Sunday, January 27, 2013


Before dawn.
In bed.
Laptop on my knees.
Furnace hums below the floorboards
Spewing warmth into the room.
Etta curls under the covers
Dream barking.
A mostly cold and dreary week. Overcast with nights near or below freezing.
Dearest Readers,
Cold weather and the short, dark days of winter remind me of hibernation, curling up in bed for as long as possible, and plants without leaves. 

Here is a stark winter Ikebana arrangement that a Shaker would love, with seed cases that resemble a nest of bird mouths, and two minimalist branches that rise like twin towers with no need to speak.
I also revised the lacy, wax burrow from a few weeks ago by adding lines of black and red stitches that run the length of the tunnel and spill over the entrance. It looks less like a condom now, and the stitches relate the piece back to the drawing I used as a starting point. See below. You can click on each image to enlarge.

Burrow, 8" x 2" x 2", Lace, wax, wire, thread, glass beads_2013

Hole_11" x 17", charcoal and oil stick on paper_2011
The story of the old woman who grabbed a star string continues with part 3. I am composing on the fly. There is one last installment after this one, then the mad hacking will begin. The final piece will be carved, honed, and skinnied up to express its essence, I hope...but for now I subject you all to the full verbal assault, and pre-machete word editing of the old woman in the sky. 

The Interstice- Part 3 Jan.27 .2013
A fast moving mass of meanness blew the old woman’s way.
This dust devil of bully feelings swirled around her string swing
Flailing her with sandy specs of anger, resentment, aggression and fear.
It screamed out shouts of whirlwind hatred,
Lashing her face and hands,
Then spiraled into deeper space.

A lump of slippery illuminated translucence
Slid across the darkness
Mumbling muffled emotions of sadness and suicide.
It was glaucous, sticky and white.

Traveling slug-like by great extensions of gummy appendages,
It hurled itself forward, and sideways, spreading out and moving on.
Sorrowful sounds moaned beneath this placenta of pain.
Bumps of internal despair, anxiety and uselessness rose to the surface,
Cried, then gave up and disappeared inside the mucous mound.

A gooey arm sprung suddenly from the miserable thing 
And wrapped itself
Around the old woman’s neck, shaking her like a dog with a squirrel in its mouth, pulling her towards the mother blob.
Holding tight, the woman bit down hard on the strangling snake.
It yelped, popped and snapped back into its cloud.
The great gummy hulk rose above her swing, and slithered out of sight.
She trembled, gasped, and clutched her strings.

A cumulous formation appeared in the distance, gathering speed and height.
It emitted soulful tunes and pleasantries along its path,
Spewing a confetti of kind words, peace, and compassion.
This happy cloud barreled down on the woman’s position,
An unstoppable bubble of joy, with something tubular rising out of its core.
The sweet sounds became a deafeningly lovable chorus.
Red droplets fell from the ascending, swaying column,
Spraying her in massive balls of blood.
She was drowning in an arterial outburst of heartfelt emotions.
It was time to get away.
To be continued

Friday, January 18, 2013


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Thursday, January 17, 2013


 Thursday. Blustery, icy mist.  4th day of rain.  I love this weather at dusk when the sky is white, tree branches are swaying, and the world is wet, stark & devoid of people on the streets.

Dearest Readers,
The story of the old woman who grabbed a star string continues with part 2, written in verse because I seem to think better in segments, though it reads like prose.
 The Interstice- Part 2 Jan.17.2013

She was frightened and elated
As the city spread out below her dangling legs.
Illuminated pools circled streetlamps
And defined the paths of silent cars
Like lines of wooly sheep with tunnel vision
Decked out in Christmas lights.

She continued to be pulled higher.
The strip of thatchy yard and her concrete stoop vanished.
The metal roof was fading.
Like spying a sparrow in a snarl of branches,
She kept her eye trained on its bright aluminum shape
For fear of losing hold of the world as she knew it.

It was cold now, but manageable if she breathed deeply, slowly,
And relaxed her eyes and mouth.
This maneuver stopped the shivering,
And allowed her the courage
To glance from side to side and below her feet.
Her city was gone.

She sensed at one point that she was cruising instead of rising.
Without the ground as marker it was hard to tell.
Stars and planets flickered around and below her swing.
Galaxies jammed the space above.
In a Disney movie the orchestral music of the spheres
Would cue up now, and she would glide on her sparkly star strings.
Fade to white.

An annoying tickle feathered against her eardrums
And broke her reverie.
It grew into a whispering pressure,
Then a chatter of muddled syllables.
Highs and lows, trills and harmonic swells of vowels and slurs
Formed a moving cloud of celestial language across 
The expanse of twinkling fullness.
Space was not empty.

