Biking in a Hay Field at Crystal Bridges



Russ surprised me with a weekend getaway, and we loaded our bikes onto our new bike rack and headed south. Riding around on the Compton Gardens and Crystal Bridges trails, Russ was determined to see a new sculpture that he read about at the entrance. After several trails and up many hills, we chanced upon this crazy installation of hay people by Tom Otterness.

“Makin’ Hay” is a series of sculptures made of bales of hay by Otterness in Montana in 2002 as part of a friendly hay contest. Later acquired by the Alturas Foundation, the sculptures have been exhibited in many places and must be newly arrived at Crystal Bridges because it’s not mentioned anywhere on the website.


The whole thing was a total surprise as we had the fortunate opportunity to visit Otterness’s studio several years ago during an ISC Conference. Seeing so many of his roly-poly urban bronze figures there, I had no idea he had made these hay sculptures.


Not only that, but happening upon the installation by way of a back door trail rather than the entrance to Crystal Bridges was perfect!

It’s also a good thing we were on our bikes, because these sculptures and the hay field installation were huge. So trekking across tractor ruts to get to the farthest hay woman was rough, but do-able.



Drawing People who are Drawing


Here are some drawings I did last night at Arts & Letters Alternative Figure Drawing night. I like going to these things, but tend to back away from the crowd so I can also draw the drawers. It’s interesting to look at what materials people bring to draw with and how they hold their hands.


Also it gives me a chance to fill in some background elements that add color and balance the composition. Sometimes I’m completely off on my composition, proportions, and scale, but I like to draw with a brush pen because the mistakes become part of the drawing. People move around and you just have to adapt, which gives the drawing it’s own sort of internal life.


Sometimes I’m completely off topic, as when I noticed on the sidelines, Laura was crocheting in the most graceful way, and I was fascinated watching her hands.


Arts & Letters is Springfield’s newest downtown gallery and eclectic boutique, but one of the co-owners is Meganne Rosen O’Neal who has long been involved in our arts community. I’ve worked with her much over the last year and half on various committees, but most frequently Russ and I have worked her as we created the ideaXfactory and on various PechaKucha Springfield events.

So it seems funny to me that I drew her before I knew her. Several years ago she was one of the people behind this Art Factory 417 alternative figure drawing event that I blogged about several years ago. So even if I had known her, I wouldn’t have recognized her behind the bunny mask!

Uncommon Threads exhibition at Evangel University


Uncommon Threads group exhibition
Evangel University  – Barnett Fine Arts Gallery
1111 N Glenstone Ave, Springfield, MO 65802
Monday – Friday 8:00am-5:00pm, Saturdays 8:00am to noon
Free and open to the public
March 15-28, 2014

Doppleganger by Emmie Seaman

Uncommon Threads is a network of art quilters of 15 fiber artists from the surrounding Springfield area working in the contemporary art quilt medium. Each fiber artist maintains an individual style of work and subject matter.


About Uncommon Threads

The individual artists’ works are informed by a variety of inspirations, ranging from the natural world of trees, gardens, animals, mountains and oceans to the abstract world of adventures, dreams and experiences.

Birch Moon by Lettie Blackburn
Birch Moon by Lettie Blackburn

Each style can include realism, abstract and portraiture and can be serious or comedic. The medium lends itself to a wide variety of techniques or treatments, including but not limited to dyeing, painting, cutting or tearing, fusing or seaming. The art pieces are often embellished by hand or machine sewing or embroidery.

Tempest by Merrille Tieche

Individual members have exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, receiving varied awards. These artists have established sales histories with work in public, private and corporate collections. Some members have taught art and design at the university level; some teach workshops nationally and internationally, both in physical venues and online.

For additional information, visit the group’s site:, or contact Michael Buesking at Evangel University, (417) 865- 2811, ext. 7281.

Roxie Castro exhibition at Arts & Letters

Math to Go — Anywhere, March 7-28, 2014
at Arts & Letters, 214 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO, (417) 830-8186
Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm


Math to Go — Anywhere is a clever idea by Roxie Castro to create paintings on vinyl fabric inspired by her sister, the “Mad Mather.” This body of work on exhibt at Arts & Letters, Springfield’s newest downtown gallery and eclectic boutique, has been developed over a number of years.

Upcycling cast-off wallcoverings and outdoor fabric, Roxie prepares the surface with gesso, then layers imagery of mathematical formulas, tools, rulers and theories using acrylic paint and colored pencils. The  paintings can be rolled up, displayed by hanging, used as table coverings, floor cloths, or as a portable work surface outdoors.

Well-known in Springfield as a print-maker, Roxie also has on display a few mathematically inspired mono-prints, and she has taken the time to print posters that can be cut and folded to make geometrical shapes such as the octahedron that is part of a blue and yellow installation in the gallery.

Statement from the artist:

Math to Go—Anywhere is a study inspired by my sister, the Mad Mather, who skillfully, cheerfully and patiently describes mathematic concepts. This body of work has been developed over many years. The Mad Mather’s fun attitude toward her passion is contagious! For me to understand, I must visualize the concept and am thus driven to paint.

