February 8, 2013

Laundry Meat


Laundry Meat is an ongoing project started in 2009 as a collection of shredded tissues caught accidentally in the laundry cycle. Originally dyed with vegetable dyes made with beets and carrots, the material looked like shredded pulled-pork, hence the name Laundry Meat. When photographed or manipulated Laundry Meat looks strangely similar to human/animal organs. And when mixed with different mediums it has the feeling of dried flesh. This fits perfectly with my interest in bodily forms and speaks of both interior and exterior worlds at the same time, which is at the core of my work.

Here's how it's made.. 

Tissues after the laundry cycle

Red dye

Black walnut ink

Left to soak overnight
Still soaking
Done soaking
Laid out to dry
Drying
Still drying...
Done for now


Finished product from Laundry Meat rope project






February 5, 2013

Snow Days at the Art House



 Pastel drawings

Lots of coffee

Pictures of me

More drawings, in acrylic
Block printed Thank You cards



February 2, 2013

Road Trippin'


Every year my unwritten new year's resolution includes seeing more art and making more art. This year is no exception. Last week when I saw the announcement for the opening reception at the Locks Gallery in Philadelphia I marked it on the calendar. Leave work early for a road trip to Philly with the family. Great plan. 

Driving through the Pinelands' empty two lane highway, the sunset gleaming, my husband's homemade "Road trippin" CD playing, we were on our way. My husband was feeling especially smug since he had worked all week in Pennsylvania and thought he had figured out the better way to get to Philly from Manahawkin. 
The beautiful sky, horse corrals and empty fields were fitting seamlessly into the lyrics of songs like Phish's Tires on your car, Cat Steven's On the Road to find out, and Neil Young's Long May you run. By the time Road Trippin' by The Red Hot Chili Peppers came on we were basking in road trip exuberance. Little did we know the foreshadowing accuracy of the lyrics "let's go get lost, let's go get lost". 



Apparently there's a reason why the roads were so empty. It turns out my husband does indeed know how to avoid Camden traffic at 5pm on a Friday. Two and a half hours later, much worse for wear, with 15 minutes left to the opening, the GPS slurring his words, we arrived at Washington Square. 
There's nothing like the comforting welcome of little plastic cups of white wine and heated beautiful art galleries. We were so relieved to get out of the car and make it to the show we soaked up every single fiber of canvas and layer of paint and pigment. 


The show was lovely. Not in an overwhelmingly gorgeous way, but neat and succinct. A sensible mix of artists. Besides the obvious black and white nature theme there were a few lush and tactile gems such as the handmade paper and stenciled pigment piece by Leonardo Drew, and the juicy acrylic iceberg carelessly painted over a static xeroxed seascape by Marcus Harvey. The other stand out and my daughter's favorite was a fabulously worked over woodcut by Orit Hofshi. 


On our walk to get something to eat we stopped at another opening at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery on Walnut street. A much livelier crowd but with less seasoned art. We enjoyed the installation of hundreds of little wooden spools with red wool but wished the other pieces in the show were as obsessive and striking. 


As we sat at Moriarty's with our cheeseburgers and onion rings we laughed about  how the evening would look a lot better in my blog and how I was glad in the end that we didn't turn the car around and go home hungry and miserable. 

Is there a moral to this story? 
Firstly, I have to say to all our New Jersey friends who are so in love with Philadelphia but have yet to take us on a guided tour, you're 9 years too late. In the three efforts we've made since living here we have yet to experience what everyone is so in love with. The moral of the story, alas, is not try, try again. It's definitely not third time's a charm either. More like three strikes you're out. The moral of this story is stick with what you know. Put us on a bus, subway or taxi anywhere in New York and we're good to go…

I think next time I'll pay a little more attention to the lyrics in our family theme song.

January 28, 2013

Mission Statement


Writing the eulogy for my art gallery has become an everyday task. Why is it so hard to quit even when I know it's a losing battle??

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Deluge II

My daughter called me a one-hit-wonder the other day. That hurt. But maybe it's true. I open businesses that never make it past the two year mark. 
Catherine Street Gallery, Green Seed Art Company, and The Art House Gallery are my top three. I either run out of money or am in the wrong place at the wrong time while running out of money. My husband says if I did half the work I do for myself for other companies I'd be rich. 
It's easy to write a mission statement for a new business. Even coming up with brand names and logos is fun. But what about coming up with a mission statement for your life. I read somewhere recently that if you can't describe your business in one sentence you shouldn't  be in that business. Can you sum up a whole life in one sentence? 

