Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Aging Bodaciously

I loved making this SoulCollage® card at the four day Expressive Arts Therapies Summit in New York City in early November.  We met immediately "post-Sandy", "A triumph of Commitment, Creativity, and Community" as one attendee said.  700 art therapists and therapists who make use of the arts from all over the world managed the travel challenges to show up.  

I signed up for a full day of SoulCollage® with my Facilitator Trainer Kat Kirby, part of a group of 30, including 10 from Russia together with their translator.  It was fun to try a new way of writing about the card after it was made, by making an alphabet poem.  I love how nonlinear it is!

A  Aging
B   bodaciously.
C   Cold
D   daunting
E   environment.
F   Fight
G   groundedly!
H   Hahaha...
I    Intense
J    joy
K   kicking
L   lovingly.
M  Mornings
N   now
O   opening
P   purely.
Q   Quantifiable
R   riches
S   stream -
T   truly
U   underestimated
V   value.
W  Worries
X   xeroed.
Y   Yelling
Z   zestfully.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Watching Gerhard Richter

What a fantastic movie!  I am grateful for netflix.  It arrived in yesterday's mail, just as I took to bed with a horrible head cold.  What better distraction than to watch Gerhard Richter paint, talk about painting, hang exhibits, and be a real person.  Early in the film he looks at the camera and says, "I can't do this - paint while being watched.  It is something done in secret."  As the movie unfolds he seems to have overcome that self-consciousness and we see his awesome works develop.  Sometimes I liked the earlier versions better than the final versions!  It was interesting to see his relationship to the international art world, its museums, galleries, collectors, fans and paparazzi - later telling his assistant it was like theater, and once saying to someone "get me out of here."  

Much of his free flowing technique using squeegees reminded me of a mixed media class I took in which the teacher never used a brush - she just moved paint around with the kind of plaster trowels you get in a hardware store.  Big difference however in doing that on 9" x 12" watercolor paper with acrylics and using giant squeegees on huge canvasses with oil paint, while standing on a ladder!  But because of that experience I have a great appreciation of his signature gestural movements, use of his whole body, and the intuitive nature of his mark making.  I am a fan!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Printmaking Pizzazz!

The printmaking studio at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia is the most amazing workspace I have ever experienced: exciting, overwhelming, intimidating, and stimulating all at once.  I was there for a weekend workshop in monotype and chine colle with Lisa Hamilton, an inspirational teacher.  Just seeing all the various kinds of work areas, with different tools, equipment, requirements, and safety precautions, was a reminder of the broad sweep of the many different techniques and methods just within printmaking alone.

I was happy to discover that oil based inks didn't give me migraines if the clean up was with vegetable oil.  Apparently it was the solvents used for clean up in the old days that made me think I had to stick with water based inks.  It was a pleasure to work in such a conducive environment.  By the second day I felt warmed up and was able to grow in new directions. I'll post the new work when I get it back from the photographer.

I don't quite understand my fascination with printmaking.  It challenges me in so many ways.  Being dyslexic it is hard to think backwards and in reverse (although on an intuitive level perhaps it comes naturally.)  I am frightened of all the flammable and toxic things in the studio, for printmaking methods where I will never venture.  Yet there is an enduring fascination, that has remained over many years now.  I am hooked on the joy of lifting the paper off the press and never quite knowing what I'll see!  Sometimes the surprises are best of all.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harvesting Our Dreams at the Autumn Equinox

I'm excited to be offering a workshop on SoulCollage® and Dreams this Sunday, honoring the Autumn Equinox!

The Equinox is a time a balance, a moment when day and night are of equal length.  These moments of of cosmic shift are beneficial times to explore what our dreams are telling us about our lives and our world, as we look ahead to a new season.

SoulCollage® is a very natural way to explore dreams and their meanings.  Both use the non-linear non-verbal language of image, and both bring messages from our deepest unconscious depths. We'll be tapping into the crisp energy in the air and letting our dreams be part of the harvest that we reap!

I'm looking forward to taking this journey together with others!

