Sunday, September 10, 2017

Woman Falling(and Laughing)2017

A student of mine brought a number of old photographs into class a few years ago to share with all of us. I snagged this wonderful snapshot of a 50's era woman who was posing with another couple. She had on a pearl necklace and pearl earrings, and a lovely, form fitting striped dress. I loved the image, and although I never knew this woman, I wish I had.  And while 2017 has been a rough year so far(multiple illnesses, aging parents with numerous problems--and knowing that we will be there soon--missing our eldest daughter's wedding, the death of a beloved dog)for some unknown reason, I've felt surprisingly good, almost buoyant at times. This unknown woman, in her swirly dress, perfectly captures my mood--falling, but still, joyfully, upright!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Empty Woman 2017

Last night I spent time looking at the work of Frank Moore, an artist--primarily a painter--who would have been a few years younger than I had he lived. * He was a victim of the AIDS epidemic, and his work is a fascinating and complicated reflection of not only his declining health, but of our failing environment as well. The work is visually complex, reminding me somewhat of Hieronymus Bosch if he would have reincarnated as a 20th century gay man.  The work isn't as damning or condemning as Bosch, and has a dark humor and an intelligence that's hard to fathom at times. The work has so much to say, and is so well done, that I found myself questioning my own imagery, wondering what I have to say that matters anymore.

In the 40 years that I have been making images, I've grown and matured, not only as an artist, but as a woman, and as a human being. I no longer suffer the way I used to, and the magic and mystery of the world that seemed right around the corner, now seem distant. I feel inspired by Moore's work, but also humbled, and worried that maybe what I have to say is of no great importance.  But then I think that if Moore hadn't died of AIDS, if he would have lived a life parallel to mine, he would probably be in the same spot I am right now. Like me, he would have been fretting and worrying about his images and trying to figure out how to continue working in a way that is significant. And he would know, as I do, that he would have had no real say in the matter and could only make the images that he was given to make, significant or not.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/arts/design/toxic-beauty-the-art-of-frank-moore-at-nyu.html?mcubz=3

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Transfers 2017


Transfer: 1. an act of moving something or someone to another place 
               2. a small colored picture or design on paper that can be transferred to another surface by being pressed or heated.



 Dog(with Doe and Spots)2015

Although I've been teaching transfer processes in my workshops for years, it's only been recently that I've started to incorporate transfers into my own work.  In the past, I've directly glued onto my painted surfaces. It works--you get what you see.  Transfers, on the other hand, are not that, and, as far as I can tell, pretty much starting a dance with the devil.  Not only do you not get what you see, in fact, you get the reverse, since the transfers are always mirrored.  If you are doing a paper transfer, you don't see anything at all since the paper backing is opaque.  If you do an ink jet transparency, you see what's underneath your transfer, but somehow, in the process, what you thought you were getting is never exactly what you saw in the first place.

 Wrapped Crane 2016

You have the ability to take whatever is in your computer, print it out, and then apply it to another surface.  The surface can be white, and your image will be pretty true to your original, or you can have a painted surface underneath, and that will change the nature of what comes through.  But you can almost always count on something going wrong, either something won't transfer completely, or you will have forgotten to change it to mirror image in the computer, or part of the image will transfer and part won't(always, of course, the parts that matter the most being what's not left behind).  Because the transfers are so tricky, I've become obsessed with them.  I'm constantly trying to find the perfect, least labor intensive method of making the transfers.  Like a true scientist, I'm continually trying different papers--writing to companies and asking for samples, ordering what I think might work from EBay or Amazon, even (I know this is hard to believe) taking and keeping notes.

However, this seems to be part of the dance, that it's risky and scary, and that you mostly don't know whats going to happen. When you peel or pull away the backing material you have something that may be the most wonderful thing you've ever seen, or just bad--but a good dance nonetheless.

