Monday, December 28, 2009


Well, the English Christmas Cake is baked and eaten, the family has come and gone,  presents opened, toasts given, and the yule log is ashes. It was nice hosting our two large family groups Christmas eve and day, but it was a lot of work, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track with planning my Bert exhibit. Invites will be printed soon, so if you like one by post office, or by email, just send me your address and I'll add you to my list.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009


A nice mini-blizzard this weekend has completely snowed in my studio. Although it's just a dozen steps from my back door, it doesn't seem worth shoveling out, at least until after Christmas.  I'm trying to not let that depress me. The fact is, I haven't worked in my studio for awhile. Between Christmas and one, possibly two, shows coming up in January,  I'm not sure when I'll get back in there.

I'm thinking February. I'll fight the cold and dark, fire up the propane stove and PAINT.  I can't wait.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How would you like your rejection?

I can't decide what kind of rejection I like the best; an email message or the kind that comes back in the S.A.S.E dutifully included in the application.

I suspect the email version will become the new standard, as everything moves online. I do like how much easier it is on the application side, but after waiting forever to get a response, it's somehow more satisfying to open an envelope, see the nice thick paper with the rejector's letterhead, throw it aside, then retrieve it to add to the file of rejection letters. So what do I do now — print my rejection emails to add to my file? 

That would be silly. I think I will.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this because I got two email rejections in two days. The first was...sniff...the Denali artist residency (I don't really cry on my emails—it's not good for the keyboard).  In previous postal rejections I've had little notes slipped inside telling me how close I came, and to try again. This email began with "Thank you for applying..." Always a very bad sign. Then came the standard Don't-Feel-Too-Bad tag line... "We had many strong applications from all over the U.S. and abroad, making this year’s selection especially difficult." So after thinking I was ALMOST heading north for the last few application cycles, I'm now feeling Denali is further away than ever.

The second rejection was from a local group show, no big deal really, but it's a place I always feel a bit surprised to be rejected from.

But I still have my show at Bert coming up next month, and yesterday I was contacted out of the blue about another exhibit opportunity. More on both of those later...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gathering Moss

I bought a little moss garden this weekend to bring into my cubicle for just a BIT of nature. Even though I sit by a window, the horizon and most of the sky is blocked by buildings, the sun is on the other side and the only growing things I can see are six saplings in concrete. So I'm enjoying my little bit of moss and two rocks.
Then a stupid job jacket falls off the cubicle ledge and gouges out a bit of the moss.  I carefully smoothe over the moss and  give it a good water misting to soothe it. So I'm misting away, thinking of the moist forest floor, watching the rocks glisten when I catch a strange smell, sort of antiseptic.  I check the mister.  Argh! I used the HAND SANITIZER spray instead of my nearly identical water spray. So I just dosed my poor moss in god knows what. I hope it survives, but as I well know, between boring tasks and germ-phobia, cubicle life can be deadly. Good luck little garden. Good luck me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Great Sand Dunes Journal, Second Installment

I took a l little trip to NYC Sunday to walk around and see the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim. It was fun watching the landscape speed by from the train window again. It made me think maybe I hadn't quite finished painting the northeast corridor landscape. The streets of NYC were freezing when we got there, this time of year the sun doesn't get high enough in the sky to be able to penetrate the valleys between the buildings.  The wind, however, manages to race through and chill us to the bone. Once we got to Central Park though, the sun shone on the snow dusted landscape and the wind dispersed, so we decided it was nice enough to continue our walk of the 54 blocks to 88th street.
Kandinsky was great, the Guggenheim is a perfect place to see it. It looked like a big Kandinsky wedding cake, turned inside out.
Anyway, here's the second installment of my Sand Dunes Journal. Hopefully I'll post it all before the holidays, but they do have a way of barreling over everything...

Tuesday, Sept 22

We are lucky that our internal clocks are still on Eastern Standard Time, since we're awake by 5:30 to look out and see the dunes glowing pure white like bone china, the mountains dark behind them. Realizing that this phenomenon will not survive the rising sun we grab our cameras and head down to the road to get an unobstructed view. The sun is already peeking over the Sangre de Cristos and lighting the valley, and as it creeps toward the western end of the dunes the cold white turns to frosty ochre. The mountain's shadow contracts and the highest dunes reflect the pale morning sun with rosy glow.

It's chilly so we keep moving while we watch and I turn to the east to scan the plains. A few hundred yards off I see a pair of elk, shy of us despite their distance.

