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


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