Saturday, May 31, 2008

Museum Day

Went to our most illustrious art museums yesterday: the Met and MOMA. It was fantastic seeing the Egyptian, Greek and Roman stuff that I studied and taught last semester.
I’m very inspired by both the old and new, and will start painting today.
Here are a few "things I'm digging" (get the idea I'm going to work with white?):

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Flying Away

Kloe’s on a plane bound for NYC. She needs this break. She’s felt the stress of the past semester taking a physical toll on her plastic limbs and her shiny hair. She’s upped her coffee consumption to kick-start her mornings, and noticed herself talking way too fast lately.
Her suitcase is packed with acrylics and gouache, a roll of canvas in the overhead bin. She’ll to do museums and galleries, and paint in a friend’s studio up in the Hamptons. Try not to go shopping too much. Will send photos soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Kid.02 and all his classmates are on a color-coded behavior system to finish out the year. Every child starts each day as a “good kid” with a green. If you get a warning for poor behavior you move to yellow, then orange. The worst is red. I’d be very upset to get a red coming home.
But if you’re quite good you can progress to a blue. And if you’re SUPER, a purple. The first kinders to get purples were girls, of course. But when my kid came home with a purple in his little hand, I was beyond proud. Partly because he's a bit wild.
As reward, he got to choose a ColdStone pint: white chocolate ice cream with double brownies, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Sweetness well deserved.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Civilization Central Beckons

Guess where I’m going back to in just a few days? Woo Hoo!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Very Short Poem on One of My Favorite Things

Bread is reason to eat butter
A sandwich a vehicle for mayo
Sliced tomatoes are best soaked in olive oil.

You need nothing
No reason or structure
Time-table or setting
To eat chocolate.

(can you tell the semester is done???)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Today I had a student show up for a final who had missed at least 15 class periods—over half my lectures. Do you think I was feeling very charitable? I was not.
I told him we are required to keep attendance and 30% of the grade is based on “class participation.” I watched him take the final carefully, cause the previous test he got a B, so someone was helping him, or he was cheating. I really can’t stop someone from cheating, but they’re going to feel my Kloe Eye on them. It’s evil and icy blue.
I just graded his test. It sucked, and my final was easy for anyone who studied.
I can have compassion for the student who shows up and does poorly, but one who doesn’t even bother to come to lectures?
Outta here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finals Week: Lessons Learned

OK, I’ve complained a lot about the art history classes I just had to teach this semester. It was a huge learning curve—to lecture, to deal with so many students (most of whom I never got to know) and to evaluate such masses.
But I learned quite a bit. I suppose that makes me a more valuable teacher, maybe more hirable if and when higher ed starts to get positions again. I made mistakes and my students still liked me. I’ve filled in huge gaps in my knowledge of Art and made myself more confident in front of large groups.
There were a few great successes, students who came into my class not knowing Thing One about art, who rarely missed class, whose grades steadily improved. I had a black student tell me he never knew there were black artists. I had a student cross over to Mexico to search out a folk art sculpture to photograph, jumping fences and putting himself at personal risk. I had a pregnant student come to class today, whose baby is due next week. Pretty devoted.
So I guess it was worth it (she said in a quavery voice).
The administration has asked me to teach the art history again in Fall. It’s a hard class to fill because it’s so much work. I’m just afraid they’ll think I’m good at lectures and forget about my studio teaching. Can’t have that. Must figure out what to do.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Staying In-Line and Fit

I skate on very rough asphalt and my in-line skate wheels were worn down to the point of danger. I went to my local sporting goods store to buy replacements. And guess what, no stock. Same at other stores. Seems blading is no longer popular in SoCal, except for indoor hockey.
So I found an online source and had the wheels mailed to me. Which was probably cheaper than driving around looking for them with gas prices the way they are. The new wheels are stiff, I have to expend more energy on my workouts. But it’s still great. I recommend fitness blading to anyone who can’t run because of joint problems.
There’s a tour/race here soon, I might go check it out to meet other bladers (read: oogle a bunch of great quads in spandex…)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

