Monday, December 28, 2009

In the Classroom and in the Pool .... huh?

As you've probably noticed, I haven't been creating too much art lately. Snow days, sick children, errands, and the heyday of the season have kept me busy. But, that sort of thing happens to pretty much everyone. So why haven't I been making any art this month? Believe it or not, every spare moment I've had has been spent studying for my scuba certification; in fact, my husband and children are doing it as well. Because our youngest isn't old enough to do the coursework on line (internet safety laws prohibit anyone under 13 from taking an on-line course), she and I watched four hours of video, read through a 220+ page book, went to six hours of classes, and took multiple quizzes, four exams and a final while the other three cruised through an on-line course in a few hours. Yes, our path took up lots of time.

But it was worth it. We passed the written coursework and yesterday, we all finished up the second part of the certification process by doing the confined water dives. In other words, we spent a few hours at the pool reviewing scuba skills. We looked rather funny in our scuba gear at the local gym's lap pool, but hey, we passed! It was relatively easy since we've been diving before, but still .... yahoo! Now that that's done, I hope I'll have some time to work on the projects that have been buzzing around in my head for weeks: I have one for a Fast Friday challenge on microbiology (last month's challenge, but I like my idea so I still want to do it), one for Textile Abstractions using "walls" as the theme, one that I'd like to try to create soon enough (and well enough) to submit to Quilt Visions and another for a new, special project I'm working on that I'll tell you more about in the new year. All this and oh, the costume adjustments for my daughter's dance company. Rats, those have to get done first.

Anyway, art's hopefully on the way! In the meantime, here's a picture worth a good laugh: that's me in full scuba gear from a dive in April. And while you're chuckling about that, can you let me know if you're planning to set goals for yourself for the new year? I've been thinking about this a lot in the last few days. What should I try to achieve art-wise in 2010? I'll try to post about that next.... and maybe I'll have a glimmer of art to show you, too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's Happening Here..

We started celebrating a few days ago when my parents arrived from Chicago. My mom and I have now baked most of the day and the house smells sweet, sweet, sweet! Presents are under the tree and all seven of us are wondering which gift, as per our tradition, we'll open tonight. Sometimes, it's a little embarrassing to see just how blessed we are.


And now, just in case I don't get a chance to blog over the coming days, I wish you all happiness, love, laughter and health during this festive season and in the new year. Thank you for joining me on my blog.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Afternoon of Dance

Yesterday my girls and I went into New York City for an afternoon performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the New York City Center. What a treat! There was a feast for the eyes, even before the show started. Look at the fabulous architecture surrounding the stage!


Then the dancing started. If you've never seen the troupe dance before, let me preface it by saying that their repetoire includes some of the most athletic choreography you've ever seen. You can get a sense of this just by looking at the cover of the playbill -- that's a photograph (taken by Andrew Eccles) of Jamar Roberts, one of the men in the company.


Our program for the afternoon was a retrospective of some of the favorite dances performed during the last 20 years, the time of Judith Jamison's tenure as the director of the company. The diversity of the dances made the performance very exciting and made you marvel at the breadth of skill these dancers have. In an excerpt of "North Star" (from 1978), for example, a quartet of dancers dressed in dark blue danced in a close group, weaving in and out of one another. At times, they created an undulating line, perfectly mimicking the motion of the sea and waves. The lights on stage were dark and spotlights were more muted. This number was in stark contrast to the lively large group dance excerpt of "The Winter in Lisbon" in which the performers danced the salsa and other Latin inspired styles to the music of Dizzy Gillespie. Their costumes were flamboyant and the entire stage was alight.

Other favorites of the show included "Following the Subtle Current Upstream" (2000), in which Matthew Rushing performed with flexibility, precision, and incredibly restrained power, to gong and bell music; "Solo" (1997) in which each member of a trio of dancers took turns on stage in a dance that somehow included shrugs and bounces into a masterful, celebratory piece; and "Love Stories" a large group retrospective (it seemed) of dance styles that have more recently evolved, such as hip hop. What amazing diversity in dances!

Bottom line is -- if you get a chance to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, GO, GO, GO! They're in New York until January 3rd.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Contracts


This week I spent a lot of time learning. I learned about pressure tables and decompression sickness for my scuba diving class. I learned about the difficulties people face when they're bipolar through a book I'm reading for book group. And, I learned a lot about my rights as an artist.

Earlier in the week I got some very exciting news: a NYC gallery wanted to include some of my photos in an on-line exhibit. Sounds like time for a happy dance, right? Wrong! As is appropriate, the gallery sent me a contract to authorize them to include my photos in the exhibition. Unfortunately, the contract asked for the following rights to the artwork:

"The artist agrees to grant the Gallery a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sub-licensable license to exercise copyright, publicity, and database rights the Artist has in the information that the Artist has provided to the Gallery, in any media now known (or not currently known or later developed), including, without limitation, any images of the artworks submitted to ________."

