Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman's new memory jug, "A Bone to Pick," is featured in the gallery section of Pasticcio Quartz #5, a 72-page Holiday Mosaic Extravaganza published by artists Sarah Fishburn and Angela Cartwright. This jug and many other new and never before exhibited memory jugs will be on display next summer at the Loveland Museum & Gallery, when Laurie Zuckerman fills the museum with home altars, memory jugs, and shrine photography. The exhibit opens on August 29, 2009.

In the tradition of the finest art salons, each issue of Pasticcio Quartz offers a "panoply of new art, books, food, history, movies, people, photographs, products, quotes, music, thought, and words served up as a delectable printed pastiche."

To purchase a copy of this issue or other back issues, log onto:

Sunday, October 12, 2008


A simple Diá de los Muertos Ofrenda altar by Laurie Zuckerman is on display at the historic Bellvue Store. The altar was up for the 1st Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration in conjunction with Bev Perina's monthly Fine Art & Antique Shows and The Artists' Nook Diá de los Muertos Art Challenge, October 10-November 2. The community was invited to participate in this ofrenda ritual by bringing offerings and photos to celebrate the lives of their loved ones, and a couple of artists brought photos at the opening. I created a nicho in honor of the "Mexican Kitchen" to top the altar. The altar is not dedicated to anyone in my family, as I wanted it to be a neutral space for people to contribute to.

The Coloradoan newspaper's entertainment Ticket editor, Stacy Nick, interviewed me by phone for her article on Day of the Dead art and altar events in Northern Colorado this week. Here's the text of the article. The newspaper version included a photo of my Day of the Dead altar installation that was on display at the Loveland Art Museum's Grave Matters exhibit in the summer of 2006.
The bright colors and mocking skeletons used to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) may seem a tad morbid but it's that artwork that has captured the interest of people around the world.

Art has been heavily tied to the Day of the Dead (Nov. 1 and 2, when people erect altars to honor and communicate with deceased family members), especially after artist Jose Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913) created his cartoonish skeleton characters, said Laurie Zuckerman, a local altar installation artist and photographer.

"Folk artists kind of jumped on that whimsical art work," said Zuckerman, who for years has travelled to regions in Mexico to see the various ways they celebrate the holiday.

Day of the Dead altars, featuring flowers, photos, food and drinks, traditionally were used as a way to encourage the souls of deceased family members to visit. But they have also come to highlight a unique niche in the art world.

Many local museums host their own Day of the Dead celebrations this week to examine the cultural and spiritual significance as well as the artistic expressions.

There is a strong American fascination with Day of the Dead celebrations and art, said Zuckerman, who puts a less religious take on her altars, using them as both creative outlets and as a way to honor her family rather than to communicate with them.

"The thing that caught me was just the attitude about celebrating death in such a way, really mocking death," she said. "Then there's this belief that the Mexican people believe the souls are really coming back once a year and they better throw them a pretty damn good party.

"I don't know that many Americans can go quite that far, but I think they're intrigued by it," Zuckerman added. "It's so opposite from anything we do here. It's so colorful and positive, and I think it really flies in the face of how our culture deals with death and mourning."

Check out this on-line version of the article.

Had a wonderful write up on Leaua Phillips blogsite in response to my Dia de los Muertos altar at the Bellvue Store. Check out her blog at:

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman currently has an installation of three Day of the Dead altars in Virginia Tech's Diá de los Muertos exhibit at the Perspectives Gallery in Squires Student Union. It is a colorful and lively show, excellently curated by Mary Tartaro, director of the gallery. The show was mounted to coincide with Hispanic Awaremess Month.

Best of all, my bestfriend and altarmaking pal in Blacksburg, Kathy Pinkerton, is also featured in this exhibit and has a spectacular altar display as the centerpiece of the show. It is the closet thing I have ever seen to the over-the-top exuberance of Oaxacan Day of the Dead ofrendas. Below is a wide-shot of Kathy's installation.

The gallery invited me to fly out to give the keynote lecture on my travels to photograph Colonial Mexico's Day of the Dead altars, prior to the opening on October 3, 2008. I shipped all the myriad pieces of the altars and set-up my detailed installation the day before the show opened. (14 hours and many gallery helpers later, it was complete.) I also have 25 of my Day of the Dead photos from San Miguel de Allende, Guanujuato, and Oaxaca included in this exhibit. Three of my photos are used on the show announcement included with this post above.

