Sunday, November 30, 2008

“Feeling Blue”

Excerpts from a review of an exhibition at the New Museum in New York City, by Peter Schjeldahl.
(Italics mine.)
Something is happening in artists’ studios: a shift of emphasis, from surface to depth, and a shift of mood, from mania to melancholy, shrugging off the allures of the money-hypnotized market and the spectacle-dedizened biennials circuit (and this was before the crash)…
If the common run of contemporary art risks triviality in the pursuit of seduction, the new kind incurs hysteria as a toll of earnest intensity (I guess I'll take earnest hysteria over triviality)…
You suspect that a big change is coming when sensitive young people project (and, because they’re young, enjoy) feelings of being old… The syndrome announces the exhaustion of a received cultural situation, whose traditions are slack and whose future is opaque. It typically entails nostalgia for real or fancied past ages that dealt—successfully, in retrospect—with similar cases (referring to the World Wars)…
Religion—after a century and a half of modern movements that conceived one secular substitute after another—is very much at issue…
What we want now is a major artist—a Manet, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, or Beuys (notice, all men)—who will manifest durable truths at the core if inevitable hypes and hyperboles.

Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, Aug. 4, 2008
work by Steve Walls

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are We All Fat and Happy?

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving (I missed Mom’s turkey and traditions, but had fun too). Actually, the best thing I ate all holiday was a bowl of homemade refried beans. What do you expect here in LalaLand?
It's been raining a bit on the holiday, and we need it desperately. But that’s not to say it isn’t also gorgeous between showers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I’ve committed to renting a studio.

It’s not done, only framed in, no dry wall. But the thought that in a few months I’ll have a space, wow, it’s a relief.
It’s sort of crazy in this economy to increase my expenses, but not to do it would be to acknowledge again putting off my career. For what? There are no more excuses like the kids are young, or I need to finish my education, or I should concentrate on getting a tenure-track job (that just won’t happen).
I’ve got many projects going, and my little patio, soon to be cold, can’t handle it. Not to mention you can hardly invite someone for a studio visit to see paintings tacked up on your neighbor’s fence...
(P.S. Hamster is still alive, smothered in Biscuit love.)

Monday, November 24, 2008


We’re pretty happy around here.
Even those on “poop patrol.”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Animal House

My kids are badly in need of a pet.
I’m sorry to report that my chickens are no more. Flora died of natural causes. Zebra, Buttercup and Eggo Waffle all disappeared, probably a fox. Only Spaghettina survived, and she was the least likely to do so, scraggly as she is. So we gave her to another family who desired to start a chicken family.
I’m still bully on chickens, just “not at this time”… where have I heard that before???
Really want a dog, but have been warned it’s like having another baby. Big distraction.
Ok, what about a hamster? Had one as a kid. Her name was Lucy, and she was a wonderful and sweet girl, lived for several years. The kids have been watching Chmurka YouTube videos (talk about obsessive, and where are these people, Russia? Japan?).
Update to follow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hillary Redux

Certain members of my family supported Clinton in her presidential run, and when she lost the nomination, turned to McCain. Let’s just say, it made for risky family discussions. Name calling, even. We could only agree that we thought Clinton deserved better.
And now it seems, she’ll get it. Secretary of State is fine with me. Obama is making such interesting choices, so soon.
We need him to be effective right now, before everything goes so bad we can't claw our way out of the hole. I and almost everyone I know, could lose our jobs. Makes it hard to sleep.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ways of Working

