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Saturday, November 30, 2013

link to pts video

of student art from the fall artwalk. Made by two students it covers lots of work from my colleagues and my own classroom. Click here.

School art show is a success

The fall art walk was a roaring success with lots of good feeling on top of great art. We celebrated a new courtyard, with the landscaping intended to highlight any sculpture we want to display.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts on cardboard continued

Bling up the helpless. Acrylic and Sharpie on card board. Smile even if you don't feel like it.
Every major city has it's iconic artist, and Miami has Romero Britto. He is called "a Brazilian American neo-pop artist". Perhaps he belongs to Florida as a whole, but I know when you arrive at JFK (NY) his apple is there to greet you. His sculptures accent the entry to most of Miami's libraries and parks. Our school has one in the courtyard. People love to love him and love to hate him. He stands for surface decoration, jazzy patterns, Latino bling, musical color, youthful cartoon, and our money culture. Britto has made an art fortune by licensing his art for an array of products, with "pop up stores" located at airports, on cruise ships, in the college student centers, and along the tourist mall walkways.

So why not put a little Britto twist on the street beggar's signs? With Miami Basel coming to town the police are busy interrogating the homeless and offering to bus them 30 miles away to shelters. If they refuse, because the shelter might require religious obligations nor involuntary substance-abuse or mental-health treatment, they can be taken to jail. This is all in a new wave attempt to dismantle a 15 year old settlement, Pottinger vs City of Miami.
Anyway... what about... we just add a little random culture to the streets? Leave the helpless homeless alone (as far as not jailing them), and even throw a little change their way. I'm going to give this sign away today as we head to the Keys for a little sunshine, (Florida is freezing this morning- 60 degrees!).
Happy Thanks Giving...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thank you for everything

I asked my students today to tell me two things they were thankful for and it was a struggle for them to come up with something outside of the usual "my family" and "my friends". Sensing my exasperation, one volunteered, "my pets" and "my sister".
Perhaps it's just me, but there are days, on my early drive to work, when I think of what I am thankful for and it runs the gamut from "gravity" to "my breathe". My list can be really long and it DOES include my family and my friends. Here is a quick relief print, a Collagraph, (from the greek word Kolla- meaning glue), I threw together this weekend. Rough and yet to the point.

Printed on some cool paper, embedded with leaves, that my sons gave me for Christmas last year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A classroom full of life with a side order of still life

It's pretty hectic laying out, pinning up, and hanging 120 works of art in my tiny class. I have 6o students, and each has done at least 5 (more like 8) works this semester. So we have eliminated a lot, and still made sure everyone was represented. I can't show you how the room looks... in my rush I forgot to take pictures of all of it. But here is a sampling of the art history class's still life (Cubism after Picasso). Starting with my demo.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

rescued by an uplifting weekend

First thing Saturday morning I was invited to attend the ordination of my friend Greg B as he joined the Sacred Order of Episcopal Deacons. The Bishop of Southeast Florida, the Right Reverand Leo Frade, led an inspired service of pomp and ceremony, waving flags and incense, at the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Miami. The church was filled with beautiful mosaics and hearty singing.

Even though my questions of "why do some people suffer, why do we lose loved ones??" were not answered, I was filled with the joy of Greg's attainment. I know he has worked hard, for many years, and patiently. He ministers to the suffering. He is filled with a sense of purpose and selflessness. This day was a milestone and the individual step  of Greg's and six other candidates was wonderfully celebrated in community!
That afternoon, since I was already downtown, I hopped on the Metromover next to the Cathedral and got off at the Miami Dade College Wolfsonian campus stop to enjoy a huge street fair. It was the annual, much anticipated, book fair. I think this was it's 30th year! Michael met me there which was a good thing because he helped carry the books we bought and the flyers we collected. To see so much in print, new books by favorite authors and new authors with books destined to be favorites, was very exciting. The ACLU of Florida had a compelling newsletter and booth. One of the current pressing issues is about the legal rights of the homeless. This is a big thing on my radar, because I now see how forcibly removed the homeless are when big events, such as the soon-to-be-here- Miami-Basel, come to town. I am sending in my dues to join the Miami chapter right away. I have assumed for a long time that someone is looking out for my rights, defending our Bill of Rights, and it is a sobering thought to find it is mostly all volunteers. Yikes.
Then, after that, Michael and I went to my friend Krisse's studio at the ceramic league to see her work. She had an outstanding opening the night before- so packed we were literally out standing in the crowd, unable to really contemplate the work. So this was a nice opportunity to see and discuss her newest sculptures with her. It's a blend of beauty and question... porcelain sculptures that tell as much as they leave out. They are delicate yet vitrified, colorless yet filled with light. We can't wait to see more... I hear there is a show at the Deering in early December.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Head gear for the truly naked at heart

Everyday I try to remember to put on my armor that wards off negativity. Imagine me behind a shield of white light, maybe. But then, from inside the safe zone, I start worrying about things I have no control over and my thoughts get all sticky and sad... It becomes hard to move and, perhaps because of the salt in my eyes, there is no clear vision. I don't want to paint. Wearing shoes, driving to work, answering the phone seems dangerous! In fact, I really shouldn't get out of bed.

One of my students, Sarah L., is going through a ton of trauma and, one day in class, she painted a picture that tells the story... in a different way. I really love it.

