Saturday, June 30, 2007

toothpaste scandals and other stuff

While I read about the poison "Colgate" toothpaste being imported from China, I recall when the real Colgate toothpaste was made in Jersey City, New Jersey. The plant was, of course, torn down to make way for condos - but they left the famous clock as a landmark. You can see it from the NY side and it is wonderful at night when the red neon is lit. The condos are to the right of the picture; the water is the Hudson River. Click to enlarge the photo and you'll get a good look at it close up.

Blogger has been giving me problems, which is why I have not been able to post. It is still annoying and won't let me edit. The comments are wacko, too. Once you click on them, you can't get rid of them unless you close blogger down altogether. Argh.

I am packing supplies to leave this afternoon for Peters Valley Craft Center, where I am teaching a one-day soy wax class as part of Kerr Grabowski's 5 day workshop there. By the way, Kerr has just come out with a DVD on Deconstructed Screen Printing, which I understand is fabulous and is already almost sold out. I can't wait to buy it -- even though this is something I already do and also teach, Kerr is an original!

I'll be taking photos but not sure whether I will have Internet access at PV. Nevertheless, I'll be home on Monday and if I can't post before that, I will post when I get back.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

back to real life

and back to the studio!! I warmed up the frying pan and played with wax again today. The piece below is really a pale lavender and the dye is one of the reds - but it may look brown on your monitor. As I write this, the fabric has stopped spinning in the washer and needs to dry. I steamed it earlier, along with this piece, which should look very different by the time it comes out of the dryer. Wax and dye on yellow fabric: the dye is rusty red and there are some areas where I mixed the red with some blue I had lying around. After I took this picture, I discharged it and the blue showed up as green. Hmmm. It will probably get a few more layers of something, but I will take it with me as an example for the soy wax class I am teaching this weekend.

Last year, when I was in Columbus, I bought a gorgeous book on Japanese calligraphy. Today, I finally got around to reading it while I sat in the eye doctor's office waiting for my husband to finish with his appointment. Looking at those pictures, I was reminded how much significance there is in the marks we make with our hands, and how much they communicate. More to ponder as I go back to work making some notes for the workshop.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

point of view

Yesterday, Marty and I went to an exhibit of photographs at the NY Public Library. These photos, culled from exhibits held at the Midtown Y from 1972-1996, were works of art - primarily in black and white. Gritty urban scenes, family portraits, empty rooms that told stories; people doing ordinary things - a wide range of subjects, all of which spoke eloquently. Off in an alcove, they were showing the slides that had been submitted by the artists, from which they had been juried into the various exhibits represented. I was struck by the fact that each artist had an unmistakable point of view that came through in the five slides each had submitted. Point of view: a way of seeing and a way of expressing what you see. Strong, individual, and essential. Do you have a point of view? do I? I need to ponder this.

this morning

we walked around the harbor in Jersey City. Had breakfast in a local diner and came upon another festival on the way back. This time, a Filipino street fair. We returned later and had street food for lunch. In the meantime, here is the view from the harbor outside our hotel.

The building directly across from the third tall railing from the left is the World Financial Center. Directly to its right are two empty spaces. Directly behind us, as we looked at the emptiness, was this girder which was covered on the other side with still-heartbreaking remnants. Among the detrius were dozens of peoples' scannable ID cards that let them into the buildings each day, hanging like dogtags from a war. Nearby, a memorial with the names of Jersey City residents lost that day. Almost seven years have passed and it is still fresh for us.

Afterwards, we went into the city, saw a wonderful off broadway play (that's two this weekend!) and had a good anniversary dinner before coming back on the subway.

