August 12, 2013

A Photo Exhibition by Jon Slackman

For the past two weeks my family has been fascinated by a nocturnal visitor we call Lady. Each night she spins her web outside of our kitchen door directly over the glass window pane and each morning she is gone. We've discovered Lady is a Barn spider (Araneus cavaticus) and is the same species as Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, which makes us very happy. She is amazing to watch, swinging from her spidey spokes from one woven glob in the center, then meticulously sewing each strand across the spokes with the precision of an Ultrasonic Singer Sewing Machine. When she's done with the web she looks like she's taking a nice nap at the center of her orb. You would think she'd need one after all that work, but she's actually lying in wait for her dinner. We imagine we're helping by leaving the outside light on to attract the bugs, but she seems to do just fine without us! 

The following images titled "Canopies", are photographs by Jon Slackman taken last fall in our yard probably around the same time Lady was being hatched.

 If you'd like information on purchasing any of the images please contact

August 9, 2013

The Quarter-Acre Farm

I've just finished reading a wonderful book,
The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year by Spring Warren, 2011.
I'm hoping to read more from this witty and informative writer. The book reads very much like a blog/journal with each chapter a new conquest in home farming. The recipes are amazing, and her recount of the geese, the bunnies and the kids is hilarious. Some of her garden antics are so funny they had me laughing out loud.

I was so inspired by her story I immediately started weeding out my own veggie garden. Only a few years ago it was a lovely patch of fenced in gravel and antique brick-bordered beds of homemade compost, flowers, and vegetables galore.



It has since fallen way way to the wayside.

I've only gotten half way through the weeds and haven't even begun to tackle the actual beds, but being able to see the gravel again is reassuring!

Even if I can't grow anything edible in my garden of weeds, I still took a couple of cues from Ms. Warren this week. Instead of letting the beautiful organic peppers I spent an arm and a leg for in Shoprite rot away in the refrigerator drawer, I decided to cut them up and pack them in the freezer. I also indulged in incredible homemade sun dried tomatoes. Every crispy juicy sweet and savory bite was well worth having to heat up the house all day with the oven for! While I was at it I roasted some sweet potatoes and zucchini with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

Cut up fresh tomatoes 1/4" thick. Spread out on pans
(these are lined with parchment paper). Sprinkle with salt,
pepper, olive oil and crushed red pepper (optional).
Bake at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours.
My trip to the Manahawkin Farmer's Market this morning sealed the deal that we need more good stuff like this in the world. I may not be ripping out the front lawn yet, but I felt darn good about spending my last $12 in support of the real farmers around here...

For more inspiration, check out Food Not Lawns, a global community of avant gardeners turning yards into gardens and neighborhoods into communities.

July 24, 2013

How to creatively hide the clutter while selling your house

Clutter is a nice word for what it really is.

Between my musician percussionist videographer husband, my 10 year old daughter who plays the cello, the clarinet, and the piano, and me, who has saved a lifetime of artwork, art supplies, and ideas scrawled on the backs of every little thing... there is so much stuff.

The conundrum of showing your house to potential buyers is that there's no where to hide it all. They want to see everything, your closets, cabinets, pantry and storage shed. They even look in your bathtub.

In the two months we've been 'selling' our house I've learned a few tricks. Any place can be a potential hiding place. So far my favorites are:

1)  under the computer desk
2)  behind the bookshelf
3)  in the car
4)  under the bed
5)  inside the hamper

It's no joke. A lovely piece of fabric hanging from a tension rod beneath the desk I'm sitting at nicely hides 3 boxes, a binder, a bag and a large paper cutter. That little space between the bookshelves and the wall perfectly fits two boxes of extra books I have no place for. Under the bed is pretty self explanatory. The car happened to be the perfect location for the

empty plastic bins that I don't need right now but will as soon as someone buys the house. The 100 degree weather this past week has most likely melted some of that pile permanently into the back seat, but, small price to pay. Last but not least, yes, I shoved our clean beach bag and blanket into the hamper the other day after a last minute visitor left us little time to clean.

