Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The (Over)View

(This is from Ted O -- and THANK YOU, Rayna, for inviting me to post some thoughts on your blog!) Well, OK, now that Rayna has seduced me into joining her discussion group about “The View”, I’ should first lay out a few Ground Rules, Universal Truths & Other Disclaimers. To wit: 1. The View From The Studio Door is, I fully recognize, The View From MY Studio Door. Your view WILL be different! 2. Throughout the first twenty-odd drafts of “The View”, its actual working title (and this is true) was “Questions Worth Asking” -- so-named in recognition of the fact that (A) I didn’t HAVE the answers, and (B) questions are the more interesting half of the Q&A equation anyway. 3. I’m not inclined to fight to the death over ANY statement I’ve made in the book. My operative principle is that the Best Way to deal with Any Problem at all is to Duck It Entirely! (It’s a male concept…) Besides, at least by my accounting ideas are the coin of the realm, and if you have a good counter- argument to one I’ve put forth, I want to hear it. 4. I have to admit at the outset to having a disability: I am temporally challenged. After visiting Rayna’s wonderful site for about two days it’s become painfully clear that (A) Rayna has the metabolism of a hummingbird, and (B) the gods have alloted her (and apparently most of you) more hours per day than they’ve given me. So if there are long gaps from my side of the conversation, it’s just me laying here beside my computer gasping for air. SO: next on my To Do List is responding (seriously) to Rayna’s observations about leading an interesting life. I’ll append that to the comments section for that entry. Soon. Maybe.

from Ted O

This is a test to see whether I can indeed post a note to Rayna's blog. If it works, then presumably I have successfully entered the 21st century.... From Rayna: Ah, despite yourself, you have left the world of Luddites. ok, Ted O - I'll bite! One of the things you say in your book is that if you lead an interesting life you're on track to make interesting art. Huh? In my family, growing up, 'interesting' was dubious at best. And I think 'may you lead an interesting life' is an old Chinese curse. Setting aside those two things, how do you define 'interesting'? Rather subjective, isn't it? There are people who lead very routine, ordinary, even dull lives but make stimulating, thoughtful,with layers of meaning (ok - interesting) art. And vice-versa. How do you account for that? And how do you propose we put ourselves on a collision path with interesting experiences? Maybe it is more that we need to be able to perceive the 'ordinary' as interesting...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

about seeing

I'll get to THE BOOK - but first, I have to apologize for being away from the page for a while. I needed to re-energize. Alas, I will be banished from the Ted Orland Fan Club if I do not keep the Studio Door open. I found myself nodding (no, not OFF - the book is too lively for that) and writing in the margins of The View...etc, wishing I could pick up the phone and chat with the author as I went along - or better still -- do it over a bottle of wine, which, of course, lends itself to brilliant philosophical discussions. Whether you've finished the book, have just started it, or have not even seen a copy, chime in! There are some universal truths, some stuff that seems geared for students and doesn't necessarily pertain to - ahem - mature, working artists -- and lots of questions to ponder. I found one typo and I wasn't even looking. Mr.O!!!! Fire your editor!!! But I digress... A couple of things off the bat that I'd like to explore: "Creativity is not about artmaking per se-- it is about seeing." Yes, it is about seeing, but it is also about how you translate what you 'see' into what others can see: how you communicate your own vision. If you don't have the tools to do that, it doesn't matter how creatively you SEE. (Why do I always paint myself into corners when I am too tired to work my way out? I am leaving you with that thought and am going to bed.) If you are reading the book, please comment. And if you are not, please comment.

the view from MY studio door

It isn't pretty. I am in the throes of unpacking and packing again to head for QSDS in Columbus June 9-14 for a few days of R&R and then to Asheville to teach. Need I tell you my place is a disaster area? On my wall are two pieces of fabric which I will probably contemplate until I go away. This one was printed with a gelatin plate. I printed this next one recenly when I was trying out a couple of new screens and combining them with the screen of the trees in Bruges. The luminous fabric is one of Helene Davis' hand-dyes. Helene will be vending at QSDS, which is the main reason I am going. I should go with an empty suitcase. The view from my studio window is more colorful. My obsession with the postage stamp garden continues...and today I did something I swore I would never do: I bought a dreaded HOSTA. I hate hostas. But I needed something for the blank space between the rhodi and the retaining wall for my neighbor's driveway. Hopefully, it will fill the shady space without my having to look at it too frequently.

