Friday, March 30, 2007

My friend Sarah sent me this. I kind of feel sorry for Bill Donahue. His blood pressure must be through the roof. What if he gets to heaven , and God just tells him, "Thanks for devoting your life to this Bill, but you have to just learn to lighten up!" ?

UPDATE: A comment below informs me the "My Sweet Lord" chocolate Jesus show has been shut down (open comments for link... thanks, Barb). It seems that the statue was to go up on Monday, therefore no one had actually seen it in person or in context of the whole show before the show was cancelled.

The problem as given to the class: choose a holiday... do an artwork that provokes people to think about how the holiday has been commercialized, referencing the real meaning of the holiday. Extra points for content-appropriate media.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sharing the Joy......

So, my friends Jim and Scott have the coolest house, filled with lots of great art, as well as funky furniture and a wall palette to match. Years ago, I just about fainted when I saw their new chandelier... I confess... I coveted it, and told them so. Well, low and behold, last year, on the day of our wedding, they came to the reception bearing a large box, warning that the contents could provoke marital strife, as it had done in their household.

Imagine how thrilled I was when we opened the box, and there was the chandelier. Kevin could not believe his eyes when he saw it. I honestly don't think he believed that such an outrageously gaudy thing could possibly exist in the world, but there it was, in our house, begging to be hung in a special place. For a year now, we have been discussing, half jokingly, which room would be most suitable. It could have been hung in a number of places, but then you would have to decorate the room around it, because that is the kind of object we are dealing with, but honestly, I was thinking that his stomach would never quite be up to it, and it was doomed to shimmer in a box in the garage for an indefinite period.

Yesterday, he called me downstairs, and there it was, hanging from the ceiling in the dining room:

Have you seen the movie "A Christmas Story"? Remember how Ralph's Dad felt about his Fishnet stocking-ed lamp? That's how I feel about this chandelier... it's indescribably gorgeous. I have gone into the dining room no less than ten times in the past 24 hours just to turn on the lights and look at the chandelier, because it makes me so happy.

Maybe it's because this incredibly bland house is starting to feel like "home". Maybe it is because my husband must really love me to hang that chandelier. But I think it is the power of pure, unadulterated beauty.
What America's "journalism" has become, from Jib

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Crazy long days here as the Catholic guilt kicks in from taking a few days "off" for my birthday and house improvements. Drawing during the day (pics later, recharging camera batteries) and evening reading (The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity Industrial Complex , Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity in America, and Paparazzi: and Our Obsession with Celebrity) and movie research for the paintings I am working on. Doing the research is making me think a great deal about the artists' relationship to subject matter. Some of the things I have read, and especially things that I have watched, are truly repulsive to me: there was one DVD I saw, I think it might be/have been a television show, where the viewer "travels along"with a paparazzi guy who literally stalks celebrities. I could not finish the DVD, and I felt as if I needed to shower repeatedly after watching it. I am entering into a world that is foreign to me, that I have a visceral response to, and I keep having to step back and look at everything through a critical filter, because the emotional impact of being immersed in this world is too strong. It reminds me of the first time I saw Jerry Springer, I literally wanted to throw up, it was so ugly. I am not "curiously drawn to it", it makes me so sad, it is almost unbearable... why people would want to court that sick feeling by watching the show repeatedly is baffling to me.

The impulse to make the current work comes from the gut, and the reading is meant to help gain a fuller understanding of the complexities inherent in the subject matter. This phenomenon has many layers beyond a standard addiction. Were I offered the chance at a second life profession, I would surely want to study psychology more thoroughly.

In between all of this, dealing with crating & shipping issues... trying to get the 150 lb. Defense Mechanism Coat to Kansas City, MO, for the Belger Art Center show this summer. Being a control freak, I have always driven the coat to its destinations, but I am trying avoid the 32 hour roundtrip drive and learn to let go.....