To find out more:

Monday, August 13, 2012

SoulCollage® and Dreamwork: The Mystery of Dream Cards

"Dreams are unopened letters from God, and who wouldn't want to open their mail?"  I vividly remember hearing these words in a talk by Kilton Stewart's widow many years ago.  In the mid 20th century, the Stewarts publicized the central role of dreams among the Senoi people of Malaysia, a culture that taught the value of dreams to its children by parents asking them about their dreams over breakfast, and taking the time to listen to and discuss them.

SoulCollage® is a very natural way to explore dreams and their meanings for we 21st century Westerners.  Both use the non-linear non-verbal language of image, and both bring messages from our deepest unconscious depths.  

My Turtle SoulCollage® Card, above, is from a fragment of a specific dream.  On awakening I only remembered seeing a turtle crossing a road and a sense of the turtle being blessed, (even though I knew it had been a much longer dream.)  Other than the turtle itself, none of the rest of this card exactly matches the dream images, but the images I chose do convey the feeling tone of the dream. 

This is one way to make a SoulCollage® Dream Card.  Other Dream Cards in my SoulCollage® deck have come to me like waking dreams.  As with cards in the four Suits, as described by Seena Frost in her book SoulCollage® Evolving, the images are put together intuitively.  We often have no idea why certain images seem to want to 'go together.'  Only after a card was made did it let me know that it was a Dream Card that captured the essence of many repetitive dreams I have had over the years. Again, the images of the card may not be specific to the dream(s), but capture the feeling tone. Following are two examples of this kind of Dream Card:

The following card is still another way that Dream Cards can both be made and can function. It is a card I made in response to a nightmare in which I felt trapped in a narrow place and threatened.  Again, there was no available imagery that was exactly like the dream, but I was able to find imagery that metaphorically conveyed the feeling of it.  As in techniques like re-dreaming a more positive end to a nightmare, or even writing down a different ending and imagining it, the solution was given to me by an image that wanted to be incorporated into the card. The resolution to feeling trapped in a narrow place and threatened was found by incorporating the animal moving forward strongly and firmly.  The animal was not in the dream itself, but wanted to be in my Dream Card!  That only occurred in the course of making the card...  a waking form of re-dreaming a positive ending!   It was a freeing experience to make the card and shifted the energy of the dream for me.

As a SoulCollage® Facilitator, I am very excited to be offering workshops on SoulCollage® and Dreamwork near the Equinoxes and the Solstices, starting with the Autumn Equinox.  I look forward to exploring this amazingly fertile ground together with others!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden!

It's been called a gardener's garden.  I can see why.  It's designed for joy, for pleasure, for replenishing the soul.  It's not an arboretum - there are no labels to make it into a classroom;  no barriers to immediate experience.  It was a hot day today, but there were so many shady groves.  Our grandsons could run all over the meadows, and get soaked in the sprinklers.  An intimate jewel, it is a work of art, that changes from season to season. 

I'm grateful it is nearby.  This was the first time we made it there since moving to the Philly area.  I'll go back alone, with my sketchbook and watercolor pencils!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Honored and Happy

A little boy dressed in his cowboy outfit was a  dramatic foil to the President of the Board of Da Vinci Art Alliance, as she gave the  curatorial talk at last Sunday's reception for  Da Vinci's Annual Members Exhibition.  He strutted, hammed it up, and stole the show, enjoying every minute.

I found out later he was Pat Burns' grandson, there with his father, Pat's son.  I was touched and surprised when my mixed-media piece (above) was awarded the first annual Pat Burns Memorial Prize, (a cash prize).  Pat Burns, who passed away last year, was an extraordinary painter and apparently an equally extraordinary person.

I met a long-time friend of hers at the reception, who by chance happens to live two blocks away from me. The synchronicity of meeting someone who was a close friend of Pat's for forty years and then finding out we are neighbors, felt like something that is meant to be.   I look forward to getting  together with my new friend and neighbor and learning about the the very special person whose legacy I am now connected to and honored by, including viewing a CD of all of Pat's art  that she photographed. 

