world class collection of art by women and  2. our cross country tour to partner with community organizations, schools, women’s groups, small theaters and more to inspire young women (and men too) to break new ground.   Because hen we have people to look up to in life, we are always more confident the ascent is possible.

Please visit our Facebook page, Penny the Documentary – like us and tell your friends! Don't do Facebook, visit the website, www.pennythedocumentary.com - you can tell us your Penny story there too.

Upcoming Gallery Talk

whole showLast summer I spent a month at the Gullkistan artist residency in Iceland. I am currently showing work from that experience in my exhibit, Evolutionary Processes, at the Sebastopol Center For the Arts from April 4th through May 10th. I shared the experience with Sonoma County artist, Brooke Holve. On April 27th, 4:30 – 6, we will talk about our shared experiences, the power of residencies and my work and the stories that inspired it.  Come hear more!  It’s free and there will be refreshments!

Sebastopol Center for the Arts 282 S. High Street Sebastopol, CA Hours: Tu – Fri 10 – 4, Sat 1 -4

Installing the drawings made at Gullkistan, Iceland.  Summer 2012

Evolutionary Processes Opening Reception April 4th, 2013

The Residents...and a few of the artists we met along the way.... - Gatewood Gallery, Greensboro, NC

Residents Show Announcement If you happen to be in or near Greensboro, NC, please stop by the Gatewood Gallery at UNC, Greensboro, and see my work in The Residency Show there.   I am showing both 2D and video that grew out of my residency at Gullkistan in Iceland last summer.   There the panoramic views, ancient farmhouses, multi-colored lava rocks, winding rivers, steamy streams and slow ice flows presented a myriad of textures and shapes to explore. My plan to starting “fresh” with no plan was well suited to this primordial place which feels like the beginning of the earth.   Daily sketching using both traditional drawing and painting tools and video has inspired paths to new ideas and work – still very much in progress. Thanks Gullkistan!

Residents Show Installation

January 14 - February 1 Residents... ...and a few of the artists we met along the way....

Panel Discussion with the Residents The Inside Scoop on Residencies How, Where, When, Why... Wednesday, January 23, 4-5:30 Cone 103

The Gatewood Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro 527 Highland Avenue, 138 Gatewood Studio Arts Building, Greensboro, NC 27412

Falling into Place

Apologies to my email recipients for a non-working link!   Love that technology thang! Fall is here and I am hunkering down with gingerbread lattes - Xmas starts early at Peets.   Work from the summer is on my studio walls to inspire me and film shoots are lined up for my in-progress documentaries Penny and Rituals of Remembrance.

My residency at Gullkistan this past summer was a fabulous experience – “la pura vida”, walking a mile to my studio in the barn at the sheep farm in Laugervatn and watching the gorgeous clouds during the endless days from my apartment balcony.   I hope you will click the links for August to also see my last 2 blog entries and, if you have not read them, check my earlier posts with many photos from this endless photo op of a country called Iceland.

Part of my re-entry transition was editing up 4 more video sketches from my experience. (The first one Learning Icelandic Pronunciation by Elizabeth Sher was posted on Youtube in June). Click the links below to view the 4 new video sketches.

Ducky Hver Broað Tractor Rap Wind and Water

There is still time to see my work in Beyond Landscape at the Marin Community Foundation in Novato through Sept. 28th.

Other news – - Revisiting my Exposed Series with new inspirations from Iceland

- Continuing to film for my upcoming documentary on the “fabulous” Penny Cooper, an extraordinary women, criminal defense attorney and art collector, seen here with her partner, Rena, in front of a Roni Horn piece.

Here’s to fall – with special hopes and rain dances for election results to stem the rip tide to the people who are corporations and corporations who are people. Semantics – gotta love it!

Berlin and then Home

Berlin has changed so much since I was there for the Berlin Short Film Festival in 2004.   Actually curator Megan Steinman told me it changes hugely each year!   Lots of construction, lots of action and lots and lots of amazing art.   Saw community gardens enlivening formerly drug infested plazas (including healthy yummy lunch counter),  an old hospital building  turned into a fabulous art center, a performance by one of the many American artists living there, a 5 story warehouse where temporary art exhibits make it worth climbing the stairs.

In addition to the permanent museum exhibits, there were 3 simultaneous shows of the succinct, elegant and profound Alfredo Jaar, the best retrospective of Diane Arbus I have ever seen, and 5 great shows at the Hamburger Banhoff including light sculptures by Anthony McCall, The White Field by Qui Shiuha, Cy Twombly and the School of Fontaineableu, indoor and outdoor neon works by Dan Flavin, a huge Architektonika 2 show of works inspired by architecture.