Tomorrow, home for a day or two of recovery from all the walking and eating and walking and eating...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

NY Saturday

One of the joys of a day in NY is happening on a parade you didn't know was scheduled. On our way to cross 6th Ave. and go to Bryant Park, we caught the tail end of the International Immigrants' Day Parade - just missed the Tibetans but here is one of the colorful Vietnamese floats. We did so much walking yesterday that today was a more restful day. We had a wonderful brunch at Marseilles - a very French bistro that was so good we returned for dinner. Then we headed over to Bryant Park and plunked ourselves down on chairs and sat for more than an hour, people watching. Bryant Park, behind the NY Public Library, is an oasis that looks very French. In the 19th Century it was a reservoir and was called Reservoir Park, then was renamed for William Cullen Bryant. I remember it as a druggie hangout - a real needle park - but now it is beautiful. Even the restroom has been restored and has fresh flowers! They show movies free at sundown on Mondays in summer, and for a number of years, Seventh on Sixth - the ready to wear fashion shows have taken place here in tents. There is a lending library from which you can borrow books, magazines, and newspapers to read while you are in the park. And of course, kiosks for food and drinks. On one end of the park is this beautiful carousel.
There were too many pictures I missed because either I didn't have my camera out or the delay was too long. I didn't take a picture of a man wheeling a stroller with two DOGS in it - but apparently this is not uncommon in NY. Can you imagine??? Here are some I did get:
I loved the way this bike threw a shadow.

A shade of blue not found in nature. The symmetry of this fence. The Chambers St. Subway station.All the eyes were different. Here are a couple more. We walked through the station to catch the PATH back to our hotel. When we got to the World Trade Center I had to photograph these for you. I would have known this floor anywhere - without the sign. There were at least two weddings at the hotel today. Patel & Patel started early this morning with 450 invited guests. They were married on the pier behind the hotel and I did not take pictures of the gorgeously sari'd women. Tonight, when we got back at 11:pm the wedding was still going and I did get a shot of two guests who had come out for a breath of fresh air. The women were magnificent.When we came upstairs, we found this note from the hotel.How considerate. But it is quiet and I am going to bed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday in NY

This is a view taken from the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Marty, Jessica, and I were this afternoon. The building with the diamond grid is the new Hearst Tower, where Jessica works (except on summer Fridays). I have yet to get the tour and lunch, but I will before the summer is over. Meantime, we saw the Clark Brothers' art collection at the Met, had tea in the patrons' lounge, walked our feet off, and then had fabulous Mexican food at Dos Caminos on Park Avenue South. When the bill came, there was no bill. Instead, an anniversary card from our kids. What a nice surprise! We are staying at the Hyatt Regency on the NJ side of the Hudson but the picture I took tonight came out fuzzy, so I will try again tomorrow when we get back to the hotel. We are one PATH stop from the World Trade Center, from whence we walked to the South Street Seaport (disappointingly more touristy and commercial than ever) and up through Chinatown and Little Italy, where we had lunch and picked up the bracelet we had left in May to be fixed. Took the subway up to 77th St. and walked to the Met - and this is where I came in. Today was a long day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

street art part II

Where was I? On my way to the Chelsea Marketplace, no doubt. This formidable building was the bakery for the National Biscuit Company until a couple of decades ago. NABISCO, to those of you who are too young to remember the real name - LOL. The whole first floor has been reinvented and is full of too-cool shops and a few wonderful food places: a fish market, a meat market from 1912 that has relocated to Chelsea, a few gourmet shopts, a restaurant/cafe that also sells trendy clothes and decorative objects, a gelato place, etc. I don't know what this WAS, but right now it is a waterfall in the middle of this huge open space. See the exposed brick wall? The whole place is like this: RAW and wonderful. Tired and thirsty and in search of something cold and not sweet, I came upon this wonderful tea shop with zillions of kinds of hot and iced teas. Here is what the tea bar looked like. The whole place was soo soothing and peaceful. I ordered a glass of lemon earl grey with lots of ice, put my feet up, and relaxed for a while. Hated to leave.

Nonetheless, I took my glass of ice with me and sat down at a cafe table to watch the crowd go by for an hour or so.The marketplace takes up 1 square block, from 9th-10th Aves and from 14th-15th sts. Upstairs, there are lots of offices: Channel 1 (NY News TV), The Food Network, and other companies. People walk through from 10th-9th instead of going outside to walk the long block. Here is what else I observed as I watched: 1) Most women were in skirts or cropped pants and a few in shorts & heels- but I would say 60-75% skirts. Young, old, slim,heavy - it didn't matter. Skirts - mostly full or tiered - knee length or longer. And sundresses. 2) Very few long pants on women. (I was wearing cropped pants, so - phew! I was ok) 3) Men mostly in khakis or jeans. 4) Many men with backpacks (oof - heavy, too) 5) in one hour and hundreds of working people, only one man in suit and tie. 6) Almost EVERYBODY either on a cell phone or with earphone thingies that were evidently PODS of some sort. 7) You could tell the tourists because they ambled.