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Ancient Wall

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Forms on Rock Ledge
This is why I love biographies and memoirs. I get so caught up in the romantic notion that a whole life can be neatly summed up in 200 pages or a half hour episode. A concise, well labeled, carefully organized file in the file cabinet. The writers and producers have found the exact font, color scheme and background music, and the subtitles and footnotes all fit so beautifully. You read and view it as if it's real, but it can't be. It's too neat and uncluttered. 

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, The Pit

Memories seem to work this way too, they blend together in more orderly and less confrontational ways, and that's the part I like. I think part of why I keep opening new businesses is because I forget. I forget how hard it is, how much time it takes and how much money I don't have. That file conveniently gets left unopened. My biographer, I imagine, would leave these failures out and embellish my entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, on paper my resume looks pretty good. Maybe if I can work on that mission statement a little better I would be headed for more success.






Philip Guston balked at the suggestion that artists have any control over the types of paintings they inevitably make. I imagine life like this too. If we do what we are innately inclined to do, things that come naturally, that are free of expectation and categorization, we unintentionally follow our own mission statement. Aspiring to follow the natural yearning within ourselves is quite the artistic struggle. That struggle, however, isn't so bad if you can somehow find a way to enjoy it...all the real and confusing moments of it.

January 25, 2013

No Man is an Island, Part I




I'm so excited about the new exhibition I am curating. It feels really right, and right on time. The ideas behind No man is an island have been roaming around my head for years. So I may be talking about this for a while...
I like stories of individuals who have made an impact on some thing greater than themselves. I learned from my father that people have power. That one person can affect many, and that wasted talent is one of the worst things in the world. It took me almost 40 years to discover that not everyone thinks this way. A big problem I see right now is that so few believe this at all. It's a lot easier to not do your job and blame other people if you don't think anything you do affects anyone else. It's a lot easier to be vicious, lying and cruel. Or at the least a jerk neighbor or a rude cashier, or, say, a bank, a post office or a dentist that doesn't mind losing your business. An employer that fires all his employees but takes million dollar vacations. You get the idea. Human beings cannot exist without consequences. 
Artists in general are risk takers and truth seekers. Henri Matisse said, 'It takes courage to create'. It also takes courage to be a decent human being. You don't even have to be that smart, good, truthful or enlightened to realize that No man is an island. But maybe you do!

January 14, 2013

The week in review, the hi & lo of it

Each week the Art House is filled with a myriad of ups and downs. There is absolutely no consistency except for the fact that there is no consistency. I am invariably delighted, surprised and disgusted all at once. Yes, that is possible. This week's surprise was a thin layer of dirt that made its way from the recently cleaned out basement onto the entire surface of the first floor. Two full days of cleaning later, I was able to get back to business with only the faint smell of dust in the air. Thanks to devoted family members who bore my complaints and Martha Kremer, our new gallery assistant, I was able to, for the most part, keep it together.

Onto more important things like trying to fill our first week of winter semester art classes, which is like trying to figure out what an entire town wants in life and how to give it to them! We now have a kid's class for 5-7 year olds on Saturdays, a class for 8-12 year olds on Thursdays and a combined class for teens and adults on Saturday mornings.

I also worked a bit on the budget. A word that currently exists on paper only. After searching obsessively for new works to sell at the gallery, my favorites list accumulated to a staggering amount of money. Although my imaginary budget is large and vast, the reality is that after paying most of the bills, there is $96 left in the account. That does not a wholesale order make...This doesn't even include payment to The Sandpaper newspaper for advertising that was barely seen, and events and fundraisers that weren't even covered. It also doesn't include the monstrous, uncalled for bill from Verizon. Hopefully repeated emails to artists came across sincerely.

That covers surprised and disgusted... Delighted came by the end of the week. The new photography exhibit looks fine (as in excellent, masterly and accomplished); the gift shop is back in action; and the classes I taught were all enjoyable. 

You're probably starting to see why art wrestler is an appropriate name! 
Here we are in small suburban family town, strange economy, recent devastation all around...How to make it work???

Sunrise


The sunrise over Manahawkin this morning was especially lovely. It welcomed my day with pinks, purples, oranges and blues. I sat down to enjoy it in my favorite seat where I read and write and ponder the world. This is what happens on days I wake up this early, or on days I have off from work. Someone mentioned recently they thought my newest paintings were both beautiful and complex. I had a moment of clarity this morning. This is what it feels like to look outside of oneself and inside of oneself at the same time: both the vast beautiful sky and the complex web of thoughts in my head simultaneously. And me, trying to make sense of it before the sky clears and I go about my day.