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Friday, September 30, 2016

Another Fencepost adventure

I'm headed back to the farm for the weekend!
Can't wait to see my family...hug my pa, and walk the fence line. (mixed media in sketchbook)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My secret garden

Serving others all day is the cost for the evening moments when I can cuddle up under the lamp with a new book.
And Saturdays, without a rude waking alarm, can be heavenly! Artwork on my wall by Mark Ziobro top left, and Hoda Kashiha and bottom Jackie Gopie.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

wings and many prayers

sketchbook page
A colleague of mine had open heart surgery today. He's been waiting nervously in the hospital for over a week now and I know his family is exhausted. I pray they find the energy and the sustenance to pull through. My life is blessed by proximity to unsung heroes. This man certainly is a special hero one to many of the kids and faculty on campus.

Making something, like a drawing in my sketchbook, helps me focus my energies, and calm my nerves. While drawing and painting this image I prayed for my friend, for angels help and God's love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Miami Basel in sight on horizon

The Guernica seen through carnival fun mirrors is the Miami Basel hype. There is a rumble through the artist studios. Where is the work? Who has the work? What is to be said? How much time do we have? Who has the money? When? And of course... though many try not to ask it, Why?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hand it to my Senior artists

Using linoleum carving, printing and collage these young artists made a statement about their hands. Each work is a personal reflection of who they are. Each one is marvelous!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Call me "Pictor Celerrimus"

Me painting Wings
One of my talents is that I can paint fast. I have always wanted to try one of the "1, 2, 3,draw" type of contests and, with that in mind, I have entered a talent show later this week where I will have 3 minutes to paint a portrait. My subject will be singing a song that will last the time I need to create a suitable likeness of him. It should be a real lark!
In my research of Lucas Cranach as my ancestral grandfather and artistic muse, I was delighted to find out that he was also talented with a speedy brush. Called "Pictor Celerrimus" or "fast brush", Lucas Cranach was granted a crest in 1508 by the Saxon Elector Friedrich The Wise that was emblematic of his speed- a winged serpent! Cranach used the winged serpent to sign his paintings, prints, and public works that were created from his workshop. After his 24 year old eldest son Hans died in 1537, the workshop, carried on by the second son, Lucas the Younger, altered  the wings of the serpent from a wide spread to softly folded back. 
Ever prolific, and living into his 80's, fifteen hundred paintings exist that can be traced to his workshop! In addition Cranach had one of the earliest printing presses and printed millions of illustrated pamphlets during the Reformation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Severed heads and the pretty picture

 Lucas Cranach and his 15th century workshop cranked out dozens upon dozens of variations of the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. The ladies may vary, but they consistently depict the heroine as an absentminded or smug 15th century lady of nobility. His models were ladies ranking from high society. They wore their best outfits to pose for him. He painted them, and his journeymen copied them over and over again for the open market.
Cranach was a collaborator with Martin Luther, supporting the Protestant reformation. The story of Judith struck a chord with the Protestant reformers, since it described the courage of a small nation (such as Saxony) resisting a tyrant from outside who sought to impose his own beliefs about God on them, (such as the Pope).  Some historians, like Steven Ozment in The Serpent and the Lamb (Yale Press 2011), say that Cranach was championing the female in society by calling out her wily wits and upper hand over the dreamy drunken sex-obsessed males. They conclude that the Cranach workshop's obsessive manufacture of Judith paintings are proof of a contemporary belief in the superior intelligence, courage and social equality of women.
There was definitely an attempt at this time to balance the classic focus of male heroes in Christian tradition with biblical heroines who could be role models of particular virtues. Judith is the sober beauty who sacrifices her body to a rapist in order to disarm the enemy and save her city. Am I the only one to find the conjectured historical analysis of this series of paintings to be a little blind? She has just slain a man! None of this is a message of equality or virtue. It is more like a threat...and a warning.
Are two heads better than one?
Why not three?
After Cranach

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In praise of my drawing classes

My students are amazing. Here is work drawn from life in ink from two of my drawing classes which are mostly made up of 9th and 10th graders.We worked from a still life and borrowed plants from other faculty members. The aim was to  emphasize positive negative space (in the plants), and cross contour lines, as well as line weight (in the still life).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sign of Female Identity

Bosom buddies
I am proud to still have my original breasts. Sometimes I feel less valued by society. For all the lip service given about motherhood, or the importance of arts, or a higher education... none of that seems to describe  categorize me to strangers as well as "a pair of tits". Art history has taught me that the female cannot escape the male gaze and that the male controls who writes, (and how it is written), the Story.
Linoleum prints and collage

Like a prayer flag of sorts...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Neanderthal meets Plasticine Brain

Neanderthal/Plasticine brain
Contemporary Gods and Goddesses

Modern Currency

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sleeping Beauty

This isn’t the first hundred years of distorted body ideals. The curious success and the sexual provocation of the "Hottentot Venus" influenced the fashion of Victorian women. The Bustle and the Basques, which called for layers of short over-skirts, bows, belts and lots of trimmings, hung over a framework that ballooned out the shape of the female form beyond her natural waist and hips. A tightly laced bodice emphasized a tiny waistline, which is still in the vogue, sans petticoat today.
My inner Barbie again
The first breast implant was made on a French lady in 1895. World war I dramatically increased the stature of plastic surgeons. In 1962 the first silicone breast implant was created. In 1982 doctors in America import the French technique of liposuction.

