Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Signs of the Times XXVII and XXVIII

Signs of the Times XXVII, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXVIII, 6 x 6"

Still continuing my obsession with old, industrial cities. Signs of the Times XXVII contains text from a vintage textbook about shipping and commerce on between cities on the Great Lakes. Signs of the Times XXVIII contains pieces of a vintage map of Detroit, MI.

The decline of these once great cities bothers me in the extreme. As these cities decline, so does the culture of our country. Our countryside is stripped and flattened for the spread of subdivisions. Most Americans live so far from any city, that they rarely experience what cities have to offer. Museums, theaters (real ones, not those 12 to a box ones), galleries, cultural centers, diversity. Far too many of us sit way out in new subdivisions with the television constantly turned on and tuned into one of those reality shows with women who have all character sucked out of them and have had the great fortune of having made a sex tape with someone and . . .

Good heavens, I got up on the high horse again. What I mean is, get out of the house, visit the city, see a show, shop at an independent shop, eat at a non-chain restaurant.

These pieces are now for sale on Etsy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Well Said

There are days when I want to post something profound. Something amusing. Or a new piece of artwork that is so stunning my readers will weep. That is not happening on this rainy Monday.

So today, I'm just going to share with you other people's blogs.

The Easternmost Potter in the United States is a blog I have recently started following. I like Shanna Wheelock's thoughts on being a non-starving artist.

I have been a reader of Cliff's Crib for quite a while now. Cliff is a resident of New Orleans. I guess many of my long-time readers know what I think of New Orleans. Yet, as many times as I have been there, and as much as I think I know about it, I am a tourist. Unless I pick myself up and move down there myself, I will always be a tourist. His is a must-read blog for me to get some well-said information from a resident.

I will now return to my regularly scheduled studio time. New, and many old, bits and pieces have crept out onto my work table. I have NO idea what will they turn into, if anything. It seems as if text still wants to be involved. Not sure about maps. I do think that I need some vintage letter stamps that are smaller than the large ones I have and larger than the smaller ones.

I'll just have a "quick" look on Ebay and Etsy and see what I can find.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Signs of the Times XXXI and XXXII

Signs of the Times XXXI, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXXII, 6 x 6"

While showing a friend my new work a few weeks ago, she seemed quite interested in these new little pieces. I showed her my vintage map of New York City with its wonderful blue color. She asked if I would do a piece for her with bits of the map, preferably with sections of the upper west side -- her old stomping grounds.

I decided to do two pieces and let her choose. She chose both.

I wish I had time to get better photos, but these were whisked out of the door before better outdoor conditions came around. That beautiful blue did not show up too well.

I believe there are six more to photograph and put up for sale on Etsy. Looks like tomorrow will be overcast and a good day for photographing. Then, it seems the series will be over. Never say never, of course. But . . .

I heard a little pinging noise in my head the other day. Like something teeny had been lodged in one of the gears in my brain and had finally fallen out. There's the possibility of new ideas.

Oh, I hope.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Listening to Astrud

Could there possible be anyone living who does not have "Girl from Ipanema" lodged somewhere in their subconscious? Certainly not anyone over a certain age (older than I). It lodged in my brain somewhere in early childhood. Years of Osmond Brothers, Three Dog Night, Peter Frampton, The Cure, and thousands of others blocked the area of my brain where this song existed. Sometime after college, after leaving the world of the independent radio station, I was forced to open my mind to older music rather than new music.

The blockage removed, "Girl from Ipanema" was set free.

For most of my life, I had no idea who sang this song. No idea who played that stunning sax. In time, all was revealed and I fell in love with the Getz/Gilberto album.

Playing the CD in my studio over and over for several weeks resulted in this piece.

Astrud, 24 x 20"

I always imaged Astrud singing in a nightclub with turquoise decor while wearing a black and gold dress. I also pictured young couples necking to her music while hiding away in their brown-paneled, basement recreation rooms.

