Thursday, March 31, 2011

When in Boston...

Last weekend I spent two and a half full and lovely days with my friend, Kate in Boston.  Although it was cold,  you couldn't have asked for a sunnier and more brilliant weekend. 

I was saying in a previous post that Kate is my dream museum companion.  Usually I prefer going to art museums on my own so I can take things in with out feeling any responsibility for the passage of time and other's interest or lack of.  After putting in a good half day at MASSMOCA last December with Kate,  I realized she is "the one" for me when it comes to museum companionship.  That said, I thought we'd spend some time in Boston's art museums.  We had every intention of doing so and going to the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.  We even spent a half hour or so sitting and talking in the ICA building's outdoor amphitheater admiring this view.  

Something else was in the cards for us last weekend.  We ended up shopping, eating, talking, walking, drinking and being decadent girls together.  What fun!

Here's a view as we walked around the South End of Boston which is home to Kate's art studio.  One highlight of the weekend was treating ourselves to a late day cocktail at one of the best cocktail bars I have ever been to called DRINK in Fort Point.  I had a Cuban:  rum, mint, lime juice and champagne served in a champagne glass. 


Friday evening we met up with Kate's husband, Jeff and headed back to their sweet apartment in the South End.  Another guilty pleasure turned out to be listening to Pandora's "Sweet Freedom" radio station which played all the songs that got stuck in our heads back in the late 1980's...Micheal Mcdonald, Stevie Winwood, Tears for Fears...nice.  That night Indian food, good conversation and ice cream sundays were on the menu.

The next day we decided to walk off our food hangovers so we headed out and over to Boston Common where we made friends with this magnificent Redwood tree. 

After a bit of nature it was time for a bit of shopping.  These cuties waited patiently for their humans and drew a crowd of people "awwing" out on the sidewalk of Newbury Street. 

Here's a confession... Kate and I spent a considerable amount of time in Sephora at a mall (gasp) in town smelling and spritzing our selves with perfume.  I don't know what came over us...I don't even wear perfume!  It was a huge treat to bask in the possibilities that lie in something new...  a new scent, a new sparkly make-up color, a new way of being.  In a way,  I felt like I was at the movies but instead of sitting back in a dark room watching a life or story pass by on the screen I was living vicariously through the newness of all the items and objects we looked at, touched, tried on and smelled.  We walked and walked from one place to another looking, touching, smelling.

We never made it to the ICA that afternoon either...we were worn out from all the eye candy, new scents and walking.  Instead we had cups of Chai tea and rested our weary feet and heads in Jeff's office which he offered as a haven for us to collect ourselves and our senses after the day's escapades.

Saturday night I had a date to meet a friend and pianist, Andy Lantz, at The Club Cafe piano bar.  We arranged for me to sing a handful of songs with his accompaniment.  Kate, Jeff and I had cocktails and some food and soaked in the warm atmosphere and the great playing of songs from the American songbook.  I had such a nice time singing with Andy and found it a treat to sing some jazz material with just piano accompaniment and a wonderful pianist.


The sun rose to a new day and after oranges and coffee on Sunday morning we headed over here...

... to Kate's amazing art studio.  She shares a great space where she has room to spread out and work on her oil paintings and charcoal creations.  I LOVE her work and where it is going.  The lines, depth, values and colors create organic worlds which for me conjure up nervous system pathways, kelp sea forest, seed shapes, the circulatory system, feathers, hair...  they seem to be both micro and macro points of view and abstractions.  Here are a few more peeks of her space and her artwork.  Her website is being developed as I write this and will be up in a few weeks.  I will post a link to it in the future when it is up and running. She gave me a preview look at the website and it looks great.  I can't wait to share it with you so you can see her and her work in a more professional light. 

Thanks Kate, Jeff, Andy and Boston for a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday #8

It's a sunny day outside which makes for a sunny palette in my studio.  

I'm in Boston visiting a dear friend this weekend.  It is always inspiring hanging out with her so I know there will be a post or two coming this week about my time spent in the city with Kate.  We make great art museum companions and love to talk about the details found in most anything and everything.  She is a very, very talented artist so I hope to take some pictures or her in her studio with her work.  Keep posted for more to come...

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday #7: ...on a Wednesday

8 1/2" x 8 1/2"
gouache on watercolor paper

Spring is on my mind.  Some rain (and snow here in New England) falls.  The sap is flowing.  Trees and bushes are showing their buds.  The energy in the seeds and in the bulbs fire up for the push of growth that is coming.

I'm still testing materials.  I like the liquid gouache that I used here and the way it opaquely covers the paper in even color however I miss a semi glossy reflection or shine.  I'm on a quest for the paint and surface that will work best with my bold, graphic, colorful and tightly patterned designs.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Duality: Spring Flowers and Destruction

I've been thinking a lot about the duality of time,  This past gorgeous Friday evening I took photographs of the the first flowers I've seen blooming outdoors this season.  Spring is here.  How beautiful!  This week as I've been going about my life here at home I'm aware of the enormous amount of suffering and anxiety taking place in places like Japan and Libya.  Feelings of concern, sadness, worry, empathy, disgust come and go throughout the week.  I've been needing to express these feelings...  although it is Sunday my sketchbook post can wait until another day.  Today I need to say these things first.

I feel connected with the people who are truly being touched by horrific and challenging experiences in that I too am human: that despite distance and culture we are not that different,  I share this planet with all people and all life, I have the same basic needs and desires, I feel sadness, joy, love, fear, hope, anxiety, excitement, grief...  I witness beauty and destruction.