For Profit

I’ve been teaching at a for-profit educational institution on and off for a couple years. A corporation. I'm pretty stunned at how different it is compared to public ed. Everything from facilities (better) to students (different in many ways) to dress code (we dress to teach art) to management (I have about six bosses above me, just at my location). The hierarchy is incredible in corporations. The pay is not, nor is there tenure. The paperwork is daunting. And change comes like a flash from above (as opposed to teaching in the public system where there is almost never change).
The question is, should education be money-based? (This school is Majorly Expensive, like 100 G = degree, non-accredited.) I think it can work, but it’s easy to get off track. What if higher-ups make decisions not based on what is best for learning, but based on what gets more students to enroll? I’m not saying this happens where I work, but I do know the people who run things are not artists, designers or art educators. They are business people, who are responsible to share-holders. Dealing with these people leaves me mute with wonder. Not to mention envious of their fabulous suits.
Then there is the sales staff, although they're not called sales people. There are lots of them. At public institutions the State of CA doesn’t give a damn if you attend or not, there are too many students wanting in. But at the for-profit we are keenly aware of our numbers. It’s sort of … different.
In class recently I was shocked to hear students discussing suing a teacher who they considered was grading unfairly. SUING. I supposed it’s better than shooting a teacher, but it makes me realize I have to be careful. Very careful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


This is my 500th Post. I never thought I’d continue this far. Have thought I might quit, and have slowed down a bit. But maybe Kloe still has things to accomplish…
I send you all much love from my beautiful, plastic world.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Real Mother’s Day

• Slept in til 8am, wow!
• Got up, made breakfast (although I was promised it in bed, I don’t really like the crumb/sheet factor).
• Cleaned up the house after it was destroyed by window installers (yeah, double panes!).
• Skated with my kids (meaning I coast, they fall).
• Helped kids to paint cards for grandmothers.
• Helped Kid.01 make imam beyeldi (Turkish stuffed eggplant) and lava cakes.
• Prepared rest of food.
• Cleaned up yard for BBQ.
• Served, ate, cleaned up.
• Played tennis with kids.
• Got kids ready for bed.
• Did laundry.
• Finished art history test and blogged this.
That was my WHOLE DAY. Kid.01 wanted to know why there are no Children’s Days, and I gave him the standard line that EVERYDAY is children’s day. I was not lying.
Special highlights: Kid.01 tripped (on trail of fish juice) while serving dessert, sending lava cake, creme anglaise, and scoop of vanilla ice cream flying into my open briefcase. Kid.02, while playing tennis, realized he had to use the bathroom and a bush would not cut it. We did not make it to the park toilet in time…

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I’ve talked a lot about my grandmother. In my family closeness skips a generation. My kids are very close to my mother; I’m not jealous of this, it’s the way it should be.
My mom had her own life when we were growing up. Of course she wasn’t perfect, but as a mom myself I realize perfection is a moving target. My mom had her career, her friends, and her vacations away from us kids. She was a diver and went out weekends on a boat. She often ate a civilized dinner after we went to bed. My friends all thought she was glamorous and adventurous. From her I learned to be independent.
Someone told me she had a super-mom as a child (read: part martyr), and now this woman feels guilty about being less-than for her own kids. That model is hard to live up to and not the best for mental health. After all, our kids will grow up and be gone, and then where will we be?
Thanks, Mom. Love ya.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Blogging Pasttime

Partially influenced by me, a student recently started a blog. She’s enthusiastic, but I overheard a colleague tell her, “You must have a lot of time on your hands.”
I wonder about that, do we take time from our real lives to do this narcissistic thing? I regularly dip into about a dozen blogs, but no one’s story is worth reading every day. No writer or image-maker can sustain that kind of interest. Sometimes an interesting narrative arc develops (and we may not even be aware of it as we are writing), but other times our lives are filled with mundane details that would only interest a sociologist.
What’s the value of blogging? For me, who has always kept journals, it gives an order to my days and months. I see threads, I think about bigger stories, I keep my eye above my petty anxieties while I’m experiencing them. It’s like free therapy.
I don’t read blogs of my on-ground friends. I like to hear what’s happening with them over coffee. I somehow feel it’s a violation of privacy for me to read about them without them knowing about it.
So to my flesh-n-blooders, sorry, but please tell me in person (better yet, read me poetry, a theme in my life right now). And you know not to tell me that you read this, right?
sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cumulative Exhaustion

It’s reached that point in the semester when I’m so tired I can’t remember what day it is or where I’m supposed to be without looking at my Palm, which is currently lost. I can’t recall when I’ve been more exhausted, except, of course, living with a newborn.
When you feel this deep kind of exhaustion you start to make mistakes. You begin to ignore phone calls, misplace things, forget deadlines, accidentally lock yourself out of the house or crash your car a bit (yep… I’m ignoring this at the moment). You zone out in front of the computer. You get mad if the dean’s secretary looks at you cross-eyed (respect!) You let things go. The trick is to let the right things go…
I have to prepare, give and grade four exams in the next three weeks; my students were saucer-eyed today during a review. That’s about 300 tests to read. Then I have to do final grades, calculating each mathematically, and fill in the endless paperwork.
But, happy light through the Pantheon oculus, I may have a vacation coming… and someone sent me a poem… and a student said she liked my class and how did I keep in shape… ;)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Transgender Children

