Last winter, my family made a hastily arranged trip to Rochester, Minnesota for reasons not to do with Art.  However, I always try to visit local art galleries and museums and was pleased to learn about this artist who had a show at the Rochester Art Center:

Jose Dominguez

JD_1 copy

My son took a series of cell phone pictures. This information appears at the RAC website:


In Ilumíname, Dominguez creates characters and scenarios influenced by childhood recollections of playing Lotería, a bingo-like traditional Mexican card game. The cards used in Lotería depict an outlandish collection of consequential characters from nature, mythology, and everyday objects. In this body of work, Dominguez begins to explore similarities between Lotería and other mystical cards, like the Tarot, and their ability to conjure and calculate fortune and misfortune. His drawings and paintings on found objects, like cardboard boxes and manila folders, effortlessly and authentically reveal the artist’s struggles with identity and faith.

José Dominguez lives and works in Winona, MN. His artistic practice spans drawing, typography, audio mixes, graphic stories and digital movies.

What an exciting talent!

JD_2 copyJD_3 copyJD_4 copyJD_5 copyJD_6 copyJD_7 copy

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I don’t toot my horn too often, but I need to record this one so I can recall it on days when I feel like everything’s going wrong.

I was awarded the Curator’s Award at the March Melee Art Bash at Del Ray Artisans, Alexandria VA.  I couldn’t be there for the opening reception on March but Sara Trettin sent me these nice pictures:

Lillian Trettin - Malevolent Brew - artwork

Lillian Trettin - March Melee art exhibitLillian Trettin - art exhibit

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Spring Melee

A melee is a brawl, and this fits typical March weather as well as my most recent papercuts.

Last month I joined the Del Ray Artisans, an artists’ co-op in Alexandria Virginia.  This makes some sense if you know that I go visit my son Dylan and his wife Sara there about twice a year. To be able to exhibit, you must be juried into a show and also agree to work 12 hours a year for the organization. I had two pieces of art accepted for a show for this month. Dylan kindly agreed to deliver the artwork that I’d mailed to him earlier in the week.  I will miss the opening, but  I’ll go up at the end of the month to do yard work at the building, work in the gallery, and help take the exhibit down (working off some of my required hours). I am very excited about this opportunity and hope to make regular trips up twice a year.


Here’s a link to the Del Ray Artisans, in case you are interested in their operation.

And here’s the artists’ call for the exhibit I’ll be in, “March Melee,” followed by my two submissions, which I designed specifically for this theme.

March Melee – An Art Bash is an opportunity to submit your best and brashest art — big or small. This over the top art show is all about excess, don’t be shy. Strut your stuff exuberantly. Melee implies a brawl and malarkey means nonsense, so let those terms be your guide. Be bold, aggressive, silly, wacky, wild, frivolous, funky, startling, bizarre, over the top and around the bend. Remember the prophetic words of Roald Dahl, “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest [wo]men.”

Lillian Trettin_Malevolent Brew

Malevolent Brew


Lillian Trettin_Benevolent Brew

Benevolent Brew


Lillian Trettin_ Malevolent and Benevolent Brew

Malevolent and Benevolent Brew (framed)

th          Here’s how I came up with Malevolent and Benevolent Brew.

I love my Nespresso coffee machine.   Drinking espresso instead of brewed coffee helped me beat a bad case of acid reflux, triggered by years of drinking coffee in bed (espresso has less caffeine and less acid than brewed coffee). I love knowing that I can still drink two cups in the morning. That, in a nut shell, is why I think of coffee as both malevolent and benevolent.

Both my sons also have Nespresso machines, and we’ve been known to discuss the fine points of how the spout works, how to clean it, etc. This artwork results from my interest in how the innards of that glossy, streamlined machine really work; also from having to pay attention to how MY innards work so that I don’t burn out my pipes again. Add to that a cultural mash up of Japanese demon masks and steampunk Victoriana, and here you have my cut-paper coffee machine. I think of this pair in red and black and gold as “exuberant,” which is how a great espresso makes me feel.


 Here’s my last Tyvek papercut for an Edgar Allan Poe exhibit scheduled for next Fall. This one is of Prince Prospero in the story  “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. In my version, the prince is either a Body Hacker, or a Cyborg. In the 1830s, defying death meant partying inside and hoping cholera would stay put outside. Today, defying death means replacing parts of our bodies and hoping we discover a medical fountain of youth.

Lillian Trettin_Masque of the Red Death (drawing)

Masque of the Red Death (drawing)


You can see from the original drawing traced onto Tyvek (above) that I had to make lots of alterations. Anywhere you see black marks means I changed the image at that point while cutting with an exacto knife. Only when I reversed the original piece of white Tyvek could I see what it really looked like.

Lillian Trettin_Masque of the Red Death (reverse)

Masque of the Red Death (reverse)

Lillian Trettin_Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death (black)

The final version in black Tyvek, shown here under glass and over a sheet of India ink-dyed Tyvek,  was the second layer I cut at the same time as the white sheet. One of these two will end up appropriately red.

That’s it for EA Poe, and I promise more cheerful, if no less exuberant, projects to come.

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Knit & Crochet Love Bomb

Here are my pictures of the February  14 Love Bomb at St. Julian Devine Community Center in Charleston.  It was cold but clear, and a good time was had by all. My square is the orange one in the 4th photo–it was thick and made a good “anchor” on a windy day.


Knit bombed chimney stack


chimney stacks




knit & crochet building sail


knit bombed trees




Girls in pink




project video director




Even the cops danced

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Community Art Dos

Here’s a little follow-through on my plan to get involved in community art projects this month.

