Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Western Ho!

I visited the west/southwest USA on two occasions this month.   First, by re-visiting the art of Georgia O'Keefe and second, my first trip to Utah and Salt Lake City.

For the annual Methuen Festival of Trees  https://bestthingsma.com/event/methuen-festival-of-trees-2018-11-19-methuen-ma.html Western Avenue Studio artist volunteers created handmade tree ornaments  inspired by the art of Georgia O'Keefe.   O'Keefe's painting, Cow Skull and Calico Roses, inspired me to constructed ornaments of miniature paper sculpture cow skulls. Not wanting to stop, I made small adobe houses using self hardening clay over mat board cube constructions and wood dowels for timbers. I also made a couple dozen tissue paper poppies for fill ins.

Later in the month I flew to Utah visiting the Beehive state for the first time. I love to visit with my long time artist friend,Terry, who is a recent transplant from Annapolis, Maryland. There was plenty of dry and sunny weather for a range of activities such as English high tea at the opulent Grand America Hotel in SLC, a tour of Temple Square with Mormon missionaries, consuming delicious hamburgers at the iconic Ruth's Diner and a ramble through winter inspired botanic gardens with a side trip to the collection of gigantic dinosaur bones at the Natural History museum. 

Unfortunately, the nemesis in this largely inhabited valley, created by the Wasatch Mountain Front, is its poor air quality: a soupy mix of air pollution caused by ozone in summer and particulate matter in winter. The smog is most notable when looking down into the valley from a mountain vantage point.

So what's next to visit? Hopping into the Tundra truck for a long drive, we headed into the hinterlands to see The Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson constructed in 1970  in the waters of Great Salt Lake. Utah has experience years of drought and the Great Salt Lake has shrunk in size due to evaporation. The land installation, constructed with local basalt rocks, now sits high and dry on the lake's sandy bed surrounded by glistening colonies of salt crystals with the shore line miles away.

Because of the project's environmental uniqueness, the state of Utah name The Spiral Jetty an official art work site and so it has claimed its fame along side with the area's important ancient rock art, pictographs and petroglyphs. The Spiral Jetty is truly unique in form and conception.

I created my own pictograph in the sands along side the Jetty.

And now I sit, looking out my office window at New England's early snow showers and at a forecast of blustery temps on Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Chautauqua Institute in New York's Southern Tier

The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century, August 12-19

In this 50th anniversary year of his assassination the Institute honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What have we forgotten about the messages taught by Dr. King in the 1960s? What did we fail to learn about race in America, at our own peril? Why do current day Americans love to quote from the “early King” and “I Have a Dream,” but steer away from Dr. King’s later understandings about the intersection of race, war and poverty? Let us remember, at this time in our history, in order that we might truly begin to live his dream.  

Every morning I went to services where The Reverend Irene Monroe delivered challenging homilies. She is an ordained minister and motivational speaker who speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. She does a weekly Monday segment, now a podcast called “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), a Boston member station of National Public Radio (NPR). She is also a weekly Friday commentator on New England Channel NEWS (NECN), and is the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail, the Guided Walking Tour of Beacon Hill: Boston’s Black Women Abolitionists.

I listened to daily lectures at the Amphitheater and Hall of Philosophy: 

David Grann, known for his immersive reporting, is a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, a true crime tale that unravels one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history. Killers of the Flower Moon was a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. 

Dr. Peniel E. Joseph joined the University of Texas at Austin as Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy in the Fall of 2015.   He is a frequent national commentator on issues of race, democracy, and civil rights, and has authored award-winning books, Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama.

Beverly J. Warren, President, Kent State University. The shooting deaths of four Kent State University students in a 1970 Vietnam War protest inflicted wounds that remain raw today. The flash point event challenged Kent State to act as a steward of history without dwelling in the past, and move into the future transformed by the lessons of that fateful day. Kent State University Beverly Warren shares the story of her institution's journey from remembrance to renewal.

Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. Her most recent work is When We are No More: How Digital Memory Will Shape Our Future.