Doing experiments with aluminum tape to see if it might come in handy on the chair..... hope to start ripping apart said chair this evening.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Schedule Change....
Here is the $20 chair for my upcoming project.
The weekend agenda changed somewhat, as I received word that some art friends were coming for Easter, and I was to get a studio visit soon after that. We moved into this house 18 months ago. It is the first house I have ever owned in my life. We had to buy it in a hurry, while I was still in Miami. It was a committee decision, which means that my husband did not get the ugly house in the woods with 10 acres and a stream, and I did not get the 1916 house with original unpainted woodwork and fireplaces in every room that made me weep the moment I walked in the front door. Instead, we made a spread sheet (Kevin is a scientist), and we gave all the houses on our list "points" for various attributes, and we moved into a very large house with no personality that needed no work. (This ultimately proved to be a good decision, as the last year and a half has been insane.) Anyway, the former tenants were very fond of beige, and various taupes, and shiny brass accents. When we first moved in, I threatened to slit my wrists if we did not paint over the neutrals immediately. Then his Mom died unexpectedly. Then we planned a wedding. Then I got back to working 14-16 hours a day in the studio.

So aside from the occasional wince, I have tried to ignore the colors of our walls: there were more important things to do. Six months ago, we redid the den in a lovely avocado with terra cotta ceilings, which is where we hang out the most when we are feeling communal. I decided that the foyer needed a folk art throne, so I am working on that. The paint that we picked out for our bedroom is still sitting in cans in the basement. But with the new knowledge that my friends are coming for Easter (art friends with an INCREDIBLY cool house), and a curator is to follow, the butter-colored walls of the living room needed to be addressed, so that's what we did on Sunday. They are now the color of blue hydrangeas, my favorite flower. Here's what the color looks like on Radley's butt:
(note the butt swirls, one of the Radley characteristics that most frequently gets incorporated into the endlessly expanding repertoire of songs that we make up about the Goob). While I was finishing up painting switchplates this morning, I had a great art idea, which I will commence this afternoon.

So the only time we make any real strides on this house is when we have guests come to visit. Which means that if you are my friend, and you want to help make my house a more beautiful place to live and visit, you must schedule that trip to NC like you promised!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Greetings..... Thursday was my birthday, and the fun, games, and goofing off lasted well into today. It started on Wednesday night, when I drove into Greensboro to see the film Little Children, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was one of two people in the theater.

Thursday I woke up to breakfast in bed, then went to get a massage. I had a hard time deciding between reading and watching movies all day, or going thrifting/antiquing to look for a chair. I have decided that the extracurricular activity to expand my brain and manual repertoire will be to make a funky, faux-folk-art version of Bernini's throne of St Peter (click on the picture in the link for a larger view) for my front foyer, only quite a bit more modest in scale. (more on WHY in a future blog...) So I spent most of yesterday on Elm St in Greensboro, hitting the antique and goodwill shops. Even though it was my birthday, I did not buy a single thing! I made a few notes on some chairs, but none of them seemed just right. Foraging is one of my favorite pastimes, and a great way to spend my birthday, despite coming home empty handed.

I met a friend for coffee late afternoon, then my sweetie took me to Durham to go to a tapas restaurant that I love. It was only after we were seated with the menus in our hands that we realized that we were in the right building, only it was no longer a tapas restaurant, but a steakhouse. : ( We came home, opened presents, and Kevin had made me a Apple Walnut Upside Down Cake with Calvados Caramel Sauce.

Then I made him watch one of my birthday presents, Babe, with me before going to bed. Friday after the gym, I continued the hunt with my friends.... they took me to a great thrift/antique place in Reidsville where I found the perfect chair for $20, along with a birdcage I am going to line with creeping thyme and put in the yard, much to the dismay of my husband. My friends also introduced me to the Scrap Exchange, a place I have been waiting to see for a long time. I got some wood to use for my chair, and lots of cool storage containers for my sewing room, but it was not what I expected... I was hoping for barrels full of cheap small objects to glue onto larger objects. "You want a variety store that is going out of business", my friend David said.

Tonight we got on the motorcycle and went to dinner in Mebane. It was a gorgeous night, and we rode past the smells of people cooking on the grill, cool pockets of air when the road dipped, and the increased moisture in the air as you cross over the Haw River.

