Monday, December 28, 2009

Press Release

Susan Lenz presents BLUES CHAPEL and LAST WORDS, fiber installations at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios

Columbia fiber and installation artist Susan Lenz presents two related installations from Thursday, February 4 through Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady Street in Columbia’s downtown arts and cultural district. The exhibit includes two distinct areas: Blues Chapel and Last Words.

Blues Chapel is an installation honoring the great women of the early Blues world. Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Alberta Hunter are among the twenty-four singers depicted saint-like above an altar and before mahogany church pews. Music fills the gallery and the opening reception will include a free performance at 7 PM in the Blue Martini, just down the shared hallway. The installation has just returned to Columbia after two months in the Great Denton Arts Council’s Gough Gallery where it received extensive media coverage in the arts-oriented community.

(Above: Billie Holiday by Susan Lenz, one of 24 early female Blues singers honored in Blues Chapel.)

The installation is the artist’s tribute to the hard-singing, hard-living women. “Early female blues singers lived in a male dominated society, in a segregated country, and worked in an industry that took advantage of their lack of education and opportunity,” Lenz said. “Physical abuse, drug and alcohol dependence, and poverty plagued most. They struggled, made sacrifices, and sang of their woes. They helped change the world for today’s young, black, female vocalists.”

(Above: Father and Mother, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt by Susan Lenz. Click on image to enlarge. To see other art quilts in this series to be on view at Blues Chapel and Last Words, please visit the link above. Click on image to enlarge.)

If Blues Chapel is considered the “church”, then Last Words is its churchyard where the departed rest. Last Words, based on gravestone rubbings on fabric and collected epitaphs, explores the concepts of remembrance and mortality. This brand-new body of work is made up of over 30 grave rubbing art quilts, 25 photo transfers stitched with found objects (Angels in Mourning Series), and a focal point of sheer chiffon banners embroidered with hundreds of collected epitaphs.

(Above: Be Ye Also Ready, Angels in Mourning Series by Susan Lenz. One of 25 xylene photo transfers of cemetery angels stitched with found objects. Click on image to enlarge.)

“The work is meant to suggest the serenity of a cemetery, the connection with the past, and the frailty of life,” Lenz said. “Personal and universal issues of mortality are evident in the selection of words from the past that address the future.”

(Above: Eboniramm who will present a free tribute at Blue Martini during the opening reception and also a later performance that night with only a $5 cover charge.)

Ladies Sing the Blues…and it never felt so good! During the art reception on Friday, February 5th, the Blue Martini will present the tribute “Ladies Sing the Blues…” hosted by the “Queen of Blues” Bessie Smith, portrayed by singer Eboniramm. Eboniramm will spotlight Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Anita O’Day and other female blues pioneers (all included in Blue Chapel). The Blue Martini will present a second, expanded “Ladies Sing the Blues…” starting at 9 PM Friday, February 5th. The $5 cover charge will include Eboniramm and more ladies singing the blues.

Exhibition: February 4 – 16, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, February 5 from 6 – 8. The reception will include the free tribute “Ladies Sing the Blues…” at the Blue Martini, which shares the common hallway with the gallery, starting at 7 PM (a second, expanded tribute will be presented at 9 PM with a $5 cover).

Gallery hours: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 AM – midnight; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 11 – 6; Sunday Noon – 6.

Blue Martini hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 PM until past midnight. Doors opening on the night of the reception at 6 PM.

Members of the media can schedule interviews with the artist by contacting her at (803) 254-0923 or mouse_house@prodigy.netMore of her work can be seen at http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com

For information on the concert “Ladies Sing the Blues….and it never felt so good!” Contact the Blue Martini at (803) 256-2442

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