Although we've been throwing stuff out like crazy, for borderline hoarders this could take a while...

Here's an important tip for artists.

If somewhere in the back of your mind you imagined a slew of biographers visiting your grandchildren wanting to see every morsel of art you ever created from kindergarten on, forget it. If you can't bring yourself to throw it out, hire a photographer, or get out your tripod, and photograph every lousy drawing and rolled up painting you have tucked away in every corner of your life, and then Throw It All Out!
The few shots that your biographer is ever going to need or actually use for the book are just not worth taking up all your space for. Nothing you did in college is ever going to resurface. And, as long as you have the photos all is not lost. You can take them out and ponder your artistic journey anytime you like. It's a lot easier than rummaging through 85 scrunched up rolls of unlabeled work from 25 years ago. Trust me, Keep the gems, get rid of the rest.
Just think about how many times you've read, say, a Francis Bacon biography or some other great artist and thought, Damn I'd rather be looking at those ugly paintings he destroyed.

But, I digress. Of the many piles of garbage accumulated in front of my house in the last few weeks, old artwork was just one. Here's some pics of items I photographed before I trashed them back when I was still sentimental... Obviously the bathroom closet was the first to go!

June 29, 2013

my last day

debilitating thoughts of having so much to do
that I'm just sitting here in a big pile
procrastinating with my blog
not much art wrestling
unless packing artwork into boxes I won't look at for months
this is how I waste my time!

I keep saying I'll do it tomorrow
and now tomorrow is my last day

I used to have a sign in my studio that said
any time spent in the studio is not a waste of time
meaning even if you spent the day cleaning it

it was better than not being in there
or if you spent half the day sitting there staring at
half finished canvases
or just went in there to listen to music or read a magazine
it was better than not being in there at all

I just packed that sign into a box I have no idea when I'll see again
Whose idea was this to move my studio,
business, and house at the same time??
Remind me to remind myself how stupid that was

June 1, 2013

The Beginning and the End

Today is June 1st, a day I've been anticipating for some time now. Today is the last opening reception at my art gallery, which simultaneously starts the countdown until we close at the end of the month.

It also marks the unofficial beginning of summer vacation, which technically starts at the end of my daughter's school year.

Finally, this week my house officially went on the market, and that's number three in beginnings and endings for me.

I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I couldn't be happier!

I've spackled and painted the gallery walls for the last time. I've gotten my press clippings saved and photocopied, sent all my emails and facebook messages, paid the last utility bills and put out my absolute last roll of toilet paper and paper towels. The lawn is mowed and the last pot of pretty flowers awaits our visitors.

I'm so ready!

For the final exhibition three awesome artists are each having solo shows in the three gallery spaces we have. Of course one of the artists is me! but what I've just noticed as I'm writing this is that my largest painting is really working well with this whole theme today. The painting is called Baby and depicts a large roughly textured head on it's side with another very sparse head rising out of it. Truly I can't remember what my thoughts were as I painted this image, but it now appears quite timely for a day like today which marks the beginning and the end.

May 26, 2013

Cultural Tidbits

A tid bit is

1. a small piece of tasty food or
  1. A small and particularly interesting item of gossip or information.

Running an art gallery is a funny funny public exchange. I wish I wrote down every stupid thing that people have asked me over the years. Why do people insist on asking me "is this all your work"?
I mean first of all why would you assume that the girl behind the counter is the owner of the store.
But besides that, it's like, have you looked around? Do you really think my work could look like 12 different people at the same time? Yes, I work in 14 different mediums, sizes and genres. Some days I'm even much more talented than other days. I love landscapes and portraits but I also do abstract work, conceptual work, sculpture, collage, watercolor, etchings and paintings, and on the side I'm obsessed with lighthouses and old buildings.