So the weekend holds... work on my painting cartoons, choosing a paint color for the living room, cooking for some friends coming over tonight, fast forwarding through 4 DVDs of "That's Entertainment" to find what I need for one of the paintings, and, if I am lucky, ripping apart my chair and stripping it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Here are some Chapel Hill Peace Vigil pics from Monday night... there were maybe 60-70 people there by the end. Everyone took turns reading stories written by loved ones about the soldiers who had died. One mother broke down when she read another mother's piece about her son. After the vigil, the guy next to me said that he had met the man who wrote the piece that I read, at an impeachment rally in Washington.
You could tell the pros from the amateurs because they were prepared for the wind and had their candles in cups or candle holders: mine kept blowing out. A few people drove by and yelled "Hippies" out the windows of their cars. Kevin went with me, under the provision that he would not be required to sing "Give Peace a Chance".

Yesterday was a weird day. I ended up doing packets for museums and doing reading research for the paintings. I decided that I need to play a little bit.... I am feeling restless. I remember when I was working on Fate of Technicolor Romantic, it took a year to do. I had a grant, so I did not have to teach that summer, and I traveled from one art residency place to another and worked very intently on it. I was at the Millay Colony in upstate NY, and I was feeling the way I do now. Another older, wiser artist told me to "do what my hands wanted to do", and that's where "Some Penises I Have Known" came from. So I will be drawing on one of my painting cartoons today, but may also break out the gouache or Prismacolor pencils and do some quick things.

I also feel the need to get out of Dodge. The birthday fairies have arranged for the film I have been wanting to see, "Little Children", to be in Greensboro this week, so I will be heading there tonight, and getting a bucket of popcorn, as the brackets for my braces are going on in a few weeks. : )

Monday, March 19, 2007

It was tax weekend, which essentially meant sitting cross-legged on the couch, laptop balanced on a pillow across my knees, taking hundreds of crumpled paper bits from the rubbermaid container, uncrumpling them, and entering the information into the laptop. We stopped at one point to go outside and take accurate measurements of the art trailer (or, as my husband would call it, the motorcycle trailer), because I am fearful that my current painting might not fit. In the studio on Friday, the last thing I did was take a rectangular cartoon and cut it into a triangular shape. In order to include elements on the the edges that I did not wish to lose, I kept having to enlarge the width of the triangle, so it is now a fairly long painting. Here was a sketch for the composition when it started:
And here is the composition now:

Tonight, after the Chapel Hill Iraq War Vigil, I will make my husband photograph me, so I can work on the bottom part of the composition. (Hint: Kandinsky)

I am contemplating making a trip back to Miami just to get some models for my new paintings. The few new friends I have made since the move just don't have the right look for these next paintings, and, back in South Florida, I knew enough people that I could always find what I was looking for, or at least locate someone to provide a departure point to work off of.

I must confess, most of my life I have walked right past large historical paintings with lots of figures on museum walls, unless there was some stunning, amazing element in them. I have always preferred more intimate figurative works.... but my new paintings are large, with lots of figures in them. I guess that if someone told me 10 years ago that I would be doing embroideries (never mind the "with hair" part), I would have regarded them with great skepticism. Now, these complex, populated paintings.. you never know where your work is going to take you.

The new work is pushing me far out of my comfort zone: anyone who teaches figure drawing can tell you that people generally stick with a particular scale for their figures, and stay there: often, it is a small scale... (our parent's fault, for giving us 8 1/2 x 11" pieces of paper to draw on?). In figure drawing class, one of the first things you do is make people work large, so their figures can open up. In any event, I have always been comfortable with life size figures... so much easier to get all the information in there. So, with lots of small figures, the challenge for me is to keep from making a painting that will take me 5 years to finish.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Play the Art Star Game!!!
Lisa at The Intrepid Art Collector blog has posted The Art Star Game. Play at your own risk.
I got a -7.
This is taxes weekend for me. : (
The reward for getting taxes done is getting back into the studio on Monday, where some major things are happening.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