The sky was awash in bobbing, babbling
String riders gliding in a weightless cosmic sound garden
Spitting letters that spelled their moods,
And clogged the heavens with three-dimensional feelings.
These had length, width, depth, spin, attraction,
And an internal drive that shot the letters like broken teeth out into space,
Clumping together in nimbus globs of granular grunts and resounding glee.
To be continued
45" x 40", acrylic on canvas
My heart in a nest painting that I showed you last week is finished I think. It is also a study in the contrast between the world above and the ground beneath our feet.
A Circle of Holes 9" x 12", pastel and oil stick on paper
This week I fashioned a circle of imaginary insect nest burrows based on this hole study drawing and then leaping from that starting point into the constricted mind of the underground life of bugs!

A Circle of Insect Nests-side view, 3"x3" each, cotton, shredded upholstery fabric, ink and acrylic
A Circle of Insect Nests-mounted on wall, 3"x3" each, cotton, shredded upholstery fabric, ink, acrylic

A Circle of Insect Nests-closeup of top of hole, 3"x3" each, cotton, shredded upholstery fabric, ink and acrylic

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Succulents on my back stoop
  Saturday. Insanely 70’s.  The cactus are happy with the heat, but probably not the dank cloying air. Flies will be hatching I fear.

Dearest Readers,
I harbored a low-grade temperature in my body for over a week. I’m laying low, walking Etta as little as possible, and erupting in caged creativity. I’m getting better.
My regimen involves no power walks, no strength or stretching exercises, a dose of 20-minute meditation per day, hot camomile tea near bedtime, lots of water, one 8-hour ibuprofen, a glass and a half of red wine and 1 oz of dark chocolate as a chaser. Except for the cold (not the flu), it’s been almost pleasant. I have lots of time to create. A neighbor gave me some oranges, and another looped a bag with a container of veggie soup and a hunk of cornbread around my door knob.  (Thanks Marcia and Mary Alma)!
Unknown carnivore (maybe not), grain, long needle pine, stone
 Meet the Death Ikebana. It reminds me of the gargantuan person-eating plant in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors”. On a dog-walk, I sheared off this dangerously spiky plant growing alongside a chain link fence. I wore gloves, but it still drew blood. I harvested the pine sprigs at the base of the arrangement from a long needle evergreen growing near the curb, and I snatched the tuft of dried grain where it popped up between the sidewalk and the street. I used my mother’s wide frosted glass basin (a wedding gift from 1942) to counterbalance the boldness of the killer plant, and added a round river stone to anchor the pin holder against its forward thrust. In a strange way I like this beast of an arrangement, and the flowers are surprisingly fragrant.
In progress August 2012
 I’ve resumed a painting I started in Vermont last summer entitled “Cradled in the Nest of Loving Kindness”. Here’s where I left it in Vermont, and below, where it stands at the moment. It’s a cross between digging underground and being in the cosmos.
In progress January 12, 2013

Finally, this week I began a segmented story of an old woman who reaches for the stars. I’ve been standing on my back stoop at night with Etta, dreamily staring across a little patch of backyard at the concrete block wall of an adjoining warehouse, and then up at the stars. 
View across the interstice

Here is a first draft entitled
The Interstice- Part 1 Jan.8.2013  
It’s set in verse. I’m not sure why, but it’s a narrative and will probably and eventually flow as prose.

An irregular moon lit up the brushy grass
On the strip of lawn
That sliced a treeless path
Between her condo complex
And the back of an old car dealership,
Recently transformed into a swath of trendy shops.

Her daylight view was not the trendy end.
Concrete blocks painted two shades of dirt brown,
And streaked by careless roller marks
Formed a wall along the boundary
Beyond her kitchen window.
A haphazard rebar grate
Slouched across four industrial windows at the far end.
A tiny hole punctured one pane, surrounded by a sunburst of shards
Held together by some fluke of physics.
During the day panicked squirrels raced the narrow gauntlet
In a mad dash for the tangle of vines and privet at the short end of the property line.
But it was night now, and the clutter was muffled.

The old woman slipped out her back door and stood silently on the stoop.
She unscrewed the swirl of bulb in the outdoor fixture.
The building beyond the alley was now cloaked in thick black.
Its aluminum roof shone in crisp linear ridges of light and shade.
Overhead, a circuit board of constellations and planets
Flickered in the depths of the evening sky.

She leaned over the metal pipe railing
And grabbed the end of a sparkling black string that dangled from a star.
She reached for another, and another, and a fourth one for good measure.
She tied them together in a knot with two loops
And gingerly stepped inside.
The woman bent her knees and
Made cautious leaps like a baby in a Jolly Jumper.
She clutched the strings like a swing.

Slowly the contraption ascended
Through a sea of swaying sky lines
That tickled her face as she was pulled higher and higher,
Each one tethered to its mother star. be continued

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


 Tuesday. Low 50’s. Overcast. The cactus plants will stay out on the stoop tonight.

Dearest Readers,

My hands are firmly pressed against my ears, arms straight out from my head, teeth clenched. I’m making a delicate neck adjustment to the right, to the softer side of thinking, and slightly away from the hard-edged analyses of the left brain. I’m speaking about god here, (God as I learned in grammar school catechism classes). My recent expose of latent atheism left a bleakness in my brain. I can’t deny it, but as an artist and writer of this spirituality blog, I felt sideswiped off the path. I’ve been in a ditch for a couple days, battling a cold and confusion. I do not feel liberated like the aetheist blogger, Greta Christina. Something is missing and I don’t mean heavenly reassurance.