I did not sit here, but it looked tempting for my next trip.

There were several of these marble couches, which probably are more comfortable than they look. Only in NY?

street art

I walked and walked and walked yesterday afternoon by myself. One thing about being alone in the City - you can observe because you don't have to be involved in conversation with anybody else. This was a day for observing and overhearing. "Excuse me, where did you get those shoes?" a 20-something woman wearing green rubber flip-flops asked a passerby wearing gold sandals. "I have no idea, they are my sister's" answered the 2nd young woman. Only in NY. Made my way to Chelsea, thinking I would go in and out of art galleries. My first stop was my favorite oasis, Jim Kempner Fine Art on 10th Ave. For a visual treat, go through his inventory on the website. This is the courtyard in front, which creates a sense of peace and zen for me every time I enter or leave through it.

Sigh...there was a Sean Scully aquatint on the wall that called my name, but it was $8,000. So I continued my journey. There is art to be enjoyed all over the city. Here is the first piece I saw when I left the gallery. Mixed media.

Here is a closer look. It is delicious. And I am going to do something with this image before I leave for my studio today.

More street art as I walked on 24th street west to 11th Ave. The area was deserted since it was a weekday. But even so, it is not a very welcoming area, considering it is full of art galleries. Would you ever know that this is a gallery? They might as well have a banner saying "Do Not Enter."

Several I had wanted to visit were closed for installations; I went up to the 9th floor of 210 Art to the Phoenix Gallery to see what was what, but they were painting the walls. So I had to be content with more street art. I passed this building, which turned out to be an Episcopal seminary behind walls and leafy trees around the corner. They are doing some kind of renovation, but these buckets looked like sculpture to me.

I made my way over to Chelsea Marketplace, which is an amazing building. But I'll save that for my next post or I'll never get to my studio today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

garden redux

This afternoon, on the way back from Ben's kindergarten graduation from the Boys & Girls Club, I stopped to buy some flowers to replace the ones that are gone. My garden will look better, I hope, after I plant them, although I must say it makes me feel happy just to see the pots interspersed with what is there. Perennials which may or may not get 1/2 day of sun in my postage stamp, overgrown, shady front - I can't really call it a yard. Garden? Here is how it looks now. The plant lady said I should feed them and spray them with deer-off or whatever it is called. And she wished me luck, which didn't sound encouraging. These purple and white things were already there. They are fine. I added some blue delphinium (and some purple ones somewhere) and red yarrow to break up my white. I always think yarrow is a weed. It reminds me of Queen Anne's Lace growing by the side of the road. I once tried to transplant the stuff - it didn't take. Neither does chicory, which I love the look of. That blue is the best color.

This red flower is I forget what, but I desperately needed red: not pink. I do not like pink. All in all, I bought 10 pots but some of them are mystery mixes, so we shall see what develops.

So that's it on the garden front - or the front garden, whichever. I need to marinate tonight's dinner and do some more research on the Internet so we can figure out how to spend our time in NY for the weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

murder in the garden

No corpses, just skeletons. Every single yellow daylily blossom and almost every bud - GONE! Cut off at the top of the stem. Et by the damn deer. Or the damn turkeys. Or rabbits on stilts.
Grrrrrrr! This happened a few years ago and then the last couple of years, the anti-deer spray kept them away. I sprayed this year, too - but they must be immune by now.

I HATE this and it has made me very grouchy. I am especially grouchy when I see everybody else's beautiful garden shots. Somebody around the corner has planted two plastic flowers under her tree. They really look cheesy, but at least they are still there in the morning.


silk road

Did some more wax and discharge yesterday on that piece of silk and steamed it tonight. The thing about discharge is that the two sides are always different - and surprisingly, it is often the 'other' side that discharges more or that you like better. Here is one example = two sides of the same discarged section: First, the "right" side, or the side where I painted the discharge paste into the unwaxed sections. Here is the "wrong" side of the fabric, which is quite different...I can't figure out why. I like it!
It is probably a 2 yard piece of silk broadcloth - it feels sandwashed; is heavy and delicious to the touch. Because it is so big there are large sections in the middle that I have not touched. Maybe tomorrow I can run over there for a few hours before we join our children for a barbecue late in the afternoon. Otherwise, Wed.