3/14/07 woman in fur sketch
Wardrobe Change.....
Spring has arrived in NC. My windows are wide open, the birds are going nuts, the air is filled with the sound of buzzy lawn-grooming instruments (remember that I live on a street of retirees) and it is in the high 70s today. My whole life, I have always had pretty severe cases of Spring Fever, but after spending 10 years in Miami and moving back to the land of four seasons, this condition has been amplified. Buds on trees send me into a kind of rapture, and I want to spend all day outside, sniffing the air and planting things.
This means that it is time to put away the winter painting uniform of overalls and break out all the old cotton dresses, too ratty to wear in public (except to get the mail and drive through Starbucks), but perfect for wiping your paint brushes on, and allowing for freedom of movement and air circulation, an essential for great painting. ; )
With "Blessed Art Thou", I actually donned one pair of overalls to paint the entire painting (with 2x weekly washings, which does not harm the paint), so that all the colors would be recorded on them. On the day that I wrapped the painting in my garage, the seat of the pants, worn so thin from sitting on the floor and painting, ripped, marking the end of the painting and the retirement of the pants. So I filed them in the archive box with all the sketches and reference photos.
This kind of thing happens to me all the time, a signal that something is finished. When I was still an undergrad at SUNY B, my painting teachers, like many at that time, did not tell us anything about painting technique, so I learned everything I know about glazing from library books. At that time, I was interested in trompe l'oeil painting, so I set up a shallow-space still life on one of those knick-knack curio shelves in my studio, (my parent's basement), and worked on it for an entire year, in addition to the art projects I was doing for school. I was consumed with making the glass look like glass, getting just the right sheen on the piece of ribbon, suggesting the wood grain patterns, etc. The still life began to gather dust, which I incorporated into the painting. Because trompe l'oeil painting is supposed to fool the eye, (and because of my latent OC tendencies), I started to wonder when the painting would be finished, because I could have kept refining it forever. One year and one week after I began the painting, I came down to the studio to find that the entire still life had crashed to the floor, answering my question and ending my fretting.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This has been an insomnia week, and late last night I found this post in David Byrne's journal chronicling this past Miami Basel, and writing about art as a form of sexual selection.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back when I was teaching in FL, there was a time when I wanted to rally my students and organize a picketing of the local Thomas Kinkade gallery when it first opened up. The whole "this print of a real painting has dabs of actual paint applied by master highlighters and is selling for $1,000" concept was maddening, and, at the time, I was convinced that he would single-handedly do more to undermine the public's concept of "real art" than any shlockmeister who had gone before him. (but I can be an art-world pariah, because I still think that any painter who employs a factory, and whose work is selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars should have a stamp on the back of the paintings that says "concept by Famous Painter, actual painting by YYYY, YYYY and YYYY, unknown BFA students who are hoping to get a leg up in the art world through their painting skills because they can't afford the 'MFA at Columbia path' "). I digress. It seems that hollywood is going to make a movie based on Thomas Kinkade's life and "art". Sigh.

Friday, March 09, 2007

An exhausting day in the studio.......

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Somehow in all the "excitement" last month, I missed this amazing Jerry Saltz article about the art market making us stupid.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Drawing during the day, business stuff in the evening (by googling in other languages, I found about 30 more news citations for the PR list), reading at night (Class Matters, a compilation of a series originally run in the NYT).

Monday, March 05, 2007

....someone just sent me this. Someone else besides my friend Peter apparently thinks that "Blessed Art Thou" is an image about globalization, the US colonizing the world, "saving" other countries while leaving a wake of Coke and McDonald's.
Greetings, all....

Renewed and refreshed, spent the ENTIRE day in front of my computer with hundreds of reference photos that I have taken for upcoming work.... editing, cropping, lightening, and dumping onto a disc so that Radley and I could drop them off to be printed. My "mouse" arm is asleep. Tomorrow pencil touches paper!

Today, over at Ed Winkleman's Blogspot, he discusses whether developing a critical eye has the capacity to ruin our enjoyment of art. I was remembering what one of the architecture professors of an ex-boyfriend said (paraphrased): "The first time you see something, you can be in awe of it. The second time you see it, you should figure out how it is made, and the third time you see it, you should be figuring out how you would do it better."

I am still in awe of Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire", and, after my 30th viewing, I have still never stopped once to think about how it is made, I just ride it like a wave. And, perhaps it is the teacher in me, but I approach way too many works of art for the first time thinking of how I could have made them better.