How could I not feel connected to Pat after being congratulated several times by Pat's son,  and seen her grandson collapsed on his father's shoulder, a worn out little cowboy?

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

A family with kids in their pajamas eating Chinese food directly out of the carton were next to us on the bluffs overlooking the Del Mar California Fair when I took these fireworks shots. Below us was the  Ferris wheel outlined in lights and headlights of traffic on the Coast Highway running next to the ocean.   Fireworks together with the smell of Chinese food ....  yuuuum.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Traveler's Eye

The Traveler's Eye is definitely sharpened, so it seemed the right title for my mixed-media piece above.  The transparent image transfers in The Traveler's Eye are from photographs of street grates in Cordoba, Spain, including my own shadow clicking away.  I strive to see my everyday ordinary world with the same wonder and awareness of detail that I notice when in a new place.

I just delivered The Traveler's Eye to The Da Vinci Art Alliance for its Annual Members Exhibition, titled Summer in the City.  The Opening Awards Reception is next Sunday, July 8, 1-4 p.m and should be a lot of fun.  Da Vinci is a venerable non-profit artists' organization that has been around since 1931.  Its South Philly location is definitely funkier than the trendy and posh Old City galleries.  I like the funk.

Just for fun, here are some photos from my Spanish Street Grate series.  Beautiful, no?

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"It's a meditative trance, scraping the top of your subconscious with a knife.  The shavings may be a song.. "  That's  Bruce Springsteen, describing his songwriting creative process.  We were at the National Constitution Center today on Independence Mall, the same Mall that houses the Liberty Bell, to see The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, an exhibit organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

In the 80's when Springsteen hit it big I was too stuck in classical music to listen to Rock and Roll.  Now in retrospect I appreciate what I was missing!  More touching to me than seeing his guitars or his motorcycle, the photographs or the posters,  were the dozens of lined spiral notebooks with handwritten songs.  They speak to a creative genius whose poetry couldn't stop pouring out.  Sometimes there were crossings out. More often, the pages were uncorrected.

Listening with headphones to an old radio interview, I was awed to hear him describe his creative process.  After the meditative trance phase, came the craft - the refining again and again, with discipline and persistence.  He said 95% of it didn't come to fruition, but when the 5% is something like Born in the U.S.A., the 95% percent fades away and all the work doesn't matter.

I am struck by the similarity of the creative process, across genres, across mediums, across time.  I am grateful to the friends who wanted to see this exhibit with us.  Otherwise we wouldn't have gone and I would have missed out. Now I await the CD compilation of his work they are sending us!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Ensemble Day

"Ensembles" were what Dr. Albert Barnes called his unique juxtapositions of paintings, metalwork,  and decorative arts from different periods, cultures, and styles.  He was obsessed with arranging and re-arranging his ensembles, which were in such marked contrast to conventional museum groupings by era, artist, and area.  We visited the Barnes Foundation in its new Philadelphia incarnation today, in the first week of its much heralded opening.  The old galleries from the Merion campus dating from 1922 are faithfully reproduced within a modern building, tied together with beautiful landscaping, modern climate control, additional amenities and spectacular natural lighting that makes people familiar with the old galleries think the paintings have been cleaned. (They haven't - the colors just sparkle more).

The ensemble concept feels so natural to me.  My mother loved her reproduction of Wilhelm Lehmbruck's Kneeling Woman (above), now mine.  The original is over life-size, but I grew up with this copy and love it in reduced scale.  Mom would juxtapose it with a pitcher whose spout and handle echoed the curves of the Kneeling Woman's body, or the samovar, whose shape complemented the scupture's.  My mother was naive about what she was doing, but she would have felt right at home with Dr. Barnes' ensembles.  She would have loved how he paired particular Pennsylvania Dutch chests under specific paintings, with pottery on them that complemented the Matisse or Renoir or Cezanne above.

Before we moved, I photographed the Kneeling Woman inside my assemblage which I later took apart because the box was too heavy to move across the country.  The pieces will be recycled into new work.

