Frida

Frida

Imagine hot air, lush plants, vibrant colors. As I walked through the New York Botanical Garden Frida Kahlo exhibit, I was transported to the artist’s world. The exhibit includes a replica of Casa Azul’s garden as well as a gallery of her work. I especially loved the drawings included.

Despite living in Westchester County for 14 years, I never once visited the NYBG. From Grand Central, it is a quick train ride on the Harlem line. Now that I know, I suspect an annual visit will be in order!

Joyce braceletMaybe the best part of the day was seeing it all with my pal Joyce. She’s a writer, artist, adventurer, and I loved spending time with her as we refilled our creative wells. She pointed out a textile (weaving and embroidery) demo, and after I peppered the artists with questions, we each selected a woven bracelet to remember the day. Friendship bracelets on my mind? I guess so!

What have you seen lately that fills your creative well? I’d love to hear about exhibits, movies…anything!

Art Show

Earlier this week I went to my nephew Dan's first college group-art-show opening.  It was cool to see his new work, and I enjoyed talking to him about it.  He has long been articulate about his art, and it is a pleasure to be shown around the gallery by the artist himself!  

This piece is called "Freshman Minus Fifteen"

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It refers to the stress of entering college, which in Dan's case resulted in not eating for a week!  Want a close up?

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The walls of the gallery were covered with works on paper.  This pencil drawing was near the ceiling, which explains the wonky angle.

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The students drew more traditional self-portraits, then did a second one based on research they did about Halloween.  There were some scary pieces (one with sewn lips gave me the shudders).

I am crazy for this piece:

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Thanks for taking a look at Dan's work.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Self Portrait

Dans_self_portraitMy nephew Dan is a talented young artist, and I had to brag on him a little.  The local newspaper used one of his pieces for their itown magazine.  I bought this self-portrait from him and picked it up today.   I love his mixed media work–there is so much passion and daring in what he does.  He’s also a pretty skilled potter.  He plans on going on to art school after he graduates from high school–I can’t wait to watch him grow as an artist.

Proud aunt ends bragging session now.  Thanks for indulging me!

Will Post for Votes

Especially when I think the artists deserve them.

First, go vote for Yarn-a-Go-Go’s novel.  You have to sign up for Gather, but they’re not going to sell your e-mail or anything.  Remember, she needs a 10 for your vote to count.  As a fellow Treadmiller, I feel invested in her success!

Next, check out this contest.  Head over and vote for What’s Wrong with Mud?  If I could pick anything else other than being a writer for my passion, I think I’d want to be an illustrator.  Aren’t those farm animals adorable?

Silent Poetry

My best friend at graduate school (well, and in life) is a poet and essayist.  This poem appeared in Prairie Poetry.

During Harvest

My father laughed louder, smiled
quicker. Even when the wheat
measured only thirty bushels per acre,
he’d tell a joke, wink. Riding home
from the field, he’d calculate bushels
to truck loads to bills he could pay.
Once home, sleep came like a thunderstorm,
unavoidable and full of rain.

–Dana Salvador

Two Square Miles

I want to share with you all about a documentary on PBS that will air tonight.  "Two Square Miles" is about the struggles that a small town, Hudson, New York, faces as the community searches for common interests.  A woman whom I respect a great deal, Maija Reed, has a cameo appearance on the program, and the program will also show her workplace, Time & Space Limited.  I plan to watch it, and I hope you do as well.

And.  Some big news is on the way.

Distractions

When I’m not writing or grading papers, I’m usually playing with fiber.  This week I’m all twitchy, excited to go to my first fiber festival. 

But there’s been something else that occupies my mind as I drift off to sleep each night:  Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs.  I first read about these on swap-bot while trolling to see what swaps were happening.  I joined one for fairy tale ATCs and Obsession ATCs, and I am not kidding when I tell you I can’t stop thinking about what I might create for both, but especially for the fairy tales. 

Like many an avid reader, before I discovered Jane Austen and in between those childhood biographies (the smell of which I can recall, as well as their exact location in the old library), I returned time and again to my fairy tales.  I have a few favorites:  The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast.  Not the Disney versions, either, although I do love their Beauty and the Beast. 

So what to make on my 2.5" x 3.5" cards.  What to make.  I’m looking forward to Sunday when I’ll steal a few hours to pull out my watercolors, stamps, and papers.

