...or tries to...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


“Here are some questions I am constantly noodling over: Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if it's your last, or do you save your money on the chance you'll live twenty more years? Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses? And where do carbohydrates fit into all this? Are we really all going to spend our last years avoiding bread, especially now that bread in American is so unbelievable delicious? "

So today we went out and ate all kinds of bread. 

Thank you, Nora, for this and many other things.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Studio Verite

photo: Jacques de Beaufort

This post comes in squarely in the Shameless Self-Promotion catagory, so going in, believe me, I realize this. But it's also about a phobia that previously made my eyes roll back and my brain white-out, the concept of being videotaped. For me, it's been an almost primordial fear, something I felt I was born with, though I know that isn't true. It was a perfect example of nurture and nature, a combo of a bad audition, spur-of-the-moment tv interviews and some kind of inborn reticence. Artist Jacques de Beaufort, who video interviewed me for his series Studio Verite, and whose m.o. covers painting, drawing and film making, managed to make the entire process impossibly fantastic and natural and, possibly, life changing, as a fear-conquering experience should be. Maybe it serves to finally understand that we really don't know how things are going to turn out. Thank you, Jacques.

Studio Vérité: Amy Gross from Jacques de Beaufort on Vimeo.

Check out Jacques' intriguing studio visits here,

and his work here.

Oh, and hang in at the end of the video, there's a little doll house talk there too...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday in the Park with Mom

I live right off a main road that starts at the ocean, (if you see the ocean as the beginning of things), and reaches inland, due west all the way to the Florida Everglades. As you go west the shopping centers drift away, the named communities, the billboards. You go under the turnpike and past the piles of colored mulch, the nurseries that grow the trees that fill in the named communities. The fences go from metal to wood, the scrub they hold in gets wilder, thicker, tangled up. And then the road ends, its completion punctuated by three red reflectors mounted on an aluminum bar. Beyond it, the swamp, the alligators, the illegally released pythons, the sea of grass. To the right, the park, as close as we can get to the 'glades before the solid ground gives way.

Mom and I went there to walk yesterday evening, because, after a day, a string of days, a string of weeks where everything was within arm's length, we needed to be someplace where our eyes could stretch out,

and the sky made everything small.

The roads and paths there left the grid and wove a little,

through clusters of cyprus trees

and there were just our footsteps, and insect whir, and red bellied woodpeckers taunting each other, our own talking, and other sounds we didn't recognize, (distant whines and buzzing),

that turned out to be, after a turn,

a tiny dirt track for tiny dirt cars,

a man and his miniature helicopter,

(it also flies upside down)

and at the end of this paved road, a very small airport

where a very small jet plane came in for a landing.

But after all the whirling and jumping and soaring and buzzing,

we walked back where we started,

and the shadows turned blue, the yellows lit up.

The water was edged with deep green and purple,

rimmed with shells,

(my shell now),

and welcome to alligators.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Life on Earth, a play in one brief metaphorical act

Open on : A bucolic morning, soft and quiet, punctuated by patches of sunlight.

  Solomon dozes,

and Oliver ponders,

and eventually they fall asleep together, on the appropriately named daybed,

paws just touching.

Silence extends four minutes. The audience is given time to soften.

Solomon:     Whah?
Oliver:         Huhn?
Solomon:     You.
Oliver:         Me.

Both: Pppthhhhhowwwwrrrrrrggggrrrrreh

And: scene.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Perfect Scale

I  keep thinking about my friend Sans' lovely post about her art project with her nephew, Nat, all about perfectionism and spontaneity. I've been mulling over the amount of control you need to assert over your process, how much you need to rein in and how much you need to let go, to have your artwork resemble what you imagine in your head. It's a constant back and forth, of course, there has to be some idea of a direct route, a certain amount of stick to your guns perfectionism to get flying, amorphous ideas to take a reasonable shape. But how much, and when, do you allow for accident, impulse, foolishness? Part of it depends on how you work - if what you do needs a steady hand, most of the free thinking probably needs to come early, in the planning stage. But if what you do allows for wrong turns, erasing, tearing out, you're more fortunate. You can riff.

The whole thing, Sans' post and my own struggles for balance, has reminded me of an old episode of Friends.  I bet my doll house friends know exactly which one I'm talking about. I hate when I hear living, breathing, flesh and blood people describe themselves as being a tv character, this happened a lot during Sex and The City, (as in, adult women saying to each other "you're 95% a Carrie with a smidgen of Charlotte mixed in") (ack), and I bet it's being done again with the series Girls, a show I truly love so far. But I have to admit that watching this Friends episode the first time, and re-watching later, I get a burn of low-grade shame acknowledging who I'm more like, and who I would rather I be like.

Do you think that, ultimately, there's anything you can do about the way you are? Is the best possible route to push yourself to be the strongest version of the yourself, go all the way with your own version of things? Or should you fight the parts of your nature that seems to be fighting you? And are you doing yourself a disservice to think of yourself as only a Monica or a Phoebe, when there must be aspects of each of them in all of us?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I finally found the curio cabinet I had always wanted, in a local consignment shop, not very old but not all that new either. For a while, someone else had kept their tiny things in it. Some of us, I guess, are compelled to pick up tiny things, and keep them, and save them from the way every day life would treat them otherwise.

This one had a key, but the key was lost, like so many keys are. If someone found it, they would never find the lock it opens, and it would have to join that giant ocean of lock-less keys.

I know that finding things and taking them with us is not entirely a human thing; birds do this, dogs do this, our cat Oliver runs off with things because he thinks he can get something out of them, even when they're inedible. But it's particular to people to keep them for little reason other than we want to. If a hornet is going to build a nest so intricate and amazing, and a piece of it drops onto the doormat, I'm going to want to look at it for a little while.

Same for barnacle covered shells from Sanibel.

and rutilated quartz,

and other things, (fake leaves, tiny harmonicas, doll's eyes, frozen Charlottes, empty watch cases), that might get lost in a box in a closet, or, in a moment of carelessness, swept away forever.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Finally, the Old Blue Barn goes electric, thanks to Ikea and their LED bookcase lights.

Move the chairs and tables, there might be dancing. 

For some reason, I've been a compartmentalizing doll houser. My two houses are irony free, I've
separated my art world from my hobby almost completely. They're little fantasies of the ideal attic studio, and the cafe stacked with the cakes and pies I seldom ever eat. They're aspirational, for things I only partly aspire to: no one would ever trust me with food service in the real world.

I've had moments of disappointment in myself after seeing the astounding work of artists, (Do Ho Suh, Charles Matton, Adam Makarenko), who work in miniature, not doll houses, but dioramas and animation and sculptures and vitrines. I fear that I should have allowed myself to melt my hobby with my artwork when I was younger. Why had I made distinctions back then? Who was I trying to convince, or impress? But ultimately, the fact is, I didn't. I indulged other aspects of my world. I went towards the microscopic instead. And the size of things just underfoot.
 That's just the way it is. So my hobby remains my hobby, and that's fine. It's a place of pure play instead. And pure play is a rare thing nowadays.