Friday, June 15, 2007

lunchtime blog

This morning I went back into the silk from yesterday.

This is soy wax and discharge paste after I had steam-ironed it. Interesting, huh? However, after a while, even with the window open and two fans going, I had had it with the smell of discharge paste. So I put the silk away and will steam it in a pot tonight or later this afternoon.

This piece needs so much work to make it into anything attractive that I'm not sure it is worth the effort. That will not prevent me from trying, however. I have a piece of white silk I may work with after I finish my lunchtime coffee. Or not.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

puttering around

in the studio today, I was back to printing fabric. This is my way of avoiding dealing with the piece on my wall that I have constructed and taken apart more times than I care to count. And in the midst of today's deconstructing, I dropped my little seam ripper on the studio floor -- never to be seen again. Remind me to bring another one tomorrow.

My studio is an archeological dig - and here is a piece of discharged fabric I found today. I don't remember the manufacturer and can't recall whether I used discharge paste or thiox, but I do know this is wax discharge. Pink and black - how fifties!

Today, I took a piece of silk Helene had sent me that she thought I could rescue. Uh - Helene, you are an optimist. I started out with a brilliant idea of what I was going to do. That was my first mistake because nothing ever turns out the way you want it to. In that case, you are better off with no preconceived ideas. Or I am, anyway.Here is one little section of it, which makes it look more luminous than it really is. I think the silk was blue when I got it; I overdyed it in purple and hated it, so I went to work with wax and discharge paste today. Then I got tired of steaming the discharge paste with an iron and decided I should take it home and steam it in a pot. But first, I threw it into a bucket and dumped chino dye over it. It is an improvement but needs lots more work because only some of the discharged X's came out. That's tomorrow's chore.

Then I had another idea of what I thought I would print on different fabric. So I practiced on a small piece to see if I wanted to do 2 yards the same way. I don't think so, although I do like this piece. If you click, it will enlarge and you can see my favorite part of the print, which is the sign that says Chien Bête et Méchant. I don't know why that tickles me.

Tonight I went to a meeting of my other (mixed media) crit group (painters, sculptors, collage, ceramic, photos, etc). It was an excellent meeting; I LOVE the cross pollination. They loved the piece I had done of my woods and thought it was very interesting to see it done in fabric rather than paint, which is what most of them are used to seeing. The picture on my website is cropped on the left but they thought I should leave it uncropped, with the negative space on the left. Hmmm...

Tomorrow = back to the studio, from which I have been much too absent, with all of my travels. Two days in a row: gee!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

work in progress?

After a day of staring into space and mystery-reading, I decided I should try to accomplish something tonight. So, I started throwing stuff at the wall. Along the way I took digital pictures so I could evaluate them. Here are 3 out of the bunch. It rather annoys me that the color on my laptop screen isn't quite accurate - but it's close enough.



With that, I leave the piece on the wall and will decide whether it goes further, stays small, or goes away entirely. Tomorrow is a studio day.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday stuff

My kids and grandkids came over for brunch to celebrate my mother's 90th - thanks for the good wishes, everybody. Compared to the bash for her 80th, this was small potatoes - but then again, when she was 80 she was her alert, pretty, sparkling self.

What a decade can do: My mother's best friend was still alive, my uncle and his beautiful lady friend were still healthy and vibrant, Hilary and Jeremy had no kids, Jessica had just met Tommy, and Marty still had some brown in his hair.

Today, my mother was moved to tears at the birthday cake and the gifts. And she loved seeing her great-grandchildren! Tuesday, which is her actual birthday, I will spend the day with her and we'll take her out to a lovely dinner.

On another note - I am continuing my studio clearing activities. I have posted on my other blog - Off the Design Wall - a few of the monotypes on paper that I have had in a closet because I have no room on the walls. I hadn't looked at these in a while and had forgotten how nice they were. I posted a few leaf prints over there and I am still amazed at the detail I got when I put the plate through the press. Here are a couple of other monotypes. These are oil and acrylic on paper: monotype and screenprint.

