February 22, 2013

A Better BEACON


This morning at 6:30am the sky was completely filled with a warm salmon and purple color.
Amazing how color in thin air can be so warm and cozy while feet on a ceramic tiled floor so freezing.

Speaking of color, last weekend we took a trip. We are officially on the lookout for greener pastures, an expression I should look up the meaning to, along with the grass is always greener...
(I imagine the world was filled with a lot more grass filled pasture-land than it is now).
So, yes, we made it through another road trip adventure!
This time from Manahawkin, New Jersey to Beacon, New York. 151 miles of changing scenery, traffic jams, and mixed CD's. Here's some advice: Never stay at a $99 hotel. For fifty bucks more you'll get a mint on the pillow, a mag under the mattress, and a floor that's actually been vacuumed within the last century.
 It all worked out though. We just spent more time out and about exploring the town.

DIA Beacon is amazing if you've never been. Their collection of works from the 1970's-80's gives a well rounded education on the art world of that decade. The vast space of the ex-Nabisco printing factory is a sight to see, and apparently only a train ride away from NYC. The shops and galleries on Main Street are very cool. Homespun Foods for breakfast and The Hop for afternoon handcrafted brews are both incredible, and Hudson Beach Glass never fails to hook us up with a present to take home.



The trip ended with an intangible evening at Alex and Allyson Gray's art sanctuary in Wappinger Falls. Led up a dark winding driveway by a guy holding a flashlight to a smaller footpath filled with ice and mud, we had no idea what we were in for! When the sign at the door to the house said please remove your shoes, we looked at each other quizzically. The evening turned out to be an exceptional experience. We left feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.  I can't decide what was more inspiring, Dusthead's otherworldly performance, the dancers, the music, the artwork or all of the above. Talk about good vibes! If it wasn't for the smelly hotel, we would've never wanted to leave!

Yesterday while driving to the Art House, I saw a street sign for Beacon Avenue. One I've never noticed before. Not surprising since all the streets in our neighborhood are named with nautical references. A beacon is a light, a signal post, a guide. And Light is a symbol for Truth.
I realize that what my husband and I are looking for has a lot to do with this, that we're not really in search of greener grass at all, but maybe just a warmer light, which is fine with me...

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!