Saturday, January 30, 2016


I try to stop by the museum after each exhibition closes.  I'm curious about and fascinated by the work that's done.  I also love to see the museum in transition, how "raw" it looks before the new work comes in.

I stopped by this week; the SupraEnvironmental exhibition pieces were either already gone or being prepared for return.   The side panel window pane hole has been sealed.

I could identify David Brooks's core sample that had been boxed up in multiple crates and was awaiting transport.

And the coconut palm stands upright in the atrium, waiting to move on to a new home.  

Next up at the museum is a local favorite: The Young Artists exhibition.  Each year the museum hosts the work of area high schoolers who do everything from designing the announcement

Detail of artwork by Joseph Tuano, Fox Lane High School

to developing the installation plan and actually hanging the work.  It's a great experience for all the students and it's pretty amazing -- and generous -- that the museum gives them this opportunity.   Young Artists will be at the KMA from February 7-21.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Our kitchen got a little bit of a makeover this weekend.  Just cosmetic upgrades, simple changes that include my own artwork.  Now there are photographs on the wall

These are printed on metal and show glimpses of the colors of Provence.

and a "vintage block reborn" runner decorating the table.

Love how the quilting is highlighted from the angle. This was made using vintage 1930s blocks

Sometimes things that are home made hit just the right note.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January Book Report

My son and oldest daughter went back to school last week and while they were here, I hung out wherever they were.  As a result, I spent a lot of time in the family room playing games and watching sports, mostly football and golf.  I like sports, I really do, but I don't care to watch hours and hours of it on the TV.  Still, I love being with my children and rather than take myself away to my attic studio, I stayed with them and read, looking up whenever there was an exciting or controversial play/shot/whatever.  Here are two books I read of note:

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  This book is on most Best Books of 2015 lists.  I admit to being hesitant about reading it.  I'm a huge fan of All the Light We Cannot See and I wasn't certain I wanted to read another WWII book told from the perspective of two primary protagonists.  I'm glad that I "had" to read this book for my book group because I would have missed a very good read.  The Nightingale is all about the courage of ordinary folk who do extraordinary things in the midst of tremendous peril because they feel compelled to do what is right despite of the risks.  It helps to put a lot of things in perspective.

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This Young Adult book was recommended by a friend.  Like many good YA books, there's a great deal more to this than might appear at first glance.  Yes, this is about two teenagers who fall in love for the first time and yes, this book captures the glee and euphoria that come along with discovering that the person you like actually likes you too, and at the same time.  But this book has more meat on its bones than just the love story.  It's about perception, hard knocks, the wisdom of children, and charity when it's least expected. This is a good book when you want something of substance but don't want to be overwhelmed.

Though I'm not finished with this one yet, The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner has me completely engaged.  Why do pockets of exceptional creative output arise in certain places at certain times?  This is what the author is exploring and trying to (somewhat) quantify through an examination of various time periods and locales.  I'm at the start of the book and Weiner's trying to "recreate" Athens from millennia - ago to discover / uncover the unique circumstances that gave rise to philosophers, orators, historians and poets whose work we still read.  I'll keep you posted.

Next week I'll be happily ensconcing myself in the studio with two projects that have mid-February deadlines.  But the reading won't end.  What are you reading?  Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

In and Around Water

The job of sorting my 2,200+ New Zealand pictures will take me some time.  But I can't wait that long.  So I'm going to share some fun highlights now, beginning with scenes of activities in and around the water, appropriate, I think, since New Zealand is comprised of two islands.


We went sledging, an NZ term for using a boogie board to navigate some river rapids. Buoyed by wet suits and fins, and protected by said wet suits and helmets, it's a fun adventure.

While snorkeling we'd occasionally leave the water to walk along the Abel Tasman Coast Trail.  We were lucky with how much wildlife we saw, like this ray that was resting in shallow water on Onetahauti Beach.


We love to sea kayak as a family.  In this photo, we're in Milford Sound, an incredible spot that some Kiwis believe should be considered the eighth wonder of the natural world.  It's hard to convey the sheer magnitude of the space, but consider this: the middle peak in the distance is a mile high.

We had a chance to kayak in Tonga Island Nature Reserve.  The day before there had been orca about but on the day we were there, the fur seals were frolicking about. This is likely a male since the females were on shore giving birth or tending to their young.

Some of the world's best fly fishing is in New Zealand.  Here I am with a lovely rainbow trout I caught and released.


This is the bottom of Bowen Falls, the highest and most powerful waterfall in Milford Sound.  The water in the pool truly is this color. We hiked here through "the bush" and it was a steep little trek that was worth the giant bruise and scrape I got on my backside when I slipped.   This is probably one of my favorite pictures from the trip.


Abel Tasman Coast Trail
The NZ park engineers seemed to favor swinging suspension bridges to span rivers.  This is a 154 foot long bridge across Falls River.  There are warning signs indicating that the maximum load is five persons.  It's a warning everyone seemed to heed.

Hello down there!
And then there was just plain fun, starting above the water .... from a variety of heights, of course.

Boy on a ball swing over the water

One of the daughters jumping from a ledge 23 feet high.  Yeah, not my thing...

More adventures to come...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Familiar Sights in Unfamiliar Places

When you travel halfway around the world you expect some things to be different.  You rather hope things are different, that's part of the reason you're traveling so far.

Ibis wander the parks in Sydney looking for scraps
Still, it's nice when you unexpectedly see things that make you feel like home (and I'm not talking about seeing a McDonald's or Starbucks).  Take, for example, the yarn bombing at the entrance to an Artists' Studio and Gallery in Queenstown, New Zealand.

