Saturday, November 11, 2017

What would you include?

I'm prepping for my Object Out Loud: Arman and Nick Cave tours at the KMA:   public tours and stroller tours.  The latter are designed for caregivers with children under 18 months old.  The museum opens up early on a designated Friday once a month for these tours; the second in the "series" is happening this Friday.

Why do I call it a series?  Well, there's a chance that someone returns a second time.  Maybe because they like the exhibition.  Maybe because they want to get out of the house for adult conversation.  Whatever the reason, there are usually three stroller tours per exhibition and I have to be prepared to lead three different, but complete, tours, so that the material is fresh for any repeat visitor, but still captures the exhibition for someone who only comes once.  It's a challenge I enjoy.

The first stroller tour was about identity.  The identity of the artists themselves.  The identity of the visitors.  For example, you can see the influences of their respective identities in what the artists have created.

Arman (among other things):
  -- an immigrant
  -- a French-American artist
  -- an activist making statements about materialism post-WWII
  -- a music lover

Nick Cave (among other things):
  -- a black man in America
  -- an artist whose start was in fashion and design
  -- a "messenger" focusing on civic responsibility
  -- an artist pondering the past, and new future, of objects

And here's a fun thing to consider: if you had to use objects to identify who you are, what would you choose?  What objects do you think help to celebrate and capture some or all of the aspects of who you are?   Here's how Arman and Cave have shared some of their self-reflection -- and statement making -- through their art.

Arman, Robot Portrait of Arman, 1992
In exhibition
Nick Cave, Hustle Coat, 2017
In exhibition


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Reading

I'm amazed it's almost Halloween. My youngest daughter asked if I'd decorated; this is one of her favorite times of year.  She's off at school and I'll admit it's not the same without her giggling in my ear about where we should put everything.  Nevertheless I couldn't resist putting up some of our favorites like the murder of crows, eyeing us from their perch above the kitchen table.



It seems my reading also takes a turn to reflect the season. Are you interested in something good to read to match the Halloween mood?  Here are some of my recommendations, books old and new, fiction and non-fiction, to get you into the spirit.

NON-FICTION:


Erik Larson's account of the majesty of the Chicago World's Fair is also chilling in the telling of the serial killer who haunted the halls of the event.


From Here to Eternity is about death rituals around the world.  It might be macabre for some to learn about an open-air crematorium in Colorado or you might be fascinated.  The book's not meant to be frightening, but some might not want to read about what other cultures do to honor their dead.

FICTION:


Ah, Rebecca The book that introduced me to the potential creepiness that can be contained in delicious and quiet prose. A classic.


Theodora Goss has a bit of fun with Victorian heroes and villains in her book, The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter.  Can you imagine what would happen if the daughter of Dr. Jekyll met up with a survivor of Dr. Moreau's island?  And, what if they joined forces with Sherlock Holmes to solve murders in London?  It's a fun offshoot from some old horror stories.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

New Work in Progress

I love to scuba dive.  It's something I wish everyone could experience.  The beauty, both familiar and foreign.  The colors, rich and surprising.  The rhythm of the waves as you descend.  The stillness as you explore.  The serenity you feel as you become a part of such a magnificent world, even for a short time.

It has inspired me to create a new series of work.

The first piece is now on my design wall.  I'm hoping the piecing and the colors are evocative of rolling waves.





If all goes well, the three sections will be separate pieces of a larger quilt.  The way I'll connect the sections is an experiment yet to be tried, but fingers crossed.

It feels great to be back in the studio again.



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Feathers: A mini obsession

Does this ever happen to you?  You take a bunch of pictures and, when you look back through them, you realize you've taken pictures of the same subject over and over and over again.

That happened to me last week: I took a ton of pictures of feathers.  Wherever I looked it seemed there were feathers that grabbed my attention.  No, there wasn't a pile of feathers where something had met its demise.  Instead, these were feathers I saw -- almost daily -- on my walk/hikes.  Different species. Different locations.  I wonder why these captured my eye.  What, perhaps, is my subconscious saying to me?






Even took pictures of a bush with flowers that look feathery.  HA!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Little Things and Big Things

Here are some life highlights since my last post.