I had a heated discussion with a friend the other day about art practice. He suggested my paintings are more exercises than Art, because I’m working out my ideas on canvas. He can’t understand why I stay with a series so long (my current series is at 22 paintings, although I’m getting ready to shift my interest, I can feel it).
My friend also doesn’t understand my disinterest in my previous work. And it’s true, I fixate on the problem at hand. My best paintings are my current ones. My previous work? I don’t want to see it, talk about it, or refer to it. It’s stored, I don’t have it up in my house. My friend thinks this may be proof that I’m not making Art up to even my own standard. No, I didn't punch him...
Many artists don’t “practice” this way, especially sculptors or conceptual artists. I understand this, sculpture can be very expensive to produce—it takes time and money to find or make the perfect parts. Idea must often be complete before the “making” starts.
Both art-making processes are valid, but of course I’m more interested in my practice and that’s why I work the way I do.
I was at an art opening the other day, and the big guns were out, and collectors too (I don’t know why, with the economy as it is, maybe everyone just wanted to be morose together). The academics were all talking about how scared they are about job security.
In this crowd was an artist I truly admire. I didn’t introduce myself, only thought about it later, that I wished I’d engaged him in conversation. He’s someone who works the way I do, in “exercises”, steadily producing a huge body of work. Finally, in his 70s, he is getting recognition from the larger Art World.
Need to write him a letter.
(image above is a Giorgione, lovely)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Girl Friends

Count on me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Love, Bubbah

Today my brother would have been 41 years old.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Studio Rent Justification

On a public radio program, On the Media, an educator describes an economics textbook he has written in reaction to the bad options offered his students. In his subject, published textbooks are too generic and cost $150. His text is targeted to his students and costs $11.
Why did this guy write what is basically a free textbook? He hopes other economists will take his text and improve it (others are not allowed to profit from his work). And why did he make it free? Because he, like college professors all over, writes scholarly articles which are submitted without recompense, to academic journals. This is his job. To share knowledge for free.
(Note: At research institutions, professors are expected to publish, which builds reputation and gets you tenure.)
Then why do I feel so guilty that I paint but don’t sell my work? Why do we visual artists crave validation through commerce, when it’s an educator’s job to create and give away the creation? Making art benefits my students by making me a better teacher. That should be enough.
Drawing by Wayne Hulgin, I don’t own it, but wish I did…

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Istanbul, the Most Beautiful Ugly City in the World

I’ve been talking about Istanbul often lately, in my art history survey: the Hagia Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, the Byzantines and the Ottomans…
My friend just wrote an amazing description of her city, you have to read it. Her blog, Alpha.Auer, is mainly about Second Life, a digital game/social site (please forgive if I offend by that definition). She recognizes how problematic it is to live with 16 million people, many desperately poor, but also how exciting. An international art/design scene has developed—maybe Istanbul is back on course as the center of the world once again, after centuries of neglect???
Istanbul was dead during the years that I grew up here: It was a provincial city of a million people or so. And yes - no doubt architecturally speaking it was far more beautiful then than it is today. The hills of the Bosphorus were still largely forested and most of the old gingerbread houses were still struggling to stand in their big pine tree gardens on the Asian side. And yes, people were far more polite and well mannered - the famous old guard Istanbul bourgeoisie was alive and well, daintily sipping their tea with crooked little fingers, sitting in the “Cercle D’Orient” or the “Grand Club”, or indeed all the refined drawing rooms of well bred Istanbul ladies. Faded and pathetic grandeur… Turkish is a language with a formal “you”, as well as an informal “thou” - and boy, was the “you” much in evidence back then… My my… Yeah… yeah…

Today I was out and about all day. Various chores and errands that then turned themselves into an absurd sort of a shopping day where I ended up buying my 5th black backpack. And then came back to Besiktas, my ‘hood, quite late and sat in a small Lahmacun (sort of an eastern anatolian pizza with ground beef on top) place and wolved down two of those while watching the “other” members of the backpack brigade saunter by in the rain. And eavesdropping onto this completely absurd and very funny conversation between the two lahmacun guys in their little red paper hats concerning soccer results and predictions, waving around rolling pins and little balls of dough to emphasize their points. I very badly wanted to take a photo to put in with this post (which I sort of began writing there I guess) but there was this heavily necking couple sitting directly dead center in my FOV and I figured they would not really appreciate all the attention, so I left it…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What would happen if our junior colleges (ahem, I mean community colleges) disappeared?

