Thursday, September 23, 2021

It's My Anniversary

 I got serious about posting this blog, Seeking the Sublime in the Everyday, three years ago right about now and I haven't missed a week; mostly on Friday morning.  thank you so much to you who have read and responded.  I hope you know how much it means to me to hear from you.

To celebrate here's an oldie, a story about traveling with Arthur, about Georgia O'Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence and a raccoon.

   I have long adored Georgia O”Keeffe.  My first year in art school the Whitney Museum held a retrospective of her work; I haunted that show and bought the catalogue and a ton of postcards.  She said, “Fill a space in a beautiful way,” and I thought I could do that.  I painted many imitation O’Keeffe’s and read everything I could find about her.  I kept her in my head, sometimes speaking to her, sometimes asking myself, “What would Georgia do?”

    The Lawrence Tree is one of my favorites.  It’s painted as if we’re lying at the foot of a great tree, gazing up through her branches at the starry night sky.  I've lain like that, but never thought to paint it.  That's why she's Georgia O'Keeffe.

    So, as Arthur and I drove through Taos and I saw a sign that said,

Lawrence Ranch

   I spoke up. I knew O’Keeffe had been part of a loose and fractious community that included the art patron Dorothy Brett. Brett gave the ranch to D.H.Lawrence and his wife and they lived there for a short time, while he recovered his health and wrote The Plumed Serpent.

    “Oh, the Lawrence Ranch,” I said.  “My favorite O’Keeffe is the Lawrence Tree.  I wonder if it’s there.”  Arthur slammed on the brakes and turned in.

    “It says no trespassing!”

    “You have to see this.”

    “But Arthur!…” I did long to see it, but I hate breaking rules.

    “We’re going."

    “What if somebody stops us?”

    “You’re an artist and you have to see that tree.”

    “That’s our defense?”

    “I’ll tell them it’s your favorite painting.”

     I pictured myself behind bars saying, “I’m not a criminal, I’m an artist.”

    But what did Lawrence himself say? 
                                                “A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” 

    Arthur drove on. It was a long and rocky dirt road, and we raised a cloud of dust.  Around every turn was another NO TRESPASSING sign. I expected to hear sirens.

   We pulled in at a sign that said Lawrence Chapel. There was a ranch house, and there was the tree.  The Lawrence Tree in person.  As Lawrence himself wrote, 

The big pine tree in front of the house, standing still and unconcerned and alive... like a guardian angel.

    I walked to the tree, thinking to lie down beneath it and look up but there was a very large raccoon sitting in its branches like a sentinel.  A NO TRESPASSING sign is one thing, a vigilant raccoon quite another.  I had to be content with imagining I could lie down and see the stars through the branches just as O’Keeffe had done. And that was enough.

     I thank Georgia O’Keeffe for the painting I’ve loved for fifty years.  I thank D.H. Lawrence for the words that encouraged and dared me.  

And I thank Arthur for making the turn and driving past the forbidding signs. 

    The ranch now belongs to the University of New Mexico and they conduct tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I went there on my own instead of behind a well-meaning docent and a bunch of chatty tourists.  I saw the Lawrence Tree as I needed to see it.  

    I trespassed and I do not repent.

That was a long time ago.  To bring you back to the present, here's my latest step in the Saint Barbara project--The church of Saint Barbara in Bushwick.

I have a long way to go and I don't know how it will turn out but I'm having a good time.

Here it is in real life--pretty hard to get the whole thing in the frame without being hit by a truck!

AND, if you're a Barbara, have you responded to my Barbara questionnaire?  Here's the link.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Finding a Quiet Place

 Last Saturday, September 11, our church held a memorial service that featured this poem;

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. 

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

          Wendell Berry

That reminded me of  this drawing, from years ago in my teaching days. A wood duck and a Mandarin duck.

And my Great Blue Heron.

Do you have a place like the one Wendell Berry wrote about?  Where you rest in the grace of the world? It doesn't have to be an actual place.  My grandmother's home in Sag Harbor is like that for me; in my mind I walk across the lawn and down the hill to the bay.
Another place is the backyard of my friends, Bill and Ellen Entriken. Their next door neighbor had an enormous willow that made beautiful rustling music in the breeze.  I have frequently tried to capture the peace that lovely tree brought to me. 

In my search for the old ducks  I also found these Proscenium stages.

This was one of my first etchings, titled Path through the Woods.  I then drew a frame for it.  At the top are two dates, in Latin numerals--1971, when I made the etching, and 1988, when I did the drawing.  In 1988 I was teaching and my kids were nine and seven.  With everything else I was doing,  I never gave up my drawing.