  • My design wall is no longer empty. Hooray!  More on that in another post, but here's a sneak peek. (Apologies for the bad lighting.)
                                                   
  • Docent training for the upcoming exhibition Object out Loud at the Katonah Museum of Art, featuring Arman and Nick Cave.  Many of you may know Nick Cave, but many may ask, who is Arman?  He's a French-American artist that I hope you'll get to know.  He was a contemporary of Rauschenberg and Warhol, yet didn't get recognition by the NY art critics at the time; that said, he is in the collections of the Met and MoMA.  (He was very well regarded in France from the almost the start of his career.)  It's going to be an exciting exhibition.  It's great to work with a museum that so often creates its own exhibitions and, therefore, furthers artistic scholarship. The exhibition opens October 15th.
    The home page banner announcing the exhibition.
    L: Detail Nick Cave, Hustle Coat
    R: Arman, detail, Big Parade
  • A trip to Chicago and Indiana to see my parents, spend a bit of time with our oldest,
Fun graffiti in her neighborhood
Sweet Piper, who was a foster and now has a home with my daughter.  At 9 years old she was having a hard time in the shelter, after being surrendered when her original owner died.  Now we're having fun speculating about her genetic makeup.
  • and visit our youngest a Notre Dame.  We also tailgated with the in-laws and friends who's daughter is also at ND.  A fun-filled weekend.
  • My mother-in-law's 75th birthday:  Somehow, I forgot to take pictures when we had 10 people over to celebrate.  I have to get better about taking family photos. I don't know why I always forget.
  • Simple pleasures: I'm enjoying reading and taking pictures on walks and in my garden.  It seems there are a lot of praying mantis in my garden this year, though I'm not quite sure why.  My reading is keeping step: The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery and The Queen Must Die by William Longwood.   Anyone read either of these? My book group is now reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so I guess I'm switching to coming-of-age stories. (We just finished The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. Anyone read that?)
Praying mantis giving me the evil eye when I jostled "his" leaf.  I'm certain I blinked first in this stare-down.
Up next: October break with my two college-age children.  I'm so looking forward to spending time with them! 



Thursday, September 14, 2017

NYC Gallery Hopping

A bad head cold + bad rain kept me from attending the immigration panel discussion.  Bummer.  But, I was able to head to the city to go gallery hopping.  In Chelsea, a number of the galleries will host their openings on Thursday nights, and the streets are packed with people going from one to the next.  There were a number of fascinating exhibition openings.  Here are glimpses of what I saw:

Some of Robert Motherwell's early paintings were on view at the Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Orange Personage, Robert Motherwell, 1947
Oil and sand on canvas
Orange Personage, detail
You can see the fabulous texture in this detail image here
Maya Lin had an opening of "Maya Lin: Ebb and Flow" at the Pace Gallery.  It was too crowded to be able to get full pictures of her installations; many of them are huge and extend from floor to ceiling.   There were guards posted throughout the gallery to protect the work on the floor. I asked one of the guards how all the marbles were adhered to the walls, and he said hot glue.  I don't know if that's true or not but it gives me pause to think about finger burns and threads of glue if I had done it (but nowhere to be found here).

Detail, "Ebb and Flow", Maya Lin

Detail, "Ebb and Flow", Maya Lin
I discovered a new-to-me artist that I found captivating: Nathalie Boutté.  Her exhibition at the Yossi Milo Gallery called "Crossing-over" was amazing. From a distance, these works seem to be, perhaps, a woven textile.  But no.  They're collages made from tiny hand-cut strips of Japanese paper, individually assembled into rows, using the tint and text on the paper to create images.

L: The African Choir (9), 2016; Japanese paper, ink
R: The African Choir (11), 2016; Japanese paper, ink

Detail, The African Choir (11)
Detail to appreciate the complexity of these collage constructions
The James Cohen gallery featured, A Line Can Go Anywhere, a curated exhibition featuring seven Bay Area artists who use fiber as their primary material.   It was a wonderful compilation of a variety of work dating from the 1950s to the present.
Installation view
Trude Guermonprez in front
Untitled (Space Hanging), 1965
silk, double weave
Ed Rossbach
After Miro, 1970
jute, horsehair


Any of these appeal or resonate with you?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Vacation stitching


A while back I came to the conclusion that, despite the extra time I seemed to have over the summer, it really wasn't a great time to set art-making deadlines.  I still wanted to make art, but with different expectations and parameters.

My solution: create a project that's a "vacation" quilt.  I only work on it while on vacation, during those downtimes when I don't want to nap, read, or just hang with my family. It had to be something I could pick up after months -- or years -- in between.