More views that cheer me every day.

Speaking of studio doors - I promised we'd talk about THE BOOK here. Check out my next post.

Friday, May 26, 2006

making art that matters

Today, I think it matters more that I make ART than whether the art matters, if you know what I mean. I have been gardening and taking care of business matters, making a baby quilt (see the back side, left) -- in short, doing everything but making art. Yes, it is important to 'do the work.' Some of you make something every day - a sketch, a postcard, a collage - come hell or high water. I am not one of those disciplined people...and I envy you. How can I make something if I am not in the mood? If I am stretched beyond the limit with sandwich generation things? If, if, if. I guess it's a matter of priorities - and I am not making my art a priority these days. Enough of true confessions. Yesterday, I finally went to the library after a long, dry spell. Two books by two of my favorite authors - Martha Grimes and P.D. James,who can WRITE and develop real characters I can care about. And two light-hearted, fluffy mysteries that are fun and good escape. I have yet to sit down and read, of course. But that will have to wait till I finish the other things on my to-do list -- which I am off to do for the rest of the morning.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

back to the studio door

Liz Berg e-mailed me the other day to say she had finished reading Ted Orland's "The View from the Studio Door" and wondered what had happened to the discussion we had started here about 6 weeks ago. Well, first we had to give people time to get the book and read it. Second, I finally had time to finish it today when I had the LUXURY of sitting in the beauty salon without any distractions. Aaaaah - time for ME! So I fed my soul by finishing the book and making notes. I haven't underlined so much since I was in college - and you don't want to know how long ago THAT was. Liz said she found the book very interesting and thought-provoking (me too), but she says she is still trying to figure out what art-that-matters is. Ted - I like what you say -- "The art will matter when you say something essential about things that you truly care about." On the other hand, how do you know when you are saying something 'essential'? And in fact, just because you truly care about it, why should it matter to anybody else? (Understand that I am playing devil's advocate here). Does this mean that art is art only if it has content? And does the content (overt or not) have to be political or ecological? MUST it make a statement? I can only talk about this subject in terms of my own work, which is about memory and a sense of loss. Personal memory as well as collective memory - which are inseparable in my work and in my frame of reference. While memory and a sense of loss are my themes - and while not always visible, they are always beneath the surface in my owrk - I believe there is something universal there because people have told me how my work has touched them, and those who buy my work are those to whom it has spoken. Not to make this about MY work - I believe it is important for us as artists to know what our work is about. But it takes time, thought, and some self-assessment to see what patterns emerge in our own work as it progresses. Ted -- have your reassessed what matters in your work after having put together the photo album for your son Jon? Has what matters changed? Or are these parallel tracks? What do the rest of you feel about making art that matters? Let's start here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

what's wrong with this picture?

Well, maybe my great-nephew Yehuda will not mind that this baby quilt top isn't entirely crooked. It began as just random-cut strips but then suddenly the rest of it isn't quite crooked enough and so the middle looks like a mistake. It isn't. The straight sides are the mistake. Oh, dear. The kid is almost 6 months old and I am just getting to doing this. I swore I would never make another baby quilt, but gee - this is my first great-nephew, and he lives across the planet, so I figure he should have something from me. Well, the back will be better - or maybe this will be the back. Whatever. I must finish this before the week is out and get it mailed.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