Rev, Jesse Jackson with Joan Brown Campbell, in conversation moderated by Bishop Gene Robinson.  The Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of the foremost civil rights, religious and political figures of our time. For nearly 50 years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for peace, civil rights, empowerment, gender equality, and economic and social justice the world over. 
Joan Brown Campbell is a devoted activist for peace and social justice, Campbell’s commitment was crafted during her life-changing work with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and was deepened in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu referred to her as “a woman of courage and compassion.” 

An evening of music across cultures with Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.

Academy Award-winning director François Girard’s 1998 film, The Red Violin, celebrates its 20th anniversary with violinist Joshua Bell performed live with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. The evening is ultimately about passion, love, art and renewal.performing live with orchestras on a select anniversary tour.

ABBA in concert ends the week's entertainment singing iconic hits like “Mamma Mia,” “S.O.S,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes All,” “Waterloo,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,”and “Dancing Queen.” Many were dancing and singing in the aisles.

  •  a four day workshop of hand AFRICAN DRUMMING.
  • Got plowed over by a bicycle.
  • Went to the movies to see Chloé Zhao’s, The Rider.
  • walked 11,000 steps each day
  • created lots of watercolor sketches of an amazing intellectual and cultural community along NY's Chautauqua Lake.

"Psalm of a Printmaker" talk

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Can you see her?

With over 450 acres, Maudsley State Park in Newburyport would seem to be a perfect place to find a quiet spot far from any distractions for a brief interlude of painting rhododendrons, azaleas and laurels in full springtime dress.

Well... while painting in my quiet zone, there were the ticks and mosquitoes, inquisitive unleashed dogs, forest rangers tromping through the brush tagging trees needing to be culled and joggers who tell me they have observed multiple sightings of  painters dotting the woods and fields.  Is that right?

And then there comes a moment when all is quiet,  I look up from my work to assess my painting progress. Not more then twenty feet from my easel, a tawny doe quietly steps and passes through my picture plane.  Right there between the scraggy rhododendron and trees hither. Can you see her?

You won't be the first not to see her. A few years ago, a trail guide was taking me through the woods at Ipswich Sanctuary. He abruptly stopped on the path and pointed. Do you see them? What? The deer. Right there! No, I don't see any deer. Are you fooling with me?  In the next few minutes I tried my hardest to see those animals camouflaged in the woods.  Frustration set in.  I clearly couldn't see what the guide saw so plainly.  Maybe I should of been painting at that time?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cruising and Hands-on Living

My    family and I enjoyed a fourteen day Disney Cruise through the Panama Canal on the Disney Wonder. It truly was a magical trip for us all where we experience the Church of the Mouse. After the trip we began to understand why so
                                                                many people are fanatical Disney cruisers.

I'd like to share some thoughts about what I enjoyed most about cruising and visiting ports south of our border. It's really simple.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing hands-on work in everyday living situations...so refreshing to my soul.

The commercial signs found on walls and shops were painted by hand. The painted surfaces were textured with brush strokes and compositions were designed without the aid of a computer. They reminded me of what my artist life was like before the computer came along.  Forty years ago living in rural southern Maryland, I made extra income hand silk screening posters for political campaigns, church suppers and hospital ... all screen templates were hand drawn and hand printed.

A restaurant we dined at, handed out menus constructed using a combo of stamps, handmade papers and bound together using hand stitchings. How original!

Thirty years ago I made hand made papers and bound books by hand.  When I came across Mexican Amate bark papers in the market place, I was so happy to talk shop with the paper artist. By beating and bleaching the bark she makes different brown toned paper pulp. Without getting too technical, she then weaves, knots and embosses the pulp into stiff but airy paper squares. Lovely designs. Each unique.

And at sea on the Disney Wonder ship, my family took advantage of so many creative activities such as the Boat Building Bash.  We scavenged all kinds of materials such as plastic bottles. straws, coffee stirrers, dental tape to make boats that could float with a can of coke balanced on top: some more successful than others.