I participated in a life drawing class, something I haven’t done in over 40 years. Not too much has changed, except instead of being an unemployed artist, the model was a professional who handed out his business card. Here are several sketches of Frank in conte crayon on newsprint. The last one does not look as much like the actual Frank but is my favorite — a caricature I can definitely use in another project.


The “love bomb” at St. Julian Devine Community Center in Charleston is coming along nicely. Here’s a shot of a group of us sewing and crocheting large colorful blocks together. These will be hung from one of the towers in back of the center, a rehabilitated industrial building. The party is on Valentine’s Day, and I will definitely be there to take pictures and celebrate, as will many participants from all walks of life.



The reception at the tiny book show was lots of fun. Here’s a picture of some of the books that night; mine is the open one with black things creeping out.



I have started volunteering with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This is intensive one-on-one work, helping someone with extremely limited sight become a creative maker. The adult class consisted of a half dozen men and women of limited means who’ve suffered vision loss due to untreated diabetes.

One of my projected projects for the month seems impractical in hindsight: making something out of plastic stuff for the “accessibility” exhibit in Florida (the plastic pieces are too hard to glue). Art museums like the Harns in Gainesville FL devise tours specifically for the blind. Raising awareness is another thing artists can do. Here‘s an article on “social practice art” that introduces a young artist who creates tours of art exhibits for blind-folded sighted folks to raise awareness of what it’s like to be blind or nearly so.

Next up is my coffee-art paper cut titled “Malevolent Benevolent Brew.”  It’s been lots of fun to work on and as soon as I go buy some red and gold paint, it will be ready to show.

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My community art month

This is a good month for getting out there and sharing art with others. Also, Carl is in Africa for a month. so here’s how I am staying busy:

I am going to attend a “figure drawing” session at Redux Studios with a friend. This is a stretch for me since I now prefer making up bodies, but it never hurts to reintroduce a little drawing rigor.



After spending January on a tiny book project, 40 of us who participated (along with interested others) will congregate for a reception at Surface Gallery in Charleston on February 4.

My book: “Black Thoughts,” a Tyvek scrap book based on left over pieces from a series of papercuts inspired by Edgar Allan Poe


On February 14, a group of knitters and crochet-ers will finish making bright 3 foot squares to “love bomb” some industrial chimneys in a northern section of Charleston. How these squares are going to be attached remains to be seen, but trying should be fun and that’s what it’s all about. Something a little different for Valentine’s Day.



I have two other “stand alone” projects to tackle. For an “Art Bash” at Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria VA, I’m planning a paper cut to submit by February 20. I’m very impressed with this organization because it functions like a true co-op (everybody works) and it’s where my kids live so I could visit them.

I am re envisioning my Nespresso coffee machine–I hope they like it (this is just the start of my process)

brew 1


Finally, I am starting to volunteer during art classes at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Charleston this month. With that in mind, I hope to submit something to an exhibit at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida for a “touch tour,” but this will depend on how successful I am at making a touchable tree out of odds and ends by February 29, their submission deadline. That’s also my deadline—after that, whether the tree idea works or not, I am giving most of my recyclables to Redux to use in kids’ art classes. Time to let go of stuff.

touch tree


My plan for the Spring is to focus on finishing up for a couple of exhibits (almost ready) and then starting my second graphic novel project. It should take a long time and will keep me out of trouble (ie., cost nearly nothing to produce).

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Welcome, 2016

The holiday season is my time for reflection and clearing out cobwebs.

While sifting through my online images, I was pleased to find this blog entry by a poet who was inspired to write a poem based on one of my pictures during the exhibit in Hickory NC last summer. Here’s the link.

The Art of Poetry

Linda, my exhibit partner, and I are now thinking about how we could collaborate with written word artists in the future.

Trettin_Mountain Shaman



I’ve been working on my coloring calendar. It’s somewhat humbling, because I’m a better draftsperson than colorist, and I tend to favor black. I know of five friends who are madly coloring away, and I hope to have an on-line exhibit in the near future, just because the versions are all going to be so creatively different.

Here (above) are an image from The Obidian Interval, my illuminated novel, and another  of fantastic critters.

For the month of January, I  have a tiny blank book (1 ½ by 3 inches, 40 pages) that I work in each day, aiming to finish in time for an exhibit at Surface Gallery in Charleston SC the beginning of  February. Thirty nine artists plan to exhibit, and each one’s book will be entirely different from all the others.

Trettin_Black thoughts_1

Here’s the start to my book (above). As an exercise, I am using only negative-space cut outs from my Tyvek paper cuts. The book will be called “Black Thoughts.”

Lillian Trettin_Kids and Dogs

Kids and Dogs at the Beach

I am also starting a new series of papercuts. After living in the Lowcountry for over 20 years, I have finally discovered the barrier islands as a source of inspiration, primarily because of Edgar Allan Poe.


Lillian Trettin_Beach chair in Winter

Beach Chair in Winter

I work from photographs, my memories of many many trips to the beach at Sullivan’s Island, and also my fantasy that Edgar Allan Poe and some of his characters are lurking there, somewhere, during the “off” months.

Lillian Trettin_Beach with Dogs

Beach with Dogs (first cut)

Lillian Trettin_Beach with Dogs

Beach with Dogs in Black

A beachcomber and one of the dogs, above,  also appear in my narrative papercut,  “The Gold Bug.”  For some reason this is satisfying to me.


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