It is late and I have a busy day tomorrow that starts early. I am hoping the caffeine has worn off so I can get a good night's sleep.

Friday, June 08, 2007

the digital question

I was glad to get home this afternoon - and had my drink with dinner tonight. Now, back to real life: shopping for a present for my mother's 90th b.d., buying champagne and other goodies for her b.d. brunch on Sunday, etc. etc. And turning in early tonight.

Before I do that, I have to say that there was so much good work submitted that it was a horrendous job making choices (assuming the images did not belong in the murky category I talked about yesterday). There is a lot of talent out there! There were about 300 entries and there was only room to hang 36 pieces -- so if you didn't get in, you're in very good company. But I'd like to address the slide vs. digital issue:

Sharon said: What is the thinking behind slides?

Budget. Plain and simple. The Brush Gallery is non-profit - which means they don't currently have the $$ to buy a digital projector. They expect to have one in time for next year's entries. There are lots of places that are still making the transition, but eventually, as prices for the projectors come down, everybody will probably go digital. I would love to have a digital projector to take with me when I give lectures instead of having to deal with slides and random projectors - but one of those is not in MY budget, either. Hang in there.

I love sending digital entries (when I can get my CD burning software to work, which is a whole 'nother issue). It is much easier and quicker -- and less expensive.

Gerrie said: I have never gotten anything accepted via slides. I have entered the same quilts via slides and jpegs on cd and have had them accepted when it is on a cd. I hope more venues go to the digital format.

Gerrie, this sounds like a coincidence to me. Consider that you entered different shows with different jurors, different parameters for the exhibit, and who knows what other variables. Slides vs jpgs had nothing to do with it, I guarantee.

Because the Brush does not have a digital projector but they said ok at the last minute, we had only about 10 CDs to go through, most of which had 3 full and 3 details. Thank goodness we did not have more! Without a digital projector, this means putting a CD in the drive, waiting for it to boot up, looking at the jpgs, removing the CD, putting it back into the package and repeating the routine. This is a very slow process, believe me. It took us as long to look at 10 CDs as it did for us to go through 2 carousels full of slides.

There were pieces on CD that got into the show and pieces that didn't. Pieces in good slides that got into the show and pieces in good slides that did not. It had nothing to do with digital vs. slides, believe me.

Nevertheless, I agree that I much prefer entering ditigally because it is fast and easy. You can finish a quilt and half-hour later, have the CD in the mail. Easier to meet deadlines. But every transition takes time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lowell, day 1

I waved ta ta to my garden this morning and took off for Lowell. The weather was fine, the traffic was light, and I made it in just under 4.5 hours. Sometimes it takes five. Along the way I made a couple of stops. At the first one, there was this big truck parked right by the rest stop entrance where a guy was looking at the marigolds (or whatever they were) and having a discussion with two people from the parkway authority about how the cleaning people dump their dirty water into the flowers and they aren't doing too well. (the cleaning people or the marigolds? I couldn't tell). Anyway, here is the truck. I don't normally photograph trucks but I couldn't resist the text on this one -- especially since it seems to have dumbed down for today's illiterate population. Isn't this peculiar? Non-drinking? Like me on a good day - non drinking. How about not drinkable?? What ever happened to the words "NON POTABLE" ? I suppose nobody knows anymore that potable=drinkable. Cheesh.

When I stopped in Massachusetts for the next REST and walked into the ladies' room, I could have sworn I saw a man going into the next stall. Then I noticed that the feet were pointing in the wrong direction. When I left, I noticed that the SEAT was UP. By the time I got outside, I saw this man of a certain age getting into the passenger's seat next to his wife, who was behind the wheel. She was parked in a handicapped spot -- maybe his handicap was that he couldn't read.

Anyway, i finally pulled into the parking lot at the Brush Gallery, which is part of the National Park. I was glad to be here. I am always happy to get to Lowell, although I must admit to some mixed feelings. I feel sad that Friends Fabric Art is no longer in its old spot on Merrimack St. - they are over at Western Ave. Studios - but now they are not even in Lowell: Ann and Sonja are vending at QSDS. As for me, big YAWN. Tomorrow will be a busy day. Maybe I will get to the Dollar Store on my lunch hour.