If I can tear myself away from the new spindle I hope to snag.

I am a Witness

My dear friend Linda Jean Fisher is a visual artist working in Peekskill, New York, where I also lived before I moved to NM.  Linda Jean (or LJO–Linda Jean Oppenheimer) works on volume projects of late; for a period, I had the delight of receiving an image of her Daily Bread in my e-mail almost every day. There are other volume projects, but one in particular that makes me proud to be LJO’s friend and witness.

Not too long ago, LJO began a new volume project, one that I have waited until Easter Sunday to talk about, one that I think is a testament to the effect that an individual can have–a positive effect.  LJO is, in her very special, very labor-intensive way, commemorating the lives lost in the Holocaust.   Here is the story of how she first thought of the project, in her words:

“On Saturday, 25 June 2005 I was working at my job as a custom picture framer.  After I eat a meal, I must thoroughly clean my teeth because of conditions that exist in my mouth that are conducive to accelerated tooth decay.  During this nine-minute forty-second process, I may think about various art projects I’m working on or come up with ideas for new ones. On this particular afternoon, I asked myself the following three questions:  “What is enough?  Will I ever feel like I’ve done enough work?  What is too much?  Within seconds this inquiry brought back a brief conversation from the year 2001.  I was on my way to see a performance by the singer/songwriter Dan Bern with my friends Beverly and Fred.  We were all discussing the prophetic content of Dan Bern’s lyrics.  Beverly added, “He’s even referenced the number six million in several songs” and cited this verse from “Ballerina”:   

Every day I seem to fire

Three more people

And every time I do

Eleven more show up

I can’t fire ’em fast enough

If right now I fired every one I knew

I’d have 6 million employees by Christmas

Six million. 

I asked "Why does Dan Bern single out the number six million?”  When she told me what story in history was behind this figure, I felt ashamed that I was thirty-six years old and didn’t know how many Jews were killed during The Holocaust.  The recollection of this experience answered my third question.  The six million Jews killed during The Holocaust define too much. 

With that, a work of art began moving from the back of my mind to the front.  If I could represent each person with “a something,” what would that be?  I thought for a moment and recalled the time I spent in Hull, Massachusetts visiting my Uncle Joe in 1997.  He had been a reconnaissance photographer during World War II and was one of the soldiers who liberated Dachau concentration camp near Munich.  It was an experience that he had never talked about, so I was hearing his account for the first time.  He said that after the troops penetrated the gates, he frantically moved from building to building, taking pictures, and collecting documents.  Then he showed me a palm-sized identification card for an Italian seamstress.  He gently put it into my hand and I carefully examined it.  It included her photo, personal information, and a single fingerprint.  At that instant I got the answer I was looking for:  I would represent the six million Jews killed during The Holocaust with six million fingerprints.”

Right_forefinger_dated_4_10_06_and_4_13_ Stop.  Reread that if you need to.  Let the chill pass through you.  There are so many things in this world that need a witness, and I’m proud to be one for Linda Jean Fisher, along with a group of selected friends, people LJO trusts to look, each time we get our e-mail from her with the record, to pray, too.  My prayer is for the souls of those sacrificed to an idea.  I also pray for LJO’s right index finger, Superhero, that she may survive without too much damage. 

LJO wants the viewer to remember the value of numbers over one.  Simple enough, but when you think of the number of Jews killed during World War II, the number of humans killed in Vietnam, the number of people killed in our War on Terror, does the number register?  Sometimes for me, those numbers do not.  Thank God for artists, thank God for Linda Jean Fisher, for Dan Bern, for Jackson Pollack, for Charles Dickens.  Thank God for every person who has decided that the very least he or she can do is to be a witness.  To struggle to find a way to communicate what is being

witnessed, to make sure that there is a record, an effort to change things, even if it by heightening awareness.  Sometimes that is all that can be done.  Or maybe sometimes that is what an individual is able to do best.

Here is the most recent statistic of the number of fingerprints LJO has imprinted onto the grids that she designed for the project:

16 April 2006

459-473

15 Grids

1800 Fingerprints

360 + 1440 + 1800 = 3600

53040 + 3600 = 56640 Fingerprints

"father, son, holy spirit, re-ink