By the time we got home this afternoon, I was exhausted.  I decided to lay down and watch the netflix video that I hadn't had time to watch for over a week,  !Women Art Revolution, a film by Lynn Hershman Leeson, even though it didn't seem quite in keeping with a Barnes day.  "Through intimate interviews, art, and rarely seen archival film and video footage,  !Women Art Revolution reveals how the Feminist Art Movement fused free speech and politics into an art that radically transformed the art and culture of our times."  After watching, I looked at the films's website.  It turns out it was selected and screened by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as one of the three best documentaries of the year in 2011.

I tried to remember if I had seen any women artists at the Barnes, in any of my visits.  Maybe one Mary Cassatt?  What I do remember from the additional new exhibition gallery now displaying the history of the Foundation, was a typed letter by Dr. Barnes bemoaning that all the male students were off fighting the war (WW II), leaving only female students at the Foundation.  The tone of his wording left no doubt that he felt women were less desirable as students.  No criticism here,  just an observation - he was a product of his era, no matter how visionary.

What is the relationship between my Barnes experience this morning and watching the video of !Women Art Revolution this afternoon?  The ensemble concept expands your way of seeing and thinking, about life as well as art.  Juxtapositions matter.  The Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern artists that Barnes collected, his contemporaries he often came to know personally, were rejected and misunderstood in their day - as was he as a collector at the time. He remained bitter about this the rest of his life.  The Feminist artists were rejected, ridiculed, and misunderstood in their day as well.  There is a resonance in the belated recognition of the historical importance and contribution of both Barnes' unique genius and the Feminist Art Movement.  Peter Schjeldahl ends his New Yorker review of the new Barnes saying "The Pharisees of proper taste deemed Barnes weird for his fanatical orchestration of artistic stimuli.  In truth, he was crazy like a prophet."  The movie makes clear that the Pharisees of proper taste kept the Feminist Artists out of traditional museums and galleries and did their best to render them invisible.  Yet we now see how prophetic they were in the ways they have influenced generations of younger women artists.  It was an ensemble day in a way I could not have foreseen! 

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ode to New York from back home in Philly

I learned from the Whitney Biennial that if I was the kind of artist that would reproduce this snapshot of a West Village wall (and the other shots like it) on 7 foot aluminum slabs, or on huge pieces of massive wadded canvas  it would be considered art.  Since I just post it as an album of interesting snapshots on Facebook, it is nothing much...

It was a new experience, showing my Barnes Foundation student ID at both the Guggenheim and the Whitney, and getting in free.  I learned a lot from John Chamberlain's historic retrospective at the Guggenheim.  I had heard about John Chamberlain just starting to weld automobile parts together back when I was a high school student in an adult art class with Jason Seley.  I still think of him as Mr. Seley - would talk about his friend John Chamberlain.  I had no idea the significance of it...  Fifty years later the significance is apparent now to all.  Chamberlain was involved in curating the show, but sadly died before it opened. 

I'm not sure what I learned from the Whitney Biennial.   The little video on curatorial choices didn't answer my questions about it....  Some of the choices seemed like the emperor has no clothes.   I had felt peer pressure to see it.  Everyone I knew had either already seen it, wanted to see it, or thought they should see it. 

Pulse Art Fair was a glimpse of the art business, the industry, except for a couple of organizations that mentor emerging artists who had booths there.  I think I was too tired by that time to do justice to seeing past my first impression that some of it was commercial art masquerading as fine art.

On leaving, I stumbled into boxes of what seemed to be art books being put out as trash on the sidewalk.  They were mostly Sotheby and Christies catalogs, now trash because the auction had already taken place. Sadly, someone's carefully (and expensively) prepared portfolio was also included in the trash. It was heart-wrenching;  truly a New York moment. The man trash-picking next to me said in his British accent, "This would never happen in London."

Bookmark and Share


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pulled Into a Vortex

I wanted to see the famous glass window that Kiki Smith designed for the Eldridge Street Synagogue. There was a lot of publicity when she was awarded the commission, and even more when the window was installed in 2010. As it turned out, the Museum at Eldridge Street was a visceral experience of the  Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant experience on New York's Lower East Side (now Chinatown).

