Friday, May 27, 2011

Re:Value Show at the Falkirk Cultural Center, June 17 through August 20

Dear Art Lover,
Please find attached the Evite for the Plexus Art Group Re:Value show, featuring the art of 14 fantastic contemporary artists. I hope my artwork, a 7 foot steel tower filled with audiocassette tapes, will take you on a nostalgic journey and my newest passion - wearable art made out of sewn and fused trash bags - will leave you in stitches!

I look forward to seeing you at the Opening, June 17, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fwd: Upcoming Exhibition - Artfully Reclaimed and Spectrum

Hi All,

My artwork has really taken off with my Hot Off The Press series of wearable art made out of recycled plastic bags.   I hope to see you at the Opening this Saturday, May 28,  5-7 pm.


Begin forwarded message:

From: Marin Museum of Contemporary Art <>
Date: May 25, 2011 3:55:35 PM PDT
Subject: Upcoming Exhibition - Artfully Reclaimed and Spectrum


Opening Saturday May 28, 2011

Reception: 5 - 7 pm

Exhibition Dates: May 28 through July 10, 2011

 artfully reclaimed image

Artists from across the country transform the appearance of materials once meant for discard, creating art from recycled and repurposed materials 


Juror: Jack Fischer of the Jack Fischer Gallery


Running concurrently in the Hamilton Gallery


Spectrum: Color as Expression and Form

spectrum image

Artists Lar Landa and Joseph Slusky

employ color as an important expressive element, creating works that are both celebratory and seductive.


Co- curator: William Torphy 



 About  MARINMuseumofContemporaryArt

 Located at the Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field,

MarinMOCA is a vibrant arts organization providing the

community with an ongoing series of juried shows, regional

and national exhibitions, guest artist lectures, demonstrations,

workshops, classes, outings and critiques.


  Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field, 500 Palm Drive, Novato, CA 94949

 Open to the public  Wednesday - Sunday, 11am - 4 pm

Come visit our Museum Store!  


and visit us on Facebook! 


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Marin Museum of Contemporary Art | 500 Palm Drive | Novato | CA | 94949

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Elise in "Sew La-La"

I went to O'Hanlon Center For the Arts today and my friend Carolyn took my picture wearing my coffee suit. Check out the lining! I made the coordinating bag out of a banner printed with the word "ORGANIC" and apples. I love the graphic nature of the block letters.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Black Trash coming soon!

Today I happened upon a close-out sale at Ben Franklins Craft Store in Novato. Last week, I designed a new Haute Trash, using long zippers down the sides, front and back of the body suit just for fun! I picked up five 100 cm black zippers, typically used in sleeping bags, but they will look tres chic in my new body suit made out of sewn and fused Husky trash bags. Given that my last garment, made from a vinyl banner printed with words and motifs related to coffee, is called Wake UP Call, and that this new garment is distantly related to sleep, I ponder on the meaning of my body suit. I wonder if the wearer will wake up to the drastic and fantastic nature of plastic when she walks down the runway sweltering on the hottest day of the year?


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It Pays To Have an Editor in the Family

I asked my sister, Tamra Phelps, who is a book editor to look at the
piece I wrote and she offered up her editorial skills.

Elise Cheval Wins Whole Foods' Creative Reuse Contest

Elise Cheval entered Marin, California's Creative ReUse Contest
sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Susan Grelock, of the Mill Valley
Whole Foods store provided Cheval a myriad supply of small- and
medium-sized vinyl banners.

Cheval inspected and evaluated the banners for two days. She "slept
on" how the bits and pieces could best be utilized to emphasize the
motifs' designs. The two pieces Cheval selected was a 4' x 8' coffee
banner—this piece originally promoted a Whole Foods' 20 percent off
sale—and a double-sided 3' x 5' organic food banner, which was printed
with apples and cursive writing.

The largest banner contained images and a word related to coffee and
was made of printed vinyl. Fortunately for Cheval's creation, the
quantity of the coffee banner was limited and therefore stretched her
imagination. The organic food banner Grelock provided had a black back
and was also made of vinyl.