WHOA!!!

Agreeing to this contract meant that I would be allowing the Gallery the right to sell images of my work to whatever commercial venture they'd like without any obligation of compensation to me. In addition, even if I found the use offensive, I would have no recourse whatsoever. That's what sub-licensable license means, coupled with an irrevocable, open-ended time frame. No exhibit is worth that.

No organization should present this type of contract as the start of a negotiation and/or the initiation of a relationship with an artist. Under no circumstances should any gallery be asking for such far-reaching control of an artist's work. Artists with far more experience than I cautioned me against signing the contract. This gallery is now on my "proceed with caution" list.

It's always our obligation to strike out any objectionable sections, date the changes, and send it back. Clearly, no one is going to look out for us but ourselves. So, I decided to tell the gallery that the contract language was ambiguous, that I had attached an amended contract, and I hoped they would sign it and send it back to me. I figured that I had nothing to lose.

Not surprisingly, I haven't received any response from the Gallery.

I guess I'm not in the on-line exhibit.

Oh well.

I'm not feeling a great loss with this one. However, I will say that because of this experience, I now have a boilerplate one-page contract that I'm pretty comfortable with. So, all the nonsense leading up to this has left me in a good spot and I'm ready for the next time I might be asked.

Now, you might be asking why, if you're still reading through all this drivel, why there's a picture of a white rose at the top of the post. What in the world does a white rose have to do with contracts? As a matter of fact, nothing. I posted the picture of the white rose because my husband sent me a dozen roses yesterday. In the almost 20 years we've been married, this is the 5th time he's bought me flowers. Since it happens so infrequently, I took a picture. I figured that it was worth some heralding, don't you think?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Date in the City

Today, my husband and I went on a date. We haven't been alone together (and awake!) for more than two hours in years. So this afternoon, when all our children managed to be off doing things, we went into New York City for some wanderings and an early dinner. It was great to hang out, just the two of us. Even battling the ridiculous crush of people didn't dampen our spirits. I took a few not- so- traditional pictures of the midtown at the holidays... but, I'll throw in one of the Rockefeller Christmas tree for good measure (which wasn't easy to get through the throng of people all packed together, let me tell you) . I hope you had a good day, too!

The tree in all its glory (a bit fuzzy because of all the jostling for position that was going on):


The snowball-like lights along the promenade at Rockefeller Center:


The very cool wall art / sculpture inside 45 Rockefeller Plaza:


A view of St. Pat's through the arms of Atlas:


What just happened to be left on the plate after we shared our appetizer:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being In a Permanent Exhibit ...

... is a dream come true for many an artist. And that goal was achieved by my youngest daughter! Last winter, my daughter's art teacher asked us for permission to submit my daughter's artwork for exhibit consideration. In the spring, we were told it was chosen for temporary exhibit. Now it's been selected to be permanently exhibited in a local hospital's Child Advocacy Center. Woo Hoo! We're going to try to go to the exhibit some time soon; I've never even seen the piece. I'm very excited for my daughter and she's doing her own version of a happy dance.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ice Keeps Plopping on my Head

It was cold enough today to keep the snow crispy on the ground, but the sun shone brightly enough to make the ice slide off the upper boughs of some trees. I was so bombarded with ice balls this morning as I packed up my car that I thought for sure there were pranksters somewhere up in the trees, laughing their heads off at me and catching it all on tape. I decided to give chase to the warming rays of the sun and managed to catch a few pictures of the ice separating from its resting spot. Isn't it cool how the ice took on the shape of the holly leaf?



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sparkles

It was in the 60s on Thursday; today we're enjoying the beauty of our first snowfall. I went out earlier the morning to revel in the scenery and to try to capture the snow sparkling in the sun. It's one of those crisp, clear mornings when the sky seems an unrealistically glorious color of blue and everything is glistening. I took fifty-six pictures but unfortunately, most of them were duds. It's clear I need to reacquaint myself with the ins and outs of winter photography. Here are a few pictures that seem post-worthy. I'm so excited that winter's finally arrived!







Thursday, December 3, 2009

Movement

I was really excited yesterday to get back to art class and again try the super, hyper macro approach to drawing. Alas, the model had ants in his pants; he just could not lie still. Ah well, I really shouldn't complain. I can't imagine sitting perfectly still for 25 minutes and then recreating my pose for five more 25 minute segments. With that in mind, here's my end drawing, based partly on what I saw and partly on what I remembered.