Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kevin MacDonald opening in Hudson

A shelf in Kevin's home

My good friend Kevin is having a show in Hudson at the Wendy MacDaris Fine art gallery. Its a great chance to see his witty assemblages and delve into the manifesto of a rebel artist.
Kevin's studio is a laboratory where, with simple ingredients such a building materials and frame supplies, he puts together sculptures that whisper forceful one liners and then continue to hum with echos of laughter.

The show opens September 5th (6-8pm) and runs through October 4th.
In a minimalist homage to the glorified history of art, his recent sculptures are comprised of three parts:  "support, pigment, and hardware". Makes you think.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rubble Double

Word of mouth has it that about every 40 years or so, the management here hires a company to literally re-do the masonry. About five surely, silent, men have started taking down the hall ceiling with jackhammers and today a fine layer of dust has seeped through the door cracks and coated everything. Everything. Every book, sculpture, painting, pillow... I feel it in my throat. (though admittedly that could be the remnants of the cold I have been fighting for the last two weeks).
So what is the metaphor? The ceiling is coming down. Every surface and chachka I own needs to be wiped clean. There is no standing still or I will also be coated with white dust.
Granted, this is a first world problem... it is not as if I am rising from the rubble of Haiti, or even the recent Nepalese earthquake. The words of Dylan's song, "When I paint my Masterpiece", come to me...
"The Streets of Rome are filled with rubble... you can almost think you are seeing double....Someday everything is going to be different, when I paint my masterpeice..."
Yah. I feel that way now.

A confession about the investigation

I woke up today thinking back on my studio practice in Vermont, and how I left there with many still unanswered questions and a positive attitude about what needed to be done. Within minutes of this pondering I was wrapped up in my student advisee paperwork, and then making notes about the next drawing assignment for the ninth graders. I can't seem to keep the focus, find the time, or engage in the practice of being true to my artist. I am a wimpy artist these days.
Taplin sculpture in front of symbols of my investigation

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Survival skills for painters

I always joke that I am preparing my students to survive and paint on a desert island. After all- they will need to express themselves, if only to have their "H E L P" sign to be unique and elaborate. And, if they don't get saved right away, to know that there are natural elements that can provide paint and surfaces to work on. What I am really trying to point out is that you don't need a trust fund or a huge bank account to set up your studio. This week the students made their own paint brushes. I encouraged them to salvage from the trash cans, and from the landscape outside. The teased leaves from our palm trees made some large bristles. Many students fell onto the pack of q-tips brought by the janitor. Some cut portions of their own hair. Some used wire. Lucky for some we have resident peacocks on the property.
Next week we will grind pigment for making paint!

Monday, August 31, 2015

A hurricane or a head cold

Its a beautiful day. Hurricane, Tropical Storm, Depression Erika never materialized, even though we were prepared with the best laid plans.

 Instead, and weaker in the planning department, I am fighting  against a school plague of congestion, sore throats, wracking coughs. The beginning of the year has never been so frustrating. Last year, at the start of the season, we lost valuable real estate which bummed the department out, and the year before we had to teach without air conditioning, which totally broke me down. This is different. There is no sense of camaraderie or purpose. I just feel sick. I feel weak. I feel like a loser. I'm stressed about my curricula, about my students behaviors, about the sense of class loyalty that could be lost, about the ground that must be regained, about taking too many of my allotted sick days within the first weeks of school. I'm wondering if I will feel better tomorrow.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hanging on for the ride

This hitchhiker added a bit of stress to our morning drive down the Dixie Highway. After a few blocks he turned a deep shade of brown. The poor thing! I was praying for him to hang on and not try anything stupid. That tail of his looked like a liability. Did he understand that one wrong move, a shift in the wrong direction, and the wind could lift him up and out?
We were able to pull over after 50 blocks! He has now been transferred to a nice bush besides Publix. I hope he is feeling calmer this evening. I felt like I had a full cardio workout in the process. Isn't stress cardio-therapy? Even a little?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Opening lines of communication

My painting class has been working with an easy opener: turning angled lines into positive and negative geometric shapes. Each kids work turned out different and yet also successful. Searching for a more fluid expression of movement, and hoping they'd get a little uncomfortable (which is necessary to taking a risk), I had them make their own brushes and use India ink to fill pages with marks. Then they had to slice the papers into strips and introduce themselves to at least three classmates in order to trade strips. (My painting classes include students from all different grade levels- 10-12th grade, and they do not really know each other).

Glued together the strips made visual poetry, which the kids had to write on the back- a line for a line.