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Sunday, July 27, 2014

A poem to go with his July flowers

Micheal’s Climbing Roses

Year One, the ‘Straggle and the Thorn’
two down, hung strangled and forlorn.
Weak shadows cast on rotten steps,
painted nails and twisted ankles.

Ten more pass in the blink of an eye
eleven down, high as the crows fly.
Early Baroque leaf-green reach,
bamboo armatures, black mold, and jar of honey.

Twelve year blossoms dripped echoes,
memories, deals, and heaven’s shadows.
Bones held them out at arms length,
farther out from the hardwood footings,
past the scratches and the smile in her eyes.

In the end, the moth size crimson cuttings
dropped down off the hill, through the bridge
and right between the cheeks of another summer,
touching this time, once again, the older bird heart.
 (written by M. Gellatly)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

out the kitchen screen door

I've been wanting to paint windows or openings to the outside. It is as if my summer where just a blur passing in another world, framed by my lists and present predicament.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

House sitting

It has been a pretty good gig this July, and last year too. Taking care of a moody cat and a sick Basset Hound was a bit more challenging than we anticipated, but worth the place of our own...a place to put our feet up and feed our need for solitary silence between all the socializing. This place came with good art, wi-fi, and fresh flowers! You could hear the river flowing like a rain storm outside the windows, and the morning light on the walls was like a Vermeer painting. On the down side, the Basset peed a lot and he shed so much all the furniture, and our feet, had tufted sprouts of hair. And worst of all the couch ripped open...

Monday, July 21, 2014

sketches of NY, city of dreams

I couldn't sleep because of the bright lights. Then enjoyed resting at the side of the sailing pool in Grand Central park.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Two exhibits in NYC touch on the past, the present

I loved going to the Metropolitan Museum with my little sister and learning more about the history and iconography of early (ancient) Buddhist and Hindu art. The show was sparsely attended compared to other galleries in the Museum, and enabled us to really pause and study the sculptures. We went twice through the exhibition titled: Lost Kingdoms.

The day before, when I came into the city, I went down to the Bowery to the New Museum with my friend Deborah and saw the Here and Elsewhere show of Arab art. It was deeply moving. Half of the work was from thirty years ago, and half was a contemporary dialogue. While we were watching videos of the wall in Palestine, Israel was launching a land strike in the Hamas controlled region. They're trying to find the tunnels into Gaza. The humanity at stake, as seen in the exhibition, was sobering. I had to walk away and gather myself.

Leaving, leaving, left

The sad truth. Spent the day at airports. Did a little drawing on the plane. Will share some of the adventures in the city from yesterday when I relax a little. It's been a great summer... and I wonder if it really is over now.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pond Paint Out

Last day at the farm we hosted a paint out and the weather cooperated. Artists included Eliska and Dean Smiley, Erin Haab, Sue and John Hennelly, Kate Long, Michael Gellatly,  me, and my dad, Julian Strauss.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beating Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma

Ben turned 23 today. It has been a source for many moments of gratitude all day- from breakfast to dinner, when I most often have a moment to contemplate the gift of Life. I didn't think we'd get here from last Thanksgiving when the diagnosis was sinking in.

There is so much to celebrate today. Ben is alive! His mother and father are still feeling sane. My sons have their best friend. There is still a long road to full health- but Ben is beating the odds and that is nothing to sneeze at.
We are all just grains of sand in the giant picture. Some more colorful than others, but all of equal weight. I am so grateful that Ben can still be with us. His colors are bright and sunny.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Art Show in the Barn

Howard Simon is not the first, or the only, artist whose life's work is stored with my father. So, in an attempt to sort, clean and restore several portfolios hidden in the eves, I curated a small showing of this American illustrator, teacher, author, print-maker, painter and sculptor.
Simon was most famous for his work in oils and woodcuts in the 1930's and 40's. As a teenager he studied at the National Academy of Design and went on to the New York Academy of Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris. While in Paris in the 1920's he met his first wife, Charlie May. Together they lived briefly in San Francisco and homesteaded in the Arkansas' Ozark Mountains. Simon traveled for art shows and eventually left the Ozarks for good. He met his second wife and collaborator, the author Mina Lewiton in New York.
Starting in 1950 Simon taught as an adjunct professor at NYU for twenty years, and, after spending summers in the Hudson valley, he spent the last ten years with his third wife, Pony Bouche, teaching art at the Barlow School in Amenia.

Much of his work was burned in a studio fire at Barlow in 1978, and the remaining was held for sale at Simon's death in 1979. So the paintings we have are the survivors and the remnants. Perhaps a mix of personal favorites, like those hung in his own home, and the overlooked. It is a pleasure to see even this small portion of the collection up and on the walls!