The News Messenger of Montgomery County, Virginia published this front page article on October 8, 2008. Here are some quotes from the article by reporter Lauren Page, who interviewed myself and Kathy Pinkerton.

"Zuckerman describes her altar as more mournful that the rest of the pieces on display at the the exhibit. The altar, entitled "Devil May Care", is mostly black with an orange background. Zuckerman said the altar contains many references to Hallowe'en, including vintage American Hallowe'en decorations beside Mexican Day of the Dead artifacts. The black and orange color scheme has a three-fold meaning, she said. First, orange and black are the colors of Hallowe'en. Second, the orange represents the marigolds traditionally used at Mexican Day of the Dead festivals. Third, since it is next to [Kathy] Pinkerton's fuchsia altar, the two colors side by side look like the signature VT maroon and orange, Zuckerman said." [Actually this is bit of a misquote, as I was referring to the maroon and orange colors within my own altar installation being chosen in homage to Tech's school colors.]

"I like puns and double-entendres," Zuckerman said. "I like things to have a lot of different [visual] meanings.

"Devil May Care" is an homage to Zuckerman's parents. There is a large altar in the center, flanked by two smaller ones. The left side memorializes her mother. The right side memorializes her father. Zuckerman described her parents as "difficult and contentious."

"It was very painful dealing with their anger and bitterness," Zuckerman said. "This altar...represents the lighter side of what I kept bottled up inside."

The following web article at Virginia Tech University announced Laurie Zuckerman's altar installation, photography, and slide lecture in conjunction with the Perspectives Gallery group exhibition of Diá de los Muertos, October 3-November 8, 2008. The other artists included in the show are The Artgirlz group, Mindy & Baldwin True North, and Gilda Machin-Scarpaci, who all created wonderful altars for the show.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman is teaching a two-day weekend workshop on Memory Jugs, Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3, 10 am-5 pm.
Please email Laurie at for reservations and more details before July 30, 2008.

If you have ever wondered about memory jugs, now is your chance to delve into this mysterious Victorian American folk art tradition and make your own enigmatic jug. This small intimate workshop will be offered at a private location in Fort Collins. Bring your own jug, jar, or teapot and all the little memories you've been saving to create your own piece of American folk art, or purchase an antique jug from Laurie. All other supplies will be provided. An instruction book is included in the cost of the workshop. Cost will be $145. Advanced reservations required by July 15, 2008.

Laurie has been making memory jugs since 2004, using her eclectic found art assemblage style. Laurie is best known for her altar installations and memory jugs, which have been on display at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, the Loveland Art Museum, and the Durango Art Center. Her memory jug artwork has been published most recently in Lynne Perrella's new book on assemblage artists around the country entitled: Artmaking, Collections, and Obsessions. Please browse this blog for examples, articles, and reviews of Laurie's assemblage art.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman just returned from her latest photograph journey to the mission churches and cemeteries in West Texas. Despite the 400-year history of Spanish and Indian settlement along thie Mission Trail in El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, I found the churches to be much less decorative and distinctive than the churches in Northern New Mexico. The oldest of the churches is in Juarez, but it was closed the day I walked across the border. Had to settle for some beer and guacamole and helado on a stick.

As far as the cemeteries in this region, I was even more disappointed. The graves were not particularly unique from a folk art standpoint and the level of vandalism was the worst I have ever witnessed. I managed to get just a few photographs of any note. The most unique cemeteries were actually far afield in the towns of Terlingua, Lajitas, and Study Butte, all neighboring Big Bend National Park. The Terlingua ghost town cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and was truly decrepit, but the locals tell me it is cleaned up and decorated annually for the Day of the Dead.

Also took the tour in Marfa of Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation, and decided once and for all that minimalism is not my game. I did appreciate, from a found object assemblage standpoint, John Chamberlain's junked car part sculptures. Marfa, Texas may be the up and coming "Santa Fe" of West Texas, but it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.


Laurie Zuckerman was invited to speak on Memory Jugs for the Remarkable Women Series sponsored by A Place for Every Woman's Spirituality in Fort Collins, Colorado. The well-attended lecture was held on April 4th. Since there is so little known about folk art memory jugs, I concentrated on my personal history with making memory jugs and memorial jugs. I plan to offer a workshop through this women's center later this spring or summer.