Lastly the very strange and elaborate Secret Universe III, dolls with hand sewn clothes and a variety of porcelain faces, ears and feet by Morton Bartlett.   He photographed and drew each doll after which he placed all of these materials in individual boxes and never showed them!

Part of Berlin's ongoing healing process is replacing cobblestones with brass plaques in front of buildings where Jews lived.   The plaques list their names, ages, dates of transport and where they were sent.

Days were hot and nights were perfect for eating outside by the Spree and watching all the boating and mobile beer parties.    And watching the Olympics on German TV was much better than NBCs MTV-like montages of event - although not understanding the anchor patter might have helped.

Re-entering with it's obligatory jet lag has been a challenge but getting back to my studio feels good and I look forward to seeing what my Gullkistan residency and subsequent travels will generate in the coming months (and even years.)

Tourist Again - Part 1 More Icelandic Adventures

Although it was strange not to be hiking over to the Gullkistan barn studios each day, there was so much more of Iceland to see.    Our Friends Aegir and Linda knew just where to go and when.   The Saga Museum in Reykjavik tells the violent history of the vikings arrival and subsequent conquerors, plagues, slavery and survival by this tough people.   The models are so lifelike it's almost scary - famous actors and artists where used for the molds.   Here is a woman being burned as a witch.

Iceland is a new land and steam comes up in various places.   So the entire country is heated geo-thermally and no one pays for hot water!   Note the gorgeous color of the water which is said to have healing powers even for psoriasis.

At the famous Blue Lagoon we tested out the healing mud masks available in big tubs for free (after you pay your entry fee).   Everyone in the huge pool looked like ghosts but we all had smoother skin afterward.

Below are a few highlights - and again the photo ops were endless - Iceland is an amazingly visual country.   This is probably why an early Norwegian king who wanted it for himself called it Iceland to deter people from coming.   He called the neighboring island which is almost all covered in ice Greenland in hopes of allluring them there.

It was a great week, but....

Just funnin' - it really was a great week.   Next stop Berlin...


20120716-102116.jpgOur last day at Gullkistan we went hiking near one of the oldest churches in Iceland. we walked by milky waterfalls and rapids lined with wild blueberry bushes ( albeit a month too early to gorge ourselves). Brooke went with Jon the Mountaineer husband of Alda, one of the 2 women who run the residency, and I took the "high" road back the way we came. When we saw Brooke stranded on a tall wall of shale I was glad I did. She crawled up Auke's body to get the plants to grab on to. Filthy footed but happy she made it and even tracked the challenge points on her GPS. An art piece will follow soon.

We showed our work in progress of Tangled Dreams through the temporary rust screen Brooke made and we got some great feedback for the final editing when we get back. Also have another video installation in the works. Very lucky to have met such an amazing and eclectic group of artists including Auke, a terrific young animator from Holland, Guttrun,  a former East German artist living in Paris, Amy, a new media artist from N. Carolina, and Yu Jun, an incredible concert composer as well as every other kind of musical genre imaginable just to name a few.

As with my two other residencies I used my time at Gullkistan to get back to my "roots", drawing and painting what was around me and letting ideas that had been back burnered by the busy-ness of my "regular" life, bubble up to the front of my mind.   I am sure these beginnings will lead to exciting work in the months and even years to come!

Did you know that golf was big in Iceland - short season but long days.

30 Words for Wind

20120713-103347.jpg There are about 30 words for wind in Icelandic! this tells you a bit about the weather - medium hard wind, cold wind from the north, harder than medium breeze, etc. Why generalize? This wind causes a huge erosion problem, a sense that Iceland is literally blowing away. One anti-erosion strategy has been to import a North American blue lupin and plant it all over the sand and mountain sides where it has taken off like crazy.


It is beautiful but as with any imported ecological solution has also caused problems. The sheep don't like its bitter taste and it grows so tall that it wipes out the shorter native grasses as well as moss and lichen. But it has stabilized the soil.


A long day trip to the North led through a long expanse of nothing with barren heidis (heaths) on one side and shimmering fljõts (streams) on the other. And there would be a long camper parked in the middle of it all so the owner could fish. The fjördurs (fjords) are a gorgeous blue against the sky amd there are even fewer trees.

Back in my studio looking out at pairs of white plastic wrapped hay bales that look like sheep-mates as I think about this raw new land, Iceland. Was this what it all looked like in the beginning?


Best Icelandic Ice Cream, Reykjavik Art Day + Horses

20120706-233915.jpg Isbudin Island Ice Cream - best in Iceland - dipped in chocolate and salted peanuts YUM!!

