Aug 28, 2010
"Breathing" 1987, oil on paper, 11" x 15"
This painting is by Hugh Steers, one of the artist featured in my friend Ira Sach's gorgeous short Last Address. The film is a deeply moving homage to a group of New York City artists that died of AIDS-related causes between 1983 and 2007.
There is a painterliness to it that I really love - shifts of sunlight on architecture, the city soundscape, the nuances of daily life. One particular shot of John Brockmeyer and Ethyl Eichelberger's house in Staten Island reminds me of a Burton Calicott painting, a Memphis artist that I don't doubt was in Ira's field of vision growing up here.
The world keeps turning.
Aug 24, 2010
It seems like lately whenever it’s time to head out of town I head to the woods. This time we drove to Connecticut, camped along the way and once we got there stayed at our friend’s 18th century farm house out in the middle of rolling fields. My head is mighty clear from all the walking and staring mindlessly into space. I didn’t think about much at all.
On the last night of our trip we camped a few miles off the highway in the Shenandoah Valley. Our tent was pitched a few feet from a rushing stream under pine trees with very few people around. I could have stayed there in that spot another week. That’s the plan for next August.
I felt a little guilty not going to any museums. We weren’t far from the Dia Beacon and Mass MoCA, but when it came down to it I just wanted to hoof trails. This is my friend’s father’s painting. I looked at it a lot the few days we were there and have thought about it many times since. It was really the only painting I needed to see.
Aug 12, 2010
Around 7:00 on Saturday night James and I were getting ready to go over to a friend’s for dinner when I heard banging sounds outside the bathroom window. I looked out and saw the front of my neighbor’s house entirely engulfed in flames - a floor to ceiling, roaring, uncontrollable blaze. I immediately called 911 only to hear the disconcerting message “911 please hold”.
While I was on hold James ran next door to see if any of the family of five were home. He found the owner working on something in his back yard. The fire, probably electric, started and spread so fast that he was totally unaware that the front of his house was even on fire. He just stood there helplessly and cried until the fire department came. Luckily the rest of his family wasn’t home. All are safe, including their german shepherd named Hope, who James picked up and moved over the fence into our backyard.
By the time I got off the phone and into the front yard, the flames were through the attic and about fifteen feet from our house. After what felt like an hour but was probably only five minutes, the firemen came and put it out, sprayed the entire inside of the house with water and gutted the front of the house. Neighbors stood in the street and watched with wide-eyed amazement at the whole scene. Slowly the rest of the family arrived to see their house full of fireman, smoke and water.
The whole experience was another slap in the face reminder that you never know from one moment to the next what life is going to bring. One minute I’m putting saran wrap over a bowl of orzo I made for a dinner party and telling my husband how nice he looks, and the next minute I’m standing in my front yard watching my neighbor’s house burn. My friend Robert respects the "state of not knowing". Or as he puts it, "recognizing it as an enormous domain, a divine domain even, a place of reverence in which our egos find peace.” I like the idea that the dance between order and chaos has room, plenty of room, like enough room for a Ziegfeld Follies movie set, with a white stair case and a chorus line of girls with giant pink feathered fans.
Aug 6, 2010
Aug 1, 2010
I’ve been teaching a painting class these past couple of weeks at Flicker Street Studio. Wow! What a satisfying experience. The setting and tone of the space are perfect for people coming together to learn more about art: big tables, great light and the opportunity for feedback, which can be the rarest thing of all when making art on your own.
This was my first time my teaching so I was a bit nervous. After I arrived on the first day of class and got the room set up with supplies and a variety of objects from around my house for students to paint, it began to feel more like a natural extension of my studio. From that point on I was very comfortable.
aI realize that teaching people who are happy and eager to be in a classroom is very different than teaching in an environment where many obstacles lie between what you want to convey and what is actually absorbed. Negotiating those obstacles is a skill set I’m not sure I even have. What I did discover is that I love explaining how paint works. I also enjoyed seeing how differently each student approached creative dilemmas and being the guide to help them find the solution. I'm looking forward to more classes in September!