Yet how surreal it is that I can spend an early spring evening walking the gardens at Smith College appreciating the beauty springing from the earth while also thinking of those who lost loved ones, homes, entire towns to the power of nature or the destruction of war.  There is such an edge to beauty... in a blink of an eye it can change, transform, destruct, die.  Perhaps this is what makes beauty, BEAUTY?  These two realities lie on the edge of one another.

In times like this, I can feel helpless and lucky and neither feeling feels particularly good while I imagine myself in the shoes of someone who is truly suffering.  Thoughts run through my head, "I want to do something." "I want to help."  "Why am I spared (for the time being, anyway) from a natural/environmental disaster and war on my home turf?"  I can't stop the earth from moving...creating a 9.0 earthquake.  I can't make those in power step down or make decisions that I can feel good about.  I can't stop a nuclear reactor from melting down.  As I'm sure you can relate, this is a scary feeling.  Many things are out of our control.

A friend recently said that creating and sharing beauty in the world is the active work we can do to make and create positive change.  This gives me hope because I agree.  I can share, create and appreciate beauty. Beauty shows itself in many ways.  It is there in the smile from a stranger or loved one,  in the full moon rising...

in the sharing of a home cooked meal, in hugging someone, in the beauty of fragrant blossoms....

in the act of creating and creation, in the beauty of twilight...

Can a form of activism be the creation of and appreciation of beauty and enchantment? 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday # 6: Tree Of Life

...another paper cut-out creation based on Polish "Tree of Life" designs.  Roosters and birds come gather around the tree which roots itself deep down into the earth and reaches it's branches way up to the heavens.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jonathan Richman

I saw Jonathan Richman a little over a week ago at the Pearl Street ballroom in Northampton.  He is one of my hero's and I think that the snippet below, written by Mr. Valania from the Philly Inquire, quickly sums him up in words better than I can.  Below is a song for you to check out and pretty much expresses the magic Jonathan Richman represents in a nutshell...innocence, sincerity, playfulness, creativity, expressive and lovely. He is a diamond in the rough. 

A charming, disarming, hope-filled minstrel

If Jonathan Richman didn't already exist, we would never have thought to invent him, which is a testament to his originality and to the shortcomings of our collective imagination. For more than 35 years, Richman has been a tireless advocate of hopeful romanticism, rugged individualism, and unyielding optimism, traveling the world like some postmodern Jimmy Stewart with a guitar, telling anyone who would listen that, despite all the hard-bitten cynicism that surrounds him, it's still a wonderful life.

Read more:
Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I started a Polish Folk Art course last week that meets every Weds. night for the next four weeks.  The class is being offered at the Springfield Museums which is a collection of architecturally varied buildings housing museums that focus on fine arts, science, and history.  The buildings form a quad that is home to Dr. Suess' sculptural art garden.  I plan on spending a full day at the museums in Springfield, MA once the weather turns warm and I can enjoy some sunshine in the sculptural gardens.

Last week we were introduced to Wycinanki, pronounced (vih-chee-NAHN-kee).  Wycinanki are paper cut out designs that started decorating Polish homes in the mid 1800's.  Our teacher shared that it's believed Wycinanki came to be after sheep shears were used to decoratively cut up sheep skins. The skins were then used as beautiful, ventilated window coverings.  Here we have a case of function meets art.  Later, after the art form's evolution, the paper cut out designs were used to decorate whitewashed walls and ceiling beams inside Polish homes.  I'm learning that the images expressed in Wycinanki are full of symbolism.  The designs are repetitive, symmetrical, often very colorful, may be circular or rectangular and regionally represent slight variations of style and design.  Flowers, hens and roosters and the tree of life are recurrent themes found in this art form.

Above is my first attempt to create a simple, circular, geometric Wycinanki.  I'm so inspired to run with this... learn more about the symbolism, practice traditional designs and then create my own designs.  All you need is some colorful paper, scissors and a glue stick!  I'm sure there will be more to share on this topic here in the future. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday #5

I continue to be super inspired by central and eastern European folk art and folk design.  For this painting I worked up a sketch from my sketch book onto a bigger piece of Bristol board and used my gouache paints to add vibrant color.

This process of digging deep and creating new work has been so rich and interesting for me because after, what my friend and mentor, Valerianna over at Ravenwood calls, "stirring the cauldron" or searching within for months and wondering what my next line of work would be, inspiration hit. 

Now that I have, what Twyla Tharp in her book "The Creative Habit Learn It And Use It For Life" calls,  a "spine" to my work I can follow ideas and play with inspirations that trace back to my Hungarian and Polish ancestry and love of this particular aesthetic.  The spine provides support and allows me the creative freedom to build from a foundational idea.

The best part for me is that despite having this new direction I see lines of connection in the way I've been developing as an artist all along.  Lines, shapes and symbols are coming out in my newer work that hark back to ideas and creations of the past.  This is a good sign to me because there is a creative thread being expressed that means I am truly being myself.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


 "And like the sky my soul is also turning."
                                                                            - Ray LaMontagne

I've been having this feeling...just didn't know how to attach words to it.  In nine words Mr. La Montagne sums it up so poetically and perfectly.  Our souls are turning, moving, changing color, becoming light and dark.  The soul is vast, infinite and full of worlds and stars.

I want to share this song with you although it doesn't contain the above lyric.  The sound is Joni Mitchell meets Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and is wonderfully written and sung by Ray LaMontagne here in the 2010's.  It's a song about a soul longing to break free.