New Vehicle

Can’t use the old one. It won’t work in Pandemic-a

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I Wright Brothers

I’ll be Wilbur and you be Orville. From parts that we already have and some we have recently required we will attempt to reach our destination.

Some of this will be accomplished with no feet on the ground. Navigating midair.

II Moonshot

I’ll be NASA and you be astronauts.

I am not alone in NASA my fellow engineers and myself are constructing a ship to take you to your destination.

This requires a melange of new technologies. I will be conferring with my fellow engineers often.

You need to communicate with me often, especially as you are taking this journey.

You need some help in navigation. So do I. Mission Control.

III Dr Who

I’ll be Doctor Who and you be the companions and we will enter a small space that is much larger on the inside. We travel through time, ignoring space, and marvel at the new reconstructed world.

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Small Big Gift

Since the pandemic quarantine began it has been a struggle to keep spirits up.

One thing that helps is a daily walk.

It was not just the exercise, it was also the hopeful messages on the street and sidewalk. “Be Kind” was one. There were birthday notes. “Happy Birthday Christi” with the obligatory heart-dotted ‘i’.

Though I did not see them in the early morning, I could witness these small visual manifestations of loves and lives of people in their homes.

BLM messages appeared in windows. Good to see these supportive signs.

Mother Art Revisited artist collective created their works encouraging efforts to stop the injustice.

Disease and racism color the world, antidotes and vaccines are elusive. Do what you can to alleviate pain. Do what you can to make

Be kind.

Neighborhood children have been leaving painted rocks by their mailbox or the street. There are hearts, rainbows, trucks and just messages of I love you. It is not easy to paint on rough rocks. They are small (rocks and children) and the image begs for a certain amount of legibility.

I do not want to litter but I left a painted pebble in the park. I then added a couple to my neighbor’s collections. Mini Pop-Up galleries.

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Mother to Mother Virtually

Mother Art Revisited Show CAD June 12-28

http://chicagoartdepartment.org/mother-to-mother-virtually-knots-nodes-opening-june-12th-2020/

Security Wear, Take Care (2020) three panels of security envelopes printed with a linoleum block of an apron with crayon rubbings of student-made linoleum plates of table settings. Yellow ribbons tie the images together as a quilt with suicide prevention cards.

The job of a mother to nurture. Provide structure and instruction. Protect them from danger. Keep it together. Take care of those in our care.

Today, I take care. I cover my face so my breath won’t make you sick.

It has always been messy and getting messier. Grown kids and students off into the world and the world is full of sickness we can’t see and maybe now we can see the reality of George Floyd.

Can’t breathe.

Donate to the food bank. Check in on your peoples. Write letters. Stand and march together. Make art out of love for each other.

Take care, take care, take care.

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OMG I’m a Disney Princess working

Princess Pandemic is a great deal like Snow White.

Except, the little people I used to live with have marched across the country to work elsewhere. Hi Ho.

I work inside my rustic cottage, gazing into a screen. Who is the fairest of them all? My students might not say me. Am I the evil queen?

Back to thinking I am Snow, I stay in the house because that’s where it is safe.

Looking out the kitchen window, I see the fuzzy forest animals gathering at my feeder. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and various birds. The prince and I set out meals for them. The box says bird seed, but it is appealing to many others.

Sometimes I fear we have set the table for the other wildlife. The hawks will follow the little birds into the bushes. There is cover near.

Rabbit pandemic is now in the news. Oh bunnies.

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Imaginary Zoom with Charles Ray working

My students faces peer back at me somewhat during our Zoom sessions. Eventually I can move on. Most meetings, I am taken aback by my students’ appearances. Long hair. Beards. Personal spaces.

Or just a name on a rectangle.

More often, I am taken aback by my appearance.

Visuals. Art teacher priority.

Sound. Art teacher lesser priority. They are not often deliberately included with the art work turned in, but can you hear it?

Voices are tinny. Lots of rustles. It is affected by my set of lesser headphones.

There are so many steps between what I perceive and reality.

Artist Charles Ray is an alum from the school I currently teach at.

The image that currently haunts me lately is a photograph I saw in Phoenix Art Museum (was that it?) of Charles Ray likeness as a manikin photograph with the title: No (1992)

Charles Ray - No, 1992, color photograph in artist's frame

No,  Ray, Charles. 1992. The Broad, Los Angeles.

He gives an image of an image of himself. A store manikin head was removed and replaced by one with the likeness of Ray at that time. The manikin body is not modeled after Ray’s. (Will any body do? Most male manikins look like Ray, tall and lean.) The clothes may have been worn by Ray and the glasses are his. That was probably his eye prescription from that time.

The photograph was then taken at a slightly later time.

Time continues to increase the space between artist and likeness. I am separated by the glass between me and the photograph back from the day years ago when I stood physically in front of the art in the museum. It took me a while to process. I did not read the signage at first. The plastic-y sheen on the face was puzzling.

This morning I looked for the image on line.

Up until I saw it it was further distanced by that memory from a decade or so ago.

My image through the glass of my mac monitor in my school zoom brought that memory back.

Another person removed by space and separated by glass.

The sound playing are the voices in my head, memories of class room sounds, the infectious and annoying Kahoot music.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/11/meaning-machines

https://bombmagazine.org/articles/charles-ray/

 

 

 

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Me and Paris: We Draw Cats

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/paris-hilton-gave-a-tour-of-her-art-room-and-her-paintings

Should I take photos of my studio space filled with the stuff I don’t throw out? I shouldn’t ask that. I do. I usually keep them to little moments. Moments I arranged. I like shiny. I like stringy. I can bat things about with my free paw.