Here's one of the winners: it is the big one.

And our host servers could make awesome cloth origami objects d'art too.

I found some time to sketched my way through the trip using felt tip markers.

And there were the unforgettable,beautiful sunrises created by Mother Nature herself each morning.  Here is Panama Bay just before our vessel entered the Panama Canal early morning.

If you want to learn how to draw Goofy, here is a Disney handout I received during the cruise. Don't be too critical with yourself.  Just enjoy being a 'hands-on', creative, loving person.
It's magical and B E A UUUUUUU tiful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Postcards to Myself: Part 3, Jekyll Island and home

17-21 February 2018
227 miles from Jekyll Island to
Poinsett State Park, Wedgefield, South Carolina

Poinsett State Park is an idyllic midland spot surrounded by acres of ugly, clear cut foresting and control burns as well as US government property used for air to ground bombing training by US Air Force.  But once inside this park it is an oasis consisting of 1000 acres of woods, ponds, mountain laurels, streams and plenty of trails for mountain biking and hiking as well as boating and fishing. 

The park was developed by Civil Conservation Corp in 1934. Only 5 cabins remain as well a beautiful CCC lake lodge made with a native building material known as coquina, a sedimentary rock consisting of numerous shells and dates back to a time when the ocean reached the SC Midlands. Park ranger explained many of the cabins that were built by the CCC were taken apart and shipped overseas as living quarters for servicemen during the war.  

I spent most of my time painting and drawing along the 10 acre pond and Singleton's Grist Mill remains.

21-24 February 2018
263 miles from Wedgefield, S. Carolina to
Chesapeake Virginia

I drew a lot but no plein air painting because of the fog and chilly temperatures.  The Chesapeake Campground is located across the street from the Great Ditch of Great Dismal Swamp. I visited my son, Jeremy, who lives on a boat and is employed at a marina in Virginia Beach.   I visited the Great Bridge and the Intercoastal locks systems.

24 February 2018
293 miles from Chesapeake, Va to
Best Western Hotel, Westampton, NJ

25 February 2018
295 miles from Westampton, NJ to
Lowell, MA

We are HOME!   

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Postcards to Myself, February 5-16 traveling to Jekyll Island, GA

5 February 2018   
345 miles from Lowell, MA to
Lums State Park in Bear, Delaware

Glad I had a ceramic heater to plug into because it was a chilly 43 degrees. Covering the ground around my trailer were hundreds of spikey balls of the Sweet Gum trees. 

6-10 February 2018  
230 miles from Bear, Delaware to
North Landing Beach in Virginia Beach, VA

A cozy studio cabin on the Intercoastal Waterway with no bed linens! come on...because I had a dog.  So... at night I snuggled in my down sleeping bag and dreamt of painting Bald Cypress trees and  then outdoors during the day and wrapped in a down coat I painted Bald Cypress trees with Jasmine by my side. 

11 February 2018  
361 miles from Virginia Beach, VA to
Cypress Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach SC

Suzie Winters and I had dinner together in Myrtle Beach.  We practiced 'laugh and giggle' therapy to relieve our personal emotional pain and stress... Laughter and friendship: so good for the soul.

12-16 February 2018  
310 miles from Myrtle Beach, SC to
Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia

Although Jekyll Island is a state owned barrier island with very restrictive development, it has a historical town center, a sea turtle rescue center and easy access to hundreds of beautiful beaches and other sites via of walking and bike paths. 

Driftwood Beach and the Fishing Pier were two of my favorite spots to paint. 

Dressing for island weather can be a challenge for this time of year: some days were foggy and cold, some days warm and humid. Fortunately, I was prepared for both.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Maple Sugaring Time

On Friday afternoon Mary Byrom and I packed up our gear and drove an establishment called Maple Moon Farm. http://www.maplemoonfarm.com/  locate in the beautiful rural Maine town of Lebanon. Mary was invited by the owner to come and paint the new sugar shack.