It's such a lovely day today. I'm going to get in the car with my Getz/Gilberto cd and take a little drive. Probably up to Target. Yes, tall and tan and young and lovely me is going to cruise the Target aisles for some new cereal bowls.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Signs of the Times XXV and XXVI

Signs of the Times XXV, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXVI, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXV contains pieces of a vintage map of San Francisco. XXVI contains text from a vintage book about St. Louis. The pieces are for sale on Etsy.

There are only 6 more to post. XXX and XXXI were commissioned by a friend and have been sold.

The studio is clean. All little bits have been tossed or stashed. Boxes and bags of fabric scraps, large and small, have been given away. Drawers are empty and are awaiting new supplies. My stamp collection has moved into larger dwellings. Now, there is plenty of room for more. My maps now have a home. So do my map scraps.

The floor has been vacuumed. Spiderwebs have been removed. Tables have been scrubbed.

Now I am in panic mode wondering if I'll ever start anything new. I know. I know. I go through this stage frequently. I never get used to it, though. This past week was spent in housewife mode. I did nothing in the studio, except to clean it.

Wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


No photo here. Yet.

I'm waiting for the pile to be completed. If it ever is.

I am piling up fabrics to remove from my studio. A couple days ago, I was very frustrated when trying to clean up my studio after I finished #32 in my last series. I'm not saying the series is finished. But the overwhelming accumulation of stuff that I never use is. Finished.


Out of here.

Boxes of fabrics that I starched years ago for a completely different type of artwork. Gone. Bags and bags of 2-inch squares that I cut years before that for watercolor quilts. Gone. So much cleared out. So far to go.

I originally planned to sell all of this on Ebay and/or Etsy. I got to thinking about all the time involved. Layout, photography, descriptions, listing, labeling, packaging, post-officing, etc. I decided to streamline the process. Call a friend. See if her husband wanted it for the art department of his school. I got a yes. Now its pack it up and get it out.

Drawer after drawer is being emptied. What a fantastic feeling.

There are a few things I will try to sell on Etsy. I've got several shallow drawers full of fabric cut outs. Fruits, veggies, vines, leaves, birds (anybody interested?). I've also got more coordinated fabric square packages.

Now I'll be able to stow all of the new items. Vintage letter stamps. Plastic letters. Even more beads. Maps. Paper scraps. Paper punches.

And by the time I get all of this organized and labeled, I'll be on to something completely different.

Like medical school.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Signs of the Times XXIII and XXIV

Signs of the Times XXIII, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXIV, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXIII contains pieces of a vintage map of Detroit, MI. Much of the text in these pieces comes from a vintage book entitled Toward New Towns for America. This book has sat on shelves in my homes for decades. It has moved with me several times. I had never looked at it until I needed bits of text for these pieces. When I finally got a good look at it I was shocked. It basically stated that we should all get the hell out of our nasty, big cities and build brand-spanking-new towns all over the country. At the time I purchased this book (cheap and used, no doubt), I probably thought that was a wonderful idea. Not so much anymore.

Some plans for visiting cities are being formed. Most revolve around my husband's work. Some of these trips are connected to relatives. Regardless, I want to see as many cities as possible.

Trips in the works: Columbus, OH; Portland, OR; New York, NY; Toronto; Barcelona. Hopefully, I can find some inspiration in these places for future artwork.

I have completed 32 pieces in the Signs of the Times series. I would like to do some more in a larger format, but for now, nothing is going on. Today I will do some yard work since it is such a beautiful day. Then off to Target. Then, perhaps I will clean up the studio. Its littered with bits of paper, beads, piles of fabric scraps, books, torn up maps, etc. I'm often inspired to move onto the next thing while I am doing my cleaning.

I don't know about other artists (visual, performance, writers), but I often panic at the end of a large project. Will I ever be able to do anything else? Should I throw on that dark blue bib thing and become a greeter at Wal-Mart? If I don't complete something today as an artist have I failed as an artist?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

There Goes the Neighborhood

O.K. So its not as bad as that photograph. But it sure aint the same as it used to be.

The moving van is across the street. It is taking away a family (to larger quarters, no doubt) with twin girls my daughter’s age. They aren’t the first to go and they certainly won’t be the last.