Whatever gives you comfort. If rabbits speak for you, use rabbits. If cats are the speak of the day, well…

Me and Paris, we draw cats.

Cats are apparently the vessel for much unspoken dialogue. Like the students who appropriate foreign language tattoos to say the thing they have no words for, it is time to give in to the cat language.

That is not the whole of it, for sure. There is solace to be had in drawing cute. Warm. Fuzzy.

I could post my drawings of grandchildren here, but I am too protective of those beings.

So. Here are musings on my sister’s cats.

My respected art friend is not too fond of this drawing. Paris’s might be better.

 

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Rita Grendze at Aurora Public Arts Commission

Aurora Public Arts Commission featured work but artist, Rita Grendze. There are many works to consider: mostly  installations, and drawings: some on book pages, some with watercolor and some  that project literally and figuratively into space.

Grendze has a science vibe. Artists who have experimented with the science themes look formalist. Perhaps it is the pervasiveness of the grid. There is a schematic aspect, an attempt to explain the universe. The question or problem being addressed is answered in an equation that may involve a grid.  Things often work out neatly. The explanation  is a spiral, circle or cube. Or perhaps it is a string(s) of those shapes distorted in different planes.

Rita Grendze at Aurora Public Arts Commission 2020 show has cosmic feel. Stringed (and strawed) theory stretches an expanse of 10-12 feet or maybe it is 20 feet? The site specific piece is on grief. The loss of Grendze’s mother took hold of the grid like ideas that circled the house in planning and then physically and morphed into a new expression.

From the computer screen (it is under quarantine too, so now it is a virtual experience) it reads as a open weaved crocheted blanket. The pastel colors seem appropriately soft for a small child. Little hands could randomly twiddle in and through the voids. But the edges are hard. It is only soft in color.

Grendze employs a variety of materials: Latvian book pages, plastic straws, colored thread, charcoal, watercolor. Her vision is both large and small. The discipline of a drawing a day manifests itself in flowing mandalas. The softness of watercolor and the meditative familiarity of this circle form is balm to the forced and necessary constructions.

There is much to say about being in the in between spaces between drawing and installations. The viewer is always somewhere in between. The work is ensconced in the high ceiling gallery where the audience can wander mentally. It is an intellectual as well as meditative territory.

 

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Squirrel Drama

As much as the current pandemic has gripped the country and a lot of the planet, ongoing tragedies add to the anxiety. Friends and family members whose physical health was already shaky and in an even more perilous state. Oh my God, you’re on the planet, you know all this.

Planet Squirrel has just improved.

My spouse put up a bird feeder. I am grateful. So are squirrels.

It is called a bird feeder and some birds attend. We have sparrows, cardinals, juncos and woodpeckers.

But mostly squirrels.

The reddish fox squirrels are the bosses. If the birds are feeding, the seeds spill down and roll of the fur of the squirrel dining below. They test the pole. My spouse rushes them and they scatter, but not too far. They are well aware of our limitations.

The gray squirrels are more in number, and if they could organize they could secure their place beneath the feeder. The fox squirrel strikes a pose. The grays back off. They keep a distance of 3-4 feet from the squirrel-in-charge.

Drama #1 Hawk

Like an enemy plane, the  shadow of a hawk makes in way down the driveway. With a speed he has never demonstrated with us, that fat fox squirrel tears into the brush. The shadow continues past.

Drama #2 It is all Too Much

Grey squirrels whirl round the tree, are they fighting, are they mating, are they celebrating the momentary absence of the red squirrel?

Returning from my walk, I begin my path down the driveway.

The squirrels let go.

They fall 9 feet from the branch flailing and hit the ground with a thud.

They run away.

Expectations

Squirrels expect hawks from the sky.

I expect squirrels to fall from the sky.

I expect more to happen that I did not expect.

I do not know who to quote here. Mary Oliver provides comfort but I do not feel the same sense of oneness with nature. We live in our house as a protection against the dangers of nature. We separate ourselves from our fellow family members to protect them and ourselves from this naturally developed virus.

I will instead, be grateful. It is beautiful.

Always “beautiful” is the wrong word, the lazy word, but I need to stop critiquing oh my dark self. I was making the move to be grateful. But my beauty response comes from the gut. Exhale.

I will be grateful and cautious.

 

 

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Bio Knots and Nodes

Many years ago, as a second grader, I took 3rd place in the Monroe, Connecticut town art contest. I drew a circus scene: elephants, horses and dogs.

Years after that, a BFA from Notre Dame. After graduation, I kept a sketchbook, but my art from that time were few sketches with my 3 children in the western suburbs of Chicago.

After some years and in between, I became a high school art teacher. It has been a joy and an honor. I showed occasionally in local shows, some juried, some not.

37 years after ND, an MFA from SAIC. My drawings, installations, mixed-media overtly and obliquely reference family, youth, depression, hope and maturation. Some drawings look somewhat like the animal drawings of my 8-yr-old self. I have cultivated my animal vocabulary for years.

At this age, I am fearful of the times, I am working on safety garments, aprons printed on security envelopes for Mother Art: Revisited. I am also working on photographs of dolls, dinosaurs, rabbits and furniture to show at the Paramount in Aurora. They will sparkle. Because they have to.

 

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