food for thought

This is the food part. We sat down to have hors d'oeuvres with our drinks before dinner and they ended up as dinner. I turned off the grill and decided to let the flank steak marinate till tomorrow or Monday. What do we have here? Baba ganouj - homemade; grilled, marinated peppers, onions, zucchini (homemade), English water crackers with divine Humbolt Fog artisinal goat cheese, and plebeian vinegar and salt kettle chips with Paul Newman's salsa. The drinks are on the side, along with tomorrow's NY Times - most of which gets delivered and read on Saturday. The thought part is a bit more challenging. I have finished this piece, which is the last of a series. But the name I have for it is unwieldy. So I am throwing it out to you. What does it say to you? And then there is the piece I am revisiting. Printed about a year ago, it sits, waiting for the next step. It has been up on this page before, but I am looking at it differently this time. This always makes me think of what a stupid question it is when somebody asks "how long did it take you?" The color in this image doesn't look quite right to me, but it's close enough. Not the point. I have my crit group meeting on Monday and don't have anything new to bring. Tommorrow is spoken for. Do I still have time to do something tonight? Time, yes. Energy, I'm not sure.

Friday, May 19, 2006

end of the week

This morning, I took a walk around the condo complex. Here were some of my companions. I mean, it's not that I could even say 'good morning' to them and get an intelligent response. Cheesh! Nevertheless, I did my 20 minute mile (stop laughing) for the first time in eons and started the day feeling more energetic than usual. The ground was nicely soaked from last night's rainstorm, so it seemed a good day to plant. I made the rounds of the nearby nurseries and will have to go back tomorrow, while I am in the mood and the ground is still soft. Meantime, I transplanted ferns and daylilies and planted the flowers I had bought - spending almost the entire day in my 4"x4" garden. Enough exercise for anybody - especially moi!

I suppose all of this outdoor activity was an excuse to keep me out of the studio because I'm going through one of those dry periods with bank stares at the wall. There is too much going on in the rest of my life for me to concentrate, so it will have to wait -- and you'll have to put up with my boring plant pictures till I am inspired to throw fabic at the wall again. I seem to need a lot of sleep lately - so it is another early night.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

shoes

How do you like this pair? My on-line purchases while I was in Kansas. I seem to be coming out of my neutral phase -at least in the shoe department. One of the Kansas people came to dinner one night wearing one red croc and one green one. But I'm not sure I would have the nerve to go out in public like this. On another note, I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures of my burgeoning garden. Helene was with me two summers ago when I bought this pathetic little red maple to replace the dead flowering something-or-other tree that the condo was supposed to replace and never did. The fact that the daylilies tower over this maple annoys me, but I do love this little orphan tree. It has gotten a little bushier, if not taller. I will talk to it and see what happens. I promised myself I would work in the studio tonight, so off I go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

made for walking?

There are more pictures from the workshop on the Kansas Art Quilters website, worth a look. In the meantime, a picture that will remind me of the delightful dinner with the board members that Sharon Bass hosted - and which captures the spirit of the evening. My boring old Birks couldn't hold a candle to these fabulous boots sported by Sammie and Sharon. And before I left for the airport, I had to take a picture of Sharon wearing her newest wardrobe acquisition - one of my scarves full of words. A perfect choice. Thanks, Sharon. Now it's Tuesday and I'm at home -- determined to do exactly nothing for the rest of the day.

Monday, May 15, 2006

the workshop

There were 15 of us at the Lawrence Art Center. Regrettably, I had left my flashcard for the camera in the computer so I couldn't take pix the first day. But on the second day, each person selected a piece she had monoprinted in Jette's workshop and I took some photos. They didn't all turn out (big surprise here) but here are some I took day two. Here is Leslie Jenison holding the piece she monoprinted on day one and then at the end of day two. It ended up vertical and I can't wait to see what she does with it later.

And Karen Stiehl Osborn...

And Kay Moore's work.

My battery is running out, so I'll post this and see you later.

a fabulous workshop week!

I can't believe it's gone so quickly -- seems I just got here and now I've said goodbye to old and new friends. (Of course, now I am sitting in the KC airport because the flight home is delayed for two hours due to what is allegedly 'weather' over Newark. This is the third time I have been stranded in this airport: the first two times I headed for the bar and drank margaritas till the plane boarded. Today, I am not in the mood. But I can blog.) The hospitality in Lawrence, KS is amazing. Jette Clover and I stayed with Sharon Bass, who is a warm and wonderful hostess. She entertained us royally and made us feel completely at home. Dinners together with Sharon, Karen Stiehl Osborn, Linda Frost, and others were lively and fun. It was especially good to see Jette and have time to catch up.

