Friday, November 21, 2014

Work of the more distant past and the just a few weeks ago past...

Laura Montgomery curated a show of ceramics at Bunker Hill Community College. She's so gracious that she came over with her truck and students and hauled the boxes downstairs and away and they all set it up. Naturally I missed the opening because I wanted to see Jim Greene talking about why it was so important to keep Suffolk Downs open by picking Revere as the casino site..that came on at 7 and by the time he'd talked it was DARK…and I absolutely hate the dark…   It's late fall and often dark and the opening was, by then, in the dark. I could have gone if I'd left here at 5:30 and gotten there by 6 when it opened…Alas. But it's a very nice show, like a little jewel to come upon in that huge campus of  hurried and hurrying students. As someone who paid for parking at UMass/Boston, I can't imagine paying only $20 a year for parking…perhaps most students are commuters. Anyway, it's a nice campus…  And a delightful show.   The small grid of six self-portraits in which a nude using her body as if it were clay weren't included. I think that makes the piece stronger, but I'm glad to have shown it and that Laura was able to do that.

(I should add that the casino license was not given to Revere which endangers the existence of a Thoroughbred racing track in Massachusetts and thus the lives of many people from grooms, to hot walkers, to horse shoers to trainers. I've been working on video taping interviews with many folks and some of them are on a new website

and more will be added….  Nine years of work.)
I absolutely had to do something with the paper I made in Cathy McLaurin's class… eight hours of driving back and forth and something like $220 for the class… (not that I begrudge the expense of those classes because the ones I've taken have been interesting…and quite inexpensive and Cathy is terrific)…but anyway, it was an investment and here I was with a huge piece of drawing paper covered with interesting shapes made by flicking a string held on a thin dowel and dipped in ink…   I loved the process, quietly standing there while others applied paint in various ways including with a toy bow and arrow…  their pieces were far more colorful, dense, intense, but I liked the process I used. And wanted to do something with it. The problem, I found out, when I decided to make an accordion book is that it was drawing paper and the paper cracked slightly in the folding. I had to buy linen tape to reinforce the back of the folds. It wasn't particularly easy since math isn't my forte…nor is cutting even slightly heavy book board… and it's a bit formal. But I liked the idea of using ink drawings of the some of the mushrooms I've been photographing for the last four or five years.  It's a bit formal, another book with a black cover.

By the third class, I realized that I liked the surface design I'd created and wanted to use that technique again. We were supposed to use a variety of tricks/methods to limit our way of applying paint..using a long stick with chalk at the end of it, applying a splint and tucking a paint brush in it.

But I used a toy I'd bought for Sherlock, four feathers on a stick, and flicked ink on BFK Reeves that I'd brought. (I did make another sheet of the supplied drawing paper using the same technique, but since I knew I was going to make another book, I finished the class using my paper.)

Since I'd applied the design using the cat toy, I thought I'd use drawings of Sherlock Holmes as I'd used drawings of mushrooms.

But as I walked by the kitchen table, I noticed refractions of light from the fruit bowl, pale, delicate lines which I traced.

I'd made many line drawings of shadows as they crossed the wall at the first landing of the wide staircase in Les's old dowager of a Victorian where I lived for five years. I loved those drawings and never though I'd find anything to replicated here in my little apartment.

I liked a lot of the work in the show Laura curated..from rather primitive figures to very finished elegant pieces. All of it was more than competent. But along with taking photographs of my own work, I took a picture of this piece by Sparky and two of the three 2-D pieces by a man who now works at Feet of Clay, but came from Bosnia, if I'm correct. He worked on clay tablets as if he were drawing and added a clay form. They are charming as is Sparky's piece, I thought, of found female forms.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Essex Art Center

I've been taking a class or two a year for the past five or six years. I have no idea how I discovered the Essex Art Center, but driving up Route 28 to Lawrence is always a pleasure. Inevitably I think of something I hadn't realized about whatever I'm working on. I hate highways, but this is a nice road, in and out of small towns.

I've taken drawing and watercolor and now am taking the third session of a class that Cathy McLaurin teaches about different ways of approaching work. It's not really relevant to my work since I'm not a painter, but I like her, enjoy her approach and the people who keep appearing whenever she offers it. It is, for me, a lark.

The first class involved driving this very small vehicle over different objects and then printing from then.

Barbie dolls are indestructible. Running a 1,000 pound roller over them multiple times doesn't crack the surface.    

In fact, not too many items were squash able. My objects were bought in a gift shop in housing for somewhat elderly folks…and the 93 year-old woman who runs it was pleased with my $30 donation. She had discounted all the items and I was happy to carry away three bags of cutlery, eye glasses, wire baskets, a silver vase and two metal dish wracks.