We stay until the dunes are almost fully lit then return to the apartment for breakfast before heading down to the Visitor's Center to check the forecast. It predicts a chilly, windy day, so a hike to Revelation Point seems like a good way to take advantage of cool climbing temperatures without the danger of sandblasting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The business of painting, hold the paint...

I was hoping to have my next installment of my Great Dunes journal by the next time I posted, and it's close, but not done yet. Sorry to keep you in suspense (as you say—oh, there's more?) But, if they're not literary masterpieces, it's still good for me to labor over them. I did write down my impressions every day while out there, but in trying to make something of it, and going over it again and again, it really helps me sort out the experience and remember my residencies more richly.

I got an email this week from the latest residency I've applied for — Denali National Park— but was afraid to click on it, being at work and all, and not wanting to switch my mood from stupefaction to disappointment. But it was just a notification that I'll hear in the next few weeks, so there's still hope!

Meanwhile I've been working on a video for my upcoming show at the Bert Gallery in January. They've been filming interviews with the artists to go along with their recent shows, and the thought of having to go on about my work in front of a camera made me immediately volunteer to work with my husband (a filmmaker) to come up with a little video that hopefully will be more interesting than my talking head. So we returned to the shoemaker's shop and took some shots, and will film in my studio, and perhaps I can edit it together in something approaching a coherent piece.

Some of the pressure is off for now though. I found out I misunderstood about the Providence Art Window gig, the letter asked if I COULD install by December, it didn't say I would be SCHEDULED  to install in December.  So it's still on, but sometime in the future...and out of my head for now, where it's safer.
I am in a holiday show at Imago gallery in Warren though. I submitted these 3 little paintings of the Badlands National Park, so stop by their lovely new gallery if you get a chance.
My pieces are recession priced...such a bargain! Warren was hopping last weekend when I went, too. Granted it was the lighting festival, but it really is getting to be a very arty scene there, and it will look so festive with the colored (not snooty white) lights strung across Main St.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Sand Dunes Journal, First Installment

I'm finally getting around to posting the first part of my artist in residence journal. More is coming soon, just as soon as I can finish typing it out and adding some photos. See the first two days here...
Sunday, Sept. 20
By the time we make our way through the mountains and into the enormous San Luis Valley there is no light left in the sky or on the road. Our headlights cut through the night to reveal only 50 feet of dead-straight asphalt, a few deer in the scrub by the side of the road, and the occasional kangaroo rat hopping to safety just in front of our tires. CONTINUE READING...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winter mountain

I'm sick. Again. Seems like it's been every few weeks lately, but as long as it's not the swinely variety I will survive. It's frustrating though to have all day at home and not have the energy to get into the studio. I'm going to post a link to my Great Dunes page on my website soon, but for now, another found painting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The wave

I was cleaning my studio this week and came across a few paintings on paper that I had forgotten that I did, so I'll post this one while I'm finishing up some other work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Discovering Cindy Tower

In my random time-wasting/procrastinating/web browsing I stumbled upon this great site that has video of interviews and studio visits with artists that are really well done and not nearly as pretentious as some I've watched where either the videographer can't get out of his own way, or the artist is deified to a laughable degree.

The video above is about a fascinating artist - Cindy Tower - I'd never heard of, but plan to find out more about. I want to go paint with her! Enjoy...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The more you think about it, the more sense it makes.

On painting...
"The only thing to do is to do what you are going to do the way you would have liked to have done it."
—— Arthur Dove 1931

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sketches and seasons

Here's a few more sketches from Great Sand Dunes National Park that I just got around to scanning in. These are postcard sized and were done out in the dunes. If you look close at the larger versions you might still be able to see some grains of sand stuck to the paint.

Since I came back from Colorado it seems the seasons are changing like flip cards. The light is now dim on my morning commute and dark on my way home—I'm remembering how that can interfere with painting progress sometimes. For example, I need to get down to the beach to get some shoreline reference photos for a small painting I'm doing. That should be easy, since I live only a block and a half from the beach, but since I'm in the city during all available daylight hours, it will have to wait until the weekend. It's also hard to think of firing up the studio when I pull into the driveway and see it standing there cold and dark, but I'll just have to adjust..and get back to work!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dunes for Denali

Well, my Denali application is, not "in-the-mail", but in the internet ether I guess. Now I just have to wait an endless amount of time to hear if I got this latest artist residency. I never really understand why it takes so long, sometimes months, to process the applications. Can't they just have a meeting, like, the week after the deadline and pick someone? Then just email, or mail, their decision the next week? That's only two weeks, but I must be missing something about the process, so I'll be patient...

