Monday, November 30, 2009

Portrait with a Portrait

This digital self-portrait was sent to me by my friend, Jo-an Jacobus. She took these pictures of herself standing in front of a charcoal portrait that I did of her around 10 years ago. Along with her many other amazing talents, Jo-an sings sea shanties and creates labyrinths, hence the background imagery. (Hey, Jo-an, you haven't changed a bit! :^)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trees and Me

We can learn from a tree how to exist in ecstasy.
I took these pictures while I was in New York State last weekend. The trees there are so old and beautiful. I've often wondered why we can appreciate the rough texture of bark on tree trunks and the way that trees get all knotted and wide with age, but we have such difficulty accepting these characteristics on our own aging bodies...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My family had alot of fun making these turkey name tags yesterday while we were waiting for the real turkey to finish cooking. They were a true collaboration, from design to production! Recipe: two brown oak leaves (the stems become the legs), a colored paper oval for the body, a fan shape for the inner tail, and a turkey head, plus a red felt wattle. Color feathers on the fan shape, then glue on the wattle. Stitch all layers together. We also attached a piece of white paper to the back of each name tag so that we could write what we are thankful for.
I hope that you all had a wonderful feast with family and friends and that you are now enjoying the LEFTOVERS! Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

From Haunting to Hysterical: Five Digital Self-Portraits

Carol Anne Strange

Joseph Begnaud

Jessica Fuchs

Susan Beauchemin

Five fabulous digital self-portraits sent to me by five fabulous artists in response to my recent call for art. They range from the hauntingly beautiful to the hysterically unabashed!! Want to send me one? I'll post more next week! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday Night Date Night

duct-taped dancing shoes!

Contra dancing. Never tried it? It's such fun! My husband and I used to dance regularly about 10 years ago, then got away from it. We decided to start up again this past weekend and headed over to North Yarmouth with some friends to the 2nd Saturday dance at Westcustogo Grange. Really, what great fun - great music, great exercise (you work up a terrific sweat!) and great company! By the end of the night, you've danced with everyone! And if you're a guy who's always wanted to dance in a skirt? Have at it! :^)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Call for ART!

The Digital Self-Portrait
E-mail me your gif or jpg (no huge files, please!) and I will post your work here next week along with a link to your blog! Deadline, one week from today, Wednesday, November 18th.
Get Clicking, and Have FUN!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Radiant Redon

Woman Amid Flowers, 1909 - 1910

Closed Eyes, 1890

The Green Death, 1905 - 1910

Inclined Female Head, around 1910

Portrait of Madame Redon with a Yellow Scarf, 1890

Portrait of Marie Botkin, 1900

The Dream, around 1912

The Cyclops, 1898

Eve, 1904

The Japanese Warrior Vase, 1905 - 1908

Some images from the book Odilon Redon by Jean Selz.
Selz writes:
Of all the painters whose secrets are known to us, Odilon was the one who experienced the greatest difficulty - or used the greatest discretion - in explaining his painting. However, he formulated a lucid definition of his art by saying that it consisted of putting "the logic of the visible at the service of the invisible." His work does in fact occupy a place between sight and vision.
How torturous it is to write an artist statement. I'm interested in this comment of Salz's regarding Redon's tremendous difficulty in explaining his own art, because it was an act of great discretion. What do we tell people about our work? Are artist statements even necessary?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holy Communion

I was raised a Congregationalist - my family went to Beneficent Congregational Church in downtown Providence, RI, a twenty minute drive from our suburban home in Warwick. I had many friends who were Catholic, and their church was right in our neighborhood. We walked past Norwood Catholic Church on the way home from school, and one day a week my Catholic friends would wave goodbye to me as they donned their lace mantillas and headed into catechism. Catechism! The word alone seemed so exotic, so mysterious, compared to my cubed white bread Welch's grape juice Sunday School. And the fact that it took place on a school day afternoon made it all the more intriguing.
So of course I said, Yes! Sure! when my best friend Betty invited me to join her catechism class one afternoon (I had officially joined my church the year before when I had turned 13, and was now able to take communion there, but I was curious about the rituals of the Catholic religion). The taboo topic of swear words came up during the catechism class, and I'll never forget that the teacher explained the origins of The F Word. "When someone committed adultery in colonial times," he told us matter of factly, "they were put in stocks with the letters F. U. C. K. written above their heads: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge." Wow! We never had these conversations in our Sunday School! This was great! So, Yes! Of course I agreed to go away with Betty and the class for a weekend retreat at a local monastery!
We gathered together at the monastery on Friday night - all of us teenagers, a group of nuns, priests, and a few theology students from Brown University - and we sat in a big circle and prayed and sang hymns. Saturday was an all day workshop. I remember a filmstrip of pictures of ants teaming out of anthills and moving in long deliberate lines over bare ground, and the narrator spouting some message about non-catholics being no different than these ants, soulless creatures, doomed to doing the same things over and over with no meaning or purpose, and no chance of salvation. I remember thinking, "Well, jeeez, those ants look pretty purposeful to me..."
But I kept still. I was there to learn. Saturday night, after dinner, we had another session of prayers and hymn singing before heading to bed. Some of the kids kept sneaking out of their rooms, but there were nuns patrolling the halls and they barked everyone back to their bunks. I laid still in my bed and listened to all the commotion, and eventually drifted off to sleep.
Sunday morning at breakfast we were told that the crowning culmination of the weekend would be the communion service. We were all feeling quite tired and jazzed from the sleepless night, but we had bonded after spending the last 36 hours together, and I looked forward to the communion service with excitement! No white bread and grape juice, here. There would be wine! And the wafer! Betty and I walked into the sanctuary side by side. One of the priests standing at the entrance nodded at Betty approvingly and motioned her forward to the front row. He turned back to me with a stern expression and put up his hand in a STOP sign. "You're not Catholic," he said. "No," I said, tentatively, halting. "I'm Protestant."
"Well, you cannot sit up front, and you cannot partake of communion," he said with finality. I'd kept quiet and minded my manners the entire weekend, but now I felt a hot flush rise to my cheeks as I protested, indignant. "But I take communion in my church! I have taken the special classes and I officially joined the church last spring when I was 13! Why can't I take communion here?"
The priest closed his eyes and smiled. "Listen," he said. "I'll explain it to you as simply as I can. When a Protestant takes communion, it's as if he opens a box and finds inside an ordinary stone. When a Catholic takes communion, he opens that very same box, but finds inside a glittering diamond." The priest then turned on his heel and walked briskly up the aisle, and I stared open mouthed at his back and watched his robe drag ceremoniously behind him. I was tired, I was homesick, I was hurt, and I felt so humiliated. I began to cry. Suddenly an arm went around my shoulders and I looked up, sniffing, into a handsome face. One of the theology students from Brown had been behind me in line and had heard my exchange with the priest. He hugged my shoulder tight and leaned over and whispered, "That guy's an asshole! Come sit with me." So this good-looking, smart, funny, caring, Catholic young man sat with his arm protectively around 14 year old Protestant me throughout the entire service. I could've died and gone to heaven. Now that's what I call communion!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