I keep exploring how we are to get through real sadness... whether as a community responding to a bullying event, or on a personal level when someone you love is fearfully sick. There is both real powerlessness and the power of faith. I want to understand. I want to understand and help.
I want to see the grace hidden in these I better, for lack of any other idea, take off the head gear to do it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

something in the air and under the paint skin

"So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours."
  --  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not so far away from the airport

Miami. No matter when you look to the sky, chances are a plane will dissect your visual path. It makes me feel at home.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bowing to the light in others

I am playing with this idea of the final Namaste movement in my yoga practice. Michael is a big help. At first he posed...
But then I felt it didn't have that low enough, total supplicant, type of feel to the drawing.
So we tried again. I posed and he drew.

Then I worried more about the light... the reaching towards the light in others...These sketches are all done on brown paper, which makes a good contrasting middle ground to play light and shadow.
Doesn't the figure look like an anatomical heart in a way? Now it felt too outside the light... where is the light in me? This flowing bend is the acknowledgement of the communion of light within us all.
I wanted something with this feel...and this is where Michael took it last night:
I think it is beautiful.
This is the way I can visualize the light within me reaching and touching the light of others.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A pool of tears

Crying underwater is like drinking in the shower. Both events can lead to a dissolving of our corporeal illusion. So much of who we are, or believe ourselves to be, is in play because we know our boundaries. "This is me". "That is you". Sometimes, I can't help but to cry for other people, completely loosing my boundaries and sinking my true self to the bottom of the pool. I think this small painting looks a lot like tear drops on the surface of the water. The four lounge chairs are for me, Kent, Max and Ben.
I am so glad to have a three-day weekend. I'm drinking to health and hoping to paint better tomorrow!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are you an angel?

Am I? Is this the opportunity to meet or be one?
More street signs for the homeless. Acrylic paint on cardboard, dimensions variable, depending if you use the whole shoebox or not.

Meanwhile, my boy is on the road somewhere in Mississippi with his dog, his Buick, and a faulty fuel injector. He is relying on the grace of strangers. Let there be angels all around us! ;-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thoughts on Cardboard

“There, but for the grace of God…”- words attributed to a man martyred in the 16th century; burned alive, under the orders of a catholic queen. This was because the man, John Bradford, was a die-hard protestant minister and the official crime accused him of inciting civil unrest in the streets. Supposedly, Mr. Bradford said those words while in the tower of London, watching as the executioner led criminals to their death. It is hard to imagine such drastic crimes and punishments invented in the name of faith.
Ever since I have moved to Miami, the first urban area I have lived in for a while, the sight of those less fortunate panhandling just a few feet away from me has struck me fiercely. I feel very, very lucky not to be in their shoes but I can also imagine that, with few small turns of events, we all could be reduced to that level. It is with the grace of God I am not in that predicament now.
I don’t mean to incite unrest in the streets, but I have a thought to help the beggars in their plight by giving them culturally enhanced signs to work with! Who better to start with than Giotto? He is one of my favorite artists for his transcendent exploration of a new perspective in painting. Nobody else seemed to be using his or her eyes before his time. From his paintings, especially the frescoes in a chapel in Italy, you can see he studied optical illusion and human emotion. His methods for rendering depth moved western painting away from the prevalent decorative and symbolic techniques of the ancients.
This scene is from the Lamentation fresco in the Arena Chapel in Padua.  It might benefit all of us… the observers as well… to understand what “lamentation” really means.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is it too late to reconsider a career as a mermaid?

How many views of the pool will I paint? Keeping the discipline and painting a small postcard after work. It is getting dark earlier now and I must work even quicker. Though this little geometric shape can symbolize life in a November paradise, there are other dreams, more magnificent, in my underwater imagination.

I once wanted to be a mermaid at WeekiWachee Springs, Florida.

Monday, November 4, 2013

lucky in love

It's an anniversary date today and it blows my mind to think what things would be like if I had to live without Michael. He is the easiest person to live with. He makes each day an adventure, in a good way. The days start and end with a healthy dose of laughter, and real kindness... (well--- maybe most on his part as I can be grouchy in the mornings). It's a lot of fun. He is a great listener and story teller so we don't need a TV. We both love watching the colors and shapes of clouds so, when we get older and can't walk, we can just face out the window and we'll be happy. We love discussing and researching new ideas, hot topics, and old assumptions. I love the way he prioritizes big things and celebrates small things. I love the way he looks when he reads. I love the way he presents the hot cup of latte to me every morning. When we are apart from each other I remember most of all the words he says as I go out the door, or hear over the phone, or read on a note: Go easy.

It's so easy to love him. Here we are at the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, a great place for art and tapas in Miami.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Floating above the east coast

I travel with wipes and binoculars and consider the price of the trip to be the price of the view.
On the way to NYC last Friday, the flight landed at JFK right at sunset. As the red ball of fire slipped over the western horizon, I thought of all the people out that way I miss... both my sons, Julia and her family, my two sisters, Michael Conti and his family, Summer and her ghosts, Jim Watson and his brood, even my dad and stepmom are in California visiting.
New York city sparkled with lights and seemed full of marathon runners...or at least jogging types in fancy sneakers with numbers on their jackets. Everyone looked interesting. There is diversity and story in each body. The heavy Indian accents stumped me at first. I've become so used to the Latin Americans in Miami.
Here is another type of painting plunge... out the window of my Boeing 737 flight from NYC.  Today on the return flight we had one of those captains that likes to be a tour guide. He pointed out Norfolk among other sites, and that is when I started drawing. It is hard to depict one place though. I feel as though when up in a plane looking out, we are in limbo floating above the earth. Try to pin down a detail and it becomes obvious we are definitely flying!