Jette taught the first day of the workshop, Monoprinting: Less is More. I taught day two - Layering Text & Images: More is More. We complemented each other as she taught restraint and working with a light hand, and I taught a variety of ways to add text and/or images to the monoprinted background.

We were flattered that people had come from such distances: Leslie Jenison came from San Antonio, Karen Stiehl Osborn drove from Omaha, and one person drove for about 10 hours to get here from western Kansas. Yikes! This is a BIG state. In 10 hours, I can drive from NJ to Michigan or from NJ to Maine. On the other hand, 20 miles here = 20 minutes on he road. 20 miles at home can take an hour or more, depending on time of day. Our flight is now even more delayed, so I will get to the workshops in my next post.

Friday, May 12, 2006

finally unwinding

Lawrence has a pretty nice downtown -- people actually shop there! Bonnie and I spent most of Thursday wandering in and out of stores and galleries. Our first stop -- midmorning snack - was Wheatfields Bakery and Cafe -- which may have the best bread on the planet. I want to go back there today. Sadly, they do not do mail order. Second stop was the Birkenstock store, which did not actually have a huge selection. I discovered that the size I need depends on the particular model of the sandal, and they didn't have the right size in the color I wanted. So, when I got back home, I went on-line and ordered two pairs from two different on-line sources. You will, of course, see a fashion shot when I get them at home. We stopped at an antique mall, where I bought a couple of instant ancestor photos and this wonderful item.

Next door was an old fashioned hardware store that smelled like the one I grew up in and had almost everything you can't find anywhere else. After browsing for found objects,however, I found only this one item, which cost all of 19 cents. 19 CENTS? You can't buy ANYTHING for 19 cents!! The hardware store guy said he had to take a picture of the particular item, so I whipped out my camera. Lawrence also has a very nice Chico's - almost as nice as the one in Columbus. What is it about the midwest and Chico's that makes them so much better than the ones in NJ? First of all, the people who work there are sooo much nicer. Second, they just seem to have what I need when I need it. I came out of there poor but happy. Last stop of the afternoon was the pedicure parlor.

Finally, I took my hosts out to dinner. They picked the best restaurant in Lawrence and trust me, it was elegant. Art on the walls and ahead, the bar, which twinkled. After that, so did I. Need I say more?

I just got to Sharon Bass' house and am getting to know her. Will check in tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hello from Kansas

It's not a Tuscan villa - it's the cafeteria in the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas City. Lovely.

I was up at 5:30 am to make the flight, but typically, it was at least an hour late out of Newark. First, the announcement that the cleaners had not arrived yet to clean the plane. Then, 'the cleaners are working on the plane but there is a boken armrest on one of the seats and we are waiting for the mechanic.' When we finally boarded 40 min. late, the pilot announced that there were ten planes ahead of us and it would be about 35 minutes till we took off. Teensy plane: 2 seats on one side of the aisle and 1 on the other.

So, when I got to K.C. and my friend Bonnie picked me up, lunch and two museums were my reward . The Nelson Atkins museum has a wonderful sculpture garden full of Henry Moores. But then there was this sculpture - in fact, several of them around the grounds. And I couldn't resist. Bonnie callls it a shuttlecock; to me, it is a birdie. I love these quirky things! After the museums, Bonnie drove me through the Plaza, which is a lovely outdoor shopping area - architecturally different from the one in West Palm Beach, but similar high-end stores and yes, there was a Chico's - but no time to stop - or even take a picture. We stopped at the farm to buy purple asparagus (which is so tender, you eat it raw) and then we stopped at the mall, where I took my final picture of the day.We are going to do just that - grilling steaks tonight. Tomorrow, a pedicure and a stop at the Birkenstock store. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

