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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pearls of wisdom

Someone I love very (very, very) much survived an accident this week, ...pretty beat up. When I cried telling the story to a colleague, he asked me if I was crying tears of joy, because my love was alive and had been wearing a helmet.

"No,"said I. I was crying for myself as helpless and painfully hopeless facing the situation.

After thinking about feeling that good-ole-comfortable-victim-feeling for a day, I shifted my focus and I prayed as if I were happy, (or well, okay), about the situation. I focused on gratitude instead of pain. I changed my attitude. Though suffering has been my nature, I am practically exuberant now and thankful for miracles seen and unseen. The change in my attitude makes life bearable.
 Even laughed all through dinner tonight.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Scholastic awards students of exception at the Rubell today

 Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends all came out to celebrate art students of exceptional talent.
 Out of 4000 submissions, only 275 artworks were picked to meet the Scholastic criteria of excellence.
 Art teachers stood around the edges of the room beaming with pride.
that's me!

Stefani accepts a silver key

Stefani with her family in front of her work
Two of my students, Stefani and Kelly, got recognized. I was also pleased to see the works of the my best friend Krisse's nieces from DASH, who, between them, got two gold and a silver! wooohooo.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Honoring those working the night shifts

Delfina, 5 years here,  painted by Dylan
Our school has recently decided to go with a new maintenance and cleaning company. The "fine print" in that decision revealed that all the staff, who had been there for up to 22 years, were let go... right at Christmas. It was difficult for many of us in the community to hear. Most of us were torn up because of the relationship and the trust we had built up with the staff, and we had to continue working without voicing our opinion.
I have to respect that this decision was made without sharing all the facts of the situation. We must have faith that the new leadership of the school has the best intentions in mind for the future of the school. We must have faith. Change is always difficult.

William, who had been there 11 years

Arturo, one year...and he got to stay with us
Several of my students tried to honor the staff with portraits. I have had them in the display cases for the last two weeks and will be delivering them to the subjects as gifts from the students this week.
Beloved Hugo, 22 years at our school
 Hugo was drawn by one of the juniors in the AP classroom, Ana ... she had her friend Victoria take the photograph from which she drew with her signature sensitivity! We are all hoping Hugo has a good job now.
Daisy, 7 years- she cleaned my classroom every night
Evelyn, 4 years, cleaned the bathrooms
It seems as though even talking about this turnover is a risk. There is very little job security when you work at a private school. Only a handful of my colleagues have even acknowledged the display of the artworks. I have been told by several that I am brave to have made this feeble gesture. How could I not? Art is the perfect vehicle for digesting difficult situations and feelings. It gives the powerless a voice. The students felt empowered painting these.

Raul, 5 years
Odalis, 3 years, always laughing

Armando, 15 years
Abel, head of the night crew, 1 and 1/2 years
Abel had the most positive attitude. He insisted Change was good, and perhaps with a new job he could see his family more often.
Rubenia, 2 years
Rollie, could fix or build anything... at our school 18 years

Lazaro, 2 years
Not pictured: Gabriel, 4 years here, cleaned the private and main dining halls.
Each painting is 20 x 16 inches and made in the media that the student felt most comfortable with.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Miami estate conjured up from a time well past still captures all my senses

We spent part of today at Mr. Deering's playful estate, the Viscaya in Coconut Grove, walking the grounds. Instead of peacocks and paramours there were herons, iguanas, foreign tourists and multiple "Quinceneros" photo shoots. Mostly a symmetrical layout directing the guest to the mansion, the gardens offered multiple side nooks for isolated pleasures. There are pools, amphitheaters, and even a labyrinth! The lines and textures of the estate were soothingly beautiful. It was all breathtakingly beautiful. Decay and growth vied for attention.

Built at the turn of the century, the area was originally surrounded by mangroves and wilderness. If it were not for the helicopters checking highway conditions overhead, I would have been traveling back through history when lavish homes mimicked the aristocratic palaces of Europe. Now South Miami Avenue is right out front, intersecting US 1 and connecting Mercy hospital with the yuppy Brickell area of downtown and the million dollar mansions to the south.
In the sanctuary of the estate walls, coral rocks dredged from canals are lined with statues, a lot of which are concrete cast and given the aged patina. Vines crawl over the edges of the walls and coral steps are smoothed by the feet of millions of tourists. It's been a hundred years and still the whole place is a fantasy land myth, a stage set, with a mood conjured by a man with a desire to play with the image of ostentatiously genteel wealth.


Michael in the Grotto like entrance to the "secret garden"
The statues on the cement barge were designed by the father of Alexander Calder- Alexander Stirling Calder.