And how about this?  I spied these coloring books for sale in Queenstown.  

Who knew we artists were so globally connected?

Art Gallery NSW: Part I

Being stranded in Sydney has already had its advantages.  Aside from the bonus of more family time, we are lucky to be in Sydney at the same time as The Greats exhibition at the Art Gallery NSW.

The Greats exhibition is a collection of works on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland.  Here's what I learned from the literature: The National Galleries of Scotland comprise a federation of three art museums in Edinburgh: the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.  The oldest of the three, the Scottish National Gallery, opened its doors to the public in 1859.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to look up the acquisition history of the National Galleries but got distracted by the press announcement about the purchase of Diana and Callisto by Titian that was partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  I discovered that the Heritage Lottery Fund is a UK initiative that gives "grants to sustain and transform our heritage in the UK" from  funds raised through lottery ticket sales.  Pretty cool.  I don't think we have a similar national organization in the US.  It would be pretty handy in a time when funding for a lot of art and non-profit programs are being cut.  But I digress.

Let me share some of the amazing art I saw from pre-1800s. My apologies for the quality of some of the pictures; it wasn't always possible to get smack dab in the middle front of each masterpiece.

Titian, Venus Anadyomene (Venus Rising from the Sea), c . 1520.  I believe this was the oldest painting in the exhibition and the only one we really couldn't get close to.

Rembrandt van Rijn, A woman in bed, c 164[7?]
This isn't necessarily a portrait, but might be a reference to the story of Sarah and Tobias, her eighth husband, who defeats the devil who had killed her seven previous husbands on their wedding night

Johannes Vermeer, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1654-55
This is thought to be the only painting Vermeer made of a biblical subject and much larger than most of his other works

Francesco Guardi, Piazza San Marco, 1760
I think I responded so immediately to this because I love Canaletto's painting Piazza San Marco that's at the Met. This isn't surprising since they both were famous painters of Venice.

I'll share some of the more contemporary paintings in Part II.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Art Gallery NSW: Part II

In this post I'm going to share the more modern art from The Greats exhibition at Art Gallery NSW. Let's begin with John Sargent Singer and the portrait that was reproduced on a lot of the museum's promotional material.

John Sargent Singer, Lady Agnew of Lochaw, 1892
The chair and backdrop, both Singer's, were the perfect backdrop for this portrait of leisure and wealth, without being overbearing.

Detail of Lady Agnew of Lochaw
I'm always fascinated to see how painters create the impression of flowing cloth and transparency

Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara Falls, From the American Side, 1867
This is positively luminous in the rendering of flowing water and light. It was much larger than I expected.
Edgar Degas, Diego Martelli, 1879
I love how Degas climbed a ladder to paint Martello from above, an atypical perspective from which to paint a portrait but very effective.

Paul Gauguin, Three Tahitians, 1899
Gauguin said, "Color is a profound mysterious language, a language of dreams."

Paul Cezanne, The Big Trees, 1902-1904
This work was created late in Cezanne's career.  I'm intrigued by the upright tree trunk in the middle, flanked by the more dynamic trees on the sides.

That's all of the masterpieces I'll share right now from The Greats. Next up, some Australian art, things it's unlikely you've ever seen.  Yes?  

No -- I've changed my mind.  I think I'm going to wait to share the Australian art until I have the opportunity to do a little research on each of the artists and their art.  Instead, these posts are going to be scattered throughout the year, like mini "Australian Flashbacks".

Stuck in Sydney

Queenstown wharf yesterday morning.  There's an artist's market every Saturday

I was a bit premature yesterday in announcing my groundhog day.  It hasn't happened yet.  Instead of leaving, our flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues.

Nope, don't want to fly across a big ocean on a broken plane.

After scrambling for lodging, new flights, kennel extensions and the like, we're now stuck staying in Sydney for a few days.  Our youngest will miss the first days of school and we'll have to reschedule some appointments, but we can certainly manage.  The weather's not supposed to be great -- in fact, there's a 100% chance of rain all day tomorrow -- but we'll still see what we can see.  We've been lucky so far.  We've already had a quick walk to the Sydney Opera House,

an amble through the Botanical Gardens,

and, fortunately, found our way out before getting closed in.

We also saw Saint Mary's Church.  We happened upon it as we were headed elsewhere; I had no idea Sydney had such a lovely cathedral.  It reminded me a bit of Notre Dame in Paris.

Last but not least, we went to Art Gallery NSW to see The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland.  According to the literature, The Greats "...presents over 70 of the finest paintings and most important drawings and watercolors from the National Galleries of Scotland.  The selection spans over 400 years from c1485 to c1904."  Yowza, right?

Non-flash photography was allowed (!) so I'll share pictures as soon as I can.  Nothing like a side trip to Scotland while in Australia, eh?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

Truth be told, I wrote all my December blog posts before December 18th.  I hope you don't think I was disingenuous in writing ahead, but I wanted to try to be part of the 31 Day Blog Challenge; even though I couldn't actually write every day, I wanted the challenge of thinking of topics and posting regularly.

But I've gotten off track.

I've been in New Zealand the last two weeks of the month and it's been incredible.

Similar to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I'm now going to be repeating a day as we traverse the globe to get back to New York. It's always good to be home, but this has been a magical trip for our family and I'm sad to see it end.

I'll post more about our adventures soon.  For now I wish you Happy New Year and share this view of the fireworks in Queenstown.

Yep, that's someone swimming under the midnight stars and sparks