My paintings take form at a tall, wide table where I stand and paint on large vinyl mats. I choose vinyl to incorporate upcycled cast-off wallcoverings and outdoor fabric. The vinyl is prepared with layers of gesso, as one would prepare a canvas. The structure of the painting begins with traditional mathematic tools, rulers and protractors, paired with colored pencils. Happy, bright colored pencil lines show through the final varnish and add sparkle to large planes of color. Sometimes, painting in the lines feels necessary, but often the color leads my brush or dauber away from sharp angles in favor of fuzzy edges. Handmade stencils and tape add to the contours and edges.

These mats can be rolled up and placed anywhere—table, floor, wall, desk, grassy knoll. They become backdrops for viewers to explore numbers and concepts in a fun way. A friend of mine used to say, “if you have a difficult text to read, put the book under your pillow as you sleep.” The implied result: learning by osmosis. Maybe it works for math concepts by imbedding them in artistic mats to be absorbed while sitting on or walking on or gazing into them. The general idea is that the exploration is internal and meditative.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find some enjoyment here!
Roxie Castro

Metamorphosis Show at the Creamery

Giant Girl in the City by Pam RuBertSuddenly I thought of what I could enter in this show. I made this small 12″ x 20″ quilt last summer for a Squidfoo show. It’s stretched on a gallery wrapped canvas and called “Giant Girl in the City.”

Our SRAC Visual Arts committee thought up the theme for the show because the Creamery will be undergoing sort of a metamorphosis later this year when the front entrance is remodeled for better visibility and parking. It interesting because each of us had a different idea of what metamorphosis is – some said change, some said nature, some growth, Jonathan said David Bowie, I thought Kafka. That’s when we knew it would be a good theme, because there are so many creative possible interpretations.

It’s funny because while I was making it, I was trying to decide if she should have plain glove hands or eyeball-tipped gloves, so I made one of each for her and posted a photo on Instagram. Almost everyone said they liked the combination, which I never would have thought of one my own. So metamorphosis – done!

My friend Stephanie who is organizing the show loves the eyeballs. She says they are great because we all see the world now using our fingers on computer keyboards, smart phones and iPads. I didn’t think of that either, I was just thinking she’s so tall, she needs eyeball gloves to see into people’s windows, so I think that Stephanie’s insight (ha!) is amazing.

Quilt National ’13 at Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio

SeattleWishYouWereHair-web2A selection of quilts from Quilt National ’13 is showing at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, from January 30 through April 13, 2014 — including my quilt, Seattle: Wish You Were Here. For her January 31 gallery talk at Riffe Gallery, the director of Quilt National Kathleen Dawson, asked participating artists about their process. Here is what I sent her about my process:
I usually start with some crazy idea that pops into my head – like a joke or a pun, or some life situation that bothers me or I find strange and interesting. Then I start doodling and sketching. I try to sketch in places and times when I’m relaxed like on a trip, or when I wake up in the middle of the night because my imagination is more free.
I scan the sketches into my computer, iPad, or iPhone so that I can trace the image, play with different colors and perspectives, and combine images. Often I work back and forth between the hand drawing and computer drawing stage, until I arrive at a design that I can enlarge to make a paper pattern the size the quilt will be. During this process, I try to retain the spontaneity of the original hand drawings, because I feel that’s what gives the quilts their unique quirky personality and also helps me to achieve the handmade quality that draws me to quilt-making in the first place.
Once I have the big paper pattern ready, I trace the elements onto fabrics, cutting and pinning the shapes like a big collage on a soft design wall in my studio. I don’t permanently attach anything until I have the whole composition pinned together, because I am always adjusting fabric colors and patterns to achieve good composition.
Once I have the composition complete, I temporarily fuse the whole thing together so I can sew it. I sew free-motion quilting on a Bernina and Viking machine. My sewing patterns are all designed for the specific quilt. If you look at faces and body parts, you’ll see kind of strange stiching that reminds me of tattoos or tribal body art patterns. The backgrounds will sometimes have thematic symbolic shapes stitched in them, such as wind, water, stars, or made-up hieroglyphics.
Because I change colors of threads often to match the fabric on the front, on the back of my quilts you will see a ghost image of the front. So I like to use coordinating batiks for the back that allow this ghost images to show up.


How to Make a Really Big Sweater and an invitation to join in the Yarn Bomb!

sun targetDear knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists:

We’re planning on yarn bombing a big yellow sculpture at the Springfield Art Museum on Oct. 19-20. It’s sort of  like making a really big patchwork sweater for something 30-feet tall, 65-feet wide, and with seven arms. How do you do that?

And the answer  is — with help from my friends! I don’t do these projects alone. We have a group that meets at the ideaXfactory, usually on Sundays, or more often for special big projects. You can see some of these at This sculpture sweater project will be the biggest one so far, so we’re putting the call out to everyone to join in helping with this huge project!

Sun-Target-sketchI’ve already had several questions about what to send, and although I spent a lot of time writing this invitation, I just realized that photos would be much better than words. So I’ll show you how we did another project.