These are three of the six paintings I needed for my application (click on them to view larger), all from my Great Sand Dunes National Park residency. Two of them are of Medano Creek, a very shallow stream of water which runs from the mountains and along the base of the dunes. In late September, when I was there, it had retreated to the east and was rather lazily pushing forward only
to be absorbed into the dry sand of the wide creek bed, which gives a clue to how large Medano gets in spring and early summer. I wish I'd had the chance to take an entire day to hike up it further, but time ran out on me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Denali's digital deadline

I'm still trying to pull some Great Sand Dunes art and writing together to post, but have been working all week on finishing a few small paintings for my Denali application, which is due this weekend. 

It helps that I can submit my application electronically. Now I can work up to the last minute without taking slides, rushing the film to one of the few one-day slide processing labs, re-taking the slides because they came out too-blue, too-yellow, too-dark, too light, too-skewed, or too-glarey, developing them again, masking them with silver tape, making tiny little labels, putting them in a slidesheet, carefully printing my application, putting them all in a 9x12 envelope with a return 9x12 inside, going to the post office to get it weighed, putting return postage on the inside envelope, and FINALLY, getting it in the mail, hopefully to be delivered by the deadline date.

The Denali application uses a website called CAFE. It's a bit exact about how you need to format your digital images, but once you submit one set for an application, it keeps them on file so you can reuse them to apply for other opportunities. The only downside is that they don't have too many listings yet. It's a great idea though, so I hope it catches on.

So, until I get caught up and scan in some new dune images,  I'll just post a "lunch sketch" from a few years ago.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I'm continuing to update my website, here's a link to the bigger and better sideshow of the drawings and work on paper I did in preparation for the oil paintings of the Shoemaker series, coming soon to the Bert Gallery!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thinking about my next artist residency...

Here's another little sketch (4"x6") I made out in the Great Dunes. I'm working on six larger oils, trying to finish them in time to use a few in my application for an artist residency in Denali National Park in Alaska. Every year for the past 5 years or so I've applied for this one, every year I'm told I made the "short list" and to try again. So I do. Wish me luck this time!

• • •

In preparation for my upcoming exhibit at the Bert Gallery I'm updating the Shoemaker section of my website to enlarge the images and correct some loading issues.  So far I've revamped the painting slideshow, see the NEW! AND IMPROVED! version HERE.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This is a dragonfly that I found in the sand at the top of the Great Sand Dunes. Right now I think I know how he feels. Except I'm not dead.  Definitely half buried though — but in a good way.  I just found out that I'm going to have two exhibits in the next few months. This after pretty much no activity for almost a year. So I'm psyched about it, but have to keep on top of things so I don't get into a last minute panic.

Luckily all the paintings are done, dry and framed.  That's the main thing I can check off my list.

I'm going to show the Shoemaker paintings at the Bert Gallery in January-February. I've shown with Cathy Bert several times and it's always a great experience. It's such a pleasure working with a real professional. I just wish she had a bigger space, but I'm happy that she says we can fit 9 paintings into her back gallery.

The other exhibit will be an installation of my Church paintings in a storefront or window space Downtown Providence. It's part of Providence Art Windows, which has been a very successful project to utilize vacant space downtown and a great way to have my work seen by people who don't usually visit galleries.

I'm also working on half a dozen other projects and deadlines, in addition to the old day-job, that I won't bore you with, but WILL use as an excuse for not posting my Great Sand Dunes journal and artwork yet. But I will. Soon.

Until then, here's a little watercolor I did out in the dunes...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Drawing dunes

Here are a couple of photos of the charcoal sketching class I gave as part of my artist residency at Great Sand Dunes National Park. (more added to my Great Dunes slideshow) I had 10 students and they were all great and fun to work with. Some traveled 2 hours or more to attend! It must be a western thing, back east we gripe if we have to drive 20 minutes. Of course, we have annoying things like red lights, stop signs and traffic jams, not found in the San Luis Valley. The scenery there is awfully cool too. Makes me want to go for a drive now...west!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Great Sand Dunes photo album

I've sorted through my two weeks of photos from the Great Sand Dunes and pulled out the best here - Great Sand Dunes photos on Flickr. A lot of them didn't come out that well. I think the light was just too strong, and I'm not enough of a photographer to compensate. But I have what I need for reference, and I actually think it's better if the photos are weak. That way I bring more of myself to the paintings, and use the impressions in my head instead of what I see in a beautiful photograph. I dreamed of climbing dunes for 3 nights after I got back, so I think the impressions are there!