There Is Much To Be Learned...

day in hand

A sad day here in Maine. The same sex marriage law was repealed in yesterday's election. I thought Maine was more compassionate, more loving, more conscious. But no. For now, fear prevails. This video helps me put it all in perspective and to feel joyful and grateful to be alive...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Moon The Sun and Sweet Synchronicity

a mail art masterpiece! lucky me!

the full moon at 4:59 this morning...

my Bright Shadow spread...

first card of the spread! no fooling!!! love the Tarot...

Majo playing Music, by Ramon Bayeu Subias...

Two packages arrived late yesterday afternoon, just before the rise of a brilliant full moon: a CD of comic Mozart rarities that I ordered last week, and this stupendous piece of mail art created by the funny, sweet, and talented Dean Grey. Wow! Isn't this drawing a stunner?? I took it straight away to my backyard where there was a remaining smidge of sunlight and placed it on the ground to photograph. Looks like this white beauty stopped to rest in the grass after his long journey from Chicago! This morning I knew that I would post about receiving Dean's mail art, so I put on my new CD and began processing my digital images. (I've meant to buy this CD for years. When I did my Monhegan residency, there was a shelf full of old Mozart records that I played daily while I was there, and this particular record was my favorite. It made me feel so HAPPY! I had forgotten the name of the record until last week when I saw the title scribbled on a slip of paper in an old journal found during my recent cleaning spree: The Comic Mozart. I went immediately on-line and found two CD's; The Lighter Mozart, which has many of the tunes from The Comic Mozart, and the original, The Comic Mozart, which hasn't arrived yet - it's coming long distance from Australia...)

So back to Dean's drawing. The white horse/unicorn reminds me of a piece I worked on a couple of years ago as part of the collaborative doll project I was involved in with 17 other artists. The doll is named Kiki Jung (daughter of Carl) created by my close friend (who happens to be the woman whose portrait I burned recently). Just before her doll arrived in the mail, I had a dream about a white horse, so I was determined to include this horse in the project somehow, even though I knew nothing of the doll. When Kiki arrived, I decided that I would make her a white horse. I researched the symbolic meanings of the white horse, and while looking at images, I researched the meaning of the white horse in The Sun card from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, and learned about Jung's concept of the Bright Shadow. I knew about our Dark Shadow, and the importance of acknowledging our dark side, so this notion of a bright shadow , and our unrealized potential, really intrigued me. I named the horse Bright Shadow.

All of this was running through my mind while looking at Dean's beautiful white horse. And the backside of his envelope reads, Run free Run free Run free, Tears blowing in the wind. Run free Run free Run free Shine brightly and run free! Dean writes openly on his blog about his great struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, so his image of a tearful but determined white unicorn, charging, with glowing horn cutting through black ink, is moving indeed. Here is a potent symbol of Dean's fierce will and the courage required to face his darkness!

This morning I returned to the site where I had read up about Bright Shadow work a couple of years ago, and decided right then, in the middle of writing this post, to pull out my Tarot cards and do the Bright Shadow spread. I shuffled the deck, and made my 4 piles, and I kid you not, the very first card I turned over was The Sun (having The Sun card show up in this first stack of cards means my untapped potentials lie in the physical realm - I won't go into all that this means to me, this post is rambling and "Phoebe from Friends" flakey enough as it is. Suffice it to say that syncronicity is afoot!). Then I thought, Hmmm, perhaps the music I'm listening to has something to do with this flow of events, and decided to scan the CD cover. Now, can you see the similarity to my spread, and the images from the CD cover? A naked golden haired cherub with a red plumed feather, a gent wearing red, and two robed women...

So many connections, so much grist for the mail art mill...

Look out, Dean! I feel another piece of mail art brewing! This may very well turn into a volley! :^)