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Friday, January 24, 2014

Making waves: lesson of the week

Materials: watercolor and pencil on paper. The intro to the assignment involved history of op art and masters Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. I tried to emphasize how variation of line thickness can give the illusion of depth within the picture plane. The rules were simple: to fill the page, isolate warm and cool colors, use diagonals and repetition to move the eye. The results were completely unique. Forty two wonderful works.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bowls of pearls as a metaphor for my art weekend

Two Porcelain bowls filled with thousands of freshwater pearls. A guard placed within inches to keep us from running our fingers through the troughs. Shiny, slightly odd shaped, and in a variety of pastel hues, the pearls were cultured in mass for the Chinese export of luxury products. It was an abundance of riches! Just like my weekend which I spent in the rarefied world of art.
My three day weekend was split evenly between my studio, wandering the grounds of the Beaux Arts Festival at University of Miami, and touring the newly opened Perez Art Museum (PAMM) in downtown Miami. ... Fantastic... really.

A small break from teaching and the abundant art shows (SeaFair, BeauxArts, PAMM, etc..) all around town lent a refreshing outlook to my quality of vision through out the weekend. In my studio, I played with tin and cardboard in ways that seemed to harness the element of earth and sky. At Beaux Arts the cool breeze kept Krisse and I moving briskly against the crowds. We caught glimpses of artworks in tents full of people. There was an array of woodwork, sculpture, paintings, and ceramics. I really enjoyed the work of Joyce Nelson, a jeweler of unusual combinations- stringing coral stems and gems. And my favorite festival print maker Marina Terauds  showed up with new bird etchings, and we stumbled upon the lovely pastel paintings of typical Florida scenes by Jacqueline Roch, who has a studio at the Miami Bakehouse. I am hoping one day Michael will secure one of her pastels for our apartment. And I secretly would love to own a ceramic sculpture by the 1st place award winning William Kidd... no website I can find...funky organic plantlike sculptures in vivid colors with weird textures.

The Perez building (PAMM), Miami's newest art museum is designed by Herzog and de Meuron. It has these great hanging columns full of dirt, growing plants and dripping to the flower bed beneath... The building is right on the edge of Miami Bay, and going inside, looking up I found myself under a sea of ships by Hew Locke. Right away my perspective shifted.

The block buster Ai Wewei show is a great retrospective, full of humor and tragedy. I think the reason we embrace him more than any other Chinese artists is that he is such a critic of Communism. He makes us feel good. But some of the things he worries over probably should worry us as well. Here is his marble surveillance camera.
A whole essay could be written about this object/ artwork/symbol that would be pertinent to today's news channels. And his use of corporate logos painted directly onto works of art is both a slap in the face of art purity and an inside joke on the reality of art patronage. Brilliant, really.
There is an excellent exhibition of concrete poetry and books on loan from a pair of local Miami art collectors, the Sackner Archive, that just blew my mind. I did not have enough time to do the whole room justice, but what I did see in the hour I meandered through it, was both thorough and inclusive of both outsider and established major players of art history. It was a treasure trove of gems. I will blog more about that later!
The PAMM has several rooms of it's own collection on display that shift the traditional read of Euro-centric art history to acknowledge the Americas and many women artists. It is refreshing. I read, more than once, signage for artworks by men that pointed to legacies of women from earlier decades! That was eye-opening! And the minimalist galleries are balanced by a single really powerful figurative art gallery where many artists- at least half women like Faith Ringhold, Sue Coe, and Nancy Spero- were, at the same time in history, dealing with human atrocities such as the disappeared  women of Jaurez, the persecution of dictators in Latin America, and the drug wars in central America- real issues when most of the art world turned a cold eye to emotion or story in art.
I have high hopes to get back to the Perez and see more of the work... I had to head home to work on my own mural before I could see all of the artwork there. But what I did see, was worth the time, and made me think, laugh, cringe, cry, and wonder!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The briefest of things

It's a poem, a doodle, and a book for Ben, who just finished his third round of Chemotherapy!

Some things pass too fast... like the night blooming jasmine fragrance that eludes my sense of location. And it seems to be a tiny flowering plant, very inconspicuous by day. Can Ben still smell after so much medical intervention?

The parakeets alert me to the sunrise as they fly by... Maybe they are like the honking yellow cabs in the city... and as weather temps have dropped, I have briefly donned a pair of socks. I think Ben has to stay way more bundled up, scarves, hats, gloves and big big jackets. Things will get better for him. This is today...

when yesterday I recall that babies are rarely contented to stay babies. There is such a rush to grow, to grow up, to grow out, to move past the brief moment of youth. It has taken me half a century to realize that we only have the present. We get older but may never lose the youth inside us. It is just too bad we didn't relish every moment as we had them.

                                                                   Brief passages...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a flurry of art happenings

The last few days I have, in addition to teaching my classes...
painted the theater stage floor. The play is HONK and is mostly acted out by students of the middle school.
and attended one of Fairchild Garden's Garden Musical Festival... in particular a moonlight concert!

enjoyed a plein air date "Affair En Plein Air"at the Deering estate
and seen my student's work hung at the Lowe's Beaux Arts Student Show
It has been a busy, but satisfying few days. My energy level is always waning.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Evocative video of my aunt Sage now dead, but then, dancing
by Marylee Hardenbergh
This is a short piece of movement that flows between five different aged dancers. It was done about four months before Sage died. I loved how Sage lived. She embraced life with curiosity, grace and gumption. She could work in the trenches and from the dais. She reached out and found solutions because her down to earth practicality was matched with a belief in lofty dreaming. In that way, she literally helped move buildings and programs and bodies, and supported the arts, womens health, and equality among all people. And not only was she beautiful to look at, when I was with her and we would laugh, I could see and hear the fabulous song of her soul.