Frank, the owner of farm, is a part time physician's assistant in Newburyport and spends his other time managing and operating the 130 acre farm complete with a sugar bush, apiary, chickens and an airBnB.  We also had the opportunity to meet his very sweet, rescued Bull Mastiffs (3) and a German Shepard.

With about 18 inches of snow on the ground, we stomped through and followed tractor tracks to a spot where we had a great view of the sugar shack surrounded by many maple trees which were tapped and hung with sap buckets.

With more snow falling, our umbrellas went up to protect our easel and palette while we painted.  At last the paintings were complete. We shook off the snow dustings from the umbrellas and began to packed up our gear.

At the same time, Frank came out with a small pot of hot maple syrup and poured the hot, golden liquid in a bowl filled with packed snow and made us some 'sugar on snow' .  

Now that was a memorable and delicious way to end a day of winter painting.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Postcards to myself

I am home from my camping/painting, three week, 2900 mile journey to Jekyll Island and back.  The trip was absolutely the best experience I have had in a long time.

There were three things going for me as I traveled about.  I was living out of a Tear Drop trailer (intriguingly cute), I had corgi companionship (super cute) and I am an outdoor rugged painter (OK, not so cute).  Having these three observable traits opened a path to engagement with so many awesome people of all ages, races, political (and musical) persuasions: an off the grid, nose to nose experience.

I traveled along side a Grey Wolf, Arctic Fox, American Eagle and a Big Horn (names of RVs) and camped next to a Burro (tiny travel trailer from Maine). I gassed up at WAWA's and dined on WaHo.  Some of my nights were comically, illuminated by green facsimile fireflies swirling in, on and around my trailer by a neighbor's  motion pattern LED laser light show. In Carolinas, I was passed by a tractor trailer rig with the company name of TRIBE Transportation.  The only trucking company owned by an Native American woman. Her name is Joy Cain Handte and she is of Cherokee descent. Her great grandmother survived the forced removal migration known as the Trail Of Tears of 1830's.

While in the Virginia Beach area, I visited the Mackay National Wildlife Refuge. A lovely blue sky day, tripping past Confederate flags, trailer parks and wildlife refuge signs rendered unreadable by buckshot. Along the highway, I spied in the distance a gigantic, white marble statue in a expansive farm field. I made a U-turn to investigate.

The Perfect Wisdom and Great Compassion Zen Garden.  "May all living beings be well, happy, peaceful and secure."  (THANK YOU Bonny Bright and the Nguyen Family). In addition, the garden was filled with bluebirds.

I played old time fiddle at a jamming' session at Jekyll Island campground.  Once a week on a Thursday evening, the winter residents gather together in a circle to play, sing, tell stories and just have a good time.  I was invited to join them.  When I expressed my shyness and explained I never played in front of an audience, Brian told me the story of a fellow who joined the group one evening and just held his instrument in his lap. OK. I'll be there... when my turn came I played... in front of 60 people... and they clapped...  In that evening's jammin' circle there were two accordions, a banjo, lots of guitars, percussion, tambourines and the first fiddler (me) the group ever had. I was enthralled and empowered.

At the beginning of my trip.  I stopped at a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike and was walking to the building when I heard a voice repeating, "oh Miss, Oh Miss" from behind.  A black gentleman had rolled down his car window and motioned me to him. I approached. I observed the interior of his car looked like Fibber McGee's closet. He said, "You know your trailer tag is hanging by one bolt?" "Really?" I told him my son-in-law had attached an artsy designed frame around my trailer tag (Christmas gift from my friend Terry) I'm guessing not tight enough.  So he reached into his back seat and handed me an electrical tie and then on second thought he gave me two just in case the other bolt falls away.  I said, "God Bless you!" I thought of that kind man at the close of my trip when I looked around the interior of my car and thought... another Fibber McGee's closet.  Safe travels, my friend/s.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Print Show Announcment

12 reduction linoleum prints have been selected for this group print exhibition in Lowell.
The show runs through February 17th.