Here's another, with my beloved Rhinos. the quote on the pediment is Latin for 

"Should this work please, a larger one I plan, fully adorned through many pages span."

To me that's a reminder that the ideas come when the hand is moving and there's always more where that came from.

I guess my happy place is any place where I can be drawing.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Up the Stairs

A few weeks ago I wrote about this staircase I saw in Greece,

And how it just stayed with me until I drew it.

Now that I look at this drawing after about ten years I think it could use some work.

I'm not the only one who loves staircases; my friend, Anne Finkelstein,

has done some gorgeous stairs.  She told me,
"I grew up in an apartment and so the first time I ever saw a staircase it seemed magical--
something that could take you to a whole different place."

This is "The Golden Railing"

"Stairway to Heaven"

I see Anne's work every day, because these depictions of the old McBurney YMCA  now hang in the stairway at  the New McBurney Y on 14th Street between Seventh and Sixth Avenues.

Anne has found something sublime in the everyday.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Making a Start

 Now that I've announced my Saint Barbara project I'm having technical difficulties with the questionnaire but I'll persist, nevertheless. 

I made a promise to myself to begin a new stage drawing every Monday. When I had my studio at Broadway and 81st Street, that was pretty much my routine and it's high time I got back to it. Here's my first.

Here it is on Thursday afternoon. Some progress, but I have a lot to do if I'm going to finish by Friday.

I have several of those stage drawings that I didn't think were successful but they're going to work very well for this project.  Here's a view of my work table. That green shape is AntahKaren, an ancient symbol of healing.  

Here are some of my brother Rob's lightning shots.  I'll be incorporating these.

I've heard and I kind of believe that it's a bad idea to talk about your ideas--you can talk or you can act and too much talk and the energy evaporates but I can't help it--I love this idea so much that I talk about it a lot and you know what?  I keep getting new thoughts.  Like when I told my friend, Eileen, she told me she's working on a project about Rapunzel.  Saint Barbara's story is the basis of Rapunzel's story so we'll be presenting together on Artists Talk on Art, Monday December 6!
And today I learned about Andromeda, another girl with Daddy issues.  I'll find a way to include her, because it's a great story with a happy end.

So, what do you think?  TMI?  Do you like seeing the sausage made or will you wait for the final product?
Mark your calendar for December 4, Saint Barbara's Day and December 6, my Artists Talk on Art event.

Last work of the day; I may actually finish it tomorrow.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

I'm Launching a New Project

 I have begun work on a celebration and exploration of the story of Saint Barbara, the beautiful daughter of Dioscorus, a wealthy pagan in the third century in Turkey who locked her in a tower to keep her from being married.  

If this story sounds familiar it’s because Saint Barbara is the inspiration for Rapunzel. 

Barbara somehow found out about a strange cult—this was the third century—called Christianity.  She  deceived her father into allowing a priest to visit her in her tower and was secretly baptized.  When Dioscorus found out he pulled her out of the tower and tortured her and then threatened her with beheading if she didn’t recant. She was steadfast in her new faith and so he chopped off her head and then he was struck by lightning and then a mountain fell on him.

Barbara went to Heaven and is now the patron saint of all those who are about to be struck by lightning, also architects, geologists, stonemasons and artillerymen.  

There’s a ton of art dedicated to Barbara, including a huge painting of her martyrdom in the first gallery at the top of the grand staircase at the Met. I'm sure you've seen it.

 I am beginning a series of collages dedicated to Barbara, combining drawings and photographs of lightning.  The more I look into Barbara and her story the more there is to draw.  I’ll skip the beheading.

 Today I looked at at map of Turkey and remembered that it's the site of Mount Ararat, the landing place of Noah's ark so I'll have to put in a rainbow somewhere. With all that lightning, I'll have to give a nod to Ben Franklin. There's a gorgeous Spanish gothic church of Saint Barbara right here in Bushwick! 

Here's my first Barbara.

I'm having a blast and to share the fun I'm reaching out to all the Barbara's I know. I have scheduled a Saint Barbara Day blog post for December 4 and an event with Artists Talk on Art for December 6, where I will share my work and talk about Saint Barbara and all the art she's inspired

do you know about name days? Your name day is the feast of the saint you were named for.

Saint Barbara Day is December 4. 

I’m planning to celebrate and I hope you’ll join me.

So Barbara’s!  Let's Celebrate!

First please fill out the attached questionnaire.

I have scheduled a Saint Barbara blog post for December 4 and an event with Artists Talk on Art for December 6, where I will share my work and talk about everything Barbara.  Share with me your thoughts and feelings about our name, maybe do some art about Barbara, and I’ll feature you in my blog; in the days up to December 4 I plan to post a Barbara of the Day about your work, some writing, whatever you like.