home again - aaaahhh

What do you know? While I was gone, my two pathetic azalea bushes bloomed! The other foliage is starting to sprout, too. It looked like paradise to me this morning when I went out to get the newspaper off the driveway. I decided I like the wild, unkempt look of my own postage stamp-sized front yard better than the manicured gardens of Palm Beach. So there. Went to the nursery and got some other flowers, then spent the afternoon digging and adding peat moss and moving a few things around to more suitable spots. I'm exhausted, but it's the good kind that comes from planting. I now understand why people garden. Suitcase is unpacked, laundry almost done, feet up. I will go to my Studio Six meeting tomorrow, but won't stay more than a couple of hours because I have to come home and pack clothes and supplies for my next workshop in Lawrence, KS. with the Kansas Art Quilters. As a bonus while I am there, I will see my old friend Bonnie, who moved from NY to Lawrence some years ago and whom I see for 2 hours maybe once a year when she comes East to visit. She has promised to show me the art sights in Kansas City and I'll spend 2 nights at her house. Thank you all for your virtual hugs while I was gone. I needed them. And I'll hold them for whenever you need 'em back.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Palm Beach Story

Well, West Palm Beach, anyway. Without going into details, this has not been my favorite week of 2006. Nevertheless, there were some bright spots. On the left is the beautiful Norton Museum of Art, where I spent a happy hour and a half yesterday afternoon looking at their splendid collection of American Art. It was refreshing not to have seen the same old/same old: I discovered some artists I had not known before, like Gordon Onslow Ford. And saw work that was new to me, by artists whose work I know, like Robert Motherwell. Wonderful museum. From May 13-Aug 13 they will be exhibiting art quilts by members of the Front Range Contemporary Quilters of Denver. I plan to see the exhibit on my next trip down here so I can talk intelligently about it when I am there teaching in September. The museum will also have an exhibit of antique quilts from the Shelburne Museum. Tonight, I had dinner with Beverly Snow, who lives in West Palm. I downed two margaritas with our Cuban food, and we talked art art art. It was the high point of my week (which it would have been even if I had had a GOOD week!) Will schedule another visit when I return. I had some time this afternoon, so I went down to Flagler Drive and looked at the Intercoastal waterway. Palm Beach is on the right, over the bridge...assuming you can GET over the bridge. Somebody's yacht coming through, no doubt.(click to enlarge this picture for a better view) There was plenty of foliage in bloom, but far more compelling to me was the damage that still remains nine months after the last hurricane. Among all the lushness, a luxury high rise overlooking the water Uninhabited. Not habitable. Ghostly. Its innards exposed on several sides.

On a happier note, I drove over to City Place because I needed to go to Barnes & Noble before I head for the airport tomorrow morning. But the gates were down over the tracks that run by this luxurious shopping and restaurant destination. I LOVE watching freight trains because we don't get 'em like this in New Jersey. Miles long. The parking garage is just on the other side of the tracks. And the picture doesn't really do justice to this beautiful outdoor plaza, with fountains, benches, and stores. A glorified mall, but really pretty.

By now, it was getting late and time to meet Bev Snow for dinner, so it was a tough choice between B&N for books, or the temptation across the street. The book won. I'll save this for the next trip, along with a pedicure at the Aveda Spa around the corner. Tomorrow night, I will be home.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

still here

Thanks for all your supportive comments. You guys are great. Maybe I'll have some free time tonight and a decent hijacked connection - LOL. I keep forgetting to take my camera, but today I will remember it. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 01, 2006

hello from sunny Fla

I can receive e-mail but can't send it for some weird reason. My mother fell and fractured her hip and had surgery yesterday. I hopped on the first available plane and got here last night. Don't ask. Meantime, I'm hijacking somebody's signal which is so slow that I'm having trouble loading any pictures, so this will undoubtedly be a text-only message unless I can go to the library or somewhere. I can receive e-mail but not send it. Huh? The SPUN opening was terrific and there were lots of people there. A number of pieces sold (including mine) which was good. I must say it was a beautiful exhibit of small pieces. Here is the link, which I can't even get to on this slow computer. Elin Waterston assures us there will be more pix posted in the next few days. http://www.katonahartcenter.com/currentexhibit.html . That's all for now. I'll post more if I can get a faster connection later in the day.