The window pulled me into its unexpected vortex.  Now I want to experience the sanctuary in the winter time at dusk when all the stained glass casts turquoise light.  Despite the need for the major renovation, of which the Smith window is the crowning piece, eighty-five percent of the stained glass is the original.

The ark once held twenty-four torahs and now is empty.  The carving on its doors and the surrounding lintels is majestic.

Our guide helped us imagine what it was like for working class families living in crowded tenements to step into this grandeur.  No wonder it was the social center of the community, the home away from home.  It was the custom for men not to wear a tallit (prayer shawl) until they were married.  That way the young women could spot the eligible bachelors from their perch in the women's balcony.  The women's balcony felt very intimate, and a wonderful vantage point.  Because of the way the bima (podium) was facing, the women had a better view of the unrolled torah, than the men who were on same level with it.

They left one wall showing how it was before the renovation.

Now a mixture of old and new...

Thank you Kiki Smith, for pulling me into the vortex.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Art Fun: ART NOW

FiberPhiladelphia 2012 was an international biennial and regional festival in 40 locations, now coming to a close. It pushed edges and boundaries in innovative,  exciting, and unexpected ways, redefining and transcending materials.  My Barnes Foundation ART NOW class had the privilege of visiting one its most major exhibits on Art Safari with Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosoff, the women behind We heard  from both the Curator and Director of FiberPhiladelphia at this preview before it officially opened.  What an amazing experience!  Watch the video an you'll see for yourself.  

 I love this installation of transparent people that constantly moved and changed from every angle:

ART NOW has given us the back story on so many galleries, museums, and art spaces in Philly.  I will miss the class when it comes to an end in a few weeks.  Its impact will last the rest of my life.

Another highlight of our fourteen week ART NOW class: At Bahdeebahdu I was fascinated with Warren Muller's fantastical sculptures using salvaged repurposed stuff made beautiful and luminous.  Anything and everything can be an art supply! Browsing the website is a treat:  After visiting I also now know how to pronounce Bahdeebahdu.  Meeting Warren and his associates, and hearing him talk about his astonishing career that spans so many of the arts was inspiring.  Seeing his inventory of junk, and knowing there was a barn filled with more out in the country, made me feel like my garage sale and flea market habit to gather art supplies is very small potatoes.  Here is one thing not on his website:  the bathroom has a wonderful open shower area, with a wall of assemblage.  If you look carefully, you can see the knob in the center of the most interesting shower wall I have ever seen!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mindfulness and Jurying?

My monotype Genesis is in fact the genesis of my starting to work abstractly for the first time.  It is a joy when I feel the gestural freedom that is possible with monoprinting.  

At the Main Line Art Center's Members show recently, Genesis was awarded the Square One Award.  The Juror was Robert Cozzolino, Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

A few weeks later, it was rejected by the juror for the Artists Equity Association members' exhibit at West Chester University.  What does this mean?

Mindfulness is accepting. It doesn’t label good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. The moment is simply the moment.  A behavior is simply a behavior. No judgment.  

I think that means I can't take either event too personally.  But personally, I'm happy to have the prize.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Salt Art Installations!

Japanese artist Yamamoto Motoi creates amazing large scale installations out of salt! He uses a tube to draw with the salt in a similar way to what I have seen watching Tibetan Monks making sand mandalas.  When this exhibition at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Kanagawa, Japan ended, the public was invited to help dismantle the installation and carry all seven tons of salt back to the ocean.  This too is how the Tibetan Monks return their mandalas to a body of water. 

I am fascinated with impermanence - whether sand castles, snow circles, or salt installations!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snow Circles - an amazing art form!

Much as I am looking forward to Spring, these snow circles are so beautiful I can't resist sharing them. I love their temporality...the winter equivalent of sand castles that get washed away!

Snow Circles from Beauregard, Steamboat Aerials on Vimeo.

Bookmark and Share