Three or four years ago, this was an incredible neighborhood. Full of young couples, families and kindly old ladies. You couldn’t walk your dog down the street without getting an invitation to a cook-out. Or perhaps someone would place a glass of wine in your hand. Someone might rush out of their house to offer useful or useless advice. Now the tumbleweeds are blowing and even the kindly old ladies are getting crabby and chasing dogs off of their lawns.

One young couple moved about 3 or 4 years ago. Off to the city for fun living. Next, the couple that owned the outdoor movie projector, fog machine and industrial grill moved off to the city, too. The little boy about to start kindergarten this fall moved with his family to a larger house in a different neighborhood. The family that lived across the street from him seems to have disappeared. Blankets now cover the windows of that house – a sure sign that students have moved in. The family across the street from this house was interested in the house that my across-the-street-neighbors bought. The family of five that lives next to the bus stop are making grumblings about their house being too small. And to top it off, the around-the-corner neighbors with a friend of my daughter’s have just put a for sale sign in their yard.

The neighborhood is not empty though. There is a single, middle-aged woman moving in across the street. There are several older, single men on my street. One of which I have a fear of hearing about on national news as they remove semi-decayed body parts from his house. Oh, and yes, there are plenty of front-porch-furniture-stealing students around here. Can’t forget them. Hard to forget them when your chairs disappear. And beer cans appear. And reappear. And the sounds of late-night vomiting are heard on those warm weekends. (Oh Geez, that means its almost condom season again).

I guess all we can do is sit back and wait and see who moves into these houses. And watch the tumbleweeds roll. And perhaps I can put on a faded housedress and chase dogs off of my lawn.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Listening to Janis

Every now and then (rarely) I get asked to explain my inspiration for a piece of art. I just can't do it. The words don't come out right. Or my words seem lame. Or while gathering my thoughts, the listener gets distracted and walks off. Whatever.

My inspiration is a combination of music and color.

Three years ago I completed the Women Singing series. Each piece was all about color and music and how they combine in my mind.

I know this video is somewhat lame. But I had to find my favorite Janis Joplin song and it had be the vision I had in my head when I created my Janis piece. This song has gotten lodged inside of me. I know it can never be removed. Kind of a good thing. Kind of a bad thing. Even on the most beautiful and happy of days, the melancholy of this song alters my view of the world. As if I were wearing a pair of Janis' funky sunglasses.

Janis, 24 x 20"

Janis, detail

If a mad scientist were to cross Emily Dickinson, Janis Joplin, and the weird girl in back of the Home Economics class who could do nothing right, you would get me. I might appear quiet and geeky, but on the inside, Janis is raging.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Phipps. Again.


One of my favorite places on earth is the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. We went to visit some friends there over the weekend, and as usual, ended up at Phipps. They were in the midst of their spring flower show and it was glorious. Especially the room filled with daffodils and hyacinths. Aaaaaaahhhhh!

Chihuly glass among the foliage

I've never been one of glassmaker Dale Chihuly's biggest fans, but his work, set into the landscape, is stunning. One of his sculptures or bowls set out by itself looks like a fish out of water. Once it is set into foliage or a landscape, it is transformed.

More Chihuly

In the Orchid Room - Glass figure by Hans Gogo Frabel.

Several of Frabel's people were scattered about. Unfortunately, none of the other photos turned out very well. Set in the ponds and walking along branches, these figures were fascinating. I wish I could go and visit them again tomorrow.

Where is my teleportation pod?!?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Signs of the Times XXI and XXII

Signs of the Times XXI, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XXII, 6 x 6"

Still focusing on Detroit, MI, in these two pieces. I'm about out of map and text for that city and will have to move on to something else.

I found a cool map of Kansas City on Ebay or Etsy last week. I went to buy it and the seller was only accepting checks or money orders. I ended up not buying it. How lazy is that? Perhaps now that the weather is warming up and I'm coming out of my winter stupor, I will feel invigorated enough to get out the checkbook.

I'm back to my blues and browns in these and the next couple of pieces. I have also made two for a commission for a friend who used to live in NYC. I found the best map a few months ago. The blues in these pieces are inspired by that old map.

These two pieces are now available on Etsy.