Michael at Viscaya next Wednesday- SOLD OUT

The newspapers are hailing this as a magical evening tour with premier map maker, Michael Gellatly. Participants will be given a map made by Michael specifically for the evening. With his recent maps for the Game of Thrones behind him, Michael will share insight into how map-makers view lines, boundaries, and incidental fantasies. I am sure it will be a magical evening. Michael was recently interviewed by Diane C. Lade for the The Sun Sentinal : read Sun Sentinal newspaper article here.

The Viscaya website says the following: Vizcaya is founded on ideas about and inspirations from exploration. Exploration of culture through artifacts; lands by sea and stars; and history through literature and legend. Join our curator Gina Wouters, writer Nathaniel Sandler and Game of Thrones cartographer Michael Getlattly to explore Vizcaya through these lenses. Who knows what you might discover!

During the program, Sandler, Wouters and Gellatly will lead participants on a tour through Vizcaya’s gardens and grounds highlighting objects in our collection that center on exploration. After the tour, participants are welcome to explore the house to discover a host of other exploration-themed objects.

Friday, January 16, 2015

artist resident Lizbeth Orloff

The ARTHOUSE (at the falls) welcomed our first visiting artist, Lizbeth Orloff. She's from Sweden and works in ceramics. Being right next door to the Miami Ceramic League, our studio is the perfect place for her while she stays in Miami this winter.We expect this to be a fruitful exchange!
late afternoon light at the ARTHOUSE warehouse

Martha Larmier, Mariana Rodriguez, Zanze Fowler and Lizbeth Orloff

Lizbeth Orloff ready to work!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Head in the clouds

So happy after winning first place in the Grove House Artist's Affair En Plein Air at the Deering Estate this weekend, I had to paint another picture.

Quite windy here!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

First Place!!!

The Affair En Plein Air ended today with a jurying by Dan Bondroff. My heart was sinking as Barbara from the Grove House Artists read the list of winners, from juror's choice, to honorable mention, third, and second place. I never expected to take first place! (The prize money will help me get to VSC this summer!- Oh joy!)
10 x 10 inches, acrylic on canvas
This was painted at one of my favorite spots upon entering the Deering Estate. It is where the long path leads you through the jacaranda canopy, along the mango grove, towards the stone mansion, and then----Aha!--- the ocean opens up- actually Biscayne Bay. It takes your breath away standing there and feeling the ocean breeze, when your car keys (and memories of the road) are still warm in your hands. Looking past the Royal Palms and beyond the groomed lawn, out on the jetty, you can glimpse Chicken Key. Every evening hundreds and hundreds of ibis fly in to roost the night on it. If you catch sunrise, you can see and hear the music of wings as they lift off and start their day.
Here are some of the other paintings by Grove House Artists and local high school students being lined up at the end of the day:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

painting in plein air at the Deering Estate in Cutler

looks like my canvas is sprouting leaves
The Plein Air event will continue tomorrow! Great way to spend a beautiful day. If only... I could forget my third grade teacher who told me I could not paint trees!!! It is very frustrating.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Grove House Artists

Doing a Plein Air event tomorrow at the Deering Estate. 10-4 Saturday and 10- 1 Sunday
Come by and see me paint. I'm pretty fast and enjoy company too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

If you think free speech is ugly...

day dreaming strange/normal expectations
you should see the alternative #CharlieHabdo. Strange expectations are setting in with the recent terrorist attack in Paris. Journalists and cartoonists have been shot to death in their office! I heard it has been an increase (last year) record for journalist's harassment, imprisonment, and murder! It happens all over the world now- even in Paris, the cultural capitol of the West. Sirens and censorship will threaten to become the norm. We are a strange species, who kill in the name of a God. Today hundreds of cartoonists draw out in solidarity of the murdered 4 (no- 5!) cartoonists. #Je suis Charlie. I scrapped all pre-plans for my classes and did a lesson on democracy, cartooning, and the real Art of free speech. We raised our pens and had a moment of silence for the victims and their families in France. I will post some of their cartoons tomorrow.
According to twitter- Google is donating $300,000 to CharlieHebdo

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Getting my bearings in the classroom

I'm talking too much. New students, new routines, new lesson plans, one period after another until I can barely stand, and I wonder if I'm repeating myself to the same group. They. are. all. in a jumble. After the last bell rang, my thoughts circled around the quote about it "being the space between the letters" that defined typography. And so, in this work, the space defines the page. I sketch so that in the space between teaching I may find myself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Housecleaning, not

My weary (beginnings of) attempts to put away the holiday clutter, were interrupted by internet surfing.  One of my favorite bloggers, Joel Achenbach,  says it all in his The Post Christmas Purge.
What to do with all the lovely cards?