...or tries to...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Studio Revisted

I felt like going back into my studio in the attic of the Blue Barn today. I think I just plain miss it.

In a funny way, since it's been stored away, I remember it through the photos, and it feels more like a real place I've lived in than if it were right in front of me, on a table, in one inch to one foot scale.

As real as my old studio, at home, that also exists, as it was, only in photographs. So much of the world is all in our heads, it turns out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


No. I'm not here today. 

Not here either,

giving a sand castle a try. (I didn't build this one, but some very talented person(s) came, built, and went away).

Not walking along this path, made up of millions of tiny white shells.

Haven't done any of this in a while. It's ok, I'm awake, I'm alive.
But why don't I? Why don't we? Even when we can. Not all the time, not every day, but sometimes. Sometimes gets short shrift, pushed away like Someday. And is in very short supply.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Joyce's Garden (part 2)

Closer up in Joyce's mountain-side garden. Still-lives from a place not at all still, from the hum and fizz and whir of the smaller things. Even the colors seem to make their own sounds.

One gift that Joyce's garden has given me was this: that one early evening, a few years ago, I went outside to walk. It was the perfect few minutes between day and night, when the mountain top still held the last glow of setting sunlight, but the rest of the woods were darkening: not so dark you couldn't see, but drained of detail, a deep blue-green. And the evening primrose that lined her walk,

(here seen in daylight)

were glowing like lanterns, a color I'll call lavender because I haven't been able to come up with any better name. For those few minutes they nodded and waved a little, lit from within. The gift was this, of course, but it was also a gift of memory-I have those few minutes to define dusk for me, possibly forever.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Joyce's Garden, (part 1)

In May, I wrote a little piece about my friend Joyce's house. A few days ago, she sent me photographs of her garden. And, of course, I had to share them. Joyce's home has always been more than a house, it's the focal point of her many talents and a gracefully composed poem about what she loves. But the interior is only part of her story. Joyce's garden is a genius of choreography-she takes often uncontrollable elements; weather, water, light, individually growing things, insects, birds, and guides their waltz. And her photographs, (all hers), capture the dance. I had to divide my post into two parts because I could hardly bear to edit what she sent me.  

One other thing to know: Joyce's garden sits on a mountain side. 

Next week, the details, the close-ups, the blossoms, the butterflies, the snails.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I can't pretend that I'm not a bit of a dork. Okay, more than a bit. I grew up with tv. I am, literally, a first generation Sesame Streeter, so I can't remember a time in my life when there wasn't a set on somewhere. (Not in my house, particularly, there was a no-tv-before- six-pm rule. But I remember so many Brady Bunch and I Dream of Jeannie re-runs that the rule must have been broken, and often). Anyone born after I graduated high school should be unable to imagine a world where tv was the only visual window to the daily world, and was a place set up for people hired specifically to recite or act out written scripts. Regular folk pretty much showed up only on talk shows and game shows and the evening news, and did what they were told.  I've adjusted, of course. I'm not quite old enough to be buried in the basement of my youth, not yet. But I'm probably more excited to find any aspect of my little world on tv than a kid with a YouTube account. Hence, my dorkiness. And my doing a little tv dance when I saw two of my 20 piece "Collection" sampled on WKYT's news report on the show "More is More", at the Lexington Art League's Loudon House. No matter how small the moment, the tv legitimizer brings out my inner exhibitionist. Well, brings it out a little more than usual.

Anyway, More is More opens tomorrow, a show I'm very excited about. For curator Melissa Vandenberg, the exhibit "examines a common tendency towards multiples and repetition in contemporary art. Whether it's an influence from industry, technology, materialism or consumerism, these serial acts have profound implications about the society that created them". My pieces use repetition to explain and expand on my personal obsessions, so to see them in context with other artist's use of multiplicity is going to be really interesting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