A quilter, Cheval, used her skill of creating fabric from bits and
pieces, a couple of Butterick® and McCalls® clothes patterns. She
strategically placed the large coffee motifs and black material to
integrate a jacket and skirt with a coordinating bag. Cheval's plan
was to top off the outfit with a hat, but she ran out of materials.
Please, if anyone has Whole Foods bags or banners, they would like to
donate to the cause, Cheval would happily take ownership.

Cheval jokes she underwent a warrior-like initiation to create the
garment. "Crumple" marks can be found on the vinyl, showing where the
garment was turned inside out four grueling times to create the
sleeves and collar; and, if one looks very carefully, tiny smears of
blood can be found. The bloodstains were caused by the multitude of
stabs received from the numerous pins and needles. Her cantankerous
twenty-year-old Viking 500 home sewing machine also reminded her of
the difficulty one has when working with three and four layers of

Throughout making the coffee suit, Cheval played with titles; one
"Wake-Up Call" spoke to the dual nature plastic and coffee has on our
planet and inhabitants and impact of their use. The metaphor of coffee
as a stimulant to "make us alert" cannot be ignored either. In the
end, she settled on another idea for a title, "Sew La-La."

When Cheval met folks at the Event who asked her how she "did it"
[created the outfit], she tells them she works very slowly, stays in
touch with Spirit, and is fully aware that anything could happen that
would effect the creative process. She also expressed, "I am a
Feldenkrais teacher. When you can't open the door, move the house!"

Sew La-La is a wearable, beautiful, and truly stunning outfit. The
final piece met Cheval's goals and the entrance criteria for the
Marin's Whole Foods Market Creative Reuse Contest. Cheval's told this
reporter that "while loading the garment in her car trunk, a woman who
had seen the suit hanging at the Event jumped out of her car
exclaiming, "WOW, I love your suit!" The driver was so excited to
speak with Cheval that she forgot to put her SUV into park. While
talking to Cheval the SUV was rolled towards the two women and a
parked car. Trying in vain to prevent the inevitable, Elizabeth
stepped on Cheval's foot. After impact and the determination that no
one was hurt, Cheval asked the man in the parked vehicle if he
sustained any injuries. His response was, "No. I was distracted by
your suit!" Soon he learned the reason Elizabeth's car hit his was
because she too was admiring the outfit. "So many stories go into the
making of a garment," exclaims Cheval.

Cheval's efforts paid off. Her endeavor received an award issued by
the president of the Whole Foods corporation called "Nickle for
Non-Profit Program." On June 1, Cheval's favorite non-profit
organization, The O'Hanlon Center for the Arts will receive a monetary
award from Whole Foods Market. Additionally, she has been invited to
wear the garment and perform her improvisational singing and plastic
story-telling about the product's drastic impact and fantastic nature
at the contest's Recognition Event at the Throckmorton heatre in Mill
Valley on June 1st.

Cheval's wish is that she had a video of the entire process, but being
under the gun to create her work, her focus was to finish the garment
by the contest's April 30th deadline. Cheval's dreams continue to come
true.  Judi Shils, Executive Director of "Teens Turning Green," has
asked her to work with her organization's kids to create a fashion
show, using, you guessed it, garments made out of trash. Keep your
eyes open Marin. There is a reusable fashion show on the horizon.

Author, Elise Cheval
Edited by Tamra Phelps

Monday, May 2, 2011


I dropped off my eggshelled vinyl and Velcro dress at ARC Gallery in
San Francisco
on Sunday!  As a new member, the ladies were excited to hear about my success
and asked me to send them pics and a written story for their
e-newsletter.   It's fun to see my name and work in print!