Here's the link; You can answer anonymously if you like, but I hope you participate in Barbara of the Day!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Goodbye to a Dear and Inspiring Friend, Marcia Nasatir, First Mogulette

Our friend Marcia died last week at the age of 95.  She was the first woman to become vice-president of a major Hollywood studio; a glass ceiling smasher who climbed almost to the top and didn't pull the ladder up after herself, she was one of the worlds' great encouragers, especially to other women.

 There was a beautiful tribute to her in Wednesday's New York Times--here's a link.


We go back a long way with Marcia. Remember my blog about discovering the rhino of the Plaza of Musee D'Orsay?  How I said it was a magical moment, partly because we were in Paris, about to meet friends for lunch?  Marcia was one of those friends.

Here's a moment from that trip-Marcia and Arthur sitting on the tomb of Simone Signoret and Yves Montand at Pere LaChaise Cemetery--the most fun I've ever had in a graveyard. There was a lot of urban hiking on that excursion and Marcia set the pace.

If you've never driven across the United States, and you find the time and get the chance I urge you to do it.  I've done it five times and each time was full of great moments.
Arthur and Marcia drove to Los Angeles from New York in June of 1989.  Marcia, always careful with her money, suggested they share motel rooms on the way.  I quickly vetoed that notion and Marcia took it as a great compliment.  Arthur is still dining out on his tales of Travels with Marcia. She couldn't see filling the tank with high test--"But it's nine cents more a gallon!  You know how that adds up?"

She could talk about anything and was always entertaining, always encouraging, always looking to make things nicer, more fun.  She was an avid reader of my blog and had lots of suggestions about who else I should send it to. 
 Coming to dinner once she said, "You're serving buffet?  We're sitting on the couch?  No, No, much better to sit at the table." and I set the table, and yes, it was much nicer.
She'd say, "You could use a little scarf with that outfit--maybe a pin?"  And she was right.

You can see her in a documentary, directed by Anne Goursaud, titled, 
"A Classy Broad: Marcia's Adventures in Hollywood"

Joe Morganstern in the Wall Street Journal said, 
"It’s a love story in which an all-American Jewish girl from Texas brings her love of life to New York, her love of reading to the publishing world, and her love of stories to Hollywood, where her indomitable spirit—this is still Marcia I’m talking about, not a heroine played by Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis—sustains her during the downs but mostly ups of her own golden age."

Marcia either produced or developed movies that you'll remember like Rocky, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Carrie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ironweed, Bound for Glory, Coming Home, The Big Chill and more.

Here's her Christmas card from the year she worked on Hamburger Hill.

Marcia, we will always miss you, but we're full of gratitude for the time we shared; you showed the way  to a life well-lived.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Women Celebrate Women

 My post is a day early this week because I want to tell you about a show I'm in at  

El Barrios Artspace PS109; 

The show's title is Women Celebrate Women, and the opening is this evening, featuring the work of a whole host of wonderful women artists.  Here's a preview of what I'm showing.

This is a work in three parts, celebrating three facets of womanhood as I live it; as a mother, a citizen and an inhabitant of an endangered planet.

First, as a mother I have felt both empowered and lost. this is a collage of a pen and ink drawing and two prints, one an intaglio and rolled color etching, one a rolled color embossment. The drawing is from a picture  Arthur took of Jessie, Sam and me on vacation in Maine. It was a time full of those little moments you want to stop and savor, to be sure to remember them.  the collage shows both the feeling of being fully in charge, of rowing and steering our family ship, but also being in uncharted territory.  

Producing and then nurturing two beautiful little creatures gave me bursts of pride and creative energy and also made me feel flummoxed as they grew and developed wills of their own.

 Second, I am a citizen who views voting as a sacred duty and privilege. I am deeply grateful to the women who fought for the vote for women and those who still fight to protect everyone's vote.  this is a drawing of  Meredith Bergmann's beautiful memorial to Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Thank you Central Park for finally recognizing not just one actual woman but three.

 Third, I am a resident of our endangered planet, Mother Earth, seeking ways to live responsibly, to vote for leaders with the vision to face our dangers, and to fight despair in the face of disaster. This is a collage of four different etchings depicting the earth herself seen from afar, still a cool blue. A sunflower plays the part of the sun, a fish represents the sea and the creatures of the earth. They're all in hot colors.

Here's the flyer-many thanks to Yvonne Lamar-Rogers and Rolinda Ramos for organizing this wonderful event.

It's My Anniversary

 I got serious about posting this blog, Seeking the Sublime in the Everyday, three years ago right about now and I haven't missed a week...