Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October's Fire












After losing art to fire, I've become obsessed with flames and their purgative power. When my barn burned down that dry August day, taking my studio and thirty years of work with it, I was surprised that my first response to the loss was an overriding sense of relief. There, a part of me thought, with alarmed satisfaction. That's over with. And since then, I do occasionally now carry chosen pieces of artwork out to the fire ring, and with unwavering deliberation, take a match to them. Maybe they are pieces I've never been happy with, or maybe they are simply taking up too much space, or just maybe, as was the case with my most recent art editing pyre, a small rodent, mortally wounded by my merciless cat, sought shelter behind a painting that was leaning against the wall, and curled up and died there. (This apparently took place several weeks ago, by the looks of the rotting, and yes, stinky, corpse, which I happened upon when my recent cleaning spree took me upstairs to the spare bedroom. I knew I could smell something every time I walked down that hallway...!)

So, yes, the bottom edge of this piece, a large assemblage on luan panel, stank. For one brief moment I considered scrubbing it and leaving it in the sun to bleach, but there came a stronger urge to burn the thing. I figured, I have digital documentation of the work. I felt ready and compelled to let it go.

It was a portrait of a friend of mine, a woman who is challenged with mental illness and severe ADD. Because of her disabilities, she has extreme difficulty keeping her house clean. Her home becomes engulfed with dirty dishes, clothes and stacks of papers. She gets completely overwhelmed, and cannot figure out where to begin to pick up. Then she gives up, and the mess becomes deeper and more tangled. This summer she had the courage to finally ask her friends for help, and a few of us pitched in and cleared the place out. I was thinking about all of this as I watched her portrait burn. I thought about how every piece of art we make is a self-portrait of sorts, and that this piece represented a part of myself, the part that I've been dealing with this fall, with my move back home, and all the cleaning, purging, organizing and rearranging that this move has necessitated. So, it seemed a perfect choice (albeit not a fully independent and conscious choice on my part - seems that my cat and a certain unfortunate mouse had more to do with it...) to put this particular piece of mine on the fire, and I said goodbye to that cluttered part of me as I stood there in the roaring heat watching it burn through thick smoke.

And isn't this what autumn is about? The golden leaves of October are a flaming goodbye to all that was created in green summer.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Nesting
























Some corners of my home in Woolwich. I've been painting walls, sewing curtains and pillows, rearranging, cleaning out closets and re-organizing STUFF. Still a ways to go. After being away from the house part-time for five years, there is alot to do to get it in order. I enjoy chaos as part of my creative process, but I do not enjoy living in chaos! I made it back into my studio earlier this week to start the organizing process there as well. When I get everything whipped into shape in the studio (and it will require a whipping!) I will get back to my art. I read this horoscope on-line last night, and it really fits for what my fall has been about! Here's what astrobarry had to say:

Pisces...I'd like you to starting looking ahead to 2010, when benevolent blessing-bestower Jupiter will spend a good chunk of the year in your sign, bringing you an expanded vision of what you as an individual are capable of. Jupiter in one's sign usually delivers a memorable year, so I'm already getting excited for you. In preparation for this, use Mars's new long-term residence in your 6th for an attack on whatever unfinished work you've left to gather dust for too long now—your disorganized papers, your mediocre day-to-day job performance, your out-of-shape body, your household projects or other nagging chores whispering for your attention. Clear the decks during this tail end of '09. (my emphasis!) Make way for a bigger you.

(Suhweeet!)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Make It Real

Sent mail (or "scent mail!" I sewed lavender and other herbs into my mail art. Real mail that you can smell and FEEL mail!)
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Carlo Pittore sharing his mail art collection with my silkscreen class at Maine College of Art in 2003. (The mail art that Carlo is holding is from Japan. It is two cardboard hands connected by a long rope, symbolizing the distance between the USA and Japan, and the friendly connection between the two mail artists. The rope is covered with stamps, and this piece of mail art went through the post like just like this! Carlo was moved to tears as he told this story. This was one of his favorite pieces of mail art...)

I have always decorated my letters and envelopes for as long as I can remember, and I delighted in sending unusual letters even when I was just a kid (for instance, I once wrote a letter to a girl friend on a roll of toilet paper!). Little did I know that I was participating in a phenomenon known in the art world as "mail art." My old dear departed friend Carlo Pittore introduced me to mail art back in the 80's when I moved to central coast Maine, and began figure drawing at his Academy in Bowdoinham. Carlo was a central figure in the international mail art movement along with his more famous friends, Ray Johnson and Bern Porter.

Early mail art originated partly as a rejection of the exclusive gallery scene. Anyone can participate. Indeed, "senders receive," a motto of the Mail Art movement, dictates that if someone receives a piece of mail art, they must create and send some mail art. Mail art can be something as simple as "mailed art," like a decorated envelope, to something more inventive and challenging, like Naked Mail, which requires the participation of the postal system above and beyond the usual call of duty!

This fall I started a mail art project with a few folks on Facebook. I was thinking about how people nowadays do most of their corresponding on-line. We have stopped writing letters. And I was thinking about how my friend Carlo started each day catching up on his correspondence. I still have many of the whimsical cards that Carlo sent to me over the 20 years that we were friends, cards that bear loving and supportive messages printed with quill pen and black India ink, in Carlo's unmistakeable bold handwriting. He never missed a friend's birthday. I wondered what Carlo would make of this whole Facebook/digital THING that is happening today. I missed seeing people's handwriting, I missed doodling and collaging and picking out cool stamps to stick on my envelopes, and above all I missed getting real mail in my mail box. A piece of real mail mixed in with all the boring bills and junky mass printed fliers is such a rare treat! So I invited people on Facebook to send me their addresses and told them that I would mail them some REAL MAIL with the only stipulation being that they must send me something back. It's been alot of fun! If any of you out there in blog land would like to join in, simply e-mail me me your address!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The End of the Rainbow...








...is right down my chimney.
A rainbow that was directly over my roof a couple of days ago, and
two blissed out cats basking in the glow from the pot of gold (my woodstove)!
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