"Sew La-La" Wins Special Prize at Whole Foods' Creative Re-Use Contest

The Making of  "Sew La-La"
I learned about the Whole Foods' sponsored Creative Re-Use Contest from friends.  I contacted Susan Grelock at Whole Foods in Mill Valley and picked up vinyl banners on Saturday, April 23.  Hoping to wear the garment at the Awards Ceremony in Mill Valley on June 1,  I designed a wearable, lined high-fashion suit with jacket and skirt.  During the making of my suit, I drew on my early experiences of watching my mother, a master seamstress design  garments. For 2 days, I inspected the banners and slept on how to use the material to its best advantange.  I settled on working with the largest and thinnest ones, including a 4' x 8' coffee printed banner used for Whole Foods' 20% off sale, and a double-sided 3' x 5' organic food banner printed with apples and cursive writing.   When, I didn't have enough of the coffee printed fabric to make a matching jacket and skirt, I decided to use the back of the organic food banner that luckily was a solid black, which was perfect for the classic design including black inset sleeves and side panels. As a quilter, I create my own fabric and make wearable arts.  For this project,  I created the combo coffee print/black insets fabric, laid out a combination of Butterick and McCalls patterns, then cut out the skirt and jacket pattern.   My intention throughout the making of the piece was to integrate the jacket and skirt with a matching bag and topped with a hat.  But, I ran out of time to finish the hat for the Event.  To bring the bag into the garment, I used the reverse of the black fabric for the inside collar and bag.  So much history went into the making of this ensemble, including the marks on the black fabric which occurred when I had to turn the garment inside out four grueling times after setting the sleeves and the lining.  I wish I had a video of the entire process, but I was under the gun for time and really just wanted to have a finished garment by Saturday, April 30, so I put my effort into the making and not the documenting of the process. 
I feel like I have gone through a warrior initiation process in the making of the garment as I have the wounds to prove it.  I joke that if you look carefully, you'll see tiny smears of my blood on the inside of the garment, caused by multiple stabs from the pins and needles, which I left as a reminder for the difficulty of working with vinyl on a 20 year old Viking 500 home sewing machine.   When folks ask me how I do it, I tell,  them "Ibwork very slowly, stay in touch with Spirit", and knowing and accepting that anything could have happened when my machine balked at sewing through 3 and 4-layers of vinyl, I joyfully announce, "I am a Feldenkrais teacher.  When you can't open the door, move the house!" 
As a contemporary textile artist, throughout the making of my coffee suit, I played with titles, including "Wake-Up Call", to speak to the nature of the impact of the plastic and our planet and the metaphor of coffee as a stimulant to make us alert.  But, in the end, I am a fashion designer at heart and after chatting with a group of ladies in the Vitamin aisle at Whole Foods, I settled on another idea for a title, "Sew La-La".
I achieved my goal.  Sew La-La is wearable, beautiful and truly stunning.  In fact, to top off my day, while loading the garment in the trunk, a woman with the same name as me, Elizabeth, saw my suit hanging at the Event.  Upon making the connection that I was the designer, she jumped out of her car saying, "WOW, I love your suit!"  She forgot to put her Toyota SUV into park, and as she was talking to me, noticed out of the corner of her eye that her car was rolling toward us and the car next to mine.  She stepped on my foot, trying in vain to prevent the inevitable.   After impact, I asked the man in the parked car if he sustained any injuries.  He said, "No.  I was distracted by your suit!"  I told him, "That is the reason the woman hit your car!"  So many stories go into the making of a garment. 
A lot of hard work paid off today!   I was awarded a Special Prize, called "Nickle For Non-Profit" Program at the Whole Foods Store in Mill Valley.  On June 1, my favorite non-profit organization, the O'Hanlon Center For the Arts, where I built my professional art career since my first submission of my fiber art in a gallery show, "For the Love of Fiber", in 2008, will receive a monetary award that is dependent on the amount of donations collected over a given period of time.  I am told that it can be at least $500 and as much as $1000.  In addition, I have been invited to wear my garment and perform my improvisational singing and story-telling about plastic and it's drastic and fantastic nature at the June 1st Recognition Event at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley.  
My DREAMS are coming true.  The Director of "Teens Turning Green" asked me to work with the kids and create a fashion show, with garments made out of trash.