I'll post photos from my charcoal sketch class soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back east

I'm back from the Great Sand Dunes, but still shaking the sand out of my sneakers. It was almost 10pm when I finally got home, and it was back to work the next morning, so I'm still not completely unpacked yet, but getting there. I hope to get my journal and photos of the dunes and of my work uploaded soon, I'll post a link when that happens.

Meanwhile, it is nice to be home, nice to breathe the thick moist air of the east coast after the thin dry air of Colorado, although it is beautiful out there. The fall colors of the west can certainly rival New England's. And it was such a luxury to have no obligations for 2 weeks except to hike, sketch and teach 2 classes. I met some great people out there too.

More later as I catch up!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A quick connection from the dunes

Just a quick post. I'm waiting in the San Luis Valley regional airport for John to get his rental car to return to Denver tomorrow. The rental car guy is off doing something, and this tiny airport is deserted except for the TSA guy. But, they have WIFI! Other than that I've been cut off, my cell phone doesn't even work when I go into the big town of Alamosa. But enough about the advantages of being out here, it's also incredibly beautiful.

We've spent the week hiking in the mountains and the dunes, despite the fact that I acquired a sinus infection and a touch of altitude sickness, and we've had snow and hail most afternoons so far. But today was the first day I didn't feel like my head was made of concrete and it's also getting warmer. So now that I've done some exploring, it's time to get out in the dunes and do some serious drawing.

And these are serious dunes. Up to 750 feet high, that's bigger than Providences skyscrapers. It can be a challenge climbing, especially starting in the thin atmosphere of 8200 feet.

Well, the rental car guy is signing off for now!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back to the dunes

This is a little gouache piece I did a few weeks ago while waiting on the first big dune in Provincetown for my friends who were walking in from Route 6. The next painting I do will be from Great Sand Dunes National Park, which, at about 700 feet high, will be a bit harder to climb, especially as the elevation of the park itself ranges from 8,000 to 13,000 feet. (The elevation I'm used to? Maybe 14 feet, a few inches more if I'm wearing heels). I just checked the weather and it will be a nippy 29 degrees at night, which makes me glad that this particular residency apartment has heat! I had to break into my stored winter clothes to find gloves, a scarf and long johns. Soon enough I'll need them in R.I. too.

I'll try to check in from Alamosa a few times in the next 2 weeks and will post my work when I get back and shake the sand from my shoes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sleeping in the dunes

This is a little watercolor I did in the dune shack Thalassa by the light of my oil lamps. Although my next accommodations will have electricity it won't be nearly as charming. But I'm looking forward to sleeping in the dunes in a week. I decided not to post my Cape Cod journal since I already wrote one in '97, instead I hope to post one from the Great Sand Dunes journal whenever I encounter internet access. I hear there's a nice little cafe in Alamosa with free wifi. It's called the Milagros Coffeehouse and gives its profits to charity. I'm looking forward to stopping in.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boxing Day for the Great Dunes

This morning I shipped a box of art supplies off to Great Sand Dunes National Park for my artist residency that hopefully will reach the park before I do. Once again I waited a little too long to head to the UPS office, so as a result had to use airmail and pay twice as much as ground mail. I hate wasting money like that, but I seem to end up doing that all the time lately.

So now it's beginning to seem real and I'm getting excited about heading out there, the park has incredible diversity. The dunes look really cool but there is also forest, mountains, alpine tundra and grasslands. I just hope I haven't lost my "dune-legs" from my week in the dunes of Cape Cod. There are some great hikes in the mountains as well, but they involve a lot of elevation gain, and not as much oxygen as I'm used to here at sea level.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kirsten Hassenfeld's paper whites at Bell Gallery

I saw a great exhibit last week by artist Kirsten Hassenfeld at the Bell Gallery at Brown University last week. These pristine and monumental constructions were made entirely of paper and foamboard, with surface textures like bleached white sheets, fresh set plaster, eggshells, or a piece of fine drawing paper. The curves and lighting were elegant and simple, but the pieces were full of surprises. The longer I looked, the more I saw. Intricate little paper figures, impossibly tiny paper chains, cameos beautifully drawn in layered paper and a little paper spider. And as I looked at them in the quiet gallery, they slowly turned on their suspended wires, which made the floor seem to shift under my feet. But so subtly that it was relaxing, rather than disorienting.