• There would be no cheap alternative to higher education.
• There would be no option for the average student who didn’t take high school that seriously, but realizes now she has to grow up.
• There would be no part-time students.
• There would be no returning adult students.
• There would be fewer places for elderly students, vets (Happy Veterans’ Day), and students with mental disabilities.
• There would be many more for-profit, expensive higher education institutions that accepted average students.
• There would be even more competition for those elite private and public universities.
Support your local community colleges.
(Drawings from my cc students, they are great…)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Drawing Group

I’ve started a new life drawing and painting group, mainly of my friends, colleagues, and some serious students. I’m doing it for selfish reasons: I want to work with a model and I want to talk about art with smart people. I know many of the models in town, and they’ll work for me. We met last week for our first three hours session, a small group, but I felt it was successful. We’re painting in a friend’s studio for now, once a month.
But… I’ve probably found a new studio for myself. It won’t be finished for a few months, so I’m trying not to jinx it. Hopeful I can afford it.
(Above are a few of the paintings I did that night.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Signed by the Living in Memory of the Dead

Here’s how one of the masks turned out for the Day of the Dead show. A friend and I each wore one and people wrote on our faces.
Mine is all covered with the names of dead grandmothers:
Mama Concha
Lola Maria
Grandma B.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Local Woes

In the final week before the election two bombshells were dropped here in California, but they were barely noticed by the general public.
1st. Arnie Baby said he’ll have to cut two to four billion, BILLION, dollars more from education.
2nd. One of the water governing boards said it will deliver only 15% of what was requested by municipalities next year. 15%.
I know these issues have complicated politics, but still, if cuts to our kids and our yards don’t shake California to it’s core, we’re all asleep or drugged out of our sun-addled minds.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Election Un-Wrap

Ok, I’m thrilled with our new President Elect. I’ve never felt this way about a leader before, it’s G-G-G-Great, as the tiger from my childhood exclaimed.
Prop 8, not so good. The “Yes on 8” campaign concentrated on scaring people that kids would be taught that gay marriage was the same as straight marriage (which it is, but that’s a minor point, compared to the human rights issues). Anyway, heavy Church support, heavy minority support, heavy conservative support, and all those gay marriages have been flushed down the toilet. But I’m confident the courts will do the right thing. Also, there have been ongoing angry protests, and I have the feeling they will escalate. If there is one in my town, I’ll be there.
School bonds: all passed. That truly amazes me, that in the economic crisis people realize schools must be repaired. We also approved a high-speed train. And humane treatment of chickens!!!
My state is divided: blue on the coast (mostly--OC is a hang-up), red inland. But that my corner is finally in the blue camp, wow, I hope it stays there.
And yes, I went with sexy pirate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election 2008

It’s 7pm West Coast Time and I’m getting happy, very, very happy.
Kid.02 went with me to vote, and I let him fill in the bubble for this historic choice.
In a few minutes we’re going to go outside and start shouting our approval into the black sky and light rain.
Thank Goddess, thank the gods of past and present, thank all my sweet Americans who have finally had enough of eight years of utter disaster.
I am overwhelmed that this end also brings an amazing change, that the most powerful person in the world is an Other.
It’s really a miracle.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I’m not worried about the Presidential part.

I’m very concerned about Prop 8, the one here in Cal that wants to, again, define marriage as “one man, one woman.” Last week I saw whole families in the burbs holding “Yes on 8” signs for the traffic, including little kids. We had to trick-or-treat at several houses with such signs in their yards. It sickens me, how people want to punish other people for who they are. Wrong, wrong, oh so wrong.
But am excited to vote, like everyone else. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

600th Post, or the Day After the Day of the Dead

Halloween was successful, my Devil and Grim Reaper got the candy, and respect, they craved.
Art opening was successful, although my 4” heels nearly did me in.
I spent part of today cemetery hopping--was very pleased to see the red, orange and yellow flowers flooding the graves, and many people still sitting around in their lawn chairs.
I also checked out a possible art studio in an arty little neighborhood. Now I just have to figure if I can afford it.
Or maybe I can’t not afford it at this point.