"Laurie Zuckerman constructs enigmatic memory jugs from antique and vintage found objects. She has conducted memory jug workshops at the Loveland Art Museum and the Artists' Nook in Fort Collins. she has exhibited her altar installations, memory jugs, and shrine photography since the mid-1990's, at the Elmhurst Art Museum in Chicago, the University of Northern Colorado, the Loveland Art Museum, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Durango Arts Center.

"Memory jugs, an American vernacular folk craft from the Victorian era, are believed to honor the dead with personal tokens once belonging to the deceased -- shells, jewelry, toys, buttons, beads, etc. Some art historians propose that memory jugs are linked to Southern African-American funerary traditions, and may have been used to decorate their gravesites.

"Laurie's memory jugs appear in the 2008 book by Lynne Perella: Art Making Collections and Obsessions (Quarry Publishers). In 1999, Laurie was included, along with 99 other woman altarmakers, in a book by Kay Turner, A Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars.

"Laurie was born in Los Angeles and received her B.A. in Fine Arts from the U. of California, Berkeley; and her B.F.A. in Painting from the U. of Oregon. She is a painting and drawing instructor at Front Range Community College, and lectures publicly on altarmaking to universities, colleges, museums, galleries, libraries, and arts organizations."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman's digital image, "Baja Madonna" was juried into the new exhibit, "Current Works on the Front Range," at the Sliding Door Gallery in the popular Santa Fe Arts District in Denver, Colorado. The show presents a survey of photography by 22 regional artists and photographers and includes a range of work from traditional photography processes to digitally manipulated photographic collage. The exhibit was timed to correspond with Denver’s Month of Photography. My photo is one of my all-time favorite digital photos I shot in a decrepit graveyard in a remote town in colonial Baja del Sur. This altar was inside a private mausoleum whose door had been broken open.

Two public openings: Friday, March 7th and Friday, March 14th from 6-10 pm.

The show runs through Sunday March 30th. Regular hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 pm.

554 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204, Phone: 720-979-4448.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman's memory jugs are profiled in Lynne Perrella's newest book: Art Making, Collections, and Obsessions: An Intimate Exploration of the Mixed-Media Work and Collections of 35 Artists. I am one of the 35 obsessed artists she has selected for this publication, and I am proud to be in such great company with Michael deMeng, Keith LoBue, and of course, Lynne Perrella. My copies of this beautiful hard-cover book just arrived in the mail this afternoon. I took some photos of my four-page spread that features several of my very obsessed memory jugs, along with the "fixin's" for another jug not pictured. Lynne has also used one of my photos for the frontispiece of her book. Thank you, Lynne! You did an awesome job putting this book together. already has twelve 5-star reviews of the book. website to order book:

Book Description from
"A glimpse into the personal collections and work of 35 major artists.

"This large format, full-color, inspirational book is about how artists use their collections to make artwork. The gallery-style format allows readers to see what artists collect, and the resulting spectacular artwork they make from it. The book will feature the collections and the artwork of thirty-five major mixed-media artists. The artwork will include journals, assemblages, altered books, as well as jewelry pieces, and detailed descriptions of the materials and techniques used, plus tips and insights into using unusual materials and collections.

"Mixed-media artists are naturally collectors. They are fascinated by the stuff of life, and they are always looking for the right elements to add to their collages and journals. This book offers a juicy combination -- sort of a walk through an artist-filled flea market, and a gallery of the pieces created using these collections with tips and insights on collecting and creating, and how they go hand in hand."

About the Author:
Lynne Perrella is an artist, author, and workshop instructor. Her art interests include collage, assemblage, art journals, and one-of-a-kind books. Her first two books, Artists' Journals & Sketchbooks and Alphabetica were published by Quarry. Her third book, Beyond Paper Dolls came out in September 2006 by Stampington. She contributes articles to a variety of magazines, including Sketchbooks, Martha Stewart's Body + Soul, and Mary Englebreit's Home Companion. Her work has appeared in various books on mixed media including: Collage for the Soul, True Colors, Crafting Personal Shrines, Altered Books, The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery, Quilted Memories, and others. Lynne also appears in the documentary film, ?1000 Journals?. She conducts creativity workshops at venues throughout the United States and abroad. She exhibits collage and assemblage at galleries throughout the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Her website is