At Kenise Barnes

One thing I miss most about New York is not being in New York. I grew up there, and went to college there, and I am grateful every day that I did. That I could find a two hour break between classes and get to chose between the Met or the Whitney or the New Museum, (etc, etc). That I got to chose from a long list of etceteras at nineteen was the city's great gift. That when I was a teenager I could take a train and in half an hour get to see or hear or watch or walk through the plays and concerts and shops made up by astoundingly creative people I hoped to be like some day. That my summer job was at a nature preserve where I dug up marsh mud and pulled a seining net and marooned a row boat when the tide went out. That when I was small there was a beach nearby and a public pool and we had a big backyard and streets canopied by interlacing Norway maples, and three different states were within driving distance, their landscapes unfolding past the back seat window of my parent's car. But for some reasons I can name and some I can't, I stopped making art. I worked plenty, at textile design, at graphic design, at designing kid's products. But art stopped. I started again in Florida, whatever got tangled up inside me unknotted itself here, maybe because of the distance, maybe the landscape, the extremes, maybe it was just the right time. But whatever I manage to do here has its roots up there, they almost literally stretch their way back up. All the reasons and impulses and origins are culled from that time and place.

But not being there means that I can't go up to see We've Got to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden, at Kenise Barnes' beautiful gallery. Happily for me, my brother Jody still lives in New York, and he and his girlfriend Kirsten went there for me. And took pictures.

Photos from the opening, in Kenise Barnes' blog, here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Red Shoes

On a Saturday afternoon, when I was eleven, my Dad called me into the living room. Channel 13 was airing the film The Red Shoes, and he asked me to sit down and watch it with him. Up until then my cinematic world had been saturated with tv airings of The Planet of The Apes and The Poseidon Adventure, and weekend matinees of Oliver and Dr. Doolittle and Willie Wonka. There was nothing at all wrong with their images of upside down cruise ships and submerged monuments and pick-pocketing orphans and chocolate rivers and giant pink snails. But being asked by my artist father to sit with him and watch an old movie, a movie completely occupied by adults, (ballet dancing adults), was a turning point in my growing up that I didn't truly understand until I was an adult myself, and testing myself in my own version of a creative life.

The center of the 1948 film, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is the ballet of The Red Shoes itself. But the entire movie is so visually balanced and beautiful, something I'm sure I didn't notice when I was eleven. Part of this came from being young, and part from the limitations of our  black and white television. I had the chance to watch it recently, and I couldn't get over the way each scene was composed, like a ballet on a stage but free of its confines. In London, where it begins, every set was balanced like a painting, the red stripe in a woman's dress echoed by roses in the corner, the red of a hat and crimson fingernails. Individual scenes were so elegantly composed, but they moved, and the actors and dancers and acting-dancers animated the film so well - ballerina Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook as the Diaghilev-inspired impresario Boris Lermontov, and the wonderful Leonide Massine, the great character actor of ballet.

 I remember my father pointing things out-making sure that I would see the parts of it he appreciated most, as a lover of painting, and music, and ballet. Making sure I watched Massine as the Shoemaker, watched his face, his hands, saw the way he moved, twisted, leaped.

Today I also see the kind of images that I've always been most attracted to, that may have had their beginnings in the living room with my Dad pointing the way:

Watch the newspaper drifting here, he said, as it turned into a sad pas de deux.

It was so sad, and so beautiful, and I felt, for what might have been the first time, how an abstraction from reality- a film, a dance - could set off emotions that I actually felt in my own life, in my eleventh year, on the edge of my painful teenage years: the fear of losing home, and its safety and love. The dangers and traps of the outer world, in the creative life.

I didn't become a true fan of ballet, though I became a devoted adorer of movies. And I didn't completely understand that day the main theme and battle of The Red Shoes, embodied by Lermentov:

"A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never."
Growing up seeing many examples of people balancing art and love very well negated that for me as a rule to live by, (though, to be honest, I have found myself making that kind of choice often and voluntarily. There is a basic truth within the movie, though theatrically heightened). What The Red Shoes was for me, ultimately, was a gateway. It was a rainy weekend when my father decided that I would understand and appreciate something that he, an artist and an adult, loved, that he thought enough of me to share it with me. That he showed me I was ready, for films, and paintings and ballet and theater, to start to take in both the lovely and the terrible, to appreciate not just the beautiful but the frightening and grotesque beauty in the body and face of the Shoemaker. How you need to know both to truly live.