In a way, they reminded me of seeing Lee Bontecou's mobiles at her 2004 MOMA retrospective. Hassenfelds's work though, while capturing some of the weightless presence of Bontecou, is so meticulously crafted that the wonder of how it was created almost distracts from the overall work, while Bontecou's pieces have a quality of always having existed. But then I'm so biased towards Bontecou that a comparison is almost unfair.

I then distanced myself from the aesthetic quality of the work in order to see if it were true, as a reviewer stated, that she used
"many of the same materials you might find in a grade-school art class: heavy-duty construction paper, translucent vellum (also a kind of paper) and lightweight poster-board, along with a bit of tape and glue to hold it all together. Add up the cost of everything in the Bell show and you’d barely have enough to pay for a typical opening-night party at a New York gallery."
Reading this before I saw the show, I found it hard to believe that Hassenfeld would put the effort into these pieces using such impermanent materials. On inspecting the work, I could tell she used archival material throughout, not a trace of construction paper, poster board or tape. In reading the catalog, she stated that she was only able to fabricate the massive pieces of thick archival foamboard by using a computer-guided laser paid for by a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In other words, this installation costs significantly more than an opening night party. Good to know that though she may be a bit obsessive to make those tiny little chains, she wasn't crazy enough to make them out of paper that was bound to fall apart. We want these lovely objects to stay around for awhile.

The exhibit is up until November 1.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trying to hang on...

I'm having my first cup of coffee at The Coffee Exchange, while typing up my dune shack journal before heading to work, but I wish I were having it here.

I posted some of my photos in a slideshow at right, or you can link to it on Picasa here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mental detox

I'm back from the civilization of sunrises, sunsets, clear water pumped from the sand, silence except for bird cries, surf and wind, wide dunes and sky. Back to the uncivil world.

I survived Hurricane Bill and Danny—the first brought great seal filled waves, the second almost drowned me on my way back home... in between was PEACE. I'll be posting my journal in the next few days, and some photos. Going back to work tomorrow is bound to be harsh, so I'll want to mentally race back to my dune shack whenever possible.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Countdown to the dunes... 1

It looks as if Hurricane Bill is not going to drift west and revert Thalassa back into the driftwood it came from, but it should bring some dramatic heavy surf and stormy weather on Saturday night and Sunday. It's hard to tell from the aerial view how high above sea level the shack is. As I remember, the cliff is about 25 feet high in some spots, but in others, it's a more gradual slope down to the beach. So if I don't get a phone call I'll assume I'm good to go, they know more about these things on the Cape then I do.

Last night I assembled my foodstuffs for the week. Rice and bean mixes, oatmeal, cheese, pasta, nuts, and a variety of fruits and vegetables of the more stable sort, like apples, oranges, squash, carrots. And of course, coffee for drinking on the porch in the morning, wine for drinking on the porch in the evening. I've done this kind of stocking up so many times for my artist residencies that it's not too hard to figure out, although this time I'm entertaining a few guests, so that has to be taken into account. And I can always trek over the dunes into P-town for provisions if I need to, but I like the idea of being totally self-sufficient in my little shack.

I'll be leaving early HOPEFULLY to avoid some of the weekend Cape traffic, but I'm probably not the only one with that idea. I'll be unplugged for the duration, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of photos, writing and paintings to post when I get back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Countdown to the dunes... 2

I almost hesitate to post this picture of the little Thalassa dune shack I am planning to move into, just as Hurricane Bill charges up the coast. I'm not afraid of a storm while I'm out there, in fact, I think it would be pretty exciting, but I'm afraid Peaked Hill Trust may cancel my stay if the hurricane looks like it will brush the cape. As you can see, that little dot of a shack is pretty close to the shore, I just hope I am as close next week!

I've finished packing my clothes and supplies, and managed to keep it to a duffel for clothes, a backpack for art supplies, a sleeping bag, and a cooler for food. Tonight I'll buy the fresh food supplies and be ready to go... I hope!

