Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Outside the Box

In the past several years I’ve become aware of Asberger’s Syndrome (an Austism Spectrum disorder), Tourettes, and OCD, so can understand and empathize with some of my students’ odd behavior. Usually they don’t seem to know the rules of society, and can say things that seem rude or callous. They may not understand an assignment the first time I explain it. They may ask strange questions that seem off subject. They may talk loudly and inappropriately.
I actually have two colleagues who may have something like Asberger’s. Knowing they may not be able to help their behavior makes it better. I don’t get offended by insensitive comments.
I actually sort of enjoy talking to people who see life a bit differently, don’t you?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Harvest Time in CA

An urban garden, unfortunately not mine…

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Landscape

I am enjoying my students this term. I have a bunch of characters. A tattoo artist who comes to class after trying out what he’s just learned. On skin… An Egyptian woman who exudes warmth… A Caldean Iraqi whose father won’t let her go to the art store to buy supplies… Several students with learning disabilities who are right in there, working hard…
Here’s a landscape by a Turkish artist, Ridvan Koskun. Very typical color palette for Turkey, earth tones and intense Prussian Blue.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If I look a bit ragged, or seem distracted, you know why.

I have been manically flailing around the past year to find something to replace, at least in part, teaching. Every month I apply for grants, try to get exhibitions of my work, work on other writing projects, paint, do occasional commercial jobs, learn new software, apply to teach at new schools, look into business opportunities, shoot teaching videos, make artworld contacts, attend openings and museums… in addition to prepping six courses and taking care of my kids.
It really burns me when my colleagues who are tenured complain. I know insecurity is the buzzword of the day, but come on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Kid.01 had a school assignment to use adjectives to describe a favorite food. The rest of the class had to guess it. Here’s what he wrote:
good with pesto…
yes, gnocchi. Not one person, not even his teacher, had ever heard of it. A staple of our household.
The easiest? Crunchy, spicy, red. If you don’t know, you haven’t been around kids lately.
Above is menudo with thick homemade tortillas, rice and beans. Later we ate carne asada tacos, street style.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Imagine This

You and your kids have been invited to a party where you don’t know anyone. The house has a large, wild yard, with trees to climb and an abandoned playhouse. A guy in a kilt is chopping freshly cut watermelons from the garden with an ax. Adults are lolling around, listening to jazz from a record player pulled into the garden (nice to see vinyl spinning again).
The kids are stand-offish at first, but after dinner you hear whooping in the dusk—the boys and girls have started a battle in the meadow, pine cones for grenades and stink bombs, sticks for swords and guns. The older ones are moving in slow motion, dying spectacular deaths. The little kids are leaping out from behind trees in ambushes. The choreography has the adults enthralled, although we pretend not to notice.
You think back to magical moments from your own childhood of long forgotten backyard parties, where loose and ungoverned games formed that could never have been planned.
Boat Sculpture by Nancy Rubins

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chunky Dunking

I recently saw a new Eve Ensler play, “The Good Body.” As with the “Vagina Monologues,” it’s theater based on interviews with women, but this time about how we deal with our bodies: fat farms, botox, the “spread,” boob jobs, vaginal tightening, nipple piercing, starvation, living at the gym, and bread fixation. Girl talk to the hilt, with lots of four letter words thrown in to toughen up the mood, which I like (women denied colorful language is one of my pet peeves).
That same day, someone gave me a compliment, but I heard it as “Kloe is fat.” Really incredible, because that’s not at all what was meant. So even rail thin dolls like me are always on the verge of hating ourselves.
(above pug's name is Smudge-perfect, no?)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am trying to process what has happened, so I can see the bigger picture. I will write about the specifics later. But for now I can tell you I have lost my best teaching job.
It is a new experience for me to lose a job like this. It has profoundly upset and angered me. Now I understand what many people have gone through, how depressed they feel, how out of control… to be told, “it’s not fair, but we can’t do anything about it.”
If I ever have employees, I will remember this experience, and take care of those who work hard for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shafted and Screwed

I have to leave this profession. We can only put up with so much before we just. can’t. teach. one. more. day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vocabulary Expanded

Kid.01: Mr. S got mad at us for using text in our book summaries.
Kloe: What do you mean?
Kid.01: You know, lol, bff, lotl, aka.
Kloe: What’s bff and lotl?
Kid.01 (exasperated): Best friends forever and Lord of the losers!