With that in mind I bought fabric, sorted it between lights, mediums, and darks, and cut out piles of triangles.   I stored them in bags to keep the sorting intact. Then it was time to go.


A few years passed before I had time to join triangles into a few blocks.  It wasn't significant stitching progress, but it was fun to touch the fabrics again, to enjoy the fabrics I'd selected.  More years passed and then this past week, I re-visted the project and sewed, making enough progress that the hidden pattern within the quilt began to emerge.


I really love where this is going and it's a pure pleasure to sew.  The color palette was inspired by the colors of the California coast.  I think it's speaking to me particularly strongly right now because I have a series of quilts in my head that have been percolating since our family scuba trip in December.  The series is a reflection on our governance and care of the ocean.  Perhaps after I've made progress on one of the quilts I'm thinking about, I'll show it to you.  In any event, it's exciting and cathartic to sit back down at my machine and piece.  I hope I can keep it going.

But not this week.  After so much travel, the house and gardens need some TLC.  PLUS, if all goes well, I'm heading into NYC this Wednesday to attend a panel discussion on immigration.  Should be very interesting.  

Hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend.  Right now, I'm off to dust.  My house is very happy.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pure Magic

This last week was a gift.  My husband and I spent four days together on vacation.  Just the two of us.  No itinerary.  We hiked new trails and discovered new (to us) coves.



Took off our shoes to explore shores shrouded in fog.


Hiked along redwoods burned in last year's fire that were - miraculously -- surrounded by seedlings.  


Took in textures of all sorts; this is a rock wall battered by the ocean.



We woke to an incredible morning in San Francisco.  That city really is beautiful.


I also read (finished A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny) and sewed (a blog post for another day).

Now I'm home and trying to stretch the hours as long as possible.  Our oldest daughter is in for the day; she leaves tomorrow and I'm soaking up all I can.  

And so, I'll write more another time.  For now, I'm going to chat with her just a bit longer.  The empty nest begins in earnest tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bittersweet

The last two-ish weeks have been a mishmash of luxuriating in the the company of family and nature,  speeding through to-do-lists, and giving bittersweet hugs.

We started the month with a lovely week in California, alternating between doing nothing and exploring. I re-read some Harry Potter books, though I had lots of new books waiting for me on my Kindle.  Do you ever do that?  Revisit a particular book or series?  I was in the mood for a good yarn in which good triumphed over evil.  I knew how it would all turn out and that's what I wanted/needed in the quiet moments, when I wasn't sitting with my eyes closed, absorbing the sun and the sounds of nature.  On the flip side, it was also a vacation with LOTS of new adventures.  We went riding on the beach

A view from our ride
and hiked to the top of a mountain.  The rewards for this were a spectacular view and, as we hiked down the other side, a mountain lion which crossed our path about 20 yards ahead of us.  Added bonus: (s)he left us alone.

Can you spy the lone picnic bench at the top?
When we returned, it was a mad dash to run errands and pack because my youngest was heading off to college in Indiana.  I've reached that time that parents are proud of and dread.  Children starting that final march to independence.  We're so proud of all that our children have done and become and will do, but we'd still like to take care of them when they have a stomach ache.  But now we can't.  This is part of the thrilling and maddening end to our being that actual place of solace and support.  Now we're the voice over the phone, telling them it will be okay.    But it's all good.  My daughter is safely and happily moved into her dorm at Notre Dame.  Her new and exciting life phase has begun.

Ready to head off

But I'm not quite done yet.  I am back in California.  I drove home from Indiana on Sunday and hopped on a plane Monday morning to meet my son.  (Sidenote: I was airborne during the eclipse; we crossed its path over St. Louis.  The sky and the plane interior slowly got grayer, as if a major storm was approaching and we were flying through clouds.  Then it suddenly went dark.  It was so eerie and cool!)  My son and I are no spending a few days together before he heads back to school (also in CA).  I am, once again, going to revel in the luxury of doing nothing, and spice it up with periods of actually doing something (though what that will be remains to be seen).  All I do know is that I'm off to a good start. I woke up unexpectedly early this morning and finished my book, The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny.  I'm a fan of her Chief Inspector Gamache series and I made the effort to carry the physical book with me.  It didn't disappoint.



I also recently finished The Midwife's Revolt by Jodi Daynard.  I didn't realize that it, too, is a part of a series.  However, this series is historical fiction about women during the time of the American Revolution.  The Midwife's Revolt has Abigail Adams as one of its main characters, though not the protagonist.