Simon illustrated more than 100 books written by others and wrote several himself. His first two wives wrote children's literature, and it is interesting to see the change of media and style Simon used over the decades. He went from Conte crayon and pastel drawings to his mid-career ink line and tonal wash drawings, and, in his later years, woodcut engravings.
One of my favorite of his books is the one Simon wrote and illustrated in the 1970 that told of his homesteading years in the Ozarks during the American economic depression. It is full of how-to descriptions and whimsical stories of neighbors.  Cabin on the Ridge . We have a bound sketchbook of all his sketched used for the book!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blue portrait

It has been an exhausting post-party day, or two! We have been, most often, in the horse barn studio, painting and drawing in sketchbooks and giving tours to family and friends and encouraging participatory painting by anyone under 9 years of age... The place is inspiring. My dad has small sculptures and inventive installations all around us. My sons drop in for a snack and Max plays with clay sculpting. Michael has the oils out and, if he isn't on the light box, he is creating psychedelic cows and wild grass covered sculptures with dad's computer parts...
I am a little less adventurous, but as happy as possible. This is my daily drawing:
Another selfie...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

celebration of love

I have a new brother! His name is Michael, and he is the delightful husband of my baby sister. We celebrated in the countryside of Ancramdale under the full moon with lots of friends, family, food, and lots of dancing!

First the bride danced with her father...

then her husband...
It was a sweet sweet evening. The Spirit was among us. I missed my two other sisters, cousins, and my aunt, but hopefully the new couple can continue celebrating until everyone feels included.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bibiana Matheis at Hammond Museum

A beautiful show up through August in North Salem CT. Bibi curated it, and has included three other Chinese artists. She has included photographs from her fantastic birdcage series in it as well. On the day we toured the show she had just heard the news that she has been awarded this years Individual Artist Executive arts award (from the county legislators of Dutchess County)!!!! The ceremony is in October. I am so proud of her as she has been a long time sweet friend, source of inspiration, and sustaining spirit. Her eye is impeccable, her heart is generous, and her mind is wealthy! I own two of her photographs and they continue to give me joy over the years every time I see them.
Bibiana joins these other artists as past recipients: INDIVIDUAL ARTIST
Blanca Uribe, 1986, Lewis Rubenstein, 1987, Martin & Alice Provensen, 1988, Richard Wilson, 1989, Todd Crow, 1990, Meyer Kupferman, 1991, Nancy Willard, 1992, Elayne Seaman, 1993
Randall Craig Fleischer, 1995, C. Gina Peluse, 1996, Vivian Gaines Tanner Paxton, 1997
Katharine Ryan Aldrich, 1998, Bill Keith, 1999, Nancy Sans, 2000, Father Charlie Coen, 2001, Rodney K. Douglas, 2002, Kantham Chatlapalli, 2003, James Ransome, 2004, Betsy Jacaruso, 2005, Madeleine Segall-Marx, 2006, Natalie Merchant, 2007, Wilfredo Morel, 2008, Joseph Bertolozzi, 2009, Liza Donnelly & Michael Maslin, 2010, Margaret Crenson (posthumously)2011, Billy Name, 2012, and Kathleen Beckmann, 2013  Hurrah for Dutchess County!!!!

July Bliss

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm a freak at coctail parties

Recently I have found it so lovely to have friends who can talk about politics, and the state of the universe. For so long I have been relegated to trying to look good and speak of little importance. Keeping everything light and being decorative is how you throw a good party. I think I like bad parties. I don't want to talk (or listen) about the Kardashians, or Bieber's police record. I don't want to blame one political party or the president. I want to discuss the things we need to know about the food supply, and healthy practices, and our rights as human beings on the same planet as each other.
I'd rather talk about God, death, and poetry, than sex scandals, car chases, and serial killers in the making.
This art is playing with Mylar Dad picked up from the dump, and with the truth about what we should know and what we are being given as news...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Stillness and Nests

Cleaning up the gutters and the driveway with my son, we stumbled across this nest. It was actually pitched between the outdoor light fixture and the back door, so, in my zealous cleaning frame of mind, I made a decision and removed it...before noticing a small egg still inside it. I'm sorry.
No birds were harassing me. I waited in shame for a chirping reprimand and none came. I don't know if it was abandoned a while ago or recently. Perhaps I should have listened first.

I have had this feeling a bit now... I have come up north from Miami and have a limited amount of time to get a lot done... whether cleaning up the horse barn and installing a show or repairing and maintaining my rental house, I rush headlong into it and disturb the cobwebs, the nests, the charm! And then I miss a lot of my friends and want to schedule dates with everybody. But the cell phone doesn't have service, and I can't figure out the care sharing, so I do less. Make peace with being invisible.
I think it comes down to Harmony...
This evening, I sit still and muse on whether anything I am doing really needs to be done, and whether its better to use this vacation to get to know myself or to stimulate my social instincts and to wrestle my house back from the wilderness or to get to know the wilderness inside me. Listening to a building thunderhead, watching a butterfly flit nervously from leaf to leaf outside the door, smelling dinner on the stove top, I pray for another day to arrive so I can try to do it better.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Cup Runneth Over

Can't begin to paint such beauty. But it does inspire me, and fill me with joy.

Good Morning July in Connecticut/ New York (Dutchess and Litchfield county line)!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

the grandsons fill their grandparent's woodshed

In a synchronized move, the boys converged on the holiday weekend and brought in a couple chords. The wood shed had been completely empty since the harsh winter just past. Family has to watch out for each other. It warms my heart to think of how these sweet young men are helping warm the hearth next winter. I am so grateful as a daughter and proud as a mother and aunt!

I've got to thank neighbor Dennis as well... he prepped the job in innumerable ways, and seems to always have my dad's back, especially when most needed.