Thursday, February 28, 2013

Museum of Monterey Exhibitions - Part II - "Cheerful Idiocy"

By this time it was an effort to keep straight in the saddle, and I couldn't turn my neck to save me.  And yet, tho' I was most thoroughly cooked, it was all great fun and I enjoyed every second of it.  The advantages of cheerful idiocy!

This is part of an entry in Jo Mora's journal as he retraced the Alta California mission trail in the early 1900's.  Jo was 27 years old when he decided to leave his work as a ranch cowboy and undertake a three month journey from Mission San Diego to Mission San Juan Bautista on horseback.  Among other things, he carried sketchbooks, pencils, and watercolors in his saddlebags, along with a copy of journal recordings from the very first Spanish explorations (1769) embarking from San Diego.

What do you think of that?

I think it's fascinating that the artist's spirit can take many forms and manifest itself in so many ways... and it's done so for centuries.  The Museum of Monterey is exhibiting limited edition gliclees (the same size as the originals, too) of Mora's work from the trail.  I have a few pictures of the sketches and watercolors to share with you here and a (reformatted) excerpt from one of his journals:

His work is absolutely beautiful and his journal entries offer such insight into his adventure.  Oh, that we all could create such beautiful art -- and then describe the experience so wonderfully in words.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Museum of Monterey Exhibitions - Part I - Beautiful Whale

Last week I visited the Museum of Monterey.  We were in the area for a combination of vacation and college visits.  I had received a postcard about a new photography exhibition and I was intrigued enough to make a side trip.

The reason for my visit was an exhibition of Byrant Austin's whale photography.  As described below, Austin started making composite whale photographs in response to a very personal experience he had one day.

I've seen whales up close (we were sea kayaking in Alaska and a pod of whales began to bubble net feed, surfacing right next to us) and it was an experience that we still talk about as a family six years later. I felt a strong connection to the concept of Austin's mission, having felt the undeniable intelligence of these gentle giants while in Alaska.  But I've never been in the water with whales -- though I have heard them singing while scuba diving -- and I really wanted to see what I was missing.

The photographs are incredible.

There were close-up images that really evoked a sense of personality and inquistiveness.  Shown left to right here: Humpback Whale Calf 1341 (43 x 75 inches), Minke Whale Composite Portrait 1294 (4 feet x 5 feet), and Minke Whale Portrait 1186 (4 feet x 6 feet).    There were black and white portraits, too, such as the full-length sperm whale portrait: Sperm Whale Composite One (5 feet x 20 feet)

I was so glad the museum had space to sit and contemplate the portraits and Austin's mission to educate the public about the majesty and value of these marvelous creatures.  My apologies to him for the glare in my pictures that diminish his work; please go to his website to really see his photography.

If you'd like to learn more about Austin, his project, and his photography exhibitions, please read the following article from the NY Times  and watch this TV news clip.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Resting my Brain

I've finished my CLAW piece and now I want to spend a little bit of time working on my next Latitudes quilt.  Our new theme is Every Single Day.  What can I say about every single day that will be unique to me and/or can be expressed uniquely by me?

I've been thinking a lot about it.... but haven't figured it out yet.

And so, I'm not thinking about it anymore.  I'm doing other things so my subconscious will figure it all out while I'm busy entertaining myself.  For the last few days, I've been going through my photo archives.  I've been captivated by the wonderful shapes and texture of trees in pictures I've taken over the years.  Here are a few of my favorites images:

What do you turn to when you need some place for your brain to rest while it works?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where did the week go?

It's been quite a week since my last post.  I know I've been busy, but with what?

A blizzard named Nemo got us hopping a bit;

my daughter's all-weekend-long dance competition in Connecticut (yes, during the blizzard!) claimed a big hunk of time; and,

A bit of a blurry pic from her solo, but you get the idea...
She was a scholarship recipient at the end of the weekend (I'm busting with pride)

I put the finishing touches on my Debt Crisis piece for CLAW.  Do you remember the quilt  top made up of 1930s blocks?  It looks differently now.  While I can't show you an entire image, here's a detail.

Detail, Debt Crisis

The surface has changed a bit, don't you think?  I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out.  The blocks / quilt top underwent quite a transformation.  I really like the slightly gnarly and irregular surface, but my walking foot didn't always like working with the entirely painted surfaces (both top and bottom); the timing got off.  But fear not, my intrepid machine went to the "spa" yesterday for a deep cleanse and will come back restored, no doubt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Back to the 30s

I've returned to the stack of 1930s quilt blocks for the new piece I'm creating for Crossing the Line: Artists at Work (CLAW) about the Debt Crisis.  The Depression-era blocks seem like a good way to add emotional weight to the piece.  I also love it that I can repurpose them for this quilt.

I was looking for blocks that didn't have dark patterned fabrics.  There weren't a lot of lighter toned blocks to choose from, but I managed to find a few that would work.

They were all pretty wonky and stained:

As I got them wet and ironed the dickens out of them, they got a bit stinky. I don't really want to know why.   But cut up, reassembled, and pressed, these blocks make a pretty adorable looking quilt.

If I could keep it like this I would, but the stains are too embedded in the fabric to remove and that's not a good look for an exhibition quilt.   Still, the top looks sweet right now and I wanted to share a picture before it all disappears.  Pretty soon I'm going to be painting over the surface.  If all goes as planned,  it won't look quite so charming.