That's just in the gallery. We also have a gift shop filled with retail merchandise from literally all over the world. They also ask me if "I do all this" too...

Here are some fun questions I've heard:
What is this place?
What do you do here?
So how does this place work?
Can you tell me if these are worth anything?
You're having a re-opening? A grand opening?
So you just sell prints here?
Do you do framing?

My all time favorite from my first gallery in 1999:
Does your father own the building?
I guess he was confused that a 25 yr. old girl wasn't home trying to have babies or something.

Boy, it's been a pip! It's sad that there are seemingly normal looking middle class people walking around this country who don't know what an art gallery is, an exhibition, an opening reception or an artist.

Here are a few tid bits: An artist does not do a little bit of everything under the sun and cannot draw you a picture of every possible thought in your head off the top of their head. An art gallery doesn't necessarily do framing or appraisals. A print is a copy, not an original. An opening reception often takes place at the start of a new exhibition, and an exhibition is when artists present their artwork to the public. We don't work for free and we don't all necessarily keep a collection of old nail clippings or shredded tissues under the bed, although some of us might! The original meaning of the word gallery is a room with a view where an audience sits at a performance. Examples would be the upper balcony of an opera house and an exhibition hall at a museum. We all know what a museum is right??

'A gallery which sells artwork is still a room with a view, since its selling activity is based on exhibitions rather than simple store display. Such galleries generally specialize in innovative works of art by contemporary artists, antiquities, or even wearable art. Galleries attract collectors who are interested in buying unique or unusual aesthetic objects, rather than buyers of mass-produced functional objects.' 

In this case, we do a little bit of both but more importantly maybe I should've mass produced that flyer when I opened my second art gallery..

Keep up the good work America.  Who needs cultural knowledge anyway.

May 15, 2013

Help us find a place to live

I just heard the grass grow!

While weeding this morning I could hear the crackling of the old grass as
the new greens were popping through. Amazing.

In a long long list of pros and cons about moving to the city or the country, this is definitely on the country pro list. How could I possibly forfeit moments like this for a city apartment?

Or the fresh lemon thyme I picked from the garden...
one of my favorite things in life!

But then again, a work space in Brooklyn surrounded by other artists...also tops.
Of course the studios I can't even afford look like giant rat's nests with ceilings...

aaaand that would be on the con list.

The list, which is getting longer and longer by the day.

What about moving to a place with public transportation that I don't have to drive to...

There's also a few other tidbits like affordability, schools for my daughter, jobs for my husband, culture, music, art, friends, family, good living, good pizza, good Chinese food, etc. etc. etc.

Does a place exist that has it all????
Beacon or Brooklyn? Carmel or NYC?
An acre of land or 800 square feet?

Help us find a place to live!

May 2, 2013


While painting the kitchen last week with my husband, every time he got wall paint on the ceiling or ceiling paint on the fixtures he'd say, Oh I messed up, I got cocky. It was the running joke of the day. I kept saying things like nobody likes cocky, and clean up your own mess!

Facebook seems to be a breeding ground for these kind of catch-all phrases. People are always posting sayings like "Find your peace", "Make your bliss", etc. etc. Recently I even came across a list of 42 "life is too short" lessons by a 90 year old lady from Cleveland.

If I were to make my own list, it would be simple, three words. 

If you think about it, it really covers a lot of ground. Don't be cocky like my husband painting the kitchen, meaning, focus on what you're doing and don't get ahead of yourself. It encompasses things like patience, endurance, and a couple other morale boosters I can think of. It mostly involves staying humble and not getting too big for your britches. The thesaurus lists cool words like swollen-headed and hotdogger. Apparently my computer never even heard of that one 'cause it thinks I'm spelling it wrong. 

When I think of the missteps I've taken along the way, I imagine those three words would've come in handy. Although hubristic sounds a lot more interesting, modesty and discretion go a lot further. 

After all, nobody likes cocky.

Less cocky, less mess to clean up...