Thursday, December 29, 2016

Snowflake Bienniale!

I am delighted to have been invited to participate in Heavy Bubble's Snowflake Bienniale.  Thank you Marjorie Grigonis for inviting me!  The opening reception is January 14, 2017, 6:30-9:30 pm.  The closing tea party is February 25th, 4-6pm.  Heavy Bubble HQ, 1241 Carpenter St, Third Floor, Philadelphia, 19147.

My piece is called Shamans Rise UpDone towards the end of 2016, it points to a new direction for 2017:  integration of paper clay with found object assemblage.  I love the flexibility and versatility of paper clay.  It's all I use now.  
I love Heavy Bubble's motto:  "Heavy Bubble makes me happy."  It's true!  Check it out: /.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Today the electors are annointing Donald Trump as our next president, despite the overwhelming popular vote for Hillary Clinton.  The efforts at recount and the small groups of demonstrators at state houses where the electors are voting, don't make any difference.  I just finished this piece, "SOLD", as a small act of protest and resistance.

The gold in the background is genuine gold leaf.  Only the best for the international oligarchs. Much could be said.  I will let SOLD speak for itself.


Addendum on December 20th:  I should have said I was playing around with the idea, and this is what I had so far on the day the electors met.  It continues to evolve.  It isn't finished at all.  I'll post pictures of it when it finally is done!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Intuitive Painting as a Spritual Practice

This was the first of five paintings I did today in a workshop at Pendle Hill:  Intuitive Painting as a Spiritual Practice.  My feelings while doing it were of our post-election confusion and the foreboding sense of darkness covering everything.  It wasn't until I got home that I appreciated the vividness of the light shining through the cracks.  

The art studio building at Pendle Hill shares its overall environment of contemplative simplicity and serenity.  There was enough time over the lunch break to walk a trail, see a pond, and find the bamboo grove.

My journey over the day's trajectory can be seen in painting number five, Opening Heart:

We were a small group of seven, lucky to work with Damini as our guide.
"Damini Celebre is a visionary artist, healer, writer, a lover of the natural worlds, magical worlds, and the inner realms."  

Wow!  How did she create an experience of spontaneous painting without thinking?  I have greater appreciation than ever for the Dada and Surrealist folks and their "automatic painting"!

It was a wonderful day.  I even took my first selfie on my new phone.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Notecards: a new adventure

These designs are so free and fun.  I painted them on one piece of paper
quite a while ago during a play day with my friend Andrea Snyder.

Now as I'm preparing for the Bryn Mawr College Holiday Fair, I came across the sheet of paper and noticed that if divided into fourths, the pieces fit perfectly on blank notecards with envelopes.  

The next step is to see if they can be reproduced in multiples on reasonable quality note card stock, so that I can sell them to the students at a student kind of price.

 Nice gift as a set of four!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Studio Re-Organization - a great way to spend Labor Day Weekend

My flat files were sadly in need of repair, after serving me well for the last twenty-five or so years.  Bowing and shrinkage took its toll.

Things got stacked all over to empty it out,  clearing the way for my nephew Patrick to come and help out.

It wasn't completely starting from scratch, but it was rebuilt anew.

Patrick is a wizard.

These flat files were made for me back when I was living the San Diego area.  They fit perfectly in a closet in the room I was then using as studio space.  Amazingly, when we moved to this house in the Philly area,  it fit perfectly in this closet in my studio.

 It was such a pleasure to load and label things.  Because of this process I found several older pieces that can be updated and made new in exciting ways.  I also found several frames and plexi-boxes that can be re-used, (mostly containing old work that is dispensable,) and are now in their own separate bin.

This makes me happy.

That corner is more or less back together again.  The floor has been scrubbed.  Now I'll find room in the studio for the piano guts that my friend's neighbor gave me, which have been sitting in the mud room.

Elegua, the Afro-Cuban Santeria Orisha that I brought back from Cuba, was supervising.  He is the master of paths, crossroads, and gates.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Multiple Visions: A Nation of Immigrants" is exhibition poster!

I was at City Hall yesterday and was finally able to see the Philly VOTE exhibit that I participated in along with the Dumpster Divers.  It was a shock to see my piece, "Multiple Visions:  A Nation of Immigrants", blown up to poster size at the entrance to the City Hall Gallery. No one had told me.  I had gotten used to the idea that it was the image on the electronic postcard.  Now I saw it in large posters in a variety of locations throughout City Hall, as well as on 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" hard copy postcards.

When I actually saw it in its glass case on the second floor,  it was a relief to see it back to normal size, among all the other Dumpster Diver entries:

One advantage of the large poster is that it becomes possible to read "PETITION FOR NATURALIZATION" repeated on the document in the bottom.  

The petitioner for naturalization was born in Greece in 1883, occupation Peddler.  This document is among the ephemera discarded by the National Archives and given to the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, as is the microfilm and the Archives logo from the film box.

I chose this document as a reminder of our long history of being open to immigrants, making for a nation of "Multiple Visions".  The ballot stubs were saved from when I lived in San Diego County.  As I was making this, I realized how fortunate I was to have lived in a border area for over thirty years, infused with Mexican language, music, food, art, and culture.  It was a privilege to live in a bi-cultural area.   The liberty coin atop the peaceful silver scene conveys that liberty includes a sense of safety, a place to have a home and raise one's family.  I think of J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze".  The United States has always been a haven for people who were not safe in their countries of origin.

I am so proud of our great city this week during the Democratic National Convention, and am very proud that my piece "Multiple Visions: A Nation of Immigrants" plays a part in greeting all the visitors and inviting them to see PHILLY VOTE at City Hall!


Friday, July 15, 2016

The Past Updated: A Sculpture from 1962 Finished in 2016

Now she has a name:  Sweet Georgia Brown, after the record she's mounted on.

