...or tries to...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Petri Dish

If art-making is a transformation of the invisible into the visible, then the petri dish is the perfect metaphor. Target Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia has assembled a small works exhibition with one stipulation-the pieces must fit the parameters of a petri dish. Two of my biotopes are taking part:

Amy Gross, Cultured Biotope, Parasol Mushrooms with Ears

Amy Gross, Cultured Biotope, Pomegranate and Crown of Thorns Blossoms

All the works in the show are here, on the Target Gallery blog,
and the show itself runs December 1st - 31st, (reception December 8th, from 6 to 8).

Target Gallery, in the Torpedo Factory Art Center

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Humble Pie

Stick me with apples and my Mom's New Settlement Cookbook, (the one so well-used that the spine has peeled away and the cover has fallen off, the one with the water stains, the one that also teaches you how to set the table), and I manage  the only thing I can bake, apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner with my aunts and uncles and cousins.

Thank you that everyone who was there last year is still here.

Thank you for good company while I bake:

The crust is never even, I never flute the edges as artfully as I think I should. Food bloggers would cringe-it's never exactly magazine worthy. Like actual life. But it'll do fine.

(The best baker I know-right here)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Collections: Vintage jewelry

I've never owned a piece of jewelry that had an ounce of worldly value.  I'll never have any stories about trading in the family jewels to save the house. But ask me about my all-time favorite necklace and I'll describe the plastic Oreo cookie with a bite taken out of it, on a leather string, a reward for a good third grade report card. Or the egg with a chick peeping out from the cracks, strung on chord, or the hand painted driftwood mouse. I barely remember anything else, anything bought in a jewelry store.

So maybe that's why I love thrift store jewelry, second-hand, or third, or fourth.  Things buried deep in yard sale bins, sealed up in baggies, in the back of the case near the cashier at Goodwill. It's almost as if you're adopting them, becoming part of their story. In one case, it's a story I know-the snake belt was my Mom's, her gift to me. The rest are anonymous, but make suggestions all the time, of seventies fondue parties, of a sweater-set teenager's high school graduation,  braless young women in  turtlenecks at a Women's Lib rally, long nailed fingers holding cigarettes at a Ladies Luncheon. Cliches, of course, as most suggestions are. Someday, maybe, someone will wear my own silver charm bracelet, read the charms, and make up a story of her own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coral Gables

On Sunday my friend Amy and I drove south to Coral Gables in her new red car to see the play Red. And after a week of laboring on a piece consisting of thirty red fiber objects, it's been a decidedly red week, completed by a jarring sight, in the play, of artist Mark Rothko asleep in his studio with his arms immersed in a bucket of bright red paint. After the play the world outside was mercifully green and yellow and blue. The rows of trees, ficus and banyans, formed wonderful tunnels through all that low blue Miami light. The street I grew up on, on Long Island, was not nearly as dramatic or grand, but our maples were decades old and linked branches over the road this way. They weren't as large or embracing, but this is how I remember them, and I love the trees here as if I grew up under them.

The buildings are beautiful, iced like cakes...

with The Biltmore Hotel  at the neighborhood's center, with all its Di Chirico angles and shadows,

its swimming-pool-blue tilework,

and twilight interior.

The chandeliers are like brooches, and the ceilings as intricate as if they were embroidered.

It's a mix of Italian and Moorish and Spanish architecture, collaged together with the "why not?" that Americans have always been so good at. It shouldn't make sense, though it does, because it's here. You can't quite place the hotel, each corner recalls someplace else, but it still manages to be recognizable as itself somehow, a South Florida design buffet. It fits my adopted state perfectly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

HESA Inprint

I'm thrilled beyond thrilled to be part of HESA Inprint magazine's Botany issue, and in such good company. Sometimes a theme just calls out to you. HESA is a joint English and Finnish creation, a lovely orchestration of art and literature, and has a fascinating blog as well. Each month follows a topic, collects all kinds of creative work that fits the theme, and follows the variations-each as individual as you would imagine it could be.

To see their beautiful blog, and the issue: just click!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I've passed these trees many times on my way back home from places, and I love their gothic cloaked drama. They're frozen in what seems like a continuous Boo. But, really, they're just unfortunate to be set in a lot that no one pays much attention to-they're smothered by an invasive vine that doesn't belong here. An errant combination of man and nature's symbiosis rules this yard, so much so that now the trees are less of what they are than what they're covered in. Actors must feel this, when they're more of who they're pretending to be than they are themselves.

Symbiosis is such a factor of life that you could say it defines life-we are what we are joined to, physically and emotionally. Florida is like a visual symbiosis encyclopedia, and its effects are almost impossible to avoid-almost every walled community is framed by drainage canals gone jungle-dark thick tangles of life growing around and onto and into each other.

We don't have the kudzu of the deep South, but we have things like strangler figs, clutching palms as they grip and squeeze and choke.

So many things shoot out roots and climb-and faster than you would think possible.

And duckweed spreads,

until the water seems solid, and both are inseparable.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday night at Whitespace

Last night was the first show of the season at Whitespace. One more reason I love living here is that art is often in places you wouldn't expect, down side roads and in warehouses and converted buildings. Elayne and Dr. Marvin Mordes live with their collection in a transformed dental laboratory, but share much of it with us, rearranging the pieces once a year. A section of the space, Whitebox, is devoted to exhibits, this month to Claudia Alvarez and Marty Kelly.

Claudia Alvarez
Work from their permanent collection:

Christian Boltanski
Richard Long (floor), and Doug Aitken (wall)

Erwin Wurm's The Artist Who Swallowed the World

Here's more about the Mordeses and their art, how they live with the work they collect, and eerily, one of the last photographs taken of my Dad, a year and a half ago, (the picture of the backs of people looking into Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung's newspaper video theater-my Dad is second from the left, my Mom is wearing the white jacket, and there's a little piece of my face between them). The art world is not a small world at all, but sometimes, it is.