Member Profile: JoAnn Almich

Member Profile: JoAnn Almich

"Art has always been my inner desire to express myself and to be creative. As a small child, I always loved to draw, and work with my hands. Growing up, I took up sewing, baking, and decorating cakes, creating works of art with icing, and making all kinds of crafts. I taught craft classes through Community Education and served on committees where creativity and leadership was involved with all sorts of organizations, in church, school, and community.

I have always loved the alphabet, letters, and the love of words to express myself and communicate the beauty of quotes, poems, and sayings. It's been an 'art form of love'. I have been a Calligrapher since the early 1980's, member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy, Minneapolis, and served on our board. This is where I gained a passion and committed to calligraphy, 'the art of beautiful handwriting.'

With all the workshops the Colleagues has offered through the years, I have been so fortunate to be a student in class with great teachers, including our own Diane von Arx and others, like Thomas Ingmire, Jean Formo, Pat Blair, Peter Thornton, Randall Hasson, Martha Erickson, Michael Sull, Michael Clark, Heather Held, Harvest Crittenden, Charles Pearce, Laurie Doctor, Julie Gilbert Pollard, Stan Kurth, and many more. This has given me a wealth of knowledge and respect, in all areas of the calligraphy and art worlds.

My appetite to learn more and add color and dimension to my art has brought me into the artist world of painting. I became a member of the Brush and Palette Club of Alexandria in 2008. In this club, I have become attracted to watercolor, mixed media, pen and ink, pastels, acrylics, book binding, and anything pertaining to these art forms. This club offers many avenues of learning, bringing in artists of great acclaim. I have participated in as many workshops and programs as possible. Meeting weekly has also built friendships and fun with others having similar interests.

Eager to learn more new techniques coming out all the time, I have become a member of many art guilds. During our winter months, I am a member of Arizona Artists Guild, having just received an award in an exhibition called “Body of Work.” I am also a member of the Arizona Watercolor Association. I'm striving to become a juried member. Both of these guilds offer classes from the best of well-known instructors, and have a Call to Artists for artists to compete and exhibit their works. I'm privileged to be able to participate and rub elbows with great artists. Likewise, I have the opportunity to learn from them as a member of the Art in the Square (Glenwood), White Bear Center of the Arts (White Bear Lake), and Artistry (Bloomington, MN). They, too, offer excellent programs, opportunities and technique workshops. I have been blessed.

My formal education was in home economics, followed by the business world, working with computers for Twin City Federal. During the time of raising our family, we moved to Granite Falls, MN, and I was privileged to be able to be a stay-at-home mother. Our family consists of my husband, Jim, and 3 children, Adam, Brandon, and Charlynn. When our children were older, I went to work at our business, Almich's Super Valu, managing the Deli for 15 years. Prior to that, I had a cake decorating business, and was part of a crafts and antiques Cooperative. We are blessed with family, now grandparents to 6 wonderful grandchildren ranging in ages from 22 years to 14 years old. Upon retirement, we moved to Lake Amelia, Villard, MN where we now reside.

An Interview with Georgia Greeley

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An Interview with Georgia Greeley

Georgia Greeley is a book artist, poet, printmaker, calligrapher and teacher. Her art work reflects all of these “hats”.  As presenter for our Colleagues program on March 18, 2017, Georgia led us through the making of a unique artist book, containing colorful samples of our own art.

The book can also serve as a sort of a table-top sculpture. Recently, Georgia shared comments about her work with fellow Colleague, Jean Formo.

J: Any memories of your childhood art?
G: I remember receiving a ream of 11 x 17 paper as a Christmas present when I was eight. My father once complimented my ink and watercolor drawing, saying it looked like an Asian work. As a teen I asked my mother about a drawing I’d finished. She said, “That’s a good beginning.” I was devastated and did not ask her advice again for many years.

J: What inspires you to create?
G: What I see. The startling paradoxes and juxtapositions that occur in life. I often can’t tell if my writing inspires my visual work or vice versa. The two disciplines (writing and visual art) are very symbiotic for me in a wonderfully exponential and positive way.

J: What part does expression play in your letterpress/printmaking work?
G: I’ve learned to start with a plan or idea, and leave openings to respond to the accidents and surprises produced by the media and method. My inspiration or motivation is almost always to express a compelling moment or to figure something out.

J: What offers the most challenge to you in your work?
G: Finding time to take care of the business of life and still having enough emotional and physical space left to do my creative work. Scheduling my creative time and sticking to it.

J: What are your favorite tools and materials? Favorite artists?
G: Tools: printing press, etching press, folded pen, variety of pens and nibs, computer possibilities. Materials: variety of papers, inks, watercolors, experimental bases for etching press, photo polymer plates, gel plates. Artists: Georgia O’Keefe, Corita Kent, Aubrey Beardsley, Maria Sibylla Merian, Piet Mondrian, Vincent Van Gogh, Remedios Varo, Mary Cassat.

J: What are your artistic goals for the future? Any new directions?
G: I set monthly and yearly goals. This year I am going to bring calligraphy into my print and book work and attempt to illustrate three children’s picture books I’ve written. I have to finish a collaboration I started last year, and begin another I committed to this year with other artists and writers. I plan to focus more on calligraphy, my biggest new direction.

J: What brings you joy in regard to your practice of art?
G: The creative problem solving, the act of making, and the constant learning I am blessed with during both processes.

J: What continues to draw you toward teaching?
G: I keep thinking I am going to stop teaching and spend more time doing my own work. Then someone asks me to teach something new or challenging and I think it sounds fun, and I say yes.

J: What makes for successful learning?
G: Being able to see freshly through failure, success, and process.

J: If you could distill your artist statement, what would it say?
G: I see. I make. I breathe.

J: Your work is so varied in scope and medium. How do you apply calligraphy to it?
G: Applying calligraphy is new for me, though I’ve done it in a spotty fashion for over 30 years. I’m experimenting at the moment. I just made a piece that uses printed letterforms as a design background and added a poem done in calligraphy in some of the negative space. I liked the outcome despite the fact that I need lots more calligraphy practice.

J: What kinds of classes do you teach at Minnesota Center for Book Arts?
G: I usually teach binding, some 2D design, page design, and color design. Every now and then I teach how to include writing within the visual work.

J: What first drew you to book art?
G: Being able to pull so many things I am passionate about into one vessel – the book.

2017 JWSA Recipient Brenna Jordan

2017 JWSA Recipient Brenna Jordan

It is a pleasure to announce that Brenna Jordan is the winner of the 2017 Jo White Scholarship Award!

Brenna joined the Colleagues of Calligraphy in 2014 and regards her membership as an invaluable part of her calligraphy development. She has attended many CoC workshops as well as the Midwest Art and Lettering Retreat, and has frequently volunteered to write reviews of these events.

Brenna has been lettering for over 25 years and has her own business (https://calligraphybybrenna. com) in Duluth, where she lives with her husband and three children. 

Brenna requested funding for in-depth calligraphic instruction from the renowned Tim Botts of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She plans to have both face to face instruction with Tim as well as correspondence and online learning sessions.

In her application, Brenna stated that she would like to learn how to design pieces that incorporate not only attractive design, technique and use of color, but also how to use the art of calligraphy to convey meaning and depth of language. She added that Botts’ extensive training in brush calligraphy, different tools, and papers (while he was living in Japan) will provide additional learning opportunities. 

Upon her completion of study, she will give a presentation on the experience and show the work she created. 

The Colleagues of Calligraphy Board of Directors thanks the scholarship committee for its careful consideration in selecting our 2017 recipient.

We heartily congratulate Brenna and wish her well in the coming year of calligraphic study!