This is her final incarnation.  I liked her better plain but once I added the golden embellishment there was no going back.  So I scumbled the gold paint, removed the bead I had put on her forehead, and added the candle and the record.   

You can see her gradual journey from the following entry a few months ago.  What's a few months, when she started in 1962?

It's all an experiment.  Is it better with the golden vine growing up the curves of my sculpture's torso?  Does it detract?  Or is it just a different concept?  

I liked the effect of painting the fired red terra cotta clay with acrylic, especially since the piece was originally done when I was a teenager, around 1962-ish, and then dug out of storage to paint in 2016.  I remember the model well. She was with us for several weeks, and was kind to me, a kid earning my scholarship to an adult class by being the class monitor.

The contours of her back were a natural for a plant running along her spine and branching out, caressing her curves, the bones of her shoulder blade.

Now I wish I had thought to photograph it before I started painting her.

When I first painted the clay I felt like my color choice reflected the model's personality, which remains very real to me. The brown side of her face is close to her natural skin tone.  She was a woman of color, perhaps African-American and Puerto Rican.  Adding the gold embellishments and the third-eye emblem makes her iconic, archetypal.   I think of the figures on Hindu temples:

Looking back on it, I think I kept this sculpture for so many years because of what the model meant to me, when most everything else I made in that era was destroyed or lost.  Only now can I see that as an awkward teenager it was a gift to experience a middle-aged woman so at home with her body, with nakedness, with sensuality.  I am older now than she was then.  I still remember her.  Unearthing this sculpture from the past and updating it feels like my hommage to her and my thanks.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Dragon Tale Ready to Roll!

Dragon Tale is  repaired!  She is up and running.  J-B Kwik cold weld epoxy is wonderful.  I am a fan.  I will take her over to the Community Art Center in Wallingford next week as my entry in their Member's Exhibition.  

I had been aware of African Power Figures from the time I was in high school and saw large numbers of them at the Metropolitan Museum. I can remember being surrounded by them and feeling their collective numinous energy.  I saw these two recently at the Philadelphia Museum:

It reminded me that in the back of my mind when I was making Dragon Tale I had recalled the power and energy of using nails. To my surprise, when I looked on Google Images for African Power Figures there were also some of animals, which I had not seen before, like this double-headed one:

Dragon Tale of course is sweeter and more whimsical.  She carries a different kind of power, the power of history.  As I said previously, "This dragon has tales to tell and steadfastly guards that history,"  in this case a history of an earlier media format: slides.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Tale of Dragon Tale

Dragon Tale is on my studio work table awaiting repair.  She used to look like this:

Initially the wheels were attached with Steel Stick, a wonderful putty-like kind of epoxy.  It worked great for the back wheels, but the front set were trickier and it didn't hold.  I had ordered the set of four faucet handles, which I then rusted. Three of them were the same size, with one slightly larger, the imbalance making it wobbly and harder to attach.  I then tried a kind of super epoxy I had on hand, used for marine repairs that cures underwater.  Hardly necessary, but it just seemed stronger than the usual.  It only worked for a few days.

Fortunately I had learned about J-B Kwik cold weld epoxy and ordered some.  I just have to sandpaper off the other stuff and then give it a try and hope it works.  The upside is this does give me a chance to try the larger wheel facing the back rather than the front and see if I like the angle better that way.

I had initially said:"Dragon Tale makes use of a container for slides. We artists who remember the days of having to take slide photographs of our work, look at it on light boxes and through magnifying loops, and submit slides to enter exhibits are truly dragons. .  This dragon has tales to tell and steadfastly guards that history."  The need for persistent repair and change is also part of this dragon's history. Many times work is unsatisfactory to an artist and needs to be redone again and again;  many times an artist is pleased with work that doesn't sell or isn't juried in. The dragon just keeps rolling along regardless, repairing or changing as necessary.  It's the nature of the beast...

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Skinny Piglet Aching for Love" and Other New Work

"Skinny Piglet Aching for Love"  was the first I had used clay for sculpture since I was high school.  That's a long enough time ago that it felt new, or at least new/old.  What is really new is incorporating clay into my mixed media work, allowing it to be part of found-object assemblage, and making use of color with it.

I got a kick out of mounting Skinny Piglet clinging to his block of hope on a record that rests on a turntable that can be gently rotated.  The record came from this album, and is titled "Get Happy."

Objects have power, even when unseen.  Although the label on the record is obscured,  I like to think that as the record slowly turns, Skinny Piglet is not merely in a rut, going around in circles, but rather tuning in to the "Get Happy" musical message...

In "Swimmingly"  my little clay fish is mounted on a small propeller, one of many wonderful objects I inherited from a fellow Dumpster Diver who was cleaning out her studio.  So sanguine!

"Dragon Tale" makes use of a container for slides.  We artists who remember the days of having to take slide photographs of our work, look at it on light boxes and through magnifying loops, and submit slides to enter exhibits are truly dragons.  This dragon has tales to tell and steadfastly guards that history.

"Packs Easily"  pays homage to my Jewish women ancestors, whose prayers were often informal, in between caring for children, scrubbing clothes, and other household tasks.  This grandmother is holding the Book of Psalms in her lap.  As with today's refugees of all faiths, prayers of the heart pack easily.

Although the dog is glazed, the grandmother figure is the first time I experimented with painting bisqued clay with acrylic only.  I love the possible effects and will explore this more.

I am grateful for Sharon Bartmann's class, 'Ceramics: Breaking the Rules' at Main Line Art Center, which was the genesis for this new direction, and for her invaluable guidance.  The synergy between the people in the group is incredible and I will be back in the Fall.  It works well to play with clay in the class and to finish and assemble the work at home.