Man Being Surprised 2017
.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Tiny House 2017

As four year olds, we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but then his parents moved to a city 60 miles away, ending the torrid love affair.  17 years later we met again, him tracking me down after seeing one of my lithographs in a student exhibition. Events unfolded and we ended up living together for some 14 years before we had our first daughter.  We decided to get married when I became pregnant with our second, much to my mother's relief. When he became seriously ill recently, I suddenly had a picture of my life without him in it, and it was terrible.  This painting was made to celebrate the fact that he still is very much in my life.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Culling: Summer 2017


At a certain point in the last few days, I realized that I had no more room.  My shelves were completely full, my storage units packed and popping, and my table tops full of all the stuff(plus much much more) I need to work with.  I knew I had to cull the herd.  Like Sophie, I knew that the choices I had to make were almost arbitrary:  Who was more likely to sell?  Who had the stronger personality?  Who made my stomach churn the least when I thought about him or her out on the table ready to be gassed(aka gessoed over)? After almost a year of abstinence  I began ripping at my fingernails.  I would select a piece, then put it back, then re-select it.  At last I was ready for my husband, Bob, to help me decide who lived and who died. 
We went back and forth, allowing some pieces back on the shelf, others doomed to the big  Kilz brush waiting outside.  I gathered the rejects up, then lay them outside on the long wooden tables in the 90+ degree heat.  I began going over the surfaces.  Gone, gone and gone, Sophie the dog witnessing.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fred Smith John Michael Kohler Arts Center


On a recent trip to Wisconsin, I managed to make it to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan.  It's a small museum(the woman's bathroom was a tiled wonder  https://www.jmkac.org/explore-discover/collections/washrooms-new), and quite lovely.  The exhibits that were up were part of a series of 15 exhibits that would allow us to experience artists whose work is their environment.  All were outsider artists, all were quirky, fun, and interesting.  However, the pieces that moved me the most were work by an artist named Fred Smith(1886-1976). The son of German immigrants, and a lumberjack until the age of 50, he began his sculpture garden on property that he owned that ran alongside Highway 13 outside Phillips, Wisconsin.  He worked on it for 15 years, until 1964 when he suffered a stroke and was incapacitated until he died in at the age of 90.  The figures all are made of concrete, then covered with broken bits of glass.  Most are life sized, or larger.  He is quoted as saying, "Them ideas is hard to explain.  Nobody know why I made them, not even me". The quirkiness, the dignity, and the power of his figures made me feel that I had come home, found a safe harbor.  From what I got from seeing only two sculptures, I can only imagine the pleasure and inspiration for me of actually going to the sculpture garden in Phillips where 237 of his figures exist.  Looks like a trip is in the not too distant future.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Man Being Touched 1988


On Monday of this week, my husband's right leg began to swell.  He had been experiencing pain in his buttock, but could tease it away by stretching.  However, this new development concerned us. On Tuesday, he had an ultra sound taken of his leg, knowing that it might be a DVT(deep vein thrombosis), but it showed nothing of concern.  We sighed a collective sigh of relief:  our daughter's wedding was to be held in a few days in Mexico and we were relieved that we would be able to go.  The next day his leg was more swollen, and quite painful.  This time he had an ultra sound done, which showed that he had an enormous blood clot that went down his chest and into his right leg.  Weak with anxiety and fear, he had himself admitted to one of the big the ERs here in town where he was pretty much ignored,  then checked himself out AMA(against medical advice)and was readmitted our Heart Hospital, where a surgeon was waiting with a team to do a thrombectomy(1). Two days and three procedures later he was released from the hospital to begin a new life with daily blood thinners and the knowledge that his body was not the strong, capable vessel he always thought of it as being.We were able to watch the wedding on FaceTime sitting at our kitchen counter in front of my Ipad.  Not what we had imagined, but good enough.

(1)  the emergency surgical removal of emboli which are blocking blood circulation. It usually involves removal of thrombi (blood clots)