Here's a really nice map for tracking the hurricane, I'll try not to check it more that once every 10 minutes...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Countdown to the dunes... 3


I came up with a plan for you, I think you'll agree it's a good one. As you approach the cape, veer to the west just enough to kick up some impressive surf for about a day. Some torn, indigo-edged storm clouds should scuttle across the sky. A fast moving thunderstorm in the late afternoon on Sunday, followed by the clouds breaking to reveal a firey red sunset. Whatever you do, don't look so big and bad that Peaked Hill Trust feels it's not safe for me to hunker down in a little driftwood shack little bigger than a packing crate perched on the sand at the edge of the Atlantic.

Are you listening Bill?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Countdown to the dunes... 4

Last night I picked most of the good apples from my tree and made 4 apple pies, getting in the harvest before heading out to the Cape. I also mixed up some colors of gouache in little empty half-pans to put in an Altoid container for my portable painting kit. In addition to gouache, I'm going to bring oil pastels, which worked out great the first time I went out to the dunes. Spreading them out in the sand they get a nice fluidity as the sun warms them, without needing water or solvents. They also get a little gritty, but that's ok, so will I. I'll also bring my trusty charcoal pencils, of course.

Even though this time I won this opportunity in the Peaked Hill Trust member's lottery, it's hard not to flash back to 1997 and think of this as an Artist-in-Residence stint. I will be doing art though, and I will be in residence...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Countdown to the dunes... 5

The countdown to my escape to the last little bit of land curling out into the Atlantic has begun—only 5 days till I leave this messed up world behind and escape to the quiet and simplicity of dune shack living.

Figuring out what to bring is not too difficult, since I did this before way back in '97, and I expect the way of life out in the dunes hasn't changed much even after a dozen years have passed. So I'm packing as if I'm going out to play in a sandbox...which I am! Soft clothing...shorts, cotton pants, t-shirts, a sweatshirt, cotton socks for walking in the hot sand, a straw hat, bathing suit, food for a week (plus a few bottles of wine), sunblock, art materials and binoculars.

I'm reluctantly bringing a cell phone. It wasn't really an option in '97, but since I'm expecting a few guests during my week, I guess it would come in pretty handy. That is, IF I get coverage and IF the battery doesn't run down. I'm going to just turn it on once or twice a day, no plugging it into the wall for a recharge!

A week unplugged...I can't wait.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Waiting for goats

I'm working on a new painting that requires a goat — I've been wanting to paint one since looking into their strange, strange eyes...that slotted pupil is very disconcerting. I was hoping to find some nasty bearded and horned billy goats like I encountered a few years ago, but so far have only run into these rather hapless Nubian Goats. Anyone know where some bearded ones live?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The dueling artists of Prada Marfa

Last summer my husband and I went to western Texas to attend a family wedding. I had never been to Texas before, so found it all fascinating. We flew into El Paso and headed west on Rt. 90.
That was the first time we saw Prada Marfa.

We stopped and left our cards. A few months after we got back, I received this email, along with a scan of my card....
Dear Art Viewer,
I am writing you in regards to your past visit to Prada Marfa in Valentine, Texas; a work of art by Elmgreen and Dragset. I recently have started a project documenting the business cards left at the site of the work. At this time I wish to stay anonymous but, I can tell you that I am an artist and appreciate Elmgreen and Dragset’s work in all its forms. I wish to ask you for any insights you might have regarding the work and its motives. In other words what where your experiences with the work and why leave a business card?
Thank You for your time, SITU NEUT

Here was my response...

Dear Situ Neut,

My husband and I were traveling from El Paso in July for a family wedding when we first passed the store at dusk. The windows were lit and I'm pretty sure there were shoes inside. During the course of our visit we found that other guests had seen it also and I found it was, as I suspected, an art installation. John, who is a videographer, wanted to film it on our way back to El Paso, but was disappointed to find that all the shoes were gone.

We scoped it out anyway though, and I have to confess, I was skeptical about it, as I am about a lot of installations, which seem so self-consciously "ironic". But I began to be won over when I saw the bullet holes in the glass, the shoes on the fence, and especially the business cards. I understood the sarcasm of the old sneakers on the fence, and the temptation to shoot at the damn thing, but what motivated people to leave their cards? I didn't know, and thought it might be a Texas tradition. What do I know? I'm from the Northeast...But of course, we had to leave our cards as well, we just HAD to. So all in all, it was pretty cool, but I liked the response much more than the initial artistic statement.