I think I may read The Radium Girls next, by Kate Moore. It's an account of what became of the factories full of women who painted radium onto WWII equipment so it would glow in the dark.... as they eventually did from radiation exposure.


What are you reading?  Any recommendations?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

So, What's New Art-wise?

It's been a while since I've had art-y things to talk about, but that changes today.  


1) SPUN
I'm thrilled to report that SPUN is accepting entries!  This year's juror is Jeffrey Mueller, Gallery Director of the Silvermine Arts Center in Connecticut.  The prospectus can be found here.  Here are the most important details: The deadline for entry is September 15th and works of any size up to 60" (any dimension) are welcome, including 3D works.  I hope you'll enter.


2) Docent Training
I'm heading to the KMA tomorrow for a docent training planning session.  This new exhibition will include a steep cultural and historical learning curve for me.  The show's not posted on the KMA website yet, but suffice it to say that it will be the largest of its kind ever produced on the East Coast.  More details to come as I can share them. But don't wait to visit the KMA until Februarym when this show opens.  Right now there's a fabulous exhibit called Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists on display.  "Featuring seventeen artists from across the globe, the exhibition reveals carpets to be a powerful locus of meaning today, one that cuts across subjects of design, art, décor, production, and geopolitics. Wall to Wall proposes that artist-designed carpets play a role in modern art history as a critical form that is becoming increasingly popular in artistic practices."

Visitor interactive weaving at the KMA
3) Studio Time
This spring held a number of personal challenges for me, not limited to my parents' health issues; most notably, my son had to have a painful surgery with a difficult recovery.  I'm happy to report that he's fine, but I didn't anticipate how much time I'd spend on his care.  Some work I had hoped to submit had to be postponed but, nonetheless, I've made some in-roads in the studio.  I'm not sure I'm ready to share a sneak peek yet, but it's exciting to have time to sew again.  Now, I just have to wait for all the yellow jackets who've invade my studio to go away.... with the help of the pest management guy. 

4) Writing
I've been spending a bit of time helping a friend write about her art and, I must admit, I'm enjoying it quite a bit.  It's fun to delve into another artist's psyche to discover what makes them tick.

5) The Garden
My garden continues to enthrall me.  Some years are just magical. This is one of them.

An overabundance of hydrangea blossoms

I hope all's well on your end.  Please fill me in on what's going on!










Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Shift

Baby me...

FACT: My mom won the door prize for getting old: cataracts.  She had surgery scheduled.

FACT: My dad was still in rehab, following a unexpected hospital stay.

FACT:  They needed help and I'm the only one around who can give it.   There are no other surviving relatives.   I may be the baby of the family but for now, I'm taking the lead.

If we're lucky, we have the blessing of having our parents with us for a long time.  If our parents age, we children have the difficult task of helping them navigate the transition to a new normal, where the definition of independence changes.  It's a tough road, and one that every child with elderly parents travels.  

And so a new normal takes shape.  One where abbreviations like MI (mobility independence) and ADL (activities of daily living) make sense and are thrown into sentences.  Where I make color-coded medication charts to simplify things.  Where home health care angels provide guidance and support, explaining medications and checking vitals (and double-checking charts to confirm I didn't make a mistake).  

I'm lucky.  Up until now, my parents have been very healthy. And, with the help of some new medication, home OT and PT, and diligent exercise, my dad will get better.  My mom's eye should be okay (though it's not a given yet, there's still follow-up to be done). And I will help as I can, thanks to the support of my family and the availability of lots of flights between NY and Chicago.

I'll be back here when I can.  For now, I'm off to the grocery store; I have some cooking to do.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Garden snippets

It's been a crazy and emotional week.  You know what it's like. There's little time for much except what needs to get done, and keeping your sanity can be tough.  So how to keep balance?  For me, I've found solace this week in spending five minutes in the garden, watching it evolve from day to day. It's put on an incredible show and the pause in beauty has uplifting.  Let me share some of my garden with you.


I love these brush strokes of color
An inula emerging in the early morning light

A perfect bud ball. Love how this unfurls
The white poppies after the rain have technicolor accents

Blossom and buds; they're everywhere!

See what I mean? They're everywhere!  This rose looks like it's made of fondant
Salmon poppy with that hint of citroen.  Luscious