Kid.01: You wear tighty whities.
Kid.02: Yeah (giggle). Tight means awesome.
(student drawing combining Botticelli and Munch)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Expressive Modern

A beautiful panel by a Turkish friend, Guldane Araz, painted while she was studying in Cologne, Germany.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Tarkan, Turkey’s Answer to Johnny Depp

Watch the man dance in the desert, quite possibly the sexiest hips ever…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Visitors in the Studio

I participated in an open house this weekend, in a borrowed studio, showing seven of my new Greek statue paintings. It was worth it: I made a few good contacts, including art teachers, a curator I’ve been dying to meet for a while, and a few nice folks who just love art. No one talked about buying and I didn’t expect it. In this economy spending on art is the last thing on people’s minds (although seems the very rich are investing in art through the auction houses).
One man looked at my paintings for a while, so I explained how I’m going in two directions with the work: a drippy more abstract treatment, cropping so close that the background disappears, and a more dramatic treatment, with hand gestures and more skin showing, keeping the background. When I told this man the backgrounds were from Long Island, the landscape that inspired Jackson Pollack, he said I should call the series “Homage to Pollack,” which I quite liked.
He loved the drip grid I just finished on one painting, with the curves and movement of the figures interwoven. He also thought the depth of the landscape worked well with the grid overlay. So at least I reached one person! (See painting here.)
Another visitor told me the painting is like trying to view the past through the grid of the present, history and myth obstructed and altered by modern understanding.
Paintings above are by a friend, Jeanne Dunn.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sometimes this is my day:

I get home from teaching my 100 plus students, some of whom are only 18 and still talking about their “senior year,” after frantically searching for a set of classroom keys I’ve misplaced, teaching half a lecture with a projector that makes all artwork yellow, and attending a parent meeting at the elementary school district that was a waste of time.
I face my own progeny, one of whom is crying over his homework that is taking too long (and yes, it is, and I’m going to complain to the teacher about it, ridiculous that a 10 year old has 3 hours of homework), and the other who is crying because he can’t get his newly tied shoes untied. And the milk has gone bad somehow, and everyone hated their lunch that I made that morning, and the laundry has piled up and and and… it’s going to be a very long semester…

Monday, September 08, 2008

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

I knew this movie was going to be both brilliant and tough. I was unprepared. It follows 24 hours in the lives of two friends in mid-1980s Romania, Behind-the-Curtain; Otilia and her roommate Gabita, who needs an illegal abortion.
On the DVD the director/writer says the story is about solidarity between the women, but I was struck how the students are raped, literally and metaphorically, repeatedly throughout the day by just about everyone with whom they interact. They pay price after price for small mistakes, little lies they make to survive. Yes, the film shows the fetus on the bathroom floor. But see how Otilia scoops it up in her purse, runs through the dark streets of Bucharest to get rid of it, knowing what’s pressed up against her, oh my god, knowing that she could be in exactly the same place, that her boyfriend wouldn’t be there either. These women want to escape the entire fate of motherhood because they see no reward in it.
Please see this movie.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Painted Placemats

Another fit of my Martha Stewartism: using up scraps of gessoed canvas, my kids painted their favorite desserts: chocolate birthday cake, plate of donuts, ice cream sundae, and peach pie.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Food Abstract

Licorice collage by Wayne Hulgin. Don’t think it will last, but love it all the same.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin

Not boring. Not safe. Very exciting choice.
Of course, I have no patience with her views or party. I can understand pro-life, although I disagree. I absolutely cannot handle someone who wants creationism to be taught in schools. Her views on the environment and the war make her repulsive to me.
I was listening to her speak on the radio tonight, and thought, I want to see what this woman looks like. She looks like McCain’s granddaughter. She looks like me, and millions of 40 something American women. And when she held her baby, I bet millions of hearts all over this country broke. Because that is ME. Hilary is my aunt, but this woman, like Obama, is me. Quite shocking really.
Finally, finally we have a presidential race that is not about old white men.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Painting as Labor

I do love almost everything about painting.
• I love shopping for art supplies: paint, brushes, canvas.
• I love planning my work, making notes in my sketchbook, researching, visualizing.
• I love working with canvas: cutting, gesso-ing, stretching.
• I love the first marks I make on a white field.
• I love the violent colors of the first pass.
• I love the hours of silent working.
• I love to sit back and see a painting in different light, and different angles.
• I love it when I have problems, and then when they work themselves out.
• I love knowing a painting is finished.
• I love it if someone else likes my work and tells me.
• I love to get criticism of the work.
• I love to sell a painting.
I don’t love PR, trying to get shows, getting rejected, not showing the work, storing the work.
But most of the labor of painting is wonderful, and I feel lucky to be able to do it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

End of Summer Thought on Labor

The idea of labor is culturally based. I can only compare what I know (teaching in Turkey and the USA), so here goes...
Turkish teachers at all levels put in long days with an hour lunch break at noon, and several tea breaks. Most ride public transportation or private mini buses, which can add hours to their day. For housewives (house-husbands are rare), labor means heavy manual work, cleaning, cooking and washing without many of the conveniences Americans take for granted. But, Turks mix labor with socializing throughout the day. You always have time for a chat with a friend/co-worker.
American teachers and other workers separate work and play. We like to get in and get out of our work spaces. Maybe that’s one reason being a SAHP (stay at home parent) is so hard for many of us. We work hard, and we complain hard. We get satisfaction out of elaborating how difficult and exhausting our jobs are. We’re very productive, but comparatively, we don’t work as hard as most people in the world.
And give me a break, teaching is not working in the fields, or cleaning houses, or any of those really back-breaking jobs.
One other note.
I have a friend who is a lawyer. She makes almost $300 per hour. If she answers an email or phone call from a client, she bills $50 a pop. Now if each time I answered an email from a student I could charge even $5, I’d be raking in the dough. But that just shows you what we value in this society.