So thank you for contacting us, I'd like to see what comes of it, and feel free to contact me again. Your video put me right back there, but I must confess, it was rather disturbing for some reason to see you take all the cards and throw the rocks on the ground. So I'm conflicted, part of me thinks you ruined it, part of me thinks its so cool that someone picked up my card and emailed me, and I certainly never expected that I'd actually get to see the person picking it up!

I'm attaching some photos I took when our cards were nice and fresh, and a link to a youtube video of the train across the street.

We never heard a word in response which ticked me off a little, a simple "thank you" would have been nice, and that also made me more annoyed that someone had messed with my card.

Every once in a while I wondered what had become of his project, so I recently searched on SITU NEUT, and the only hit I got was in this blog from another person who had almost the identical experience except that he did get a reply to his emails and frankly, SITU NUET sounds like a jerk. If he believed our cards were "litter", why the careful documentation of them, even to the point of making a video of the "process" off collecting them? (since removed from youtube!?) And then trying to accuse us of commercial motives? I suppose he is the only one with artistically pure motives, the only one who "got it". Nice of him to suggest a more appropriate response "We would suggest a donation to the groups that made the project possible, rather than leaving litter at the site."

My theory is that he did nothing with this "project" of required him to try to understand a response that isn't spelled out for him in Art Forum.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another lunch sketch

Looking across the Providence River towards Steeple Street, the First Baptist Church and where One Up used to be.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Applying geometry to apples

I haven't posted in a little bit, I just haven't had much to say for myself lately. But I did make a mean apple pie this weekend, with apples picked 10-minutes earlier from my own little tree in my backyard. I always want to paint this tree when it's in bloom but I never quite manage to schedule a good painting afternoon during its short flowering glory, which only seems to occur every other year for some reason...

Anyway, I give all the credit for my apple pie to my English mother-in-law's recipe and my incredible apple corer, without which I would never have the patience. I just love the way it transforms the oddly shaped little apples into perfect spirals, cylinders and tangled strips of skin.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


This is only a test. Unless you know why my blogroll doesn't update, in which case, it's a question!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Portrait for the Artist post the Wrong Man

The post office I usually go to in downtown Providence also is used as an extension of the Federal Courthouse. "In light of the events of Sept. 11", all packages that enter this post office must be sent through airport-type scanners before mailing. Then they are given a stamp that lends them an edgy cache — "SCANNED - U.S. Federal Marshalls Department" hand signed and dated. If you want your package to excite anticipation, it's definitely the post office for you.

The downside is that for many years mounted on the wall above the scanning machines amd leering down from their official portraits were the beady eyes Bush and Cheney. Which wasn't the only reason that I looked forward to January 20, 2008, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't right up there.

It seems like the nation and my post office couldn't wait to take those portraits down, but the new ones took awhile to fill the blank spaces. Today I went to mail a package containing my painting exhibit catalog (the art connection, to distinguish this from a political blog) and looked up to see this. It was worth the wait. No pic of the vice president yet, but I'm Biden my time.

Perhaps someday we'll see the portraits of the former administration on another wall of the post office, next to the bulletin board.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Defending the garage—I mean STUDIO

My husband and I liked the house we ended up buying the minute we saw it. The garage clinched it for me. It's well built and newer than the house, built in 1920, and could hold two cars, IF they were allowed to park in it, which they're not. I immediately claimed it for my painting studio.

Since then I've insulated it, built shelves and installed a propane stove for heat. I left a narrow sliver by the door just wide enough to hold two bikes, a lawnmower and some yard tools. That was IT, my only concession to just how handy it is to store stuff in the garage—I mean STUDIO. Except for that chair that needs to be recovered, and the hose in the winter, but not the lawn chairs! They can either fit in the cellar, or freeze their butts off outside. Snow shovel in the summer? NO! Down cellar it goes. So it's a constant battle.

And it was going so well...I had just cleaned my studio, vowed to get that chair to the upholsterers, and was ready to revel in my space when—the house painter asked so nicely if there was a handy place to store his stuff while he worked on the house. Sure, I said, you can put in in my studio—I mean, the garage.

Friday, July 17, 2009

No room at the inn

This is a watercolor I did one lunchtime of the top of the building which used to house the St. Francis Chapel. It's now a Hampton Inn Hotel.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lunch sketch

This is a watercolor painting I did at lunch from across the Providence River. I like this little building tucked amongst the skyscrapers.
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