How we made the column at the ideaXfactory

The brick column at the ideaXfactory holds up the corner of the building and is sort of boring.  It’s the same width on each side, so it’s a lot like the sculpture that’s made of long beams with uniform sides. We put a call out for everyone to make something twenty inches wide, any height.


This is Adie assembling pieces of knitting and crochet by everyone in the group. Don’t mind the (WO)MEN WORKING sign, that’s a joke sign we made. We do have a couple of terrific guys – in our group. Some of the pieces were exactly the width of the column, some were pieced together. We added in round and unusual shapes, granny squares, other motifs. Wendy added lots of crocheted pockets for flowers, notes and one time, a geo-cache.

ideaxfactory-column 1

Some of the pieces, like the doll with swirly hair, were recycled from another project. Some of the words were knitted in contracting colors…


and some crocheted as chains and then stitched onto a background.


The cool thing about these projects is that by sewing yarn pieces together, we can wrap and completely transform the look of buildings, sculptures, trees, bikes, or almost anything without using any adhesives or things that might harm the object. Then later we take it down, and everything goes back to before – except for the photos!

Here’s what we need to yarn bomb the Sun Target sculpture (aka the French Fries) at the Springfield Art Museum

yarnbombersYou can make sections 16 inches wide, any height. Even a little an inch or two smaller is okay because these things stretch. It helps for a more snug fitting sweater. If it’s bigger, we can always wrap it over to the next side. So don’t get too uptight about measuring if you don’t want to.

Also you can just send single granny squares or smaller pieces, and we’ll use them to fill in odd places. You can also pre-sew your motifs together if you have a certain design in mind.

We’ll need your contributions before Oct. 19 and the sooner the better, because we’ll be sewing them together ahead of the installation weekend of Oct. 19-20. Please mail your contributions to RuBert Studios, 1841 E. Bergman St., Springfield, MO 65802 or drop off or mail to Springfield Art Museum, 1111 E. Brookside Dr., Springfield, MO 65806.

You can also join us for meetups either at the ideaXfactory or outside the Springfield Art Museum, depending on the weather.

I’ll be posting times and days for meetup on my facebook page and Twitter.

You can also email me if you have more questions.

You can also follow this project on the Instagram at #yarnbombsam

I’ll be posting photos of contributions as they come in, and a lot more photos during the installation!

Additonal links:

Art Museum music video (with music by Plaid Dragon)

Yarnbombing the Tumbler on the Square (another fun stop-motion video by my husband Russ.)








Reflections on public art on the 50th anniversay of MLK’s “I have a Dream”

MLK memorialToday is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and it’s caused me to reflect on how different artists have portrayed the man and his words.

Last summer we were lucky be able to visit the MLK memorial in Washington DC. It’s a massive public art installation (look at the tiny people in the lower right-hand corner of the photo) by Chinese sculptor sculptor Lei Yixin. The figure of King is moving out of a “mountain of stone” and is at the center of the wall of inscriptions of his quotes. So many wonderful quotes!

On the other side of the sculpture, another quote is currently being removed by the sculptor. Not because of something offensive, but because many people considered the quote was taken out of context. There have been times I’ve written and said words that I wished I hadn’t, but can you image trying to erase words written in stone?!

MLK memorial wall

This summer we visited the MLK memorial in the Yerba Buena Gardens across the street from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The gardens are a beautiful spot of nature and art in the middle of a busy city.

YerbaBuenaGardensUnfortunately the MLK memorial fountain, a 50′ high waterfall over Sierra granite and shimmering glass, was close for repairs.

They probably they were working like crazy to get ready for today, but you could still walk behind and see the civil rights photos and inscriptions behind where the water should be falling. Here’s what the waterfalls normally look like, and also a lot of other fantastic features inside the Gardens.

The fountains were designed by sculptor Houston Conwill, Poet Estella Majoza and Architect Joseph De Pace. In the sculptor’s words: The Memorial is “a sacred space … meant to be experienced as a cultural pilgrimage and a journey of transformation,” and poems are translated into the languages of San Francisco’s 13 international sister cities.

San Francisco MLK memorial

This summer, my husband and sculptor Russ RuBert has been working on his own tribute to King. A few dark nights, he has projected images and video of King on historic silos in downtown Springfield’s IDEA Commons near the ideaXfactory. These silos are 170-feet wide and massively tall, so you can imagine the impact of the images on this scale.

Russ RuBert - MLK projections on silo

Seen by only a few people in real life, he posted photographs of the projections on Facebook which inspired the organizers of today’s Unity March to invite Russ to help them project images and video on a large canvas installed in Park Central Square. This evening event will kick off a full year of a focus on civil rights for our city. It’s a step in the right direction, and I hope that it will also lead to commissions for more permanent public art here created by artists to tribute people, themes, and ideas as significant as other cities have done.

Although the “I Have a Dream” speech has been copyrighted and sold, the City of Springfield got permission from the King family to project the entire 15-minute speech. After I watch that tonight, I’ll probably have more to say on this topic!

You can see more images of the silo projections on the ideaXfactory website.

Russ RuBert - MLK projections on silo