Showing posts from January, 2019

The Gates

This week marks the fourteenth anniversary of The Gates, Christo and Jean Claude’s monumental work which transformed Central Park for two weeks in February, 2005; 7,503 vinyl rectangles holding orange curtains, standing along 23 miles of pathways in the Park. Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude, or  Christo and Jeanne-Claude , are know for their site specific works of art, particularly wrapping large objects, like the Reichstag in Berlin.  They worked on this project for years,  and met with mighty resistance until our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said, “Sure, let’s do it.”  I love him for that. We were still recovering from the attacks of September 11, 2001. While there are things we never get over, we have to move on and doing something huge just for art, for fun, for the heck of it, had great appeal. I was able, through the New York Artists Circle, to sign up to become a worker in a gray smock, carrying a long pole with a tennis ball at t

Addendum To Brown

In talking about things I love that are brown how could I have forgotten Lucy? After Jessie and Sam left home I knew it was time for a dog.  Arthur kept saying all the mean dad things like, it's too much work, you won't take care of it, on and on. But he was planning behind my back and on my birthday this little bundle of love flew in from Council Bluffs, Oklahoma.  Her kennel name was Stormy but thank Heaven we changed that. It was just like when I met Arthur--I knew at once that we were meant for each other. I described Lucy as "the love of my life" in front of Sam, who reminded me that's a term I should reserve for my husband.  Well, yes, Arthur's very nice, but he doesn't wiggle all over with joy every time he sees me. This year for my birthday Molly made Lucy's portrait.  It's a great likeness, don't you think?


" C o l o r  is made for the perpetual comfort and delight of the human heart." - John Ruskin I agree with that.  C o l o r   is one of the things that make my life worth living. On the other hand, the wrong color can send me into a tizzy.  When my church installed a  brown   rug with  orange   zig zags in the lobby I hated it.  Just thinking about it kept me up at night.     “How could they have picked it?” I whined to my friend, David.  “It’s so awful, it makes me feel parched just looking at it.”  And, worst of all, “Nobody asked me what I thought.”     David said, “You know how people with perfect pitch hear a wrong note and it hurts their ears?  I think you may have perfect  c o l o r  pitch, and you’re extra sensitive, because, really, Barbara, I didn’t even notice that rug.”  He was right.  Some  c o l o r s have all the powers for me that a cookie had for Marcel Proust.  Have I read Proust?   David says when asked that question we should always answer,

Song of the Bronx

This is one of my favorite drawings because it covers many of my obsessions; architecture, in particular Beaux Arts, New York City, baseball, the Yankees, (that's Babe Ruth) animals, angels.  Well, those ladies cavorting on the roof don’t have wings, but they might be angels.  I put then there to fill an empty space then decided they were too prominent so I shaded them.  There are always decisions to be made and I never plan ahead beyond a vague pencil sketch.  I like to let a picture evolve; sometimes there are nice surprises and sometimes there are disasters.  I never know. Does my perspective look a little off?  My Dad once said to me, "I like how you get things a little wonky." The Elephant House at the Bronx Zoo stands at the head of Astor Court, a series of Beaux-Arts pavilions surrounding the sea lion pool.  The red brick buildings are adorned with sculpture to tell who lives inside.  This was the original zoo, opened in 1906.  It was progressive for its ti


When I was little riding in the car at night I loved  seeing the trees when the headlights shone on them--I got the feeling that they had a life going on that I didn't know about; as if I had surprised them in some secret tree community life. Years later, when droving to Vermont I would look at the elm trees that grew along Route 22-their bare branches twisting against the sky--they were so elegant, they seemed to be dancing. I thought, and this is always a good idea--I should draw that. I went home and began to draw those trees from memory. I've never stopped drawing trees.  I've had other obsessions--Baseball, the Rhino, but when I feel dried up and no ideas come, I turn to a tree, maybe an image that caught my eye in a magazine, and I get to work.  As my hand moves my mind starts to wander and the ideas start to flow. Thank you, Trees. Then all those beautiful  elms began to die from Dutch elm disease.  That was devastating--awful to see them lose their leaves in

I Have a Hawk on my Head

Yes, I have a hawk on my head.  I met this beautiful creature in Cuba.  I think her wings must have been clipped and that makes me sad, because she should fly, but I'm grateful to meet her face to face.  As she sat on my arm I marveled at her dainty talons.  Of course, if I were a mouse I might not find her so winsome. I've been drawing birds for years, and I admire hawks especially. I made this drawing of two osprey as a gift for my grandmother. For years a mating pair made a home and raised their chicks in a tree at her home in Sag Harbor. They disappeared for a while, because of DDT. Then they came back. Thank you, Rachel Carson! [As I wrote this, spell check changed "a mating" into "amazing", and that works for me.] This makes me think of my brother, Rob Swanson, a photographer and former hang glider--I think that's as close to flying as a human can get.  He told me he once came up behind a hawk in flight and startled him badly. Here