July 5th was a gorgeous sunny day to tour the art galleries and museums of Reykjavik led by my dear friend Linda. The Reykjavik Art Museum Hafnarhús had three exhibits I loved.

20120706-225555.jpg The Icelandic Love Corporation's Sokkkabuxnavefur/ Tights-Web - a great surprise when you look up in the entry. Best use of pantyhose ever!

20120707-100533.jpg Dagskrá. Palestinian Embassy a political video that was actually fun to watch! A hot air balloon with Palestinian Embassy written in English and Arabic in the colors of the Palestinian flag is launched over Oslo. As it floats its way across the city a woman sings a song in Arabic, soothing, melancholy, beautiful, and I assume political until the balloon disappears into the fog. Beautiful and Poignant!

And Knitting House by Elin Strand Ruin and The New Beauty Council, which recreates the most common type of apartment in Husby, a suburb of Stockholm, a pre-fab, post war European housing block. Women living in the same type of apts. collaborated on the project, knitting exact replicas of the homes at 75% scale. The textures and details are mind blowing and visitors can walk inside, stepping over the steel support structures to enter all the rooms the walls of which include stains, spots, wallpaper patterns, knobs...all in muted pastels hues.

20120706-234313.jpg Exterior View Knitting House

20120706-234452.jpg Kitchen

20120706-234547.jpg Bathroom

The Icelandic Horse Pure bred, strong, sturdy and super cute and friendly the Icelandic Horse has 5 gaits - walk, trot, gallop, pace and the famous running walk "so smooth and steady the rider scarcely notices any motion". They used to be used more for field work but today mostly for riding and showing. Owners take them abroad where they consistently win prizes and thereby are sold for more $$$. But once a horse leaves Iceland, he/she can never come back - gotta keep the breed pure. And of course no other horses can come into the country. The most important thing is Don't Call Them Ponies!!!!


The Spectacular SEern Coast

Took a weekend studio break last weekend to tour the southeastern coast of Iceland with my friends Aegir and Linda from Reykjavik. Amazing that we got anywhere as we stopped every 30 meters for another fabulous photo op. Aegir won taking over 1000 photos in 2 days! We saw the ash from the eruption of the impossible to pronounce Eyjafjallajokul and brought some back to draw with...so far just grit to me. Miles of moss covered lava 10" thick that takes 100 years to grow back if you snitch some. standing on it feels like a trampoline.


Giant waterfalls that you can walk behind or climb to the top of.



Old houses and barns built into the mountainside.


Skogasandur with black beaches and cliffs of crystalline formations one more spectacular than the last.



And Glacier Lagoon at Jokolsarlon at the base of Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe covering 12,000 sq. killometers. The blue ice with black and white stripes, blue green water and chunks breaking off and heading down to the Atlantic where the waves crash over them is like watching the beginning of the planet...this is a "young" island. The lagoon and the ice formations are never the same and you can sit there for hours absorbing the beauty and peace of the place. Of course you can also take a raft trip, a glacier climbing trip or an amphibian boat trip around the lagoon which gives you a sense of the scale of the icebergs but sitting was perfect for me. The lagoon is 250 meters deep in places so you are literally seeing just the tip of the bergs.



And this is just one of Icelands scenic wonder areas...like India it would take multiple trips tomsee it all. Now back to my lovely studio with view in the barn.

Learning Icelandic and Endless Days

Having never had a flair for languages I find Icelandic quite tongue twisting. So I tried to put some words into English sentences they way I was taught in grammar school. You can see the results of Learning Icelandic Pronunciation on Youtube by clicking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nng2Acjwj4 The days are endless with a short twilight barely noticeable between sunset and sunrise so time is altered in interesting ways.

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Clouds and More

The sky is huge and full of constantly changing fabulous cloud formations as the weather switches from sunny to overcast and back. Walk 15 minutes to farmhouse studio. Settling in and starting to work but constantly distracted by the beauty of the landscape. Wonderful walking in this small resort/hot spring/ sport village. Big treat to see my friends Aegir and Linda after 20 years and meet their 3 almost grown kids. LearningIcelandic pronunciation...stay. tuned.


Iceland Ho!

Next week I leave for the Gullkistan artist residency in Iceland. Sent supplies ahead and am trying to get Gear Small with iPad, tiny projector and camera. My laptop now seems huge. The residency is located in Laugarvatn, a small village 45 minutes east of Reykjavik in an agricultural area. Nearby are some popular tourist sites. The village of Laugarvatn has 250 inhabitants. The closest town is Selfoss, 45 km south of Laugarvatn. I am looking forward to absorbing my surroundings and the light and digging in in my studio. Brooke Holve and I will continue to collaborate as well as work separately. Watch for more posts.Image