Today Plastic Surgery is a growing option. In 2014, plastic surgeons performed 15.6 million cosmetic procedures. The demand for plastic surgery continues to grow as medical advances offer a wider array of options for patients. The American Society of Plastic surgeons  (founded in 1937), statistics say that buttock implants and lifts are among the fastest growing procedures over the past year. The top procedures, world wide, are breast augmentation followed by nose reshaping. And males are having plastic surgery at significantly increased rates since 2000. The top two procedures are pectoral implants and male breast reductions

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Dark Ages in 12 words

 Famine, Forts, Church, Plagues, Monks, Invasions, War, Illiteracy, Serfdom, Crusades and Poverty
This is kind of my sketchbook on a wall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

my inner Barbie

The detail of a Barbie torso reveals thin arms barely connected and a pinched waist that is as exaggeratedly thin as the Venus of Willendorf is fat. Barbie has prominent breasts and impossibly tiny feet. Modeled after a 1950’s sex toy, the Lilli, made for men in Germany, the Barbie doll met with some wariness in American mothers. My own mother refused to let my sister and I have one. Created in 1959, three years before I was born, the Barbie by Mattel was the first 3-dimensional adult doll made for children. In the first year alone Mattel sold 300,000! Since then the vinyl doll has been in robust production. The company notes that in the 1990's two Barbies were sold every second world wide. Perhaps you have one?

One evening when I was five, our babysitter gave us her whole collection, which included a wardrobe, etc. and we convinced our mother we couldn't not accept the gift.
My Barbie came with a tiny book titled, How to Lose Weight. Inside it’s only recommendation was “Don’t eat”.
I was enthralled by her long blond hair, her wide eyes, her perfect ski-jump nose and her impossibly tiny feet and waist. She was my Venus. She was the epitome of female beauty. The problem was when I looked in the mirror I saw a dark haired, dark eyed girl of Jewish descent. I got my Barbie...and that was probably the beginning of internalizing the shortcomings of my own body.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

She's a rock star

Imagine little paleolithic girls everywhere playing with their dolls and hoping to grow up and look like one of them... at least a little bit like them. 
Seems through time and across all ages, women are fed images that distort the figure and hype a beauty that is impossible to achieve. It's the cult of feminine inadequacy. Girls hope to be anything but themselves.
These figurines, hundreds of them, a hundred thousands of years old, have been found in archeological sites of paleolithic domestic shelters. They are not burned or buried or placed with other ritual objects, leading me to believe they were just toys for pleasure. There is a distinct variety to the forms, that males have all dubbed- "Venus figures", conjecturing that they have something to do with fertility rites, etc.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Body image and the Kardashian

Willendorf doll from the Paleolithic era / my sketchbook
Thinking about the aesthetics of beauty and where the battle is set for women. The bar of the ideal, with the proportions that excite and validate who we are, as we are constantly gazed at... is unattainable and always, always, always has been. Perfection is distortion.
 When Kim Kardashian broke the internet with her photo balancing a champagne glass on her ass, she was recreating a famous stunt  of the long dead Sara Baartman, "the Hottentot Venus". The slight difference between the women is that one was a slave displayed like a freak show and the other... well, does it for her own income. 

Kim Kardashian's Jungle Fever photo shoot/ my sketchbook
The brief life of Sara (bought by a  Scottish doctor from her country in southeast Africa, and sold to a European showman to be paraded around France), included being studied as a racial validation of a link between Black humans and animals. She was displayed wearing nothing but a collar and leash, and with a (grass?) skirt. For a penny you could look at her, for a bit more you could poke her with a stick. There was a sexual fascination with her. Sara insisted on the skirt, though she was constantly asked to remove it, and upon her death her vagina was cut from her torso and displayed in an anthropological museum in Paris.
sketchbook page
 At the time of Baartman's death the Victorian fashion for the 'bustle" started. All the ladies wanted an ass like Baartman!  So where does our sense of fashion and beauty really stem from?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cranach portraits of parents

With my new old computer, I can't import the edited pictures, sorry.
Lucas Cranach, popular in his time (the 1500's), fell out of favor with the art historians because he was not a textbook example of the Renaissance. His images lack the smoky blue aerial perspective made so famous during the Renaissance. His figures most often feature an illustrative linear edge to them, as a byproduct of Cranach's work with woodcuts and the printing press. He uses black, which has been disdained by artists since the Egyptian wall murals until the emergence of Goya in Spain and Picasso in France.  When art history does include Cranach, they call him the "artist of the Reformation". It was through his workshop and with his printing presses that literally millions of pamphlets discussing religious, social and political reforms were created. Cranach was a good friend of Martin Luther, (they were God parents to each other's kids, and witnesses at each others marriages), and Cranach painted the famous rebel theologist all through his life. Without those paintings we would not know so clearly what Luther looked like.
When Martin Luther infuriated the Pope, Luther had to seek refuge for several years in the court of Frederick III the Wise, elector of Saxony. That happened to be where Cranach was serving as court painter, so naturally there were plenty of opportunities to paint Luther and his wife Kate, and their kids. In 1527 Luther's parents, Hans and Margerithe visited the court. They would die within the next 4 years. Cranach paints them with a sympathetic eye and later added the gold text behind their portraits.
I decided to do my own version. And slightly change the texts to reveal some of the unsympathetic feelings of the day! Anyone read German?
The father was supposedly very disappointed in Luther, and there was speculation that Luther's dismantling of the Catholic church's power was a direct rebellion against his father, (who had hoped he'd become a lawyer). And the mother, called Hanna by those close to her, was no-nonsense, (she raised at least 9 children), and reportedly punished them with a whipping that could draw blood. During Luther's battle with the Catholic church, he was slandered and accused of being a product of a whoreish mother, and rumors spread accusing Margerithe of sleeping with the Devil in the wash house! Imagine those kind of accusations in our politics today...