Wednesday, March 28, 2012

on the beam

If you Google "slipping glimpser", you get a lot. Chances are you looked it up because you read the below excerpt of a quote by de Kooning, and wondered how many other people liked it. I'd read it before. Things like this keep me from posting, sometimes. So much is already out there, why be repetitive? I've probably repeated my own words enough as it is. My mother and I were discussing the easiest way to shell hard-boiled eggs. A Googling elicited pages of tips, tutorials, videos, until we were both overwhelmed by the info and realized we already knew enough about shelling eggs. I felt like this when, a while back, I planned to write about Demuth's painting "I Saw the Number 5 in Gold" and its allusion to Williams' poem, the backstory, and how much I liked it. But a simple search turned up someone else's comprehensive blog post, so I read that, enjoyed it, and fixed myself a sandwich instead. Still, this blog functions as a repository for my own notes, and I've been feeling off-balance in the world for a while now, yet kind of okay with that. Slipping, falling, finding support; it might do me in, but it builds endurance.

"Y'know the real world, this so-called real world,
Is just something you put up with, like everybody else.
I'm in my element when I am a little bit out of this world:
then I'm in the real world- I'm on the beam.
Because when I'm falling, I'm doing all right;
when I'm slipping, I say, hey, this is interesting!
It's when I'm standing upright that bothers me: I'm not doing so good; I'm stiff.
As a matter of fact, I'm really slipping, most of the time,
into that glimpse. I'm like a slipping glimpser.
I get excited just to see
that sky is blue; that earth is earth.
And that's the hardest thing: to see a rock somewhere,
And there it is: earth-colored rock,
I'm getting closer to that.
Then there is a time in life when you just take a walk:
And you walk in your own landscape."

-Willem de Kooning, 1960

Thursday, March 15, 2012

some storefronts

One of my repertories of subjects is storefronts and buildings, and while looking at some of my recent photos I realized I had quite a few. The ribbon-wrapped mannequins were in a window in the garment district in NYC, the firehouse was on the Lower East Side (I hit a lot of galleries last week). The rest are from Montreal. A fresh challenge presented by those glittering disco balls! Maybe I will tackle another one. Lots of murals including this black & white carport one. I liked the look of 'le divan orange', possible painting/drawing material. 'The Orange Couch' is also a cafe I visited in New Orleans last year. There are probably several of them around; I like the idea of collecting a series of these images.
PatatiPatata is an eatery where a friend at VSC recommended I go, and I was glad I did, it was cheap and really good (I had to try poutine at least once) and had this colorfully painted facade.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Dessertation: A short blog post featuring several paintings of sweets.
Again, a week has elapsed since the last post, which I ended with, "Here's to the next 100!" But the next 100 must start with a single word.

Key lime pie, one of the desserts served to us at VSC last month. In my estimation, all were delicious and waistline-expanding, as were all of the meals preceding them. I'd brought this back to my studio to paint (an excuse to also secure a late-night snack) and ought to have done more, but I kept eating them before I got the chance.
I bought this Nutella in Montreal. I'd only purchased the stuff once before, after a house-sitting stint brought me in close proximity to a jar which I then made short work of, and so replaced it, and promptly ate half of, and finally remembered why I don't ever buy it. I have enough temptations. The urge resurfaced last week and it seemed like a French thing to eat (another bogus excuse), plus the glass with its plastic lid is a fine example of 'planned repurposing' (design-speak!) of the product after its original contents were (swiftly) depleted.
'Sabarskytorte' mit schlag (chocolate-rum torte with whipped cream), from Cafe Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie in NYC. One of my favorite museums, and one of the best cafes, it serves an Austrian-influenced menu including exquisite desserts such as this. It is the closest I will get to a real Viennese cafe for the foreseeable future. Again I ought to have photographed every dessert I and my companions have ever eaten there, so I can paint them. This only means I will have to return soon and order something else. I love the Sachertorte especially, with its apricot confiture and dark glaze. My homemade version has been received well for its tastiness and tremendous infusion of love, though it is decidedly more rustic in appearance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Made it back to the U.S. yesterday. People said that crossing back here would take longer than crossing to Canada, but apparently I'm a bit of a troublemaker. On the way there, Friday night (Later I'll get to why it was nighttime and not, say, 1 pm as planned), weary from the day's events (again, more later), I erred by uncertainly rolling through the checkpoint, I guess I was waiting for someone to stop me but nobody seemed to be around. DId I mention I don't get out of the country much? A border guard comes dashing out, waving his arms, beckons me to the side.

"What was that?" he says indignantly. Me: sheepish. "Sorry, sorry." He inspects my (pristine) passport. "This isn't Europe, where you don't stop. Do you think you are in Europe?"

"No.. I've never driven there.."

"So where are you going?"


"For how long do you plan to stay?"

"A couple days."