Today on NPR there was a story that profoundly upset me. It was about two little boys, one on each coast, both of whom may be transgender (boys physically, but girls mentally and emotionally). You should listen to it.
Here’s a synopsis:
Each boy from about age two began to play with girl toys and associate with girls rather than boys. Their respective parents initially permitted this behavior, but eventually sought professional advice on how to handle their unique situations.
The West Coast family found a therapist who allowed the child to wear dresses and play with dolls because the child insisted he was a girl. The mother described the day she drove the child to Target to buy his first real dress as the happiest she has ever seen him. This family now has a well-adjusted six-year-old, whom they refer to as a girl.
The East Coast family found a therapist who recommended the child be treated as a boy. The parents slowly took away all girl toys and only allowed association with boys. The mother described how she began to find Barbies hidden in the couch as the child realized what was happening. And when the girlish things were all gone, this child simply stopped playing. This breaks my heart.
He only drew. And what did he draw? Rainbows and butterflies and girls. When asked to draw a "boy," he said, “I don’t know how.” For me this brings home how primal drawing is, how I should respect each of my student’s innate skills and vision.
This child is having problems, as you may have guessed. The mother describes how he is currently traumatized by pink. I sincerely hope these parents have a change of heart, because color should certainly not bring pain.
What do I take away from this stunning story? To accept and respect my kids’ unique attributes. To be thankful they seem to have an easier road ahead of them at this point. To allow boys to play with me, because Bratz are not just for girls.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ritual Diner

Last month I attended a couple Passover Seders, like I’ve done for many years. The difference this time was that I’m studying Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and know more about the traditions referred to in the Jewish Seder. The dinner, which can last several hours and involve ritual storytelling, lecturing, poetry, prayer, copious laughter and wine drinking, feels very Roman to me.
It’s a way of eating the Turks also enjoy, especially with mezes (appetizers). You might sit for long hours at a table, in no hurry, eating small bits in a prescribed order, then finishing with tea and smoking. Italians and Spaniards also dine this way, very slowly.
Now I should talk, cause in the past few months I’ve developed the habit of taking many of my hurried, small meals standing up in the kitchen at odd hours, sometimes serving others, sometimes reading art history over the counter. I don’t even consider them meals. Because I eat so little in general, it’s not a problem, but at least once a week I’d like to enjoy one of these long ritual dinners, in the middle of the afternoon, when the air is still and hot, with spicy red wine, oily salads, meats, cheeses and good chewy bread, conversation or reading material...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

No Self Control

Oh, bad Baby Kloe, very bad!
But, Baby is happy with some things lately (be careful)…

Saturday, May 03, 2008


A BIG milestone is coming up for Kloe Among the Turks.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Painting for Money

I’m getting ready to send a couple dozen small gouache paintings to my gallery in Ankara. All this time they have been selling my work to Turkish collectors. A small sum of money is waiting for me; I’ll plow that back into matting and framing the new paintings to keep the relationship alive. A friend who is traveling back to Turkey will hopefully carry the work with her.
My gallerist, a smart guy with years of experience, told me the small nudes are my bread and butter. He thinks that all the other experimental stuff (including this blog) is just that, and only feeds what I do best, the expressive, a-la-prima figure work.
Soon I’ll post some of my tamer, newer work on my Art of Kloe blog, so let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day Thoughts on Labor

Money is tight around here. I can definitely see increases in grocery bills (yesterday stood in the grocery aisle, stupidly agonizing over buying a frivolous item my son wanted), and of course at the gas station, where I’ve had to pay above $4/gallon several times already. As a freeway flyer, it’s painful; I can’t drive less, and must fill my tank about every five days.
So I think about which of my teaching jobs are worth keeping. The one that pays best is the one in which the teacher’s union is strongest. Where the unions are weak or don’t exist, teachers, both part- and full-time, are underpaid. Teaching college is a highly skilled job, and we don’t work 40 paid hours per week; we deserve a high hourly.
There are labor marches around SoCal today. Mostly they’re about immigrants’ rights, but I hope people understand the broader need for solidarity among the work force at all levels. Things are going to get worse this summer, hopefully forcing the presidential campaigns to address issues of poverty and stress on the average American worker.