Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Fall’s gruesome holidays are almost upon us. I’ve been invited to participate in a Day of the Dead art exhibition, and spent last night sewing “lucha libre” skulls. At the opening on Nov. 1st I’ll ask people to write remembrances of their grandmothers on a mask as I wear it.
I do like the Mexican celebration of death, rather than my own heritage’s grim respect. I would like to laugh at death too. Right now it’s the one-year anniversary of my gram’s “passing,” and I’m missing her. A lot.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
To continue my theme from yesterday, there’s another amazing garden on my urban campus. It’s a couple years old now, tucked against a formerly ghastly orange wall. It’s just a little south-facing strip of land between a parking lot and the cafeteria, but the gardeners really know their stuff. They planted small succulents and cacti, and now it’s a full blown desertscape, complete with ocotillo and palo verde, which normally don’t even grow here on the coast. You have to have perfect drainage for these plants.
There’s a problem for the average gardener and these beauties: very hard to weed. You have to wear thick gloves to protect yourself from the thorns. Of course, weed-wackers can’t be used. We need to be taught how to care for these types of landscapes, cause this is what we should be growing instead of grass.
Monday, October 27, 2008
My most urban school, right downtown among the skyscrapers and expensive condos, is pretty progressive. And we’re being pushed to be green.
Six months ago volunteers covered a patch of grass, unused by loungers, between the library and the theater/arts building, with mulch. By end of summer it was plowed and seeded. It is now my city’s first urban garden, and as you can see, a wonder.
We have pretty bad soil, and no water here (I don’t think it’s rained in a year). The red flowering stalks are some kind of soil enhancer with deep roots, to break up the clay. Fava beans are planted to put nutrients back in, along with herbs, corn, and flowers. Fruit trees will be terraced on the hillside soon.
There are no gates around this garden, anyone can come in and take what they want. It’s an enchanted place.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
An old friend of mine in NYC has started a new blog called Turtle^haus. It’s about real living in spaces we create. She’s a fantastically gifted woman: architect, librarian, translator (mostly movies Italian/English), writer, mom, and life enthusiast.
Her first post made me write the story of my table. (And yes, that's my painting hanging above her table in Brooklyn.)
The oak clawfoot table pictured above was in my grandmother’s childhood home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When my great-grandparents died, it was shipped out to California, and for years my grandmother served her extended family on it. Later, as she got older, the cooking fell to me, and I loaded it with dishes and then wiped it clean once a week.
It’s both elegant and strangely primitive. The grain is heavy and the color dark. It has several leaves, and can accommodate about 16 people.
When she was dying, my grandmother told me she wanted me to have the table. At first I thought, no, it’s not my style, I like modern furniture. But later I realized, Kloe don’t be stupid, this is such a gift. However, when she died there was no mention in the will that the table was to go to me, and my uncle proposed to sell it. I protested, but to no avail. Luckily, later he got down on his back under it, and found the post-it in my gram’s hand—said the table was mine.
So now I have it, and it serves as a metaphor for my creative projects and family life. We use it as a project table: play games on it, do homework on it, make artwork on it (protected of course). Someday I’ll again use it as my kitchen table and serve pot roast on it like my gram taught me.
It is one of my most prized possessions.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It was Red Ribbon Week at my kids’ school recently. I don’t know when or how the tradition started, but it’s a week of dressing crazy (pj’s to school, etc.), making posters, attending assemblies, and tying ribbons in the trees, all to promote drug awareness, or should I say anti-drug awareness.
Don’t have a clue if it works. It’s sort of weird to hear your child’s teacher say, “Did you sign the ‘No to Bad Drugs’ promise?” asking kids who can’t read yet, and probably don’t even understand the concept of drugs. But maybe they do. And when they sign, they get candy. Go figure.
On to Halloween.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
• A place to commune with other artists and friends.
• A place to look at all or most of the artwork you are producing, to see how the series goes together, how the work is changing.
• A place to make large work, to be messy, to leave ideas half finished, to work on multiple pieces at the same time.
• A place to bring curators and clients. A professional space.
• A place to bring models and students.
• A place to put up things that influence you.
• A place undistracted.
• A place that is not conservative.
• A place to have critiques. A place to be serious.
• A place to stay out of the rain, to drink coffee in, to be near other artists/downtown.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Today in I paid $2.99 per gallon for gas. Shocking—only a few months ago it was close to $5. Cynical me, I wonder if the oil companies are giving us all a break because we’re traumatized by the stock market crash—they don’t want to receive our wrath, so have lowered prices for the time being.
Hard to believe, but today I drove 100 miles, just around town on errands. Something has got to give.
Here’s a reality check for anyone who thinks their life is hard: a friend who has a disabled child now has to buy a new mini van because she needs a lift to get the growing teen and wheelchair into the car. Van: 20K. Disabled adaptations: 20K. 40K for a gas-guzzling vehicle to replace their other van that is still good, but doesn’t have an electric lift. No government assistance possible because they make over 50K/year, which as you know in SoCal ain’t that much.
Sculpture by Mark de Suvero, 1965, with a Sam Francis in the backgound. Meaty.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
When your kid goes to kindergarten, you find hordes of parents in the classroom, volunteering. It’s great, the enthusiasm for each student, the joy of learning shared between parent and child. With each passing year, however, fewer and fewer parents help out. Maybe adults become intimidated by the material? I don’t think so. I think parents get tired, and as a child has to buckle down harder each evening with homework, parents lose interest, or get impatient.
