Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visiting the Inferno and Latest PSU Class

The Permit Office (Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here?)

GASP (Garage Art Studio Project) Update:

If Dante's Inferno were written today, the poet might have envisioned at least one circle of hell as a colorless room full of cubicles, lit by florescent lights. I had imagined that the trip my contractor, Steve, and I would take to the City Building Permits department would show us something to fit this description. I'd heard tales of endless waits, bureaucratic red tape in unimaginable convolutions, and people sobbing, or atrophying in a corner, covered in cobwebs.
t wasn't really that bad, except for the physical environment which was just what I'd expected.

We met with three people, each in charge of different aspects of the permit requirements. In between these meetings, Steve and I kept ourselves entertained by imagining "What if they say this.. or what if they say that?" We laughed a lot which made the time waiting pass more quickly.

We soon discovered that much hinged on the issue of "setbacks." Not the kind of setback that is an obstacle in your path, but the all-important question of how far back the property to be converted is from your property line. If the garage was found to be set back less than five feet from the line, we were, as one of our interviewers kindly said, "dead in the water." It turned out we weren't quite dead if the garage was, say, 4.5 feet from the line. Less than five feet, we could not convert the garage to the new use of a studio. (Instead of a repository for junk.) But we
could put in the desired bathroom and use wall and space heaters, and I could do whatever I wanted in the space. I would just need to keep the garage door in place and not have installed heating. I could insulate, do whatever with the wiring, etc. So the setback wasn't too much of setback (this is a pun) after all.

When we got back to the house, Steve measured and found out that indeed, I do have the five precious feet required. However, if I officially convert from garage to studio, the permit people will require insulation of the small attic storage loft as well as to the studio itself. So now the question is whether to go with Plan A or Plan B. After this is decided, Steve and I will again make our pilgrimage to the Permit Office with new plans in hand. I'll keep you posted...

Some of the class members at play

Last weekend I taught "Living to Paint/Painting to Live" for PSU. This class covers the lives and work of artists Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi. I love teaching these weekend classes. The students are so engaged and enthusiastic. Here are some of their creative projects.

Yasemin's collage for Sofonisba. The bright colors reflect the artist's love for life and her modern way of thinking about women's rights and abilities.

Sharon shows her Sofonisba collage filled with quotations she chose that fit Sofonisba's life.Sharon was talked into taking the class with a friend. She wasn't sure she'd like it, but she loved it and did a great job.

Lindsey's imaginative Sofonisba collage, going outside the borders as the artist did.

Our unoffical attendee, Liliana, who came with her mother and did her own collage!

Leticia tried painting for the first time in this class. She created a folk-art type work based on a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi.

Kate's elegant piece for Sofonisba, with 3-D embellishments.

An original poem for Sofonisba, beautifully presented.

Anna did three small pieces. This one combines two paintings by Artemisa to illustrate two aspects of the artist's life. Very creative!

Another of Anna's pieces depicting Artemisia.

This piece of Anna's shows one of Artemisia's painted heroines, Cleopatra, wearing a self-portrait medallion of Sofonisba. This acknowledges Artemisia's mentorship and inspiration from the older artist, Sofonisba.

Alicia's collage of Sofoniba has the trademark black and white of the artist's clothing and text of the list we generated in class of women's issues that impacted Sofonisba's life.

The other side of Alicia's collage shows Sofonisba as an old woman who'd lived a full and happy life. The text describes her qualities as a person.

Beatriz made this stunning piece for Artemisa Gentileschi, while simultaneously keeping her five year old daughter entertained. The background of silver paper looks like the real metal.

Chelsey decorated this treasure box with sides for both artists. She's going to keep her jewelry in it and remember the artists each time she uses it.

I had a great time with this class! Many of the same students will take "The Abbess and the Entrepreneur" this coming weekend. I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Week after next...I'll be teaching at Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, Virginia!

1 comment:

Lori said...

I'm excited about your art studio!
Say HI to Hampton (my old stomping grounds).