My plan was to squash a dinner service and print that, but I didn't even put the fork under the roller. The wire baskets worked since they were delicate enough to flatten. And I printed them along with various berries for additional color. Not too interesting. What I liked was taking photographs, except that my battery ran out.

And of course I drove the roller.

I had to do that. The first time I jumped into something I'd never driven before was when someone was asked to volunteer to drive the new 14 person van in the shelter where I was working. My hand went up automatically. It took me two weeks of driving before I noticed the side view mirrors, but I did no damage. The woman got to their alternative sleeping arrangements and the van was unscratched.

My next favorite ride was in a golf cart that I drove up a small mountain with someone I'd known in middle-school…I hadn't seen her in years and was completely surprised when she apologized for something she said well over 50 years ago about my mother's death. Of course, I didn't remember it, but it was so touching that she has carried a worry about what she felt was a harmful comment all these years. What we store in our minds is fascinating.

Driving the roller was a bit difficult. I got on it before it became apparent that nothing thick would crush, so it was a bit bumpy as it traveled over candle sticks and other such stiff stuff. Later when I drove it again, we'd figured out that what was useful crushing material and it was a much less bumpy ride.

During our second class, we worked on large sheets of paper with odd tools. I've moved my sheet where I can work on the floor, using strings dipped in inks. It was interesting enough and I will try to make a book out of it. Since it's doubtful that anything I do in Cathy's classes will be incorporated in my work, I am making an effort to use this particular product.

As if I don't have enough to do.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's November…..

and soon I have to hide under the mattress to avoid the coming holidays.

I've been working really hard…in part to keep adding to a new website
It has interviews from folks who work on the backside of the local racetrack…   If you like very long, hardly edited interviews from people who work with Thoroughbreds, take a look, please.

Occasionally I find a recipe in the New York Times that I think I can manage. And I can't. They are expensive, extremely expensive and time consuming. I spent a fortune making two dishes for a Thanksgiving with Orson and Jim that no one ate since Orson is the most fabulous cook….and my onions, even though I'd bought a clever new dish to serve them in, were hardly necessary on that laden table.

This time I decide to make a tarte tatain (that's not the right spelling, probably…) just because it looked beautiful. And it is.

And it also served the purpose of distracting me, preoccupying me with shopping. I've been quite nervous and fretful with a stomach that's out of sorts, so this was a tricky, but ultimately safe activity since I could toss it out if I failed.
      The recipe called for eight apples of a particular type that don't have a lot of excess liquid. Wholepaycheck didn't have the specified type, but it had the two allowable alternatives….
     And it had frozen puff pastry. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS for a package. I didn't blink as I paid for the nifty box. Nor did I read the direction which said it had to defrost in the refrigerator for two days before  I started peeling and cutting the apples in quarters in order to refrigerate them for a day (it wouldn't hurt them, the recipe said, to stay in that lightly covered bowl for two to three days) so that they would dry out sufficiently.
     You get the drift. It was never going to be ready for the occasion I planned to take it to.
     But two days later I baked it and took it over to share with friends. We ate it warm. Excellent.                  
     And then I used the leftover puff pastry to make the ugly little things shown in the photo above. The first time I laid it out, sprinkled sugar on top, put another layer on with more sugar and stuck it in a very, very hot oven, the fire extinguishers in three areas went off which meant I had to take it out, refrigerate the unshapely dough until the next day and clean the stove of all the apple-sugar juice that had spilled from the tart and charred.          
     Nothing is simple.

 Then I took the left-over half tart when I went to visit Margo. It wasn't nearly as good cold, not nearly! But she's very polite.

As I was leaving, she gave me flowers from her garden.  I photographed them along with another bouquet of marigolds from the Chelsea Community Garden along with these particular flowers, daisy and borage which grew wild in the path between my plot and the next.
     After having cut no bouquets all summer, I have four in the house as fall starts….           The cat is pleased.
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For the last couple of years, I have been collecting photographs of mushrooms, an enjoyable activity.

And I was tempted to start another collection called red. And another called yellow.

Luckily I decided this is more folly so I am only collecting photographs of dogs I meet (I do ask the owner usually, and he or she is usually pleased by my nuttiness and never asks what I'm going to do with the images), mushrooms and images from museums.

There is a very good article by Donald Hall in Poets and Writers this month…about aging. A book of essays he's written will be published in December. Evidently one you get to the mid-eighties, you stop worrying and take every day as it comes and enjoy it.
     I've got ten years to go. Right now I have to say that the changes aging are bringing are worrisome… and I find myself running as fast as I can to escape them. When I'm not running, I watch Netflix.
     Take care of yourselves…and enjoy!