Every year the achievement gap between students in a classroom widens. For example, I see kids in my fifth grader’s class who read at about a second grade level. I see kids who don’t speak any English (something they can’t help because they have just arrived in the States). But I also see apathy developing, kids who stop trying, who don’t do their homework, who don’t study for tests (I’ve graded some of these tests, so I know). This I blame squarely on parents. Why don’t they get themselves into the classroom and see what is happening? It makes me sad and angry.
Can you tell I’m in a bitchy mood lately??? Crack in entrance to deYoung Museum by Andy Goldsworthy.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
A friend of mine just had a baby. He took a week off work to help with the adjustment. I arrived at their home to paint a commissioned mural in the baby’s room. This family is lucky, as my friend has a good job. Still, he had to go back to work and leave his wife at home to deal with one small person and three dogs.
I’ve also had several pregnant students in my lecture classes who were due during my class (well, not literally…) These women have all thought they could return to class after a few days. It’s never happened, they just disappear, dropping or taking an incomplete. I don’t know who is telling them that giving birth and dealing with a newborn is so easy. It amazes me that they think their babies will cause so little disruption in their lives.
These young students are thinking like men, because men can think this way. Men will not usually be responsible for the daily care of an infant. They’ll pop in and out, need their space and guy-time, and women will still take care of almost all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and childcare. And then go back to work or school. With all the liberation, things just haven’t changed enough.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Am almost tempted to stop listening to the news.
Someone said to me yesterday, “sure glad I’m not on the job market now,” and I thought, yeah. But come to think of it… I’ve been on the job market now for SEVEN YEARS. And since I’ve been back from Turkey there have been exactly ZERO appropriate jobs posted in my corner of SoCal (actually quite a large area). Add in the number of MFAs graduated here each year, and soon we’ll be fighting each other for minimum wage.
Chair by Doris Salcedo.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Am feeling not so pretty or perky lately. Sort of wish I’d just catch this bad cold that’s going around and have an excuse to stay in bed a day or two. It’s partly starting the new fall quarter in the middle of an ongoing semester. Rather much.
Lovely little piece by Meret Oppenheim, 1962.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Flew south again.
It’s almost always good to get out of your life/routine/stressload/head for a few days, especially if you can get into someone else’s life (try on their underwear, metaphorically). The people I compare myself to up in NoCal are as close to me in life situation as possible, but have made very different decisions.
What I come away with is an awareness of how selfish the artist lifestyle is, how focused on obscurities that most think trivial. I had to stop myself from talking about my work, cause I’m enthusiastic, but don’t want to bore my friends, or make them think I’m as self-centered as I really am. I need their clear-eyed input, but lately I think I'm sort of manic in the number of projects I've started. Oh well, better than the alternative.
image taken in Chinatown, San Francisco
Sunday, October 05, 2008
OK I have to explain this image.
It’s at the top of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Overhead is a bridge that spans a drop from the fifth to the ground floor. Underneath this bridge are rock climbing clips, rope and harness used by Matthew Barney to make an athletic drawing while hanging from the bridge. I think Barney’s newer work is bullshit, but this piece looks back to his early career as an athlete, and is very compelling. Outside the window is a giant red “made in China” dinosaur, from the Chinese show, which I LOVED. Will talk about it soon.
Somebody thought about this confluence in the gallery—is this what makes a good curator?
Friday, October 03, 2008
As I watched the debate last night I was filled with strange conflict. I both wanted Palin to do well and for her to fail miserably. As much as I disagree with her views, and think she’s not ready for such office, she represents our sex. I wanted her to fail nobely, I wanted her to be smart even though she’s inexperienced. I winced as Biden laughed, thought he’s laughing at her, at ME, cause I’ve felt that so many times from men of that stature.
And Oh-My-God, nucular? I-rack? I-ran? Kill me now.
Am up in SF for the weekend, needed a Big City break badly. At this very moment I’m in a café on Nob Hill sipping cab.
Saw SFMoma this morning, very inspiring! Also saw very fancy galleries (a lot of the work was unframed because of expense), and overheard this:
“I just wish people were crazy again, you know, buying art…”
Painting, David Park, who some people compare me to, and I’ll take that, thank you…
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Here’s something I wrote while in Turkey, volunteering in my son’s school, but never published on this blog. I’m interested in it partially cause Kid.01 is now in fifth grade here in SoCal:
I’ve finally stopped trying to maintain control over my fifth graders (mostly the boys). They are boisterous and loud, they throw erasers and pillows, they fall over in their chairs. They mock fight, and occasionally really fight. I just have to accept it. I’m trying now to let them have fun, and when my voice grows hoarse shouting above them I just stop and do something physical with them, like dance or march. I try to keep in mind how polite, quiet and respectful my college students are. Somehow these animals become civilized.
There’s a good explanation of the stresses these students are under at this elite private school. Basically being a student in Turkey from fifth grade on means an endless series of tests and test preparations. Tests are the only indicator for university entrance. No extracurricular activities, economic hardships, original experiences, or thoughts explored in essays are taken into account. And getting into university is basically the only chance to get ahead economically in Turkey. A friend told me even job listings for obscure government clerks request a university degree now.
All this makes me wonder about my own kids, and will I be OK with only gently helping them to be well-rounded university applicants, or will I be one of those parents who obsess over where (if?) my child goes to college? I went to a “fancy” school for my undergrad, but a third-tier (sorry) grad school, and that has affected my success, because before anyone looks at your work, they look at your c.v. Life sucks that way.