Here’s what I do know:
My whole art oeuvre is, and has been a search for self within the context of something bigger. All the portraits, photos and Catholic school hankie prints of my feelings, the hole digging, the recent abstract wing and heart drawings, all yearn for a greater clarity within the language of beauty. I did not just dig a hole last was an aesthetically pleasing circle of emptiness going deep within. I am not just cheerily creating a rogues gallery of random feeling portraits, but a catalog of separate selves. I am not toying with Hallmarkian symbols of cute wings and sweet hearts. I’m trying to "wear" these transcendent and biologically drawn body parts to plow through the cosmos of being. 

Buddhists talk about the Now, accepting the way things are, letting go and awakening to one’s own ambient awarenesses. It’s a good starting point to settle down and get a lay of the land, but I also need to get off the cushion and grab a footstool, step up and flap my self-made rickety wings. Who really knows what wormhole may be out there? I'm still looking.
Cecelia Kane at The Hambidge Center Artist Retreat-December, 2009

Friday, January 4, 2013


 Friday. Chilly start. Sunny. Going up to 52ยบ perhaps.
Dearest Readers,
White Burrow_bee's wax, lace, wire, thread, glass beads, 2013- 7" x 2-1/4" x 2"
This is my first artwork of the New Year–another tiny burrow. She’s thin, anorexic, and dressed in the remnants of a wedding gown. I get the feeling of constricted youth. This is a secret nesting place with only one opening to the surface and a very tight tip to try to curl up in. 
Tan Tunnel_charcoal, pastel, oil stick on paper, 11" x 17", 2011
 It is inspired by this drawing of a hole and tunnel created in 2011 in preparation for my hole dig last summer, and this interest of mine in digging down below the surface of things.

I thank Kathie de Nobriga and Alice Teeter in Pine Lake GA for hosting “Mending Day” on New Year’s Eve, to sew up our missing buttons, ripped pockets, and raveled sleeves of care before the new year. The baby tunnel was born at their house from lacy fabric, a wire collar, and some glass beads that I brought along.  On New Year’s Day I returned with the baby tunnel to Pine Lake to Gayle Austin and Jean Bordeaux’s place near the water. Gayle has a complete well-ventilated studio setup for encaustic (wax) art work. She stoked up the heating tray, hot burnisher, hot air blower and melting pots (literally),  and showed me how to apply beeswax to my little tunnel. I dabbed it on with a brush because I wanted to expose some of the transparent lace, and not drown all the beads in wax. Thanks Gayle!
Juniper, rosemary and Nandina
 My first Ikebana of the year is a simple “straight style” Moribana arrangement. At this time of year I’ve been dependent on evergreens along the street, and bushes that still have colorful leaves on them. It was peaceful creating this one. I snipped away quite a bit of the redundant spikes on the two tall rosemary sprigs, carefully hand-bent and curled the juniper branches, and anchored the two green elements with a tuft of bright red nandina bush.
All is in harmony in the new world of 2013.

That said, I was shocked into a realization yesterday that down deep I do not believe there is a God. This rocked my little head, but after the initial cracking open to this possibility, I feel some relief and simultaneous confusion. First, I was sent a pdf a couple weeks ago of a chapter in the anthology Michel Foucault: Key Concepts entitled “Freedom and Spirituality” by Karen Vintges, that explored this aspect of the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s writings.  What stood out was not anything about atheism, but his emphasis on “courageous truth telling” despite possible adverse consequences. This challenge made me think.
Then, I asked for and received for Christmas a lovely, serene statue of the Buddha that now sits on my dresser in my bedroom. He is beautiful, but he is creeping me out. I realize I’ve replaced Jesus imagery from my Catholic childhood with the Buddha. I love meditation, but I’m really not a Buddhist. My blog and my art are my methods for exploring my self as part of something bigger. Now I’m not so sure where to go.

Finally, yesterday I finished the audiobook  Why Are You Atheists So Angry, by Greta Christina. She’s an atheist writer, speaker and blogger who answered the title’s question with chapters on various arguments for her non-theistic beliefs. My ears perked up when she said that more people need to come out of the closet and declare themselves as atheists. Wow, I thought. That simple! This is courageous, but socially unacceptable truth telling.

That’s as far as I’ll go with this idea for now. I’m getting whiplash, or at least a crick in my neck first from trying to return to the Catholic Church two years ago, then running from that dogma over to the Tibetan Buddhism of the Shambhala Meditation Center here. I used to claim to be an agnostic on a spiritual path, hoping for a god and an afterlife. I don’t really believe that anymore. I think this digging down, creative burrowing and occasional artistic wing spreading is a way to proceed within this new certainty of uncertainty.  I think.