I miss Aunt Sage, and know that she would have made this freezing winter in Minneapolis a lot warmer with just her spirit. She died during the Thanksgiving holiday, having lived almost two full years longer than her husband, Uncle John. Perhaps she is again with Uncle John. That would be good. They would be dancing...The two of them... so really beautiful and inspiring.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's the edge of a polar vortex in Miami

I haven't worn socks in two years- but that had to change. Mistook the early chill as I raced to my car  this morning for a temporary breeze and went to work in sandals. (I never finished my first cup of coffee so it was a blurry type of morning anyway). Soon I realized it was FREEZING. The whole school was in fur and Uggs and scarves. I think it really got below 50 degrees Fahrenheit...Wet and rainy too.
I know a lot of people are freezing in other parts of the country, and in Europe- but if they had been here yesterday it would have been in the 80's... so this is a big drop. And, I haven't worn socks in two years.

Monday, January 6, 2014

She liked it


School is in session again and I am too tired to  say more.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunshowers and sweethearts on South Beach

It rained three times on us today... briefly, but enough to get pretty tickled and fully wet. The feeling of staying outside in spite of the rain was exhilarating and harkened me back to childhood days of staying out no matter what. First, morning yoga at Coral Reef park ended in a face up Shavasana shower. Then the sun cleared in time for a Sunday afternoon at South Beach. Good friends from Colorado played in the sand and body surfed the waves and mused on how nice a rain shower was in January compared to the low temp snow storms back home. We eventually scurried from the beach to the Wynwood district where, in the sun, we wandered about the murals until the rain caught us again. After huddling for a while- almost 10 of us under two umbrellas- we caught the inspiring idea to go to the Buena Vista Bistro for a late afternoon lunch, and the Buena Vista Chocolate store, right next door,  for a lovers snack.
 Miami puts on a good show. The sky always has character. Even the rain looks good. Palm trees glisten black and white, girls in bikinis race by on Asian motorcycles, cruise ships as big as apartment complexes turn brilliant against a horizon of dark clouds. Wynwood was covered in new paintings. Feeling artsy and somewhat proud of my recent portrait attempts, I gave two of my latest paintings to my Godson and his mother, my girlfriend Julia.

Sophia, Julia's grandchild, was the star of the gathering and it felt great to be able to celebrate her with them in the paintings. Though she seemed a little suspicious of her "butterfly portrait", Sophia loved the painting of her and her two parents. She carried it about, talking to it animatedly! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Painting Sophia

This is Julia's grandchild, and my godson's daughter! She arrived a few years ago as a surprise and has done everything to heighten the awe and wonder in her family's life. Though I have met Sophia several times, tomorrow I will meet her mother for the first time. I painted this today as a holiday gift. Julia went to art school with me, but (and I checked) she hasn't painted Sophia yet. She has taken tons of photographs, and I used one of those as a source inspiration for this. I hope it is good. It was fun to work on a purple ground, to add wings, but I fear that the hands are a bit clumpy. It's so hard to paint hands...
This continues the theme of wings for 2014.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wings and roots about the house

Listening to Leonard Cohen and writing my "thank you" notes. Gratitude at the top of my heart for the beautiful things in my life... music, growth, art, playful and inspiring friendships.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Stepping into the new year with a new mural

We have a tradition in our family of JUMPING into the new year... I remember leaping off a chair while my dad jumped off a book and my grandpapa sprung himself off a piece of tissue paper. So, it was natural for me to plan a pedicure for myself and started this mural with my partner from the feet up. It was a leap into some new material for me... the ancient art of sanskrit healing. 
Peter of the Yogawarrior studio, had asked us to add another mural to his site, this to be depictions of the energy centers, or "chakras", along our spine. "Chakra" is the sanskrit word for wheel. The energy centers, artistically most commonly shaped like lotus flowers, are thought to be spinning. In yogic and many non-western belief systems, there are many energy centers in the subtle body field that effect the flow and health of the physical body. The seven chakras along the spine are the main and, I think, the most powerful ones. They range from the "Muladhara (root) chakra" at the base of the spine to the "Sahasrara (crown) chakra" bursting out the top of the head. The "Anahata (heart) chakra" in the middle of the line up of the seven, balances instinct and intellect through compassion, love and healing. It seemed appropriate for Michael and I to paint the mural on the two days straddling the new year.
We couldn't be happier than to paint a wall on a symbolically last and first day. So we put the light (signifying the energy) in on the 31st of December and went in with the color on the 1st of January, today.

Personally, I love the "Vissudha (throat) chakra" and how it effects our choice, will power, and the right to speak and be heard. Problems with this chakra may manifest themselves in the thyroid and with our sense of hearing. Those are both areas where I have a history of family issues. I am going to work on my Vissudha chakra with both prayer and intention. It may help me to be a better teacher.

Michael and I still have to add the lotus petals, (in gold!), but the mural feels almost done.