Monday, February 4, 2008


For my Christmas present, my husband Tom Mathies spent days sawing, carving, and painting me an exquisite shrine out of alabaster, cholla cactus, rusty tin, and gold leaf. For the focal point, I gave him a chalkware Madonna head I had found in a trash can in Southern Colorado. Tom used found materials that he had located in Wyoming and New Mexico. Last year he carved an alabaster grotto for my birthday. I can't wait for him to make another shrine!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Just received my copy of Karen Landey's Indie Arts DVD, Issue 7. A collection of Laurie Zuckerman's Oaxaca, Mexico photos are profiled in the gallery section of the DVD. I attended Michael deMeng's Day of the Dead altar workshop in Oaxaca last fall with 20 other artists from around the country. I am very excited to be in this issue along with Michael deMeng and Lisa JonesMoore, a Seattle artist who was also in his workshop. The photo above was taken in Teotitlan del Valle, at the home of weaving family. The other photos included on the DVD concentrate on the ornate El Diá de los Muertos altars in Oaxaca's cemeteries, churches, and public squares. This issue features an antiquing painting demo with Artist and Author, Michael deMeng during his 2007 workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico.

If you want to check it out, follow these links to Indie Arts' website for previews of this issue and ordering information:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I returned from a great adventure in Savannah in January, hunting for folk art in flea markets and antique stores, visiting museums, and traveling through Gullah country in South Carolina. On my journey with my best artist buddy, Kathy Pinkerton, we photographed two bottle trees, one on the historic island of St. Helena, SC, and the other right around the corner from Kathy's home in Savannah. The bottle tree was in front of a huge African-American/Gullah folk art gallery named Red Piano Too.

Bottle tree's can be traced back to African origins. Sarah Fishburn just sent me this blurb from The House of Voodoo:

"The belief in and use of spirit bottles can be traced back to 9th and 10th century Congo where colorful bottles, traditionally cobalt blue, were placed on the ends of tree branches to catch the sunlight. It was thought that when an evil spirit sees the sunshine dazzling from the beautiful bottles, it is enamored and enters the bottle. Like a fly, the spirit then becomes trapped within the bottle; too dazzled by the play of light, the spirit prefers to remain in its colorful prison, rather than trouble the world of the living."

I spent the week asking about memory jugs, and on the last day, in the last hour of my trip, Kathy and I got lucky at the Telfair Art Museum in Savannah. Here is a shot of the only jug they had on display in the children's area of the museum, under the category of, "What is this?" It was beautiful. It is the first jug I have ever seen in a museum, besides my own at the Loveland Museum. It is only the third antique jug I have seen in person in the 14 years since I bought my first one.

An interactive computer display next to the jug helps kids or adults to decipher its true meaning.

Here is a shot from Kathy Pinkerton's altar exhibit at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2002. I love this Madonna altar! Missed the exhibit, unfortunately, but was still living in Blacksburg, Virginia when Kathy was working on this shrine.

Kathy Pinkerton's altar 

The most brilliant piece of folk art we found was in Savannah, in a neighborhood outside of the historic district. It was created entirely of papier maché by artist, James Kimble, and is called The Black Holocaust Memorial. Kathy had the opportunity to buy a smaller version of the memorial, which was equally beautiful.


Laurie Zuckerman's huge altar installation, "In the Pink" appears in the current issue of Pasticcio, a collaborative "zine" venture by artists Sarah Fishburn and Angela Cartwright. The issue is filled with beautiful artwork by artists around the country. I am thrilled to be included in the gallery section of this publication, thanks to my new friend, Sarah Fishburn!

"PASTICCIO is a pioneer in the next wave of a dynamic arts publication arena; with this 72-page Holiday 2007 issue, it has evolved into a QUARTZ: a QUality ARt Zine. To be specific, PASTICCIO 2 QUARTZ is meticulously jam-packed with a plethora of compelling (and fun!) information and incredible work from well known artists (and a few up and comers as well). Find inspiration, specific tips and techniques, reviews, art history, and a few special “gifts” within its pages. Printed on high quality glossy paper, its essence and design are as integral as the contents."

The magazine can be ordered at: