Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 30-Charlottsville Virginia-Almost the Last Delivery

Dearest Readers,
Etta and I are camping tonight on Sherando Lake in the George Washington National Forest, near Charlottsville, Virginia. It’s serene, and nearly empty of campers. But it’s also black bear country, no kidding! The rangers said there have been sightings every night in camp for several days. I hate this part. It is worrisome, but I will pack all food and toiletries in the car and hope the tree climbing behemoths trudge on by my tent.

Left Kate Kretz' Maryland home around noon today, drove back around Washington, circling DC via the beltway once again.

I snapped this white Disney-esque apparition nestled in the trees over the highway. It reminds me of the Emerald City or a science fiction Magic Kingdom. There’s an angel trumpeter on top of the middle tower. Must be a mega-church of some sort.

Virginia greeted us at a clean, compact welcome center, with a delicious greasy donut that Etta found in the grass. Saw my first kudzu patch, a sure sign of the Deep South.

On to Charlottsville, Virginia today and the home, studio and assemblage installation space of Hand to Hand glove artist Andy Faith. She’s on her porch holding her pug, Baby.

This is a momentous moment, people. Here I am handing the last Hand to Hand glove artwork that I brought with me on the Roadtrip Across America. I’m tired and pleased just thinking of all the “hand-overs”. Andy's gloves are stained and pained American Flag patterned hands stuck all over with small hatpins, like Iraq War voodoo dolls.

There are a few more Atlanta artists who need to receive their work when I return (this weekend!) On Sept. 10-11th I’ll drive one short road voyage to South and Middle Georgia, Tallahassee and Jacksonville Florida for some final hand and glove artwork returns. I need to throw a done-deal party after H2H is all wrapped up.

Thanks to Andy Faith and Kate Kretz for the care packages of food for the road, and to Helen and Pam yesterday for snacks and beverages to go. I feel sometimes like the Pony Express traveling along a post road, dropping off the mail and picking up provisions from kind artists and friends along the trail.

Thanks also to Andy for the gift of her book “Home Altars of Mexico” that I admired at her house. Such a treat!

I’ll end this blog with a selection of assemblages and combines that fill Andy Faith’s home. Her place is an artistic, claustrophobic (in a good way) collection of found-object-creatures, homages to significant people, and decorative things with an end-of-the world, faded glory sense of the beautiful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 29-Silver Spring MD-On The Road Again

Dearest Readers,
I’m in Silver Spring, Maryland at the home of artist friend Kate Kretz. We’re on the back porch eating dinner, talking about our Catholic childhoods and listening to the cicadas ricochet their calls from the pin oaks in the blackness beyond our circle of light. A few dots of starlight prick the cloud cover. Etta scurries at our feet searching for crumbs, barking now and then at a deer or perhaps a fox in the stand of trees.

This was the main course...baked cod with carrot puree, ginger spinach, and roasted shitake mushrooms on a bed of brown rice. Wine and cheeses at the start of the feast. Yellow cake with lemon curd filling, and a lavender cream topping. Health to your hands, Kate!

At the start of this day, I kissed my sleeping grandson Roman on the cheek, packed the Scion toaster-car, and drove out of beloved Brooklyn for the road again. And roads plus bridges and tunnels were the extent of the sights on the day’s journey. Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Goethels bridge, Delaware Memorial Bridge, NJ Turnpike, Delaware Turnpike, I-95, Fort McHenry Tunnels, Maryland Turnpike, the DC beltway.

New Jersey greeted my descent from the Goethels Bridge with 18 wheelers and oil refinery pill boxes beside the marshlands. I goofed and sailed through the EZ-Pass toll booth. The trucks would not let me back up, so without a ticket for the NJ Turnpike I had to pay the fee for the entire stretch of highway...$9.05...not too bad.
The Verrazano Bridge alone was $13.00 to cross.

Delaware flashed a digi-dotted welcome sign as I spilled off the Delaware Memorial Bridge at New Castle, surging forward with the tide of fellow cars and trucks. I snapped a quick windshield pic in response.

Maryland welcomed me to the beauty of the Chesapeake, with a reminder to keep her clean. The Lumix camera and I recorded this moment as another crossing point on the journey out of Georgia, around America, and now back down toward home.

This is Helen Zughaib, a Lebanese artist-refugee who was evacuated from her country in the mid-1970s during the civil wars. I am in her home and studio in the Columbia Plaza Apartments in Washington, DC near Watergate. From her sixth floor balcony we can see the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts across the street, and a bend of the Potomac running full and green two days after Hurricane Irene.

I’m handing Helen one of her six flowered gloves from the Hand to Hand Project, referencing the Bush administration’s early claim that the citizens of Iraq would welcome the American troops with garlands of flowers. We are standing in front of her gouache painting of the Washington Monument. Helen has covered the Memorial in Middle Eastern patterns and positioned a row of American flags at the base. Hillary Clinton gave her George Washington Memorial painting to the King of Morocco.

Obama gave her piece MIDNIGHT PRAYERS, shown here, to Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq.

See more of her work such as the "Weeping Women", and “Stories From My Father” series at

Then on to Bethesda, Maryland to the home of Pam Rogers. She was working on some experimental watercolors on canvas when I arrived.

Here’s a sampling of two of her nature based paintings. There’s a wild, visceral connection here between plants and human relationships. See more at

We’re standing in Pam’s dining room in front of one of her bleached cyanotype prints with a Turkish decorative ceramic plate on the table. Pam stitched her six gloves into a tangle of days and events from her war week in 2009.

I leave you, readers with a selection of Kate Kretz’ paintings on the walls of her home including an angel mural in Ilaria's bedroom. Kate is also a textile artist, whose full spectrum of work, including her hair embroideries can be seen at her website

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 22-28-Brooklyn NY-Family, Earthquake and Hurricane Irene

Dearest Readers,
What a week in Brooklyn! Drove across the Manhattan bridge last Monday into the DUMBO section of town and on to my daughter's apartment in Clinton Hill. Crisp, sunny days at the start of the week. Not much art on my agenda, but plenty of fun with my grandson Roman, and plenty of excitement from Mother Nature along the way.

This is the hanging plant in my daughter’s apartment that swung back and forth along with the whole brownstone during Tuesday’s earthquake. The epicenter was in Richmond, VA, but we felt it gently rocking up here. The effect was confusing, then a bit nauseating as it continued in slower and slower cycles for perhaps 45 seconds. Nothing fell off of shelves or hit us on the head.

This is my precious family out for lunch at Anima Italian restaurant in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Daughter Semra, me, Daddy Erik, and grandson Roman.
The area is close to Pratt Institute and Fort Greene Park. More pictures follow of their house, and Roman with his friends Ava and Dominick at Fort Greene Playground, Dad and Roman at Graziella’s (best pizza in Brooklyn), and Roman flying the ride-em plane on DeKalb Avenue next to a sidewalk cafĂ©.

It’s crowded in the apartment. Semra, Erik, Roman, me, Etta, Destro the rottweiler, and Neptune the indoor cat share about 800 square feet–two bedrooms, a living room, galley kitchen, foyer and cozy bathroom. Etta searches relentlessly for the kitty who has found a hiding spot in the apartment. Etta has claimed one couch and the air mattress as her territory, growling at Destro when he approaches her Etta-Zones. All’s well.

Meet my University of Vermont college roommate, Syrette Dym. We walked the High Line Park, a very cool public landscaping project on an old elevated industrial rail line in the meat-packing district and Chelsea areas. We overlooked the city and New Jersey, then descended a stairway for lunch. It was dead city on the ground around Chelsea.
The galleries are closed for installation of new shows for the Fall after the August hiatus. I had planned to subway into Manhattan this weekend to museum hop, but all buses and subways are shut down as of noon Saturday because of possible flooding during Hurricane Irene. She hit us at high tide, which was bad timing on her part.

So, my family and I survived Irene. It turned out to be a windy wet mess, with lots of downed tree limbs, but not as disastrous as predicted. Here's what she looked like around 6AM this morning when the eye was drawing near. Not bad!

Yesterday we battened down the house hatches...Erik taped big Xs on the windows to hold any shattered glass during the expected high winds.

We stocked up on essentials like coffee, wine, beer, milk, water, toilet paper and Chef Boy-ar-dee. We’re located in Evac Zone B, second in line after Evacuation Zone A, but we were able to stay at home, and the power stayed on. The only problem was a roof leak in a corner of the living room.

Tomorrow (Monday) morning, inshallah, if the roads are passable out of NYC, I’ll set sail in the red Scion to deliver glove art to H2H artists in DC and Bethesda, with a sleep over at artist Kate Kretz’ house in Silver Spring MD.

Cheers all...I’m headed home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21- Rutland Vermont-My Big Art Week in VT MA & Upstate NY

Dearest Readers,
Meet Susan Farrow, Vermont artist and friend. Wife of sculptor Patrick Farrow who was the brother of the actress Mia. We are at the Salem Art Works (SAW) Summer Gala in tiny historic Salem, NY. An exhibition and performance events marked the end of a group residency for her at this art enclave near the Vermont border.

Sculptures dot the meadow. An old livestock barn serves as the gallery space.

Susan stands beside her series of small, contained black and rust assemblages that ask the viewer impossible questions. They are titled “The Farrow Museum of Perplexing Thoughts”. One of them asks, “Why are tears of joy the same color as tears of sorrow?” The image is a shower of tear-shaped rusted metal droplets.

Outside the gallery a sculptor and musician named Justin performed a piece with original music and found objects called Rock Chair. He bluesily exhorts the old throne-like wicker chair to get up and rock. He crawls under the chassis, lies on his back and tries to fix the mock chariot auto-repair style, but the stubborn piece of furniture refuses to budge.

The week started with a two hour drive Sunday to the Karme Choling Shambhala Buddhist Retreat Center in Barnet, Vermont. I walked around the grounds, meditated at the site of a future stupa (a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics), while Etta rolled in the grass. I explored the rooms inside the main building (without Miss Etta). No one paid a bit of attention to me. I arrived at the moment a week-long family camp session was coming to a close. Backpacks and sleeping bags dotted the porch and front lawn. Small groups of staff and kids were hugging and saying their good-byes. I slipped among them virtually unseen.

On the road to the Center, Etta and I stopped at Quechee Gorge, a deep ravine near the site of a former woolen mill store. We walked all the way down to the Ottauquechee river below, and played around on the rocks. It was a cardio-climb for both of us coming back out.

Monday Michael Beale and I drove an hour and a half in the rain to Mass MOCA in North Adams Mass–a Dickinsonian 19th century brick mill complex re-purposed for monumental installations, big group projects, and extensive artist retrospectives. I love this place. It’s a laboratory for inspirational, edgy work. Every year when I visit I am not disappointed.

Here are two sculptural installations by the Jamaican born artist Nari Ward–“NuColassus” and “Mango Tourists” that moved me. Both pieces incorporate Jamaican inspired media with objects found at MASS MOCA from its previous life as a cotton printing factory, and later an electric supply-making company.

Readers...are you still with me on this week of art adventures?

Tuesday Michael and I visited sculptor, glass artist and digital painter Paedra Bramhall who lives beyond the electrical grid in Center Bridgewater, VT. Michael is about to go inside Paedra’s hand-built home and studio in the first shot.

And here we are inside, deep in conversation about the economy and the state of the arts in Vermont.

Paedra has captured the hydro-power from the Bridgewater Hollow Creek that surges past her home and crosses through the 350 acres inherited from her Mom and Dad. A telephone line is her only nod to the utility companies. Inside is a clean composting toilet and water diverted from the creek.

Paedra took us on a tour of some of her bronze sculptures, her woodlands, and a second studio where she keeps her big digital canvases. There’s a third studio housing just glass and bronze pieces not on the tour today.

Thursday and Friday I finished my painting and drawing work at the Granary Studios in Brandon. It’s sad to leave, but I had a fruitful month exploring the notion of holes, wells and boats with holes, abstracted and imagined from multiple angles, under water, within the sky, deep inside the earth and below the skin. I’m happy with them. They are prep pieces for a daily digging be announced December 6th. Here are the images.

Too-da-loo my friends. Tomorrow I head south to Brooklyn, NY for a week with my beautiful daughter, her partner Erik, and my cute grandson Roman.