"Why do you have so many things?" (nodding at the packed car, paintboxes and canvases, also my broom and shovel, etc)

"I was at an art residency in Vermont for the past month, so I have all these supplies, and since I'm not so far from Montreal, I wanted to visit," I babbled.

"Why do you not leave these things at home?"

"Well I live in New York, and came here right from Vermont, I've been on the road for 5 weeks, so.."

"What will you do there?" "Um, look at art, walk around, take pictures, eat and drink.." "Open the trunk." I open the trunk. Uneventful. "So what is a residency, it is school?"

"Not exactly, it's somewhere you can go for a while that's different from where you live, and you can make art and meet new people," I shrug and smile.

He stares at me blankly, but hands me back my passport. I drive off, the signs turn to French, and an hour later I arrive at the funky hostel in the old part of Montreal where I've arranged to stay. I spend the next couple of days doing pretty much what I told him I would do, things that deserve their own eventual blog post. On the return crossing, I am detained because when I was 11, in England with my parents & brother, we'd reported our passports stolen when my mother's bag was swiped. (I excitedly reported it all in my journal, along with a clumsy pencil illustration of said theft.) We got them back but it remained in the system and they had to make sure I was me. I've had that feeling before.

I got back to upstate NY just in time to return the rental car. Rental car? The short version is that, barely 40 miles out of Johnson, sad to leave VSC but looking forward to Montreal, a loud pow issued from my car and a terrible scraping sound commenced. Fearfully I proceeded to a service station, which I was lucky to find, and discovered that the rear strut had rusted through and essentially dropped onto the tire, and it seemed the other struts/spring thingys weren't far behind, from the looks of them. Fix it or scrap it? Considerations of high cost and advanced mileage (nearly 240) and future problems ensued, accompanied by a series of phone calls, a cab to Burlington, transfer of stuff to rental and a consignment to the salvage yard for the 14-yr-old car. Determined to salvage my trip, I continued north. Fortunately there is still my mom's old car (another Camry in the wings) and the same-age truck I've also been driving, between which I can continue to distribute miles and manage quirks. I fantasize about buying a camper or van to put all my supplies in and travel around the country painting and visiting places, but of course I cannot do such a thing. But I have a bank account that needs replenishing and enough creative ideas to last me for a while, so that will do.

I feel like I am living aspects of my 20s and 30s in reverse, except for the awesome (!) amount of experience and clarity I've amassed in the past decade. In my 20s I felt like having an apartment of my own and being homey, and now I feel like going to see all the places I didn't go because I was choosing to settle in. I'm very happy about the community I found in Beacon, and consider it home more than anyplace else, but I am unsure how to proceed. 34 (or nearly so) simply isn't 24, as far as some life decisions are concerned; at 24 it didn't even feel like some decisions were necessary to make. I was impressed by the 24-yr-olds at VSC, and interested in the paths the older (40s-50s) female residents had taken. All I knew then was that I didn't want to deal with grad school, forms or incurring more loans, I just wanted to get out there, keep learning on my own and incorporate art-making into my life however I could manage. I did do all this, and found that doing it while living in New York City (ah, and having relationships, though THAT is not what this blog's about!) changes the framework of everything.

I think I have reached 100 posts since I began this blog. It seems to have evolved in a more personal direction, but that is perhaps to be expected. I'd planned at first to mostly write what I saw and did and produced during the novelty of the residency stints, but obviously the life and the art and the personal experience are all completely intermingled. Other blogs do such wonderful jobs at gathering and curating external material, that I decided not to focus on that aspect here. Things like that tend to overwhelm me anyway as there is so much to look at, and there are many people who are natural curators and disseminators of information. I have never really defined my format beyond its admittedly self-absorbed slant, but I see it as a kind of ongoing project, and nobody else is going to do it for me. There might be thousands of artist-written blogs, but I can imagine that my own amalgam is vaguely distinct (and I'll close with that fun oxymoron). Here's to the next 100.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

tribulations of travel

Oh how I look forward to writing about my adventures the past couple days. I did persevere to Montreal and am staying an extra day while life's concerns rub up around the edges of my mind. I push them back for now and think about what I will do today. There will be ample time later, I am sure, for both humor and pathos.

Friday, March 2, 2012

goodbye to vt

Loaded the car and leaving VSC this morning. How many times have I packed and unpacked my paints in the past year? I like that I can work in different places, wherever my supplies are, with not too many needs besides a surface, some light, a place to sit and think.. And I have gotten so much more than that. I haven't found myself with time to write in the past few days, was trying to focus on finishing up some painting and, finally, getting to know some people here.
There is a lot of processing to do. I am driving up to Montreal this morning to spend a couple days exploring, then back down to NY. There are some possibilities in the works.
I have a couple of paintings in this group show in Beacon, opening tomorrow. (I am not sure why the image is so small but it doesn't matter.) I can't attend the opening, but I know it will be a great show and I'm looking forward to seeing it.